Friday, July 18, 2014

NEW Super Hoot Original Collages

Super Hoot is debuting 4 brand NEW mixed media collages today, all alphabet-inspired and ready-to-hang in your baby's nursery, child's room, playroom or any fun family space! Shop original artwork at Super Hoot now!

M Is For Monster • © Jane Smith
C Is For Cupcake • © Jane Smith
How totally perfect are these Super Hoot collage in a playroom?!
B Is For Butterfly • © Jane Smith
R Is For Rocket • © Jane Smith
Don't the on bright colors on these Super Hoot collages just pop?!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Doggies & Kitties: Celebrating Pets

Doggies & Kitties • © Jane Smith

Doggies & Kitties Coordinating Repeat • © Jane Smith

Doggies & Kitties Coordinating Repeat • © Jane Smith

I love doggies & kitties! • © Jane Smith

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Pretty Princesses

Every girl is a pretty princess inside! How totally cute would my princess artwork be on kids puzzles, placemats, wall art & more?! Cheers!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Super Star Interviews: Laura Huliska Beith

Welcome to my monthly interview feature! I’m so excited to be interviewing all the fabulous artists, illustrators and designers I’ve meet over the years (both personally and virtually!) and sharing their artwork and experiences here on Bird Meets Worm. Look for a new interview on the first Tuesday of every month.

This month I am thrilled to be catching up with the fabulous Illustrator, Laura Huliska Beith! I first came across Laura’s artwork while working as an Art Director at Intervisual Books, who published the classic childhood favorite, Ten Little Ladybugs, illustrated by Laura. More recently, though, I was Laura’s classmate in Lilla Rogers’ Make Art That Sellse-course—so fun! Laura is a freelance Illustrator living with her husband and three dogs in Kansas City, Missouri. She grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, where her siblings were the inspiration behind her first picture book, “The Book of Bad Ideas” (although she takes full credit for Bad Idea #143). She has since illustrated many books including “The Recess Queen" by Alexis O’Neill, and most recently "Little Red Hot" by Eric Kimmel. Her work has also led to teaching at the Kansas City Art Institute, children’s art workshops, presentations at elementary schools, and several community art projects. You can enjoy more of Laura’s fabulous artwork here! And her books here!

The Adventures of Granny Clearwater and the Little Critter

Q: You’ve illustrated many gorgeous children’s books, but recently you’ve illustrated something a little bit different: the children’s book app, Wake Up World. Dish with us about how this project was both similar and different from a traditional book project.

A: Ooooh, this was such fun to work on! What made it most fun (and different) was thinking in terms of movement and making stationary elements come to life. Many of the illustrations were painted traditionally, then scanned and put on several Photoshop layers—objects came with extra painted parts that could be swapped out to create the illusion of movement. I worked closely with a fantastic art director and programmer and they were magically able to put those parts into motion...and were very open any ideas I had.

It was the same as working on a book in terms of thinking about a "story", flow, and how one image would lead into the next.

Q: Before freelancing fulltime, you spent several years working in-house at Hallmark. How did that experience influence and shape the career you have today?

A: Working at Hallmark was an amazing experience for me! I'd almost describe it as graduate school, and my greatest teachers were my co-workers. I was lucky to be able to immerse myself in those creative surroundings for 9 years and 51 weeks. ;-). The resources were amazing—the library, the art supply room, and a place called the "Rice Center" that had a ceramics facility, wood shop, and print shop. Hallmark was also great at bringing in top-notch speakers and designers to help inspire us (we saw Maira Kalman speak, among others).

I think what helped me prepare for a career in children's books was learning how words and pictures go together on a page. I also learned how to communicate with art directors, editors, and artists from other disciplines. What it didn't prepare me for was the sticker shock at the cost of art supplies—I had been spoiled!

Hello, Yeti Bear!

Q: I love your dimensional artwork, particularly your yeti gentleman plushie! Tell us all about him—who he is, where he came from in your imagination and what project he is part of.

