Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Surtex is OVER baby!!!

I'm almost recovered from the thing that was Surtex 2008! I'm still sleeping more than I've ever slept in my life. I think my body is trying to make up for the days prior to the show where I slept an hour or two, went to eight or more hours of my day job, came home and worked on my own art until the wee hours where I snuck in a nap for an hour and then tiptoed out the door to my day job again. Luckily I managed to take off a full week of work, giving me two days before the show and one day after to try and get my sea legs again.

My mom was the lady of the hour and flew up from Hawaii to take care of me and to help out with the show. I'm very lucky to be blessed with the most supportive family on the planet. It's so nice to have parents that don't say stupid stuff like, "You really have to go to sleep, this is just crazy," or "Are you sure you really want to do this show, it seems like a pretty big expense? I mean can you afford all this?" It's a relief because that's what I was saying to myself in the mirror often enough. Haha. The last thing I needed was for someone to reinforce my fears. In life I tend to fluctuate between alarmingly self conscious and worried to overly confident and cocky. This whole Surtex ordeal brought out both sides of my introverted-extrovert personality.

I'm going to be blogging about Surtex off and on over the next couple of weeks. Today I'm going to touch on preparatory materials. At twenty-six I'm very lucky to have a couple of distinct and set styles. Growing up in an artistic household and then attending Pratt Institute where I got my BFA taught me one very important thing:

**As an artist it's imperative that you create work in a style that becomes you.**

If you do artwork that's all over the place and that doesn't have a look that can be traced to you, you can forget ever finding steady work. For this year's show I saw my art being divided in three ways that really stood out to me:

1. Fashionista East - consisting of feminine but bold vectorized black line and highly saturated flat color
2. Baby Mermaids - bright watercolors based on always sweet and often funny sketchy line art
3. No Ka Oi - vectorized artwork without a solid line, driven by shape and a set Pantone color palette
--a look that a lot of my surface design is taking lately--

As an artist when you interview for a job it's not uncommon for you to have three or four resumes. If I were interviewing for an animation position it's likely that my background in apparel would have no place on my resume. If I was looking to work as a graphic designer it's doubtful that an interviewer would want to know about my experience working as an oil painting instructor at Interlochen's summer art program. I went into Surtex knowing that it was important to take this concept to heart. The last thing I wanted was for a potential contact to fall in love with my baby mermaids and get home and not be able to remember where they saw them.

I designed three separate business cards so that people could take whichever card was going to remind them of what they were interested in my art for. It turns out that this idea was pure gold and I got a huge response from people who would methodically look through the three cards and then take one for their ever growing packet of artist materials.

Here are the three business cards that I pulled together for the show:

I also had over sized postcards printed with lots of writing space and with artwork similar to the business card above that matches my blog design. That ways potential clients could write notes to themselves so that they had stuff to talk about with me later.

Since this was my first show I came into it a tad blind and a bit not knowing to expect. It turns out all the print collateral stuff was right on the money. When I do the show next year I'll create stuff with the same design principles and sensibilities. However, I will make Hella sure that they are not sent to me via DHL shipping. I think I would have had more luck with a carrier pigeon. I actually didn't get stuff delivered on time the way it was supposed to go. I ended up printing the first day's print collateral on my HP 5150 - AKA 'The Little Engine that Could.' My mom actually had to go to the DHL warehouse to pick up the cards and everything in the wee hours of the morning on Monday the 9th, the second day of the show. It was OK because Sunday turned out to be pretty sleepy and the stuff from my printer was just fine. I was upset but everything worked out A-OK no thanks to the shipping service from hell. Seriously, never use them. Never. Ever. Never. Well you can use them if you don't care about ever getting your stuff. At one point they had no idea where on the continent my stuff was. Just a word to the wise, Fed Ex has none of these crazy problems. DHL was the only major glitch for this mission. Surtex turned out to be very NASA-like to me and I talk about it in a kind of scientific way now that I have this first show under my belt.

Next time I blog about Surtex I'll be talking about my booth. Rah Rah Rah! It's nice to be back :)

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Surtex Count Down!!

I'll be at Surtex in Less than two weeks, much less than two weeks. Ok, let's be honest. I'm kind of freaking out. Ok, I'm really freaking out. My problem is that when I truly freak out I give myself a migraine forcing me to take a full ten hour time-out. Thus, I have to monitor my freak out levels so as to stay functioning. SO EXASPERATING!

I'm wandering into the slightly unknown when it comes to Surtex. Luckily I have a ton of experience with large shows and I'll be drawing on that. My mom has been defying child labor laws since 1987 when she used to dress me and my younger sister up in matching dresses and take us to gigantic craft fairs huge conference centers. We would work ten hour days as her "special sales girls." A lot has changed since the days when I used to work in exchange for pretty stickers and crayola crayons . . . I now work to buy Winsor & Newton inks... I'm ever so thankful for the sales experience. You should check her stuff out over at
Betty Tags.
She pretty much rocks.

I also have a unique situation at my job. I animate for a company that is smart enough to send their artists away on business trips to conferences now and again. That way we can talk with the people buying product and see how things are being received. These are done in pure convention style very similar to Surtex. I'm sure my experience with the shows that I go to for work in Chicago and Florida will be slightly different than my upcoming show in Manhattan. I'm afraid there won't be Hilton Hotel rooms, 600 thread count sheets and five course meals in the cards. . . sigh. . .

I have tons to do to get ready so my posting here at 'She Sure is Sketchy' may be sporadic. I've discovered that if I take a cold shower at one in the morning I can keep drawing for another hour or two :) I was supposed to get a new website up in time for the event. I'm on an illustration roll and I don't really want to stop to program stuff in html. It's a tough call. I'm still swamped creating intellectual property and filing art for copyright.
Okay, since I despise posting stuff that's just text, here's another peek at my Baby Mermaids. They're scheduled to make their official debut in ten days. . . but who's counting?
Ps. Come say 'Hi' at Surtex 2008!!! I'm in booth 2518 in Hall 1E. Come pick up a temporary tattoo and a smile :)

Grow Green!

I'm in surface design frenzy mode :)

Friday, May 02, 2008

Directory of Illustration

This has been big on my list of things to get done. It's the design of my Directory of Illustration page for their annual book. I thought things were getting kind of stale so I decided to add another huge deadline prior to Surtex. I'm silly (stupid) that way. I burned the midnight oil on this baby. I'm glad that it does a nice job of representing who I am and what I do.
Normally when I design something I know exactly how I want it to turn out. This just happened. I moved things around a lot and then I'd draw something new to stick in a blank space. It was an organic way to pull it together. I had most of the girls done as line art and I needed to color them for Surtex.
I'm obsessed with lists. I make them about everything. The nice part about this project was that I got to cross off a bunch of stuff, like 'Design page for DOI,' 'Submit page for DOI,' 'Color 'Perfect Package for Surtex, 'Finish color tests for 'rainy day,'' '"Design new '' banner,'' 'Create textile inchies for Surtex''' etc. etc. It was a happy day. I'm nursing a migraine but it's doing wonders for my color work :)

**update: Ultimately I have found the Directory of Illustration to be a poor investment. Of all the marketing that I do, both online and in print, it has proven to be by far the weakest form of drumming up new business.

I am constantly being written by artists who are looking into doing it and wanting to know how I feel about the experience. I like the professional look of the site. I feel that it does improve the professionality of my work and diversify my online presense, but other than that, I think that it's not doing its job. I am speaking just for me, I'm sure other artists have seen great success with it, but it's not reaching my market the way it should.


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