Wednesday, January 30, 2013

New Art - Jesabelle

As I've mentioned before, one of my goals for this year is to use more hand drawn elements in my designs. My newest design, "Jesabelle" is my first attempt of the year! She was originally drawn with pencil on paper, then inked over with black ink so that she would scan more easily. I cleaned up the scan and added all of the color in Photoshop. I also layered some of the elements so that I could move them around to fit onto different sized templates. I must admit that I am rather fond of Jesabelle! I hope you like her too :)

You can find her in my Society 6 store!

Monday, January 28, 2013

February 2013 Desktop Calendar

Wow- January has really flown by! It's almost time to say hello to February! Here is my desktop calendar for February to help you get the month started right. Enjoy :)

Click on the calendar image below to enlarge, then download the full-size image to your computer to use as your desktop.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Artist Interview: Graham Franciose

After spending just a few moments with his work, it's not shocking to learn that Graham Franciose was born and reared in the forests of rural Massachusetts. Though trained in photorealism at the Hartford Art School, Graham's style has developed into an evocative mixture of illustration and pop surrealism. On the surface, the subjects appear familiar and almost mundane. His work has been characterized as equally whimsical and melancholic - seeking to freeze an ordinary moment in time, often evoking unsettling, yet familiar, emotions. It's easy to picture his style as one you might find in a children's storybook, but Graham appears to be addressing the deeper and sometimes darker recesses of the human experience. Graham lives and works in Austin, Texas. You can find Graham's work on display throughout Austin as well as in Houston, New Orleans and Washington D.C.

"Best Friends" by Graham Franciose
BGJ: I love that each one of your works of art are not just incredibly detailed and beautifully rendered, both that they each tell a story as well. Or, I think that they land in the middle of a story leaving the viewer wondering what happened before, what are they thinking, what's going on...??? While going through your portfolio, I certainly got drawn in and lost track of time while filling in the stories in my mind! So, I'm going to assume that you like storytelling—visual storytelling. Can you walk me and my readers through your creative process for coming up with one of these visual stories? I know I'm intrigued and curious about how you come up with your ideas!

Graham: Well, it's actually rare that I approach a new piece with a concrete, or even vague, idea of what I am going to do. I generally start with a sketching out of a character, usually starting with the head and sometimes just the eyes. Once the first building block is where it's supposed to be in my mind, I sort of internally figure out the next step. is it a boy or a girl? what kind of posture are they going to have? what will they be doing? where are they? I let the drawing build itself and try not to think too much about where it's going. As it starts to become clear what is going on, I will make some more conscious decisions about layout and composition, but most of the process from the blank page to the final sketch is organically dictated by what is drawn before it. It just kind of builds itself. I guess it's sort of a backwards process. Once the piece is done I can look at it and figure out where it may have come from in my mind and what it means to me and what's going on, but I also like to keep my pieces open ended so what I see could be completely different from what you see. I am usually, like you said, trying to portray a sliver of a story, but it's one that is not completely clear. There is definitely something going on, but it's up to the viewer to decide what it is.

"Bloom" by Graham Franciose
Once the drawing is where I want it, I will then ink it using a crow-quill dip pen. I used to use those real expensive Radiograph pens, which are great, but a few years ago I started using the old style dip pens. You can control your line width by applying more or less pressure and you can also get incredibly minute details by just utilizing the very tip. It can be kind of a pain to constantly have to dip the pen into the inkwell, but I like the nostalgia of it and the very "hand-made" look that it gives. Finally, I will paint using either watercolor, gouache, or ink wash and occasionally a little acrylic. If it's an oil painting it's pretty much the same process, except the drawing is on a wooden panel, and then I go right into the painting.

"Neighborhood Gossip" by Graham Franciose

"The Discovery That Changed Everything" by Graham Franciose
BGJ: Since we're on the topic of stories, do you have a favorite author or a favorite book? In my imagination I have you pegged as someone who has loved stories since he was a kid.

Graham: I remember going to visit my grandmother a lot when I was growing up in rural Massachusetts. She had this whole library of children's books from when my mom and her 6 brothers and sisters were growing up and it just kept getting bigger and bigger. We would go there and just look through tons of books. I am sure that is where my love for stories and children's books originated. It was also a great way to get away from things and be somewhere else if things weren't that great in your real world. You know that old cliché, "get lost in a book"!

