• The 100 Day Project

    Yesterday was day 100 of #the100dayproject. 


    But in all honesty...


    Now, some of you crazy kids asked if I would write about my experience with the project. And although I’m still befuddled as to why y’all want to hear my musings, here goes nothing… ;)

    First of all, I DID NOT PLAN TO DO  #the100dayproject.

    This was not premeditated. Coming from the lady who could barely squeak out 10 days of #inktober, 100 days seemed to be a bit of a stretch.

    So why did I decide to take on the challenge?

    As is common with artists, I had been dealing with the typical publishing-related frustrations and knew I was headed into a bit of a rut. I wanted to nip it in the bud, but I wasn’t sure exactly what to do.

    On a Tuesday back in April, I was just about to post a drawing on my Instagram when I saw a post tagged with #the100dayproject. Not able to control my Google-ready fingers, I checked it out. I wasn’t a stranger to Internet art challenges - there literally are a bajillion of them - so I thought why not?

    (It seemed like a good idea at the time.)

    I looked at the drawing I’d just finished, of a girl and her pet pig, and thought, “I like drawing kids. And I like drawing animals.” And thus #kiddosandtheirpetpals was born.

    Great story, right? I’ll tell it again later ;)

    So now some of you are thinking about taking on your own 100 day project (because if I can do it, you sure as hello operator can!) And that’s great! Go for it!

    But since you asked...

    Here are a 5 pieces of advice/things I’ve learned from the experience…

    1. 100 Days of STRENGTH.

    Pick a theme that you LOVE. I love drawing children and animals. LOVE. IT. In other shorter art challenges I have done, I have challenged myself to work on my weaknesses (*ahem* vehicles…), but the 100 day project is not the time or place for that. 100 days is a really long time and if you want to reach the finish line and not be a shell of your former self, I’d strongly suggest you play to your strengths. And if you do want to be a rebel (*overachiever*) and address your weaknesses for 100 days, make part of the theme something you love; i.e., if you’re not good at characters, then at least pick a medium in which you are super comfortable. You don’t have to prove yourself to anyone and the goal of the project is not to drive yourself insane.

    1. This project is not easy, set some ground rules.

    Like I said, 100 days is a really long time. This project is super open-ended because it’s meant to be tailored to your needs. I like a little structure, but I only ended making a few rules for myself.

    I tried to limit each drawing to an hour, unless I couldn’t figure out what to draw or got into a good groove. (I have a whole sketchbook full of images I started and did not finish because I didn’t want to post them. There were some days I would start 8-10 drawings before sticking with the one I finally ended up posting.)

    I tried my best not to think/overthink things. My brain is my own worst enemy and I do my best work when I just let my art instincts do the drawing.

    I also made sure my jerk of a brain knew that nowhere did it say it needed to be 100 CONSECUTIVE days. I took 3 weeks off to prepare for SCBWI LA and IT WAS OKAY. I gave myself a restart date and held myself accountable (#protips).

    Take a day or two off if you need to. Limit your post to weekdays. Consistency is key, but don’t set yourself up for burnout.

    1. Do the project for yourself.

    My number one rule when posting images to social media is this:


    Let me say it again, DO NOT ASK WHAT PEOPLE THINK OF IT. Please do yourself a favor and don’t open those flood gates. People will tell you what they think whether you ask or not. Post things because YOU want to post the thing you made that you love and want to share with the world. All that matters is what YOU think of it. 

    OWN IT.

    Okay, rant over. But seriously, people can get even more “request-y” during these challenges and you have to just take it with a grain of salt. I definitely asked people for animal suggestions throughout the 100 days, but never felt beholden to them.

    The one thing that never changed was that this was MY project and I wasn’t going to care what anyone else thought about it because I was doing it for myself. I wanted this project to be unapologetically me.

    1. Decide what you want out of the project?

    My initial goal with this project was just to come up with some story ideas.

    That’s it.

    What I ended up with:

    Confidence (in myself and my art skills), lots of new character/story ideas, sketches with the potential to finalize for my portfolio, pride at finishing what I started, etc.

    You may just want to finish. And that’s okay. But having an initial end goal is just something to keep in mind as you go along.

