YEAR IN REVIEW: 2016

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A thousand years from now, what’s left of the human race might acknowledge 2016 as the year of our downfall. Just about everything went wrong: personally, politically, globally…it was a taxing year for all of us and I couldn’t have been more restless about getting to the end.

It can be hard to measure your own success when you’re looking at it day-to-day. Growth and achievement become more obvious when you take a few steps back and look at the year as a whole. So, for that reason, and because I think it’s important to recognize the small victories when life gets weird and hard, here are 10 highlights of my year both professionally and personally:

1.My Instagram exploded. Earlier in the year I talked a little about how Instagram can be a powerful tool for a visual artist and that expanding my reach through the platform was going to be a major focus of mine. In February, I had around 800 followers. By December I had over 12,000. I continue to get a lot of business through Instagram and plan on growing that branch even further in the coming year.

Here’s a peek at some of the pieces I created for my Instagram feed this year:

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2. I started a couple new series for Joie de Vivre Hotels: illustrated packing lists and illustrated city tours. Because we were doing similar pieces for many different locations, I had to consider how  to make each one unique. I’m really fond of these two series because it allowed for an amount of focus and imagination that I hadn’t tapped into with them previously.

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3. I continued to work with some old friends and made a few new ones! We released another year of desktop calendars through Garlic, My Soul, helped The Effortless Chic with maps and graphics, and made printables for Lovely Indeed and Sugar & Cloth. I created ad units, social media posts, and web banners for HelloGiggles, Koil, and Outpost Supply Co., and created a line of labels for Country Markets‘ trail mixes, dips, and juices. I’m so, so grateful for every new opportunity that comes my way and cannot say thank you enough to the wonderful people I got to work with this year. This list is by no means complete, it’s only a quick glimpse into a much larger pool of incredible collaborators, all of whom I have nothing but respect and admiration for!

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4. My Swimming Frenchie Phone Case was picked up by Nordstrom and sold online and in stores during the month of July! This is probably the most exciting thing that happened to me this year. I’ve never had an item at a major retailer before and to see it being sold on a shelf was a high like no other. This single experience led to a lot of personal revelations, including the idea that I’d like to design more for products. It also led to…

 

5. Opening my Casetify store! I started my own collection in July and have been seeing growth every month since. In 2016, I focused mainly on phone cases, but in 2017 I plan to add more Macbook sleeves, watch bands, and iPad covers. I started an entire swimming dog series, and they are by far my best selling pieces. I will definitely be continuing to add new dogs to the series, so if there’s one you’d like to see, let me know!

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6. Because of the work I’m doing with Casetify, I had the opportunity to design a case for the Lucy Hale x Casetify tech capsule, art directed by Lucy herself! It’s an illustration of Lucy’s malitpoo, Elvis, as one of my swimming dogs. Designing for a celebrity capsule was an especially memorable piece of my year.

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7. I released a line of cards on Etsy, and a handful of them ended up in the  FOLD Gallery, a real brick-and-mortar store in downtown Los Angeles!

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8. I had a great year for interviews and was featured in Trend Magazine, on Chapter89, The Daily Dot, Circus Magazine, Hunting Handmade, and Tell Me Tuesday. This is an aspect of creating that I didn’t think much about previously – I’m not super comfortable talking about myself, but these publications all made it so easy. Plus, getting the chance to answer questions gives me an idea of what people are interested in most. If you’d like to chat, please reach out via the contact page.

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9. I started taking orders for custom portraits this year. I just recently added a “Portraits” section to my portfolio – they make such great gifts for holidays, birthdays, anniversaries and can be a cute way to document how your family grows and changes over the years.

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10. And finally, a few personal items…

We redecorated and painted a new backyard mural! We took some cute family photos…

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…and some less than cute family photos. Squirmy beagles make for good outtakes though!

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My best friend got married and she let me design her thank you cards and a few other pieces, which led to a brief stint in invitation design that did not last. You can’t win ’em all! Maybe this is something I’ll revisit in 2017.

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triangle blue wedding card designs

We took a trip to Arroyo Burro beach in Santa Barbara so Ruby could experience a real dog beach, and spent a weekend on Balboa Island where Ruby got to go on a boat ride with us! Finding vacations for all three of us is not always easy, so I’m glad we were able to figure out a few.

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My family surprised me and flew out to L.A. for my 30th birthday – other M told me we were going out to lunch, and when we walked into the restaurant they were sitting there, looking over their menus, acting so casual that they almost blended right in. I, of course, immediately burst into tears and could not collect myself for at least the next hour.

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We hosted a Halloween party for the first time since I moved to L.A. and, despite some tricksters who tried to ruin our fun, it was a total scream!

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We visited Grand Central Market for other M’s birthday! There are so many places in L.A. that I still haven’t seen. I think we’re going to spend more time exploring our own backyard in 2017.

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And lastly, perhaps the brightest spot of 2016, was the Gilmore Girls revival on Netflix. I’m only partially joking when I include this in my personal highlight reel, because although many people took issue with some of the character choices, I found them to be really truthful and touching.

