sketchbook stories :: khristian a. howell

 Khristian struck out on her own two years ago and cannonballed into the world of self-employed independent designer. She has a keen eye for color & balance, and gets her inspiration from traveling and the cultural influences that she encounters. Khristians motto is to “Live the happiest life you can all the while doing the things you love”. She sincerely believes this and has created a series of ebooks to help more artists believe that they CAN make this happen for themselves too!  Her latest ebook called Showstopper is designed to help exhibitors prepare for tradeshows and breaksdown the juggling act between preparing for the show and creating lots of new and fantastic work. I must say it looks pretty amazing! I wish I would of had something like this when I was preparing for my first Surtex Show last year. Here’s a link so you can check it out for yourself :-)



Here is Khristian’s Sketchbook Story ::


KH: This is Sheri, my mom.  I know it is so cheesy, but she was the inspiration behind me always wanting to be an independent business owner.  When I created my first collection after leaving Nordstrom, I could think of no other name for it than Mon Sheri.  Now it lives in my fabric collection for Robert Kaufman, Mon Sheri.


KH: As far as the art goes…I know it doesn’t make for the best pics, but this collection really just grew from some sketching one day… I did at the time I wanted to created a MODERN floral group with new shapes back in the spring of 08.



KH: I wish it were more exciting. There are times that I start with a board of ideas and gathering color inspiration. I wanted however to share this group because it represents a time in my life of real creative breakthrough for me. When I left Nordstrom, I went through a time of feeling lost creatively.  I had spent so much time creating based on someone else’s wants, needs, and desires. I had to find me voice again.  This is the first collection that came out.  It truly came from within.



KH : It sent it right away to Robert Kaufman, and it was accepted to my big BIG surprise. à bientôt!


And here’s where you can find Khristian ::

   twitter: @surfacedivine

Giving Thanks

This has been an amazing year and I have a lot to be thankful for. I’ve grown in leaps and bounds and am in the process of preparing for a creative journey of a lifetime. I’m lucky to be part of a strong community of artists & creative souls that are not only my cheering section, but also pillars of support. And I’m blessed to have the encouragement and understading of my loving family. What more can one ask for. This has been a truly transformational year and I am glad I have been able to share it with you.

Some times there is just nothing better than breaking out the art supplies and doing a little crafting with the ones you love!

Have a Wondferful Thanksgiving!!


Cindy Ann

sketchbook stories :: hugh d’andrade

I can’t remember exactly when I first met Hugh, but what I do vividly remember is his work. Oh, and his hats :-) Hugh has done work for book covers, magazine spreads, Burning Man paraphernalia, board games, as well as the occasional t-shirt and skateboard, but what he is probably best know for is his rock posters. And all I can say is that his posters, really do ROCK! He’s created art for Elvis Costello, Lucinda Williams, Calexico, Joan Jett, Jonathan Richman, and the Avett Brothers. How cool is that!? And in 2008 his red and black striped cat, sporting one of Hugh’s signature hats graced the cover of the Communication Arts Illustration Annual. Hugh is married to the amazing Mati McDonough and says his greatest ambition in life is “To project his mental images into the minds of innocent people everywhere.”


Here is Hugh’s Sketchbook Story ::

HD: People often tell me that there is a spooky, fairy-tale quality to my work, and I’m glad to hear it. I love fairy tales, and I love artwork that is a little scary and a little funny at the same time.  So I was glad when I got a call last year from Penguin’s young adult novel division about doing a cover for a new take on the Brothers Grimm tales.


HD: The book was then called “The Grimm Tale of Hansel & Gretel”. After reading most of the manuscript and having a few conversations with the art director, we decided to feature Hansel & Gretel in a spooky forest. But the key was to have the two kids looking confident and unafraid. This is the first sketch I did.

HD: I had a hard time at first capturing the kids, and we tried a bunch of different versions. (I’ve found that book covers, more than other types of illustration I’ve done, require multiple sketches — many revisions, many versions. Oy!) Here’s a later version.


HD: In the end we used the kids in silhouette, with just a few items  drawn in detail. Here’s how my photoshop file looked as I worked.


HD: I’m really pleased that I got to do the art for the spine, back cover, the lettering for the title and author, as well as interior chapter opener illustrations. It’s a whole package!


