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Le Renard et Le Chat

My first job after college was working as an editorial assistant for a children’s book publisher. As an illustration major, working on children’s books was my dream and there seemed to be no better way to learn about the business. As my career progressed, I migrated towards surface pattern and product design but I never forgot about my first aspiration.

Last year I had the chance to illustrate a children’s book and it’s finally out on the market! The French publisher Thomas Jeunesse saw my existing fox character and I asked if I would be interested in illustrating this retelling of the classic Aesop fable. They were wonderful to work with and I’m so happy with how everything turned out. Below is a sketch and the finished art from the first page of the book.


Welcome Dax

I had my first child in March. Like any illustrator, I wanted to create an original piece of art for the nursery. I knew I wanted it to have a travel theme and I knew I wanted there to be animals. But with so many projects to wrap up I never had a chance to work on the piece before the baby came.

I started sketching while I was in the hospital waiting for the baby to arrive. I liked my drawing of a bear and a bunny in a hot air balloon, but where should they be flying? Over a city, a country landscape, a fair, a park? I didn’t know how to finish the scene until I met my baby.

It turns out we had a boy (the gender was a surprise to us) and we named him Dax Christopher. Christopher is my favorite boy’s name and Dax was my husband’s choice. He saw it in a baby name book and like it right away. I needed time to think it over. I tended to like longer names. But I started to come around once I found out what the name meant.

Dax is a city located in the Aquitaine region of France. My husband has French ancestry and a French last name. Furthermore, Dax has a historical association with water. It was part of the Roman aqueduct system. At one point it was referred to as Acqs, d’Acqs and was later shortened to Dax. As a civil engineer, my husband specializes in water projects so this name was doubly fitting.

It is somewhat unconventional so we were a bit hesitant to pull the trigger. However after meeting our son, it suits him perfectly and I couldn’t imagine any other name for him.

So in the end, where should the bear and bunny go? To Dax, France of course.


Tis the Season: Holiday Cards

In May of 2014, I exhibited at a trade show called Surtex. The objective of this show is to connect artists with art directors who may want to license their artwork. The show was a huge undertaking for me and really jumpstarted my business.

As a follow up to that post, I wanted to share one of my most recent projects with you. For a little over year, I have been working with a company called Mpix. Mpix offers a well-curated collection of stationery and gift products (all made in the USA). I’ve done birthday party invitations, growth charts, and birth announcements with them. And recently they introduced my holiday cards and accordion mini books. They sent me samples and the print quality is gorgeous. There is nothing more exciting than seeing your art on a finished product!



Wine Tasting in the Azores

My husband and I traveled to the Azores for our honeymoon. It’s a bit of a hidden destination as not everyone has heard of them. They are a group of nine islands in the Atlantic Ocean about 850 miles off the coast of Portugal. If you live in the Boston area, it’s an easy five hour direct flight on SATA to the capital island of Sao Miguel.

We spent a few days in Ponta Delgada (which is the capital city) but spend most of our time on the island of Pico. We choose this island for different reasons. My husband wanted a remote, tranquil destination with lots of natural beauty. And I wanted to see the wine region.

Knowing that Pico’s vineyards became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004, I was expecting a well-established tourism operation. However this was not the case. One individual explained to me that the interest in Azorean wine is so new that they haven’t figured out how to handle the tourists yet. On the whole, Pico is so refreshingly undeveloped and untouristy. At times we felt like we had the whole island to ourselves (which is perfect for a honeymoon).

You can walk or drive the Vinhas da Criação Velha which is a small road that goes through the vineyards. Since Pico is a volcanic island the abundance of black lava rock was used to make walls. But in order to taste the wines you have to go to one of two places, Adega A. Buraca or the Wine Cooperative.

Upon hearing our interest in wine tasting the hosts at our stone rental cottage were kind of enough to make us reservations at Adega A. Buraca. It’s located on the north shore just outside the town of Sao Roque. The owners took us to one of the most beautiful tasting rooms I’ve even seen and served us a lunch of local breads, cheeses, and sausages paired with wine and liquer. During the meal we had a little friend stop by who was happy to take my place.

Compared to other tastings I’ve been to there wasn’t much in the way of an explanation. We were served a red wine and a white wine. The barrel in the back corner of the room was filled with several liqueurs and we choose 4 to try; tangerine, blackberry, passion fruit, and pineapple. After our tasting we were shown around the facility where the wine and liqueurs are made and the last stop was the winemaking museum.

We dropped into the Wine Cooperative on a different day and luckily arrived just in time for tasting in English. (It’s typically recommended to make reservations in advance.) This was a more a traditional tasting in that a guide explained each of the wines to us and gave us some background on the wine region in general. We tried three traditional Azorean wines, which included two types of Lajido and one Angelica. They’re all white wines and are pretty rich and sweet. While they sell other wines, they do not offer any others for tasting.

I will end this post with a restaurant recommendation. If you are in Ponta Delgada, stop by Reserva, which is a cozy little tapas and wine bar. It’s a bit hard to find (it’s behind another restaurant called Roberto’s). They must have over 100 bottles on wine on hand but the waiters are all super knowledgeable and can help you choose the right one. We had the Pedra Basta Red from Rui Reguinga and it was completely amazing. 


Woodland Romance Wedding Invitations

More than a gorgeous white gown or a shiny diamond ring, I’d always looked forward to designing my own wedding invitations. This spring I got my chance. My husband and I were married in May at a New Hampshire country inn.

The detail-orientated designer in me insisted on a cohesive theme. Inspired by my husband’s love of animals and our choice of venue we went with woodland romance. Luckily my style of illustration suited the playful, relaxed, intimate vibe we wanted the celebration to have. We sent out this save the date in the winter.

I believe that the wedding suite sets the tone for the event. We knew our wedding celebration would be a little unconventional (and we weren’t going to have a wedding website) so the invitation would have to play an even more important role. 

The sheer amount of information ruled out a flat card. Choosing a folding card format was the easy part. The initial concept was not. So and so requests the pleasure of your company… just wasn’t us. Nor do I have a hip, irreverent sense of humor. I struggled with the cover page until my husband suggested (in a somewhat exasperated manner) that I draw a picture of a bear holding a sign that read “Please come.”

And suddenly I could see the entire piece with great clarity. Illustrating a scene that was an extension of our save the date was a much better solution. I drew the sketch immediately and not much changed in the final illustration 

Since we didn’t have any names on the cover, we decided to list them as a dramatis persona format on the second page. This appealed to me because it also avoided the whole order-of-names-as-code-for-who-paid-for-the-wedding thing.

What we wanted most was to avoid having the wedding go by in one big, frenzied blur. We wanted the time to say more than “hello” and “thank you” to each of our guests. So we made two decisions; we kept the guest list (relatively) small and we made it a weekend celebration. The festivities started on Thursday and ended on Sunday.

We didn’t expect everyone to be there for the whole thing but to encourage people to come for more than a day we held the wedding ceremony Friday afternoon (followed by a BBQ) and a more formal wedding reception Saturday night. All of this meant we needed a timeline for our guests to give them a sense of how we envisioned the weekend. We ended the invitation short statement explaining why we were doing things this way.

I’m happy to say the invitations were very well-received and we had a near perfect turnout for the wedding. Our characters made a few more appearances on the table signs, escort cards, and thank you notes.