Anisa Makhoul took 10 years to come back to art

Our own Anisa Makhoul answers your questions about creating art for surface design. We asked the artist to select three questions pertaining to her art career. These are her fascinating answers.

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Q. If you hadn’t become a professional artist, what kind of career do you think you would have chosen?

A. If I couldn’t do anything artistic at all, I would have studied herbs/flora and religion. I’m very interested in folklore, folk magic, and African American folk spirituality. I dream of traveling to the Caribbean and studying under a root doctor. Maybe I’ll still do it one day.

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Q. How old were you when you knew you wanted to be an artist? Did you strive to get your art on the refrigerator as a child? Describe your earliest artwork. 

A. When I was really young I used to draw pictures with my crayons and then put prices in the corners, like 5 cents or so, based on how good I thought it was. I’d force my parents and grandparents to buy my drawings from me. I wasn’t just going to give them the art for the refrigerator. 

Q. Did you have formal art training? Thinking back to art school, what’s something you learned in a classroom that you still use to this day?

A. I have a BA in fine art printmaking from Minneapolis College of Art & Design. I started out as a film and photo student and ended up graduating in hand printmaking. I never even considered illustration as a career. I thought I couldn’t draw because that’s what my drawing teacher told me. In fact, after I graduated from art school I was very sure that I had no place in the art world. After college I started sewing handmade dresses and doing fashion design. It took me 10 years to come back to art. Everything clicked when I began allowing myself to draw things in the wackiest, most relaxed way I could. I started enjoying drawing, and getting better at it. 

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Anisa's clients include: Vogue, Compendium Books, Anthropologie, Flow Magazine, Taproot Magazine, American Greetings, Trend Bible, Cost Plus World Market,  TeNeus Publishing, TJ Maxx, Design House Greetings, Godiva, Hallmark, Harrods of London. 

The most wonderful time of the year!

Feel that excitement? It's spring trade show season! This is the time of year when we get into high gear preparing for two big back-to-back shows in New York City: Blue Print 1 and SURTEX. Even one day in the Big Apple means lots of things to do and people to see. This is SIX DAYS in the city so we're talking six times the energy and six times the fun! Portfolio books are arriving each week... the artists are busy putting the finishing touches on their prints... and we are making special handmade gifts for our buyers this year! Reserve your appointment time today!

Come see us 17-19 MAY at BLUE PRINT and 20-21 MAY at SURTEX (register in advance here). If you decide to come, make an appointment and I will set aside time especially for you! For more information on the busiest, most exciting time of the year, you can read about JNA at the shows.

Thanks for looking at our latest work. You can see more at the two big shows in New York, or simply let me know and I will put together a custom gallery on any subject or by the artist of your choice. Kindly, Jennifer

Jennifer Orkin Lewis works her gouache-y magic!

Here's a treat for you. In just 26 seconds you can watch Jennifer Orkin Lewis work her gouache magic. She doesn't really work quite this fast, but she is that good! Jennifer creates paintings like this constantly and never seems to run out of inspiration. 

Want to see more of Jennifer's stunning work? Just ask and I pull a gallery together for you in a jiffy!  Enjoy - (the other) Jennifer

 

Kelly Angelovic strives for inspiration and joy

Our own Kelly Angelovic answers your questions about creating art for surface design. We asked the artist to select three questions pertaining to her art career. These are her fascinating answers.

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Q. How do you integrate your art time into your daily routine?

A. I’m grateful every day that I get to do work that lights me up. As the mother of two high-octane little ones (ages 6 & 3), my schedule involves a lot of moving parts. In lieu of balance (is there really such a thing?), I strive for inspiration and joy. Some weeks are filled to the brim with exciting creative work and some weeks, motherhood takes center stage. There are also times when everyone is sick and deadlines are looming – weeks when my joy heads for the hills (as I watch, wishing with the whole of my being that I could run for cover too). My life is blessedly full, and following a heart-centered creative path isn’t always easy, but I can’t imagine doing anything else.

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Q. Do you prefer working digitally or using conventional art media?

