Feltie Monsters

This next weekend, I'm participating in the art show at Orycon, our local science fiction/fantasy convention. I'll have a table and a vertical panel. Some of the pieces for the panel, I've shared here. Now I'm working on items for the table. Hence, feltie monsters! So cute and so much fun.

My New Business Cards

Designers frequently have a hard time designing their own identity, and I'm no exception. But with my recent portfolio update, I fell in love with a new logo for myself and I finally got around to designing my new business cards:

I am purely delighted with how these came out. I was going for something clean and beautiful, with a sense of personality and charm as well. The handwritten typeface is exactly what I wanted as well. Generally, I'm very conservative with my typeface choices, but sometimes something expressive like this is just what's called for.

Monster Monster Magnets on Etsy

I finally got around to putting up Monster Monsters on Etsy! The small square magnets are sold in sets of four, the large round magnets are sold individually. I know it's way early to think about the holidays, but these would make for great stocking stuffers. And all of my magnets are hand-drawn, hand-colored, and unique.

Let Them Listen to Some Other Band

I can't imagine why Marie Antoinette is so often in my mind these days. *wink* I love that her 'do is adorned by an owl.

Inspired in part by the confluence of re-reading the archives of Questionable Content and Noelle's very awesome Broship of the Rings - hipster hobbits! I keep wondering what I can turn into hipsters...cavemen? Swordfish? Grizzled 1800s prospectors?

Fall Priorities, Illuminated

I've been playing with sharpies (the more ad hoc the tools and material, the easier it is to get my creativity flowing sometimes) lately and this came out while I was thinking about what I wanted to get done in the upcoming season and what was most important for my health and happiness. All of this feel really right.

Also...one hundred posts! Here's to the next hundred.


Flying in majestic formation, the wily and elusive pegasnails hope to evade the cranky and voracious pegatortoise long enough to leave their trail across the sky.

Reclaiming Mermaids

 They're not just for corporate logos.

Into The Wild Blue Yonder

He's not thrilled. The wings were supposed to be just for show. But somehow, when you've got 'em, wings demand to be used. Maybe the change in perspective will change his mind.

We're Gonna Need A Bigger Plate

What we have here is a eating machine.

The Things That Come Out of My Head

Everyone knows about rum, buggery, and the lash, right?

All Work and No Play Makes for Lousy Art

So, I played a bit yesterday. We drove out to the coast on the spur of the moment, towards mid-afternoon.

 We arrived close to sunset, at one of my favorite places, Arcadia Beach.

We walked down the beach.

The water was beautiful.

Even the sand was beautiful.

Someone built a driftwood lean-to.

It had its own rock garden.

And a gorgeous view.

Earth, sky and water.

A path across the waves.

She Had A Dream

The first "ordinary person" illustration wasn't a fluke. Here's the next. More to follow.

The text:
I wanted to be a teacher. So, six years of school and $30,000 worth of student debt later, I can't find a job. Like, anywhere. I wanted to help kids explore the world and learn about history and science and math. Next month, I'm moving back in with my mom. I so wanted to live in the "real world." I guess I am.

An Ordinary Man

The text:
I worry about a lot of stuff. Such as, will my kids have a good life? Will I have a job in six months? If something happens to me or my wife, will our family be ok? I don't know. Do you want. To know. What really scares me? So many people are so angry all the time. I don't understand all the changes or the anger. I just want to have a good life with the people I care about.

Art Deco Calendar - June

For next year, I'm thinking about doing a calendar based on art deco fashion illustration.

August 4th, 1892

Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done
She gave her father forty-one.

Or maybe not.

Dragons, Looking Ahead, Looking Back

Hand-drawn, digitally colored/textured.
Time to start getting ready for this year's Orycon Art Show. It's something I've occasionally done in years past, but never with the sort of momentum I feel going into this year. I didn't do the art show last year, for various reasons. Instead, I attended art panels and classes at the convention and enjoyed myself a great deal.

During one class/sit down and draw gathering, Jeff Sturgeon took a look at what I was working on, which happened to be this piece. He said that it was at least as good as a lot of the illustrations in published children's books, and that I should really consider entering it and other pieces like it in the next art show. !!!

As you can imagine, that was a pretty enormous boost for me. Jeff is a well-respected artist and illustrator and I've admired his work for years. Since then, as I've grown as a designer, I've found that the parts of my job that I like best are those that involve illustration, and I'm becoming more determined to find a way to do more of what I like best.

Hence, art show! SF/F convention art shows are a great place to show personal work. In my case, fantastic little beasties like the dragon above. I wanted to scan him in and play with him before hand-coloring the original drawing and creating a background. The original should be in the show, unless I manage to muck him up. I'm going to be experimenting with some marker effects. I love his curves! And his paws are awesome, definitely among the best "hands" I've ever done.

