March 27, 2013

today's craving: clouds

today finally felt like the first day of spring was supposed to feel like. we spent it walking, going to the playground, meeting happy people, smiling, and watching the clouds. i have been sketching clouds for weeks without doing anything about them, so i decided to finally start making a digital cloud family.

meet, clockwise from left: Happy, Sunny, Snowy, Daisy, Rainy, and Cloudy. Windy, Swimmy, and Baby are on the way!

little cloud family in the making

not to make my lighthearted post too serious, but i couldn't help thinking about this poem i love, by Charles Baudelaire. it is called "The Stranger" and here's the english translation:

-Tell me, enigmatic man, whom do you love the best? Your father, your mother, your sister, or your brother?
-I have neither father, nor mother, nor sister, nor brother.
-Your friends?
-You are using a word whose meaning remains unknown to me to this very day.
-Your country?
-I do not know under what latitude it lies.
-I would love her gladly, goddess and immortal.
-I hate it as much as you hate God.
-Well then! What do you love, extraordinary stranger?
-I love the clouds ... the passing clouds ... over there ... over there ... the marvelous clouds!

March 25, 2013

random post about random things

today was a "too many different things to do" kind of day, and i kept jumping from one thing to the next, without focusing on each one fully. so i ended up with various creative activities, none of them life changing, but they're all i've got - in addition to paying the bills, my longer than necessary trip to the post office, irrelevant errands and useless phone call to the city hall, among many other time wasting, life sucking but "somebody's gotta do it" kind of chores.  anyway, here's the more exciting stuff that i did:

i worked on coordinates for some of my patterns for a potential client. this is one of them. pretty straight-forward.

indiabound | dots

indiabound | circles

then i researched composting (i am illustrating an environmental newsletter for kids), and i came across the work of Tonwen Jones, an illustrator based in Brighton, UK. i just loved her work! here's a screenshot of her website.

illustrator Tonwen Jones

and for some reason i was dying to try my crayon scribble warm-up technique in photoshop. i never have food cravings, so maybe i'm someone who has creative cravings when pregnant (yes, we're still pregnant here). here's some of the stuff that happened. and i think i like it.

photoshop bird
photoshop flower

thanks for reading.
here's to a more focused day tomorrow!

March 22, 2013

a new ritual

we have this children's book by Kevin Henkes called "A Good Day", where the day starts off badly for everyone involved (the yellow bird looses his favorite feather, the orange fox can't find her mom...), but then everything takes a better turn (the fox finds her mom, the bird forgets about his feather and flies higher than he's ever done before...)

a good day, by kevin henkes

today was that kind of a day, i think. it started with chasing my 2 year old around the house for an hour to get some food into her and get her dressed and ready for daycare. then a couple of hours were spent doing my taxes and looking for a nanny, and when i finally had time to focus on work, i felt drained. i was ready to call it a day, go for a swim, or just take a nap, but procrastinating usually makes everything worse for me. so i decided to follow Lilla Roger's advice in her book "I just Like to Make Things", and start my own ritual.

i just like to make things, by lilla rogers

she writes:
"we all have days when it's hard to get down to business and make some art. you may have a deadline and you're feeling pressure. you may be procrastinating. [...] you know how musicians start with scales to warm up? well, now you're going to make your very own getting-started, get-down-to-work, get-busy ritual."
and that's exactly what i did.

i really enjoy making these scribble drawings with neocolor crayons, where i just lay down color scribbles first, and make a line drawings on top with black. the process is very fast, there is no time to think, it gives me an adrenaline rush. in short, the perfect warm-up exercise for me. so from now on, instead of just making tea and cleaning up my desk before i sit down to work (things i have done for so many years they don't seem to affect my brain in anyway anymore), this will be my ritual. it has all the characteristics that Lilla Rogers says make a good ritual. it is:
"repeatable. short and sweet. concrete and specific. pleasurable. gets you out of a left-brained analytical state of mind to a more sensual right-brained state of mind. involves multiple senses: auditory, tactile, visual."
(yes, i do hear my crayons when i am scribbling.)

although i ended up mostly researching and mind-mapping, with no concrete direction yet (i am working on a dvd cover for a short documentary film for teens), i feel satisfied with my day, since i know i am one step closer to meeting this deadline. plus, when we came home from daycare with my daughter, the first thing she did was run towards my new drawings and say "whoa!" which is the best compliment ever!

so it was a good day, after all.

March 20, 2013

love is a poem (from the sixties)

i was wrong to think i would be able to relax a little after the launch of my website. i soon realized the deadline for the Hallmark Design Competition was here, with the theme being Love. since i didn't have much time to brainstorm, i gave my ideas a first come first served kind of treatment. 

the first concept was inspired by one of my favorite love songs, Le Parapluie (the umbrella) by the great poet/singer/songwriter Georges Brassens. you can listen to it and read the lyrics here. and if you don't speak french,  it's basically about this guy who, on a rainy day, happens to have an umbrella and who accompanies a woman without one. sharing his umbrella makes him feel he is in heaven, and wish "it would rain for forty days and forty nights, like during the Flood."

so my first entry looked like this:

umbrella love

raindrops made me think about another poem i love, by one of my favorite armenian poets, Zareh Khrakhouni, about two raindrops who meet at the end of a gutter and fall in love. 

so my second entry looked like this:

raindrop love

i found translations of some of his poems here. and i was very happy that the one i was thinking about was translated! (unfortunately there are no credits on the website, so i am not able to credit the translator as i would've liked to.)

