Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Super Star Interviews: Paul Richmond

Welcome to my monthly interview feature! I’m so excited to be interviewing all the fabulous artists, illustrators and designers I’ve meet over the years (both personally and virtually!) and sharing their artwork and experiences here on Bird Meets Worm. Look for a new interview on the first Tuesday of every month.

This month I am super excited to be catching up with my fabulous artist friend, Paul Richmond! We first met as art students in the Illustration program at CCAD back in the day and now Paul is an internationally recognized visual artist and activist whose career has included exhibitions in galleries throughout the United States as well as publication in numerous art journals and anthologies. (Seriously, can you say “super star”?!) His work is collected by individuals around the globe. Influenced by his own struggles and experiences, he seeks to challenge social constructs that exist around sexuality and gender through his work. In his role as the Associate Art Director for Dreamspinner Press and their young adult imprint, Harmony Ink Press, he has created over three hundred novel cover illustrations. He is a co-founder of the You Will Rise Project, an organization that empowers those who have experienced bullying to speak out creatively through the language, visual, and performing arts. He greatly inspires me and I’m sure you will be, too, after you discover his powerful artwork. You can view more of his artwork here!

Truth, humor & a whole lot of heart makes Pauly's work so powerful!

Q: You have been long been recognized for your work as a visual artist and social activist, addressing issues of sexual identity & gender roles in your artwork and the politics surrounding them. In the wake of the recent election, what issues do you plan to tackle in your own work? And what advice would you give to other artists looking to use their work as a vehicle for social change?

A: Oh man, the election! My advice is to paint nonstop for the next four years because we're all going to need to be high on paint fumes to get through this! I had some great influences early in my training who used painting to address socio-political issues. I absorbed that and to this day, my favorite thing about being an artist is communicating ideas. Like you, my background is in illustration and I'm a natural storyteller. This election came at an interesting time for me because my husband and I relocated a few months ago from Ohio to California. Everything’s new and interesting and occasionally a bit scary - we didn’t know anyone here and I had never been to this part of California until the day we arrived to move in to our new place. On election day, any last tangible thread of “comfort zone” I may have been clinging to got swept out from under me. Suddenly, not only did I feel like I was in a new state, it didn’t even feel like the same country. I've been doing a series for the past few years called War Paint - expressive figurative pieces that investigated the construction of identity. Models coated themselves with paint; the colors and marks of which were meant to be suggestive of their psychological states. Building on that idea, my next phase will be to play more with context and environment; showing figures in spaces. They might be exploring new territory, floating aimlessly, clinging desperately to something that feels safe — basically all the things I’ve been experiencing myself. A lot of us woke up the day after the election in a country that didn’t feel like home any more, and I want to dissect all of that in my next body of work. I don’t like to give advice because what works for me might not work for someone else. But I will say that I’ve never found moping for an extended period of time to be very effective. When something terrible happens, I have to do something. And usually that “something” is start painting.

Gorgeous! Simply stunning!

Q: You are a co-founder of the You Will Rise Project, an organization empowering youth to use the arts as a means of speaking out against bullying. Tell us a bit about how & why you took on this powerful project and how can folks interested in speaking out against bullying can get involved?

A: I have such empathy for young people who are bullied because I was once in their shoes. I hated the social aspects of school because I was so uncomfortable in my own skin, making me a perfect target. As a gay boy who didn’t know he was gay (despite my closet full of assorted diva compilations on cassette tape), and growing up in a pretty conservative part of the Midwest, I stuck out like a sore thumb. A super-tall-for-my-age, awkward sore thumb with bad skin. Thankfully I had already established an identity as an artist thanks to an amazing teacher named Linda Regula who became my painting mentor when I was four. Creating art was not only something I could take pride in thanks to her thoughtful guidance, but it was also an outlet for coping with the harassment I experienced on a daily basis. Linda and I have remained good friends through the years. I was chatting with her one day about all the tragic cases of teen suicide we kept seeing in the news, many of which were connected to incidents of bullying. I told her that I felt her classes were one of the reasons I never became one of those statistics, and in that conversation, we dreamed up the idea for You Will Rise as a way to empower others who are being bullied to find their creative voices and speak out. We publish artwork from young people all around the world on our website and lead workshops and organize community exhibitions and art installations all focused on this important theme. It’s been such a powerful, eye-opening, gut-wrenching project to work on, and we’ve received some incredible feedback from participants about the positive changes it has helped them create in their lives. Above all, it just reinforces for me the importance of art in our schools, communities, and in our society as a whole. If you’d like to hear more about the story of Linda and me, a filmmaker named Doug Swift created a wonderful short film last year about us called The Mentor and the Artist. I’m so proud of the way he wove together our stories. You can watch it here.

