Category: Process

Black Pearl Sings!

May 3rd, 2012 — 11:19pm

Today I’d like to share a really fun, and quite different, project. I was contacted by Michael Buchino, the graphic designer for Portland Center Stage, to create a poster design for their 2012 season. The play was Black Pearl Sings!
A brief synopsis from Michael:
In 1935 Texas, Susannah, an academic and song collector for the Library of Congress, visits a high-security prison where she meets Pearl, an African-American woman imprisoned for murder who longs to leave prison and find her lost daughter. Hoping to record the treasure trove of spirituals and African folk songs that only Pearl knows—and make her reputation on the discoveries—Susannah bargains for Pearl’s parole and arranges for several public performances. The two women soon find themselves walking a delicate line between exposure and exploitation.
Featuring beautiful a cappella renditions of little-known American folk songs, Black Pearl Sings! chronicles a powerful story about being a woman in a man’s world, being black in a white world, and fighting for one’s soul in a world where anyone can be a commodity.

I was very interested and excited to work on such a different type of project. I read the entire script and relished in trying to create a captivating and communicative image. I explored several different rough concepts and illustration styles.

Here is one of my studies. I thought it could be interesting to play with old sheet music paper and to use the lines to represent prison bars.
Here is a similar study, again using the music paper, but here I wrote the words to a song that Pearl sings in prison to gather attention.
I loved keeping my designs in black and white with a touch of red, simplicity can be so powerful. The storyline and the main characters also made it seem quite fitting.

I also explored “illustrated type”. I love expressive typography and I thought it could be interesting to illustrate the name of the play and somehow communicate the storyline.

In the end Michael chose this design concept and I was very pleased. The final poster image, shown at the beginning of this post, evolved into a portrait format rather than landscape to accommodate other printed verbiage and I like the way it turned into a strong checkerboard of information. My illustration style in this design is inspired by one of my favorite artists of all time, Margaret Kilgallen. If you don’t know of her you should watch this short film. She was so talented. I love her work and sensibilities.

3 comments » | Hand-lettering & Typography, Illustration, Process, Uncategorized

Roses are Red, Violets are Blue…

February 14th, 2012 — 1:06am

Oh how I love Valentine’s Day! Such a great excuse to pause for a moment, remember the ones we love, and create something… a note, a card, a piece of art…. to express our feelings and appreciation. This Valentine’s I thought I’d post about a sweet menu that I created for Chez Panisse Restaurant. Alice, the owner, created a wonderful tradition of giving each couple, dining on Valentine’s Day, the most perfect bouquet of violets (one of Alice’s favorite flowers). So it seemed fitting to create a menu featuring an old botanical image of violets, I painted each menu with watercolor and gouache. I hand-lettered the menu in a style inspired by one of my hero’s, Ludovico delgi Arrighi, an Italian master from the 16th century.
Here’s a photo of one of those sweet bouquets! So romantic!
Beautiful cases of violets delivered to the restaurant.
Happy Valentine’s Day everyone. I hope you all take a moment to express your love to those close to your heart.

Comment » | Hand-lettering & Typography, Process, Uncategorized, Weddings & Events

Spring Wedding

February 3rd, 2012 — 5:00pm

I took a walk this morning with my dog, Lola, and was astounded by the cherry/plum blossom trees in my neighborhood! They were full of blooms and the scent in the air was so fresh and alive, it made me think of the wedding suite I designed for Bridget & Peter.
Bridget wanted to do an early spring theme for her wedding. She told me “…springtime in New York… the plum and cherry blossoms start to bloom and grass begins to peak up from the ground which is charming. I also like the concept of a new marriage and new beginnings that are represented in spring.” She wanted a soft “Easter palette” of buttery yellows, pale purples, plum colored ink and “tea stained paper“.
I had never tea stained paper before but the idea sounded beautiful… I was curious to give it a try!
The results were beautiful, each invitation a slightly different shade… however, I must admit it was very labor intensive… not sure if I would challenge it again. I ended up having to steam iron each card by hand to get it to lay flat before I could silkscreen and letterpress print them!
I was able to find gorgeous Italian envelopes in the perfect colors. Below is the response card and envelope. I’m so happy Spring, once again, is in the air!

Comment » | Hand-lettering & Typography, Process, Uncategorized, Weddings & Events

happy new year!

January 25th, 2012 — 11:23am

I’ve always loved Chinese New Year… the vivid colors, the artwork, the ceremonies, and all the gorgeous paper! This year is year of the Water Dragon, the most powerful energy of all the zodiac signs. Last Sunday I was fortunate enough to attend a fascinating talk on Chinese Astrology and what lays ahead in 2012.
In short, this is the year of limitless expansion…. anything is possible!

I feel excited and inspired this year and I thought it a perfect excuse to send out a fun ‘Happy New Year’ promotional piece. I loved going treasure hunting in San Francisco’s Chinatown. I found beautiful paper, rubber stamps, and these fantastic paper dragons (the head and tail are each mounted on a stick with a tissue paper accordion body in between).
I lined each box, 40 all together, with canary yellow paper and stamped the dragon
‘paper cut’ image in hot red ink. I filled each box with a paper dragon, a personal note,
and 2 custom fortune cookies! (I ordered fortune cookies with my own personal messages at and was very happy)
I even had fun making protective packing material out of all the beautiful papers I collected.

I used this golden dragon paper as a top cover sheet and wrapped each box with a brilliant red and gold paper (below).