From the roofs

From the edge of one of the many roofs

A drop of water slides down, meets another and says –

Do you know what?

Do you know what I like most about you –

You don’t look like anyone else …

From the roofs

From the numerous roofs

From the edge of these many roofs

Two drops of water – like all the other drops –

Arrowed by the same rays of the sun

Drunk with a newly opened rainbow

United like a pot of light

Satiated like a heavenly fruit

Fused – heavy

Drop to the earth as limpid tears of happiness

And one says to the other –

Do you know what? Do you know what

I would like most of all

When I drop to the earth next time?

I want to meet another one – exactly like you …

i also came accross this other poem by him about love under an umbrella, and realized he must have written it around the same time Brassens was singing about his gratitude to his umbrella (sometime in the mid-sixties).

IN THE RAIN (excerpt)
One umbrella two hearts –
Under the tapping drops

Palpitating in rhythm

With each other in the rain

One umbrella two loves –

Dripping from the edges

Like limpid teardrops

One umbrella two lives –

Just like accompanying steps

United in this common

Routine rain.

there was no poetry behind my third entry, although metaphors definitely played a role. rain made me think of clouds, and i tried to illustrate two clouds in love. kittens, raindrops, why not clouds?

so this is what my third entry looked like:

cloud love

as another beautiful song from the sixties goes: here comes the sun and i say it's alright...

happy spring!

March 18, 2013

it's here! it's here!

relax. i am not talking about the baby. but my virtual baby is here, aka the studio aliQue website i have been working on for weeks. the planned "due date" was march 15, which means this baby is only 3 days late, which in turn means i have accomplished my goal for this month almost on time! it might not sound like a huge deal, but to me, it is. it means i can now relax a little, get ready for my real baby, spend the evenings with my husband instead of my laptop, and remember to nourish myself with something other than tea.

here's a snapshot. please do visit when you get a chance, and let me know what you think.

the launch of my website coincided with another bit of good news. this morning i found out my work was featured on design juices, a creative blog which showcases designers, illustrators, and photographers from around the world.

design juices feature

so, what's next?

apart from having a baby and the giant illustration project i have been commissioned to work on in the coming months, i have a few goals for the next quarter and beyond.

  • april: have baby and take it easy. contact a few blogs for a possible feature.
  • may: develop one new collection. maybe try to visit Surtex in NY (with the baby in the moby wrap) - but don't stress out about it!
  • june/july: develop another collection and open society6 shop.
  • by the end of 2013: find an agent.

let's see if everything will happen when they are supposed to happen. as for you, little person who keeps me awake at night, now that my website is done, feel free to pop out any day, baby!

March 15, 2013

a few of my favorite things: socks!

what i did today was very different from what i had planned to. as i was getting ready to continue working on my website, i found out about the Sock It To Me 5th Annual Global Design A Sock Contest. now, there are people who love bags, others who collect shoes, and i love socks. and i really like the ones made by Sock It To Me. these are two of my favorites.

my favorite socks

the deadline was today at 5pm, and i had a lot to do, but being a sock junkie i had no other option but to participate. so i came up with these designs, using motifs i had already developed for other purposes.

Sock it To Me competition submissions

"in the dark" was one of the patterns i had entered in the Tigerprint black and white print competition ( and it was selected as one of the top 25 designs), "black bird" is part of my "a day in the life" collection that keeps growing, and the happy snail pattern is from my daughter's birthday invite i had designed back in december. i had shown her sketches of different animals, and i was so happy she chose the snail.

aiki's second birthday invitation

my big dream is to have my own line of socks one day. so wish me luck!

March 13, 2013

the view from my chair

still working on flowers. there are layers of doodles on my wall.

floral collection sketches (and drawings by my nephews)

some of yesterday's tiny drawings are finding their way into the floral collection. it looks like they will be coordinating patterns.

flower buds

i enjoy working like this. not that i don't have a plan, i do have a rough idea about what i want the collection to look like (after all, i did have a moodboard at the beginning), but i really like watching how things evolve and the patterns design themselves, almost. this is not how i used to work. when creating my illustrations, i would tune up a composition for hours or days, and then i was somehow stuck with it, and the work didn't always feel like mine. now i can finally say i have found my voice. hopefully someone, somewhere, someday, will hear it!

March 12, 2013

doodling in the waiting room on a tuesday afternoon

in the unlikely event that i got any of you worried (didn't blog on monday), all is well. i was just busy having fun and going a little crazy with my family. today was also a very busy day, i had too many appointments and errands to take care of for it to be a productive one, but while i was waiting for my midwife (at 37 weeks, any day is fair game now!) i made these doodles, trying to develop one more pattern for my floral collection which is slowly coming together.

floral collection doodles

and here's what it looks like at this point.

flower bed pattern in progress

i will share the whole collection on my website, which will be ready a little later than planned, but before the end of march. check this space for updates. and in case i don't blog on a day i am supposed to (monday, wednesday, friday) i am either going crazy, or having a baby, or both.

