Thursday, June 30, 2011

What I Wore... in Las Vegas

One of my favourite things to doodle out are fashion illustrations.

I worked for two large designers in the city of Los Angeles about a year ago, and these littered my sketchbook. Originally inspired by Viet My Bui, I now have developed my own style, and this is such a fun, "let loose" exercise for me (and also a way to practice my anatomy, fabric, and stylization skills!)

W H A T  I  W O R E ... in fabulous Las Vegas
I wore these two outfits out to Stratosphere (right outfit) 
and for a night playing Roulette in the casinos (left outfit)

LEFT: F21 Navy Blue Cocktail Dress; Mediterranean Lagoon Necklace from my own collection; Navy pumps with ruffles; Silver clutch.

RIGHT: Ximena Valero Twister Dress in Nautical Stripe (she's one of the designers I worked for in LA); Nautical Stripe wrap wedges; Silver drop earrings.

All images / illustrations in this post are (c) Erin McManness 2009 - 2011 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas!

This past weekend, my dad, stepmother, sister and I hopped a few time zones and found ourselves happily in fabulous Las Vegas!  

I had never been (except on my frequent lay-overs back and forth from when I lived in LA), and my gambling experience totaled a glorious $3 in a Star Wars slot machine in the Vegas airport (my mom peer-pressured me, and then I chickened out at $2, hahah.)

We stayed at Mandalay Bay, near the bottom of the Strip, in a golden hotel with a pool like heaven. This was one of the views from our window!

Our first night, we were lucky enough to snag a reservation at Stratosphere, the restaurant in the space needle that looks out over the lights of Vegas, 106 floors up. The restaurant floor spins inside, and it takes an hour to make a full rotation around the tower. Did I also mention that during dinner, we could see people jumping off the roof to the pavement below?

After one of the most delicious things I've ever eaten, we went up to the roof of the building - it was windy!

We figured that we couldn't go to Vegas and not check out Caesar's Palace, so we toured the Strip and worked up an appetite. Caesar's by far was the most opulent casino (in my opinion), and it was so cool to go inside and realize how much artistry went into all of the designs and details of the place.

 We ate at Spago, out on the patio under the Palace ceiling that is painted and then lit to mimic the sky outside. It was gorgeous, and the food was delicious. All of the architecture inside the Forum Shops (where the restaurant was located) was built to look like a small Roman village, and it took me back to my time in Italy (with the exception of all the designer stores like Jimmy Choo, Dior, and Coach in all the storefronts).

 After dinner, we walked home among the lights of the Strip. We stopped to explore the bathrooms in the Bellagio, which had the most gorgeous umbrellas hanging like little canopies from the chandeliers. I'm hoping to design some jewelry using them as inspiration! It was good that we stopped, because just as we emerged from the casino, the infamous fountain light show erupted to the tune of "Viva Las Vegas!". It was spectacular and exhilarating - I'm so glad we caught it just in time!

The walk back was breathtaking with all the lights. 

Vegas did not disappoint - it was indeed fabulous. My two goals for my trip were to win money (and I did - $46 from the Wheel of Fortune Slot Machine!) and to get a tan (and I did - I have tan lines!!!)

Watch out tomorrow for my What I Wore Illustrations, Vegas-style.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Lovely Flowers for Lovely Ladies

This week has been a whirlwind - I feel like it's flown by! It's surprising how little of the day is left after work and driving home! Sometimes it's nice to come home and relax after dinner, and work on something creative. I've got a new painting in the works, inspired by the sea and my beach-faring desires. I also have been stocking up on my Spring Bloom Necklaces in every colour of the rainbow for the convention this summer!

This is by far one of my favourite pieces to make! Pictured here is my Marine Turquoise Bloom; I recently switched over from using exclusively Sculpey to using Premo, and wow - what a difference. The colour jumps right out of the clay, and has a subtle shimmer to it. Thought I ought to make a recommendation to all you fellow sculptors out there!

