Earlier this year I joined Art Licensing Show.com. Art Licensing Show brings art licensors (like me!) and licensees (companies/manufacturers who want to license art) together on a secure and private website to share and view portfolios. It’s like visiting a virtual trade show any day of the year! This allows me to regularly connect with art directors and let them access my portfolio. In this biz it’s all about hard work, timing, a bit of talent, and having your work in the right place at the right time. So if you happen to be an art/creative director or manufacturer and you’d like to get a free account, you can sign up here and mention my name to see my portfolio once you’re approved. The extra bonus is that there’s a really supportive and positive community at Art Licensing Show.com and I’m happy to be a part of them.
Almost a year ago we embarked on a large home improvement project: to finish our unfinished basement. I’ve had my office/studio in the basement for a few years now but while I was grateful to have dedicated space to work (HUGE when it comes to successfully working from home), it was never ideal. Because it’s a basement I was dealing with concrete floors and walls, spiders, and temperature, more specifically, cold temperature. It’s hard to draw when your hands are freezing off.
Needless to say I was super stoked to finish the basement and, in that process, get a whole new studio to work in. Well, like all (all, right?) home improvement projects, things a.) took much longer than expected and b.) went over budget. I shouldn’t be surprised, right? While there wasn’t much work to do in my studio, the rest of the basement involved things like plumbing, cabinetry, and a fireplace. That meant that I wasn’t really able to move into the new studio until around Christmas time. But since early January I’ve been working in my delightful new space and I feel so incredibly lucky. I figured it was time for a tour!
The studio is essentially a large bedroom in our basement (in fact, I expect someday it will house one of my children as a young adult). It opens to a large family room and we made the doorway quite oversized, with two sliding barn doors so that, when opened, it would feel like it was part of the rest of the room. But I can still close the doors when, say, the kids are all home from school on a snow day watching Netflix while I try to work in the next room (just, umm... for example).
Our basement is considered a “lookout” basement, so we have half-size windows (4 of them total) so I get decent light down here considering I’m half underground. My desk is over by the window and I’ve done my best to give myself a nice view. There’s a small garden (which includes lily-of-the-valley that I transplanted from my grandma’s childhood home) and this winter I put a bird feeder right outside and it’s endlessly entertaining (because I’m, not so secretly, an old lady at heart).
I knew I wanted a long desk so I could have space for both computer work and art making. I loved this IKEA hack long wall desk on this blog so we did something similar. This is actually two pieces of kitchen butcher block countertop with a dresser (with no top) and shelving unit underneath. It gives me this long workspace to spread out on, which is awesome. The only downside is because I used a dresser (which is taller than your typical desk) the overall height is on the high side. I’m still trying to get all my “ergonomic” ducks in a row (and currently using a cardboard box as a stool for my feet). I was also hoping to use two dressers underneath the desk but because of where the heating ducts are (against the walls) I couldn’t put anything directly in front of them and that messed up the spacing. So now the extra dresser is off to the side and holds my printer. But the one dresser and drawer unit under the desk give me a lot of storage for both “office” supplies and art supplies. I might be adding fun pulls to the drawers in the future.
Side note: I’m also trying out this convertible standing desk. I’m still a little iffy on it. I love that I can sit or stand because while I try not to spend the entire day in front of my computer sometimes that’s just what needs to be done and I like being able to mix up my position. But it also adds even more height to my already tall desk and there’s about a 2 inch gap between the desktop and the standing desk top. It’s just a little awkward. We’ll see where I land on this one.
I also knew I’d need a lot of good storage. Creative work just comes with lots o’ stuff, no way around it. Because we wanted it to officially qualify as a bedroom we put in a closet and thanks to many many shelves inside that gives me a ton of storage space. I can keep all my shipping supplies in here too. I also intended to do some new freestanding storage/cabinets out in the main room but frankly we ran out of money by the time we got to that so the furniture in here now consists of bookshelves and dressers that I’ve had for a long time (hello college dorm room!) But it works great for now.
I have dedicated space for sewing, which is something I used to do more of, but I still enjoy it. This also comes in handy when I’m making tea towels for my Etsy shop. I love these new “modern” peg boards from IKEA. I’ve always had the old school kind which are a little “wood shoppy” so I appreciate the upgrade. There’s a large counter height table for cutting fabric (and other standing projects). The comfy chair corner is great for when I’m drawing on my iPad. I made the ginormous bulletin board with a big sheet of insulation foam a few years ago using this one as a guide (the links don’t seem to work anymore) and recently my husband added some wood trim around the sides to make it more sturdy.
All in all this room was worth the wait (and what a wait it was!). The rest of the basement is fabulous too and the whole family is really enjoying the new digs. Plus, I made it through a winter without freezing! BONUS! There’s a great fireplace right next door that makes it very cozy down here. This room makes “coming to work” something to look forward to. And the commute’s a breeze. I put up a short video tour on Instagram and it’s archived in my highlights under “Studio remodel.” Feel free to ask me any questions in the comments!
Oh, the carousel of time has come around again and here I am at the beginning of a new school year (which will probably always feel more like the “new year” than the actual new year as long as I have kids in school and a teacher husband). I know I say every year that summer went by so fast, but this year it really did go by fast. I’m usually ready for the transition into the academic year but this year I was NOT at all. Unfortunately they don’t let me decide when these things happen, so here we are!
