Wednesday, October 31, 2012

SACRED Art Show... with Aileen Holmes!

So far, I've shared art that features Scarlett, her mare Delilah, and handsome, green-eyed Will Cohen.

Today's addition to the art show by Aileen Holmes introduces a new element of the SACRED story... Jewish mysticism, Kabbalah. Take a look:

The image behind Scarlett is the Tree of Life, a map of the Sefirot. The rose... well, you'll have to read the book to find out about that!

E: I love how you incorporate the Tree of Life in the background. You mention an interest in mystical symbolism… is this something you often have an opportunity to include in your work?
A: I've always had a fascination with symbols-- from studying hieroglyphics and cryptography as a kid, to drawing the perfect star with a compass and ruler in geometry class in high school, to exploring ancient mystical symbols when I was studying art history in college. Now, I am going back to my roots on a more spiritual level studying tarot. I hope to create my own tarot deck someday!

E: Oh! I love Tarot. My next book BURNING kind of revolves around a Tarot reading.

E: How does being an artist affect the rest of your life—the non-art creating moments? (I find being a writer influences a lot of what I do, think, and say, even when I’m not writing!)
A: I see everything through an artistic lens--the lights, colors and patterns of everything around me. I'm always on the hunt for new inspiration whether consciously or not. Since much of my art involves fashion, I enjoy playing with color, texture and pattern in what I wear everyday. Sometimes I change my outfits multiple times a day just because! 

E: Who and what inspires you?
A: I'm most influenced by art nouveau from the '20s and re-imagined in the '70s. I love the organic and mysterious yet sometimes wild and psychedelic nature of that artwork! I am also inspired by estate sale shopping. I am a total snoop--I like to wander around in the houses of folks and piece together what I imagine life was like from the artifacts in their home. 

E: What is a typical work day like for you?

A: I am so lucky that I live next to a park and two miles from the ocean. If I manage to wake up early enough, I like to take a stroll in the park first thing and write down my dreams in a journal. If there's nothing urgent pending, I might linger a bit longer. : ) I work from my home office and try to book half of my day for billable hours. The other half is used for meetings and boring businessy stuff but who wants to hear about that? 

In my creative work, illustration is sometimes involved in creating textile prints or designing a character for a brand, but most of my work involves graphic design. Most of what I get hired for these days includes: accessory design, t-shirt graphics, footwear design, and generally decorating cute products with graphics! 

E: Your workspace is so lovely! Here are some photos: 

E: Do you have a favorite type of art to create?
A: I love creating patterns! Whether hand drawn or on the computer (or some mixture of both), I love making repeat patterns. It's also obvious that I love to draw girls with really cool outfits and accessories. I was really into screen printing on fabric and paper too and I hope to get back to that. And, I am generally crafty--jewelry making is my fav.

E: Here's a shot of the SACRED piece in progress:

E: What other projects—both professional and personal—are you involved in?
A: Some of my big professional projects right now involve: creating graphics for a licensed character's style guide, designing fashion totes + backpacks for Target and Walmart, designing graphics + prints for shoes and helping little start-ups develop their branding.

I used to over volunteer and be in tons of art shows and basically be a workaholic but I've cut back recently to actually enjoy the fruits of my labor! I am focusing on the simple pleasures in life, soaking up inspiration and building up energy for my next big venture.

E: What advice would you give people who’d like to break into the art world?
A: Be willing to experiment and seek an internship or apprenticeship while in school. You don't want to build up expectations of being happy after your ultimate goal is fulfilled (i.e. perfect job, degree, etc) without actually trying it out first! 

I also recommend making tons of creative friends and staying in touch with everyone you work with. When your old co-workers go on to different jobs at different companies so after some time, you'll have contacts everywhere! Be free with information and develop a culture of sharing and everyone can succeed together.

E: Do you have a web presence?
A: My website
     My facebook fan page
     My tees + art for sale on etsy

If someone has a design project in mind, please feel free to contact me for my latest portfolio! Since it takes at least a year for my designs to be produced and get onto shelves in stores, there's much work that I cannot put on my website but I've had permission from clients to share privately. Don't hesitate to ask!

E: Without giving too much away…do you have a favorite scene in SACRED?

A: Call me dark but I really enjoy the more introspective moments like when Scarlett choses not to hurt herself and faces her inner pain. Wow, I sound so goth! 

And once more, Aileen's beautiful SACRED piece...

Friday, October 26, 2012

SACRED Art Show... Casey Girard!

I love horses. I love love love horses.

So I was thrilled to get this fabulous piece showing Scarlett and her mare Delilah in action.

