16 August 2017

The Key Themes of Advertising

I was looking through my MFA notes recently. It's surprising how often I do that, actually. They have become valuable tools to me. I was looking for something else, but came across some notes from when an Art Representative, Nicki Field from Jelly London came to talk to us at the Uni. She quickly ran down the main themes most advertising falls into, as if it was no big thing and so obvious. My jaw hit the floor. Did everybody in the room realize what she had just provided? It was a list of what your portfolio should have in it if you want to pursue advertising illustration. I asked her to repeat it, and I'm sharing it here both for you, and so that I can find this more easily when I refer to it again (which I've already done many times when talking to other illustrators). They are:
Hair & Beauty
That's it! If you're a student, wondering what to include in your portfolio in the hopes of getting work or a job, here it is!

15 August 2017

Coloring Page Tuesday - Mice Artists

     One of my students at Hollins (Rebecca) was just nuts for anything mouse or squirrel or rabbit. So, this coloring page is based on the card I made for her - wee, fuzzy artists! CLICK HERE for more patriotic-themed coloring pages!
     CLICK HERE to sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...
my debut novel, A BIRD ON WATER STREET - winner of over a dozen literary awards, including Georgia Author of the Year. Click the cover to learn more!
     When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most.
     I create my coloring pages for teachers, librarians, booksellers, and parents to enjoy for free with their children, but you can also purchase rights to an image for commercial use, please contact me. If you have questions about usage, please visit my Angel Policy page.

14 August 2017

Edinburgh International Book Festival!

My favorite part of Fringe is now in full gear - the Edinburgh International Book Festival (@edbookfest)! Charlotte Square turns into the main hub of activity, but this year, it's expanding down George Street as well, which everybody loves! Performance halls like the "Moulin Rouge" pop-up everywhere.
It's lasts from August 12th through the 28th and all the big names come in from all over the world for it. It's always crowded - especially the ice-cream tent.
This year, a friend turned me on to the fact, that as a blogger, I could get a press pass - which I did!
That said, I have to admit it doesn't look like my pass will get me in to see much. Oh well. It's always fun to wear a laniard at festivals. :)
     In the mean time, other wonderfulness has come to pass... Award-winning author Vivian French invited me to join her onstage to do the same thing we did down at the Borders Festival to celebrate her newest book.
It was published by Barrington Stoke (they specialize in books for dyslexic readers - groovy!), so the head of PR, Kirstin Lamb hosted us. She and I had met before at various literary events around town, and even in Bologna, Italy at the Book Fair! (The world of children's books is always a delightfully small one.) Here we are, Viv, Me and Kirstin in the "authors' yurt" before the gig.
We were escorted to the Baille Gifford tent, where we had a lovely crowd of about 50-60 kids and adults that had some good friends in the mix too! (Hi Derek, Jean, and Catherine!)
And we were off!
Vivian was an actress before she became an author, so she is wonderful on stage. She talked about how funny English words are and about talking and writing stories, and then she got prompts from the audience - which I drew! (Pardon my back being to the audience, but this is how this works - Viv talks, I draw like crazy!) Per the audience prompts, this was the hockey-playing, rainbow-loving unicorn piece.
This was the dog, pig, hamster and snake reading - in the rain.
And this was the fairy and porcupine in space image (with the unicorn on a rainbow ring).
Yeah, it was pretty nuts! Somehow, I kept up with all the fun ideas. And happily, I brought my pastels this time, so I was able to add color to the images. We gave them out to audience participants at the end.
     I just LOVE doing that with Vivian. We bounce off of each other so well and had an absolute blast!
     There's more Book Festival fun coming soon - so check back!

13 August 2017

MA Show!

Friday was the opening of the MA Show - hosted by the wonderful gang of students I was lucky enough to work alongside over two (of their three) semesters. The show was held in a new (to us) venue in the College of Art. And it was a hit!
Even the Lord Mayor of Edinburgh was there! (Here he is with Pilar, who's artwork made the banner for the entire show!)
The space let everybody be truly creative with their spaces - like Yifei's.
Harriet (from New Orleans) created an entire room scene, in which she created everything from the wallpaper, to the ceramics, to the artwork. In her world, arthropods are pets.
Ruth displayed the book that inspired her illustrations.
Katie shared a picture book that she spent all summer illustrating, and her author was proudly by her side.
The book was adorable and gave me absolute happy chill bumps!
It took ages to sift through the crowd to simply glimpse at everybody's work - I'll have to go back for a closer, longer look this week. Meanwhile, Hannah blew us all away with her cut paper skills.
Seriously - this is all cut/sculpted paper.
Yixiao showed her love of cats.
I think this was Sophie's work...
Truly, the show was amazing - CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL! It was such a popular show, it got very hot up there, which turned us towards open windows with this view.
That would be the Castle Mound with the seating for the Royal Tattoo. Not bad. Not bad at all!

VIDEOS: New York Times Illustrator Videos

The New York Times has been creating Illustrator Interviews conducted while the illustrator creates for the camera. Click the image to watch on their FB page.

12 August 2017

Welcome Back with Whisky!

