Tuesday, August 26, 2014

uni the unicorn

Today is a very important day.  Today, Uni the Unicorn comes out!

I know I've mentioned this before, but one the big bummers of working in publishing is that you have to wait a loooooooooong time before you can really spill the beans and share a project.  I finished the art for this book last November, and since then I've been going crazy because honestly, I love this book. And that's not the babbling of an ego-maniac, either!  A book is a group effort, with the illustrator, writer, art director, designer, editor, and MANY others working together.  It's just very rare and special when everyone is on the same exact page throughout the process.  So, so, SO very rare and special!

I knew I wanted to illustrate this book as soon as I read the text.  This is kinda (usually) how it works: my agent will send me a text, that's just the words of the book, and I'll read through it and think about it, and talk to her about it, and try and decide if it's something that's right for me to illustrate.  This process did not happen on Uni.  I got an email with the text attached to it, I read it, and I immediately called my agent and said "GET ME THAT BOOK!  GET IT! I WANT IT!!!"  That was in December of 2012.  Feels like a billion years ago!

The process usually continues like this: I get in touch with the editor and receive art notes (written notes about what image should be on what page) and then start sketches.  For Uni, I got to make the art notes myself, which was so fun and awesome, and I almost can't believe that a total kid's book rock star super pro like Amy would trust me enough to do that, but she did!  

So much of the book is about Uni's wishing, and thinking, and dreaming about having a little girl for a friend.  I tried to show those ideas, but the way a child would experience them.  Like when you are 6 years old and obsessed with having a bunny and all you draw is bunnies for months on end.
You know that feeling.  That's the feeling that Uni has!

I'd also like to point out that Uni is not specifically a boy or a girl...there is no pronoun ever used to describe how Uni is feeling or what Uni is doing!  I've read a few reviews that describe Uni as a "she" and I find it odd...I was always thinking of Uni as this magical, genderless creature!  

Thinking of Uni as just Uni was helpful to the book overall I think, because let's be honest: a book about a unicorn?  That could have ended up completey pink and fluffy and rainbow sprinkles and cotton candy looking (which I have nothing against, by the by).  I think it's much more interesting as is though, since it never quite veers into completely "girl" territory.  It could have easilly been a story about a little boy and a velociraptor, if you switched out a few words.  

But yeah, there are some rainbows in there too, because c'mon, how could you NOT have rainbows in a book about unicorns?!

Friday, April 18, 2014

a smart girl's guide to money

I'm going to be doing more posts like this one soon.  That is, posts where I get to reveal a project that has been done for what feels like an eternity!  

I illustrated this book, A Smart Girls' Guide to Money, and it's partner, Making Money, almost a year ago.  I just got a big old box of them on my doorstep a few days ago, and I have to admit, no matter how many times it happens, it's always exciting to see your work in print and bound together as a book.

These books in particular are very, VERY dense with illustration.  There was at a least an illustration per page, and sometimes multiple illustrations or images that spread across more than one page.  A lot of work, in other words!

Things I had to learn while working on these books:
-how to design stacks of money in an appealing way
-how to design a box of receipts in an appealing way
-how to draw girls of every body type and ethnicity between the ages of 8 and 12 (it was easy to go to young and too old and I did both at times...the tweenage years are tough to draw!)
-how to design an illustration that packs many, many ideas into itself at once (the art notes for this book were DETAILED)
-how to have fun with an idea that could otherwise be very dry, like illustrating some credit cards, or a bank building. I had to make it fun for myself.  

Anyway, the books are published by American Girl (yes, THAT American Girl!) and they'll be available next month.  I have to admit, even though I'm supposed to be a grown up lady, I actually did learn a lot about money from reading the text as I worked on it.  It's VERY smart, and yet very easy to understand, and if you know a young girl with an entrepreneurial spirit, I'd say you've found yourself a birthday/Xmas/whatever gift if there ever was one.   Here's your sneak peak at what's inside!

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

sailor moon

These are my interpretations of Sailor Moon, Mars, Jupiter, Mercury and Venus!

Basically, I wanted to style each gal as if they were teenagers right now, in the present.  I looked at a lot of Japanese street style, and I used boatloads of my own style preferences too, of course.

For Miss Moon herself, I wanted her to be really fun looking, like a young teenager just starting to play with styling herself.  And she's got on her high top flatforms, of course, because all flatforms are pretty ubiquitous with Japanese fashion, and also with me!  I love converse high tops! (In case you haden't noticed.)  I also switched out her buns for hair bows, because...I just liked that better.  I know the buns are part of her iconic look, but if I'm going to give a character a completely illogical hairdo, I like for it to be a bit more fanciful!  

