Interview with Illustrator Signe Gabriel

It is my pleasure to feature artist Signe Gabriel on the blog this month! Signe is a Danish illustrator from Lund, Sweden. You can check out her Etsy shop, follower her on Instagram, and peruse her beautiful artist website to see some of her outstanding collaborations and projects. You can contact Signe for commissions by sending her an email:

Interview with Illustrator Signe Gabriel #illustration #etsy #illustrator #artist #artblog #giftideas

Can you tell me a little bit about your journey with art? What inspires you, and what is life like in Sweden?

Like many other illustrators I was always drawing and painting as a child and just didn’t stop doing it as I grew older. However, no-one in my family are artists or even have their own business, so it took me some time to realize that the thing I wanted to do – which was, basically, drawing and painting all day – could actually be my job. I am from Denmark and started working from Copenhagen, but one year ago I moved across the bridge to Lund in southern Sweden where I live now. I live with my partner and a few friends in a really old house – all of Lund is really old, and I feel very inspired just living in a place like this. My imagination is always going, and I make up stories around the things I see, and this is really where most of my inspiration comes from, as well as old fairy tales and Scandinavian folklore. Before I moved here, I was already painting Swedish-ish nature and houses, so I think I was just meant to move here.

Lately I have started writing a little as well, putting words to all these stories I make up all the time. Really I think the picture book is an amazing medium. First of all, as an illustrator it is fun to have to make a whole bunch of drawings that have to work together to tell a story, and second I think it has so many possibilities and directions to go in. Picture books can be both fun, poetic, or educational. I think this is the direction most of my work will be going in the future.

 Interview with Illustrator Signe Gabriel #illustration #etsy #illustrator #artist #artblog #giftideas

What have been some of your favorite children’s books and magazine projects? 

I have been lucky enough to work with Taproot Magazine a few times, and I always really enjoy illustrating articles for them. They focus on craft, sustainable living and homesteading. I love working with them, I feel like their themes are a natural fit for me and the articles are always interesting.

Interview with Illustrator Signe Gabriel #illustration #etsy #illustrator #artist #artblog #giftideas

For some reason, I have been doing quite a lot of food illustration, which is also always a fun challenge. We see pictures of food all the time, so imagining food in new ways is a fun challenge. I like making tiny chefs running around arranging huge plates of food.

For the last few months, me and my partner have been working together on a children’s book about depression. It has been a heavy subject to dive into, but also a really rewarding process, and it just feels so important, which is really motivating to me. We are almost done now, and hopefully we will find a publisher for it.

 Interview with Illustrator Signe Gabriel #illustration #etsy #illustrator #artist #artblog #giftideas

What have been some of your other favorite projects or commissions?

A really fun commission I had last summer was creating a map for a conference center in Malmö. They own a whole block of historic buildings in the city center, and needed a map for their clients to be able to find their way. All these houses are different, but they are all painted bright yellow, and in the summer there is pink flowers growing everywhere. I got to sit in the sun and drink coffee and sketch and look at people for a few weeks. It is commissions like that that make me feel like I have the most awesome job in the whole world.

After spending time on commissions it is always nice to be able to spend some time with my personal projects. Here I can really pour myself into it and express myself just the way I want. Often, these are the projects that turn into posters for my Etsy shop.

 Interview with Illustrator Signe Gabriel #illustration #etsy #illustrator #artist #artblog #giftideas

Do you have any advice for artists pursuing their work as a business? Has your artist website and Etsy shop had a positive impact on your business? 

My main advice for artists that would like to turn their work into a business is to make a good website. This is your window to the world and your chance to tell your story, so put a lot of work into it. Also, something I force myself to consider every once in a while, is whether or not the content on my website really shows only my best work. As artists we keep developing our skills, so sometimes we have to take down old favourites. It is better to show only a few, really great projects. As soon as you have a website running, send emails to all the people you can imagine working with!

Interview with Illustrator Signe Gabriel #illustration #etsy #illustrator #artist #artblog #giftideas

Etsy has definitely had a positive impact on my business. It feels great sending a poster to the other side of the world to someone who for sure would never have heard about my work if they hadn’t found it on Etsy. In Scandinavia, not a lot of people now about it, but I have been able to direct people here to Etsy via my website.

