Illustrations by Nancy C. Sampson

Posts from the ‘ideas’ category

I began an online class assignment in 2014 on the subject of hand-lettering a quote. It’s a good thing that the class is “work at your own pace;” I have been itching to get back to it and have a new sketch to show for it! This is the central image, I will be adding the rest of the quote and embellishments as I continue.

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A gorgeous sunset from my trip with Kelly to the Chesapeake Bay area in the Fall.

The sun is setting on another year and I have been thinking about goals, both old and new. It’s important for me to remember to celebrate accomplishments first, before moving too far into the goal-setting stage. I found myself ignoring that last week, my thoughts focusing only on what I’d like to achieve in 2015. Taking a moment to compose this post is bringing me back to more positive reflection.

For 2014 I am proud to have welcomed a new rescue cat into my home, The Amazing Mongo! He has a very loving and entertaining personality. I am also glad to have deepened some new friendships and renewed some older ones. I brought my artwork to three craft shows and heard great responses from new fans. I conceived of, produced, packaged, and began selling a set of temporary tattoos in my Etsy shop: “Foodietoos.” My parents and I went on trip to visit beautiful Tuscany and Rome (the latter has a very different beauty compared to the Italian countryside) in the spring, and then visited my brother in Colorado for a week in the summer. (Greg and I spotted a bull moose in the forest one morning!) Friends and cousins came to visit me throughout the year and we enjoyed what the city has to offer. I have been keeping sharp at my freelance day job in magazine production and helped the publication complete some important articles. I’m so thankful to be part of the process each month. I made sure my friends kept laughing. I discovered a new genre that I’d like to explore with my drawings … which leads me to 2015.

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Mom, Dad, and I at lunch in Sienna, Italy in April.

Goals and resolutions are definitely important but I never can actually accomplish everything I set intentions for at the beginning of each year, unless they are very low goals! (Eat fruit. Don’t wait 4 weeks to do laundry.) I have learned to not let myself become discouraged if the way things turn out isn’t quite the way I expected or would have liked them to be. It is too easy for me to get into a negative mind space and start thinking about what I “didn’t work hard enough” at, or “didn’t do enough” of, which tends to dissuade me from moving forward.

Looking back at what I did in 2014 reminds me that I am living a full life and I have to allow myself to be fluid within it … if I only stuck to my goals I might have missed out on some surprises and detours that enriched my year.

In light of that, I’m not going to post any of my specific goals here (Are you surprised? I am, too.) but I will share my general mantra for the New Year: Keep exploring, stay positive, reach out and up. (I stole that last one from yoga class!)

What about you, do you prefer very specific goals or more general ones? Why?

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photo 1Austin Kleon’s Show Your Work, is a great follow up to his highly successful Steal Like an Artist; once you have been inspired and created work, you need to share your efforts with the world. Show Your Work is very simply written, using bold statements, art/poetry, quotes, and hand-drawn charts to elaborate on the author’s ideas. I appreciated Kleon’s bare bones style of writing; for this subject matter it really helps to get the point across simply and makes what he is saying memorable.

photo 2The main subject of the book is to get your work out there, and learn new and effective ways of self-promotion for your artwork. I have found other self-promotion or marketing books to be more complicated or difficult to translate to the business side of being creative. Show Your Work takes take the complication away and makes the subject matter instantly relate-able. From my own past experience, self-promotion has seemed intimidating, but the straight-forward way Kleon presents his material can help motivate even the meekest self-promoter! He recommends beginning the process of sharing by first documenting each day what you do at different stages of your process. After compiling this daily log that you create for yourself, you can choose what would be most interesting and valuable to share with others via your blog, e-newsletter, or social media outlet.