I’m getting back into a regular work routine while still finishing up my studio project . . . yes, that’s right, it’s not done yet. Oh, home construction projects. It’s getting close though! I hope I can give you a tour soon because I’m anxious to get back in there.
So besides my studio project, what else have I been doing? Let’s catch up!
I did a short course at the beginning of the summer called Explore Florals with Victoria Johnson. I’ve always liked Victoria’s style and the variety of ways in which she approaches her work. This 3 week course gave us a few different themes to work from with a lot of suggestions on how to explore the subject. The above collection, Wild Botanica, came out of this course and it’s one of my favorites. It was inspired by a walk I took on our family vacation in northern Minnesota. I liked it so much I turned it into my 2019 tea towel calendar design. It’s now available in my Spoonflower shop and on Roostery and finished tea towels will be in my Etsy shop (which is still temporarily closed) later this fall.
There are a few other new collections in my portfolio (see below) that I worked on this summer and I also received some fun new samples over the past few months! My first fabric collection with Robert Kaufman, Flamingo Paradise, is now in stores and the next collection, What do the Animals Say?, will be available soon! Because of the construction zone in my house I haven’t been able to make anything with the fabric yet, but I hope to get to that in the near future.
And now it’s back to class for me! It’s always a bit hard to get back into a good routine, but I’ll get there! I’ll be back soon (I hope) to share my new studio!
It's going to be a fun summer around here: I'm getting a "new" studio space! When my son was born (NINE years ago), and needed a room of his own, I moved my studio/office into our unfinished basement where it was mostly UN-used for a number of years because it was . . . gross. Then about four years ago I cleaned it up, made it feel more comfortable (see below), and I've been using it ever since. It's great to have a dedicated space to work, get Etsy orders ready, sew stuff, and generally make a mess (which I tend to do all over the house) but the space wasn't totally ideal. Because it's an unfinished basement that means I was lacking things like a floor, walls, and HEAT! Working in Minnesota in the winter gets cold people. Space heaters and fingerless gloves only get you so far. Not to mention the spiders!
This summer we're finishing the entire basement level of our home. It'll have a big family room, kitchenette, bathroom, laundry, storage space, and my studio. A studio which will probably eventually be a rotating bedroom for our kids as they move on to college and do the leave/return to the nest routine. I'm so excited! (Not for the leaving the nest college part, just the studio!) I've spent the past month, on and off, cleaning out my space and putting nearly everything into storage. (SO. MUCH. STUFF.) We're finalizing our plans and ordering materials this week so construction will start soon! I thought it'd be fun to share the process with you because I'm a total home decorating junkie and I love seeing how other people create their spaces.
Below you'll see a mood board for the space. For years I've been saving images I like on my "Creative Studio Spaces" Pinterest board. I typically use a good deal of color in my home but in my studio I like to use a lot of white because it feels so clean and undistracting. There's plenty of color going on in my work! It's kind of like serving your beautiful meal on a white plate. I already own some of the items below (the desk chair and lamp, along with some white desktops). I also made a large inspiration pin board, covered in linen, back when I cozied up the space the first time. On this finishing project I'll be adding laminate floors, drywall, trim, and hopefully a lot of new storage/closets. The space was a hodgepodge of college-era storage solutions before.
That's about it for now! I'll be posting updates both here and on Instagram, along with some video updates there. Hopefully I'll be moving back in by the end of the summer!
What a crazy time of year! Spring always flys by because May is one of my busiest months: two of my kids’ birthdays, Mother’s Day, end of the school year hoopla (which gets bigger every year!), soccer, dance recitals, school concerts, a Memorial Day family road trip, and, oh yeah, the trade show season! Yikes! I’m not gonna lie, I’m really looking forward to my lakeside vacation coming up in . . . 12 days (but who’s counting?!).
Blue Print Show 1 in New York was pretty fabulous. It was wonderful to re-connect with my art collective, Pencil Parade, in person! We have so much fun together. We had a great show meeting new contacts and connecting with existing clients. And it’s always wonderful to see other artists and agents who have become like a little family. I sold some art at the show and immediately following the show, which is always nice! (I’ll share when and if I can.) And I hope that more opportunities arise in the months to come. Getting ready for a show is so much work that I do breath a sigh of relief when it’s over.
The weeks following Blue Print have been full of email follow-ups and artwork “delivery” along with some much needed downtime to catch my breath a bit. Now here we are at the end of the school year! Ack! That always means a big change to my schedule and this year will be even more so because we’re finally finishing our basement (where my studio is) so that means I have to pack everything up! I’ll be working from a tiny desk upstairs for the next few months but hopefully I’ll have brand new digs by the end of the summer. I can’t wait! I’ll be sure to post about the process here so stay tuned. In the meantime my Etsy shop will be closed as long as we’re “under construction.”
As much as summer can be frustrating at times, trying to sneak in work time, I've learned to adjust a bit and use the summer to explore new things, paint a lot, and remind myself to enjoy this time with my kids. My oldest will go off to college in a short 3 years! You can follow along with both my sketchbook explorations and my studio updates on Instagram (and probably here too). If you're heading into summer too, enjoy!