Surtex 2011! There and Back

It’s been a bit of a whirl wind since I’ve returned home from NYC with crazy follow up, family drama, and more follow up on top of follow up. So, now that I have a moment to take a second to breath and reflect, I’m ready share some photos!!

This was a pretty amazing year for me. I thought last year was a good year, but this year has definitely topped it!!! Coming in as, a second year veteran, I felt I had a better handle on things, from set-up to shipping and breakdown. All of which were a bit of a wild card the first year. I decided not to ship anything (minus one tube with my table cover) and only took what I could fly with on a plane. Which included 2 enormous suitcase that I checked, a roller board carry on that held my binders and a tube for my banners,  that came with me in the cabin. All and all not a bad plan, except I was staying on the 5th floor of a walk-up. On the last day after everything was broken down and re-packed it need to be hauled up to the apartment for one night before I flew back home. I was so grateful to have Jess’s helping me carry those super heavy bags (81 & 52 pounds) up all of those steps. And it actually turned into quite a funny bonding moment. We were sweating and cracking up laughing like crazy the whole way, and trying to do it quickly as we had dinner plans we were rushing to get to.

I am really lucky that this year I got to room with some really amazingly talented ladies. It made the experience that much more awesome!!

Like I said, I got to hang with some really awesome ladies!! AND I met my online friends from the Blogging Your Way class that I took back in October. Now I can call Steph and Monica my “real-life” friends :-)

1) Mary Beth Frett and team from Pink Light Design, Jane Dixon, Khristian A. Howell, Jessica Swift 2) Michelle Ward and hubby, Genevieve Gail, Khristian A. Howell , Niki Malek, Jess & her cute soon to be doctor hubby Ryan 3) Jessica Swift, Caroline Simas, Melanie Hall, Anne Brown from Demdaco, Megan Halsey, Sharyn Sowell

My social calendar hasn’t been that full since I was in college:-) I had dinner plans every night, and every night the table was dripping with talent!!

What a great year, and the Sweet Spot totally rocked!! Thanks to all that stopped by to say Hello and had a sweet treat!!

It was so awesome to partner with Megan on this. I’m so glad that I “moved in” across from her last year. We really have an awesome little neighborhood!! And we had a great response to The Sweet Spot that we are already starting to plan for next year. And for those of you that are wondering if you won any of the sweet prizes, they will be mailed out to you very very soon :-)

Thank you to all that helped make this happen, stopped by to say HI, had a sweet treat, looked thru my art portfolios, sat and chatted and spent evenings & dinners with me. I’m looking forwad to doing it all over again next year!! :-)

…and if you want to read a few more recaps on this years show you should stop by here and here , for a first timer perspective check out here, and definitely over here and here and for the point of an artist walking the show stop by here.

Sketchbook Stories :: Lianne & Paul Stoddard

Lianne and Paul make up the husband and wife team that is Swirly Designs. They met while attending The New England School of Art & Design in Boston and have since combined their talents to create a business out of making handmade clay ornaments for almost any occasion. Their designs are a playful and have a contemporary spin on traditional imagery. But the best part is that each ornament is a one-of-a-kind.

Here is Lianna & Paul’s Sketchbook Story ::

L&PS: Our passion for decorating for the holidays inspired us to combine our artistic skills to create our own collection of original handmade polymer clay holiday ornaments.

L&PS: We met in art school in Boston; Paul studied illustration, while I studied graphic design. In school I was introduced to polymer clay, and I started dabbling with it creating jewelry and other items. It was fun and relaxing for me since I worked on a computer all day.

L&PS: After we were married, we were always thinking of ways to work together being creative and Swirly Designs was born. Ten years and two kids later we still love what we do and there’s never a dull moment here at the studio.

L&PS: When we are creating a new collection, we find lots of inspiration in many things. The changing seasons here in New England have a big impact on our designs and color choices. Visiting a craft store is lots of fun for us, we love to see what new products there are and how we can incorporate them into our designs. We also love to collect holiday décor such as neat gift tags, stickers, cards and magazines. We keep them in clear boxes and binders for reference. Even our studio, when it’s clean, inspires us. We surround ourselves with many trees that we’ve collected over the years, which are decorated with seasonal ornaments and of course having kids (5yr & 2 yrs) you really embrace and experience each and every holiday.

L&PS: We do lots of sketches for a collection. We start by just writing down words that come to mind when we think of the occasion. Then we’ll go to our sketchbooks and just doodle and doodle. We’ll continue to work out ornament ideas to create a nice well rounded collection. We try to have anywhere between 12-20 different ornaments per collection. Once happy with the sketches we will redraw them tighter on tracing paper and do color studies. Over the years we found that the more we have worked out in the sketch stages (details and colors etc.) it helps make the clay process go faster. These sketches are from our most recent Easter/Spring 2011 collection.

