Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Golden Moth Assembly Party and Notecard Illustrations

This past Sunday I held a Golden Moth Assembly Party for people to come and help assemble the card decks. It was a lot of fun! Everyone was so helpful, encouraging, enthusiastic, and full of ideas. It was great to share the deck with other people. So much of this project has been created in near-solitude, and in the past month or so I've come to realize that I need to establish and maintain stronger friendships with others for my own happiness and mental health. My default mode tends to be hermitude, so it's a push for me to reach out to others. I'm glad I did :)

Since all the counter space was taken up with cards, I had to set food on top of the washing machine and stove. I have lots of leftovers to eat this week.

The energy of a group of people with different ideas and perspectives can be so uplifting. Their help and good company allowed me get over the near-paralyzing magnitude of this project for me into something much more manageable. Thank you Cate, Leila, Betsy, Nina, Jacob, Emily, and Greg!


Lately, I have been working in watercolor. I took an Intro to Watercolor class with Susan Quinnild at The Visual Arts Center of Richmond last month and I loved it! Although I've used watercolor for most of my life, I've never been formally trained in how to use it. Turns out there is a lot to be learned! I'll be posting some of my work and process in a future post.

One of the rewards for The Golden Moth Illumination Deck are notecards. I finally finished the designs for those today. I don't know what took me so long, since when i actually sat down to paint it took only about 8 hours combined to complete them. I think what holds me back is not feeling clear about my ideas for the finished product and feeling overly ambitious about what sort of image to create. I find that if I sit back and allow myself to simplify, I usually arrive at a happy result.

Here are the two illustrations. They are based on images in the card deck.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Golden Moth Sneak Peeks!

In terms of The Golden Moth Illumination Deck project, the past few weeks have been a time of waiting and recuperation. But now it's time to get busy again! Here is the latest progress:

A couple weeks ago, I visited the Archaic Mess studio to do a press check. Taylor Ball (right) of Parcell Press and Travis Robertson (left) are the duo behind the Mess. Taylor mostly handles the printing and Travis mostly handles the finishing (paper trimming, stapling, etc), though I'm sure both help out in either realm.

A glimpse of the workspace where the magic happens.

Taylor wrote a detailed printing task list!

Out of the contraption and into the stacks - hundreds of golden moths!

Keeping in mind that we are but human individuals with varying schedules working on this project, Travis delivered most of the cards to me a few days ago. "Most" - meaning that there are still some cards that need to be trimmed due to the fact that he needs to get the guillotine blade re-sharpened, but it shouldn't be too long before he can deliver the rest. Check it out some of the cards!
May 21st Update: Everything is now trimmed and ready for me to get crackin' on it!

Some of you may notice that I changed the design of the border slightly. I was going to use blue in the border, but decided that it looked too busy.

In the meantime, there is still some work for me to do to get these cards into the hands of my Kickstarter backers, and then to the general public. I have to corner-round the cards:

And I have to hand-cut the boxes and assemble them - this is the step that I think will be the most time-consuming!

Then the cards need to be collated into numbered order for each deck. All of this goes into a package with the Arrow Spread Sheet:

and Handbook!

The Handbook looks really cute, don't you think? For some reason, I was almost more excited about seeing the Handbook than I was with the actual card deck, maybe because I still have to work on the deck but the Handbook was delivered all finished and pretty by Archaic Mess.

I was so worried about writing the book, but once I finally got into it everything flowed well. My aunt and older sister helped a lot with editing. I hope that the Handbook will be helpful and informative to others.

Oh, almost forgot - I also have been working on the mini-art that goes to Kickstarter backers who pledged $30 or more. Here is a sampling of some of the art I have finished:

So now I need to get back to the drawing board and chug away at all the details. I also need to finish the notecard and poster designs, and I will hand screenprint the poster. I am hoping to start sending packages near the end of this month, with the goal of having everything delivered by June. Thanks everyone for your patience! And if anyone in Richmond is interested in helping me out with some of these finishing touches, give me a holler. I can compensate your time with food and artwork!

With the extra money I raised from my Kickstarter campaign (I raised $4,800 when the original goal was $4,000) I decided to up the quantity of decks, spread sheets, and handbook from 250 to 300. I was also able to order a larger variety of postcards.

Thanks everyone who cast their vote on the postcard and bookplate designs. If you are a Kickstarter backer, here is the choice you will get if you ordered postcards:

 And here are the bookplate designs:
For those of you who weren't able to get in on the Kickstarter campaign but would like to order a deck or related products, I will be listing them for sale in my etsy shop, Sprout Head, after I have shipped out orders to my Kickstarter backers.

Until then, you'll just have to wait a little longer!


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Getting Domestic

Upon returning from New York City a couple of weeks ago, I was pretty tired out. I had been working intensely on finishing up the artwork for The Golden Moth Illumination Deck (see the Kickstarter campaign for the project here) in order to get the artwork files to the printer right before I left for NYC, and didn't realize what an effect it would have on me. It was hard to fully enjoy New York - it just felt fast and full of too many people. Not to say I didn't enjoy elements of being in the city, but it made me realize for the first time that maybe I'm getting too old for it! Years ago I used to live in New York City while attending Pratt Institute and for a couple years post-graduation, and I do love Brooklyn - the brownstones, wrought-iron fences, and local character.

But I was happy to return home to Richmond. I've been taking a bit of a break from working on the Moth Deck project in order to get myself recharged. There is still more artwork that I need to complete, but the bulk of it is finished and the cards are printed! There's some finishing work to be done before I receive the cards and other products, and then I need to do some further finishing before they're ready to be packaged and shipped off.