Click Here to Shop Signe


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Interview with Artist Nathaniel Armstrong

House Drawings by Nathaniel Armstrong #drawings #nathanielarmstrong #draw #artist #findnewartists #artblog

 It is my pleasure to introduce artist Nathaniel Armstrong! You can find Nathaniel’s work in his Etsy shop and follow him on Instagram @nathanielarmstrongart. You can also contact Nathaniel directly by email to inquire about commissions.

House Drawings by Nathaniel Armstrong #drawings #nathanielarmstrong #draw #artist #findnewartists #artblog

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey with your art?

     Hi, first of all thanks for the interview. I grew up in the state of New York in a city called Oneonta. Currently I live near Seattle. I remember being young and I would draw things occasionally. They were mostly surreal and fantasy pencil sketches, inspired by things I liked: Lord of the Rings and The Simpsons. If you pulled out my old sketchbook you would see a lot of people fighting with swords. These drawings were a lot of fun, but I didn’t consider it a career option really. I went many years without drawing or painting much until halfway through college. After nearly failing Chemistry 102 as a Geology major, I decided to pursue visual art genuinely. I have been making art regularly since then- about seven years.

Drawings by Nathaniel Armstrong #drawings #nathanielarmstrong #draw #artist #findnewartists #artblog #blackandgrey
Drawings by Nathaniel Armstrong #drawings #nathanielarmstrong #draw #artist #findnewartists #artblog
Drawings by Nathaniel Armstrong #drawings #nathanielarmstrong #draw #artist #findnewartists #artblog #ballet

Where do you draw your inspiration?

      There are definitely weeks and months that I don’t want to think about making art. I want to mention how important music can be as an inspiration. The textures, compositions, and melodies in music are a natural companion to art. I like albums as a way of listening to music and if there is a counterpart in visual art it would be a “series”. There are times when I get excited about an idea and I want to make a series of five or twenty. It is nice to explore an idea and then put out a chunk that feels satisfying- something that musicians do really well.

Drawings by Nathaniel Armstrong #drawings #nathanielarmstrong #draw #artist #findnewartists #artblog

What are your favorite materials and processes that you use in your work?​​

     As much as I like drawing and painting, digital art is an exciting new tool. I usePhotoshop often as well because it allows me to do things I cannot do with traditional media. In the same vein, playing an instrument is another tool that has helped me challenge myself in a new way. But, there are a few different materials that I like especially. Black and white pens on tan or gray paper is a look I like. Starting with a medium tone paper is nice because I can work on highlights more directly.

rawings by Nathaniel Armstrong #drawings #nathanielarmstrong #draw #artist #findnewartists #artblog
Drawings by Nathaniel Armstrong #drawings #nathanielarmstrong #draw #artist #findnewartists #artblog

What have been some of your favorite past or current projects or commissions that you’ve worked on? Do you have any in the making?

One of my own favorite projects is a series of small house drawings. I got carried away and I made about twenty. They were all four by six inch ink drawings of houses. Some were houses that I had seen around town and some that I had made up. It felt nice to commit to an idea and pursue a lot of possibilities. Another example is a few years ago I bought some acrylic paint and canvases and I started painting regularly for the first time in my life. I gained appreciation for abstract art by failing to become a good painter. Trying to find realism in paint was a challenge for me; but, I painted at least twenty canvases.

Drawings by Nathaniel Armstrong #drawings #nathanielarmstrong #draw #artist #findnewartists #artblog
Drawings by Nathaniel Armstrong #drawings #nathanielarmstrong #draw #artist #findnewartists #artblog

As far as the future, I think it would be a great to make books, albums, videos. I would like to write stories and music and combine that with artwork in some way. Album covers, posters, typography, and animation are also formats that I hope to continue working on in the future.

Drawings by Nathaniel Armstrong #drawings #nathanielarmstrong #draw #artist #findnewartists #artblog


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Interview with Artist & Adventurer Deanna Jensen from Dear Summit Supply Co.