Oopsie!!! (wink, wink!)

Q: One of my absolutely favorite series you created is your Cheesecake Boys series, inspired by 1950s pin-up girls! Dish with us about how this series came about from inspiration to sketches to finished artwork.

A: I have always been a super-fan of the pinup girls from the 40’s and 50’s — all those accident-prone ladies constantly experiencing wardrobe malfunctions wherever they went. They were so hilariously innocent and naughty at the same time. I always wondered why there were no male equivalents. Men in pinup art from that era, the beefcakes, were always just muscle bound dudes posing on a mountain or in the gym. They were always in control of the situation, which said a lot to me about expectations of gender roles and sexuality. So of course I wanted to turn the tables! :) My Cheesecake Boys series is totally an exercise in campy, cheesy fun. They are dudes who can’t seem to keep their clothes on and always get caught at just the right moment making that classic “oopsie” face. I like to have models pose for photo references and then I sketch them out and start painting - very similar to how some of the pinup greats like Elvgren and Frahm worked back then. And I’ve had the chance to work with some fun models for the series too, like Jack Mackenroth, Perez Hilton, Mike Ruiz, Davey Wavey, and more. Currently, I am offering a free Cheesecake Boy coloring page every Friday on my website. People are all about adult coloring books now, and I thought this would be a fun way to play up the “adult” part! It has been SO fun to see all the different colored versions of the Cheesecake Boys floating around social media. Anyone who wants to join in the fun is welcome to check it out here!

Q: During your career you’ve had your artwork stolen and sold illegally time and time again, especially by individuals overseas. Give us the scoop on how you’ve met this challenge and what advice you would give to fellow artists about how to protect their intellectual property.

A: It’s a difficult challenge that so many artists face, and there’s not really an easy solution. My experience with it happened when someone sent me a link to some ebay listings and said they looked like my work. Indeed they were mine - some of them were sitting right next to me in my studio! Even worse, they were being attributed to someone else. What I learned is that because international copyright laws are pretty much nonexistent, sellers in other countries - especially in China - are really fronts for these pretty large-scale “fake art factories.” They grab images from artists’ websites, list them as originals on ebay, and then when someone makes a purchase, an assembly line of talented and tragically underpaid artists will re-create it. I learned all about it and even got a free sample (of my own work!) by conducting an unofficial “investigation.” If you want to hear all about that, I shared the story in a YouTube video here.

Sadly, ebay is very lax about enforcing their policies. Most of these sellers have thousands of listings, which generate a lot of revenue, so they are in no hurry to shut them down. Even when you make a big fuss about it like I did, usually the most that will happen is that they pull the individual listings but allow the seller to maintain their store. So they just re-list them a few days later with slightly different names. Legal action is way too costly and time consuming for an independent artist like myself, so the most I could do was use it as an opportunity to raise awareness about the issue and have a few chuckles along the way. To this day, you can find knock-offs on my stuff on ebay from a variety of different sellers. Some artists put large watermarks on all the images of their work that get posted online. I considered it, but a lot of my art sales are through the web. I personally don’t like the idea of obstructing the view of the piece even though I certainly understand why other artists do it. For me, the benefits of online exposure FAR outweigh the negatives, and someone who is going to buy a cheap knockoff is probably not going to be interested in collecting my original work anyway. At least that’s what I tell myself so I don’t obsess over it constantly!

Aren't we the cutest?! Love me some Pauly!

Q: Tell us all about your MOST favorite illustration/painting/series/or book cover project: one from your past and one from your present.