My New Project - Monsterously Fun!

Monster Monster!
I have a new project. It's Monster Monster! I've been needing a creative outlet with absolutely no seriousness whatsoever. You'll find the origins over there, as well as a plethora of cute monsters, with more added every week. I'll be at Last Thursday next week, with a variety of monsters looking for new homes. Hope to see you there!

Time for a New Identity?

A possible new look for StacySix Design in business card format.
I'm pondering an identity update. My current visual identity isn't quite as sophisticated or as illustrative as I'd like it to be. As I reach out to new client, I'd like to be able to hand them something a little bolder.

Graphic designers are notoriously bad at designing for themselves, or so I was told by numerous design instructors while I was still in school. I can see why. Given the time, we'd probably want to change personal logos at least as often as we change shoes.

My current logo.
My current logo is cute, clean, and makes a subtle reference to the crafty side of my interests with the stitch-like type. But maybe it's missing something. A little extra oomf, for lack of a better word. I'm going to be playing with different ideas this month to see what I can come up with.

Plastic vs. Authentic

Spring flowers. Very real.

 Over at The Simple Dollar, Trent wrote something that I wanted to share:
My sister-in-law is a florist. She can take a few hands full of ditch weeds and dandelions and make them look amazing in about five seconds.

On the flip side of that coin, many department stores sell centerpieces stuffed with plastic flowers consisting of perfectly-arranged imitations of beautiful blossoms.

Sit them side by side and the arrangement of ditch weeds and dandelions looks far more impressive.
The same is true with people. I find a person whose life is full of genuine dandelions and ditch weeds to be far more compelling than the person whose life is full of plastic roses, and I’m far from alone in that conclusion.
There are lots of people who say "be yourself" but then offer a laundry list of how to be more like them, which frustrates me to no end. This really is saying to just be yourself.

There's room in the world for everyone to march to their own beat without either stepping on other people's toes or making themselves into imitations of other people. Yeah, I have my issues, but in the end, I'm glad to be me.

Comme Ci Comme Ça

Or, as one former associate used to put it, "some days, chicken pie; other days, chicken s---."

I've started entering designs over at 99 Designs. It's a website where clients can go to request design work. Designers submit their work, the client picks one, and the winning designer receives a payment. It's quite good practice, especially in working with a variety of clients and their various specifications. It's frustrating, however, when the clients offer no feedback and I'm left wondering where I fell short. Take the two designs below:

I'm very happy with these two designs (especially the one on the right), but the client wasn't. I read the spec sheet pretty closely and there are no radical departures from their stated desires. I was disappointed not to have made it into the finals, as it were. Nonetheless, it was a good experience. I tried one new thing and was delighted with the results. 

So basically, it's back to the drawing board. What do you think?

Warm Wood Desktop Background

This is my current self-designed desktop background. If you like it, feel free to take it for your own use.

Baby Steps

I'm pretty darned happy with myself right now. I made a pattern that well and truly tiles. It's in my favorite colors and so dynamic!

More Blueberries!

I'm feeling rather inspired lately. I entered my first Spoonflower contest today. Well, first two, actually.

The Blueberry Brolly is entered in the "Rain" theme, and the Starship Dream is entered in the Project Selvedge boy's fabric contest. I am excited! This is something I've considered for a while. 

I Love Blueberries - Sensing a Pattern

Blueberry One

I started playing with my blueberry images from a previous design, experimenting with creating patterns. The results? I'm having serious fun! These will, eventually wind up on Spoonflower. From there? Who knows? The second one looks more old-fashioned, more sweet. I may try taking the seeds out of the first pattern and see what happens. Currently, they remind me of braille, or of some kind of organic punchcard.

Blueberry Two

I am an Urban Homesteader, Practicing Urban Homesteading in my Urban Homestead

And the Dervaeses have NOTHING to do with it.

Read more about this whole kerfuffle here.

EcotopiaWhen I was 13, I came across a copy of Alicia Bay Laurel's Living on the Earth. It is one of the handbooks of the "back to the land" movements of the 1970s, and I found it inspiring beyond belief. I dreamed of finding a little plot of land somewhere in the woods and living a self-sufficient (and groovy!) life. I read Ernest Callenbach's Ecotopia when I was 15 or so, and since hey, I live in Ecotopian territory, the ideas therein never really left me. These and other books from the 70s that I found myself reading while growing up in the 80s formed part of the internal bedrock for how I want to live my life. Especially Ecotopia, a place in the imagination which some people now call Cascadia.

For the last five or six years, I've been reaching more and more towards living a sustainable, independent, low-impact life. When I had a yard, I had raised bed gardens, grew a reasonable chunk of my own food, and collected catch-water from the sink and shower to water the beds. I haven't had a yard for the last couple of years, but I've done container gardening where I could. But urban homesteading is more than gardening or growing food. It's a mindset as much as anything.