    1. Do something with the project.

    This is the thing I’m still working on (but give me a break, I just finished YESTERDAY you guys 😉).

    Maybe make a sketchbook out of your favorite images? Maybe a few of your illustrations inspired some story ideas that you just can’t wait to get into dummy form? Maybe take some of your favorites to final and make a couple corresponding illustrations to have a lovely set of sequential images that will just impress the pants off of all those fabulous editors and ADs just waiting to hire you <3

    (Side note: Create a unique hashtag for your project if posting to social media. It keeps all your images together and easily searchable. You can search different hashtags on Instagram to see how many posts have been made with that name.)

    Whatever you choose to do, don’t let all this hard work live solely on the internet. Give it a life. ( A very smart lady told me this.

    Thank you all for your support and encouragement throughout this process. I’m not going to say I couldn’t have done it without you (spoiler alert: I could’ve), but you all made the challenge so much more enjoyable <3

    Now go forth and make beautiful art!


  • An Unimaginary Puppet

    I just finished this Beekle puppet and since I am an old lady who apparently can't work Instagram and who's iMovie keeps bailing (thanks, Obama), I will just post the video here :)

    This is Beekle. Beekle is from the book The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by the super awesome Dan Santat. Beekle (and Dan, obvs) was awarded the Caldecott in 2015.

    If you have not read Beekle yet you need to go grab a copy ASAP. It is wonderful.

    Here's the back and front of the finished puppet:

  • Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be Made into a Puppet)

    Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be Made into a Puppet)

    Hello everyone!

    I know, I KNOW! I'm terrible at blogging (but I'm good at Twitter and Instagram)!

    I am working on a lot of projects and this is one that I just finished :)

    I am slowly building my puppet skills and I really want to increase my skill-set to be able to create puppets of my own characters, which are definitely a little more complex. So, in order to practice my construction skills, I wanted to find an appealing character, not of my own design, to build.

    Enter Snappsy the Alligator.

    A fun, simple design with limited clothing to hide my mistakes behind ;)

    I won't bore you with a step-by-step of the process, but here are some photos I remembered to take.

    And the final puppet! I'm really happy with how he turned out. He's not completely on model, but he was already the biggest puppet I've ever done and I didn't want him to get too out of control. He is also the first puppet I've done that has a tail, that has a working rig/mec, and he's the first full-bodied puppet I've created.

    Anyway, Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book) by the fabulous Julie Falatko and amazing Tim Miller is out today! It is getting STELLAR reviews (obviously), so go grab yourself a copy ASAP! :D

  • Flawless

    Cleaned up and colored one of my Inktober sketches :)

  • Pear-shaped


    The skirt print is based on a Marimekko pattern I'm obsessed with :)

  • Inktober!


    I made it through #inktober! I actually managed to get a sketch done every day with no catching up :)

    Here is a compilation of the month's sketches.

  • Once upon a puppet...

    Most of you know I have made some puppets. And although I’ve posted a few WIP pics, I thought it’d be fun to do a little process post on this here blog of mine :)

    This madness began around April/May 2013. Silly me thought it a great idea to teach myself how to make a puppet. I’ve always been cursed with the “I could do that” gene and that’s exactly what I thought when a friend posted a picture of a Muppet “Whatnot” from FAO Schwarz.

    So, I came up with a design I wanted to create and then started to research.

    I checked YouTube for tutorials and I looked up puppet-makers to see if they had and process posts on their respective blogs. Of course, the tutorials I came across didn’t say how to make my exact design, so I had to create some paper mock-ups. I didn’t have any prior pattern-making experience, so that was a bit of a challenge.

    Once I figured out how to make the basic shape of my puppet, I bought the materials I would need and got started. I worked on the puppet full-time for a week and the result of all the blood, sweat, and tears, was my first puppet, Penelope (Penny).

    Since June of this year, I have made 5 additional puppets. In total, I’ve made 8 puppets and I learn something new with each one I build.

    One of the recent puppets I made was for the lovely and ridiculously talented, Renee Kurilla. (You still have time to back her Kickstarter, so go do that and then come back!)

