I haven’t shared my drawings from the sketchbook for a while, so I want to do that today. (By the way, I share my drawings often on Instagram if you want to see my artwork more regularly :))
But I have to confess first. I haven’t been making a lot of art for fun lately… 😦
I had a client commission work that took a lot of my time and energy before I left for my 10-day silent meditation retreat, and before that all I did was marketing and promotion for my business!!
I know they’re all necessary and important to grow my business. And I’m learning that things come in waves and phases, so some days I do more marketing and other days I do more creative things.
I get hard on myself when I spend more time on business-y stuff and don’t make time for personal creative work regularly.
It makes me question, “What am I doing?? Why am I not making art all the time??” But that’s just how it is sometimes especially when you’re at the beginning stage of building a business, running the show by yourself. I try to be more patient with myself and try to enjoy the learning process of making my dream come true.
Anyway, I did manage to create some fun drawings and hope you enjoy them!
By the way, out of the cat face doodles came the cat dad Father’s Day card below 🙂
Along with the lack of personal creative time and energy, I was feeling kind of discouraged about my creative business – wondering if I was cut out for it and if I would see any success – making a living doing what you love is really hard!!
And then I went to see Lisa Congdon at her Joy of Swimming book reading in Seattle at the end of May and was totally inspired by her talk ❤ I came home with renewed energy and more confidence to keep working towards my big goal. So I doodled this the next day.
I’m trying to focus more on my art products this year, and my goal is release a cohesive new product line every season.
And I’m excited to tell you that my Eat a Rainbow summer product line will launch on Sunday May 1!!
I love sharing my behind the scenes creative process with you, so I’m going to share bits and pieces of my new art product line in the coming month.
When I decided the art product was going to be my new goal this year, it was already mid-winter and was too late to produce and market anything for the spring. So I decided to start with creating new products for this summer.
My first step when I start something new is to educate myself on the subject matter as much as possible. So I read a bunch of articles and watched webinars about making successful product business.
You probably already know this, but starting a product business is expensive!! You have to make an up-front investment in inventory and supplies, and it can take a few years for you to actually profit from your sales. Yikes.
I don’t believe in debt and since I’m still learning, I decided to start small and invest in paper products (e.g. art prints and notecards) for the summer season. Prints and cards are not as expensive to produce as compared to other products like mugs and bags, and you can expect a higher profit margin.
I also learned that you need to be on top of your schedule for your product launch and promotion and you need to start designing and producing your products waaaay early. Like, I need to be thinking about fall and winter holidays now. But it’s not even summer yet!!!
That unseasonal aspect of the product business feels very awkward to me, but I gotta start somewhere and am willing to try! So I put the tentative dates and reminders for my product designs, promotion, and launch on my Google calendar for the rest of the year. I’m so patting myself on the back for that one!
Once I made a decision about what kinds of products to create, I worked on creating a cohesive theme for the products. I did some research to find out the visual trend for this summer, especially for stationery and surface design. Which I must say was not very easy to find for some reason.
I thought someone must’ve created a list of themes that are hot this summer, but I didn’t find anything that was so simple or easy. I guess nothing is easy when it comes to learning?
But one website I found based in the U.K. did mention urban gardening/homesteading theme is one of the more popular themes this year (hasn’t it been kind of popular for the past few years, though? Maybe it’s different for different counties…?), so I decided to tackle that theme for my summer art products.
I’m a gardener, and as you know, I love anything related to food 🙂 Summer is the time for abundant vegetable production, and why not celebrate it with art??
When I was designing for the summer product line, I had many ideas. Simple line drawings, fun veggie-related puns (though I’m bad at coming up with puns…), vintage seed packet designs etc. But I was particularly inspired by the beautiful food gradient art by Wright Kitchen.
I was introduced to her website a few months ago and have been following her beautiful food photography on Instagram. Her art is absolutely stunning!! Definitely follow her feed if you’re looking for delicious eye candy!!
So anyway, I started drawing and sketching some of my favorite summer vegetables in watercolor, gouache, and my favorite Micron pen.
And then I scanned my drawings in to create several fun compositions digitally in Photoshop.
