Sunday, March 2, 2014

Illustrating for Neiman Marcus & Jo Malone London

This past Friday, I had the pleasure of doing some illustration work for Jo Malone London Fragrances at a very special Neiman Marcus event debuting the launch of their new line of London Rain fragrances! I had an amazing time creating 4 original watercolour illustrations inspired by each new scent: Rain and Angelica, Wisteria and Violet, White Jasmine and Mint (my personal favourite), and Black Cedarwood and Juniper. 

I met with Neiman Marcus earlier in the week to talk details about the event and pick up samples of the new Jo Malone fragrances in their flagship store here in Atlanta. 

All of the scents smelled gorgeous, but I really loved the White Jasmine and Mint. My task was to create 3 watercolour illustrations inspired by each individual scent, and present a live painting of the fourth scent at a very special, exclusive event later in the week. 

I set to work on 300lb Arches Hot Press watercolour paper, with the inspiration from the scents, an open studio window, and dozens of reference photos of gorgeous rainy gardens and different botanicals.

The first scent was Rain and Angelica: morning dew drops with bright, clean, refreshing notes, and a light, aquatic feel.

The second scent was Wisteria and Violet - I loved this scent, warm and rich with inspiration from wisteria trees hanging heavy with raindrops, waterlilies, and violets. 

And the third illustration I prepared was for the fragrance White Jasmine and Mint. This scent had bright pops of lime and mint over a feminine floral base of white jasmine flowers, orange blossoms, and English roses. I love elegant rose scents, so this was naturally my favourite!

On Friday, I arrived at Neiman Marcus with my illustrations and supplies for the live painting event. It was a wonderful experience! Everyone on the team from Neiman Marcus and the lovely English gentlemen from Jo Malone London were absolutely kind and generous to me. The tables at the event were set with cakestands full of tea sandwiches and little pastries, and the space was scented with rain and florals. The clientele were treated to coffee and champagne as we all sampled classic scents and new scents from the Jo Malone Collection. 

My works were set up at the front, and I explained my inspiration behind each painting; and began painting the inspiration of the fourth scent as the clientele sampled it. 

The fourth scent, Black Cedarwood and Juniper, is a nighttime scent with notes of chili and cumin, with a mysterious, alluring base of cedarwood and juniper. I wanted to capture the smokiness of the scent with clouds of pine green and deep grays, and then add a burst of heat in the form of a bright red bloom in the center. 

The live painting was pretty fast-paced, but so much fun! The clientele were then encouraged to paint their own illustrations about their favourite scent, and it was great to walk around and see what they came up with. 

I was so honoured to illustrate for Neiman Marcus and Jo Malone London; it was truly an inspiring event!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Show Me the Munny!

A week ago I had the pleasure of showing at Mindzai Creative's Custom Munny show. Before I dove completely into my illustration career, I did a lot of sculpting and this was a refreshing leap back into the waters. I was very honoured to show along some incredibly talented friends and illustrators, and I wanted to share some photos with you!

I also wanted to show a few of my good friend's Munny's! Check out Mindzai's whole album to see all of the pieces from the show!

From left:

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Snowpocalypse Atlanta

It's the second round of the Snowpocalypse in Atlanta, and I took a little time out from my work schedule to run around outside. This Native Northerner is prepared for the snow and ice!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Back to Blogging

As usual, I am late to the party (perhaps fashionably?). I'll spare you the details about reasons why I dropped off the face of the blogging planet since October, let's just call it "grad school", capiche?

The truth is, my job has inspired me to start blogging again. My boss is an extremely gifted and smart marketer and entrepreneur, and as I have taken on a creative role in her business, I have begun to think a lot about my own restless blog. The truth is, I miss blogging. I like sharing my process, and with the advent of my passionate love affair with Instagram, I sort of replaced one with the other. I want to make a concerted effort to update here though, and share a little bit more insight than what one picture and a bunch of hashtags can do.

So without further ado, 

And let's get back on the bus. 
If I haven't posted in a week or so, you all have permission to call me names.

It's early February in Atlanta, and I survived the 2 inches of Snowpocalypse that turned the city into The Walking Dead. This native Northerner laughed over the dusting of snow (... until her car died in the middle of rush hour traffic and whipping snowflakes and angry people. All ended well though.)

I am working on my thesis and am about to graduate with my MFA, and it's a strange feeling. I am very happy at my job, and have taken on several freelance assignments, and will be exhibiting my work in a number of places this Spring. I'm curious where 2014 will take me, but I have a good feeling about it.

And I gave this sleepy blog a fresh face lift. Nice, eh?
Art Print $22

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Time I Rescued a Fat Bird

One of our latest sketchbook prompts was to draw a life event in 10 panels. So I chose a memory I have of a particularly blustery fall day when I was walking back from class in undergrad, and I found an injured bird. Enjoy!