A: Oh, thank you! I call this little guy a "Yeti Bear". He was a gift for my good pal Sarah Walsh (of the MATS class and Lilla Rogers’ group!) and her new baby, Finn. Since Finn has such amazingly creative parents, I knew I couldn't make a regular ol' "Teddy Bear" for him—this bear had to be special and have a sense of humor.

So having specific people in mind for this project helped me imagine the finished product. Most of my 3 dimensional art is made for a specific person or as a donation/auction item.

Q: You have two distinctive portfolios—one for children’s work and one for editorial work. Chat with us how each of your styles evolved and how you’ve marketed each individually.

A: Ok, this is a great question because I am still trying to find my voice as an illustrator.
I should probably re-categorize my website because I'm not sure any of my work is "editorial" or "conceptual".

The work that I'm labeling as "editorial" is really just personal, narrative work....they are pieces that illustrate a single moment in time, and therefore allow me to experiment a bit. The children's book work is very much driven by the story, characters within the story, and the unfolding of time... so it involves a slightly different approach and way of thinking. Last year I found myself needing a kick in the pants to re-invigorate my art so I took the MATS class with Lilla Rogers (and you!). I re-discovered design and color, and was inspired by SO MANY talented designers and illustrators! Since that class I've been able to push my personal work and pay more attention to the ways I was using design and color in my book work.

As far as marketing, I have been very lucky to be represented by MB Artists (previously HK Portfolio) for many years now. Beyond that, I have marketed through such venues as Workbook, Folio Planet, the I-spot, and social media.

Deja Food—so lush, lovely & delicious!

Q: You teach illustration at your alma mater, the Kansas City Art Institute. What advice do you give your students about how to create a successful career as a freelance illustrator?

A: Ingredients for a successful freelance career:

• One part self-starter. (You gotta show up at the drawing board!)
• Two parts hard worker. (It takes work—sometimes work that you're not initially paid for—to help create opportunities. Once you have those opportunities, give the client more than they ask for up front and it will save loads of time down the road.)
• Three parts persistence (Never give up—you can take a breather, but don't give up.)
• Add a bucket of humility. (Listen to criticism/feedback)
• Mix with a lifetime of curiosity. (Continue to take classes, attend workshops, try new things, embrace technology, and weave life experiences into your art—and, as Lilla would say, do what you love!)
• Light a candle for good luck.

Talent and creativity are a given—but many people are talented and creative. It's the willingness to stick with it, evolve, and create mounds of work (some of it really crappy), as well as look for and make your own opportunities that will eventually pay off.  Also, keep in touch with your classmates—we can all help each other!

Laura's mural painted at the North Kansas City Public Library!

Q: What are you working on now? And what can we expect to see from you in the future?

A: A few projects in the works right now:
• Creating murals for the children's section of the North Kansas City Public Library. (2 of 4 rooms are completed.)
• Working with a writing partner on elementary education story-creating workshops.
• Crafting manuscripts and book dummies for my own picture book projects. Hopefully, those published books are what you'll see from me in the future!!

Thank you for chatting with us here on Bird Meets Worm, Laura! It was a pleasure!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The BEST Exhibiting-at-Surtex Advice

Welcome to Bird Meets Worm! Usually, on the first Tuesday of the month I share an interview with a fabulous artist/illustrator/designer. However, this month, in lieu of my usual monthly blog interview, I'm posting the BEST tidbits of exhibiting-at-Surtex advice from 10 smart, talented and very superstar artists, whose booths I got to enjoy at Surtex 2014. I had an amazing time at my Surtex debut and I couldn’t have done it without an immense amount of love, support, and yes, advice from so many generous artists. So today I’m sharing, celebrating and paying it forward! Hooray!

Me, Super Jane, on set-up day, getting ready!