A. My background is in graphic design so I’ve always been a digital girl. Lately though, I’ve been playing with gouache. Mixing colors, smelling the paint, feeling the way different brushes move across the paper – it’s a sensual experience. Whenever I feel uninspired or stuck in a rut, exploring a new technique or medium is a surefire way to get my creative juices flowing. There is such delight (and frustration) in becoming a beginner again, especially when I’m able to completely surrender the outcome. This is the work I do for personal enjoyment. I believe that the key to a wonder-filled life is to keep learning and trying new things. My kids, who are filled to the brim with joy and never-ending curiosity, remind me of this everyday.

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Q. Did you always want to be an artist?

A. My mom was a graphic designer, so I grew up in a household where creativity was encouraged. Despite my early leanings though, I strayed from a creative path for many years, initially pursuing a degree in marketing. A few years after graduating, finally heeding my own creative call, I went back to school for graphic design. I didn’t discover my path as an illustrator until my daughter was born though. The intensity of motherhood took me by surprise and in search of a new creative outlet, I started drawing while she slept. Illustrating lit me up, it fed my soul – and made me a better mom. I haven’t looked back since. 

 Kelly's super smart spots for the Seal Press book,  Equally Wed.

Kelly's super smart spots for the Seal Press book, Equally Wed.

Anisa Makhoul's work reaches the home decor market

Anisa Makhoul loves to design patterns and loves to travel! She has lived in Amsterdam and travel extensively, most recently to Germany with the agency for Heimtextil. About Anisa recent work for the home decor market, she writes "I like that I can see these on a number of home decor products. I love a bright happy pattern. There’s a good amount of folk art invoked here, which helps to tell a story. I obviously love pattern on pattern and any opportunity to pattern clash.”

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What could be cuter than baby goats? Jill Howarth's adorable illustrations!

Hey! This past year I had the amazing opportunity to work on not one, not two, but three picture books with Quarto publishing about the sweet goats of Goats of Anarchy! If you are not familiar (which is likely NOT the case) GOA is a goat sanctuary in New Jersey, started by Leanne Lauricella, that takes in disabled goats. These little guys are as amazing as they are cute and their real-life stories were so fun to bring to life. Goats in coats, goats in duck costumes and a pig that acts as their nanny...what could be better? I actually had never really drawn a goat before, but I can't say that anymore! 

Proceeds from the sales of all the books go towards GOA's efforts to save these wonderful animals, making it both a fun and worthwhile project that I am honored to have taken part in. Recently, Leanne's story was a part of a piece on the popularity of goats on CBS Sunday Morning. Check it out! - Jill

Watch the entire video, if you have time... but if you are too eager, cut right to Goats of Anarchy and Jill's work, skip to minute 3:35. - Jennifer

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Bee Brown had a very strong sense of color, even at that small age!

Our own Bee Brown answers your questions about creating art for surface design. We asked the artist to select three questions pertaining to her art career. These are her fascinating answers.

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Q. How old were you when you knew you wanted to be an artist? Did you strive to get your art on the refrigerator as a child? Describe your earliest artwork. 

A. I can still remember my parents sketching things, and as a small child, always being entranced by what they drew. It was like watching them make magic on paper right before my eyes. That must have been the spark that lit the fuse. I can also clearly remember being in Kindergarten and just loving making big, messy painterly marks on the A3 paper that was clipped to our easels. My teacher remarked to my parents that I had a very strong sense of colour, even at that small age! Painting and drawing was very much encouraged in our household so it was never a struggle to get pictures “on the refrigerator.” Our artwork was always displayed on the walls at home. It was a very natural part of growing up. As I got older, friends would come over and we would sit making pictures. I have strong memories of at one time loving to draw people and making one particular picture of people dancing at a disco! I wonder if I still have it somewhere?

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Q. Being an artist is so different from having a day job like most people. Do friends and family envy your career? Do they criticize your choice? How do you respond?

A. As mentioned previously, being creative and thinking for oneself was greatly encouraged in my home, so for me to go to Art School was accepted without question. I never thought that I was doing something that could be perceived as unusual or risky, especially as I was choosing a more commercial path in taking design-related subjects. As I became an adult it was an eye-opener to discover that some friends/acquaintances considered my path to be a brave choice, especially when I made the decision to go freelance. Some see my career path as bold and fearless because of the perceived uncertainty whereas others wish they’d had the support that I was lucky enough to receive to be able to go out into the world doing what you want and love. Now I am a mum to two brilliant boys, so if I ever need to defend my choice it’s always that I am fortunate enough to be able to combine both motherhood and working from home in a mostly happy balance.