I named the series Eat a Rainbow, and I imagined my colorful art prints hanging in someone’s kitchen or dining room, where they’re going to be cooking and enjoying the meals made with fresh vegetables with their family and friends 🙂
My Eat a Rainbow summer product line will launch on May 1, 2016 on my Etsy shop! I’ll be sharing more sneak previews in the coming month, so stay tuned!
Happy April! Wow how time flies! I hope you’re adjusting to the seasonal changes OK!
I’ve said this before but when I quit my day job last summer, I thought I was going to have all the time I wanted to make art every day. It turns out there are so many other business-y things I needed to take care of, and sadly making art for the sake of making art had taken a back seat in my life.
I was feeling a little burnt out leading up to my last sabbatical and was worried I was losing my sparks.
So during my sabbatical, I was determined to just relax and make whatever, whenever I felt like it. As a result, I felt rested and spacious. I got to rediscover the joy of making art as a way of relaxation and self-care.
After all, that is what art was to me in the beginning – something that fed my soul, and it can still be that if I created a space for it. I was definitely losing touch with that aspect of art making as I was buried deep in the day-to-day, trying to make my creative business happen. And I really wanted to have it again in my everyday living.
I realize it’s nearly impossible to create art just for fun any more. I’m always thinking about what’s next for my business and how even my fun, “non-work” art can help me achieve my goal.
But I’ve been attempting to restore the balance and making art as part of my daily relaxation practice as well. I’ve been taking time off from my business/admin stuff mid-day or at the end of the day to draw something fun and joyful. Some of them will be part of my portfolio or my future work, and others will just live in my sketchbook.
It’s been so nice to have that space in my life again. I didn’t realize how much I craved it and how good it is for me personally and professionally.
Here are some of my recent drawings from my sketch book! Enjoy 🙂
Do you have a task or two (or five) that you’ve been putting off? You just can’t get motivated to get started for whatever reasons. Maybe it’s too overwhelming, or maybe it’s a boring and time consuming task that you hate.
I created my online portfolio 2 years ago in my Graphic Design certificate program at a local college. It was a requirement to put one together to graduate from the program.
I got a domain name “yukomiki.com” (glad it was still available!) and used the same WordPress template I use for my blog (Twenty Thirteen theme) to create one.
At that time, I was still thinking I wanted to be a designer rather than an artist/illustrator because I didn’t think being the latter was a viable option for me. I believed being a working artist was something reserved for only super talented and special people. I didn’t think I was that person.
But then in my very last class after my portfolio presentation, my instructor saw that art and illustration was my true passion and encouraged me to follow my passion rather than settling to pursue design, which I sort of liked but not really. And just like that, I decided I’d pursue art and illustration more seriously!
So anyway, my portfolio had a bunch of work that were more focused on design projects from school. I’d worked very hard to put it together and was kind of over it when it was done. And left it alone for the past 2 years!! Yikes.
Needless to say, my work has changed since then. But my portfolio still had a bunch of old logo designs and wedding invitation designs which I didn’t really want to do any more.
Because I was feeling kind of embarrassed about my outdated portfolio, I hid it deep inside my website and didn’t really promote it for a long time.
I was making more work but did’t bother to update my portfolio for so long. I would post my new work on my social media so I figured, people can just find my work there, right? Or go to my Etsy store to see my new products, yes?
I also didn’t like the fact that my website and portfolio (and my blog for that matter) all lived at a different place – my website is self-hosted vs. my portfolio and blog are hosted on WordPress.com. I do my own design for the website (html and css all the way!) but use the template for WordPress for blog and portfolio because my coding skills are pretty limited.
I’ve been wanting to do an overhaul and get everything on one platform and thought that would be a good time for me to update the portfolio all together. But that’s a huge task and I haven’t gotten around to it. And when I realized I didn’t have a clear timeline for it, I just didn’t want to wait any longer.
So the other day, I went into my portfolio site and spent a couple hours getting rid of old categories and pages and just made one simple page where you can see a bunch of my new work.
I kept the same WordPress theme (Twenty Thirteen, same as this blog) to keep a somewhat consistent look. And I used their portfolio feature with square grid to organize the page to keep it clean and simple.
