Archive for February, 2010

So with my fifth animal, I’m really trying to focus on personality and cuteness and use the real animal only as inspiration. This is things where are getting to be more challenging. I’m searching the house looking for things as stencils to make the oval to make the pig shape. I used the coffee grinder from our kitchen. I’ve still not using the computer to help with any designing, except to look at these photos. Measuring is all done by hand, no cheating! I’m sticking to it. Otherwise, I’d never learn.


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With my forth animal, I’m much more comfortable so I can focus on giving the animals more personality like with Mr. Tree Frog here. I can start creating my own sense of animal style.

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My third animal sketch, box turtle. As you can see, I’m becoming more comfortable with the foam. I’m trying to use the foam shapes that already exist to create the animal parts so I don’t have to cut them. This is where my memory of pieces comes in handy. The only piece I had to cut was the pink piece. And now I’m also working on cuteness factor.

One of the most challenging things about the foam is I can’t really control the foam color. The animals I have done so far have mainly be monochromatic and you have see how colorful they have been. I’m not sure what is going to have when I have come hit my tri-color animals.

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My second completed animal, the hippopotamus. I was going to post an animal once a week as I complete them but I am working alot faster that I thought I would be so I’ll just post them as I complete them. This might be hard to believe, but this hippo was freaking hard to do complete technique-wise. I hard the worst time trying to cut these damn green and purple circles on the fly. The little blue ones were already cut out. Eventually I did draw out the circle first then cut them because I was wasting so much material. The purple foam was really hard to cut smoothly because it’s sticky on the back so it’s easier for kids to apply to paper. Maybe next time I’ll buy the unsticky kind.

When I look my hippo I laugh because I think something like that looks like it should have taken only a few minutes to do, when really it took a whole day to to complete. Looks can be deceiving.

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I finished my first animal, a domestic duck. I did it twice because I wasn’t completely happy with my first one. After I completed my first one, I had to go out and buy more supplies like better scissors and glue because I realized the ones I had weren’t adequate. Working with foam has it’s advantages and disadvantages which I’m learning as I’m working with it.

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When dealing with any new medium, it tends to be overwhelming so I try to be as organized as possible. As with the above photo, I’ve organized the foam shapes into zip lock bags.

As  with the project this is what I have done so far.

1) Bought foam shapes in bulk buckets and organizes and itemized. The reason for this is to gain an intimate knowledge of the items to which will make the animals. I have to know what pieces exist so I know what to put where. I am creating a mental memory of each piece I touch.

2) Organized my old collection of other people’s illustration’s of animal’s. The collection that I had used as a crutch for my designs, rather than for inspiration.

3) Collected realistic photos of animals that will be used for sketching and illustration.

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As I have been saying over and over, business has been slow. In a way, it’s good because this gives me time  to reflect over the past two years and try to improve as an artist. I know what has been my best sellers and worst sellers. What products I’ll bring back and what will disappear. As for the designs, what really sold the best in my couture line were my animal designs. Which is fantastic because I love animals so for my upcoming spring/summer seasons, I’m going to focus my energy on creating an animal kingdom collection.

As the designer of this business, I’ve been mostly an art director. I spend most of my time deciding an overall concept and themes for the season. Then I research, research, and research. I find images, colors, photos, and illustrations that go with my concept. Usually I only stick with vintage and old research materials so I don’t have to worry with copyright issues. Because in the next step, with the images I like, I break those down into the most basic of form so I can turn them into block printable images. If I don’t find what I need in photos, I’ll take the photos myself. If I don’t find what I need in images, I’ll create them myself. If I don’t find what I need in illustrations, I’ll buy the rights from other illustrator’s works to use their work. I don’t have any problem with that. As an art director, I take pride in noticing the work of other designers and adding it to my collection.

I’ve never been much of an illustrator, I’ve always be much more of a collage artist. I’m more of a gatherer and collector of other people’s images, rather than a creator of my own. I think it’s because I didn’t draw much when I was a kid. I was always shy about drawing because I didn’t like the way it looked when I drew so I never did. I didn’t take my first real drawing class until the age of 25; so I’d say I was a late bloomer when it comes to drawing. My natural instinct with visualization doesn’t come instinctually with drawing as it does with other designers.

I’ve learned over the years that my brain can quickly deconstruct an image in seconds, but it takes weeks to fill a blank page. It has to work from something. What I realize is if I’m going to have my own animal kingdom I can’t rely on other artist’s renditions of animals, I need to come up with my own. I have to force myself to learn how to illustrate the way my brain knows how. I can create my own animals, I have before for other projects, but nothing on this grand scale.

I figured I’d start from the beginning; Think back from when I was a kid and remembered making things without doubt. Foam shapes came to my head. I can sketch with foam shapes! They will give me a basic visually vocabulary on which to start. So I don’t have to start with a completely blank canvas, they give me something to construct with.

Here’s my challenge. Each week (or two) create an animal without the use of the computer. The animals listed are in alpha order not necessarily the order they will be completed. Bee, Cat, Cow, Deer, Dog, Duck, Elephant, Frog, Giraffe, Goldfish, Hippo, Koala, Lion, Monkey, Owl, Panda Penguin, Pig, Rhino, Tiger, Turtle, Whale.

Each week I will post my progress on each foam animal and my growing foam animal kingdom.

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