In the meantime, I've been getting domestic - cleaning and decorating the house and working on the garden. It feels nice to put some energy into my home - a place I spend probably 80% or more of my time in. I've been framing artwork, some that I've kept stashed for a long time, and have finally started decorating the apartment more. The apartment is by no means perfect, but it's got its own charm. And it looks much more homey with artwork hanging on the walls. Here is one of my favorites called "Strawberry Kids," a linocut print by Amanda Kindregan.

Her work has a retro feel to it like old children's book illustrations and I love her colors. Next to the print is the curtain I sewed for the door window. It's not perfect, but looks much better than the oversized sheer purple curtain that was tacked onto the door before. And it was the first chance I had to use my old table-top White sewing machine.

I also decided to make a French Memory Board. I've seen them around before, and the idea appealed to me because I have a lot of postcards and little bitty art that I'd like to display, but I don't like to damage the artwork by taping them to the wall, pushing tacks through, or squeezing them with clips. The beauty of the memory board is that tightly-stretched ribbons are the only things holding the artwork to it, so there is no damage and artwork is easily interchangeable.

I decided to make my memory board different than other ones I had seen by using translucent ribbon. In some memory boards I looked at, the diamond pattern of the ribbon was jarring as it cut across a picture, and obviously you lose some of the image behind the ribbon. 

There are many online tutorials on how to make your own Memory Board. Here's a simple one. I used a pre-stretched 22" x 28" canvas. For mine, I also added 2 layers of cotton batting behind the cloth as I'd seen in other tutorials. This allows you to get the ribbon nice and tight against the cloth so it holds pictures better. I sewed my buttons right onto the board instead of using brads, which took longer than I'd anticipated, but definitely helps the ribbon tension so that the pictures stay put underneath.

 The drawing of the two creatures (foxes?) on the telephone was given to me by my sweet friend Katy O'Brien who I used to live with in Portland, Oregon. Visit her blog to see comic-versions of her adventures in Sweden last summer. She also sent me the postcard of a Moomin character in a flower field to the right of it. To the right of that postcard and underneath it are some pretty collaged cards that my sister Linjung made for me. She makes the best cards and writes amazing messages and poetry to go with them. And on the bottom left is a postcard of artwork by Irene Olivieri.

 Here is a "Happy Animal" doodle and an artist trading card by my friend Rina Drescher. I love the spontaneity and lively colors in her art and paintings.

 The March calendar page is by Chris Milk Hulbert and is from the 2010 Art 180 Calendar. The quote comes from 12 3/4 year-old Shaiheim Durham: "Art makes me feel regular" - a sentiment that speaks to me only too well. Art 180 is an organization in Richmond that provides at-risk youth with free art programs. I led a writing and illustration program last year, I keep meaning to post about it. I'll just say for now that it was tough in many ways, but it changed my life - no lie! The sweet fairy is by my friend (and fellow teacher at The Visual Arts Center of Richmond) Sarah Hand. Sarah illustrated the 2012 Art 180 Calendar for this year. Last year I illustrated the calendar, also using quotes from kids in the art programs. I just got a package in the mail last week from Art 180 - the calendar images I illustrated were made into notecard sets!

True that.

Adventures in New York

In March, I visited my hometown of Rochester, NY and traveled to nearby Buffalo to table at the Buffalo Small Press Book Fair. Here are some pics from the Book Fair:

Me and my friend Rina Drescher  who helped me at my table. She has sold her own poetry chapbooks and art at past fairs but was taking a little break this time.

Some cool stuff by Jamie Schilling of Little Beast Press. I bought the screenprinted notebook on the left. Her handmade books were really lovely. I also bought and traded with some other vendors. "The Year of the Bear" by Chad Grohman was a beautifully illustrated fable-like story. Got some nice comics from One Percent Press and a neat mini-comic called "Simple Stuff" by Emily Churco


In Rochester, I visited my sister Olivia's studio (for the first time!)

 Olivia holding an unfinished "sketch" of a figure that she will eventually cast in plaster.

Olivia is an artist who works primarily in figurative sculpture. Her boyfriend Dario Tazzioli is visiting from Italy to have a sculpture show in Rochester in June, and Olivia will be part of a group show at Nazareth College! I'll be sure to post about it when I visit again this summer. For now, see more of Olivia's art here.


In April I headed up to New York City to take in the museums and table at the Brooklyn Zine Fest.

The breathtaking Hall of Diversity at the Natural History Museum.

The Brooklyn Zine Fest was great - packed with people and full of some great talent. Here is a picture of my friend Katie Haegele of The La-La Theory at the Brooklyn Zine Fest. As an artist and zinester, I think it's amazing that I can meet so many great people through their art. I had ordered some of Katie's zines from Etsy some years ago, and then we met in person when she tabled at the Richmond Zine Fest. I also met Matt and Kseniya, the co-creators of the fest and the zine "I Love Bad Movies," at the Richmond Zine Fest a couple of years ago.

At the Brooklyn Fest, I met many cool people and zine-makers. I picked up a lot of great comics, many by awesome female artists I'd never heard of before. I hope to do a post about comics sometime.

Now some pictures of lovely plants from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Such a peaceful place. I enjoyed sitting on the Cherry Esplanade while watching mothers and children play. I also love the conservatory.

And a shot of the Keith Haring exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. I had been inspired by Keith Haring when I was in high school and college in particular. His bold, symbolic language spoke strongly to me. I read his "Diaries" during that time, but had forgotten until now how prodigious his output and exploration was, especially for someone of his age. While he was still in school at SVA, he would fill his notebooks with art "research," studying the visual and psychological impact of lines and shapes. Also, in contrast to certain street art I find to be annoying and gratuitous, he posted pictures in the subway that had their own symbolic language. His images, while simple, seemed to communicate in a more mysterious way - sometimes joyful, sometimes political, but always full of life and energy.