art + design + process + inspiration + blog + hip + ho

I was asked by a fellow artist who I respect and admire, Laura Wooten to join in on an inspiring  arist/designer blog hop. On this “blog hop” artists are asked to answer a few questions and share some names of artists who inspire them. (Fun!) 

Laura and I have not met in person (though we almost did at Surtex) but have emailed a few times. We connected though The Make Art that Sells e-course (which I mention below) and I was excited & honored to be one the the 2 artists she chose to include on her post. (Which you can read here.) I am totally digging the summer melons & summer corn patterns she has been working on! She also has a fun daily drawing instagram feed you can see here.

art by Laura Wooten. 

art by Laura Wooten. 

Ok. And now the four questions I was asked to answer:

1. What are you writing/working on?

First, I am excited to announce that I am in the process of signing my first licensing deal. I can't reveal details yet, but it does involve the piece below along with a few others. (insert super giddy smile here!!)

whale wall art by barb chotiner

On the design front I am working on finishing up a large branding project & illustrated map for the Grassroots Yoga Festival in British Columbia.

I am also working on finalizing & creating some new card designs for Tiny Prints, as well as a fall brochure for the Philly Art Center.

On the art/illustration front, I currently am working on creating more of my textural digital collages and beginning to work in a series. (Meaning working with unified & cohesive themes.) It isn’t necessarily something I have done in the past, but it seems to be helpful to potential clients and I actually have been enjoying creating artworks with similar themes and seeing how far I can research and push it. Just over a year ago I signed up for the initial session of Lilla Rogers’ Make Art that Sells e-course. If you have read any of my other posts, you will know this past year has been an eye opener for me with my art/printmaking and my illustration. I have really begun to focus more on melding my design and artistic backgrounds and focusing on my future goals to license &/or sell my artwork for product design. 

This past week I have also been hard at work on my entry for the 2014 Global Talent Search. It would be amazing to even get into the top 50 and the opportunities for the eventual winner are seriously “off the hook!” Last years (amazing talented) winner Zoe Ingram has been swamped with (amazing dream) clients and projects. I was in the very first MATS class with Zoe and even from week one, I loved her clean graphic style. (She also comes from a graphic design background!)

Any who... my studio floor and table and desk and other desk are a complete mess and I can't wait to share some info on this after the submission deadline on the 16th.

ok.. heres a little peek...


Also - I've been participating (as much as possible) in a 21 day drawing challenge via  von gitchka. Search for it online by: #draw21days). Ive been posting my results on Instagram. Speaking of I've been also trying to dedicate 30 minutes a day to create a painting in my sketchbook a day and posting it there too. Some days are more successful than others. :)

daily sketchbook paintings.

2. How does your work differ from others in your genre?

My background really runs the gammut from digital to analog. I also started out young as a bit of a computer nerd. My first computer in 1980 (or so) was had a commodore PET. How great is this photo?! I used to love this thing. Took 8 minutes to load up space invaders by tape cassette! (Yes, you read that correctly. Not even a disk drive!)  I may have even went to computer camp one summer. (yikes - did i say that out loud?!) 

Comodore PET - photo from wikipedia - AKA my first computer!!!

Comodore PET - photo from wikipedia - AKA my first computer!!!

I also like to think my encouraging parents had a lot to do with the art + design that I create. My dad taught high school Math and was a serious Bridge player. He was the one who had brought a few of these computers into the house before people typically even had computers in the house. My mom on the flip side was an English teacher. I do believe it was being surrounded by Math (numbers, order, rules, repetition) and English (randomness, freedom, fluidity, poetry) that informed who I am and what I do. I think this was why I was drawn to design as an early age. I oddly/actually had a business card collection as a kid. I had an album full of them. I also would take the hang tags off the clothes in the stores and scotch tape those in an album too. And I collected stationery. I loved (and love) things that are designed well. I love design because I see it as art that make sense. Its the combination of art and problem solving that gets my heart racing. Bingo!

For my undergraduate study, I went to Syracuse University and majored in Communications Design (aka graphic design). I also had a concentration in Illustration. Fast forward 10 years and I went back to school & received my MFA in Book Arts and Printmaking (from UArts in Philadelphia). I believe its this diverse range of study that is shaping my current body of work and makes me unique. 

I love drawing and the computer and little books and making prints. I never knew how to quite meld all those things together till this past year and I am so thankful to Lilla Rogers' Make Art that Sells course for helping me discover a way to finally bring all my varied disciplines together. It inspired me to begin drawing and painting and printmaking again on a weekly (if not daily) basis. While I have been designing and illustration for 15-ish years, I also somehow I feel I am at the start of a new journey. 


3. Why do you create?

I create because I can't not create. I feel the need to. And, I want to. I create as I have always loved to draw. And paint. And read. And make little books. I create to bring joy. I create to bring order to chaos. I create to make my son smile when I draw goofball pretzels and little dudes on his brown paper lunch bags. And I create because my 3 yo my daughter wants me to hang anything and everything I make (even the bad stuff) in her bedroom because she loves "everything I make." My art and design work has always been referred to as "whimsical." I like that I can create things that bring people joy. 


4. How does your creative process work?

It usually starts with coffee. Mmm. Usually at 7am & at 3pm and mmm maybe one in between but I’m trying to curb that. These days my schedule is kind of funky as I am a mom to a 3 and a 5 year old who have been on different schedules but that will change this fall. Typically I find the evening hours to be the most creative ones, however, I have learned that once you have little ones, that really isn't a good plan. (The nights you stay up working past 2AM (and try going to sleep after starting at a glowing 27" screen for 4 hours!) are always the nights where someone inevitably has to go "potty" at 5AM.) So I am learning to make my mornings & days as creative at my twilight hours.