2016 was my first full year as a freelance illustrator and designer. There are many, many times when I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing, and to see someone as seemingly put-together as Rory in a similar place made me feel like no one really knows what’s going on, and gave me permission to continue being confused about life. My family suffered some deep, personal losses this year and Emily’s journey to rediscover herself after Richard’s death proved to be a real catharsis. Lorelai’s uncertainty about her own happiness is something I think we all question on occasion. Of course it had flaws (everything does) and maybe it was just the perfect storm of fiction meets my-own-reality, but this series making its comeback was just the pick me up I needed toward the end of the year.

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And with that, I say farewell to 2016! Maybe it wasn’t so bad after all. Thank you so much for your support and enthusiasm this year, it’s only going to get better! Right? I’m choosing optimism and I hope you are too.

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Here’s one more puppy, to send you off right! May your 2017 be infinitely better than whatever these last 365 days were. Happy New Year!

Casetify x Lucy Hale

Big news! Actress Lucy Hale is Casetify’s newest Creative Director, and I designed one of the cases for her tech capsule! If you purchase one of the items from the collection, share it on social media with #CasetifyxLucyHale.

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(Photos by Casetify)

You can shop Lucy’s entire collection here, and see my full Casetify collection (with lots of other swimming dog breeds) here. Happy shopping!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Happy (day after) Halloween! Last year, we dressed up as Elliot and Gertie from E.T. which was awesome, but definitely landed in the cute column instead of the scary column. So this year we decided to make up for it a little bit…

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We both went as scary skeletons and built an entire cemetery in our front yard (complete with political pumpkin)! I tend to gravitate toward costumes that involve some interesting hair and/or makeup. It’s probably because they give me a real life, 3-D canvas to work with instead of just a sheet of paper.

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I wanted to sit in the cemetery (see below) and scare the teenagers who came by, but we mostly got little kids so I tried not to be TOO spooky.

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We also hosted a zombie apocalypse themed scavenger hunt/party over the weekend, but didn’t get many photos. It’s too bad because we had some great costumes! Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde from Zootopia, Frankenstein and his Bride, Vacationers, Buffy as Little Red Riding Hood, a Jackelope, The Most Interesting Man in the World…the list goes on!

What did you do for Halloween this year?

 

FEATURED: TREND MAGAZINE

Trend Magazine was kind enough to feature me in their Alive Issue — I just received my copy today! You can order the digital version of the Alive issue and get more info about Trend right here. Special thanks to Lauren for reaching out and putting together such an inspiring and beautiful magazine!

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COUNTRY MARKETS COLLABORATION

I’m thrilled to finally be able to share a big project I worked on over the summer: packaging labels for Country Markets! They’re a small chain of grocery stores in New York that started in the Bronx. If you live in the area, look for their assortment of trail mixes, dips, and juices, now featuring labels I designed and illustrated in collaboration with the store! We tried to give each item a distinct personality through it’s packaging. What do you think? Did we succeed?

 

You can view the full collection of packaging labels in the portfolio section.

NEW BACKYARD MURAL

When we moved into our house, it came with a big blank wall on one side of the garage. Originally, we painted a geometric pattern on it but after two years I was ready for something new. I got it into my head that I would repaint the wall, but I didn’t know what I wanted to paint yet. This story is going to seem long and rambling for a minute, but I promise it all ties together and comes back around to the mural at the end.

Fast forward a few months and we decided to re-decorate our living room. It was full of bulky black shelves (that house the hundreds and hundreds of vinyl albums other M collects) and made the already tiny room feel smaller and darker than it was.

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So we ditched the dark stuff and went bright and clean. Suddenly, we found ourselves with a lot of wall space and nothing to cover it. The obvious solution: a gallery wall!

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We promptly filled it with an art print of “The Hound” from Ikea, two photos by Mary Costa Photography, one of the pieces from my collaboration with Sugar & Cloth, a custom Dance Yrself Clean print (that we made together), and a piece of artwork that came with The National’s album “Trouble Will Find Me.” But we still had one big space left above the TV.

Because buying and building new furniture, figuring out what to fill a gallery wall with, and sort of planning to re-paint a 28′ x 8′ wall wasn’t enough, we were also on the hunt for new couch pillows. Adulting 101: they get kind of gross after a couple years and even the washing machine can’t save you if you haven’t been proactive about cleaning them.

I had a LOT of trouble finding pillows I liked. I don’t know why. I’m not particularly difficult about throw pillows, there just didn’t seem to be a lot out there. Until Oh Joy! announced their fall 2016 collection for Target that included this amazing find:

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BINGO. Done and done. Then it came to me:

Paint the mural the same colors as the pillows.

Take a family photo in front of the mural.

Enlarge the the photo, frame it, and hang it in the empty space in the gallery wall.

The colors in the photo will match the throw pillows on the couch, and everything will have subtle cohesive undertones. GENIUS.

Somewhere in the midst of all this, Sugar & Cloth posted a call for wall space to create color walls in different U.S. cities. They have their own mural in Houston, The Sugar and Cloth Color Wall, and it’s incredible. Simple, but so fun and versatile! I offered up my garage, but they needed spaces that are accessible to the public and our wall is not. The color wall stuck with me though, and I ended up creating a variation of it anyway. And finally, the reveal!

 

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Pillow by Oh Joy! for Target.

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A new mural, a new living room, and a new appreciation for how long it takes to paint some simple stripes. Now who wants to come over and take pictures!?