    Making a puppet based on an upcoming picture book she illustrated, Orangutanka (due out March 2015) started out as a joke at least year’s CTN. And because I’m nuts, I followed through with the joke ;)

    Here are some process pics of the orangutan puppet coming to life. It was my first animal puppet and my first time working with faux fur. Faux fur is not the cheapest, so I definitely did my best not to mess up. Figuring out how to pattern the orangutan's snout was also a challenge. It’s a bit off model, from Renee's design, but I think he turned out pretty well.

    Renee is happy with Tangy (that's what she named him) and that's what matters!

    I hope you all have a great week! :D

  • Illustration Blog Tour

    Last Monday I was tagged by the ever-so wonderful Josh Nash! (Thanks, Josh!) Josh and I are good Twitter pals and he is EXTREMELY talented and supportive. Please do yourself a favor and go check out his amazing work here. Plus, luckily for you, he has an Etsy shop! Go take a look - his Guy Fox prints look great on my walls and will look even better on yours! :D

    What am I currently working on?

    I am always working on a variety of projects. I like to keep busy and find I am too efficient at giving myself projects to do. (This great article sums up the workings of my crazy brain.) At the moment I am splitting my time between working on assets for a  TV show/interactive app pitch with a friend (which I can't share, sorry!), some puppets for CTNX in November, and fussing over my first picture book dummy.

    (This is an initial concept for Fritz, who hopefully will be getting up to some silly antics in my picture book dummy.)

    How does my work differ from others of its genre?

    I can only hope that it’s different. It’s sometimes hard for me not to see my influences staring back at me in a piece, rather than seeing my work as is. I look at the work out in the market now (and it’s AMAZING) and I have to stamp out the feeling of wanting to be more like other illustrators. There seems to be a fine line between admiration and imitation in the art world. But the best compliment I can receive is someone saying they can see “me” in my work. When that happens I feel like I’m on the right track - because (thankfully) I’m the only me that’s me!


    Why do I write and illustrate what I do?

    I don’t think I have ever had a choice. I’ve been drawing for so long, there never seemed to be another option. I illustrate because it fulfills a mental and physical need - so it’s a really good thing that I also love it! I enjoy drawing for children and young adults because I have the brain of a teenager and the heart of a 5 year old. I don’t think I will ever view things from an “adults” perspective - which is great for illustrating, but not so great for doing laundry.

    How does my creative process work?

    I always start with characters. And I always start with their faces. Faces are my favorite thing to draw and I place a lot of importance on getting them right.

    This is embarrassing, but I tell myself stories - usually in the car or in the shower (most of all when I should be sleeping). An idea will pop into my head and I'll see how it plays out. Some are ridiculous and go nowhere, but the rest I try to remember to write down. When I'm thinking of stories, a lot of the times I have a pretty clear idea of how I want the character to look. When I don't, I try to do some mindless sketching. My brain gets in the way a lot, so I try and shut it down so my ideas translate to paper better.

    Once I get some character designs I like, I write down things about the character. About her family and her personality, her wardrobe, etc. I look up reference for clothing and what her room would look like. I always get lots of reference for environments.

    When it comes time to do actual illustrations, I do some thumbnails with different compositions and camera angles to see what works best for that particular scene. Once I have a composition picked, I do rough sketches. I'm basically Dr. Frankenstein when it comes to preliminary drawings. Everything is drawn separately so I can put it together in Photoshop. The free-transform is my bestie.

    Then I usually go through at 3 or 4 versions of the illustration before I get to the finished pencil lineart. After that, it's just adding color digitally.

    Initial sketch.

    Final line art.

    Photoshop progression.

    (This question took me a really long time to write and I apologize if it doesn't make sense. I don't think my creative process even makes sense to me.)

    Who’s next?

    I would like to tag the fabulous Julia Lavigne! If you haven’t seen her work, her charming and colorful work will definitely be a new favorite!

    Oh, and follow Josh and Julia on Twitter! They are both tweeting rays of sunshine!

  • Banjo Jam

    Banjo Jam

    A little bit ago I did an art trade with the wonderfully talented Kyrstin Avello. This is the piece I made for her - very much inspired by my over-watching the most recent Mumford and Son’s music video, haha. 

    Please check out the AMAZING piece she made for me here! (I love process GIFs so much and can’t seem to tear my eyes away from this one.)