Illustrated Itinerary

When I probably should have been researching places to eat in San Sebastian, I spent my morning making this. It made me happy.

Oh, that's where it is!

I'm three days away from leaving for a 3 1/2 week trip through Spain and a couple of cities in Portugal, and I've been having some frustrating planning snafus with schedule changes and websites not working properly. So, when I was looking for the exact location of the Bus Station in Bilbao, Spain, I just had to smile when I came across this very informative map:

So, thank you, Bilbao Turismo. (and I also kind of dig the retro website, in all its salmon-pink glory).

New Business Cards!

I'm leaving for a 3 - 1/2 week trip to Spain and Portugal soon, and I thought it would be nice to have some cards or something to hand out to people I might meet during my trip, and they evolved into little illustrated business cards. I printed and assembled them here at home, and I'm very happy with how they turned out. A little too happy, in fact: when my roommate and I hosted an intimate little Christmas party at our house last night, I had a few martinis and forced everyone to take a card as they were leaving. Sorry, guys...
(Quick fact: those are drawings of actual pieces of furniture that I own!)

Back at work, uh, other work

Today I start the first day of almost two and a half weeks of some stage management of workshops, readings, and short performances, so my drawing and posting about drawing is going to be pretty scarce. The holidays are always a busy time - but now I actually have to leave my house and go somewhere else to do work (!) - so forgive me. See you soon!

Big Bang Big Boom

I stumbled across this video over the weekend of a massive stop-motion animated mural by the Italian artist Blu. You need to set aside 10 good minutes to see the whole thing, but I tell you it's worth it. I found myself watching open-mouthed in awe. Enjoy!

Illustration Friday: Sneaky

This week's Illustration Friday post. We have a lot of our neighbourhood. Sneaky, sneaky critters.

By land, by air, and by sea.

A little project I just finished for a friend of mine. Here was the brief: "Me, with a bear's head, discovering America by land, by air, and by sea." Gouache and I got along this time to make this one go smoothly. So much fun!

20 things I learned

Have you seen this yet? It's called 20 Things I Learned About Browsers and The Web and it's a very comprehensive and, yes, fun guide about all things related to, well, browsers and the web. Not only is it informative, but it's well-laid out, easy to read, and it's charmingly illustrated by Christoph Niemann.

I'm always fascinated by illustrations that quickly and cleverly communicate a concept - and these are great examples. I struggle sometimes with editorial-style illustrations because I seem to always want to fall back to using text in the image.

But these illustrations could definitely stand alone and still be clear and concise in the message they're trying to get across. Fishing for fingerprints? Phishing! Genius.

I also really liked the mix of a very tech-savvy topic (web code, software, applications) and what appear to be very non-digital (ie. hand-drawn) illustrations. It warms my heart a little to see the combination. I highly encourage you to check it out, and I hope you enjoy flipping through the pages of this web book as much I as did.
(All images by Christoph Neimann).

Vegas Fonts

Well, I'm back from Vegas, and I have to say it was something else. Disneyland for grownups, Sin City, what-have-you, all of the nicknames are apt. My friends and I weren't much for gambling, but we did find two fabulous restaurants - and an In 'n' Out burger - that kept us occupied. And the buildings! Oh, the buildings - theme parks each in their own right. I was fascinated by the signs and, as you can see above, the Vegas fonts.

So now it's back to work. But that's good - I've got a few exciting projects coming up, a magazine cover in the works, some commissions for Christmas, and then I've just booked a trip to Spain and Portugal in January. Until then, I'll dreaming of millions of lights and the ringing of slot machines...

Vegas baby

I'm leaving this afternoon for a weekend trip to Las Vegas with five of my girlfriends. My roommate is right now blaring the Rat Pack from her bedroom, our carry-ons are packed, and we're waiting for a giant yellow SUV to come pick us up for the airport.

Now, I'll be honest, Vegas was never on my top-ten-places-to-see-before-you-die list, but with every bit of research I've done, I've been coming around. I feel like I could easily give over to the glitz, the excess, the BIGness of it all. At least until Monday, when I have to fly back to reality.

Six girls, one weekend, one CSI Experience (oh yes, we'll be solving some crimes while we're there). I. Can't. Wait.

See you Tuesday!

Illustration Friday: Burning

It's not that I'm easily distracted (really I'm not!) but I will say that I have ruined more than one pot by boiling something completely dry. Let's just say that a part of me...empathizes...with this IF topic.