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Q. The computer has changed so many things in today’s world. Do you like to work digitally? Do you prefer to roll up your sleeves and use ink and paint?

A. I used to work all the time with paper, pen, brushes and ink/watercolour. Now I have to be honest and say that personally, I tired of working this way. About 4 years ago I decided to make a complete about-turn and embrace the digital world full-on! Everything I learned prior to working digitally very much informs my digital practice now. Traditional art media has definitely shaped the way I use the computer to evolve my working style today. From a practical way of working, it’s also easier and much more of a time-saver to ping a digital file off to a client and to make colour/design changes as a project progresses than when everything was done by hand. I’m sure there will come a time when I’ll need/want to shift my process again, but for the moment it’s a good way to make work.

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My Heimtextil Diary

For our first time exhibiting at a trade show in Europe I decided to keep a diary of each day’s events. Ha! Easier said than done. There was so much excitement, so much going on and so many people to see and places to go, that my diary plans fell apart immediately. So here are just a few random highlights of our adventures in Heimtextil.

I left behind record cold temperatures in Boston.

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I flew to into Frankfurt, where the weather was lovely… much more pleasant for walking and exploring the old town, and having dinner with my artist friends. I was delighted to find that Frankfurt is a very walkable city; the tram, subway and buses are easy to use (and free with your Heimtextil badge!).

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 Anisa's rendition of Römerberg, the rebuilt "old town" of Frankfurt.

Anisa's rendition of Römerberg, the rebuilt "old town" of Frankfurt.

The show was tons of fun, especially meeting all the people. I met some artists I have consulted with, as well as clients I have wanted to reach for a long time. There were lots of new faces from the US and abroad.

One of the highlights of the trip was meeting Janna Krupinski for the first time! Although she has been with Jennifer Nelson Artists for almost a year, we had never actually seen each other in person. It was wonderful to discover that Janna is as funny and smart as she is talented. 

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Artists Janna, Rae Ritchie, Anisa Makhoul and myself all stayed together in an AirBnB. What a treat! We had a great time. One of my favorite parts of being an agent is the enduring friendships I have with my artists.

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I wondered how I would fare in Germany since I don’t speak that language. Just fine, it turns out. The German people are very kind and accommodating. Having a few German words and phrases to express pleasethank you, and good day goes a long way.

Wow! Heimtextil is a busy market, with some beautiful elaborate booth construction. Two doors down from me, a designer even built a log cabin in the space. The show was really something to see.

Lots of beautiful work was on display. This is a new market for us and I realized we still have more to learn. Prints at Home Decor shows are HUGE (~24 x 36")… so our prints looks a little small in comparison. Most of the artwork is repeat patterns, as clients are buying and licensing for wall, furniture, bedding and other home surfaces.

In comparison to a show like SURTEX, Heimtextil offers more for your investment. The booths are ample size, the tables are amazing and come complete with lockable tables and a small cabinet. The extra chairs, lights and tables do not cost a fortune. The space is large and the aisles wide. 

There was a good feeling of camaraderie with my Blue Print friends as well. Brenda Manley was just across from me and Paul from Cinnamon Joe was just around the corner. Friendships with other agents makes the world feel a little smaller, even thousands of miles from home.

After the show each night we had had one delicious dinner after another: Indian, Italian, French and the last night, Vietnamese. Frankfurt is a cosmopolitan city with lots to offer. Then we came back to our AirBnB where the artists painted, and we drank wine from teacups and talked. That was my favorite part!

 Rae Ritchie sketchbook (left) and Anisa Makhoul's (right)

Rae Ritchie sketchbook (left) and Anisa Makhoul's (right)

Saturday we took a train to Freiburg to be tourists for a day. It is a charming little town! We took an early train from Frankfurt, ate spaetzle (German pasta/dumplings) with wurst and lentils, found an amazing o market in the square and an little shop where Christmas is happening 365 days a year! On the way back, Anisa even bought champagne for us to enjoy in the train!

Overall, the trip to Heimtextil was a success. We licensed work for window coverings, bedding, pillows and rugs in Mexico, US, Europe and Asia. We met several US clients and very importantly expanded our database to many new clients from around the world. 