Interview with Artist & Adventurer Deanna Jensen from Dear Summit Supply Co.

I’m so excited to introduce everyone to artist and adventurer Deanna Jensen from Dear Summit Supply Co. – Deanna creates durable gear for adventurers, and you can follow her blog and Instagram for the inside scoop on what’s new!

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself, your business, and your blog? What does it take to run a handmade business?

I’m a full-time mom and wife from the Midwest with a healthy addiction to mountains and the outdoors in general. I own Dear Summit Supply Co. – a brand with which I’ve made leather journals and sketch books for over eight years, and more recently began adding in vinyl stickers and hand-printed shirts with my designs, all aimed at inspiring and equipping outdoor adventures. I also write the occasional blog post about my National Park shenanigans or sharing tips on creativity and journaling.

Interview with Artist & Adventurer Deanna Jensen from Dear Summit Supply Co.

Running your own handmade business is not an easy thing to do, but it is incredibly rewarding. It takes a lot of hard work, self discipline, and follow through. I think people imagine me sketching and painting away all the time, but the reality is that the business side of the work (paperwork, emailing, planning, marketing, etc.) takes up a lot more of my time than the creative work.

Interview with Artist & Adventurer Deanna Jensen from Dear Summit Supply Co.
But whenever I start to feel overwhelmed with the business end of my work, I remind myself that those parts of the job are what allow me to pursue the creative work I’m truly passionate about, and that’s totally worth all the struggle along the way.

What are your favorite national parks and why?

I am a huge fan of America’s National Parks system and the amazing natural landscapes they preserve. My favorite national parks right now are Sequoia and King’s Canyon National Parks in the southern Sierra Nevada mountains of California. My husband and daughter and I spent several days hiking there last summer and it was just magical. The Giant Sequoia trees are so huge and majestic, and will take your breath away. Hiking among them made me feel like I was in on some grand, enchanting secret.

Interview with Artist & Adventurer Deanna Jensen from Dear Summit Supply Co.

And of course, that trip was also a goldmine of inspiration for my art!

If I could, I’d love to go on an extended road trip someday, visiting as many national parks as possible and staying a week or two in each one.

Interview with Artist & Adventurer Deanna Jensen from Dear Summit Supply Co.

Giant Sequoia trees
What are your thoughts on adventuring?

I define adventuring as just about anything that pushes you out of your comfort zone and challenges you – but ideally outdoors. That could mean a two-week backpacking trip, far removed from civilization, or it could mean a walk around the block in the rain. This is something I’m really passionate about because I believe that getting outside and seeing new landscapes and trying new experiences is one of the best things we can do for ourselves as humans. Study after study continues to confirm the stunning array of ways in which spending time in nature positively affects our minds and bodies.

Interview with Artist & Adventurer Deanna Jensen from Dear Summit Supply Co.
We spend so much time sitting down and staring at screens that I think we forget what it feels like to have dirt between our toes or to listen, really listen, to the music of birds calling to each other. There’s something about walking through a forest or hiking on a mountainside that reminds us that the world is much bigger and more beautiful than our own worries!

Interview with Artist & Adventurer Deanna Jensen from Dear Summit Supply Co.

What is the process like creating one of your stickers versus one of your handmade journals?

The process for creating a journal is quite different from the process to create a sticker. Making a leather journal is very time and labor intensive, requiring hours of precise work for each individual journal, even if I’m making multiples of the same design. I start with blank paper and hand-tear the pages down to the proper size, then fold them and punch the holes for stitching. The leather has to be cut and carefully punched as well before I stitch the two together with waxed linen thread.

Interview with Artist & Adventurer Deanna Jensen from Dear Summit Supply Co. #handmadejournals
I made journals for over eight years and even developed my own method to screen-print my mountain design onto the leather covers, but I’ve recently decided to retire my journals because of some shifts in my personal and business priorities.