A: The one from my past that I’ll pick is The Dollypop Guild because it involves you, Jane! I was invited to participate in a group show called DollyPOP honoring one of my heroes, Dolly Parton, at the World of Wonder Gallery in LA. I’ve admired Dolly since I was a kid and saw The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Incidentally that movie also made me want to grow up and be a whore, but to my credit, I thought it just meant wearing fancy clothes and singing a lot. Anyway, my contribution to the show was a Dolly-ized take on The Wizard of Oz, complete with a little boy in his mom’s red heels embarking on the yellow brick road to Dollywood, with Dolly herself as Glinda descending in a big pink sparkly bubble. Pretty much my childhood dream come true! You were so kind to invite me to stay with you when I came out to LA for the opening, and even surprised me with tickets to the musical 9 to 5 which was debuting there at the time. That was such a fun trip! And I still love and admire Dolly to this day!

Sweet, heart-felt & fabulous! Could it be anything else when Dolly's involved?!

More recently, a project that was one of my favs was a set of commissions from James Franco. I painted two large pieces that were incorporated into the set of a film he was making last year called The Long Home. One of our college friends, Kristen Adams, was doing production design and made it all happen. I delivered them to him on the set and my friend Aaron and I even got to be extras in a scene they were filming that night with James, Josh Hutcherson, and Courtney Love. Quite an experience! And I can’t wait to see the finished movie, which comes out sometime in 2017. 

I know I already said it, but seriously, can you say SUPER STAR?!

Q: Describe your most perfect Sunday.

A: I think my perfect Sunday is the opposite of most people’s. I have a really hard time sitting still. I'm always the happiest when I’m concocting some kind of crazy scheme. The details aren’t important - it could be an adventure with my husband, some kind of kooky video collaboration with friends for my YouTube channel, dreaming up a new art project, etc. I usually have twenty things in the works at all times, which is how I’ve always been and I’m sure always will be. There’s so much I want to see and do! Even on a day when I could sleep in, I usually get up really early and don’t stop until I crash at night. My friends always joke that they have to take me in small doses because they are tired when they leave and their faces hurt from laughing — which I take as the highest compliment! :)

It’s always a pleasure, Pauly! Thank you SO much for giving Bird Meets Worm a boost with your talent, positive energy and fabulous sense of humor! XO

Monday, November 21, 2016

Friday, November 11, 2016

Super Jane & Chloe Zoe Support Kids Against Bullying

On Friday children’s illustrators were called to share a free image for educators to post in their schools in support of all children and to send a message that bullying is not acceptable by fellow author/illustrator Jarrett J. Krosoczka. Originally, a safety pin was used as a symbol to convey this support, however, because symbols are often loaded with multiple meanings, we’ve been asked to pivot our message to #hugsfromkidlit. A hug is for every child! In support of children and educators during this difficult time in our nation's history, I am offering this free mini poster of Chloe Zoe and her friends to the public to download and print and share with your students, your children and your friends. XO

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Super Star Interviews: Sarah Walsh

Welcome to my monthly interview feature! I’m so excited to be interviewing all the fabulous artists, illustrators and designers I’ve meet over the years (both personally and virtually!) and sharing their artwork and experiences here on Bird Meets Worm. Look for a new interview on the first Tuesday of every month.

This month pleased as punch to be chatting it up with rockstar Illustrator, Sarah Walsh! I’ve been a big fan for a longtime and it was a treat getting to dish with Sarah about all things themed “illustration life.” Sarah received her BFA in graphic design from St. Rose in Albany, NY, where she grew up. Her love of mid century design, typography and vintage children's book illustration become the foundation for entering into the exciting art world. She landed a job at Hallmark Cards as in-house Designer and Illustrator. After several years she decided to branch off on her own and joined the Lilla Rogers agency. Sarah has worked on coloring books for all ages, children's board books, activity books, toy product, home decor, apparel and greeting cards. She currently lives in Kansas City with her fellow Illustrator husband, Colin Walsh, their son, a scrappy pup and chubby cat. You can view more of her artwork here!

Gorgeous chickie! Fabulous styling!

Q: What is a typical workday in the studio like for you? Set the scene (workspace, materials, accessories) and describe your creative flow (rituals, inspiration, process).

