Mountain Animals contest…against all odds

It’s been over a year since I last entered a Spoonflower surface design contest, something I used to do on a weekly basis some years ago. How times have changed!

While working on the last stages of my entry for Spoonflower’s current ‘Mountain Animals’ contest, my computer shut down unexpectedly. After some experimenting (simply plugging it into outlets caused short circuits in my whole apartment), I brought it into a repair place. While I have since recovered my hard drive allowing me access to my files, I am still awaiting a diagnosis of the issue at hand. With one thing being assured of right off the bat: that my computer can’t be fixed because Apple stops producing parts for each model after 5 years. Gotta love them.

I feel like writing an obituary. When I bought my 24″ iMac back in 2009, I was brand new to the world of digital illustration, and I was shocked at the financial investment as the price of admission. The computer that could handle large graphic files and proprietary vector and accompanying software (hello, CS4!) were only the beginning and seemed to be reserved for a higher earning segment of the population.

But I took the plunge and enjoyed almost 8 years of creative bliss with my beloved companion. It was the first computer I did not only not hate, no, I loved it because there were never any problems. I indulged in GarageBand and iMovie to create songs and matching videos – what a joy!

It was only 6 months ago after getting an older iPhone when things suddenly took a bad turn. A sequence of events prompted me to reluctantly install El Capitan, a controversial and poorly rated OS X, presumably in order to set up my iPhone. The problems were instant and became so many and bizarre that they were hard to keep track of. In the weeks leading up to my iMac’s death, they seemed to kick it up another notch. 10 years or more I could get out of it, I was told when buying it. Yes, I’m still mourning, especially considering how the prices have risen since then, and being in Germany doesn’t help it.

If you’re still with me :) I was able to finish my design on an old laptop from 2004 (which goes to show how much potential my iMac still had). It was completed between two 5am work shifts, something I want to remind myself of in order to get more into drawing again. What other priorities could one have on chronic sleep deprivation and with only a few hours each day for all tasks related to something called life?

Before I keep rambling on, my design, voteable for here until Feb. 8 around noon Eastern Standard time (18:00 Central Euro Time), if you’re so inclined:

http://www.spoonflower.com/contest_voters_temp/new?contest_id=377

Thank you for reading and possibly your condolences. :)

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Print & Pattern “Nature” Book Release

I was excited to hear that the latest book “Nature” by acclaimed Print & Pattern author and blogger Bowie Style (aka Marie Perkins) was released in the UK on Amazon today! I was fortunate to be included among the artists she approached. Marie was kind enough to send me this photo of the spread featuring some of my work. The left page shows my surface pattern designs Nordic Suzani Floral and Vintage Butterfly Garden, and the right page shows A Field Guide to Wildflowers. The publish date for the US on amazon.com is February 7.

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New Stickers & Labels

Some new stickers I added to my Etsy shop: one set features icons from my surface pattern “Summer in Sarek” (the Swedish national park), while the other is a variety of labels to be used on anything from stationary to canning jars. I have actually been using the labels when mailing out my Etsy orders and for some time have been planning to offer them for sale.

World Vegan Day

November 1 is world vegan day, which prompted this long-term vegan to get her pens out and computer on again after months of creative inactivity due to day job constraints.

Although veganism is a subject dear to my heart, I am usually a closeted vegan to avoid the stigma, hostility and fruitless discussions that sooner or later come up in mainstream society.

So much I could write here, but today I will only present my little drawing featuring some of the most consumed animal species worldwide (not shown are ducks, rabbits, turkeys, geese and goats, all part of the top 10).

I will also include a possibly not very well internationally known song that touches on the subject of animal use and abuse. I feel that sadly the video was a huge missed opportunity, but I do appreciate the message of the lyrics, which I have written down here. Perhaps some of you can relate in your own way.