As far as my favorite books, anything by Shel Silverstein, Where The Wild Things Are, Harrold and the Purple Crayon, so many really. I would say that the most influential to my work would be The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg. It's a book where each page has an illustration from a different story, but all you have is this one image and one sentence to go off of so you are encouraged to make up what has happened and what is going to happen next. I really loved that idea and mystery behind each picture and the fact that you could spend hours coming up with some unique story based off of this one image, and that it could be completely different from someone else's.

"With A Selfish Heart" by Graham Franciose
BGJ: Are there any other artists that have significantly inspired you along the way while you were developing your own unique style? It's my philosophy that creativity never happens in a vacuum. We are all inspired by others in one way or another.

Graham: Oh for sure. When I was getting my BFA in Illustration from the Hartford Art School I was trained in photorealism. I actually really enjoyed it and was pretty good at it, but as the years went on I started to notice everyone's pieces looking fairly similar and there weren't a lot of styles being formed. Everyone was kind of doing the same thing in a sense. Don't get me wrong, there are some great artists out there that are still very successful using those techniques and that style. I just got bored with it. I grew up skateboarding so I was introduced to a lot of what may be considered "low brow" art via skateboard graphics and magazines. When I discovered Juxtapoz magazine it opened up a whole new sea of artists that were doing what I wanted to do. Jeremy Fish, Michael Sieban, Travis Milard, Andy Jenkins, Barry McGee, so many amazing artists that were involved in this, to me, new art movement that was gaining respect and recognition. These images just seemed so much more interesting and had more imagination and uniqueness to them. When I first saw Joe Sorren's work, I was convinced that I could do something different and be successful. He seemed like the first person I had ever seen to really bridge the gap between this quirky weird style and "legitimate" art. The man is a master. My senior year I drastically changed my style and it's kind of been changing and evolving ever since.

"Taking in the Simple Wonders" by Graham Franciose
BGJ: Okay, one fun and easy question (I think). I've been working on a detailed post these last few days about the color emerald since it has been declared the 2013 color of the year. (It will have been posted before your interview is posted.) As an artistic person, I love many colors and appreciate almost all of them. But...emerald just isn't my favorite. So, I've been wondering if other artists have certain colors that they just don't really like no matter how hard they try. Please, tell me there is at least one color that you don't like!

Graham: Well, I definitely tend to steer towards warmer colors—browns, reds, oranges, ochres, siennas etc., even warmer greens and blues. Yeah, I'm not much of a fan of emerald either now that I think of it, it's like the coldest green there is! Down with Emerald!

Sorry, looks like Graham doesn't dig you either.

BGJ: What shows/projects do you have coming up?

Graham: I just finished a project where I was doing an illustration a day for a year, from the day I turned 29 to the day I turned 30. I will be having a show with all 366 pieces (leap year!) in New Orleans at The Shop in February. You can view the entire project here. I also have a solo show in Houston coming up in April at Space, and I will be involved in two group shows in DC at the Art Whino in February and April.

Well, Graham did an amazing job answering all of these questions and he was such a good sport. I want to extend tons and tons of gratitude to Graham for opening up and sharing so much insight and inspiration for all of us artists and designers! Thank you, Graham!

On a bit of a side note, I would like to point out one thing about Graham's name. It is commonly mistaken for the French version of Franciose, which is pronounced Fran-swah. But, his name is actually the Italian version of Franciose, which is pronounced Fran-chose.

So, now that you know how to pronounce Graham's name, go check out more of his artwork—there is much more to see!