A: Coffee first! Then some morning snuggles with my toddler, and a laugh or two with my husband, fellow Illustrator, Colin Walsh. Then I drop off my little one to daycare and it's off to the races. I look at my planner to make sure there's nothing urgent and bring a second cup of joe downstairs to the art cave. I've been trying to delve right into a personal piece even if it's just for 15 minutes in my sketchbook. Everyday seems to be so different, but on average, no matter what, I use procrastination as a tool to do personal work! When I begin a project, I always like to do research on Pinterest, look at my book collection, take a walk, go out and about to shops that might carry product in the vein of what my project is. In the afternoon, when energy starts to run low and I need to hear a human voice, I switch up the music and go to Podcasts. I really love Andy J Miller's “Create A Peptalk” and  The Jealous C urators “Art for Your Ears.” Found is really good, too!

You know you totally want to color these guys!!

Q: Often a woman’s identity as an artist and her identity as a mama feeds and conflicts with each other. Dish with us a bit about your experiences as an Artist Mama.

A: This is really tough. When I quit my full-time gig as a Designer/Illustrator at Hallmark cards, I became a mom to a newborn, but I also had a coloring book due every month of his first 3-4 months of life. It was very, very stressful. I didn't really get a maternity leave when I really think about it! That said, I love the organic schedule of freelance, because I can spend more time with our little guy. He's in daycare 3 days a week so I work then and at night. My workday seems to fly by and there is never enough time to do all the things I want to do. Sometimes I wish I had more time to focus on my craft, but he's only going to be little once! It's such a magical time and I'm so grateful I can be there to witness it.

Gather your woodland critters around! What sound does a moose make?

Q: Give us the scoop on your MOST favorite illustration projects: one from your past and one from your present.

A: I designed a holiday collection, and two paper mache' animal heads (tiger and moose) for Land of Nod that's out right now and I'm really excited about all of it. Designing the animals in 3-d form was fun.

The "I Like" book by Compendium is a book I'm really proud of. It's an activity book for kids, but it could also pose as a time capsule for their life. Using creative prompts and illustrations, it helps them explore their interests and what's important to them. The writing is very quirky so it's bound to bring out the personality in a child.

The other fave project is the coloring books I mentioned. Quarry approached me to do 3 "adult" coloring books. The themes were Circus, Carnivale and Day Of The Dead. This was 2013 and the adult coloring book scene had not exploded yet. They gave me a lot of creative freedom, and although it was a stressful pace, because I was taking care of a newborn with no daycare, it became my "me" time and I could just doodle away and get lost in my own imagination.

A current favorite project, I think, is a children's book that I'm working on, but I can't talk about it very much!

Super fun! Let's draw, write, dream!

Q: How do you balance personal artwork with client artwork? Personal instincts with marketable trends?

A: Fortunately my client work is always usually a fun project that I would do on a personal level anyway. And a lot of the client work stems from a personal piece that I made! So it works out.

Personal instincts with marketable trends? I always love to see what the trends are, but I never force it. I usually let my inner compass guide me. I think the key is to always be curious about things. Observe things. People. The news. The shows that I'm into. Music I'm diggin'. These interests usually add a level to my ideas or give it a twist in some way. And like I mentioned before, sometimes procrastinating helps! I scratch the doodle itch even if I have an encroaching deadline, because doing a personal piece gives me an energy burst and enables me to finish the project strong with a renewed sense of excitement for the project. Which is always going to be good for the client.

Talk about stylish celebrations! Super star, indeed!

Q: You first began your illustration career at Hallmark. What lessons/skills did you learn/acquire there that have proven key in supporting you as a freelancer?

A: So many things! I learned how to hone my work ethic and strengthen the muscle of delivering the artwork on time. When you start off in the industry it's really scary and you think to yourself "Can I give them what they need in the time that they need it and also feel good about the artwork I'm delivering?" Yes! In doing that over and over again for several years that muscle become so strong that now that I'm in freelance, I never really doubt that I can finish it. I know it's going to get done on time, because my skills have been tested and proven through 13 years of experience.

I also learned how to communicate more professionally with AD's. It's so important to know how to explain your idea. It's also good to know when to stop trying to explain it and just show them.

Modern holiday cheer!

Q: Describe your most perfect Sunday.