Interview with Artist & Adventurer Deanna Jensen from Dear Summit Supply Co.
With stickers, I draw out the design on paper and then edit it in Illustrator, where I might smooth out edges and play with the arrangement of words or other elements. This process feels really free and fun for me, plus, once a design is done, it’s done. I can send it off to the printers and I don’t have to repeat the process over and over for each sticker I sell, freeing me up to create more new designs (or just spend more time outside with my daughter).

Interview with Artist & Adventurer Deanna Jensen from Dear Summit Supply Co.

Can you tell me about your Tiny Pages Project? Do you have any other projects in the making?

A while ago I challenged myself to fill up a teeny tiny sketchbook I had made, whose pages were about 3/4 inch tall and 1/2 inch wide, and I called the series of sketches and paintings that ensued the Tiny Pages Project. It was a great exercise in figuring out which details to focus on in order to make each tree or mountain or bear recognizable in such a tiny size. I learned a lot from it and had a lot of fun with those tiny sketches!

Interview with Artist & Adventurer Deanna Jensen from Dear Summit Supply Co.
Currently, I’m doing a daily sketching challenge in a Baron Fig planner (inspired by my friend Jonny of @drawntosketching on Instagram). Instead of tiny size, this time I’m challenging myself with all sorts of subject matter I have never attempted before, in addition to my usual landscapes. Each week, I’m alternating between black-and-white and color illustrations, to hopefully improve in both. I’m only a few weeks into this new project, and I’ve already learned quite a bit with both methods.

Interview with Artist & Adventurer Deanna Jensen from Dear Summit Supply Co.

Watch Deanna’s Thoreau Quote Sketch Timelapse: “We Can Never Have Enough of Nature”


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Skillshare classes for those looking to dabble in journal-making:

Bookbinding: Make a Pocket-Sized Notebook

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Introduction to Handmade Art Journals

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Artist Interview with Essi Kimpimäki from Essi Illustration

I am excited to introduce everyone to Essi Kimpimäki from South-East Finland! Essi’s shop, Essi Illustration, is the perfect place to find colorful art prints and gifts – please feel free to take a look. You can also find Essi’s work on her artist website, and you can follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey with art? What is life like in Finland?

I am a freelance illustrator, originally from Finland but I’ve been living in Scotland for the past 10 years. Drawing was always my favourite thing to do as a kid, and I can’t remember ever seriously considering of studying anything else than art. To be honest, I never thought I would actually make a living out of it but wanted to give it a go anyway, and so far it has worked out alright!

I moved to Glasgow to study at the Glasgow School of Art, and graduated with a degree in Illustration in 2011. The year after graduating was a bit hard, the difference between the art school and the real world was so drastic, I didn’t really know how to get commissions and how to in general start pursuing a freelance illustrator career. I ended up doing other random jobs, travelling, and eventually even went to study graphic design as I thought it would be easier to find work as a graphic designer. However, studying graphic design made me realize very fast that my passion lies in illustration, and that it really was all I wanted to do. So I dropped out after one year, and started working on my illustration career with a new motivation, and am still on that path!

So many of your pieces seem inspired by faraway places. What is the thought process and creative process like for these?

Yes! It really is one of my all time favourite themes to draw. The world is so full of magical, interesting places and cultures, so many countries that I want to visit – I know I probably won’t be able to see them all in real life, but on some level illustrating them can take me there. It can start from seeing a documentary, a photograph, hearing a song. It can also be a place I’ve visited myself, a feel of a location that I want to remember. I do some research, which can be reading about related topics, and of course looking at a lot of pictures. But I don’t want to replicate existing places exactly the way they are, my goal is to recreate the atmosphere of the location, to hopefully make the viewer be able to imagine how the place would feel (or to take them back there, if they’ve visited).

I do a lot of sketches of existing places, and then try to create my own scene from those. I also pay a lot of attention to colour, as I think every place has its own unique colour palette so getting the colours right can really help you to feel the place.

What has been one of your favorite projects or prints that you’ve worked on?