A month or so ago I had read somewhere that it typically takes 30-60 minutes to take a task done. Me being the graphic designer that I am (sometimes a blessing, sometimes not) made this (overly but pleasantly designed) chart to task/schedule my day into 45 minute segments.


Almost like periods in high school. (Do they still call them that?) This way I am able to set my goals for the day & week and if I get off track (that darn internet is quite a tangled web!) then I find it easy to see what still needs to be done. When starting a project I put on some music to match the mood of what I am working on. I have found Spotify to be AMAZING with their playlists. They have a playlist for everything. And they always seem to be in perfect relation to the day/time/temperature. SO crazy but awesome. They even have an intense “focus” section. I personally have a fondness for the “Smart is the new Sexy" playlist.)

Then I research and sketch. I flip through my stacks of books. I try to limit my time researching or I could spend all my time doing that. Pinterest is highly addictive. I try to set my timer for an hour or so. (Theres a great desktop app I use called NAG.) Once I have my research I sketch and scan. I work with a Wacom. I recenly treated myself (after longing for one for 15+ years) to a 13” Cintiq. I still can not get used to writing on the screen so I tend to default back to actual paper and my trusty Intuos. I scan in my drawings and depending on the project, either end up in Illustrator, Photoshop or InDesign. 

Sometimes I am on the computer too much and I have found I am loving making stencils + paintings + monoprints in my little office/studio where i work. This is where i have the most fun and how many of my textural pieces get started. I pick a topic. Make some shapes. Mix some colors and get busy creating without over thinking. Then I scan everything and compose my pieces. (Almost like cooking a recipe except I have no idea what I'm making.) I love this mixing and back and forth of working traditionally and digitally. 

I also surround myself with stacks of books. I am constantly taking out books from the library. Some are for my kids and some are secretly for me. I typically have about about 25 books out. They tell me its good for circulation! :) I'm grateful to live in a township with numerous great libraries. This is also helpful since there are very few bookstores left. (boo!)

Like most artists, I am constantly get inspired by new things. At the moment, I am very much into some contemporary + modern abstract expressionist painters.

I'm not sure where I first read about Michelle Armas but I am in LOVE with her paintings. (I'm choosing a canvas print of hers for my birthday present! She has a few on One Kings Lane. I just have to decide which one!). There is also a great interview with her on Smart Creative Women that you can watch here.   

On one of my library adventures, I also happened to come upon the work & a new book by Amy Sillman. How have I not heard of her till now? I love the expression and emotion and exploration and color both these women bring to their artworks.

OK enough about me...

Here's where I pass the torch to tell you about 2 fellow inspiring artists I want to introduce to you. Next week they will be answering the above questions as well! I can't wait to read their answers. I met both these gals via the above mentioned Make Art that Sells class. I was very excited when both of these amazingly talented gals said yes to participating in this inspiring artist - blog hop. 

Lauren Minco

First up ... the very talented and witty Lauren Minco. Lauren is an illustrator and surface designer & also a member of the Happy Happy Art Collective. Lauren had her (big) debut at Surtex this past May and I was glad to meet her in person and see her beautiful booth and meet 5 out of the 6 members of this highly (highly) talented artist collective. (I could have chosen any of these gals to be inspired by. Seriously!) 

Lauren's background is editorial Illustration. It is probably why I gravitate to her work. I am an illustration junkie. As a former art director, and forever art lover, I can really appreciate those who know and can create successful pieces with just the right balance of color, design, style & character. And, she's got great humor on top of it all which is the icing on the cake. Her pieces are a ridiculous amount of talent and fun. I love that she even had fabric made and wore one of her tiger prints for Surtex! Oh and did I mention she paints in amazingly in gouache...

She worked for C.R. Gibson and recently went full time freelance. She speaks candidly and in depth on her blog about her Surtex experience here

Lauren shared with me a new piece she has just finished:

And here are a few other pieces I just love from her website.

FOR MORE AWESOME ART visit Lauren's website HERE + her blog HERE.

And artist # 2 is...

Neiko Ng



Next up is the adorably fabulous Neiko Ng. I just ADORE her work and there is ALOT of it to love. You can see this via from her long list of categories on her website... Paper cuts, greeting cards, patterns, advertising, kids books and it goes on. I love the sweetness and simplicity and emotion of her pieces. Her use of color is fabulous and I love that while her style varies at times, its is always beautiful and appropriate for the project. From children's books to fashion to surface pattern, she does it all phenomenally.  

Here are some of my favorite pieces of Neiko's


I also met Neiko at Surtex this year. She was showing her work with her art collective Forest Foundry. (Another extremely talented bunch of ladies who also met via Make Art that Sells.) She has a little look book which you can view online here. And is this not the cutest (read: best) instagram icon EVER? Seriously. 

FOR MORE AMAZING IMAGES visit Neiko's website here. She is also on Facebook here + Instagram here, and sells print at her Etsy shop. She is represented by Bernstein & Andriulli. And she just started a new tumbler blog which you should follow where she illustrates her food every day. Doesnt this wonderfully illustrated salmon make you hungry? And the type is absolutely gorgeous.

Well - I hope you enjoyed reading this post. It is by far the longest ever. Thanks again to Laura Wooten for linking to me and to Lauren and Neiko for participating as well.

Have a great weekend everybody - and have an inspiring day! :)