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I’ve got something on my mind
Makes me sad, it makes me cry, oh no
Johnny wanna live

Just an ordinary day
An animal will pass away, oh no
Johnny wanna live

Who’s to say he gets no rights
Even not the right to life

Don’t know why it leaves you cold
Don’t know how to make it show, oh no
Johnny wanna live

Through his eyes I look inside his heart
He can feel it, me and you
Can’t defend himself ‘cause he can’t talk
And this is why I talk to you

Johnny isn’t just a name
He stands for every creature’s pain, oh no
Johnny wanna live

Go ahead try to look inside his heart
You can find your own mistakes
Try to hide them, thinking he can’t talk
But he can read them in your face

Gotta give his skin away
For coats they wear on summer days, oh no

Tell me why it leaves you cold
I swear I’m gonna make it show, oh no
Johnny wanna live
You have the right to live

Composers: Cretu/Peterson/Hirschburger

Nordic Suzani Floral 2017 Agenda

A few months ago, Bookbinders Design approached me seeking to license my Nordic Suzani Floral pattern for their 2017 agenda. I highly recommend them as a contact to fellow illustrators, as my contact Philipp was wonderful to work with all around. He recently mailed me a copy of the agenda as it will be sold later this year (link to follow).

So far they kept the original palette – these images were taken with my matching gift wrap underneath. I think it’s a very usable and aesthetically pleasing agenda, measuring almost 7 by 8 inches, spiral-bound, with an elastic closure and weekly spreads. Here is a glimpse inside this lovely little book. :)

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Frankfurt Vegan Meetup Group

One version of a banner I made the other day for a new Meetup group I just started:

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Today was our first event – a potluck, my favorite food format. I love the variety that results from people bringing different dishes to the table; it never gets boring. This was what I brought – and since we were only two today, I now benefit from having a fridge full of extra food. :)

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Baked chili beans with tahini sauce, guacamole and fresh salsa, sandwiches a la Hawaii, 4 citrus juice, herbed potato wedges, and chocolate cherry poundcakelets.

Spring in Germany

Where I live, spring has sprung, and it often seems to me that I’ve forgotten what this time of year feels like here. This is my first spring in Germany in 18 years, and I’m in a constant state of delight…at least outdoors. I feel like taking photos of every flower and blossoming tree, baby geese and clouds in the sky…everything is so beautiful, and I could spend all my off-days outside, from dawn to dusk. If spring feels this good here, I can only imagine what summer will be like! I have easy access to fields, forests, lakes and outdoor pools – going to bed early for work is going to get even harder as the days get longer. Instead of drawings today, I hope you’ll enjoy these selected shots of my German spring experience. :)

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Let The Good Times Roll!

My latest pattern I created for the current Spoonflower “Rock ‘n’ Roll” contest – it was fun to draw some of the major things I associate with rock (while omitting the more controversial ones). Big hair, music records and tapes, amps, microphones, guitar and picks, drums, cowboy boots, stage lights, as well as stars and lightning. And a beverage bottle, made to look more like a soft drink rather than alcohol. I named the design after The Cars’ song, of course, which is a synth-pop style of rock of my favorite era, the mid 1970s to mid 1980s.

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Votes still get counted here until Wednesday Dec. 13, 12pm (noon) Eastern Standard Time. If you’d like to support my design, I would love that! You don’t need an account for this.

As a former metal and punk fan during my teens, memories returned of my favorite bands at the time. Metallica with their dynamic and melodious compositions and non-sexist lyrics (a rarity at the time, perhaps still!). Or hyper-intellectual Bad Religion with their harmonies and thought-provoking lyrics. Then there was Faith no More and their singer’s creative and funny side project Mr. Bungle. And so many more whose music I loved and still have on my shelf, gathering dust. But no band has topped my favorite to date, the beyond-words-impressive Alan Parsons Project (classified as “progressive rock”, but whom I believe are impossible to categorize). And while on YouTube listening to old tunes, I came across this hilarious video that might make you laugh as well. Twisted Sister’s style has never been my taste in music (or otherwise, hah!), but this is such good fun.