E: Ah! I love this! It brings me back exactly to the blissful feeling of galloping on the trail. Do you have riding experience? How did you get this horse so right?
C: Thank you. Being born in Lexington, KY, "where the horses are," I have been drawing horses as long as I could draw. I had the little girl love of horses, and with them all around me it was easily fed to last a long time. I was able to see horses almost every day. I wanted to ride whenever I could, but it was only something I got to do as a treat. My great aunt had a friend with horses and they would let me ride around the ring when I visited. I was the two-year-old with cowboy boots, feather-adorned cowboy hat, and sparkle unicorn t-shirt a top a humongous Appaloosa. Then once I was old enough, I was able to take some riding lessons and go to horseback camps. Once I was a teen another aunt purchased a few horses and I was able to ride them occasionally as well. I have never galloped freely on a horse and I have always wanted to.
Casey as a young lover of horses!

Casey today! Still looking great in the cowboy hat!
E: How did you come to art? Can you describe your journey as an artist?
C: Art was and is a necessary part of my life. It has been a part of me as long as I can remember. Drawing and painting have always been important. You can flip back through my sketchbooks and see my early attempts at drawing horses. They remained my favorite subject for many years. It wasn’t really a choice that I follow a career into art, it just was the path before me I needed to follow.

E: Who and what inspires you?
C: Animals are the strongest inspiration. I am inspired by people at moments of honesty. When they are themselves unprotected by their social walls. There are so many artists that inspire me I can’t list them all. I am just going to list one, Quentin Blake; even though I draw nothing like him, the life he puts into his characters is something I aspire to.

E: Tell us about when and where you work.

C: I work in the evening hours once my family has wrapped up for the night. I have a studio space in what used to be a dinning room of my house. We use this room as the studio/art room for the family. We have a patio outside of it where we watch the hummingbirds visit our feeder. Art projects range from big sheets of paper loaded with tempera paints and chalk to lego builds that lead to multiple character stories.

E: Do you have a preferred medium?
C: I love the tight control of colored pencils and the loose textures and washes of watercolors. I try to blend these elements together. I have found that pastels with water acheive this nicely.
Casey's SACRED piece in the wash stage
E: What other projects—both professional and personal—are you involved in?
C: I am currently working on a picture book with a friend that we may push out as a self published book at small press expos. I also have a project called Animals in Alphabet. This has been published in a small press run, as a poster and individual 8x10 prints, and I sell them through etsy, at small press expos, and
E:What advice would you give people who’d like to break into the art world?
C: Don’t be afraid to get yourself and your work out there and have a great time as you meet others in this super fun business. And never stop practicing. 
E: Do you have a web presence?
C: I have a blog (, a tumblr (, a twitter (, a dribbble (, and a portfolio on behance 90(
 E:Do you have a favorite character from SACRED?
C: Lily Adams instantly won me over. I love how wild, fearless, and caring she is. She knows who she is and what she wants and she is intouch with the people around her.

And here once again is Casey's vision of Scarlett and Delilah:

Monday, October 8, 2012

SACRED Art Show... Jessica Lanan!

When I set out to write SACRED, one of the things I wanted the story to be was sensual. Unabashedly, beautifully sensual. Like this painting by artist Jessica Lanan, of Scarlett and Will under "their" tree.

E: I love this scene. It’s so great to see Scarlett and Will under the branches of their tree. Tell me, what drew you to this image?
J: I had a hard time choosing a scene to illustrate because there were so many great moments in the book, but in the end this scene won out. I just love how sweet and flirtatious it is. I really wanted to capture that dreamy, romantic feeling in the illustration. Maybe it's because I just got engaged myself so I have romance on the brain! The pose was hard for me to envision so I had to have my assistant help me. (See photo.)

J: It took a bit of direction and practice to get a picture where it didn't look like I was awkwardly force-feeding him the apple.
E: I adore this photo. I think it's so cool that there are real people posing for a portrait of my characters. So, so cool. And congratulations on your engagement! Tell me, how long have you been an artist? Do you remember the first piece you were really proud of?
J: I don't think I can choose a date when I became an artist! It seems like it has been a part of me from the very beginning. The first piece I clearly remember being proud of was a colored pencil drawing I made probably around age 10 or so. It was a deer standing by a pool of water in the forest, and there were all sorts of flowers and plants around. I'd like to see it again. I bet it's different from how I remember it.
E: Who and what inspires you?
J: A lot of my inspiration comes from the world around me. Sometimes it's something as simple as the way the sun shines through the leaves in the garden, or the cheery glow of a window at dusk. I'm fascinated by the way that atmosphere can create different moods, and I'm experimenting with using light and color in a more symbolic and less realistic way. I also find inspiration in the work of other illustrators. Even when the style is not similar to mine, I find there is always something I can learn and apply to my own work. I think my biggest obsession currently is Shaun Tan. I'm also very fond of Trina Schart Hyman--I loved her illustrations as a kid and I still love them now.
E: Tell us about when and where you work.
J: My workday typically begins with me reluctantly dragging myself out of bed and biking to work. I spend the next eight or so hours at the University of Boulder doing communications/graphic design stuff and planning events. After work I try to make myself sit down and paint a small 3" watercolor to practice technique. I will sometimes work for about 20 minutes on other skills like anatomy or perspective or I'll doodle characters for upcoming projects. Some days I just don't have time for anything else, but other days I'll work on an illustration all evening.  When I'm completing a final painting I prefer to do it all at once in a six to ten hour block of time, so that often happens on weekends. I wish I could do more, but for now I keep to the "slow and steady" approach! My work space is in our small second bedroom. We call it the "laboratory."