I chose pieces that show my current style and focused on work that I’d like to do more of. It’s a place for people to find more curated work of mine rather than seeing different bits and pieces on social media.
It’s still work in progress but at least my work is fresh and I don’t feel so embarrassed about it any more 😀 Since I got rid of a bunch of pages and categories, adding new work will be a lot easier, too, and that should make it easier for me to keep it updated!
You can visit my updated illustration portfolio here if you’re interested! I hope you enjoy what you see.
You might have noticed I use Koi Pens a lot in my drawings. These are just a few examples:
I started using them after seeing my favorite artist Lisa Congdon use them. Many of her drawings are so colorful and lovely and made me want to try them, too!
Here are 6 reasons why I love drawing with Sakura Koi Brush Pens!
1. Beautiful Colors
Koi Pens come in 48 brilliant colors! I first started with their 12 color set and gradually added more colors I wanted to try. My local art stores carry the sets but not individual pens, so I just bought additional individual colors online on Sakura’s website, which was sort of a pain, but not terrible.
And then when Sakura approached me to be their guest Instagrammer last year, they sent me a very nice care package of awesome art supplies, which expanded my collection.
They’ve sent me the 48 color set recently (Merry Christmas to me!!) and I love trying them all.
When you get their 48 color set, it comes with the card stock insert you can see in the picture above. The back of the insert doubles as a handy color chart!
One morning, I had a lot of fun filling in the chart with all their pretty colors 🙂 You can also create your own color chart pretty easily.
Color chart is nice to have especially when you have so many different colors to play with! Some colors are not exactly the same as the color of the cap, so the color chart can help you see what it actually looks like on paper.
Some of the colors I use A LOT in my drawings are: Light Cool Gray, Ice Green, Peacock Green, Light Sky Blue, Fresh Green, Pale Orange, and Naples Yellow.
These are all pretty subtle colors and I use them often to blend and layer with other colors.
2. They blend and layer nicely.
Speaking of blending and layering, they’re transparent and you can easily create your own colors much like watercolor.
I often layer 2 or 3 colors to create different colors and add depth to my drawings. To do so, I often draw with the lighter colors first and layer darker colors on top. You can see the example from a drawing tutorial I created last year.
I don’t typically do this, but you can also blend the colors together by using watercolor brush and water or their colorless blender pens.
3. They’re odorless.
I didn’t even think about this until I reviewed their product information more in depth to write this post, but Koi Pens are water-based and odorless. Which is a good thing because I’m pretty sensitive to smell and some art supplies with odor give me a headache.
I definitely have a better drawing experience when the materials don’t make me sick! 🙂
4. Flexible tip
Though this is not exactly like using a brush, it does allow some flexibility and you can change the thickness of your brush strokes somewhat by adjusting the pressure you add to the tip.
When you first start using it, it’ll be a little stiffer so it’ll be easier to draw fine lines. As you use it more, you’ll break them in and the tips will be more flexible.
The tips do become a little flared with more use, and making fine details may become difficult. If you want to keep it fine, you might just want to get two of the same color and try to designate one for fine tip and the other for medium/bold.
One of the reasons why I love the Koi Pens so much is because it’s so portable. When you’re drawing with these, there is no need to set up – you just grab what you need and the way we go!
I have a little zip pouch I carry my favorite micron pens and koi pens in when I’m out and about so if I have some extra time, I can draw and sketch anywhere. I’ve never had any issues with leakage either while I’m carrying them around.
6. No Clean-UpNecessary
Unlike using paints and brush, there is no need for clean-up afterwards!
As a busy artist, this is a great news. I know often people want to have a consistent art practice but are discouraged by the hassles of set-up and clean-up. With these Koi pens, set-up is as easy as grabbing your pens and there is no mess to clean up afterwards!
Even if you make a mess or get some on your hands, it’s easy to clean up with water/soap because they’re water-based.
I didn’t think markers would be my go-to medium before, but these Koi Pens had totally changed my view on markers and broadened my artistic horizon!
If you’re looking for new and fun drawing tools, definitely give them a try!