Tuesday, March 26, 2013

More Animal LOVE

Basking Lion doodle (left). Actual Basking Lion (right) from the Franklin Park Zoo.
Here's a mini rewind of the past couple weeks:
  • Unfortunately, The Elephant Listening Project and I did not win the AE Roastery and Tea Earth Day coffee label contest. We'll get 'em next time! Congratulations to the winning Daddy-Daughter team (aww!)
  • A teeny-tiny visit to the MFA (so small in fact, I'm plotting a re-visit for mid-April).
  • I made a brief trip to the Franklin Park Zoo to spy on some of the cool-temp tolerant critters.
The Zoo trip was very brief, due to my sudden spite for the cold weather. It probably didn't help that I lacked a hat and scarf, and had to keep pulling my mittens off to take a picture, or doodle in my sketchbook. I visited for the wildebeest, and I'm planning a return when the zoo "unpacks" the giraffe. Shocked, I was to see Zebras (one of which wasn't even a month old!) and Ostriches, romping around in the New England breeze:

Ostrich and Zebra grazing at the Franklin Park Zoo.
The zoo itself was a bit lonely, which I suppose is to be expected in the middle of March. I did have an uninterrupted chance to peek at some of the finer details the zoo had to offer, so there's a small plus:
Printed and textured cement at the Franklin Park Zoo.
My departure from the zoo was capped off with a 45 minute wait at an unmarked bus-stop and quick trip to the Museum of Fine Arts. Exhaustion took over, so a skipped my planed visit to the Harvard Museum of Natural History. I knew prior to the zoo trip that I wouldn't be able to sneak a peek at a live Giraffe, so I figured taxidermy figure would do just fine! I'll be heading back to Cambridge this weekend with my friend Amber, anyhow. Another trip is in the works for next weekend as well, so I shouldn't miss anything.

Though I didn't win the label contest this past week, I'm still feeling out ways to help out the elephants. I did ask for one (adoption) for my Birthday... multiple times... my friend pointed my attention to another Elephant-related project on Indiegogo. Unfortunately, the funding ends tomorrow, so I'm hoping my mini shout-out to the Elephants Never Forget film project will help in some way:

Even if they don't meet their funding goal, it seems that they're going to go ahead with the project; it's just going to slow down their processing time. I wish them all the best of luck!

Love elephants! Love animals!

Monday, March 25, 2013

My portfolio at a glance

Toys coming to life assignment snippet with my portfolio.
A few weeks have passed (THREE) since going to Ruth's Studio, so I want to be sure to post a THANK YOU to Ruth Sanderson and Denise Ortakales for their portfolio critiques. I feel as though I have a very clear direction for my body of work now. It's refreshing to have some unbiased eyes peeking at my work, outside of the monthly group sessions. Some mini renovations have already taken place on my portfolio space. For curious eyes, below are a few cellphone shots from the day: 

Ruth Sanderson (center in red) browsing our sketches from the assignment.

Assignment sketches spread for quick critique.
The assignment (while we waited and listened in on critiques,) was "lively"... Living toys! I would like to explore the concept a little closer. It was tough to concentrate on drawing upon the assignment while eavesdropping on everyone's critique, but there was a LOT learned from the experience. 

These are the type of events illustrators (and writers in a similar fashion) truly benefit, due to the smaller group size. I feel very fortunate for the invitation to Easthampton. So a big "Thank you very much!" to the New England chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (NE SCBWI).

And SUPER Thank you to Natalie Curtiss for the safe toting me along for the ride!

Thank you! :-)

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Vote for Elephants... and coffee!

Hi everyone!

Out of the BLUE popped this local contest to design a label for an Earth Day-related coffee blend. Relying on Facebook and the social media, A&E Roastery and Tea will is allowing the public to vote on their favorite design. The winning design will be printed, AND $2.00 from every Earth Day Blend bag sold between April & May will be donated to a charity of the artist's choice. Not only that, but A&E Roastery and Tea will match the contribution, so a total of $4.00 per bag sold, will be going towards charity! 

The label I created is based on the concept of GROWTH and "sweet citrus aroma". Featuring flowers made from orange peels and (cut-paper) coffee beans, I paired the arrangement with the bright blue background so that the oranges and yellows really stand out.:

Should I win, charity donations will be going towards The Elephant Listening Project:

The Elephant Listening Project website.
Voting started TODAY. Folks on Facebook will be able to cast a single vote every day until March 15th; that's 9 (NINE) day's of vote'n! So I'm asking for a bit of help. Please "Like" A&E Roastery and Tea Facebook Page for the chance to vote. Voting takes place here, so vote daily if you can! 