L&PS: Each and every ornament is hand-sculpted from white clay, painted and beautifully embellished. This ornament is entitled Coco Bunny Basket. We always like to experiment and try new techniques and for this ornament we added iridescent tinsel glitter for the basket grass and filled the coco bunny in resin. We were happy with the how it turned out and since it sold out very quickly online, our fans must have loved it as well!

L&PS: Our studio is always swirling with new and interesting holiday festivities and we are so blessed our ornaments have become part of so many peoples holiday traditions. 
L&PS: We launch 5 limited ornament collections a year on our website. Visit our website and blog to learn more about us and our handmade designs.

Here’s where you can find Lianne &  Paul ::

     website ::
swirly blog ::
   facebook ::
      twitter ::!/SwirlyDesigns

happy birthday to me

My 35th birthday kind of snuck up on me, I knew it was coming but it still managed to hit me like a ton of bricks. I’ve been thinking about getting my noise pierced and wondering if I’m too old. Did I miss that window?

And now I can’t decide if I’m just thinking about it because I’m feeling old or if it’s because I really do want to get my noise pierced. There was a time in college where I really wanted a noise ring. I didn’t do it because my roommate got her noise pierced before me, and well, we couldn’t both have our noises pierced. ‘Cause that would of just been dumb. But was it just a fad that I’m feeling I was left out of? I don’t know. So I’m going to do the mature thing and wait to see if I still really want it in a month. Time has a way of giving these type of things perspective.

conquering the green gremlins

I have to admit that I sometimes catch myself making comparison and have to force myself to STOP. It’s not fair to myself or the other person I’m comparing myself to. And I’m all too familiar with that sting that you get when someone else gets something you really REALLY want or if they get “there” or “it” before you. It always seems to hit me hardest when things feel like they’re not moving or happening fast enough.

I have to force myself to step back, take a deep breath and remember that everything come in time. I’m only at the beginning of this creative journey and there’s enough room for everyone. I just need to look within and follow my own path.

I don’t know if it’s the law of attraction or what, but while I was at Surtex this quote showed up in my inbox from my friend Willo:

“Jealousy is simply and clearly the fear that you do not have value. Jealousy scans for evidence to prove the point – that others will be preferred and rewarded more than you. There is only one alternative – self-value. If you cannot love yourself, you will not believe that you are loved. You will always think it’s a mistake or luck. Take your eyes off others and turn the scanner within. Find the seeds of your jealousy, clear the old voices and experiences. Put all the energy into building your personal and emotional security. Then you will be the one others envy, and you can remember the pain and reach out to them.” ~Jennifer James

And earlier this week Tiffany retweeed this advice:

(RT @letsreverb: Potent advice: “Never compare your beginning to someone else&rsquo
;s middle.” h/t @gracekboyle)

So, the universe must be trying to tell me something and I should probably listen.

Sketchbook Stories :: Jim Benton

Jim is probably best know for his It’s Happy Bunny™ licensing property, or at least that’s where I know him from. During his career Jim has designed clothing, written books, created a kids’ TV series, and won multiple LIMA Licensing Awards. His cynical dry sense of humor has a way of crossing over generations and is relatable to both tweens and adults (or adults that still want to be teens :-)

I ran across an interview Jim did a while back, and I wanted to share with you an excerpt where he talks about making a job out of drawing. I really related to it and I think you will too! :

“I knew I wanted to make a living out of what I loved to do when I realized that I could get regular work. In seventh grade I made a few bucks illustrating for a little newspaper, and that was regular enough for me to realize I could make a job out of drawing.

The rewards of owning your own company are that you make all the decisions. You live by your wits. There is an old chestnut: ‘Nobody enjoys the hunt more than the fox.’ I’ve always thought that was an appropriate way to think of self-employment.”

Today Jim will be sharing the cover development from the latest book in his Dear Dumb Diary Series when we follow the main character Jamie Kelly as she chronicles her middle-school exploits through her private journal.

Here is Jim’s Sketchbook Story ::

JB: By way of introduction, Dear Dumb Diary is published by Scholastic. It’s’ published in over 15 languages, and has sold over 6 million books. 3 are NY Times bestsellers, and it is currently in film development.

JB: I tinkered around trying to depict the damaged relationship between the three main characters in the book.

JB: I was pretty sure that the puppet angle would work, and you can see I even did a little color test on it.

JB: In the end, my editor correctly asserted that these covers were a little more complicated than the actual story I wrote, so I did one that more literally depicted the style-copying that Jamie sees going on around her in the book.  The final cover is also here.

JB: The book releases in June. Here’s the preorder page on Amazon:

JB: I couldn’t completely let go of my little puppet composition and you can see I did a painting of bears for a poster about politics.


