A window in my schedule means I'm doing a lot of experimenting these days. As far as a success rate, I'd say 90% has gotten drop-kicked into the trash and 10% seems to be moving in the right direction. And that's a ratio I'm okay with. But before I forget:
* If you haven't watched Kingdom
, you need to. Now. It is kind and it is hilarious, but if you needed more convincing, there is Stephen Fry.
* I'll be signing copies of The Glitter Trap
at RiverRun Bookstore in Portsmouth, New Hampshire on Saturday, September 21. More details here
Mathilde had made up her mind to go see Madame Odile again. Madame was bound to have the answer to the riddle. She had the answer to everything. But of course such a visit would require payment, a debt of pain au chocolat for services rendered. So as soon as school ended, Mathilde ran for the corner bakery, hoping against hope the baker would not have sold out of the pastries.
And as luck would have it, he had not.
One cookout, a bike ride, two kinds of ice cream and several movies later, I'm declaring Labor Day Weekend '13 a success. Summer, you did good.
And one other thing I did this weekend: dollmaking. I think she looks like a Eula, so that's what I got her answering to. She's made up of a fabric body (mostly vintage bed sheets), a hand-knit vest, painted on boots and a flower crown, because, well, utilitarianism be darned.
A fabric design I'm working on for a gift. Truth be told, I'm 110% certain I need a skirt with this pattern on it, like, now.
And for those state-side, happy (early) Labor Day weekend. Enjoy your last bit of summer-ing!
Something Joan of Arc'ish I finished last week. Her hair is made up of hundreds of tiny pin pricks, a tragedy for my finger tips, but a boon for her coiffure.
* Also, wouldja' look at that view. No matter how long I live here, the Atlantic always manages to make me go weak in the knees. But then again, that could also be a side-effect of gallivanting all over a rocky ocean outcropping wearing period shoes. Yee-ouch.
All in all, though, a top-notch outing and one of the very best Saturday's in recent memory, complete with gorgeous weather and delightful company. I think Jay Gatsby would have been duly impressed.
This month marks five years that I've been freelancing. Whoa, Nelly! Here's ten things I've learned in the past couple years that'll hopefully be helpful.
1. Your Mama taught you right: good manners will take you everywhere. Okay, maybe not everywhere (i.e, roller derby league), but for freelancers, professionalism is phenomenally important. Say please and thank you, learn to apologize graciously. Act like a professional, regardless of if you have two years or twenty under your belt.
2. Be on time, every time. Short of the zombie apocalypse, you probably don't have a legitimate reason to be late on an assignment. And on that note, coffee is your new best friend.
3. Track your time and learn to schedule. I use Tickspot
for timing software and Google calendars to plan my workload. Knowing how long a certain task takes will let you give clients a solid turnaround time and help manage expectations. Time tracking will also assist you in finding areas where you can become more efficient.
4. Cross pollinate! Take a cooking class, make a canoe, go to a museum, read gumshoe detective novels, explore the great outdoors. It's amazing how an activity seemingly unrelated to art will benefit you down the line and keep you from becoming creatively stagnant.
5. Don't be afraid to start small. My first freelance projects were for friends and family, local businesses and selling on Etsy. These all gave me a chance to get my feet wet and were a terrific foundation for other bigger projects down the line.
6. If it stinks, do it over. This was grilled into me in design school and if I were the tattooing sort, I'd stick this on my bicep. If you know in your gut that what you've made is just "eh" then you better believe your client/art director/coworker will spot it a mile way. Sure, it's a major buzzkill to start over on a piece you've slaved away at for hours, but if it ain't working, it ain't working.
7. Join a professional organization! If you're interested in children's illustration specifically, join the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators
. SCBWI's conferences and publications are a terrific resource and well worth the membership. I can't say enough good about SCBWI, seriously. A little aside, I know that professional fees can be rough, especially when you're fresh out of school (I've been there). Putting a bit aside each month makes it easier to pay your dues/attend a conference and that's how I've dealt with the affiliated costs.
8. Learn to walk away. Freelancing has its perks for sure (like no one ever stealing your lunch from the company fridge). But it's really easy to get tunnel vision when you work by yourself. In those instances, get up from your desk. Go for a walk, call your Mom, read a book, in short, get some perspective. Then, and only then, come back and tackle that monster. Find people whose opinion you trust and get their honest assessment. And by "honest assessment," I mean, you don't want sunshine and kittens, but you also don't want the second coming of Gordon Ramsey. Good critics hone in on what works and will be forthright about what doesn't.
9. You will make mistakes. Privately cry/whine to your cat/eat a gallon of ice cream in one sitting and then go get back on that horse, cowpoke. We've all been there before.