Mars is more sleek and grown-up looking.  She seems like she'd be really into classic pieces that make her look more sophisticated.  And yes, I gave her a demure little mars symbol tattoo. 

Jupiter!  I like Jupiter.  She's somehow the most tomboyish AND the most feminine of all the scouts, so she was a lot of fun to style.  She's got a motorcycle jacket, but it's pink!  She's got boots with buckles, but she wears them with thigh high stockings!  She accents her strong eyebrows with emerald baby bangs.  I could probably figure out one million outfits for her.  She was super fun.

Mercury.  Poor Mercury, she so often gets the short end of the stick when it comes to fan tributes.  Nobody can really figure out her hair...is it...a bob?  or a pixie?  I think it's supposed to be kinda Winona-Ryder-in-the-90's-esque.  I think.  She's often portrayed as being sorta mousy, and with BOOKS.  I think that comes from her being a Virgo, which is among the most buttoned up symbols of the zodiac.  But you can cover everything up and STILL look sassy, in a demure kinda way.  I love her with glasses, too.  

And lastly, Venus!  I had the hardest time with Venus because...I don't really remember what her deal is.  I read all the Sailor Moon comics as a teen (all that had been translated, at the time, at least!) and watched most of the anime, but I just coudln't remember what she was like!  BUT, she's a libra, which means she's friendly, and flirty, so that's how I styled her: as a cute, friendlly, flower-crowned flirt.  She's the girliest of the group, too!
I had a lot of fun with Artemis.

My friend Ed told me: You made Sailor Moon so hipster! 

 And yes, that's exactly what I did!  And it was soooooo fun!  I wanted to do ALL the scouts, but alas...not enough time.  I already had ideas for Saturn (goth, big eyebrows!), and Pluto (I was gonna make her black!  I always thought she was, but some careful googling reveals that...nobody really knows for sure what the deal is with her race), and Chibi Moon (total Japanese street style overload...barettes in the bangs, giant headphones!).  Maybe one of these days, when I have time!

Come see these babies in person this Saturday April 5 at Q Pop Gallery in Los Angeles!  I'll be there!  Me and all the other girls who spent their young lives with Sailor Moon.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

stage and play pricesses + give away!

Long time no see!
I thought it was about time I had another give-away, not just because I have a whole box of Stage and Play Princesses, but also to breath some life into this crusty, neglected old blog!

Stage and Play Princesses is based on my book, Twelve Dancing Princesses, the simplest way to describe it is to say that it's a kind of toy theater, but more toy than anything else.  It's made out of heavy, thick cardboard, and the box has a drawer on the front so that all the pieces can get tucked away when play is done.  

Pretty cool, huh??  I remember having toys sorta like this as a kid, like paper dolls and a cardboard castle, but nothing as nicely made or inviting as this.  My inner child is freaking out over this thing.  

There are a LOT of pieces, including four different back drops, a horse drawn carriage, 15 different princesses, a king and queen, a cat, a tree, a bunny, a chair a dog, a pig, a tea party...tons of stuff!!

OK OK, here's the give away part!


The rules: 

  • Leave your e-mail address in a comment to this post.
  • I'll use an random number generator to pick a winner!
  • US residents only please.  Yes I know, but these things are kinda heavy so int'l shipping is not an option...this time around, at least.  International folks, don't worry...I'll have a less hefty giveaway soon.
  • I'll pick a winner on March 29!!
  • Yayayayayayay!

PS: Please don't be alarmed or confused when your comment doesn't appear immediately after you post it.  I have comments moderation turned on, to keep my blog free of robot spam and haters! There's no need to repost, and your comment ought to appear within a few hours. :)

OR, if you're not a risk-taker, you can get a set the old fashioned way: buy it on the internet!

They are available at the Chronicle Books website 

Please notice my dog is in this set.  Yep, that's Lila!

(Cat for scale.) (Also, she just wouldn't go away.)

(Cat drawings below for fun.)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

rapunzel heads

I was cleaning my studio last weekend (it was extremely overdue) and I found these in a box in a pile of other drawings!  They are from my Disney internship days, when I did a little bit of work on Rapunzel (it was still called Rapunzel instead of Tangled then...that's how long ago it was).  Some (ok, MANY...alright MOST) of these look kinda oofy to me now, but they are an example of what character design is all about: just messing around with shapes.  Kinda fun still!

 These, like all the work that I did at Disney, only exist on paper.  The hard drive I had saved my work on crashed forever go and I have yet to get around to getting the data recovered.  WHO KNOWS what other priceless gems are hidden away in the deep recesses of my ancient hard drive???  

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

hey where can I get a print of that???