A: Even though I love making things on the weekends, I try to reserve my time and focus for family, friends and fun times. Being outside in the fall months, stopping at a coffee shop, maybe going to a bookstore or finding some really cool treasure is my idea of an awesome Sunday. Maybe having dinner with friends later, ending with a cocktail and a good Netflix show with my hubs!

Thank you so much, Sarah, for catching up with us here at Bird Meets Worm! So totally fabulous!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Super Star Interviews: Amy Schimler-Safford

Welcome to my monthly interview feature! I’m so excited to be interviewing all the fabulous artists, illustrators and designers I’ve meet over the years (both personally and virtually!) and sharing their artwork and experiences here on Bird Meets Worm. Look for a new interview on the first Tuesday of every month.

This month I’m thrilled to be chatting it up with the one, the only, THE Illustrator/Textile Designer, Amy Schimler-Safford! I had the distinct pleasure of working with Amy back in my art director days and have been a big fan of her artwork both before and since. Amy Schimler-Safford works predominantly in the children's market. She has sold and licensed her artwork for a variety of products including children's apparel, children's books, toys and puzzles, wall d├ęcor, and fabrics to name a few. Lately she has been focusing on children's books with a couple of exciting new projects on the horizon. You can view more of her artwork here!

So lovely!! A floral dreamscape!

Q: You are a master of pattern, having created numerous super fun fabric collections! Dish with us about how you approach creating a collection: inspiration to sketch to color artwork to repeat pattern.

A: Thank you so much. I have been doing pattern design for a very long time. I’ve created thousands of designs over the last dozen years. Because I have been doing it for so long and so consistently, much of the process is intuitive and flows naturally. It almost feels effortless at times.

If I was to break it down I would say my inspiration starts with color stories. I begin to see where the colors feel most natural and explore those themes. Once I have a theme I start developing a print, I play off of that idea. Usually a theme connects a collection, but a collection can also be connected by color and/or style.

Ideas come in spurts from many different sources. I walk every morning and usually take pictures as references for colors and subject matter. I see patterns pretty much everywhere I go. I think when you work that intensely at something your unconscious mind takes over. There is nothing better than playing with color all day. I don’t do repeats, but I do a layout that could easily be put into a repeat. I should also say that I mostly use Illustrator for my pattern designs. It makes it so easy to play with color and see immediately what works and what doesn’t work. I love fiddling with the placement of all the elements in the design until I find a layout that feels just right.

Hello Fishy, Fishy!! Where are you headed?

Q: What qualities make for the “perfect” art licensing client? And are there any key buzzwords to look for when negotiating or reviewing contracts?

A: It is always great when you have good communication with a client. My clients are usually very easy to work with. Understanding the client’s vision and what inspired them to contact you in the first place are key. The mission is to produce a great product on both ends, so you start with a common goal and a mutual interest.
The biggest buzzword is “copyright”. You always want to own your art if you are licensing it. It is also important to know what products you are licensing your art for and to be sure your contract reflects that. The only time I have had difficulty is when the client hasn’t clearly explained what they want which can result in more work on my part, but I have learned over the years to ask a lot of questions before starting a project.
Q: I absolutely LOVE your mixed media style! Give us the scoop on how you find/create your materials and on how you put them together, whether traditionally or digitally.

A: Thanks so much. I started out working mostly digitally, but I am more often off the computer lately. I almost always finish a piece digitally though. It is easier to edit and send to clients. I love working with a variety of materials, I love playing around to create new and unexpected textures. In terms of materials I use anything and everything – watercolor, gouache, crayons, chalk, tape, stick brushes that I make, ripped paper, frisket, and on and on.  I recently began painting in oils and it has helped me open up my ideas about texture and slight variations in color. I try to keep my process as open and experimental as I can, I rarely plan it out. I also love the printmaking process. There are so many wonderful unexpected moments, beautiful textures and happy accidents. If I had more time I would love to explore screenprinting. I also love to incorporate papers and images intended for a different purpose. I used vintage wallpapers, old bus schedules, report cards, and dining receipt carbon copies recently in a children’s book I just finished illustrating. In some places they might be recognizable but I try to seamlessly incorporate them into my illustrations. My scanner is my best friend! I also approach my illustrations similarly to my pattern design in that I use color stories to inspire my work. I am not sure which comes first – concept or color, but I would bet they are equal in informing how I start an illustration. The most fun is combining all these elements to create something satisfying and new.
The birdies are so cute! Which one would you choose?

