Carolyn_PP_FullofMagic Artist Spotlight: Carolyn Gavin July 14, 2016

If you’ve been following along with our Artist Spotlight series, then you are in for a real treat! Today, we celebrate one of the newest members to the Red Cap family: artist, Carolyn Gavin. From bright bouquets in watercolor and gouache, to sweet kittens and unbelievable upcoming gift wrap designs, Carolyn has added a such a unique point-of-view to our line. Read more below to learn about her childhood in South Africa and what inspires her to create such lush and colorful pieces, plus advice she has for the burgeoning illustrator. Thank you so much for chatting with us, Carolyn! View all of Carolyn’s designs for Red Cap in our shop, here.

Tell us about your childhood—did you always want to be an artist? Did you have any other aspirations?
I grew up in South Africa in a very protective, nurturing environment. I lived in white suburbia in Johannesburg with my familytwo older brothers (who taught me to be tough), parents, and great grandparents, two dogs and a nanny, Beauty, who was like my second mama. I had a nice life, we had a swimming pool and I remember always painting and creating things and wanting to be an artist. I studied with artist, Nina Campbell-Quine, and she really taught me how to paint, experiment with different techniques and live a “bohemian” life as an artist. She had a stunning house and studio which she designed. The studio had gigantic windows facing an incredible succulent garden. A very exotic and intoxicating place to visit and paint every week!

As a white person growing up there, life was easy, sunny and bright. As a black person, life was unfair and unjust. Apartheid was at its peak right then in the 60’s and 70’s and no one dared speak out. The thing to do was either leave the country or fight for what you believed in.

Carolyn_b:w copy


It was a strange world where everything was beautiful on the surface but everything hurt underneath. I started to feel the underlying tensions of life there as I got older. Things really heated up as I was doing my three-year Graphic Design diploma in college and there was always this idea that we were leaving the country. This did in fact take place and we had all left by the Spring of 1990.

We love your paintings of bold flora—are you a gardener as well? If so, how does your garden grow?
Yes I’m a very keen gardener. It’s a passion of mine! My mother gave me my own patch of land to take care of when I was a tiny girl.


I planted Sweet Peas, Portulaca, Nasturtiums and Marigolds. Things grew so easily in Africa… now I have a tiny front and back yard filled to the brim with creepers, trees, Perennials and Bamboo. I find it a very rewarding pastime and a serene place for a break on a sunny day. Its a very short growing season here (Toronto, Canada) so we really try to be outside as much as possible during the nicer months. The garden is very conducive to painting, makes for a lovely and inspiring outdoor studio, where I can listen to the birds, breathe in the scent of the Honeysuckle and observe the beautiful yellow Magnolia Tree.


What is your creative process like?
I think it changes and goes through cycles. Lately I’m doing a lot of painting in water-colour and Gouache. I love to play around and find that is when my creativity is heightened and at its best. I draw quite a bit from nature using pen and ink. I think the more I create the better it is but I honestly feel it’s a process, it’s a journey and it’s a learning experiment all the time. I never quite feel, “Yup this is it”… its plain sailing from here! I’m learning as I go along…


What inspires you?
Colour, colour combinations and patterns from all over the world.. Africa, Mexico, India, Belize, Eastern Europe… Flowers, animals, fashion, the city, the country and travel. I love to travel to new places. I think this opens up a whole world of possibilities and new creative experiences which translates into new and wonderful work. Plus, it refreshes your mind and energizes the soul.


What is your most successful piece?
I think the artwork I did for the climbing wall for The Botanic Garden Children’s Center in Cambridge, MA (part of Harvard University) is a successful piece of art on a large scale. It was a hugely challenging idea for me to think of my work in such a large scale environment. The original watercolour painting was roughly 22×12 inches horizontally. The climbing wall mural is approximately 16 x 8 feet across. The artwork had to include fauna and flora from the garden including a Gingko tree, tomatoes, lilies, sunflowers, peas, beans, a squirrel, a bunny, a cardinal and a robin and some more.


On a smaller scale, one of the most challenging and rewarding projects was creating the line of 12 greeting cards for Red Cap Cards. It was kind of like creating work for a commission but it took me longer than I normally work because although we discussed themes, subject matter and style, nothing was definitive. I just had to paint and record my progress to Carrie as I was going along, in the hopes that a collection would arise from that. It sure did, not sure how exactly but I’m so happy with the end result. It truly reflects my style and the freedom of the project and the big input, encouragement and inspiration from a great art director!

Carolyn Gavin

What was the best piece of advice you were given when starting out?
Work hard, never stop learning and don’t give up.


