Category Archives: illustration

Daily Euphoria: Early morning mushroom obsession

beautifully lit Bridal Veil mushroom via

What do you do when you are waking up with coffee and your computer, and happen to click on  this  ?

You find yourself going down the rabbit hole, researching freaky, lace-adorned, carrion-scented fungi, and wishing you could be somewhere tropical, like at the base of a rotting log in Central America, so you could draw these suckers from life.

You also wonder how you can work the term Crinoline Stinkhorn into your daily lexicon.

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How to write more fun mail – Part 2

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Samara O’Shea’s For the Love of Letters.  (Portrait of the author via.)

Now that we’ve got materials under our belt, how about finding some other sources for inspiration?

For the Love of Letters holds a special place in my heart as it is peppered with funny, heart-wrenching and self-deprecating anecdotes from Samara O’Shea’s life that, naturally, become the fuel for her art.  In addition to her own missives, this book features letters penned by the likes of Marie Antoinette, Beethoven and Emily Post, as a means to instruct and offer advice on how to express oneself on the page.  You can read an excerpt  of the book and her latest musings on Letter Lover.  In addition to publishing her latest title,  Note to Self:  On Keeping a Journal and Other Dangerous Pursuits, O’Shea also offers her services as a hired gun.  I’m intrigued – I wonder what her most unusual letter request was for?

 

I made a mental note to find John Kralik’s book, 365 Thank Yous , after listening to his author interview on NPR.  A short and sweet memoir,  what struck me was his candor in describing the many ways in which 2007 almost broke him.  A turbulent period of personal and professional challenges, as the year draws to a close , Kralik resolves to turn things around in some small way, by writing a thank you note a day.   I imagine anyone who has received some unsolicited words of gratitude for acts, big and small,  would be proud to receive one of Kralik’s missives.  He is a keen observer and a lively narrator.   While not a “how to” manual by any means, this book certainly gives me aspirations to convey with the same sort of humour and sincerity Kralik does, a deeper appreciation for the people in my life.   And if that involves pen and paper, all the better!

image via

Okay, you’re sick to death of the feel-good instruction manuals and memoirs.  May I suggest a novel about the disappearance of an eccentric genius,  told entirely through correspondence between her family, friends and enemies?  I just finished Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette and would recommend it to anyone looking for a great read this summer.

Illustrated letter by Edward Gorey in the book Floating Worlds. Via

If you’re fan of Edward Gorey’s illustrations, you’ll enjoy Floating Worlds: The Letters of Edward Gorey and Peter F. Neumeyer.  Featuring letters and illustrated envelopes from a year long correspondence in the late ’60s, it appears to offer some amazing images and insight into the minds of two creative intellectuals.  Enjoy more examples of his illustrated works and a review of the book at  Brain Pickings.  And while you’re at  the Brain Picking’s site,  read the hilarious over-the-top, apology letter by Lewis Carroll which  is featured in the review for Charles Osgood’s  Funny Letters From Famous People.

Another gem of a site is Letters of Note, curated by Shaun Usher and described as an “attempt to gather and sort fascinating letters, postcards, telegrams, faxes, and memos.”  It is an eclectic collection, from Annie Leibovitz to Walt Whitman.  One of my favourites has got to be from the dynamic duo of  Dr Honeydew and Beaker to the Mars Rover Mission team. Read the full transcript here.

(Letter originally posted on Muppet Wiki by Scott Hanson. )

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Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens: Uppercase Issue #18

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Did you get the Sound of Music reference?  I’m sure the Von Trapp family would agree with me that Uppercase Magazine deserves a place on anyone’s “favourite things”  list.  Self-described as a publication for the Creative and Curious –  Issue #18 is heavily focused on a medium near and dear to my heart: Collage!

While I’m still waiting for my subscription to arrive, I got a great email yesterday from Erin at Uppercase.  She had a little preview to share from their reader-participation project “The Handsome Ransom Note” that caused an enthusiastic-yet-tragically-inelegant-happy dance at the kitchen table.

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Getting to see my stuff in print is new and exhilarating.  Thank you Uppercase, for putting out such a fun call for submission and giving me the incentive to flex my creative muscles.

Want to find out more about what the people behind the magazine are up to? Visit their blog .

Itching to get your hands on a copy?  Subscribe or renew by August 1 using the code “contributor18” and get $10 off. You can also find a list of stockists on their website.

Happy cutting and pasting, my friends!

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Daily Euphoria: Oliver Jeffers goes hunting (for ideas and lunch)

Oliver Jeffers Author Film 2013 from Oliver Jeffers on Vimeo. A film by Mac Premo.

Giant pencils, bows and arrows, light bulbs dangling from the sky.  Intrigued?  There is a reason Oliver Jeffers and his work are so beloved!

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Daily Euphoria: Ninjas and Flowers

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An impressive hand drawn sign on some metal shelving at the side of the road.  Garbage night is the best.

Still obsessing over hand lettering.

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Hand cramps of love (for hand lettering)

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What I’m working on these days.

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Decisions, decisions…

I’m going deep down into the rabbit hole with this map-making project and kind of fuzzing out on the big picture at the moment.   Eventually I will manage to assimilate all my little doodles into a Franken-map of the odd and awesome, but for now, I’m geeking out on the details!