I get a lot of e-mails asking me exactly this, and I end up sending back identical replies, so I thought I'd save us all some time and effort and just give it to you straight, all at once!

I think I've been getting more and more of these emails lately because people are quickly getting into holiday gift-giving mode.  I have to admit, the idea of someone giving another someone some of my art as a present is preeeeeeettttttttyyyy awesome.  If you are one of those people, then let me just say: thank you ever so!!!

Places you can buy prints of my work:

These are limited edition prints, so if you want one then you'd best hop on it!

Nucleus also has several pieces of original artwork of mine from past shows that are still available, if you're a big spender and you feel like making my day.  

If you are searching for my princess goodies, you can get those either on AMAZON or from the CHRONICLE BOOKS website. 

I know my Chronicle Books goodies are available at lots of other places as well, but I don't honestly know where!  They don't tell me that stuff.  It's sorta fun, because I'll see my book or matching game pop up randomly at a gift store  or something from time to time (I found it in the gift store at the Getty Center!).  But it's also a little annoying because I feel like I should have known it was there already.  In any case: it makes little to no difference to me personally WHERE you choose to buy them, and I usually tell people to just go to Amazon because it's always a couple bucks cheaper.  

I know there are lots you reading this right now saying 

Well, sorry dudes!

I don't make or sell prints of my work anymore.  I used to have an etsy shop, but I simply became waaaay too busy to run an online store all by myself, and be a children's book illustrator, and teach at CalArts, and have an actual life with a husband and dog and cat and friends and all that.  As prints become available here and there, I will surely let you all know about it!  

In the meantime, happy shopping!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

fleet collection

Two things: this is not a fashion blog, and I am not a fashion blogger.  So when the opportunity presented itself for me to get my hands on some crazy cute dresses from Fleet Collection and take some pictures in them, I was like "whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat! me?!" and then I was like "GIMME THOSE DRESSES!"  

You see, I love clothes.  I really, really love clothes.  Especially dresses.  I have more dresses than pairs of socks, or t-shirts.  Dresses for days!  I love dresses!

Basically: I convinced my friend Janine Ker to hang out in Griffith Park here in Los Angeles for a day and take pictures of me.  It was so much fun!  Not just styling the dresses, but getting to collaborate on something with my friend, doing something creative outside the norm for both of us.  I mean, I'm no model, and the button on Janine's camera is held on with a bit of tape, and we did this all completely guerilla style!  (We almost got booted out of Travel Town for bringing 'props' in with us.) We got some weird looks, but that just added to the fun, I think.  

It also forced me to respect my favorite fashion bloggers that much more...it takes a lot of planning and creativity to get good shots!

Credits for this adventure:
Styled and modeled by this moi

We shot this blue dress in Travel Town in Griffith Park.  It's full of cool old trains.  It's probably one of the coolest places in LA.  And it's free!

As a person who owns a lotta dresses already, I have to say that these are really excellently crafted.  I'm not jus saying that!  The fabric is nice and thick, so you don't have to wear a slip underneath, and they fit like a glove.  They're not flimsy like dresses this cute tend to be.  

Also, they are made in downtown Los Angeles!!  How cool is that?

sweater: J.Crew
shoes: Kurt Geiger
little suitcases: that is just the kinda stuff that I keep around.

This is a good place to mention that Janine is also my hairdresser.  She is responsible for my pixie cut, which gets me an average of one compliment a day.  

For the photos with this black and red dress I had the silly idea of going to this giant bougainvillea bush in Atwater Village, right by a train overpass.  It was our least glamorous location for sure (garbage all over, old man with a shopping cart rolled through, a car honked at us) but those flowers matched the dress so well!

sunglasses: the $15 or less store in Santa Barbara.  They were $7!
hat: some vintage hole in the wall.
belt: a thrift store like seriously 8 years ago
shoes: Kurt Geiger again
necklace: The Getty Center gift shop

THIS dress may have been my favorite.  I love red.  

 hat: J.Crew
belt: a thrift store like seriously 9 years ago
sunglasses: Asos

hat: Topshop
cardigan: Crossroads
all my jewelry: vintage

I got that paper parasol at FYF Fest a couple months ago for the practical purpose of keeping the sun off and also the awesome purpose of being adorable.  It was a fun prop!

Both Janine and I agreed that this yellow dress looked best among the yellow leaves of the sycamore trees.  The sycamore is my favorite tree.  How could you not love a tree that grows little deedly-balls on it?!

cardigan: Crossroads
shoes, sunglasses: Urban Outfitters
lace socks: Forever21

I hope I get the opportunity to do something like this again.  Super fun times!

Don't worry, there will be an art update soon.  I sure as heck have a lot to share, I just have to wait until the time is right!