Favorite medium to work in?
Goauche paint and then watercolours.

Do you have a favorite piece that you have created?
I have a few but I think its the Congratulations card for Red Cap. Hands are challenging for me, but this one holding the flower bouquet seems just right. 2nd is the Thanks bouquet on Grey… i love how the colours and flowers are so balanced and harmonious in this one.


Who are your role models, in terms of art or otherwise?
Painters I adore are Matisse, Odilon Redon, Raoul Dufy, Paul Aizpiri, Frida Kahlo, Olaf Hajek, Clementine Hunter. I’m inspired by people like Dame Daphne Sheldrick who has an Elephant Ophanage in Kenya and has devoted her life to raising and reintegrating orphan elephants into the wild. She tirelessly campaigns against the abuse of captive animals and poaching.


If you didn’t work as an artist, what would you hope to be doing?
I’d love to do something with animals or work on a flower farm.

Do you have any upcoming projects that you’d like to tell us about?
A new collection of fabrics with Windham Textiles. Its a lot of watercolour flowers, birds, bunnies and butterflies.


Any advice to burgeoning illustrators?
Try to find your own style. It’s so important to define that as soon as you can, then you can work towards refining your style always.

And one we must ask all of our artists: favorite drink.
Rum and coke…and tea.


Photos courtesy Carolyn Gavin & Red Cap Cards.
Follow Carolyn on Instagram, here.






KP-atdesk Artist Spotlight: Kate Pugsley June 23, 2016

It’s a delight to feature one of our newest artists, Kate Pugsley, on our blog today in the Artist’s Spotlight hotseat Not only is she a fantastic artist, but she’s an inspiring human being as well. From her vibrant patterns, greeting cards, and prints–you can pretty much immerse yourself in Kate’s work on a daily basis and be a better person for it (or at least be living in bold and patterned color).

We will try not to give much away, but Red Cap also has some pretty fantastic things in the works for our next release, and a lot of them involve her work. Read on to learn more about what inspires Kate, about her favorite pieces, and her advice to up-and-coming artists. Thank you, Kate!
Kate Pugsley at work

Tell us about your childhood—did you always want to be an artist? Did you have any other aspirations?
My childhood was pretty dull, so I spent a lot of time reading, drawing, and dreaming of becoming an artist. The other career options I was aware of at the time didn’t interest me much, so I decided pretty early that I wanted to be an artist. Growing up I had no understanding of what a life as an artist would be like. So far it is completely surprising and satisfying!
Papercuts by Kate Pugsley

Your patterns are to die for. Any chances that wallpaper or the like might be in your future?
I really hope so!

Underwater Pattern

What is your creative process like?
I am constantly painting and drawing and always keep a running notebook of sketches, thoughts, and ideas that I’ll reference for project inspiration. My sketchbooks are an important resource for me and I often find ideas I completely forgot about and feel ready to revisit. Work generates inspiration for me. For illustration assignments, my early sketches can be pretty rough. Since I am a painter I sometimes struggle to convey my ideas in pencil alone. I use traditional materials as much as possible since I don’t enjoy spending too much time on the computer. Once an idea is ready I paint the finals in gouache and use some digital tools for cleaning up or assembling.

Kate Pugsley Page
Abstract Birthday and Birthday Suit

We love, love, love the James and Giant Peach illustration. What were your favorite books growing up?
Some of my favorites were Eloise by Kay Thompson, and all books by Roald Dahl, Beatrix Potter, Margaret Wise Brown and Richard Scarry.

James and the Giant Peach by Kate Pugsley

What inspires you?
I’ve been asked this question a lot, and it’s hard to answer honestly. My environment has always been really important, including experiences of new places. Work and life are so intertwined that I can’t really pick out specific inspirations. Taking the time to observe what’s around me helps me stay conscious of what I’m thinking and feeling, and I think that influences my work.
Kate Pugsley's Thelma and Louise
What is your most successful piece?
When I look back on work, it can be hard to decide what really makes it “successful.” This piece I did for Flow Magazine is one I consider to be because it led to several other great projects for me.
Flow Magazine Kate Pugsley

What was the best piece of advice you were given when starting out?
An illustration teacher told me that she paints at least 6 days a week, every week. I just remember this made me realize what kind of dedication this job takes.

Favorite medium to work in?
I love to paint with gouache on hot press watercolor paper.

Feather Kate Pugsley
Birds of a Feather

Do you have a favorite piece that you have created?
I don’t have one single piece that is my favorite. This is a painting that I remember really enjoying my time working on, so maybe that qualifies it as a favorite.