There’s been a lot of fun ones, but for some reason I’m now thinking about a project I did for my degree show years ago. I did a series of four screenprints called Sacred Animals, in which I looked at different cultures and their relationships with animals, and picked four interesting ones for my project. I had for example the royal white elephant of Thailand, where they are sacred and a symbol of royal power, and all those discovered belong to the king. It was the hectic final year of art school, but I got really into the research and loved reading and finding out more about the different customs and cultures. It combined my two favourite things, making images and learning about different cultures, and I guess that is why it still remains as one of my favourite projects ever. Which actually makes me think that I should do more of those!

Do you listen to music while you create – if so what are some of your current favorite artists or songs?

I usually do like to have something on in the background. But when I’m reading a brief, doing research or trying to solve a problem (composition, colours, whatever), i.e. having to actually use my brain, I might often work in total silence, or just have something very chill and unnoticeable music on. My recent favourite has been this lofi hip hop radio on YouTube, very chill and nondistracting. Too fast or crazy music will make me anxious and unable to concentrate!

Once I’m over the thinking part, I like to listen to podcasts, Radiotopia has some great ones, really love Strangers and Mortified and Criminal, then of course Serial was great as well as S-Town.. and plenty of others! And sometimes I like to watch documentaries or series on Netflix.


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The Whimsical Menagerie of Artist Emma Gray

I’m excited to introduce everyone to artist Emma Gray from Brighton, UK! I hope you love her whimsical work as much as I do, please make sure to show her Redbubble and her Folksy shop some love ♡! You can also follow Emma on Instagram (@em_menagerie) to keep up with her latest inspirations.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey with art? What inspires you as a human and artist? 

I live by the sea in Brighton in the UK and I sell my original paintings on wood and greetings cards in my Folksy shop, Menagerie. Most of my work is animal themed and I’m especially a fan of dogs. I often draw rescue dogs looking for their forever homes, and I take commissions for animal portraits. I also have a shop on Redbubble that sells prints and goodies like cushion covers, mugs and stickers (I’ve never grown out of my love for stickers!).

I grew up around various animals including a donkey, ducks, dogs and tortoises, all of whom I loved and found fascinating. One of my earliest memories was trying to make a dog out of clay I’d found in the garden, so the animal theme started young. I have a favourite photo of me as a toddler in a smock with more paint on me than there was on the paper and I also used to include unsolicited illustrations to accompany school homework!

I studied art history in Edinburgh whilst going to lifedrawing evening classes and selling paintings and mixed media work through shops and cafes. I’d received a subscription of ‘The Great Artists’ magazine as a young teen and art history was a passion, but, I sometimes felt like I was missing out on the creative journeys my friends studying Fine Art were making.

After university, I did a foundation course in art therapy and enjoyed how freeing it was to play and experiment using basic materials – big sheets of cheap paper we could tape together on the floor and crawl across as we made bold, imperfect marks with thick brushes, crayons and charcoal. It felt reminiscent of the joyful, present engagement with art that I had had as a child.

I continued to make for myself and for friends and family, working in various media including mosaic, printmaking and paper sculpture. But low mood had affected my confidence to sell to people I didn’t know and to remain motivated creatively. For several years I focused more on writing, and became involved with the local spoken-word short story scene.

A bout of depression in my thirties led me to a therapeutic art group, where, on the first day I painted pebbles. I managed to anchor myself more calmly in the moment with the activity and left with a intricately painted matryoshka pebble in my pocket. It seemed like a solid prompt to try to return to regular making no matter how I was feeling.

What began as a therapeutic pastime resulted in a growing collection of little painted animal pebbles. Inspired by Victorian cameos, I attached some to pins and ribbons to make brooches and these became my first listings in Menagerie. Wanting more space for detail, I later moved on to paint on wood. I enjoyed its warmth and texture and how the scalloped lasercut shapes I used provided their own frame.

Some milestones since I set up Menagerie have been some lovely galleries selling my cards and paintings, a piece being featured in Frankie magazine and exhibiting in the Artists Open House festival and Lewes Artists and Makers fair.

What past or current projects have been your favorite and why? 

