An insight from yesterday.
show & tell (blog)
Since 1001 Knights met its minimum funding goal (wow!), I figured I’d share my piece for the project.
Flydhra is an undersea knight with a few barbarian tendencies. Her armor is homemade, pulled together from barnacles, seaweed, coral and seashells. This allows her to blend in with the ocean floor and hide from unexpected enemies. With her blowfish mace, her natural strength and scrappy ingenuity, she can slam through any foe!
When I designed Flydhra (whose name comes from the Old Norse for ‘flounder’), my sketches were loose but weighty– I wanted to play away from typical expectations for undersea dwellers (delicate, mermaid-like, overtly sexy) and also play up my love of drawing more varieties of body-type. After lots of sketches, I made a goofy little drawing with eyes placed like a flounder’s and knew I’d found my knight.
This piece is designed like I would a screenprint, with 4 colors overlaid on top of each other.
Still plenty of time to back 1001 Knights– go to their Kickstarter to learn more!
1001 Knights is a massive 3-volume anthology project focusing on creating people-positive characters with feminist overtones. Over the course of 3 volumes, 250+ artists explore themes about what it means to be a knight and what makes for a strong character through illustration, comics, poetry, and prose. The artists involved have worked long and hard to create meaningful art that will uplift and inspire readers. 1,001 knights will be represented between all 3 volumes, including fictional characters and the contributing artists. In order to make this the coolest and most epic anthology we can dream of, we need your help! All money raised will go towards making the book and compensating the participating artists. 1001 Knights is created & curated by Annie Stoll & Kevin Jay Stanton.
✦✰✠⚔ KICKSTARTER LINK | ALL ARTISTS LINK ⚔✠✰✦
Rise a knight & help us spread the word so we can make this anthology a reality!
I keep a folder of personal writing to help me grow as an illustrator. On a particularly aimless moment in 2013, I wrote a manifesto to better understand what I’m all about, or what I want to be about but might not be there just yet. I hadn’t reread it til today, but I am glad I did. So now I want to share it with you. It’s long, but I didn’t want to break it up. I hope you enjoy. -meg
Making art is probably not key to our survival as human beings; it may not clothe us or protect us from the elements. But it does feed us, and like food it can be nourishing or it can be junk. I despise the idea of contributing to the junk, to be easily consumed and forgotten. It will never last eternally, and I will never work on a magnum opus– that implies I have no more left to give. I must always move forward like a shark; but I should have a mind and heart like an elephant. A tenacious, complex and thoughtful giant willing to attack when it counts.
My work should have heart; it does not have to trumpet loudly a MESSAGE! all the time because some of the most powerful moments are very small and often aren’t noticed unless you’re really paying attention. Sometimes it’s important to elucidate these things no one notices– those details only I notice. These key moments of heart are the showcase of my work. I am fascinated by the world at large as well as the smaller human interactions, by societies and cultures both old and new. I am not interested in riffing on pop culture; it has its own manifesto and pathway. It is important to me that my work builds on concepts, not riffing on a punchline. Pop culture is often too easy to digest and throw away, unless you have a way to connect beyond. I respect it but it’s not for me. There are too many easy jokes, callbacks– I’m in it for a deeper read. I want to find ways to tell stories, push deeper into ideas and connect different weird threads. I want to draw you in close and tell you secrets, ask you to sit with me to spend a moment together, to stir something in you.
Even so, I will always want to think about emotion. Laughter and joy should present themselves in my work, as well as delight. But at the same time, sometimes I want to explore darker or more thoughtful moments– and these ideas should be in my work too. Too much joy is bland and saccharine, artificial and cloying. There needs to be balance to temper it and a willingness to explore things more unexpected. This balance is that heart I am seeking, and I need to find something in the things I make. If I don’t feel delighted by an idea (even a serious one) I must question why? It’s not about having to create a BIG important idea that’s never been seen before, but it should stir something in you (no matter how small) to explore in future work. It’s necessary to explore more than just the most literal, at least initially- sometimes straightforward solutions can serve a purpose but metaphor, puzzles and wordplay can open up new exciting directions.
It is vital to my process to never stop learning and growing. Through experimenting and reflecting, I can learn new ways of seeing. By recognizing that I will be learning throughout my life, the world becomes that much richer and I become its willing pupil. Curiosity is my driving force. The more I ask questions and dig deep, the more honesty I can find, the larger the bounds of my world become. I must listen, engage and be willing to learn from any source. I must accept that I know nothing but the world can teach me everything. I can learn things from exploration as well as education; experimenting leads to ideas, and research leads to remixing, building ideas like towers.
I must look outside the internet for enrichment. I must look outside illustration, find new hobbies, meet new people, travel the world. I must not spend my time, money and resources on things that do not enrich my being.
It’s important to be honest. Honesty and transparency with my peers, with my clients, with my family and my heart will lead to new realizations. I care about this little world I inhabit; I give back to it by teaching these younger versions of myself and my current self in the process. I must be willing to gather up my research and give myself away– I cannot be hard and secretive; I must be willing to let go and show myself. There will always be more ideas, even when I think I have no more inside. Scrape the inside of the bowl and you’ll find a morsel; find those little scraps of kindling to throw them into the dying fire and it’ll build back up.
Process is so much more important in the long run than tangible results. Awards and validation, pats on the head are not why I spend so many hours working and worrying. I am trying to make things in order to understand my limits, understand my world and what I have to say. It’s okay to not be polished all the time, and it’s okay to not know what my life’s mission is. Process will help define this and show me new directions to stretch in.