Kate Pugsley's favorite piece of her own work

Who are your role models, in terms of art or otherwise?
Some people who have inspired me over the years by sharing their creativity are Karin Dreijer Andersson, Tomi Ungerer, Kara Walker, Beatrice Alemagna, Julie Mehretu, Camilla Engman, Maurice Sendak, Frida Kahlo, and Morrissey.

If you didn’t work as an artist, what would you hope to be doing?
I’d like to be an architect or a teacher or mixing colors in a paint factory.

Kate Pugsley Paints and work

Do you have any upcoming projects that you’d like to tell us about?
I’m having a show in September in Madrid at Do Design Gallery, which is pretty exciting. There are a few illustration projects in the works, but I can’t really talk about them yet.

Where would you like to see your work in ten years?
I’d love to work on children’s books in the coming years.

Kate Pugsley working at her desk

Any advice to burgeoning illustrators?
Don’t give up too soon; it takes a long time to develop good work. It would have been really easy for me to give up when I wasn’t having success in my early twenties, but I would regret not having made all of those horrible paintings that eventually led me here.

Congratulations Kate Pugsley
Three Women Congrats

View more of Kate’s designs for Red Cap Cards, here.

Photos courtesy of Kate Pugsley and Red Cap Cards.




Where Do I Begin Artist Spotlight: Barbara Dziadosz May 27, 2016

Did you happen to notice that our site is brand new and improved?! What a roller coaster ride! We are proud to announce our brand, new and improved website. A celebration seems in order–and with that, a brand new Artist Spotlight interview. This time, with new Red Cap family member and illustrator extraordinaire, Barbara Dziadosz.

Where Do I Begin

Barbara is a freelance illustrator from Hamburg, who specializes in screen printing, character design and editorial design. Originally from a little town in northern Poland, she was raised in Hamburg and started her studies at the HAW Hamburg. During this time she had the opportunity to experiment with a lot of printing techniques and fell in love with the simplicity of screen printing. Right now, Barbara is working for various national and international magazines and clients, and creating a cook book with healthy recipes.

We were lucky enough to chat with her about her creative process, what inspires her and much more:

Tell us about your childhood—did you always want to be an artist? Did you have any other aspirations?

I don’t know if I ever made a conscious decision to become an artist. As a kid I just loved drawing and creating new worlds, just like most of the children. In my case I just didn’t stop doing this since then. I also was very interested in writing little stories and making up things, so this comes in handy regarding my creative process.


What is your creative process like?
Depending on if it’s client work or personal, it differs a bit. For client work I start with reading the article/brief and write down some notes. Then it’s pretty much the same as for personal work, I just start sketching freely/loosely whatever comes to my mind. If sketches are approved I take them to digital and trace/color them. After that I add texture and hand drawn elements to avoid a too clean digital look.

gazpacho paella recipe

You have done it all: printmaking, editorial, character design, etc. Which do you prefer and why?
That’s difficult to say. The best is a mix of everything, to keep it interesting. I love the speed of editorial work, the creative freedom of creating characters and the physical work of screen printing.

Is there any art form that you haven’t yet been able to do that you would like to?
During my studies I had the opportunity to get to know a lot of printing techniques, so I consider myself pretty lucky about that. Animation seems tempting to me, but I think I’m too impatient for something like this.


What inspires you?
I’m very influenced by vintage illustration from all over the world. I admire Russian avant-garde illustrators like Boris Ermelenko, the bold works of Fernand Nathan, Olle Eksell, Leonard Weisgard, Alice and Martin Provensen; Miroslav Sasek, Art Seiden, Arnold Edwin Bare and many many more. I also love old advertisements like the one from bally or old food illustrations. There is jelly everywhere and woman serve big meals to their husbands in their pink kitchens. I also love old Czechoslovakian, Polish and Russian matchbox labels and vintage travel posters, mainly from England.

I could not limit my self to one artist or one direction. Each one of them has something that fascinates me. What I mainly love about those kind of illustrations is the limited color palette, the bold shapes and the beautiful printing techniques they are made with.

What is your most successful piece?
I just recently had the opportunity to do a cover artwork for Anorak (a very popular kids magazine here in Europe). This was a huge honor for me. Doing a cover is always special and being able to do it for one of your favorite magazines is just super fun.

Anorak Cover Dziadosz

What was the best piece of advice you were given when starting out?
Don’t be lazy 😉
When I started studying I didn’t know much about illustration and the work of an illustrator. So I was a bit overwhelmed by all the possibilities and great people I studied with. The result of this was kind of a shock. I wasn’t able to draw and think freely as I was inhibited. I was too shy to show my work in class, so I stopped doing stuff at all, as I thought it was bad anyways. But fortunately I have learned to be confident with my own work and to always keep on working to improve.