HD: Here’s a photo of the final book, now called “A Tale Dark & Grimm.  The New York Times reviewed it recently, and said it was destined to be “a classic.” I’m quite glad to hear that — I’d love to do a sequel!


And here’s where you can find Hugh:


if you are an artist or designer or would like to recommend someone to be featured in Sketchbook Stories please feel free to drop me a line. I’d love to hear from you :-)

d.i.y. ornament inspiration :: part 4

I can’t believe Thanksgiving is almost here. And there are only 3 more days to sign up and be part of this years HandMade Holiday Ornament Exchange. If you still can’t decide what to do check out these cool D.I.Y. ornament tutorials

1. fiskateers:: felt orange 2. duo fiberworks:: pinecone gnome 3. berroco:: miniature sweater 4. alpha stamps:: domino creatures 5. reese dixon:: quilled snowflake 6. inkspired creations:: geodesic


So, all you artistic and crafty peeps, break out those supplies and join in the crafty goodness.


Don’t be left out in the Cold join in!

You’ll have until midnight on Wednesday, November 24th to sign up.

Add to Cart

 All the details that you need to know are here.



Look what I got in the mail!

There’s nothing like going out for a sushi dinner and then coming home to a surprise package of sample cards I did for Haynes Besco a while back :-)

process: spot varnish

Look how cute they turned out. You can’t tell from this picture but my birdies have a shiny spot varnish on them.


process: spot varnish

 They really did a nice job of reformatting my original square designs to fit their layouts. I couldn’t be happier.

process: foil & speciality paper

Mati’s Sparrows

For those of you that LOVED Mati’s Sketchbook Story featuring her sparrows. How awesome is this!! You can purchase the original art from her Suspect Shoppe!!

 And Mati can even personalize it for you with your child’s name or the printed poem! She’s also throwing in a copy of the magazine it was published in. This will make a darling Holiday Gift!!

d.i.y. ornament inspiration :: part 3

Getting to see what everyone comes up with is one of my favorite parts of the HandMade Holiday Ornament Exchange. So if you’re still on the fence here are even more really cool and easy D.I.Y. ornament tutorials.

1.kiki(verde):: poinsettia pinwheel 2. crafting a green world:: felted acorns 3. zakka life:: sea glass 4. our big earth:: recycled bottle caps 5. fashoining technology:: illuminated snowflake


It’s going to be a lot of fun!! There is no better way to get into the holiday spirit then to break open your craft supplies and make a few ornaments to give to some new friends. And how AWESOME is it that you’ll also get 3 FABULOUS ornaments in return. 


Come on over

and sign up!

You’ll have until midnight on Wednesday, November 24th to sign up or until the group maxes out. Whichever comes first.

Add to Cart

 All the details that you need to know are here.

spread the word grab a button :: 

(just copy and paste the HTML code)

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conquering fear and adding few new books to my library!

I ordered a few “artist” freelance/self-help books and started to dive into reading Chris Guillebeau book “The Art of Non-Conformity” and I have to say I’ve been breezing thru it. I’m not quite finished yet, but from what I have read there is some really meaty content that has been great to chew on. Chris’ style of writing is very approachable and not at all stuffy or preachy, like other book I have read on preparing to start your own business or freelancing. And he has a sense of humor that feel genuine and makes me really “like” him.

Yesterday I underlined this passage with my pink sharpie to remind myself to be strong and push thru. I thought I’d share it with you:

We have big dreams and ideas, but we also have big fears. The quest to overcome fear is lifelong, and almost no one is truly fearless. Instead of pretending it doesn’t exist, you have to be willing to smash through the brick wall of fear…Fear is normal…change can only come about when the pain of transition becomes less than the pain of accepting the status quo…Ask yourself “What’s the worst thing that can happen?” it helps to put big decisions in perspective.

I’ve been totally struggling with this lately and have been waffling a bit. I’ve made big plans for a new creative beginning and have been struggling if I should push out my start date. But, I know if I do that I’ll only be prolong my misery. Really I just need to woman up and stick to my guns. No matter what!!

I mean what’s the worst that could happen? I could lose my house, ruin my credit and be forced to move to a cheaper more affordable area. Yes, that would totally suck, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

I’m scared that if I keep prolonging and pushing out my start date it will never happen. Which in the end would be a whole lot worse than losing my house. 118 days and counting!