As for the design, I was actually originally inspired by the fabric flowers that are sprinkled (and heart'd by me) all over Etsy. I wanted to create something delicate and playful in clay (since fabric isn't my forte), and voila! Through fun experimentation and surprises, my line of Spring Bloom Necklaces was created! Don't you love those happy discoveries? When something totally unexpected and unplanned happens and you're like, "Wow, that looks fabulous!"? I've found that these look great with jeans and a tee, but also with a summer sun dress, and even as jewelry for bridesmaids (these have been featured in various colours in several different weddings!)

Also, did you know that I'm giving one of these away? Like, for free?

 Layout from Love by Serena;; Photos by Erin McManness / Miri-love

Hop on over to { Love by Serena } to enter! 
Everyone loves free jewelry! 
And hurry - the giveaway ends on June 24th!

One last thing, little birdies... I am going to bright, glittering Las Vegas over the next four days (it will be my first time!), so I will not be able to blog much. However, I am taking my lovely camera, and will have some fabulous photographs to post next week, as well as some "What I Wore" illustrations of the glamourous outfits my sister and I have planned (we call these our "hot girl disguises"). Vivaaaaaa Las Vegas!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day and Thank You Dad

For teaching me how to paint and instilling within me a love of art.

For giving me entrepreneurial ambition and a desire to succeed at whatever I do.

For being a cool enough Dad that I didn't have to be embarassed to watch American Pie, Wedding Crashers, or The Hangover with you.

For having sisters that would pass down the "good hair" gene to me. 

For raising me right on Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Ace Ventura, and Dumb&Dumber. And for continuing my education with Nacho Libre and Spongebob. 

For making sure I ate healthy things as a kid, like Hot Tamales and Cinnamon Gummy Bears.

For the sacrifices you made for me, driving to be with Sarah and I on the weekends.

And for all the good memories we've had together, and many more to come! 

My Dad's a fantastic guy - I am so blessed. 
Happy Father's Day, everyone!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Indiana Jones and My Own Personal Grail Diary

As a kid, my dad made sure I got the proper cinematic education.
One of my favourite movies was Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. What fascinated me most about the movie was the Grail Diary that Henry Jones (played by Sean Connery), Indi's father, kept as a treasure map of sorts to the Holy Grail. I found the diary completely riveting with its diagrams drawn from ancient medieval texts, illustrations from visited places, and texts copied and pieced together from riddles and literature.

I've always been extremely interested in Art History, so when I had the opportunity to study art in Italy a few years ago, I was beyond thrilled. I spent 6 months in Tuscany, in a little town called Orvieto, living in a convent that was hundreds of years old with 3 nuns. Among the cobblestone streets lined with windows and baskets of flowers was a tiny little shop; I bought two pocket-sized books, and carried them with me to all the cities we would visit.

At the beginning of every sketchbook I start, on the very first page, I write, "Do Not Be Afraid"; it is a reminder to myself that this space is for reflection, experimentation, and making mistakes. It is to remind myself that I must continue to make work, even if I am afraid of making a mistake; that in doing so, I will have learned something I did not know before.

Sometimes the things I saw during my time abroad simply could not be put into words. When words lacked (as they often did), I often simply did mastercopies of what I saw. As I have written here, "Words can't make that; and that's why I love art."

One of the things I loved about Italy was all the script typography everywhere. I often documented key phrases and words etched out with beautiful script. The tag in this page is from the first bottle of wine my friends and I bought and enjoyed on our terraza (the terrace of the convent in which we stayed - we lived in the very same rooms that were once lived in by sisters hundreds of years ago) The gold stamp is a gold-leafed picture of the Orvietani Duomo that was in the center of town. The city was saved from bombing during WWII because of the value of the frescoes inside the Duomo, and because of the artwork, the city of Orvieto and its authentic history is still standing, much the same as it was hundreds of years ago.