Favorite medium to work in?
Just simple pen and sketchbook.

Do you have a favorite piece that you have created?
One of my favorites is my dinosaurs piece.

Artist Spotlight: Barbara Dziadosz

We love your signature muted/pastel color palette. What does your home look like? Do you utilize these colors in your every day life?
My home is more minimal with lots of wood and here and there a dash of color. My boyfriend is a furniture designer (he built my beautiful desk for example) so we have a lot of one of kind furniture in our home.

Barbara Dziadosz desk

Who are your role models, in terms of art or otherwise?
Please see above “what inspires you.”

If you didn’t work as an artist, what would you hope to be doing?
I would love to be an archaeologist. It’s such an fascinating field which includes art, history and nature all in once.

Do you have any upcoming projects that you’d like to tell us about?
Right now I’m finishing up a cook book with healthy recipes which will be available hopefully very soon. Besides this I’m having a baby in May, so this is my biggest long-time project so far 🙂

[Editors note: Congratulations, Barbara!!]

belly Barbara Dziadosz

Where would you like to see your work in ten years?
I hope to make more bigger projects like books, both for adults and kids. I could even imagine myself working as an art director for a newspaper/magazine or teaching in school. Either way, I just hope I can work in a creative field surrounded by artists.


Any advice to burgeoning illustrators?
Never stop working. Even if you don’t have an assignment, just keep doing stuff. Keep yourself busy and you will improve for sure and this will bring you more real jobs in the end.

Who are you currently loving on Instagram?
Thefatjewish 😉 This is totally my kind of humor.

And one we must ask all of our artists: favorite drink.
Maté tea. It keeps me awake and I just love the flavor.

Thanks, Barbara! To view Barbara’s designs for Red Cap Cards, click here.

Artist Spotlight: James Gulliver Hancock April 22, 2016

It's been quite a while since we've been able to interview one of our awe-inspiring Red Cap illustrators for our Artist Spotlight series, and we are so happy that today is the day at last! We had the opportunity to chat with our newest Red Cap family member–James Gulliver Hancock–about what inspires him, what his creative process is like and much more:

Artist Spotlight: James Gulliver Hancock for Red Cap Cards

Tell us about your childhood—did you always want to be an artist? Did you have any other aspirations?
I had a great childhood! I grew up in Balmain, an inner suburb of Sydney. Sydney is made up of lots of harbour inlets, so there was a lot of taking little boats on adventures with friends, exploring the local nature and challenging ourselves. I drew all the time, and somehow knew I wanted to make things all the time. I drew all the time, even from a very young age. One early memory was using drawing at preschool to get out of doing any other tasks. I drew the most complicated thing I could think of so it would take all day and I wouldn’t have to do anything else – I still do this today 😉 I was definitely lucky that I knew what I wanted to do from early on, I really only vaguely had other aspirations, which were somehow relevant to the creative visual obsessions… I almost enrolled in aeronautical engineering at university!

You split your time between New York and Sydney. Is that for work, leisure, a bit of both?
I do split my time, but it’s more international even than that now. I’m lucky enough to have clients all over the world, so I get to travel to lots of different places for work. Couple that with my wife ( who is a traveling musician means we’ve gotten to see a lot of different places and cultures, and actually live in them, rather than just be a tourist, which is really special. I don’t tend to split the idea of work and leisure though, they are one and the same to me, I’d be drawing regardless of whether it was for clients or not. I’m always drawing.

James Gulliver Hancock for Red Cap Cards

What is your creative process like?
Like I said, I draw all the time, it’s a great advantage as I’ve got a pool of ideas to work from at all times. If ever I’m stuck at any part of the process I can pull up something I was interested a while ago from a sketchbook and get the inspiration to carry on. My process generally starts with really rough sketches, sometimes they are so rough they aren’t really intelligible to anyone but me. From there I usually refine by tracing that sketch to another sketch phase that the client can comment on, something like the attached below:

Artist Spotlight: James Gulliver Hancock for Red Cap Cards

Then I typically draw this out for the final line work, making any last little tweaks. I don’t use anything particularly fancy during my process, typically it’s pencil and pen and paper. I do like to use a dipping pen sometimes, as it pulls in that accidental messiness that I love. Once the final line work is done and approved, I scan it into the computer and use a wacom tablet to add colour underneath the line work. I try to treat my process a bit like silkscreen printmaking, so there are only 2 or 3 layers and the color is blocky and finished by the line work sitting on top. I do a lot of silkscreening for my personal projects, selling the prints on my website. I still remember the first time I tried silkscreening and the excitement it gave, combining elements of photography, collage, and drawing, coupled with the ability to print on almost anything, it’s inherent multimedia aspects had me hooked.