A favourite painting of mine is ‘Gratitude’. It features a crow with wings outstretched, surrounded by precious objects and was inspired by real life stories of crows who have gifted objects to people. I think we are living in an era that is particularly worrying politically. Bonds across species move me as examples of communication and empathy despite differences. I decided to go vegan two years ago and I think this has intensified my awareness of the sentience, instincts and intelligence of animals.

‘Gratitude’ began with an old mahogony frame that I found on the street. I cut a wooden panel to fit it and the shape leant itself well to the composition of the crow. The painting was also larger than the surfaces I’d been working on – it felt like I was stretching my own wings and taking up space. ‘Gratitude’ was the first image I added to my Redbubble shop – perhaps with hopes for a flying start.

Another of my favourite pieces that’s also available on Redbubble is ‘Swim Dog’. Earlier this year I set myself a daily art project with the theme of ‘strange creatures’. An unexpected outcome was a rediscovered love of drawing. ‘Swim Dog’ was inspired by a beautiful whippet called Yoji on Instagram. In one photo of him, he has his ears back and I imagined him in a bathing hat and old-fashioned swimsuit. The drawing includes three of my favourite things – sea-swimming, dogs and bad weather!

How has your experience been selling on Folksy and Redbubble? Any advice for new artists looking to start their own business?  

I joined Folksy in 2012 and was drawn to it as a British company that’s also not so enormous that I might feel like a tiny fish in a big sea. The Folksy team have been great with championing my work on social media and including pieces in their Folksy Favourites and Gift Guides. I was also delighted to be a Featured Maker last year.

To anyone starting the adventure of their own online shop, I’d encourage you to expect and embrace the learning curve. It’s likely that along the way you will adjust your prices, modify your packaging, better identify your market and allow your creations to evolve. However, your customers shouldn’t be guinea pigs for products that are still in a stage of trial and error.

Unless you already have a big network, it can take time to get noticed and achieve sales, so it’s important not to be discouraged. Folksy has a lively forum where you can chat with other makers and share your work and tips. This can be a good way to feel part of a community and to up your profile. I’m quite introverted and not a natural self-promoter or networker, so selling under the supportive umbrella of Folksy has been helpful.

I would also say that it can help to put your art-selling eggs in a few baskets (I’m planning to start adding works to my neglected Etsy shop soon). I often hear of makers who, for example, have low or no sales at an art fair and lose confidence in their work when there were likely to be many factors unrelated to what they were selling that might have been at play.

Creativity can come with the gift of a greater sensitivity, but this quality can mean that a resilience needs to be developed when stepping into a selling and marketing role. Honestly, I don’t feel I’ve mastered this resilience myself, but I like the words in Rudyard Kipling’s poem ‘If’ that describe the life skill of being able to ‘meet with Triumph and Disaster, and treat those two impostors just the same.’ Praise and perceived success can be motivating, criticism and perceived failure can be discouraging. Both can be fleeting and subjective. So, it’s important to try to hold on to that deeper sense of what drives you to create, and to sustain that passion and journey with regular practice.

I started selling under Redbubble this year and I feel glad and grateful to have just reached 250 sales there. I appreciate having this space for my more diverse work from portraits of comedy heroes to the unicorn-esque ‘Magic Ladyhorse’. The latter, inspired by a gemstone-loving creature from Philippine folklore, is my bestseller and one of my works that’s been featured on Redbubble’s homepage. The featured works have led to many more sales and this has been a good lesson in the value of exposure.

With Folksy, I get the chance to package up original artwork, include little extras like a greetings card and write a personal thank you to my customer. I miss not having this with Redbubble, but I do value the ease of merchandise being produced and shipped by someone else. When I make a sale on Redbubble, the buyer remains anonymous so the process can feel quite impersonal. However, I still enjoy imagining the ‘Someone in Sweden’ wearing their Lord Magpie T-shirt or who the ‘Someone in the UK’ might be who bought the Party Igor greetings cards (and who, apparently, shares my love of the absurd!).

Can you tell me a little bit about the creative process that goes into your painted animal pieces?

My oval paintings on wood are usually inspired by a photo of an animal. I think we are all hardwired in anthropomorphism to a degree from children’s book characters, and particular photos inspire imaginings of names, personalities and outfits. I’m not a fan of real animals wearing unpractical, restrictive clothing, but I hope my paintings are fanciful enough not to be promoting this!

