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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It is my pleasure to introduce Kat Lendacka, a printmaker from the UK. Please make sure to give her Etsy shop a visit!
l me a little bit about yourself and your journey with printmaking?
I am a printmaker and my favourite technique is lino cutting. I live in Northamptonshire, United Kingdom, with my family and a whippet called Spot. After studying Graphic Communications (Illustration) and working in the graphic design industry for some years, I gradually moved away from sitting at the computer all day to using my hands (although a bit of computer work still remains)!
I was born and grew up in Litomerice, a rather picturesque small town approximately 40 miles north of Prague in the Czech Republic. My first ever try at lino cutting was when I was about 13 years old with a retired art teacher and an academic painter, to whom I used to go for art lessons with several other youngsters. I wish I liked the man more! I might have done a lot more lino cutting! Next time I had a go was while a first year student of Graphic Communications (Illustration) degree at Northampton University. This time, I fell in love! Linocut images appeared in many of my student graphic projects as well as in the final major project.
It still took some years before it became my every day obsession due to a full time job, lack of space and then babies taking over my time and the house! In the last 3 years, lino cutting has taken over the dining room and conservatory which are essentially my make shift studio. It is also where I run very small workshops.
Where do you draw inspiration from? Do you use references for your work?
Inspiration for me is everywhere. While walking our dog, exploring the countryside with the children, day trips to old cities (Oxford being my favourite), visiting my old home town Litomerice which is adorned with the most beautiful old houses! Animals in the British countryside and some fabulous gardens (Coton Manor Gardens being my absolutely favourite place on Earth). There are also a few artists that I find mind blowing – Angie Lewin, Emily Sutton being a couple of them.
Your work is so detailed. What does the process look like for one of your multicolored animal prints?
In the last 2 years, I have moved away from only black and white (one layer) images to multi block lionocuts. I prefer this technique to reduction linocuts. Using various materials (Japanese Vinyl, soft lino and old flooring vinyls), I like to cut out shapes and play ‘jigsaw’! Usually, I stick to 2 – 3 colours.
How has business been these days? Are you working on any new and exciting projects?
What next? I am happy doing what I am doing, more images as they pop into my head. Grow my Etsy shop. Pluck up courage and try a couple of art fairs! Experiment with some more products. But most importantly, have fun (as my Uni teacher Ian Newsham used to say ‘if you are not enjoying it, you are doing it wrong!’).
Hello Everyone! It’s my joy to welcome back one of The Art Spectrum’s own, contemporary artist Melissa Mary Jenkins for a giveaway of one of her paintings! Melissa appeared on The Art Spectrum back in June of 2017, you can read the interview here. This month you have a chance to win the painting below! Followers of The Art Spectrum also have access to this exclusive coupon code to use in Melissa’s Etsy shop: ARTSPECTRUMCOUPON for 15% off.
“Beneath the rust and grime which dulls the shine of our weathered hearts, joy patiently waits to be rediscovered.”
John Mark Green
Joy has been resting patiently for years under the weight of chronic illness but I have rediscovered the shininess of joy underneath the rust of fatigue and pain. As I continue to heal, I have been able to snowshoe and cross-country ski around our our farm yards and forests, and I have been struck by the rusty-burgundy colour of the dogwood trees surrounding me.
This painting began with layers of rusty-burgundy-pink with bits of white and grey. Pastels, charcoal, India Ink and pigment liner form the final layers.
*Paper is cold pressed 140 lb watercolor paper
*Painting measures 5×7 inches
*Signed and dated on the back
*This is an original painting, NOT a print
*Frame not included
Here is an update from Melissa:
This past Autumn I began to heal from Chronic Lyme Disease and a co-infection called Bartonella. As I feel the “fog” lifting, I have had a reawakening of sorts. I am completely and utterly inspired by my natural surroundings and have rediscovered the vibrancy of color in the farm fields, forests and pine trees surrounding our old stone farmhouse. I have begun to sketch outside and take daily adventures with our puppy Mylo. I have learned to pinpoint the lines in nature and translate this movement into abstract landscape paintings. I feel as though I have finally “come into my own” as an artist. Instagram still plays a very important role in my art journey, but I feel that it plays a different role in my life. The connections that I have made have taken precedent over looking for inspiration in other people’s artwork. This has been a turning point in fighting off the ever-invasive “imposter syndrome”. I feel as though the perfect way to describe my work is as follows: Inspired by natural surroundings, my paintings reflect the fluidity of the seasons and the movement of my soul in nature.
