I don’t know about you, but for me New Years Day serves as a time of contemplation, a bit of relaxation from the holiday hubbub spent simultaneously looking back and anticipating the future. Unlike many recent years in which my life seemed to be in a holding pattern, I had an eventful 2013 filled with some letdowns (getting sick in February and being dogged with vaguely flu-ish feelings for the next eight months), a dose of the same-old same-old, and lots of delights. Here’s some of the accomplishments:
- Debuted three new designs at LitKids – Little Bo Peep, Winne the Pooh, and Sherlock Holmes. Also, I’m starting to see signs that this LitKids thing might become something other than a wallet-draining labor of love.
- Related to the above, in August I addressed a roomful of Etsy users about the ins and outs of selling there (conquering public speaking fears = very healing).
- Opened Pishtosh, Bullwash & Wimple, an outlet for selling quality vintage designs and kitsch. Unlike LitKids, this enterprise has turned into a quick, modest profit.
- Read Pride and Prejudice and biographies of Pauline Kael, Flo Ziegfeld, Vincente Minnelli, and Willy Wonka actress Julie Dawn Cole.
- Designed about a dozen manga books for Viz, another ten-odd books for various individual authors (including my spouse), a t-shirt, a personal branding logo, six theatrical playbills, and four or five projects that never came to fruition for various reason.
- Hit ten years as a freelancer with all the ambivalent feelings about my profession intact (only now the competition is even younger!). I still haven’t designed or illustrated a Little Golden Book, Criterion Collection release, New Yorker cover, Taschen book, hip record album cover, or indie film poster, damn it.
- Filed 90 reviews at DVD Talk. Best one: The Big City. Worst: Twisted Romance.
- Watched five films in a theater, and 181 films (including documentaries) at home.
- Listened to a lot of Cilla Black, Everything But The Girl and Margaret Whiting (the top three artists of 2013, according to my Last.fm stats).
Believe it or not, I also listened to a lot of current music over the past year. The stuff that caught my attention has been assembled into MRH 2013, a bloated marathon of melodic pop and retro-music of all types (videogame music, disco, psychedelic, soul, even a ’20s jazz cover from Bryan Ferry). After at least a decade of being indifferent to most new music, it came as a pleasant surprise that there was so much refreshing, unique stuff gaining popularity in 2013 – I mean, you wouldn’t find something like “Thrift Shop” hitting #1 in the immediate past, would you? When relatively tame, mainstream singers like Celine Dion come up with weird-ass tunes like “Loved Me Back to Life,” you know you’re in for an interesting year. Part of it comes from the fact that genre lines in music are blurring into each other – yet, instead of being a boring, awkward mishmash, the resulting music is kind of invigorating. This Grantland article by Steven Hyden uses the latest album by teen heartthrobs One Direction to delve into that, articulating the phenomenon far better than I could (the 1D song singled out by the author, “Little Black Dress,” truly is a fantastic blast of power pop, by the way).
Anyhow, the playlist. While some of my favorite artists are represented multiple times (Haim, Camera Obscura, Quadron), most of it is limited to one or two tracks per player. I kinda wish it was more concise, but at the very least it’s arranged by mood and feel – there’s a mini-suite of tracks produced by Greg Kurstin, for instance. Enjoy.
After toiling away for a few weeks in our converted garage studio, I finally have a new LitKids print ready – the master detective, Sherlock Holmes! Sure, the colors are somewhat offbeat (manly shade of maroon for the outline, with yellow ochre, pinkish salmon and metallic bronze), but they came out beautifully. Like all the LitKids prints, they are hand-signed and printed atop pages from a classic book (A. C. Doyle’s The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes) along with a random splash of gold paint for an extra touch of uniqueness.
This has been a busy few weeks for LitKids. In addition to completing the Holmes print, we have a selection of the prints and merchandise displayed at Olivastro here in Phoenix this month. Olivastro is a cool locally owned shop that sells delicious flavor-infused olive oils and vinegars. Phoenix peeps, check it out!
Sherlock can be purchased here. Through December 15th, use code SCROOGE to get 20% off on this and everything LitKids!
Display of framed LitKids prints at Olivastro, December 2013.
Christopher and I spent a few hours this morning installing a dozen framed LitKids prints at Treehouse Bakery, a vegan business located a short walk from our home in downtown Phoenix. Forgive me for tooting my own horn, but don’t they look lovely?
I’m excited about this opportunity, since it’s the first time I’ve exhibited my own art in public since about 1995. Better yet, we’re mounting these pieces again in two months, at another local, independently run business. Locals supporting other locals – a beautiful arrangement! More photos from today have been included in the LitKids flickr set.
It’s time to unveil the latest LitKids print: Winnie the Pooh and Piglet done in the style of the classic A. A. Milne books (not Disney, thankyouverymuch). This one came about as a special request from one of my design clients. She wanted a special gift for her co-worker who was having a baby, a huge Pooh fan. Vintage copy of The House at Pooh Corner in hand, I worked on putting it together over June and July, not the most comfortable time for working out of our unventilated garage/print studio, but nearly all of the prints (in an edition of fifty) came out beautifully. The design has a few extra layers of colors, thus they have a slightly higher price than the other prints. Also, this is the first listing to use the professional frame photography (above) taken by our neighbor. They came out great, and all I have to do is Photoshop in a scanned image of the artwork (Etsy sellers, take note).
Pooh, Piglet and the other prints are for sale at LitKids – enjoy and happy reading.
Dakin-like Indian man sawdust doll, $16.
Over the past few months, I’ve been squeezing in what little free time I have preparing another Etsy shop to serve as a companion to LitKids. This new shop is devoted to vintage ’50s-’70s objects. I decided to call it Pishtosh, Bullwash & Wimple, after the Jim Flora book. From the shop’s decription:
While the original screen prints of classic kiddie book characters at LitKids are my main creative passion, the objects for sale at PB&W are the kind of funky things that inspire me. Hopefully they can inspire you, too. Look around and enjoy.
The shop currently has 37 items – ceramics, plastic, vintage LPs, books and collectibles – with plans to add more. In less than a week, I’ve already had two sales. If the photos I’ve got with this post pique your interest, I encourage you to go there and look around. Pishtosh, Bullwash and Wimple will be mighty disappointed if you don’t.
Georges Briard Fancy Free covered sugar bowl, $20.
1960s shelf paper roll with sun and moon design, $8.
Shakespeare book with cover illustration by Joseph Low, $8.
Vintage 1967 LP with S. Neil Fujita cover illustration, $16.
There’s a new girl in town, and she’s looking good – my LitKids Little Bo Peep screenprint, that is!
After getting saddled with a heavy workload throughout the early part of this year, I was so relieved to find some time in the past month to develop a new print. This particular one has been in the works for a while. It started a few years back, when a craft fair shopper asked if I had any nursery-ready subjects for parents with babies. Before blurting out “All of these are great for that purpose, have a little imagination,” I stopped myself and agreed that it was a good idea. Indeed, some kind of print that could serve as a baby shower gift was needed to flesh out the variety of items at the store.
Casting aside the subject matter (which was a delight to draw), I’m really happy with how this print came out. I’m getting better with using the color layers in an offbeat way, and the print quality is coming out less amateurish with each new design. Little Bo Peep and her sheep is availabe, as usual, at LitKids.