Q: Tell us all about your MOST favorite illustration project: one from your past and one from your present.

A: What a fun question! I think my favorite illustration from the past was for a board book I did for Little Simon titled “Splish Splash”. It was an illustration of minnows in a shallow river. It was a little bit of a turning point in my work, I started moving in another direction – a little more painterly. The piece just flowed as I worked on it and the colors came together so naturally. It was so much fun to work on.
A current illustration that I quite like is one I did for a book dummy I was shopping around. It is a picture of a woman looking in a pet shop window. It was based on a true story and I love this piece because it is more narrative and it encourages your imagination. And it is about relationships which is a favorite theme of mine that I hope to explore more in my artwork. I also love the way the colors worked in this piece.
 These are two illustrations in which I wouldn’t necessarily want to change anything. I think that is when you know a piece is successful. It is hard to do that, I try to remind myself often that a lot of hard work does not necessarily yield work that you love, but there are always one or two pieces that have a lasting impact or a surprise nugget of something new that pushes your work forward.
Aren't little jellies the sweetest?!

Q: What advice would you give fellow artists looking to break into art licensing on the following topics: 1) business practices 2) self-promotion 3) daily habits.

A: I think that everyone works differently so it is hard to give individual advice. What works for me might not work for someone else. That said here are a couple of thoughts. Regarding business practices – the most important thing is to be respectful and maintain your professionalism, try to be the person an art director would want to work with again. Regarding self promotion – there are so many opportunities through social media. Just be sure you are showing your work to people who hire vs. only other artists. Take a risk and contact a dream client and introduce yourself and your work. Come up with some routine that is consistent, whether it is mailings or a newsletter that you email, try to stick to it. Personally, I just put my portfolio on a couple of community illustration websites and I haven’t done much marketing past that, except for children’s books where I do direct mailings. It still amazes me that people find me on the web solely through my online portfolios. Regarding daily habits – I think it is important to keep working on improving your artwork and updating your portfolio. I find the only way to do this is to do personal projects if you can find the time. I like to come up with a plan each day of what I hope to accomplish. Of course it doesn’t always work out that way, but doing that helps me make the best use of my time. It took me along time to refine my current style and yet I still feel like I am just getting started….so patience is key and giving yourself the necessary time to develop. That is the hardest part.
Cityscape fabulousness!!

Q: Describe your most perfect Sunday.
A: Ahhhhh… I love the idea of a perfect Sunday. It is a beautiful sunny breezy summer day and I take a long walk with my husband along the ocean.  I go back to my studio and paint a bit. We get together with friends and family later that day for a big meal and some game playing. Lots of laughter and lots of chocolate are a must! Perfect.
Thank you so much, Amy, for catching up with us here at Bird Meets Worm!! We can’t wait to see what you create next! XO

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Super Star Interviews: Rebecca Green

Welcome to my monthly interview feature! I’m so excited to be interviewing all the fabulous artists, illustrators and designers I’ve meet over the years (both personally and virtually!) and sharing their artwork and experiences here on Bird Meets Worm. Look for a new interview on the first Tuesday of every month. (Note Bird Meets Worm is taking a holiday in September, so check back on the first Tuesday of October! XO)

This month I’m pleased as punch to be dishing with the super-talented, super-fabulous Illustrator, Rebecca Green! Rebecca is a fellow Tugeau2 Artist, working as a children's and young adult book illustrator. She currently resides in Nashville, TN. Rebecca works primarily in gouache and colored pencil, and also dabbles in acrylic, collage, and 3D set and puppet building. Her work is playful yet grounded, and often includes children and animals comprised of texture, patterns, and flat colors. You can view more of her artwork here!

Squirrels, mysterious forest, a bright-eyed girl—I want to read THIS story!

 Q: You recently attended ICON9 in Austin, Texas (SO super fun!!). Share with us your top 5 tips for getting the most out of attending the event.