10. Take joy in what you do. Personally, I'd keep on drawing even if I never made another dime doing so. Make art because you want to, because you have to, because life would be dull and incomplete otherwise. At the end of the day, make the very best art that you can make and take satisfaction in that. Have fun.
*Edit* After posting this on Twitter, Sandra Rand
mentioned that she'd anticipated "learn to walk away" referred to the importance of learning to spot trouble clients and that it's okay to decline projects. That's spot on advice and well-worth remembering, so I'm adding it to the list.
In case you didn't get your fill of Dolly Singh in The Grand Plan to Fix Everything
, well, you're in luck. Today's release day for the sequel, The Problem With Being Slightly Heroic
. The book is full of toe-tapping Bollywood fun and Dini is a delight of a protagonist to illustrate. Also included: an elephant loose in the nation's capital, passport mishaps, an impromptu dance session on the Metro and plenty of rose petal milkshakes.
And be sure to check out the activity kit for the book over at author Uma Krishnaswami's
Life lately, which seems to be a convergence of oceanic images and long forgotten styles.
And I stole the bottom image from my sister
. It's a photo of my grandfather, c. something-1920'ish. I'd sure like to know what he's pointing at.
I just finished watching this season's Endeavour
episodes -- such a good series. And that ukulele number in the club scene? It's Rachel D'Arcy and you can listen to it again (and again) over here
I'm not sure where it'll go from here. But I like it so far, so fingers crossed.
Is it just me or did July scream by? Hope yours was swell. Me, I've managed to go swimming multiple times, eaten ice cream, stayed up ridiculously late, watched a thunderstorm and gone to the beach. In light of that, I'm giving this month a passing grade.
*I've had The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
for ages and am just now getting around to reading it. I'm not a huge non-fiction fan (and even less of a science buff), but this one is so good. Heartbreaking, nail-biting and strangely hopeful, it's well worth the read.
*I updated the sidebar, so you can now find me on Instagram and Goodreads if that's your cup of tea.
Popping in to say hello and post something I was working on earlier this week. And on that note, I'm off to go be hospitable and spend time with some mighty fine out-of-town company.
Catch you next week!
Sitting on the back porch, embroidery hoop, thread and cold beverage in hand: the best way to spend a a July night. Eventually the light dies and the fireflies start their incandescent semaphore, but usually by that point I've shaped a flower with thread and wound down from the bustle of the day.
Hey, teachers! If you're interested in using Elissa Haden Guest's Bella's Rules
in your classroom, educator Debbie Gonzales
has developed a Discussion and Activity Guide for the book. It's a great resource and if you're interested you can download it here
Teenage obsessions: getting my bangs to flip up just so
, watching the "Buddy Holly
" video roughly fifty million times and any/all books that had to do with the Romanov family.
The more things change, the more they stay the same? Happy Weekends!
Sketchbook-in' it today. I think she's got the right idea for these temps.
And I wasn't kidding about those berries, proof positive.
The raspberries are out, as are the blueberries and (inevitably) the mosquitoes. The combination of all three means I'm eating lots of berries and continuously itching insect-inflicted battle scars. But it's worth it all, a sort of summer badge of honor.
Now if you don't mind me, it's 90+ degrees here and I'm sans air conditioner. Basically, that's a long-winded wind-up to say that I'm going swimming.
What life looks like lately.
I don't typically draw a lot of animals, so fixing that situation was the goal today. I just finished A Winter's Tale this weekend, so I guess I have bears on the brain?
Other things I did this past weekend: baked a cake. Mmm hmm.
And Happy Canada Day/Bonne Fête du Canada/Early Happy July 4th! I'm popping off to enjoy the festivities for the next few days, so I'll catch you some time next week.
Mixing and matching, scanning bits from here and there, reassembling. Further experimentation has been happening (see also: last week). Thumbnailing and dummy making is also being attempted and I'm taping pages on the wall as I go, looking for missteps in rhythm and prose. And in between I finished a book cover and did some lettering. So all in all, it's been a full week.
And two things:
*I just finished Hope Larson's A Wrinkle In Time
adaptation. I was a diehard fan of the original and this one captures the spirit of the novel perfectly. It's well-worth the read.
*A fun review for Bella's Rules
over on BookDragon
Honest to goodness, I've never known a month to fly by like this one has. Nicely done, June, you outdid yourself. And I would be remiss if didn't post a link to Sarah Winifred Searle
's paper dolls. I have a pirate one that I snagged at MeCAF last month, defending my bulletin board.
Ahoy mateys, anchors away.
Contents may include: vintage postcard, stamp, thread, old encyclopedia pages and some French Resistance photo reference for the fellow.