Dear Dumb Diary Creator Jim Benton Draws‬

Here’s where you can find Jim ::

  website ::
facebook ::
   twitter ::!/JimBenton

on my desktop :: in a surtex follow up daze

I’m still in a daze and am trying to organize and prioritize what to do first process sample jpegs, email clients, laundry, unpack, spend time with my daughter, write a blog post or two.

Oh, and I decided to moved my mail client over to a different server/application so I can track better. I’ve been thinking about it for a while now, but this probably wasn’t the best timing. I’ll just chalk that up to a learning experience.

So as you can see I got a lot going on!

I’ve been chatting with some folks that are following up at lighting speed. I’m just hoping to have all of my follow-up done by the end of next week. Now if only those jpgs would just process a little bit faster I could actually get started.

A couple of pictures to tie you over :: Surtex 2011

What a blast! I had such a crazy & AMAZING time showing at Surtex this year!! I just got back home late last night and now I’m trying to regroup, organize and following up with all the amazing folks I met. A full recap will be coming in the near future, but in the meantime here are a couple of pictures to tie you over till I get settled in.

Ready to meet and greet!

Megan & I in front of my booth on the first day.

on my way

Surtex 2011!! Bags are packed and I am on my way!! I’m hoping that I’ll be able to concur the jet-lag pretty quickly cause it’s gonna be go go go!! I’m on a red-eye that lands at 7am on Friday and then I will be going directly to the Javits to set up. (This seamed like a good idea when I booked the flight a few months ago. We shall see if I still feel that way when I land on Friday;)

For those of you are attending the show don’t forget to stop by and say Hello!! And of course have something sweet!  Megan Halsey and I will be hosting “The Sweet Spot” at 1pm daily at the intersection of booths #627 & 630.

You’ll also have a chance to win some really cool prizes including one of my Flip Video Camera’s, signed prints, inspirational wall art, and some of my Skin-it designs, so you can dress up your laptop or mobile device.

Wish me luck.

Over and out, until I get back!

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” — Seneca

Seeking my next creative intern

I’ve been very lucky to have had Alex work with me for the past 6 months!! She has been a rockstar!! Alex is heading back to Boston at the end of June to finish out her senior year at Northeastern University. This is one uber prepared lady and a good designer to boot!! Alex has created the identity for The Sweet Spot, laid out each weeks Sketchbook Story at lightening speed, and is a great hiking and wine tasting partner. My fingers are crossed that she’ll make her way back to the Bay Area after she graduates, cause she is definitely someone that I want to keep in my circle of friends.

AM: Working with Cindy Ann was phenomenal. I got a chance to produce for and learn about the licensing industry, as well as blogging. This internship offers the chance to create not only digitally but also with your hands. Its a variety of projects and collaboration that is well worth the time spent in the studio. Additionally, I got to hang out with a cool lady & a look into her life as a self sustaining designer. Thanks for everything Cindy Ann!

Here’s where you can find Alex ::!/lexandra_m

So as I say good-bye to Alex I am looking forward to taking on my next creative apprentice.

I’m looking for someone to prepare art submissions, process images, do some blogging and creating layouts as well as assist with administrative and arty production things. If you are friendly organized and not afraid to take initiative, offer up an ideas or two, have mad photoshop & illustrator skills, and know your way around social media network let’s chat.

Some of the things you will do will be:

Digital - Posting images to website, Uploading images to my blog and website. Scanning and cleaning images for art. Creating mechanicals and reformatting artwork. Updating online portfolios & doing layouts for promotional materials.

Online - Laying out, formatting and posting images to website and blog. Scanning and cleaning images for art. Creating mechanicals and reformatting artwork. Updating online portfolios & doing layouts for promotional materials.

Administrative Prep- Printing, creating and organizing show binders and display materials. Responding to emails and art requests. Filling out forms. Organization, and packing assistance. Putting together sample pack, compiling list of press contacts, follow-up, updating and maintaining mailing lists (include researching), sending e-mails and making phone calls.

This is a volunteer position, so I really want to find someone that will benefit from the experience. I would love to feed you, help you get school credit, and teach you all that I can about illustration and the art licensing industry. Scheduling can be flexible and you can work from home for some of your hours. My home studio located in the Oakland Hills and I am looking for at least a 6 month commitment.

If this sort of thing might interest you email me at  and tell me a little about yourself and include links to your resume, blog, website, shop, twitter, or anything else you’d like to share.  And answer the following questions: Name your top 3 favorite artist or illustrators. Why are you interested in this position and what you hope to gain from the experience. I’ll email you from there :-)

And of course, if you know anyone in the SF Bay Area that you think might be interested please feel free to pass this along.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you!!