When I freeze, I must ask myself why and unpack those ideas before moving forward. Failure is not an option, because there is no such thing as true failure. Remember there is nothing to lose in taking a risk; perhaps making an ugly little child, but this experiment might lead to an attractive sibling or cousin later. You can always let it go be something else and move onto new creations. In other words, say ‘fuck it’ to preciousness. Do not worry about good or bad, or about right or wrong. Pithy sentiments are not the point either; you must attack with vigor and reflect after. Be fierce. Look back, look forward, find the rhythm and step back to see where you’ve gone. Forgive ugly work and learn from it. They have lessons to teach you if you’d only listen instead of run away and hide.
It’s different though to say no. Saying no is ruthless yet empowering; say yes to the things that truly matter.
Reacting to my weaknesses is okay; but fixating on my missteps serves no one and is looking at the problem the wrong way. Instead I must look towards solutions and realize I have been given a path to travel; and it is going to be rough and knock me about the head until it starts making sense. But this is the creative process! Better to be knocked about the head than avoiding problems til you’re dead. In the long run, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Well, I’m a little behind on my usual yearly post– but still super enthusiastic for 2016! 2015 was a busy, crazy, and good year– my first picture book came out and was received well; I got to meet many lovely new people, try my hand at a few new skills, travel to Canada again, develop a new class for PNCA and work with some fantastic young illustrators, won a medal, and all along the way worked on some really fun personal and professional projects. It’s been a year of exploration and experimentation. I read an interesting article by Anne Ditmeyer about choosing to think of the new year in terms of themes, not resolutions. I really like this; so I am going to think about 2016 as the year of digging deep and following through. A few goals for 2016:
- Travel more. I was really happy to go to Canada as part of another travel excursion; and I’d love to get some more excuses to travel and work and refill the well.
- Write more. Writing and combining words and ideas can lead to new narratives, worldbuilding, themes to explore. I want to own what I’m passionate about.
- Work on another picture book and maybe some other books/book covers! I am so excited about picture books and I really can’t wait to work on another one and build my picture book skills.
- Find more opportunities for collaboration on product design/packaging. I love making small scale products myself, but I would love to make some bigger and brighter things happen, and collaborate with companies and designers who can make my work even stronger.
- Find balance. I hurt myself a few times this year! I need to improve my physical wellbeing, and also balance things better so I don’t feel like I’m working myself too hard at the expense of personal life. Finding opportunities to outsource, say no, or change my business practices will be helpful.
- Narrow my scope just a skosh. This one’s hard, because I love doing so much stuff– but I am hoping to let go of a few explorations in order to make better quality, focused work.
- Build in more time for personal work, but also loosen up what makes something feel ‘finished.’ Shorter exploratory zines/series of work, simpler information, and so on.
- Deepen my sketchbook practice. I want to draw things I haven’t drawn before, practice more drawing from life, and hopefully build in daily sketchbook time. I miss it.
I can’t wait– let’s make 2016 great guys!
A recent illustration for Planadviser’s December issue. The prompt was ‘going global–’ hence, a global dandelion-fox hunt.
Thanks as always to SooJin Buzelli for the project!
I wanted to share a little more about the full American Express project that got released a few weeks ago! When I got the assignment, I decided I wanted to link the three images together in some way; using the natural cue of the cards’ colors I opted to pan up through a jungle canopy, with hints of mystery and adventure fit in amongst all the lush imagery.
Green starts at the jungle floor; as an explorer walks through the foliage another peeks in the reflection. Moving up into the Gold, a jaguar lounges in the trees while batting at the monkey below. And in the Platinum, we pan up into the canopy where an adventurer reaches a mountain peak with herons soaring overhead.
This was a fun challenge; initially I hoped to have a subtle blend of colors between each card but it was requested to keep each image unique in color, so it was interesting to find ways to keep the transitions feel continuous but still distinct.
Thanks to American Express for the fun project!
Hey Portland! Come brave all that crazy rain this weekend and visit the Oregon Convention Center– it’s time for Crafty Wonderland’s Colossal Holiday Sale! I will be attending my fourth year there and selling zipper pouches, wall hangings, pillows, prints, and other accessories to adorn your life. Come visit me at booth 220, and enjoy your weekend!
@americanexpress commissioned me to reinterpret their iconic cards for social media. Continuing my jungle theme, we move up through the canopy to find the Gold Card. Platinum coming soon!
I got some fantastic news today- this piece ‘Panic’ received a Gold Medal from the Society of Illustrators NY in the in commissioned category. I’m really honored- while I don’t make art to win awards, it feels really good to get recognized for a piece that was personal in nature.
Looking forward to the event in NYC!
Fun project! @americanexpress commissioned me to reinterpret their Green, Gold and Platinum cards for social media– so I am traveling through the jungle for this trio. First up is the Green Card/ jungle floor! #americanexpress #jungle #illustration
Part of a series of illustrations I made for the most recent issue of Runner’s World– all about the mental hurdles runners face in every stage of the race. Thanks to AD Erin Benner for the project!
A recent editorial piece, my first for Hazlitt– the article’s a really interesting one, all about tickling and how it’s often linked to humor but actually is more linked to the body’s responses to fear/panic/death/etc. Really pretty fascinating stuff!
Thanks so much to Anshuman Iddamsetty, my AD– this led to some looser experimental imagery which was very fun to play with!
A quick turnaround personal piece– trying to play with my limited color roots!
Hey everyone! Summer’s been a bit of a tough season but I’m excited for the fall. Trying to gather new freelance projects and fund some fun new projects amidst my teaching practice… so I decided to put up some more art on Inprnt, including a selection of phone cases! (check the fish, monkey, fox and beetle ones)
I hope you enjoy! More fun to come, believe you me. And if any clients want to make some magic, I am ready!