Sharing what you’ve been working on is definitely important, but as Kleon mentions in Chapter 7, there is so much information being thrown at us via the internet and email, we don’t want to become “Human Spam” to others. This brings up a very important and helpful point. Networking is not only about tooting your own horn and saying “Look at me!” Kleon offers that listening is an important part of the sharing process. By listening you may learn something that will help your work and you may also be able to offer something to the person to whom you are listening to. Being a “connecter” rather than just gaining “followers,” sharing ideas or aspects of your creative process, and showing true interest in others work are some of the ways Kleon suggests widening your circle of fans. This is a point I really appreciated since many artists are natural observers and listeners, and the old concept of self-promotion seemed like it was based on constantly promoting oneself.

The author doesn’t want you to be Human Spam, but expresses that you also need to be able to tell the story of your work in an interesting way to someone who knows nothing about it. As humans we all want to connect to personal stories and make ideas more tangible. The better you can be at explaining what you do and why you do it will make it more emotionally valuable to your audience and potential clients. He uses a quote from John le Carré to further illustrate this point: “‘The cat sat on a mat’ is not a story. ‘The cat sat on the dog’s mat’ is a story.”

photo 3The aspects of the book that I’ve discussed here were the most powerful to me, but Show Your Work contains much more. I had heard some of the advice before, but the way it was presented and explained made it innovative and I think even the most seasoned self-promoter can use a reminder, breath of fresh air on the subject, or an update. Check it out for yourself and see if you found it as helpful as I did!

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I began using Pinterest last year as an experiment to showcase my artwork and my illustrated characters’ lives as well as images or subjects that inspire my creativity. I have recently found it useful as a way to collect images for research related to my illustration projects.

I am taking part in an online Skillshare class about hand-lettering, and the main lesson revolves around choosing a quote to draw. I’m using Pinterest to collect the images I’d like to use as style and inspiration reference for when I am ready to begin sketching my ideas. The quote I have chosen is from the TV show, “Dr. Who.” I won’t reveal it right now, but I will share the Pinterest reference board and more about my work as I work through the lessons for the class: Hand-lettering Class Research Pinboard.

 

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Fashion Weak

Fashion Week started here in New York City on February 6, and I was freelancing with a fashion-related publication at that time and I thought of this image.

New York Fashion Week is such an exciting time… I have never been to a fashion show
but I like checking out  The Cut blog on New York Magazine‘s website or WWD for reviews and slide shows of the latest designs appearing on the runways.

Even though I have not experienced any of the festivities I’m pretty sure none of the attendees or models are wearing pajama pants!

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I was visiting my friend, B, on Sunday and helping out in her large vegetable and flower garden in Westchester County. B’s brother has quite a bit of land around his home (especially compared to what this city mouse is used to!) and he knew she was interested in learning more about farming, so they decided to experiment with things this year. They planted so many different things and it’s really too much for 1 or 2 people to handle, which is why they’ve been asking friends to help out when they can, in exchange for lunch and bringing home some of their bounty.

Aside from the freshly picked veggies and eggs that were laid that day, I brought home a few other morsels to think on in regard to my state of mind about my artwork lately.

Since they haven’t been able to work in the garden every week, and can’t reliably entice friends and family to give up their free time in the summer, the weeds really are everywhere, but still there is stuff that is thriving; most of the plants just continue growing anyway. This reminds me about how I always have ideas, projects, and chores related to my illustration on my to-d0 list and I never seem to have time to do them all, or to ability do as much as I would like. The garden reminded me that in all of the craziness, good things (like kale and snap peas!) still happen despite the “weeds.”

I was also able to relate to something that B said about learning about gardening. She mentioned the various seed packet instructions, and how they tell you when to expect the plants to grow or at what point they will be mature for harvesting. Basically, these things take their own course depending on the conditions; weather, planting location, etc. She said that some plants took much longer than expected, but still grew in very healthy and strong. So that made me think about the fact that some ideas need time or “rest” to take on a life of their own. Not every idea can develop as planned, and the fact that an idea doesn’t take off right away doesn’t mean that it belongs on the compost pile… it just might surprise you.

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