Feel free to share-share-share, because a win for me is a win for The Elephant Listening Project... oh and you may "Like" their page as well! ;-)

Business Inspired

Right brain illustration - © Samantha Grenier 2013
Those on Twitter may notice me posting to hashtag #rbbiz. I have been participating in an online video summit run by Jennifer Lee of Artizen Coaching, based on her book the Right Brain Business Plan. Since I have decided to start-up as a cottage industry freelance illustrator, I've been seeking out all visual and inspirational sources to get me psyched up about actually running a small business on my own. Mainly free sources, like the library and Internet browses. Since I've gained so much incite from Jenn & her Creative Cohorts, I think it would be only fair to give her a nod and digital thank-you!

Starting up is scary. I've tried, and re-tried making myself into a mini profitable machine, but my efforts were far too meek to be seen publicly. I've been getting in my own way for years, mainly because I'm terrified about failing.  I'd rather I quietly take my leave, while no one's looking, just to take the edge off the fall. So as I've been modeling my business plan, I've been stuck on the question: What IS my Plan-B? I've been struggling with an exit strategy for a year now, but I kept circling around the same questions: What can I fall back on if I fail? Will I know when to call it "The End"? What is failure to me?

It wasn't until December when I realized that I've been living my exit strategy all the while: Don't quit your day-job. I have a good job and it grows in creative ventures every day. I like being a Graphic Designer; it's a part of me and I don't want that to end. There are times when Day Job work has to come home with me (usually to craft a new project, which I just can't think about while the phone's ringing.) I've been slowly separating "Samantha Greiner, a.k.a Graphic Designer" from "Samantha Grenier, a.k.a. Freelance Illustrator".

Since I'm now aggressively pursing my picture book dreams, I've decided to call it official. I need to supplement my current income, to make up for any potential failings. I'm not making a major financial investment into my start-up. I have been putting a lot of leg-work and mileage into honing my craft and trying to make new network connections, but that's the cost of time. There isn't a LOT of time, since I do put in at least 40 hours every week, but the smaller manageable goals help me budget what time I do have available to spend.

I've gathered all of this from Jenn's video connection and chats; I've had a lot to think about, while participating in the Right Brain Video Summit. I am sitting in on the free-feed, but we're encouraged to share what we've learned. These are some of my biggest take-aways from the first 7 days:

  • The sensation of fear is essentially the same as the sensation of excitement.
  • Look outside of my creative industry (illustration/design) and see how other businesses market and promote themselves.
  • Money is just a number.
  • Find creative cohorts to assist me with the things I'm not so good at (such as bookkeeping, attorney-ing, and web designing).
  • Follow my passion, but do so professionally. Would I really ever show up to work in my pajamas?
  • Zero in on my ideal client and market to this person's needs. If my campaign is too generic/fuzzy, the results will be just the same.
  • Take stretches to push and grow my comfort zone.
  • Celebrate the successes of others. The celebration may be returned someday.
  • Have marketing and press materials on hand - I never know when you'll need it! <-- font="" i="" m="" now="" on="" psst="" these="" working="">
  • And I learned about a slew of resources to help me out with budgeting, time management, and accounting.
I hope this helps others in their pursuits for success. There are 3 more days of the #rbbiz. Sometime between tomorrow and Thursday I will be divulging in some of my more immediate Inspired Actions.

A quick note: If you like my illustration, feel free to use it on your website or blog, but please-please-please give me a note of credit for the work. Thank you!

Sunday, March 03, 2013

An homage to Ms. Potter

Here's a mini Homage to Ms. Potter:

Shelldon the Sulcata Tortoise study sketches - from RISD Live Animal Drawing Session - Feb. 2013

I recently picked up a book of Beatrix Potter's art plates from the library for an inspiration spark. Naturally, I mulled over the book the whole week leading up to a trip to the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) for Christina Rodriguez's Live Animal Drawing sessions. Sketches above are of the Sulcata Tortoise (Shelldon) from the center of my mini collage.

Taxidermy and live animals in attendance at the RISD drawing sessions

I did not bring my watercolors this year. If I had, I doubt they would look much like Beatrix Potter's studies anyhow.


The (blurry) images here are from The Art of Beatrix Potter. The book delves into her life a little bit, but it's mainly a book of plates showcasing her early works, letters and picture book studies. I LOVE Potter's fungi studies! I would have liked to read more from her letters - some are nearly re-typed in the the text, while there are others which are not. I can barely read my own handwriting at times, so I ended up skimming over most of these.

A fantastic sketch and color plate of Peter Rabbit - by Beatrix Potter. From The Art of Beatrix Potter, by E. Linder.
For those curious eyes, I've loaded a few more sketch studies from my trip to Rhode Island School of Design into the Sketchbook page on my blog. They are immediately followed by some of the watercolor renderings from last year's visit to RISD.

I am currently plotting another trip the Harvard Museum of Natural History for some more taxidermy studies. Ideally, I'd like to see the real creatures to see how they more. Internet image searches and YouTube video clips can only get you so far. If anyone has any idea as to where I can find a live giraffe and/or Pancake Tortoise, please let me know.