Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Jazz Bunny

This very classy bunny is just one of three whimsical Oliver Lake prints given to my son for his birthday by his Aunt Windy from Hawaii. I just love his shoes.

Here are the other two. A fiddling squirrel...

And this cool bird (undoubtedly playing jazz, but I like to think he could also mash Little Cabin Home on the Hill):

Oliver Lake is a UK based artist whose illustrations have appeared in publications like "Time Out" and "The Independent" as well as children's books. Prints like the ones above can be found at his Etsy store, Iota illustration. Thanks Aunt Windy for introducing me to Oliver Lake's work -- and for a gift our little man will enjoy for years to come.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Paint What You Love

Most creative people are familiar with this saying, or ones like it. It's something we say to one another when we need inspiration and encouragement.

But it becomes especially important for commercial artists when deadlines, contracts and other demands of the business crowd their way to the front of our minds and it is hard to focus on anything else. At times like that, artists need to remember why they were inspired in the first place -- to spend time with the people or things makes their hearts sing.

A few years ago, after a couple decades of trying to chase the latest trends, I decided that the rural side of life -- anything farmy, kitcheny, homey, gardeny, earthy (the last one being the only actual word of that bunch!) -- is where I am most at home creatively. Though I always keep current trends and the preferences of my customers in mind, images of life in the country are always my best motivator. As we all are with places we love, I'm drawn to it, whether at home or traveling.

A dear friend once told me that he has spent most of his life trying to recreate his grandmother's farm. I realized in that moment that I do the same thing -- and since having our son, it's become even more fun to create a comfortable nest for my family that is reminiscent of that farm. Perhaps that is why I couldn't help but take a picture of this little bouquet my husband brought home last week. He found it on property he maintains for his conservation job -- where an old farm used to sit by a spring (don't you love it when the flowers keep blooming long after the house has been torn down?). It was delivered to me in a little water bottle, gently wrapped in a wet blue shop towel.

Just that morning I had received an request from a customer to include blue Ball jars, as she collects them. So I found one of the blue jars that came from my grandparent's house in Iowa and gave the flowers a roomier home. The bouquet seems quite content on our old metal table. And my heart has been singing away since then!

What inspires you?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Bruner's Hallmark

A little over twenty years ago, after graduating from college, I moved to Kansas City, MO to work as a production artist in an advertising agency. But somehow the rumor started that I had moved to Kansas City to work at Hallmark as a greeting card artist. Of course, there are worse rumors to have going around about you -- and I never did mind that one.

But it was ironic. Since I was a little girl, I have loved to linger in Hallmark stores, browsing the racks of stationery, envelopes, calendars, cards, etc. imagining what it would be like to design things like that.

Then, one day, the dream came true.

No, I didn't get a job at Hallmark, but that would have been great, too!

The dream was to be able to design products that were sold by Hallmark stores -- from both my own company and other quality licensees. And it was everything I'd hoped for.

One of my favorite Hallmark Gold Crown stores is Bruner's Hallmark in Nixa, MO. They have loyally carried my calendars, boxes, boxed notes and other products for years. And now they offer a great selection of the Blessings of Home line from Legacy Publishing.

As you can see, Derek and the crew at Bruner's do such a beautiful job decorating the store. They are also friendly and helpful -- always willing to assist you in finding just the right gift for the right person.

Last winter, a few weeks before my son was born, I bought his baby book and a frame (with a quote that makes me cry every time I read it aloud) at Bruner's. There I was, 9-months pregnant in the frame aisle, clutching my baby book, sobbing. But then again, emotion is just part of the experience.

If you haven't been to your local Hallmark store in awhile, you have to go in a see what you're missing. If you live in the Nixa area, stop in at Bruner's. Just be sure to bring your tissues -- and if you're heading to the Shoebox Greetings section, a friend to laugh with. The rumor is it's a great place to spend a little time thinking about the people you love - and I don't think anyone at Hallmark minds those kind of rumors!