The Happiness Industry

This image is a reworking of this post - I decided to actually include one of the people they mentioned in the newspaper article, and I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. I don't really have anything against Oprah - I don't watch her show - but I'm hoping that the idea of her as a cheerleader for happiness is pretty accurate.

Christmas Cards for sale!

I'm so excited to share that I've posted some original illustrated cards for sale on! There are the four birds you see above in the proofs, as well a card with all four of the designs.

The thing that's great about Zazzle is that there is no minimum order - you can buy as few (or as many!) as you like. And they have good volume discounts, too - even an order of 10 cards (and they don't have to be 10 of the same card, either) is eligible for a discount.

The cards are blank inside and printed on bright white quality paper, perfect for sending holiday greetings!
You can visit the store here!

You're the art director now.

Over the weekend I read this piece in the Globe and Mail titled "Does Our Obsession with Happiness Bring us Closer To It?" and took that as the jumping-off point for this project. In it, the author talks about the "happiness industry" - experts and celebrities telling us how to live our happiest, most fulfilled life - and the hours of work that we're expected to put into "finding" our happiness. And, that if we don't achieve it, we only have ourselves to blame.

In an early sketch, I had the woman above holding magazines and books that are mentioned in the article, and a small bluebird of happiness off to one side looking bewildered. Then I made the leap to the unobtainable bluebird balloons you see here.

What do you think? You be the art director and let me know: does this communicate the theme? Is it clear?

Illustration Friday: Afterwards

I've been drawing in such a consistent style recently that this may seem strange, but I had an impulse to do something completely different. I remember hearing an interview on the Escape From Illustration Island podcast where an art director talked about style, and how having a consistent "look" to your artwork helps an art director know what to expect from an artist, especially in a project with a quick turnaround. A big shift in an illustrator's style might in fact make them less employable. On the other hand, don't illustrators need to be able to grow, develop new ways of doing things or else risk becoming stale?

Do you struggle with "finding a style"? Have you ever been through a style change? I'd love to hear your thoughts about style and consistency.

The Bird's Revenge

I have a neighbour across the street who has upwards of six or seven cats. They are always up on the roofs of houses, balance-beam-walking across fences, and sleeping under parked cars. A few weeks ago I caught one streaking past me with something in its mouth, and I realized that a few of the cats were sneaking into my backyard to catch the birds that usually congregate in the trees there. Sneaky buggers. So that inspired this little drawing - a bird's revenge.


Happy November 1st. I was shocked and appalled to see snow falling (and staying!) here in the city where my parents live. I guess these wallpapers are appropriate, though, in their grayness. Time to get ready for winter!

200th Post

And instead of trying to make it sound like a momentous occasion, I drew this giraffe.
Thanks to everyone who has been stopping by! Keep drawing!

We are all connected

Here's another way to approach the idea of a "connective environment" and the way that many different disciplines can inform each other in ways we didn't expect. I sort of enjoy that most of the connections actually go straight to the cup of coffee in the centre.

A few more tweaks.

Last few tweaks, I promise. I just couldn't bear to look at that inept right hand anymore.

In Progress - Where do Ideas Come From?

Wow, okay, first off let me just say thanks for the amazing comments. I haven't had a chance to look at all of the links yet, but I plan to. Thanks for all of your great insights and suggestions.

I liked the concept of puzzle pieces that didn't fit - but I was having a bit of difficulty working that into the concept of a "finished" or "complete" invention without it looking like the invention was flawed. So I tried mismatched, and made them look like they didn't fit as perfectly. Gaps, and holes, and such. Thoughts?

I felt I also needed to make the connection to the printing press / grape press / Gutenberg bible to really drive this idea home. Hence the way more detailed image. Too much? Too much pattern and detail?

(And to answer Stephanie's question: it's all a digital collage. I have scanned a whack of pretty papers and I colour them in Photoshop and "cut out" shapes ad nauseum. )

After reading all of your comments, I think I might be inspired to try a new image about this idea of what a "connective environment" means in the present day. I mean, Gutenberg is awesome and all...but that clothing? It's so passe.

In Progress - Where do Ideas Come From?

Here's another image I'm working on that was once again inspired by an interview I heard on the Spark blog. This one was with Steven Johnson, the author of Where Do Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation, a book that explores the conditions needed for innovation and invention. We all love a "Eureka!" moment, and many stories of some of history's greatest inventions are just that - a bright flash of insight that could only come from the mind of a genius. Or are they? Mr. Johnson explains in the interview that many of the greatest inventions - Gutenberg's press, for example - were more likely the result of seemingly random connections, and years of work.