March 8, 2013

flower girl

today was crazy and the weekend is only going to get crazier and crazier. so i decided to take a break from sitting in front of my laptop for hours (i have been working on my website), and do some painting instead. this project has been waiting to be completed for...two years. yes, two! i had prepared a pregnancy album after the birth of our daughter, and have been planning to decorate its cover for, well, two years, but it was just not a priority. so it was the perfect project to work on a snowy and quiet day. not that quiet, really, with the hum of the dryer, the hiss of the radiators, and the constant beeping of the snow plow going back and forth our dead end street, there was no shortage of noise, but my mind was quiet, which was exactly what i needed.

one of the reasons i kept postponing this is that i had no idea what to paint. since i've been working on florals lately, and since aiki (my daughter's name) means vineyard or orchard in armenian, i decided to decorate it with a version of my recent "flower play" pattern.

i still have to decorate the inside pages, but that will have to wait another 2 years.

March 6, 2013

back when i didn't have a blog - part II: black cats are good news!

this is old news, but i never shared it on this blog, since, as i mentioned the other day, it didn't exist at the time. so back in october 2012, i woke up one morning and found out my kitten design was a runner up in the Tigerprint black and white print competition. it might not sound like big news, but it was the first small success i had as a surface pattern designer, and it did mean a lot to me.

a day in the life of a kitten, black and white

you can view the winning entry by Louise Harrison and other runners up (Rachel Amy, Emily Ann Studio and Dunia Nalu Designs )on the Tigerprint website here.

later i added color to the design, and it was featured in The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design graduate showcase a couple of months ago. 

a day in the life of a kitten,  color

i don't use many characters in my surface pattern designs, but i do like the simplicity of these cats. so i am trying to develop more characters in the same style. below is my attempt at a black bird. instead of using "live trace" in illustrator, i actually prefer to scan my sketches and then draw them all over with a brush, i think it gives the edges a kind of roughness that makes them look more handmade. 

bird motif development

a day in the life of a black bird pattern in repeat

i have been working on creating mock-ups for my website, so here's the bird pattern as gift wrap.

black bird gift wrap

i am not sure if black birds have any meaning in the world of superstitions, but i think they look just fine on gift wrap. now, what creature should i do next? how about snakes on a duvet cover?

March 4, 2013

back when i didn't have a blog - part I: lucky me!

in the event that you have been following this blog, you might still remember the very recent past when it didn't exist. but i was making things, even if i didn't write about them. so one of the good things that happened back in november 2012 was that my "circles from japan" collection won the first MOYO magazine design brief. i was reminded of that a couple of days ago, when the third issue of MOYO came out and my designs were presented once again (lucky me!).

images courtesy of MOYO magazine, november 2012 and february 2013 issues

MOYO is an online magazine about surface pattern design, packed with inspiring information and visuals. it is edited by rachael taylor and beth nicholls, and is published every three months. you can find out about it here and read the current issue here. my patterns for the circles design brief were inspired by the photos below, which are taken by beth nicholls in japan. circles, half-circles and ellipses are my favorite shapes to work with (i will have to leave the reasons for that to a future blog post as i seriously need to get some sleep), so i had a lot of fun working on this brief  (lucky me!).

 image courtesy of MOYO magazine, august 2012

circles from japan motif development doodles

if you love patterns, or if you simply love beautiful things, MOYO is a treat. if you're a designer, it's also a great way to get exposure, since each issue announces a new competition you can enter. the theme for the last design brief  was architecture, and i was very happy to find out that fellow designer esther cox was the winner. she loves kiosks, which she captures so uniquely, and she calls her design studio her kiosk. she is a designer who really knows how to use pink in bold, fun, unexpected ways.  below is her winning kiosk collection:

kiosk collection by esther cox | image courtesy of esther cox

i also knew one of the runners up (lucky me!). designer majo bv was selected with her striking cartagena soul collection. i especially loved the vibrant primary palette and sense of space in this design:

cartagena walls by majo bv | image courtesy of majo bv

speaking of architecture, i just came across this pattern in the marimekko kids spring 2013 collection. i love the rhythm created by the black shapes, and how it sometimes reads as a flat design, while at other times, you get a clear sense of depth. i am not sure what "kortteli" means, but to me it means dancing rooftops, and makes me think of spring.

kortteli by aino-maija mertsola for marimekko

and speaking of spring, the theme for the next MOYO magazine design brief is "floral twist". this is a happy coincidence, since i have been working on florals for weeks now (lucky me!).

March 1, 2013

a playful trio

today's keyword: play!

i played with what will be the playful pattern in the floral collection i am working on. i would love to believe it is influenced by this playful trio:

calder-miro-klee: a playful trio

i still need to play with the colors and figure out if and how it will be made into a repeating pattern, but here it is for now:

flower play

now i need to go and work on my website. two more weeks before the march 15 deadline i have set myself. why do i set these deadlines? because otherwise i would go on playing forever. wouldn't you?