Some reviews of Melissa’s work:
“The canvas is just stunning and the customer service was impeccable, beyond expectation! Melissa sent me previews and snapshots of her progress which made me appreciate the hard work and care she puts into each custom creation! It was wrapped so nicely and securely, and even included a personalized note and gift tag. Really special! Highly recommended! Thanks Melissa!”
“Melissa was a joy to work with. She began to paint immediately. She answered my questions quickly and cared that the finished product was what I wanted. My beautiful, original painting now hangs above my bed.”
“SO IN LOVE WITH THIS PAINTING! Melissa is a unique artist and is very gracious to returning customers. Thank you again!!”
“I am soooo pleased with the service I received from the boutique owner. This was sincerely above and beyond! The package was soooo nice. A lot of attention to details! And the piece of art is gorgeous! Thank you so much!”
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your business?
I have pretty much been making art since the beginning – my mom and I like to joke about how I once wrote the tooth fairy a letter asking for “more practical things than quarters, like crayons!” Although art was always a true love, it was never a big school thing for me. My high school barely had an art program and I hated the idea of being graded on art anyways. After high school, I went to college to study Sociology. After school I was pretty unsure of my future. I ended up being a swim coach for a few years and bought a super fun 100 year old house, I was really trying to be a grown up. But I was stuck and not happy with where I was going. After some pep-talks with my parents and the realization that I could change my direction, I applied to art school, sold my house, and moved back to my college town to study photography.
I fell in love with pinhole photography and still hope to get back to making those images again someday – but that practice is very darkroom reliant and I didn’t have any access after school. It was very important to me that I keep making, in some way, after I graduated and I ended up ordering a loom online just to have something to keep my hands busy. I made one or two projects on the small loom and immediately knew I wanted to try it on a huge scale! Jonny built me a 5 foot wide loom (and now a couple others) and I was hooked. Jonny and I started The Eddy Line Co. together with the dream of me making art and him making furniture. I have the privilege of getting to try and see if we can make a space out in the art/maker world while he keeps his big boy job for now. He is a huge support for me though, making our looms, creating custom boxes for shipping and doing our post office runs. While I make the fiber art pieces, there is no doubt that this business is a team effort for us both.
What drew you to fiber arts?
After school, I went through a period with a lot of anxiety. I needed something that could keep my hands (and mind) busy while I figured out my next steps. I had learned some of the basics of embroidery in a textile class I took in college so I started a few small stitching projects for friends and wedding gifts. That one class “Intro to Textiles” I think it was called, was a huge inspiration for me. I’m definitely that person who just needs a few of the basics and then I’m off figuring out my own direction. Both my embroidery and hand dyeing basics came from that class.
I think I was drawn to weaving because of the color and texture and just experimented with my little loom until I taught myself some basics. I was determined to make things that I wished were out there, while at the same time not making something you could already find.
Where do you draw your inspiration for your woven wall hangings?
Finding inspiration is one of my favorite parts of making! I am a huge collector of images. I can get stuck in the Pinterest world for hours and I love it, but I also take a lot of pictures wherever I go. I look for color combinations in everything, as well as different textures, shapes, and compositions. I can see future projects in architecture, fashion, nature hikes, paint colors, plants, paintings, everything.
What is the creative process like behind making one of your pieces? How long does it take to finish a larger piece?
The process behind a piece can vary as much as the piece itself. Sometimes they start with just a color palette and a size, sometimes I just know I want it to be round and neutral, sometimes it is completely based off a photo – the same colors and composition. The less rules I place on my work process, the more freedom I have to mix it up and make new work.
I recently was commissioned to make a piece that was 5 feet wide and 6 feet long – it took me about 45 hours of actual weaving time to complete.
Do you have any recommendations for those looking to get into fiber arts, weaving, or selling online?
If you are interested in getting into fiber arts, my recommendation is just to go for it! (Same with selling online – I had to just hit start and figure it out from there or else I never would have begun.) If you are someone that works best with rules, find a class or book that can teach you the basics. If you don’t necessarily like coloring inside the lines – I think fiber art lends itself to experimentation and it can be really fun. You don’t have to make a huge financial investment to try it out, and, except for dye projects, you can pretty much pick them up and put them down for any amount of time you have. No pressure, just enjoy it. If you aren’t enjoying it, try something else.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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).
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!
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.
Watch Deanna’s Thoreau Quote Sketch Timelapse: “We Can Never Have Enough of Nature”
I’m so excited to introduce Annie Tarasova from the DreamyMoons Etsy shop. Annie is 21, from Australia, and has a beautiful and successful shop. You can follower her on Instagram and watch her videos on Youtube.