E: Do you have a preferred medium?
J: I started using watercolor on a trip through Asia back in 2006, and I never really stopped. Watercolor is difficult but it is beautiful enough to make up for it. Plus, it's super portable and easy to clean up. I used to do some ink line work as well, but I felt that I was using it as a crutch for poor value organization so I cut back to just light pencil.

E: What other projects—both professional and personal—are you involved in?
J: I'm working on some smaller side projects--spot illustrations for a local web company--and preparing a new picture book starring a plucky little raccoon who goes out into the wild to find a legendary monster. (There's a fun twist to this, but I won't spoil the story.) Aside from that I'm working on some new promotional pieces and actively seeking an agent. Oh, and planning my wedding too!
E: What advice would you give people who’d like to break into the art world?
J: I'd suggest joining the SCBWI or other professional organization, or to just find people with similar interests and goals so that you can help one another and cheer each other on. It can be easy to get discouraged, especially when we compare ourselves to others, and having a community can help get you through those inevitable tough times and rejection letters.
E: Do you have a web presence?
J: Yes! My website is
E: Do you think you have anything in common with any of SACRED’s characters?
J: I resonated with Scarlett and the way she [edited to preserve story surprises!]. In certain ways I've had similar experiences to hers. It was really meaningful and I think the book has a great message for young people.
E: Thanks for saying so, Jessica!
Here's a sketch of Jessica's piece, as well as a close-up of Scarlett and Will:

And, once, more, the full, final image:

Thursday, October 4, 2012

SACRED Art Show... Jennifer Gray Olson!

It is so interesting for me to see the visual responses that different artists have to SACRED. Today I have the pleasure of sharing the work of Jennifer Gray Olson.



E: This is such a powerful piece. What can you tell us about it, and about how you came to represent Scarlett in this way?
J: The period in the book when Scarlett was obsessed with the numbers in her journal really stuck with me. To me they seemed to represent her decline and her depression. Who hasn't been obsessed with something that may one day ruin them if they don't break away from it? [Some of Jennifer's fabulously insightful remark deleted here as it contains spoilers. Sorry. You'll just have to read the book.] Anyway, that's what made me thing to portray her this way... her wasting away into the numbers.
E: How long does it take to complete a piece of art like this? What is your process?
J: If I were working only on this it would probably take me a couple of days from sketch to finished piece. I'm juggling a couple of projects at the moment, so it took me about two weeks to complete.
E: Tell us about when and where you work.
J: I work from home in a crazy jungle of a studio and, unlike Kim Dwinell in your previous interview, my chaos is not at all organized! (I've included a rarely seen picture of my desk in its natural state.)

As far as when I work... I work whenever I can. I have three kids, Ethan (9), and Eli (7), and a nine-month old baby girl named Charlotte (Charlie), so finding a lot of solid time to work can be challenging. Luckily I get a lot of support from family and friends. My mother-in-law watches the baby two days a week while the boys are in school, and my husband takes over at home from about five o'clock until ten o'clock most nights so that I can work then, as well.
E: I can identify with that! SACRED was written largely in stolen moments. I wonder, do you have  a preferred medium?
J: My preferred medium by far is ink and watercolor. I've created artwork in just about every medium from digital to ceramics to glass, but ink and watercolor always feels like home.
E: What other projects are you involved in?
J: I'm working on two projects at the moment that I'm super excited about. The first is an e-book I'm working on with movie director and co-creator of Blues Clues, Todd Kessler. The book is entitled The Good Dog, and it's about an adorably entertaining dog named Tako who, through a series of events, realizes that sometimes you have to break the rules in order to do the right thing. It's a fifty-two spread book, so it's a pretty major undertaking, but I absolutely love the story! We're hoping for a release date around May 2013. I'm also working on my own book dummy that I plan to send out for submissions in the next couple days. It's a picture book about a ninja bunny who, after following some bad advice, learns how to become his own ninja.
E: Those projects sound so exciting! What advice would you give to people who'd like to break into the art world?
J: My advice to anyone trying to break into this industry (myself included) is to stick with it and always keep your goal in mind. There's this great speech by Neil Gaiman that I try and watch every time I lose focus or start to stray from the path that will get me to where I need to be. I also find it tremendously helpful to have a great critique group that will always be honest with me, even when it stings a little.
E: Do you have a web presence?
J: I sure do! My website is
E: One last question about SACRED... was there a character in the book with whom you felt a particular affinity?
J: I actually felt a real connection with Will's father. What a great character! He always seemed to know all the answers, but gave everyone the space to figure things out in their own way and in their own time.

And, once more, Jennifer Gray Olson's "Numbers." Thank you so much, Jennifer!