During my time in Italy, we traveled to a different city every weekend as a class. These drawings are master-copied from ancient medieval hymnals with gorgeous illuminated manuscripts, hand-painted by monks. The peacock is a master copy from a lesser-known fresco in the Vatican, and the quote I found painted onto an anonymous tomb in another cathedral. The quote says, "I was once what you are now, and you will be as I am now,": a reminder of life's fleeting nature, but also of its sanctity.

Even now that I am living back in the States, I still keep visual diaries and sketchbooks (I think my sketchbooks over the last few years number in the 30's) of quotes I love, thoughts I want to remember, and things I see that influence my art, and my own personal perspective.

Do you keep a visual diary? 
Or journal? (come on now, if Sean Connery can call it a diary, then it's still totally cool)
If you do, I encourage you to share on your blog as I have done, and then comment here and link me (and others) to it! We'll call it "Diary Friday" lol.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Finding Ways to Stay Creative During the Work Week

Wouldn't you know it? I settled all down to finally write a blog post last night, and I literally had just opened up the "new post" window when my router died. I took it as destiny intervening on my behalf (after trying to restart it twice!), and went to bed... and I'm glad I did, because today was one of the longest work days ever! 

It's funny how the grass is always greener. I miss freelancing a lot. The paychecks are nice at my day-job, but I'm not doing anything remotely creative, which is draining for someone like me (and if you're reading this blog, you're probably a creative, so you know what I'm saying!). I feel like, once I come home, we have dinner and then I'm so tired I don't feel like doing anything. It's an exhausting process.

Does anyone else feel this way? 
What do you do to stay creative and inspired during the daily grind?

I try to find small ways to be creative during the work-week (like taking all of my photos over the weekend and editing/listing one of them a night), but sometimes all I can think about is a cup of tea and then going to bed!

So I apologize for the near-week of no posts. I have some good ones up my sleeve, though! Get ready for the #3 topic for Succeeding in Business, my own personal "Indiana Jones" diary from Italy, and the experience I had as a kid that convinced me beyond a doubt that ghosts do exist.

On another note, I completed my goal for this past weekend!

I photographed and listed 5 new items in my Etsy Shop!

Among them, I created this lovely White Peony Necklace - I love making these. Near the top of this post are some doodles (that I did at work! hahaha...) of floral wedding jewelry for my cousin, Laura, who is getting married this summer! I am hoping to use those sketches as inspiration to create pieces like the White Peony for her and her bridesmaids. For these necklaces, I use pristine white polymer clay and roll it out for smoothness and consistency. I handcut each petal individually and then pair them together to create the flower, and hand-etch all of the details, so every single necklace is unique. For bridesmaids, I find there is no better way, since every girl was specially hand-picked to be a part of the bride's day. So it's only fitting that her necklace is truly one-of-a-kind!

I've also been working on some other bridal jewelry, and finishing up my portfolio update :) New pieces coming soon!

All photographs, illustrations, and product designs in this blog & post are copyrighted to me. Please do not use without consent/credit.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Well done, well said.

This is an original artwork, and is NOT to be used in any way (except re-linking back to me) without my expressed permissions.

Just a little doodle I ended up doing at work. The actual sketch measures 4x5" and I will be doing a few of them in my spare time and possible selling the originals on my deviantart ;)

Lately I've really been standing by the quote at the top: "Well done is much better than well said." I find this to be so true. Life is never perfect, and things come up (like a lot of financial issues for me this week); but I always try my hardest to be accountable for what I say, follow-through, and be someone who backs up their words with definite actions. I hold up my end of the bargain as best I can.

I feel that, in business and in life, this counts for so much in a person. I want others to note my actions, and see me as a person who gets things done. I don't want to be known as the girl who shells out empty promises left and right. I want people to have confidence in me and my business; rather than feeling like, "I'll believe it when I see it."

This weekend my goal is to update my Etsy Shop with 5 new items.
(I just listed this new Bohemian Elephant Charm Necklace tonight!)