Clearly, what I’ve been getting the most pleasure out of is practicing my lettering.  I came by my love honestly and early, thanks to my highschool art teacher.   Mrs. Huebener was a calligrapher, and in those days, I’m pretty sure I thought that was uncool.  What did I know?  The most advanced art instruction I’d had to date was sewing pink aprons with plastic pockets (how avant garde!) in junior high Home Ec. class.  Thank goodness the bar was raised by Mrs. H.  I distinctly remember one of our first grade 9  assignments was to create a monogram of our initials using Roman Caps . I recall how badly my hand shook trying to draw a straight line that first class, the pervasive smell (and stain) of india ink, and how my writer’s callus ballooned over the course of the year.  To this day, I still grip my pens too tightly and that callus?  I call him Arnold.

While I never saved any of those shaky and earnest high school assignments, I did rifle through some old sketchbooks recently while looking for map ideas. Care to join me on this little walk down memory lane?

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Doodle on a mail-forwarding label, 2009.

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Old school layout ! Draft of a Christmas postcard for clients c. 2008.

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2006 – I suffered from a bad case of insomnia that year.

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An everlasting love of word bubbles, 2007.

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Drawing whatever was on my desk, apparently mostly CDs and art supplies. c. 2004.

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I have always enjoyed (obsessively) making lists, c. 2007

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Some keepers from the Hand Lettering class I took last year, taught by the amazing illustrator Katy Dockrill at Nook. Super fun!

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Busy plotting…

Phil Francis’ Morning Commute Banana Map originally posted on Pret a Voyager

…how to make a map, that is!  In the midst of a jam-packed work week, I decided to throw caution to the wind and  sign up for Anne Ditmeyer’s Skillshare class Map Making: Learn to communicate places beautifully .   I came across Anne’s fantastic travel blog while researching last year’s trip to Paris and marvelled at what an incredible life she has created for herself.  Swoon worthy!  Recently, I discovered Anne was sharing her many talents in the form of an online class and I jumped at the chance to participate.

I sure wish I’d had the foresight to keep some of the impromptu maps I’ve drawn for visiting friends over the years.   I would love to see what landmarks were deemed important back then, some of which I believe would include:  best place to get roti, well-loved bookstores, anarchist coffee shops and least gross laundromats.

Anne’s Pinterest board, Make a Map,  has served as great inspiration .  This map in particular, stood out for me for being so personal and  because it didn’t require computer skills. Low-tech love!

Source: itsnicethat.com via Anne on Pinterest

This one is by Toronto’s own map-making maestro, Marlena Zuber.

Source: maps.marlenazuber.com via Anne on Pinterest

And here is a quickie first sketch of a project I’m working on.  More details to come!

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Divine Detail: Leah’s hand-drawn signs

IMG_2889When visiting The Paper Place,  a Toronto-based mecca for paper and craft lovers, brace yourself to be wooed by the quality and selection of goods at your fingertips.   Having had the good fortune of working there many years ago, in it’s former incarnation as the Japanese Paper Place, I can attest to the thrill of seeing a “first-timer” walk in and pause, pupils visibly dilating with joy .    Nowadays, as a seasoned customer, I would love to draw your attention to one of my favourite details about the store:  Leah’s hand drawn signs.

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Her sense of humour shines and her style will forever be recognizable to me, even on such a tiny scale.  Leah remains one of my favourite co-workers of all time, and I fondly remember my lame attempts to crack her up, each and every shift we shared.  In truth, she’s the really funny one.  I wish I’d kept better track of the silly notes we used to exchange or better yet, all the signs she’s ever made in the past two decades. Now that would be a show I would love to curate!  Here are the gems in my “personal collection”.

"Michelle. This is NOT real food...  "  Cerise

FYI post-it, left on  a pile of fruit-print origami I wanted to buy: “Michelle. This is NOT real food… ” Cerise

The two-inch “Kalmic Book” , our take on Spy Vs Spy: IMG_2928

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Does anyone else get this location-centric joke?

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Leah is no one trick pony, check out this project she did for the Paper Place using handmade Kozo cards.

I miss you, Poopy.  Love, Snarky.

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Illustration Amazingness: Tim Hunt

Look out Below by Tim Hunt via Ape on the Moon.

Tim Hunt’s work tickles my fancy with its innocent-yet-outrageous style.  It reminds me of a less dark version of David Shrigley’s work.  According to his bio, ” If none of this madness is to your tastes then we recommend a career in science, where literally no one poops rainbows.”

I like you even more now, Tim.

You can see more of Tim’s work on his website and his blog.

And for animation enthusiasts, some gems:

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Daily Euphoria: Separated at birth?

Life attempting to imitate art by Yoshimoto Nara.

Life attempting to imitate art by Yoshitomo Nara.

Having some fun here at Casa Hobo.

The first time I saw Yoshitomo Nara‘s work was in print,  almost two decades ago, when I was a devoted Juxtapoz reader (back when magazines were my internet).   At the time, my exposure to Japanese art was sadly limited to traditional woodcuts, emblems and tattoos.   I fell hard for his work , and it proved to be a great gateway into discovering contemporary art coming out of Japan.

Can’t afford an original?  How about a Nara-designed doggy radio? Chronicle books also published a postcard book of  his work awhile back – which is where this gem comes from.  (Thanks for the snail mail inspiration,  Avery. You have great taste!)

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