Now that the show is over, I am going to enjoy some R&R in Budapest (where my brother lives) and visit the Szechenyi Baths in the morning before the US is even awake! Pure bliss and $20 for a one-hour massage. I can hardly wait. :) Jennifer

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Fasten your seatbelts!

Thank you for making 2017 our best year ever. We couldn't have done it without you!

As we get ready for 2018, and our third year in business, we have plans to be even bigger and better.

First up: trade shows. This month, we'll be attending Heimtextil in Frankfurt (a fantastic home decor show and our first European trade show!). In May, we'll be at Blue Print NYC and SURTEX in Manhattan. And in October, see us at Blue Print San Francisco (our first time exhibiting on the West Coast). For this reason alone, 2018 promises to be an amazing year. I will send out flyers announcing dates, so you can book your appointments well in advance.

Secondly, we're launching two new newsletters. One will be just for clients in the Home Decor category. We'll include hand-selected art that lends itself specifically to that purpose. Every other week we will share trendsetting work from some of our artists. If you're not already on our list for Home Decor, just sign up to be included!

  Anisa Makhoul's  dramatic floral stripe available for home decor licensing or purchase.

Anisa Makhoul's dramatic floral stripe available for home decor licensing or purchase.

And in this same vein, we're adding a regular newsletter intended only for clients in the publishing world. The new Books newsletter will spotlight recent book projects some our artists have completed, and include sample artwork that's particularly suited to books. Want in? Sign up for one (or both)!

  Miriam Bos  for Walter Foster

Miriam Bos for Walter Foster

Thirdly, we have some big news! As our workload has increased (thank you!) we have added a new member to the JNA team. Please welcome Nanda Rust, a brand new Artist's Agent here with me. Nanda has a sparkling personality and lots of experience that make her more than qualified to keep things running smoothly in our newly-expanded office. An artist in her own right, and an accomplished photographer, Nanda is great at keeping our images organized, and providing service with a smile. Come by and meet her at Blue Print and SURTEX in May. 

Thanks to Nanda's help I'm now able to spend more time out of the office and on the road, such as my recent trips to visit publishers in NYC and artists in the UK. If you call the office and Nanda answers please give her a warm welcome. 

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Last, but not least, I want to re-commit to serving you in the best way possible. If there's something we're not doing well, let us know. If you have an idea for a way to improve our service to you, we're all ears. Suggestions? We would love to hear them.

Thanks again for being part of this journey, from being a start-up in 2015 to becoming a successful (though intentionally small) agency in the past two years. And thanks for joining Nanda, myself and our ten wonderful artists as we venture into an exciting new year, filled with promise and lots more gorgeous artwork ahead. Happy New Year.

Kindly, Jennifer

Have a Very Rae Ritchie Christmas

Hello dear friends! I’m excited to share some timely holiday art to celebrate this fine season! Lately, I’ve been channeling lots of winter foliage, traditional imagery, things you’d find on a wondrous winter walk, as well as a sly reindeer to name a few! Please enjoy and have a wonderful holiday season everyone! - Rae

Ho, Ho, Ho Holidays with Howath!

It's that time of year again, when designers can embrace the actual season and share their seasonal art in the actual season! Sometimes I wonder what others must think of my seemingly obvious preference to make Christmas art. I think it can best be explained by my childhood. My parents both shared a deep love of the holiday, making it pure magic for their kids, a tradition I happily carried on with my own. My Gramma lived in an old victorian house, right next door to ours, so I spent many hours there. She had a stack of Christmas books, filled with poems and wonderful imagery that I would always ask her to read to me... all year round! So you see, the concept of embracing the holiday all year long was instilled in me at an early age. 

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Whether it's Santa (a personal fav), or a lettering piece, or a wintery scene, I always try to capture some nostalgia and warmth with the hope that it will come through in the piece. 

Whatever you celebrate, I hope this season brings peace and joy with a happy New Year! - Jill

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Jennifer Orkin Lewis answers your questions

Our own Jennifer Orkin Lewis answers your questions about creating art for surface design. We asked the artist to select three questions pertaining to her art career. These are her fascinating answers.

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Q. Where do you find inspiration? Do you go for walks in town, look at nature shows on TV, or just start scribbling and see where your muse takes you?