I use lasercut wood that I buy from a Welsh company called Daisymoon Designs, whose profits help support their own menagerie of rescued animals. I tend to draw designs straight on to tracing paper that I can then transfer to the wood to get the composition right first time. I also sometimes use Derwent Inktense pencils to broadly lay down colour first, especially if I want a painting to have stronger hues. I use acrylic paints, small brushes and a paper palette so I can tear off a fresh new sheet for each piece. Sometimes I’ll add extra detail in pencil and fine pen.

Painting the eyes first helps bring a character to life for me. I’m especially drawn to grumpy looking animals in party hats, but I have a tendency to involuntarily mimic the expressions of who I’m painting. My face needs timeout after particularly morose subjects!

Most of my animal characters have names – they seem to name themselves. Sometimes I imagine larger back stories as I’m working, especially for a piece that has more of a folklore feel. Whilst working on my painting ‘Home’ featuring a white stag holding a nest in his antlers, a short story emerged that then informed details of the image. The story can be found in my Instagram feed.

What are you currently listening to? 

I work in silence or listening to anything that feels like gentle, undemanding company. For me, BBC Radio 4 has this quality, as does Cerys Matthew’s weekly show on BBC Radio 6. I appreciate Cerys’ curious and celebratory delight for people, music and poetry and most of the music she plays (and often introduces me to) would be welcome on my own playlist. I also enjoy podcasts and a favourite is ‘The Mental Illness Happy Hour’ presented by comedian Paul Gilmartin. I’ve found this show full of insight, courageous disclosure and just the right amount of humour. What am I listening to right now? Squawking, squabbling seagulls roosting on the roof opposite. This is the soundtrack for most people in Brighton!


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Pastel Paradise: Interview with UK Illustrator & Designer Katherine Tromans


It’s a glorious Tuesday morning and I’d love to introduce all of you to UK artist Katherine Tromans, who has done some truly amazing work! Check out the interview here as well as her portfolio website and her Facebook.


Can you tell me a little bit about yourself? How did you begin in the arts and what drew you to illustration?

I’ve always loved drawing, and was influenced from a young age by my mum who was an art teacher. So I’ve pretty much grown up being encouraged to draw. I achieved a BA in Illustration from AUB, Bournemouth four years ago and since then I’ve done a variety of gallery exhibits, commissions, and I work at an advertising agency as an Illustrator & Designer.

Illustration is a great area to work in, it’s so diverse. I really like seeing my work in print, as its nice to be acknowledged for something you are passionate about.


Who have been some of your favorite clients and what have been some of your favorite projects with them?  

Recently I’d have to say the retailer SimplyBe – I worked on their social media campaign producing illustrations about ‘real women with real stories.’ They were quick turnarounds, and I was working fast maybe 5/6 hours to come up with something – I love a challenge!


I also love working with bands, I really enjoyed working with the folk band Goodnight Lenin on their branding, they were great to work with and they were really happy with the outcome. But I also really love the personal commissions – portraits, wedding invitations and that sort of thing as its more personal.


I’m absolutely in love with your “Paradise” pieces! Can you talk a little bit about the concept and inspiration behind these, as well as the process?  

Ah thank you! I’ve exhibited these pieces several times across London, but they’ve been getting increasingly popular as of late, and getting blogged a lot – which is nice to see! 🙂


I explored the theme of paradise as I thought it would be an opportunity to create something beautiful. I asked a variety of different people to describe the physical representation of their paradise ie. the shape of the land, the features etc. and then I translated this into an otherworldly pastel landscape.


Do you have any upcoming projects in the works?   

Yes I do! I visited Japan in April, and I’m going to start a painting series based on the places I visited; I documented Kyoto quite well for this reason. I met a wonderful photographer out there who gave me a print of Mt.Fuji – he captured a great pastel landscape of it at dusk, and it’s really inspiring me to start painting.


Also, I know this is random, but if you could have a super power, what would it be? 