I am particularly attracted to this idea, because I always seem to approach things in a roundabout way. I also really liked Mr. Johnson's idea of a connective environment being the necessary condition for real innovation. An interest in a wide variety of things, an eclectic circle of acquaintances and friends - all of these things drive innovation and creativity in ways that sometimes seem accidental.

In this image, I chose to use Gutenberg, since his story of visiting his friends at their winery and realizing that the wine press they used to crush the grapes would be the right model for his printing press was, I thought, a great start. The light bulb is to represent the "Eureka" moment, but I thought that carving it up into a puzzle was showing that the process is slower and much more painstaking. This is where I've stopped - I'm thinking about images for each puzzle piece to show different elements of the printing press. I feel like I'm missing the "connective environment" - but I also don't want to over-complicate the image. Simple is best.

As always, I love feedback, and I love hearing from you!


And here's where I landed with this one. Thoughts? Does it communicate the theme to you? I'd love to hear what you think!

In Progress

This is an illustration that I started today that was inspired by an interview I heard on CBC Radio's program Spark. It was inspired by a question that was asked about how we use our social media communities to get our news, find new music, and get recommendations.

This is still a bare-bones image: I'm still trying to figure out what the guy should be holding to clearly communicate this idea, but I like the feel of the piece so far.

If you get the chance, check out Spark. You can download free podcasts of the program through iTunes, and it's a really interesting look at how technology is changing the way we live our everyday lives.

Illustration Friday: Transportation

So, when you're late in posting the previous week's Illustration Friday drawing, and then are super-duper early in posting the next week's, then you get TWO Illustration Friday drawings in TWO days.
Which is almost unbearably exciting, I know.

When I began brainstorming about transportation, I immediately tried to think of an object to be transported. As soon as I got the image of a letter in the mail, it just clicked. I suppose letters are nearly archaic now - just see how many forms of transportation are skipped with a simple click of the "Send" button - but it's hard to deny how much pleasure I get when I see a letter in my mailbox. A letter that isn't a bill or a statement, I should say. I don't get much pleasure from those at all.

Illustration Friday: Beneath

This is a just a quick little sketch that I was able to do for this week's Illustration Friday. I like the idea of being cozy in a subterranean, blanketed home, far beneath the snow.

October Wallpaper

I'm finally happy with this desktop wallpaper! Patience is not one of my strong suits, and neither is starting over, but I see now how often my first ideas are not my strongest, and it will always take a few tries to get something that I'm satisfied with. (Time to let the neuroses go, Kinnon!)

Tomorrow I hope you have a blustery, leafy, hopefully sunny October.

not a good day for kites

Little old ladies

This was my first attempt at trying to create a desktop wallpaper. I've got some resolution issues, so I'll have to keep trying, but I like how it's not just a traditional scene - there is some abstraction to it - and I could even see a pattern of those little windswept old ladies in my near future....


I love fall. Seriously, the chill in the air this morning actually made me smile. I had this foolish grin on my face when I got my thickest, wooliest sweaters down from the closet shelf and when I fished out my slippers. Slippers!
I love watching the wind pull the leaves off of the trees outside my living room window. I love wrapping myself in scarves and jackets and taking a stroll through parks not yet raked. I love sunny fall days, but I also love the grey ones too.
I don't want to delve too deeply into the whys and wherefores, because I believe that there are some things you don't need to analyze. You just need to love them. And I do.

Illustration Friday: Old Fashioned

Well, my show is finally open and I have my days back to myself. I was surprised how little energy I had to keep drawing while we were in rehearsals. I guess I shouldn't have been - we were working 8 - 9 hour days - but I have a lot more respect now for those who can keep creatively working outside of another full-time job. Oodles and oodles of respect.

Anyway, it's great to get back in, especially with Illustration Friday. This week's post is a little comment on what we will now perceive as being "old fashioned" in light of our ever-advancing technologies.

Illustration Friday: Caged

I was afraid I wasn't going to get this illustration done in time! My summer of fun and school and free time to draw is officially over, as I started a new stage management contract on Monday. That means long days at the theatre, and less time to play with paint and Photoshop, but my hope is to try to at least do Illustration Friday every week. I'm hoping that will be enough motivation for the next two and a half months to keep posting, drawing, and thinking about illustration! If anyone else has gone through something like this - a job that take up a lot of time, for instance - and has found a way to keep motivated despite it, I'd love to hear about it!