For those who exercise, you (probably) go through a warm up before you start on your workout. This activity transcends physical activity, however, and extends to mental ones as well. A sketchbook is the perfect place to get ~ready~ to illustrate and try out new techniques. Julie Hamilton does just this with her collage sketchbook. Under the hashtag #sketchbook_studies, she cuts out paper of different colors and shapes, arranging them into various combinations that range from figurative to abstract. In each collage, Julie’s trusty pair of scissors is her paintbrush—just like Matisse—which gives her images a bold, angular appearance.
It seems forever ago when I first featured the embroidery hoop art of Sarah K. Benning (it was 2015!). Since then, the nomadic contemporary embroiderer has created a myriad of other works, all of which revolve around people, plants, and interiors. She’s also hosted workshops and participated in gallery shows, in addition to creating a popular pattern program; known as #SKBDIY, each month she introduces a new DIY pattern that’s available on Etsy.
I’ve talked before my love for illustrated animal totems. I think, partially, it comes from a childhood fascination I had with my mom’s miniatures that she kept displayed old printer drawers. Through her online shops, Emily Rose Thomson crafts similarly tiny creatures you can hold in the palm of your hand. Sloths, camels, foxes, and more are hand-sculpted and adorned with repeating patterns and my favorite—tiny pillows and other colorful packs.
You know how there’s the hashtag #TBT? (If you’re not in the know, it means Throw Back Thursday.) Anyways, it’s basically an excuse to post vintage photos and other things from long ago. I’ve always enjoyed it, but never participated… until now. I thought it’d be fun to take a look back at illustrations from the past century, with a specific focus on women illustrators. First up is my all-time favorite, Mary Blair.
Maggie Chiang (previously) remains as one of my favorite contemporary illustrators. Her work is technically beautiful and conceptually intriguing—particularly when she delves into sprawling landscape illustration. The abstract horizons leave much to the imagination as figures contemplate what’s ahead. These spaces, no matter desert or forest, permeate her imagery—even when it comes to portraiture. This dedication to spaces both near and far play into Maggie’s larger ideas of her work.
Inspired by flora, fauna, and Victorian shadow puppets, Kate Appleby creates delightful hoop art that combines a variety of stitching techniques. From the basic backstitch to French knots, she illustrates birds with fowl mouths (pun intended) and hands with sprawling leaf tattoos. The embroidery airs towards the side of minimalism, but Kate has an excellent sense of composition and balance that’s informed by her back ground in graphic design.
I’ve got a quick note of house-keeping: I’m phasing out my 7 illustrated product obsessions. You’ll probably see them every so often in the future, but now I’m going to dedicate Fridays to individual shops. It’ll still be an illustrated product-related day, just with more laser focus.
That being said, happy Friday! Doops Design is one of my favorite illustrated clothing shops. I love the bright colors, kooky cacti, and other bold imagery on the shirts, dresses, and tank tops.
The inspiration for Chao Zou‘s paper craft project Forest Smell is the aroma. “My wife sprayed herself with my perfume,” he explains, “who with the [smell] of the forest for all day…” Motif of leaves were his starting point, and Chao layered a variety of plants within the silhouette of a woman. Alone, it’s a compelling image that has an exquisite shadow box effect. Once you know the short backstory, however, it’s a unique love letter.
I want to live in the colorful illustrations of Kiki Ljung. The Paris-based creative crafts vibrant imagery that’s inspired by the natural world—even her illustrations of people are seeping with beautiful blooms on their clothes and in the background. While nature driven, Kiki creates an interesting juxtaposition: her artwork is defined by geometric shapes and digital production. It really symbolizes the world today; that we love the outdoors, but also our devices.
Here’s an interesting combination: polymer (aka oven bake) clay and embroidery. Artist Justyna Wolodkiewicz has fused the two in her latest series of abstract hoop art. Full of color and texture, these pieces use flattened pieces of clay with tiny holes poked in them, which are then attached to fabric. The result is a rich juxtaposition between the smoothness of the clay with the fuzziness of the thread.
This clay embroidery represents a new path for Justyna, who has previously made elaborate polymer clay clocks. You can find it all in her Etsy shop.