For more daily drawings, please check me out on Instagram at Miribirdillustrates :)
Or on Facebook!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Les Miserables Redesign

Recently I finished up a project for 3 interior illustrations and a cover dust jacket redesign of the classic novel, Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo. Coming from a theatre major background (and having been in the show twice) this story (and the incredible score) is near and dear to my heart.

In particular, I wanted to share some process shots of the cover, which ended up being my favourite piece in the series. I truly enjoyed working in the format of a dust jacket - the unfolded, unwrapped piece gives a very wide composition, which is a fun challenge to design! I wanted something that would be cohesive when spread out as a whole image, but something that also worked as a powerful standalone image for the cover itself, if you were to see it sitting on a bookshelf.

In this piece, Jean Valjean is symbolically being lifted up from a position of slavery and servitude, to his high-status role of "Monsieur Mayor". Moreover, he undergoes a transformation of being a low-life to being an incredibly moral, grateful and kind man, which is really what the center of the story of Les Miserables is about.

1. Final sketch - the birds, rats and silhouettes of the figures were drawn separately and pieces together over the main sketch in Photoshop.
2. Background colour (usually involving comps and colour tests), and the main colour test for the Arc de Triomphe.
3. Laying in soft gradients and layers of clouds. I knew I wanted a feeling of airy translucency, so I created each cloud on a separate layer and played with the lightness of the colour and opacity.
4. Darkened the Arc for impact, filled the houses with flat colour, and added the ground texture (a stock photo).

5. Using more subtle gradients to create lighting and volume, as well as blocking in characters with flat colour.
6. Colourizing all lines, giving added interest and translucency in some areas.
7. Added in watercolour textures I had created and scanned into the clouds, also some ink textures into the houses, and flat darker details on the houses. I hand-drew the sculptures on the face of the Arc de Triomphe, scanned them in separately, and laid them in.
8. Finally, type is added, publisher's mark, spine, synopsis, and an ISBN barcode.

 And here's how it looks wrapped on the actual book!

Thanks for checking out my process - this was a really fun project to take on.

If you'd like to see a larger version of the finished image and more photos, please jump over to! I also have included some of the interior illustrations there. 

(And don't forgot that there is a 20% OFF sale going on in my shop until September 9th! Use coupon code HAPPYFALL. Pop on over here!)

Monday, August 26, 2013

"Un cafe?" -- "Oui, avec plaisir."

I heard a terrific quote yesterday: "There is a heavy distinction between mundane reality and ecstatic mind-journeying in which coffee plays at least a basic role."

While most of my "ecstatic mind-journeying" is actually comprised of me staring blearily at my monitor, clutching my mug for dear life, I confess that my addiction to the coffee bean combined with my intensifying desire to travel has led me towards the creation of a new illustration.

A lot of coffee drinkers will say that, as time goes on, coffee drinking really becomes more of a ritual, more of moment for oneself than just an impersonal cup of caffeine. I must agree. It symbolizes a slowness of the moment in a day that - for the life of a freelancer or entrepreneur - is typically filled with chaos and flying-by-the-seat-of-your-pants.

Because this illustration is near and dear to my heart, I wanted to share some of my process work with you. These past few months, my work style has been evolving, and taking on new methods.

First I begin with a traditional pencil sketch. I look at several references, and keep my lines as clean as possible (and, of course, drink coffee while I work).


I have also been working on developing my skills in hand-drawn type. I have done a bunch of samples for a Style Guide I illustrated (forthcoming this Thanksgiving), and have since fallen in love. I will use my ruler to make sure I have even, straight lines, and then I will sketch out my type in pencil. 

After I am satisfied with my pencil lines, I will tape a piece of tracing paper over my sketch and VERY carefully start tracing the letterforms in pen. I typically use Staedtler Pigment Liners in "FineLiner". These pens are acid-free and archival and give a good, black mark.

From there I will scan in the inked type, adjust the levels and colourize the lines. This print was instantly a hit at one of the boutiques my work is in here in Atlanta!

Recently I have been taking more and more opportunities to grow my illustration business, and in time for the holidays will be offering a new line of greeting cards! These have been an idea in my head for quite some time. Using my illustrations and giving them some fresh new colours and type, I transformed them into new Thank You Cards.

The type has all been hand-drawn and colourized in Photoshop, and the cards are printed on my Epson R1800 on 60lb creamy, gorgeous photo supreme matte paper. I have cut and folded them by hand. More seasonal cards will be coming :)

I am so happy to admit that this summer I have felt my business getting the excited rumblings of an expected jump to the next level, and now we are climbing upward for sure :) 

Good things are happening!

As always, thank you for reading. In the moments between keeping the plates of my projects spinning, I am striving more and more to keep accountable and share my progress with you on this blog.

If you'd like daily visual updates, please feel free to follow me on Instagram :)

* Please note, all illustrations, photos and type on this blog are copyrighted and not for use without permission on other blogs or websites. Please feel free to pin with proper credit, though!
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