A: Yes! I love ICON—this was my third time attending. 
1. Do your research—familiarize yourself with the artists, speakers, workshops. By going through the roster and seeing people's work before you actually get to the conference, you can be appreciate their talk—especially if they don't actually speak about just their art. 
2. Find others attending and reach out to them prior to the conference to schedule a coffee of meet up. It's a great way to meet people face to face
if all you've done is spoken with them online. 
3. Do the roadshow if you can! It's a juried event but if you get a table to share your work, it's a great way to get your portfolio in front of people, who would have otherwise not seen it. 
4. Take a workshop! It's enough just to go to the conference but I think taking a workshop is a great way to learn in a smaller environment and you are more likely to make closer genuine connections to people. 
5. Come with a sketchbook! Whether it's to jot notes, or doodle away, the conference is really idea inducing and energizing and chances are, you'll walk away inspired about your own work. 

Beware the evil WITCH!!

 Q: Dish with us about your work with the Warren (her working artist studio/art community hub/superstar space!). In what ways does it build and support your local art community? And why is it important to you?

A: The Warren is a dream space for me! It all sort of came together organically, but now that it's up and running, I realize it's what I've always wanted. I started it with local illustrator, Kayla Stark, because we couldn't find a local studio
that offered what we needed. The space is first and foremost a workspace for 4 permanent artists and a few community table members. We also are starting up workshops and class that will focus primarily on illustration, design, and freelancing. The space supports the local art community by hosting drink and draws, gallery shows and some free lectures and panel discussions. We are also open to the public every second Saturday of the month for our local East Nashville Art Stumble.

The space is incredibly important to me personally. As a freelancer, I spend enough time alone and I loathe working from home. I need a community. I need my people! And The Warren is basically a community of artists who support each other, share feedback and ideas, and bounce inspirations off of one another. I also must say the space itself is so beautiful—we have the best light!

"Don't worry, little guy, I've got ya!"
 Q: Your gorgeous illustrations have found a crossover between editorial work and gallery work as well as children’s publishing work. Chat with us a bit about how you balance servicing these 3 very different markets while staying true to your own artistic voice.

A: Good question! It's less an act of juggling and more an act of letting the juggling balls purposefully fall to the floor one by one. I planned to do narrative work in college and when I graduated I got pulled into gallery work 
and just sort of stuck with it. I actually have my last gallery show this November and I'm pleased to be taking a break from it.

As far as editorial work goes, I thought that's what illustration was (even though I wanted to do books) so I signed on with an editorial agent and really struggled through a couple of years with being unsatisfied with what I was making. I was losing my voice artistically, so I left that agent and started doing work that aligned with books.

In the last year, I've really made the switch over into the publishing work and happily work with Nicole, who has been a gem in helping me with this new venture. It's taken me 6 years, but I finally feel very at home and excited about the stuff I am working on. So in short...I just had to try a couple of things out to know how much I didn't want to do them, before I could fully get into books. 

How amazing is Rebecca's fabulous 3D art?!

Q: What would be your absolute DREAM illustration gig?

A: OH man. Probably taking a year or so to work on a stop motion film, where I get to do all the detail work for the characters and the set. I'd like to help create the look of the film, and then work on the actual fabrication. I wouldn't want to do any of the actual planning/production/film stuff...I would just want the detail jobs. And can we add travel in there? Traveling for research. And the film company has limitless brownies is the break room. That's my dream. 

Q: What do you know now that when you first began your illustration career you wish you’d known about: marketing? business? self-promotion?

A: Probably business. It's important to set it up on an ongoing basis instead of just waiting until taxes are due. But who am I kidding...I still put everything off! I hate business, so it's the one thing I feel like I should have focused on more in the beginning.

Slumber party trouble brewing...

 Q: Describe your most perfect Sunday.

A: It's Autumn, the windows are open. My husband Matt and I make breakfast and coffee and then walk our dog, Mori through the park by our house. We wear scarves because it's cold! We then go to the farmers market…maybe get some pumpkins, wander around, thrift a bit, get more coffee from a cutie little coffee shop, head back home and cook a huge dinner with roasted vegetables. Then we sit by a fire in our front yard and one of us reads ghost stories.

*Just writing this makes me loathe this heat we're having in Nashville! I grew up in MI and I miss the cold so much!

Thank you so much, Rebecca, for catching up with us here at Bird Meets Worm!! We love your fabulous artwork! XO