Here are my ‘custom fortunes’…. so fun.
May this year be happy, healthy, prosperous, productive, and FULL of creative projects!!!
Gung Hay Fat Choy!

5 comments » | Process, Uncategorized, Weddings & Events

Signs of Encouragement

November 16th, 2011 — 5:32pm

It has been quite some time since my last post. It amazes me how quickly time moves on. My life has been busy with work, travel, more work, and the construction of my studio addition! In times like these I find it helpful to make myself “signs of encouragement”…. little handmade signs to comfort and motivate me through the chaos. Just the process of sitting down and making myself a little reminder makes me feel better.

I made several additional copies of this sign and have put them up all over my house. When you are self employed and work from home sometimes the biggest challenge is just getting to your office!

I can be known to procrastinate. I’ve also been known to labor a little too much over things. In cases like this my supportive boyfriend, Marc, reminds me that
“Done Is Beautiful” (a saying used often in construction).

This is another one of Marc’s sayings… and it’s a perfect description of the trouble we can get ourselves into!
I have also been known to over think things… and paralyze myself in the process!
I think we all need, at one time or another, a few signs of encouragement.

Comment » | Hand-lettering & Typography, Process, Uncategorized

Marion’s 80th

April 12th, 2011 — 11:05pm

Spring has truly arrived here in the Bay Area. Flowers are blooming everywhere.
Today’s post is a “Spring Inspired” menu for Marion Cunningham’s 80th birthday,
a delicious Sunday supper at Chez Panisse Restaurant.
I printed a botanical line drawing of a crocus onto vintage paper and hand-lettered a birthday message on the ribbon.
I hand-painted each menu with soft water based inks.

Here is the inside of the menu, I hand-lettered each course using a mixture of my favorite lettering styles.
I love that there were EIGHTY different sweets for dessert!

2 comments » | Hand-lettering & Typography, Process, Uncategorized, Weddings & Events

Will you be mine?

February 14th, 2011 — 1:45pm

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! I wanted to post about this simple Valentine that I created and sent out into the world. I’ve been trying to make a habit of sending a little “promotional piece” Valentine every year. What better way to court the people I want to work with and remind my current clients how much I appreciate them?!

Anything involving an old typewriter always makes me happy.
I found this charming little image on Etsy… I heart Etsy!!!

I packaged my Valentines in little pink envelopes and sealed them with vintage Valentine seals (again, found on Etsy!).

Won’t you be mine, Valentine?…. er Client?

1 comment » | Process, Uncategorized, Weddings & Events

A Little Faith

January 29th, 2011 — 12:22pm

Today I want to share a project with an inspiring story.
Anni contacted me to create some hand-lettering of “a little faith” for the artwork of her tattoo. Having created a few tattoo designs for myself, I was honored to be involved with such a special project.Anni wanted the phrase to be linked together, as if written in a continuous strand of thread. We explored many different combinations of upper and lower case characters, each one had their own personality. Anni ended up choosing version #1, shown at the top of this page.
And here it is, in the flesh!
I love the strong placement on her forearm.
So exciting to see one’s design so permanently displayed!

Once Anni had chosen her design she kindly wrote to me and explained her personal, and powerful, story behind her tattoo……
… here is a photograph of “A Little Faith”, a beautiful and wild 3 year old Mustang.
In Anni’s words “I adopted her based off of nothing more than a look in her eyes in her picture on the BLM’s website and named her “A Little Faith” or Lily for short. She is the absolute sweetest and most amazing horse, and having her name forever on my arm will be a wonderful way to remind myself that taking chances often pays off! ”
I get chills every time I read this. Anni, thank you for sharing such a beautiful story.
You truly inspire me to make decisions from the heart and to have faith in the outcome!

7 comments » | Hand-lettering & Typography, Process, Uncategorized

Special Delivery!

January 20th, 2011 — 3:57pm

I wanted to share this birth announcement that I created for a friend/colleague. It is inspired by a wedding invitation design that I did, featured in Brides Magazine, last year. The theme was “vintage schoolhouse” printed on old school paper, mounted to old file folders, and packaged in manila envelopes. The look had such an old fashioned sweetness about it… also perfect for a birth announcement!
On the front of the envelopes I silkscreen printed my stork illustration and found the perfect use for my vintage “Special Delivery” labels.

On the back of the envelopes I played with the same “schoolyard song” as I had for the wedding invitations, only taking it a bit further… first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes…. Jameson!
I had so much fun creating schoolbook-like illustrations and hand-lettering. Using a clock for the time of his birth, a scale for his weight, and a ruler for his length measurement. I like how the parent’s names cradle each side of my baby Jameson illustration.

5 comments » | Birth Announcements, Hand-lettering & Typography, Illustration, Portfolio Archives, Process

Stencil Love

January 5th, 2011 — 10:40pm

The holidays were quite hectic, hence my lack of posting! However, there was still much joy to be found in the simple things; a warm fire, a good meal, and a stencil machine! My boyfriend recently borrowed this beautiful machine and we’ve been stenciling ever since!

I love the look and feel of this machine… the smooth and heavy movement of the wheel to select your letter/character and the powerful sound it makes as you lower the handle and punch through the paper. It thrills the Luddite in me!

May 2011 be a peaceful and prosperous year for all of us, filled with joy and inspiration…. and much more frequent blogging!

Comment » | Hand-lettering & Typography, Process, Uncategorized

Back to top