A. I find my inspiration everywhere. I may see a story in the newspaper or magazine that interests me. On a walk I may see some cute little critters, or a person that is dressed in a striking way. A garden is always inspiring. In summer I will paint a few beach and pool scenes; in winter, a snowy walk. There are also themes I love to paint and always go back to exploring, such as flowers, crowds of people, cats. Since I’m painting something new in my sketchbook everyday I can’t spend too much time contemplating what I want to paint. The main thing for me is it has to feel right for the day. It doesn’t work for me keep a list of prompts to follow. The painting usually has relevance to my day or my mindset. I sometimes wake up with the exact image in my head but other days I need to think about it a little longer. 

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Q. What’s your schedule like? Do you work early in the morning? Late at night?

A. I work full time. I usually get up to my studio by 8 or 8:30 AM. I try to get my sketchbook painting finished by 10 AM. I keep a list of the projects and am very good about judging how much I have to do on each one to be finished by the deadline. As I do the work on each one I cross it off my list for the day. I try to get to the gym at least 3 days a week and/or take a nice long walk. It wakes me up and refreshes me to continue working. By 7:00 PM I’m finished. There’s no more energy or creativity left to work at night unless I am really crunched for time. When things are a little slower I try to get out for tea with a friend, or go to a museum. I try to keep the weekends open for personal time. I do paint in my sketchbook each weekend morning for 30 minutes or so and may do a few hours of work so the week is a little less intense. Spreading it out! 

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Q. Do you begin by sketching or planning a piece of art? Or do you just dive in and see where your pencil takes you?

A. When I am doing my personal work I do a quick, light pencil sketch, mostly so the piece is centered correctly on the paper and to give me a bit of a guideline. I don’t really draw it out with any detail, just the general shapes and placement. Then I dive in with paint and experiment and play. I think of my personal work as a time to learn and explore. When I am doing client work I sketch it out with much more detail so I can show what I am thinking before we move on to color. Because the pencil sketches don’t look at all like the final piece I will sometimes sketch in paint so my idea is more accurately depicted. 

Jill Howarth ditches her mouse for a paint brush

As surface designers, we JNA artists delve into Christmas and winter-holiday imagery pretty much year-round. But when November comes, I always get a little excited. I actually feel like I'm on season!

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With this in mind, I recently ditched my mouse for a paint brush and rendered a little Christmas piece. On the rare occasion that I go analog, I always end up doing a hybrid of cut paper and gouache -- because I just can't wrap my head around a finished painting in one piece!

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Admittedly, I'm pretty attached to Santa themes, but this time I tried to imagine just what goes on up there, inside his North Pole abode. Who knew he was so good at plunking out the holiday tunes? I hope this puts you in the spirit of the season! Enjoy - Jill

Artsy Emojis by Bee Brown

Hi Everyone!

Earlier this year Jennifer contacted me with news of an interesting new project: Would I like to design some "Artsy Emojis" for a project being developed by the lovely Barbara Rucci and her design studio?

As a Graphic Designer by training I jumped at the chance. How cool! I've never had the opportunity to work on an App before and as a mum to two boys addicted to messaging on their iPhones and iPods, I was hoping to win a bit of credibility there too!

Barbara had a very clear idea of the kind of images she wanted to incorporate into her App so we rigged up a shared page on Pinterest where she could show me in quite specific detail the look she was after. This made my job much easier because I could see right from the outset the approach she desired: fun, quirky and colorful. I was excited to begin.

We started in the usual way with me responding to her list of subject matter with a series of simple black and white sketches. In total we worked on around 100 drawings for the App which we tackled in groups of 20 or so at a time. Once Barbara had approved these, the sketches went on to be made into vector shapes in Illustrator and then color was added. 

This is what Barbara has to say about the app and how it all came to be: "I started designing all of the emojis myself, but then realized I would never get this app done on my own. So I hired this crazy-talented illustrator named Bee Brown to draw about 100 of the emojis. I drew about 30 myself. Bee is really good at animals and faces, something that is not particularly my strength. I am very grateful to Bee for creating these drawings that are so whimsical and beguiling and F.U.N.! They are exactly what I was imagining."