Graham's website and blog can be found here:
Graham's Etsy shop:

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Hand Drawn Type in Design

One of my goals for this year as a designer is to step away from the computer more in order to incorporate hand drawn and hand painted elements into my designs. I will be working on developing my own unique style this year, and I feel like I am leaning towards a more natural, organic feel for my designs. I spent several years designing in-house for a large company designing things such as scrapbooking papers and embellishments, wrapping paper, gift bags, party invitations, and so much more. The one thing that they all had in common was that they usually had nothing in common. Each design had its own style and target audience. I was constantly switching from one design feel to the next, and I never had the chance to develop my very own unique style. I've been freelancing my own designs for a few months now, and I feel that it is time to really dive in and find my signature style. One thing that I've been doing lately is looking at various examples of art and design—and without thinking "why"— if I like something, I will add it to my style board. As my board gets bigger and bigger, I'm starting to see the elements that I want to use and how to put them together. 2013 is definitely going to be the biggest year of artistic growth for me so far. I'm looking forward to applying all of my technical skills and experience towards this artistic endeavor!

Along this journey, I've found some beautiful examples of hand drawn type. I thought that I would share some of them with you for inspiration. Hand drawn type is an amazing way to bump up the impact of any design! I'm sure I'll be incorporating this technique into some of my new designs this year!

by Katie Daisy

by Drew Melton

by Erik Marinovich

by Erik Marinovich

by Seb Lester

by Linzie Hunter

by Matthew Taylor Wilson
journal by Ecojot

I hope you've enjoyed these examples! Coming up next week is the January artist interview-you won't want to miss it!

See you next week...

Monday, January 7, 2013

10 Pretty Packaging Designs

While searching for this month's design finds, I kept running across some amazing packaging designs. So, I thought that a packaging design feature was in order. Be inspired and enjoy!

Ranch Organics Sweet Grass Soap Packaging by Anthropologie

Harvest Fine Tea Packaging by Darling Clementine 
Method Hand Soap Packaging by Orla Kiely

Welfe Jewelry Packaging by Anders Bakken
Lux Fructus Fruit Wine Packaging Design by Marcel Buerkle and Simon C Page 

Agave Nectar Cologne Packaging by Thymes
Janey Herb Seed Packaging by Erin Mercurio and Audrey Raudabaugh
Wild Bird Store Bird Seed Packaging by Imagehaus
Fox and Rabbit Packaging Design by Ting Sia

Casera Organic Tequila Packaging by Ishida Misako

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Hello There, Emerald!

color mix chart for emerald

Early last month, Pantone announced their pick for the 2013 Color of the Year: Pantone 17-5641 Emerald. They describe the color as "lively, radiant, lush... a color of elegance that enhances our sense of well being, balance, and harmony."

As many of you know, Pantone is the world's leading authority on color trends. Where they lead, fashion design and interior design will follow. Shortly following behind fashion and interior design is surface design, and then last, but not least, is graphic design. We can ALL expect to start seeing a lot more of this color in the coming months.

I've been looking at the best ways to integrate this color into designs. I've found that the color, at least to me, is much more lovable when surrounded by some other color "friends" that play nice with it. But, let's start by just looking at the basics of this bold and vibrant shade of green.

Green, in general,  falls on the cool side of the color wheel. There are many shades of green, some have more yellow, some have more blue. Emerald leans slightly towards the blue end of the green spectrum, but not as much as teal or turquoise. Emerald even has a bit of red, or magenta-depending on what color space you are working on. There are darker shades and lighter shades, but they will all have about the ratio of yellow to blue. I've chosen a mid-range shade of emerald to use on the color mix chart seen above, and surrounded it by the colors that lie to the left and right of it as a visual of where emerald falls on the color spectrum.

(Note for web designers---I've listed 2 hex mixes. The first is emerald2, and the second is sea green. If you are looking at a list of hex mixes by name, I wouldn't recommend using the one actually named "emerald". It is very far off from Pantone's version of the color emerald.)

I've found through research and experimentation that keeping to these analogous colors of emerald (colors that lie next to each other on the spectrum) works really well with this particular color, and this is how I expect to see emerald used the most this year. Another way to use emerald in a color scheme would be to use it along with its complimentary color, orange. But, I don't see the trend heading that way. I think we might see a teeny bit of orange used here and there as an accent color in an emerald palette, but only in tiny little bits.

Here are a few emerald color palettes that I've created for you. If you want to try using emerald in some of your designs, give these combinations a try! I've kept the palettes mainly on the cool side and mainly analogous.

emerald color palettes

I'm looking forward to following this trend this year, and I'll be keeping my eyes open to see what kinds of emerald designs are popping up in the various design industries!