How are you going to tackle giving yourself the "Well Done!" this weekend?

Sketch & Typography (c) Erin McManness 2011. Font credit to "Champagne & Limousines" on

Monday, June 6, 2011


Don't leave me hanging...
What are your confessions?

Silhouettes hand-drawn by me from imagination. Typography is my own script.
Not for use in other blogs/websites without my expressed permission.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Summer Finally Feels Like it's Here!

I'm definitely a warm-weather girl, which is good, considering I'm moving to Atlanta come fall! My favourite parts of summer are sangria, sundresses, and fun jewelry.

In honour of summer, I have been designing a new "mini-line" of long fashion necklaces.

This "Seabird Charm Necklace" was inspired by flighty gulls, the marine coastline, and the deep blue hues of the ocean. I like to wear a lot of navy and nautical stripes in the summertime - I'm thinking this would be lovely with a dress and some fun wedges, yes? I miss the beach! The bird also symbolizes flight, adventure, and freedom, which are perfect themes for summer (and for me, as I'll soon be taking the next big step into grad school!)

Are you going anywhere exciting this summer?

Also, don't forget - you can win FREE JEWELRY from me if you enter the Giveaway over at CherishedBliss! The giveaway is only up until June 4th, and there are two pieces of jewelry to win! Check it out and Happy Summer!

And thank you guys so much for all of the support the past few weeks - it's meant a lot to me!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Big Announcement! :D

As you all know, I'm an illustrator & painter at heart...

Commissioned piece (c) Erin McManness 2011 - { you can also view it larger here }

I have been drawing since I was a kid. I always got excited in school to decorate anything, and I'd literally give the poor project about 5 layers of art-overkill just because I enjoyed the process so much. My parents were divorced, so I'd see my dad on weekends, and he would always get out the easel and teach me how to paint landscapes (my dad is an AMAZING landscape painter). My grandmother also paints gorgeous landscapes and flowery still-lives. In high school, I always carried my sketchbook around with me, drawing anything typically "teenage-emo" (picture crying floating eyeballs, angsty lyrics; oh yes I was cool).

In undergrad I went in as a theatre-major; my mother always told me to try out a formal art course. I said, "No, Mom... I know what I want to do!" Then I took Scenic Painting. And I realized I wanted to be an Art Major. And realized my mom was right (as usual). I changed my major to Studio Art and have never looked back.

I have spent the last few years out of school combining day-jobs with freelancing, design and PR/marketing jobs, and odd artistic jobs to pay the bills. I have a love for stories and fantasy-settings, and usually my work revolves around these themes. I also have a major soft spot for Salvador Dali and the Surrealism movement and Alphonse Mucha and the Art Nouveau movement (who isn't intrigued by these?)

Guys... I feel like I have grown so much, especially these years out of school. I have taken the time to experience life and the world and have come to find what I want to do in life. I am so thrilled to have the opportunity to go to grad school at SCAD this fall, and for the possibilities it represents for my career.

here it goes... 
the big announcement...

And I am pleased and so very honoured to tell you that a few weeks ago, I received an email from the one and only team at ImagineFX Magazine
A few pieces of mine will be in the mag in Issue 78!
I am super excited because this is my first major publication, and because ever since I started my artistic journey in undergrad, I have been a HUGE fan and avid reader of the mag. Many of my favourite artists that inspire me so much have taken part in this publication, and it's my honour to follow in their footsteps. If you are an illustrator, artist, or are just getting into working digitally, ImagineFX is a great resource. It includes tons of pro-artist interviews, tutorials, guides, and a full CD of brushes, templates, videos, etc etc. Once the printed issue is out and hits the States (it's a UK-based magazine), I'll be sure to shoot some photos of my work in the mag! My jaw literally hit the floor when I got the email, and I am so humbled and honoured to be able to share my work in this way! 

Thank you guys so much for reading, supporting my blog, me, and my work!
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