1) Put your I-love-to-talk-to-everyone face on. It's so important to be active in your booth. If passers-by show the slightest bit of interest in your booth, strike up a conversation and give them a card. You never know! 
Abby Zweifel

2) It helps to have support at the show. I arrived at Surtex by myself—but knowing that my friend would be coming in Saturday afternoon to help me finish my set-up, go to dinner with me, spend the night and help me for the first part of the first day did more for me than I realized at the time. Even just 'knowing' that she would be there calmed my fears and gave me self-confidence. Another friend came in on Sunday through Monday afternoon, shoring me up even more—leaving me pumped-up and so sure of myself and my work that I sailed through the remaining time on my own. 
Kim Moulder

3) Although your entire booth design is important, the panels by the aisle are the first things most people see as they walk down the aisle. Put something eye-catching there, such as bold art or attractive product, to get the attention of people passing by.
Lauren Minco

My table laid out with portfolio books, postcards, business cards, sample postcards and notepads!

4) I would recommend 'indexing' your work for quick reference. A lot of the people visiting your booth are on a time limit and don't have all day to thumb through every piece of art that you brought (even if they want to), so I did a few pages of thumbnails. On the thumbnail pages, I had the names of each piece and numbered them all, and then I numbered the back of all of the collections. This helped me be able to quickly reference pieces to show. For instance: if someone dropped in for Christmas art, I could quickly page through my print-outs and find just the Christmas pieces, instead of them having to flip through children's art or florals or whatever else that they were not interested in.
Tracy Mattocks

5) Make sure you say hello to every person who walks by your booth. Surtex is so visually overwhelming that it’s easy to fall into a “tradeshow daze”. A simple greeting does wonders to snap people out of this. It encourages them to stop and look at your booth (and then hopefully your portfolio.) I can’t tell you how many connections I made this way.
Dana Garczewski

6) 1. Try and have a near death flight experience the day before like I did—it will completely remove all stress about Surtex! 
2. Have a good, organized system for collecting all your leads effectively for follow-up. We had a form with questions, and attached the person’s business card also, and that worked fab!
3. If eating healthy is important, then eat here, it is close enough to go for lunch, but also could be good for picking up meals before and after the show too. They had everything!
4. Wear comfy shoes! I wore my comfiest flat boots, and still had aching feet for days afterwards!
Karma Voce

Posing with my Woodland Critters and Singing Log on the final day.

7) Be yourself! And be nice!
Kate Austin

8) Try and reach out to as many exhibitors as you can at the show while you are RIGHT THERE. Everyone is very warm and receptive and it is a unique club of lovely artist exhibitors.
Valerie Hart

9) It's hard to whittle down everything I learned from Surtex into one tip—In fact,I did a recap post of several things I learned here. But, something I did not include in that post, and that I would like to share with the Super Jane readers, AND that I think is probably THE most important tip is: Pre-Show Marketing. I didn't do such a hot job of this, and boy do I wish I would have. Take a significant amount of time a couple of months prior to the show to target companies you would love to meet and work with. Send them marketing materials and samples of your work. Try to get meetings set up with them. My neighbor at the show, Victoria Johnsondid a good job of this (also her first year) and it was obvious from day one as her booth was jumping right out of the gate!
Sarah Ehlinger

I love my booth! So fabulous!

10) My top Surtex tip is to take ALL the tips to heart! Comfortable shoes, yep. Keep snacks handy, check. Meet your neighbors (they'll be great!), definitely. Bring a buddy to help out at the booth (even if it's part time), sure. Take everyone's advice. My personal 2¢? Take the time to do some press kits and put them in the press area. I definitely had a few people who came to the booth because of mine. Totally worth it!
Kimberly Ellen Hall

And lastly, here’s MY best tip for exhibiting at Surtex:

When it gets overwhelming and you are second-guessing pretty much everything – yourself, your booth design, your outfit, your hotel choice, your fill-in-the-blank – (and it will happen at least once or twice!) take a deep breath and remember that this is part of the LONG game. Your career is not composed of one moment; its all your efforts combined over a long period of time. Which means, you’ll be back! Surtex isn’t something you do once. And when you exhibit next time, you’ll course correct about a million little things and then you’ll learn about a million more that you weren’t ready to learn the first time around. So cheers to all the first time exhibitors! And I can’t wait to see you all again next year! XO