To me, urban homesteading is about creative (especially in the sense of being the opposite of destructive) use and reuse of resources. It's about learning skills that make you less reliant on outside resources or systems. With my current, tiny apartment, I don't have room for more than a few planters filled with herbs and greens. We're going to try growing a blueberry bush in a big ol' tub and see how that goes. But I do have room to make my own household cleaners out of low-impact materials like baking soda and organic castille soap, vinegar and lemon juice. I make yogurt and butter from milk and cream, and I can brew my own kombucha in my itsy bitsy kitchen.

I ride my bike when the weather is good. I shop at thrift stores and buy lots of my books used. When I get in the car, I try to make every trip count. I'm going to sew more of my own clothes, using second-hand materials. In short, I'm going to go on working to reduce my impact and produce as much for myself as I can. In short, I am an urban homesteader.

The man who is attempting to claim ownership of the terms "urban homestead" and "urban homesteading" –terms that have been in common use to describe a movement of thousands of people for the last forty years– claims to be the founder of urban homesteading. I say, that's a load of high-grade organic fertilizer right there. There are so many people who helped to lay the foundations for the modern movement, that it is beyond arrogant and self-centered to claim to be "the founder." I didn't even know who Jules Dervaes was until I came across the name while looking for Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen's blog.

The Urban Homestead: Your Guide to Self-sufficient Living in the Heart of the City (Process Self-reliance Series)Last year, I bought a copy of The Urban Homestead by Coyne and Knutzen. It's a really great, well-written book with lots of solid, practical, easy-to-do ideas and it was published before Dervaes even applied for the trademark. It got me started on making my own cleaners, instead of buying all of them from companies like Seventh Generation. If you've never really heard about urban homesteading and you're interested, it's one of the best introductions to the topic I can think of. And it was a great inspiration to me, to take my gardening experience and craft skills and do much, much more with them.

The Dervaeses' actions are an unbelievable attempt to co-opt and own words that describe how thousands and thousands of people live their lives. For all their claims of being distinctive and unique, I probably never would have heard about them except for the uproar over their greedy actions. They owe a large part of their audience and support to the people and institutions that came before them. Writers like Alica Bay Laurel and Ernest Callenbach. Helen and Scott Nearing. Mother Earth News. The Goodfellow Catalog of Wonderful Things. The Foxfire books. Ursula LeGuin's Always Coming Home. These are the founders of urban homesteading and they always will be.

Covering the Classics

The Fox is Black is sponsoring a neat contest, in which he challenges folks to come up with new book covers for old classics. This is an early draft of my first idea. I've played around with the type a bit and I'm not quite sure if this is the right treatment. I can't do everything in Prima09, though, much as I'd like to. Right?

I like the subtlety of my approach here. It's very clean and soft, very contrasty to the gritty, disturbing story of Lord of the Flies. I like pulling off that sort of contrast when I can. It might be interesting to add a photographic element, perhaps of some idyllic tropical beach. Anyway, fun!

The Beauty of Overhead Powerlines

A bit of illustration/design brought on by the rare beautiful day yesterday, and perhaps all the reading I've been doing lately about going off-grid, sustainability, and self-sufficiency.

Of Birds and Wheels and Contests

I was going to enter this design* in a contest until I read the fine print:
ALL ENTRIES BECOME THE PROPERTY OF SWEET SKINS, AND NONE WILL BE RETURNED TO THE ENTRANTS…All entrants acknowledge by entering this Contest that any Tank-Tee designs created and submitted as part of this Contest cannot be used by the entrants (or others) for any other commercial purpose whatsoever other than to enter this Contest or for their own personal portfolio…
Etc, etc. Basically, the rules seem to indicate that once I enter a design, I cede all rights to use that design anywhere else, ever, regardless of whether or not I win the contest. The company involved could even use the design later on without compensating me at all. Frankly, I was surprised to discover something so apparently unethical in a contest sponsored by such a wonderful local company. Perhaps I'm just inexperienced with design contest legalese?

I love Sweet Skins' clothing and recommend them wholeheartedly otherwise. They represent the best of what local can be: generally ethical in business practices, responsible ecologically, quality product, community involvement. I'll be supporting them by purchasing their clothing. I just won't be designing for them, apparently.

*A sketch I did a few years ago and finally converted to digital, while refining it a bit. I added the wheel from my recent bicycle graphic to the background, and voila! I've often wanted to do something more ornate and detailed. Having done it, I like it.

Save Cycling in Toronto

Reading Treehugger, I found out that Toronto-based cycle tour company Tour d'Afrique has organized a contest on Facebook to boost cycling in Toronto. Probably thanks to all the reading about locavores I've been doing lately, this idea came to me. And on the heels of that, the idea for this poster. I love it when ideas come together and I can create something lovely and original.