It took 1.5 weeks to get over my jet-lag and general exhaustion after two years of intense MFA followed by six more intense weeks of teaching, but I'm feeling mostly back-to-normal finally. To celebrate, Stan, me and some friends booked a whisky tasting event at Jeremiah's Taproom. It was only £10, so we thought, 'What the hey!' and got four tickets, knowing we could find friends to join us. Indeed...
This is Jeremiah's (their photo) right on Elm Row. Absolutely charming. The room in the back is for events like this one, so that's where we headed.
Turns out this was a true tasting and learning experience. This was the spread.
We were given grains to smell, a color wheel to examine the difference range of flavors,
And walked through the distillation process.
It was actually quite informative, and it was interesting how our tastes varied. Stan loves the ones that smelled like stinky socks in the middle. (Blythe hated that one.) This one was my fave - nice and smoooooth.
What we weren't counting on was that Nigel (our fair leader) then brought in three various cocktails to demonstrate how these extremely fine whiskys worked in mixed drinks (to reach a younger audience). OMG.
     Snacks came with all of this too (yes, still included in that £10), but they arrived a little too late. The damage had been done. Here's Blythe and Elena.
Amandine and Stan.
And a selfie with Elena and Amandine, and a very toasty me in the middle.
Oh - we had fun! And sang down the sidewalk on the way home. (One nice thing about being in a pedestrian city is no cars are involved.) But oh, was I hurting the next day! Jeremiah's does a tequila tasting next time. Um. We may pass on that. :) Even so, it was a great welcome back to Scotland with friends!

10 August 2017

Laura Zarrin on illustrating the WALLACE AND GRACE series

e: What is your creative process, can you walk us through it?
With Wallace and Grace, it started with the characters. I worked hard to give them lots of personality. Animal characters are my favorite. There’s so much opportunity to play and push the limits with them. For the story, I like to sketch my first impressions in the margins on the first read through of the manuscript.
Since this was a chapter book, I worked from a layout my editor provided to figure out the size of each illustration. The Wallace and Grace books have about 45 illustrations in them. They’re a mix of spreads, full and half-page, and spots. Once I have ideas for each illustration, I create more finished sketches to send the editor and art director. After revisions, I get to paint!
e: What is your medium?
Palomino Blackwing pencils on Graphics 360 paper and painted in Clip Studio Pro and a little Photoshop. (Note from e: I love Palominos too!)
e: What do you think makes an illustration magical, what I call "Heart Art” - the sort that makes a reader want to come back to look again and again?
For me, the characters’ interactions and reactions define the heart in a piece. It’s my favorite part of the process, the part I like to push the most.

e: Is there a unique or funny story behind the creation of this story?
Not really, but this project was a dream since I love illustrating animal characters and I fell in love with the story. I feel very lucky.

e: What was your path to publication?
My path has been long and convoluted. It started out with a bang with eight books, then I took ten years off when I had my boys. The road back has been much bumpier and grueling, but worth it. I’ve worked hard to update my style, improve my drawing skills, and to define what I want to say with my art. I enjoy self-promotion. I send out 4-5 postcards a year and email a smaller list regularly. Wallace and Grace came in the first day I was with an art rep. My editor for these books, Mary Kate Castellini with Bloomsbury, had my postcard, so I can honestly say postcards work.

e: What is your favorite or most challenging part of being a creator?
To push through the sound of crickets (quiet times). There are so many periods of burnout and self doubt followed by excitement and joy. It’s definitely a roller coaster ride. My favorite part of being a creator is the community I’ve become a part of. I’ve ‘met’ so many great, supportive and creative people through this work. I have many close creator friends who I’ve never met in person.

e: Is there something in particular about this story you hope readers will take away with them, perhaps something that isn’t immediately obvious?
That Wallace and Grace are friends first and foremost and that curiosity leads to great things.

e: What are you working on next or what would be your dream project?
I’m working on writing and illustrating my own stories. I love illustrating other writer’s stories and want to continue doing that, but to be able to create the whole project, to tell my own stories would be amazing.

e: Thanks Laura!

09 August 2017


So, the next stage of this adventure requires a new visa. This time we get to apply from within the UK - in Glasgow to be exact. So, we took the train over for the day, starting at Waverly Station, which is a ten minute walk from the flat.
It's a lovely, 45-minute train trip to get to the heart of Glasgow.

On the walk to the uni, we pass some awesome printer shops (you know I love that!), and this fun statue in tribute to legendary cartoonist, Bud Neill.

We also crossed over the River Kelvin.
And we passed a lonesome glove that hasn't been claimed in a very long time. (I still take photos of these - I post them on my Instagram page.)

     The meeting was at the University of Glasgow.
Did you know that UoG is even older than the University of Edinburgh? According to Wikipedia, "The University of Glasgow is the fourth oldest university in the English-speaking world and one of Scotland's four ancient universities. It was founded in 1451." (University of Edinburgh dates back to 1582 and is the 6th oldest.)
Many of the uni offices are housed along a street called "University Gardens"...
which is aptly named.

What a lovely place to work each day!

Note: Thank you for the lovely emails and inquiries as to what I'm up to now. It's nice to know you guys are out there following along and sending support! That said, you'll just have to keep following to find out what happens next!


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