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey with your art and business?
I have been drawing, reading and creating ever since I was very little. All throughout high school I knew I wanted to go to university to study either art or design, however at the very last minute I changed my mind at the fear of too much competition in the art and design businesses. Instead, I went on to study health science. It was wildly interesting, however after two years I realized something was missing. I didn’t have any time to express and explore my creative side – the side I treasured the most since childhood. I felt like it was leaving me.
I took a break, started traveling, and opened my Etsy shop DreamyMoons which very successfully took off and filled my life with more purpose than ever. I made a difficult decision to leave Uni to follow my heart and intuition. I knew that I needed to pour all my energy into creating.
How has social media impacted your business?
Social media made a huge impact on DreamyMoons. Before opening my Etsy shop I already had a following as I absolutely loved expressing myself through photography and videos. I am so thankful for the audience I already had on Instagram that followed every bit of my journey and supported my business from the beginning. I feel like nowadays there is no better way to promote your business other than on social media – it is what we check if not every day, then most days.
I draw my inspiration for my art from our beautiful Universe. Through my art I am exploring the divine connection between us and the world around us. I am very interested in astrology and celestial bodies – I find it unbelievable that we live on a blue ball rotating around a star in nothingness. My artworks often contain stars, planets and moons.
I wanted to create something more than just a calendar. Year of Growth is a 2018 lunar calendar which shows what phase the moon is in every day of the year. Most importantly, the reason why I chose to call it “Year of Growth” is because every month has it is own goal and/or intention, whether it is meditation, spending more time in nature or writing. Each monthly goal is designed to help your journey to opening your mind and heart.
I travel. That is just as important to me as painting. I can not stay creative and productive if I am home for a long time. I have this crazy urge to travel. It is the best feeling coming back home from a trip, feeling fresh and inspired and motivated to make things happen. It really helps that my partner is a photographer – if he is away for a job overseas, he is able to take me. Travel is a break from expressing myself on paper, however not a break from creativity. I still love to take photos and film videos and share them on my social medias.
Hello All! I recently had the joy of opening a new Etsy shop, Pretty Shiny Prints, and as an artist wanted to have the best graphics possible for my shop’s banner. I decided to create this post so that you can replicate the process I went through to create mine!
What is Canva?
Canva is a free web-based software that runs in your browser where you can create beautiful photo layouts, business card designs, Pinterest-worthy collage pins, banners, and more! I chose Canva because Picmonkey, which is also one of my favorite online photo editing site, is no longer free.
Step 2: Sign up using your email , Facebook, or Google account. Once you have an account, you can save any work-in-progress designs and come back to them later.
Step 3: Open your Etsy shopfront in another tab. Click the orange “Edit Shop” button. You will notice a small orange camera button on the bottom right hand corner of your current banner or banner space:
Step 4: Click on the orange camera button. You will see the following pop-up:
Step 5: Take note of the minimum dimensions of the “small banner” and the “cover photo”. This tutorial will take us through creating a”cover photo”, which is 1200×300 px. The same method can be applied for the “small banner”.
Step 6: Switch over to Canva and under “Create A Design” you will see a “Use Custom Dimensions” button in the upper right hand corner of the screen.
Step 7: Put in DOUBLE the minimum dimensions indicated on Etsy for the cover photo – this will enhance the quality of the final image and it will not be pixelated or blurry. The dimensions will be 2400×600 px
Step 8: Click the “Design!” button at right.
You will be met with a 2400×600 pixel white image for you to create your banner. Use the Layouts, Elements, Text, Background, and Uploads sections on the left hand side to build your banner. I recommended that you use your own graphics if you are an artist, but if not you can upload stock photos, your logo, or any other images you would like on the banner. Here’s the banner that I ended up making for my shop:
And here are a couple of other designs that I played with but didn’t end up going with:
If you’ve had a logo created for your shop, or items that have particularly good images, upload them to the Uploads section so that they’re ready to be used in your banner.
You can make more than one banner, which is helpful if your shop is having a sale and you want a big, beautiful announcement banner across the top of your shop telling people about your sale.
Make sure the images that you upload to the Uploads section are high quality so they are not too small or look pixelated.
Creating Facebook Banners
Creating Facebook banners, or Facebook cover photos, is the same idea, but here are some tips for creating them:
Best dimensions for Facebook cover photos : 820×462. This will ensure that your photo looks great on both a desktop and a smartphone!