Delft Windows

My monochromatic “Delft Windows” made #4 in Spoonflower’s window-themed contest (actually, it’s a tie with #3) – yay! A big thank you to anyone who included it in their votes and for all the wonderful comments on the design page. I made it on the night of the deadline and ended up too tired to color it, hence the decision to turn it all Delft-blue. Here is a fabric image (courtesy of Spoonflower):

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Fitness Contest Winner

The title sounds as if this is about a fitness competition. Nothing could be further from reality – but I did win Spoonflower’s last contest, which was fitness themed! And drawing icons representing various sports made me want to get more involved in certain sports, especially swimming, one of my favorite activities.

I’m fascinated by how many swimming badges – with different levels – one can achieve in Germany. One of particular interest to me is the almost extinct “Totenkopfschwimmer” (engl. death’s head or skull swimmer), which comes at three levels: 1 hour, 1.5 hours and 2 hours need to be swum continuously at a time. But in order to even get admitted to such a test, one needs to master less difficult levels of swimming. I like that each level gets awarded with a cloth badge that can be sewn on one’s swim suit. I included adapted versions of two of them in my design: “Freischwimmer” and “Fahrtenschwimmer”, blue and white designs in use in Germany from the 1950s to 1980s. Now I feel really old, because I remember the designs well!

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Recent Work

This is some recent pattern work I didn’t come around to showing here before:

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This one is for Spoonflower’s current design contest, themed “Fitness”:

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It features archery, badminton, ballooning, bowling, canoeing, cycling, running, skating, soccer, skiing, swimming, table tennis, tennis and chess (classified as a sport!), as well as wind, rain and snow.

If you’d like to support my design, you could include it in your votes here. Thank you!

Fabric8 Finals

Today voting opened for the final round of Fabric8, a collaborative contest between Spoonflower and Moda Fabrics. Each of the 8 finalists designed a collection with 4 patterns that Spoonflower printed so beautifully. Voters have until next Wednesday, 12pm Eastern Standard Time to select their preferred choice – only one collection can be voted for. Voting in multiple sessions from the same IP address gets disqualified. To vote, please click here or on my fabric image below.

This is my collection – the original entry “A Field Guide to Wildflowers”, as well as the new “Flock of Rain Birds” (birds in a cloudy and rainy sky), “Sunset Garden Walk” (florals and geometrics in sunset-inspired shades) and “Botanical Alphabet” (hand-lettered alphabet with florals).

What a dream it would be to win a fabric collaboration!

Fabric8 Q&A with Spoonflower

Each year, Spoonflower conducts little “interviews” (I think of them as Q&A sessions) with the Fabric8 finalists. If you’d like to read mine, you can do so here. You’ll learn the significance of this gorgeous wall art! :)

I’m a Fabric8 Finalist!

This is not exactly news anymore, as the results were revealed a week ago, but I’d like to add for the record: I made it into the Fabric8 finals with my “Field Guide to Wildflowers” design! You can view all eight finalists’ designs here.

I was shocked to receive the notification – there were so many outstanding designs in this contest, totaling close to 800, and I had no illusions that I’d make it this far. My heartfelt thanks to anyone who gave me their vote. It’s a dream of mine to work with a company on a fabric collection, or other surface design products. Although I am not kidding myself that I’ll win, it is encouraging to be a little bit closer to that goal, even if only for a short while.

Winning or not, I will gladly design the remaining three pieces of the collection, available for voting in October along with the other contestants’ collections. One nice thing about not hoping too hard to win is to loosen up a bit and have more fun drawing. While dreaming up, drawing and composing a design, anything else is irrelevant to me but enjoying the process.

Ah, the art of winning and losing design contests. Fellow Spoonflorist Ceri Staziker recently wrote a great article for Spoonflower on the former (not the losing part, hah) and asked me for input. You can read it here – I hope it will inspire you!