I think mine would definitely be travelling through time, as long as it didn’t have consequences (like messing up the future and all that…).


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 Recommended Reading

Logo Design Love: A Guide to Creating Iconic Brand Identities, 2nd Edition


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Interview with Graphic Artist Jackie Hurd

Work by graphic artist Jackie Hurd

It is my pleasure to introduce graphic artist Jackie Hurd, creator of colorful pattern designs and vector art!

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey with art?

I would draw for hours and hours as a kid, it was both my entertainment and my escape. But my true journey with art started when I joined the U.S. Air Force back in 2003. The job they gave me was graphic design! They sent me to their version of art school where I sat and painted in camouflage and left with a solid foundation in design and military bearing. After a 10 year journey with the military, I decided to go freelance and I’ve been a freelance designer since 2014, the bulk of my clients consist of craft breweries needing beer labels designed…. it’s kind of funny because I’m not really a beer drinker. A few years ago I decided to finish my degree and elected to finish it in Illustration instead of graphic design. While working through my course work, I discovered and fell in love with the world of surface pattern design.

Work by graphic artist Jackie Hurd

Where does your inspiration stem from? Do you ever use references for your work?

I am inspired by many things. I have a few kids, a cat, a dog, some chickens… they are always giving me ideas. Lately I’ve been really into landscaping my yard so these days I’m finding a lot of inspiration from being outside. Flowers, trees… And yes, I do use references for my work. Before I start a new pattern collection I make a mood board. I also do a lot of research to learn everything I can about the subject of my collection, I feel like that’s important.

Work by graphic artist Jackie Hurd

What does the process look like to create one of your pattern pieces?

The process of making a pattern for me starts with a page full of doodles, sometimes in pen, sometimes in marker or paint. Most of the time, once I get my work scanned in, I work solely in Adobe Illustrator to color in and create my patterns. I love working in vector! The best way to learn about my process is to check out my Skillshare class.

Work by graphic artist Jackie HurdWork by graphic artist Jacki Hurd

How has selling been going on Redbubble? Do you have any advice for artists interested in showcasing/selling their work on there?

Selling on Redbubble has been such a great experience. I’ve still got plenty of beer projects to do, my own art projects now take up the bulk of my work day. I am finally at a point where I am making an income selling my work. I can actually pay a bill or two every month with my Redbubble earnings! My advice for artists selling or wishing to start selling on Redbubble is that it’s not a competition. Redbubble and success as an artist in general works best when you immerse yourself in the creative community. Get to know the other artists, comment on their work. If your work is good and you’re active on the platform, you’ll have a better chance at getting noticed and making sales.

Work by graphic artist Jackie Hurd

Have you worked on or will you be working on any new and exciting projects?

I am actually working on a very exciting project right now with a fellow surface pattern designer who lives in the U.K. I can’t say much about it at the moment but we’ll be making an announcement in August so more to follow on that 🙂

Work by graphic artist Jackie Hurd

What are some of your artistic and business goals for the near future?

I would love to land a licensing contract and see my work on some boutique shelves! My other goal is to get more classes up on Skillshare, I absolutely love teaching and sharing my approach to design.


Follow Jackie on Instagram 


Recommended Reading 

Graphic Artists Guild Handbook: Pricing & Ethical Guidelines 

Vector Basic Training: A Systematic Creative Process for Building Precision Vector Artwork (2nd Edition) 

Color and Pattern: 50 Playful Exercises for Exploring Pattern Design

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Artists’ Books on Etsy

For those of you who may not know what an artist book is, be my guest in explaining them! Each one is unique, sometimes made in editions like prints, sometimes “printed” by a press, other times not, cataloged in the library like books with a call number, often displayed in museums as art objects behind glass – each one may look, feel, or even sound different from the next (queue Keith Smith’s string book).

A few brave and creative souls have started selling their artists’ books on Etsy. I found these recently and thought I’d share!




Butterflies from TheMuseumShelves




Night from SignOfTheLadybug




Nachtmahr Box from buechertiger




Miniature Black Artist Book from PegandAwl




Book of Nonexistent Animals from HandmadeBook

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