"The emojis cover all types of categories, not just art supplies. There are flower and feather emojis, nature and beach emojis, food and dessert emojis, transportation and holiday emojis, and party emojis. They really are all so beautiful, I can’t wait for you to see them!"

Artsy Emoji's can now be downloaded from the Apple App Store
I hope you enjoy using them as much as we enjoyed creating them! - Bee

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Creating a Fabric Collection with Rae Ritchie

Hi Everyone!

Today, I wanted to share my process of creating a fabric collection with amazing fabric manufacturer Dear Stella! I’ve been working with them for a couple years now, and the medium of fabric design never fails to excite me!

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Every collection I create begins of course, with gathering inspiration.  Since many of the work I do is based in nature, I gather many photos of flowers, plants and animals as my main source of inspiration. Discovering new (to me!) species of plants and animals and trying to capture their essence is a driving force for me. 

Color palettes naturally come out of this research. I’ll start with Pantones right away, and pull the main colors I choose to use in the collection.

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The next step is planning the prints I’d like to create. I usually make a list for myself to use during the sketching process. Sketching is always the most intense portion of the process for me. This is where the look of the collection is first proposed. I’ll often use sales information from past collections to help with my decision making in layout and subject matter.

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Creating the actual artwork is my favorite portion of the process. Here, I apply color to the sketches and bring the collection to life! Sometimes I will do actual paintings, and sometimes create the art digitally on my Wacon Cintiq. It mostly depends on how complex the repeats are and the look I’m going for. I feel most comfortable painting florals in actual gouache, so most groups heavily based in florals will be hand painted.

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Cleaning the art and indexing the files into screen separations is the most technical part of the process. Making sure the integrity of the print is intact, while still limiting the number of screens is essential!

Creating colorways is a very fun step, because you can start imagining what the quilts can look like, and how the final impression of the collection will read. It also excites me to think about what my quilts will be made into and how they can inspire those around me. 

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Finally, I’ll add Pantone colorchips to the repeats and send the files over to be printed in strike-off form. Then, a little while later, the strike-offs are sent to me! This by far is the most exciting part. Seeing the art directly on the fabric is very rewarding! The Dear Stella team and I will work on choosing the final prints and colorways to run in the group, and from there a fabric collection is born!

Enjoy! Rae Ritchie

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Anisa's Mural for Mud Bay Pet Store

I was recently hired to do my first mural! My client was a local advertising agency who produced the mural for their client, a pet food shop. I’m sure this helped to make things go smoother, as the agency was able to act as a go-between for myself and the customer. Mud Bay is a beloved Northwest-based pet food company with a number of locations in Portland and Seattle. The brief that was given to me by the creative folks at the agency spoke of a "welcome to Northwest Portland" message. I'm proud to say the mural is one of the first things you’ll see as you get off the freeway and make your way into the quaint, charming neighborhood of Northwest Portland. The town is filled with Victorian and Craftsman houses, so we reflected that in the mural, and added lots of pets.

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This is my original artwork for the mural. There were a few revisions before it became a mural. The building owner wanted his own dog in there, so the gray dog was changed to cute dachshund.

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Here’s the final mural. It's amazing they were able to do this! Though I’d be lying if I didn’t mention that there are a few changes and touch-ups I wish I could make. (That's the artist in me.) Also, it looks as if they stretched the drawing. Now I wish I could go in and add more flowers, they look a little bare.

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Overall it was a very exciting experience. It’s also super cool to see your art work so large like this! Hope you enjoy it too, Anisa

Jill Howarth tells all!

Our own Jill Howarth answers your questions about creating art for surface design. We asked the artist to select three questions pertaining to her art career. These are her fascinating answers.

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Q. If you hadn’t become a professional artist, what kind of career do you think you would have chosen?

A. That's a tough question but my best guess would be a teacher. I come from a family of them, with my mom, three brothers and all three wives in the same profession. My sister and I seem to be the only ones not in the family business!

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Q. Where do you find inspiration? Do you go for walks in town, look at nature shows on TV, or just start scribbling and see where your muse takes you?

A. I'm somewhat of a mid-century picture book collector, having amassed a pretty thick stack of Little Golden books, amongst others. I don't stop at vintage though. I always had a soft spot for buying beautifully illustrated books for my kids when they were small and now I just buy them for myself!

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Q. How old were you when you knew you wanted to be an artist? Did you strive to get your art on the refrigerator as a child? Describe your earliest artwork. 

A. My earliest memory is drawing Peanuts characters on large, white paper that my mom brought home from her classroom. I had several Peanuts books that I could draw from with my trusty “El Marko” markers (penciled sketched first, of course). That evolved into redrawing cute Hallmark cards for my mom's bulletin boards in her classroom. Around age 10, I knew that I wanted to be a “commercial” artist. I saw this as hopefully a practical way to make money with art, vs. fine art. Eventually this evolved into getting a degree in graphic design.

"I was always a creative kid" - Lauren Lowen

Our own Lauren Lowen answers your questions about creating art for surface design. We asked the artist to select three questions pertaining to her art career. These are her fascinating answers.

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Q. If you hadn’t become a professional artist, what kind of career do you think you would have chosen?

A. Definitely something with a performance element to it. I loved being in plays and musicals in high school, and in another lifetime I would have ended up applying to theatre programs instead. In my art there is a focus on characters and deep love for them. When I’m not creating characters on paper, I’m on stage embodying them!

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Q. How old were you when you knew you wanted to be an artist? Describe your earliest artwork.

A. I was always a creative kid. I remember stumbling upon an old art project where the objective was to draw what I wanted to be when I grew up. I said “artist” with a drawing of me by a framed piece of art in a gallery. It was first grade or so, which puts me at about 6 years old. However, it probably wasn’t until I was about 12 or 13 that I really considered it as a serious path. At the time, I was copying all my brother’s comic books and anime I found online (yup, I was one of those kids). I drew silly comics about my bird character with the genius name of “Bird-O” and even started a comic that was inspired by superhero characters like X-Men. That seems so long ago!

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Q. What advice would you give to a young person who is just beginning an art career?

A. First of all, you don’t have to be everything to everyone out there. Meaning that it’s OK if your work doesn’t fit with every client or market. I have a thing I do and have been fortunate enough to find the people who need and love my particular skills. This means that some companies or clients that I think are really awesome may not ever need me, and I’m at peace with that. (However, I have been pleasantly surprised at times. You never know!) Many artists ask themselves “What artwork do I have to make to get hired?” and although this is an important question, you really should ask yourself “What is the work I want to be making?” You should answer THAT question first, then move on to finding the proper homes and venues for your art. Do you create funky hand-lettering? Cool, try making some fun greeting cards with it and approach stationery companies for licensing. Or create portfolio pieces that show it being used as a magazine cover and approach editorial clients. Think about what you do and how it can be applied in different scenarios.

Rae Ritchie's fascinating answers to your questions!

Our own Rae Ritchie answers your questions about creating art for surface design. We asked the artist to select three questions pertaining to her art career. These are her fascinating answers.

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Q. What’s your favorite animal to draw and why?

A. I really enjoy drawing and painting red foxes. Because they are such majestic creatures with their little human-like hands and graceful movements, I find myself introducing them in my work quite often. Sadly, I have never seen one in the wild! They are rumored to hang around the creek by my house in the early morning, so I definitely need to go for some 5 AM walks to see some! Cats also have a special place in my heart and on my drawing table!

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Q. What’s the life of an artist like? Do you work early in the morning? Late at night? How do you integrate your art time into your daily routine?

A. I feel incredibly grateful everyday to be a full-time artist who works from home. I have always been an early riser, so I often get to “the office” around 7 AM. I always feel more comfortable being awake and in the office before my clients get to work, so I can devote some time to licensable artwork before any assignments come in. Depending on the day, I may have time for personal work, or I’ll be booked with a client for the day or sometimes for the week. Every day is different, which I love!

Often, I’ll go for a run around lunchtime, then work until 6 or 7. They can be long days, but the work is always rewarding and enjoyable! I try to turn off in the evening and recharge for the next day. I must say that I should try to get out more, though I am a homebody for the most part and really do enjoy this set-up!

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Q. Everyone can answer the question, “What’s your favorite color?” But only an artist can answer “What are your two favorite colors to put together?”

A. Hands down, my favorite color is dark blue, and I love pairing it with a warm/pinky lavender. The night sky has always been a huge inspiration for me. The cool cast the moonlight puts on tones that are warm during the day is fascinating and comforting to me.