What inspires you?
Everything around me basically. I like to gather influence from anything from a bike ride around the block, to reading a children’s book to reading a science or philosophy article online. I don’t typically look at other artists or illustrators for inspiration, as doing so usually has the opposite effect, I like to pull ideas from more abstract thoughts. Even just seeing an interesting pattern, or the way the tree in the park meets the grass can lead to a new way of thinking about a drawing.

Favorite medium to work in?
Pencil and paper, I don’t think I’ll ever get over the satisfaction of making a picture appear on blank paper. It still feels like magic. My other favorite as I mentioned is silkscreening, with it’s flexibility and bold blocky colors.

The Process: James Gulliver Hancock's illustration for Red Cap Card in pencil

Do you have a favorite piece that you have created? I’m usually in love with whatever it is I’m working on at the moment. I love the cards Red Cap and I did of course, especially the medals. These were an idea I’d wanted to work up for a long time. I think reward is such a big part of growing up in a society, wanting to please people around you… at least it was for me, so I thought these rewards for acts of loving were a nice idea. It’s funny when you create something you like and you just want to stare at it. I’ve just released my first coloring book and I still love looking at the drawings even though I did most of them about a year ago. You know you’ve done something right when you’ve pushed yourself a little and you need to look at the drawings a lot after you’ve finished them. It’s like being in love and wanting to be with that person all the time for no good reason other than you just want to be next to them.


You have worked in both corporate and independent illustration—which do you prefer?
I’ve worked hard to have a very varied practice. I consciously made decisions to have a strong commercial practice as well as a personal one. They aren’t separate though by any means, it’s more like I’m making and drawing every day for myself thinking of projects I could do, but most of the time before I get the chance those ideas get folded into client work. I love this process. Being constantly self motivated also has it’s advantages in any downtime (which is becoming more and more rare) so that when there aren't any nagging deadlines I can just shift over and do some printmaking for my store or work on a long form book concept…. or just draw the flowers on my desk to give to a friend.

Tell us about All The Buildings in New York.
All the Buildings in New York is a project that came out of my love of traveling. Being 1/2 British I traveled a fair bit since I was a kid. It really ramped up after high school when I started wandering around the world by myself. My longest journey was a year or two out of University when I drew a wobbly line from my hometown in Sydney, Australia to London, England, and made plans to do the journey by land/sea. It was an amazing experience, but not only did it influence my personal life it really directed me professionally. I was a bit lost thinking I wanted to be a designer, and getting into my travel sketchbook I realised a way of working that culminated in this project. I would draw obsessively the things around me, collecting things to draw like a hoarder of pictures. Eventually these grew into prints which I started to sell. Then when I eventually ended up in New York I started the project focusing on the buildings, trying desperately to collect the whole New York experience by drawing all of the buildings. Unwittingly it was a brilliant way to introduce my work to this international city, as fairly soon after it started it got quite a lot of press and eventually I had publishers calling me to do a book, and once the book came out clients wanting to work together.

New York Public Library by James Gulliver Hancock

Do you take building requests?
I do indeed, head to the website––and in the shop section you’ll see how to order. I love doing these as it is a real connection to stories about New York that I otherwise wouldn’t hear. I remember one special one was a couple wanting a portrait of the buildings they lived in separately coupled with the new building they were moving into together… a very sweet sentiment, celebrating the architecture around their love.

640 Broadway by James Gulliver Hancock

What is it about the structure of architecture that you love to draw?
For one, they stand still, so I can sit and observe for as long as I like. I think also generally architecture is underrated. People use buildings all day everyday, and we don’t really stop and look at them. I know architects and building lovers do, but I met so many people in New York that would say to me that they’ve lived in this or that building for 10 years and never even noticed it was so beautiful. It was a great moment when people cited my drawings as an impetus for looking deeper into their surroundings. When you do start to look architecture almost becomes just like sculpture and the city a big museum, that’s what it is for me now. I’ve mentioned this before in other talks I’ve done, that what is also lovely for me about this project is that the buildings become like friends. Once I’ve drawn a building I never really forget it, I’ll be walking down the street and see a building I’ve drawn and it’s almost like we say hi or give each other a high five. Because New York was an adopted city for me it was a great way to make new friends 😉

Is there any every day object that you haven’t drawn yet—you seem to have covered most! If so, will you be working on that tonight?
As part of my obsessive nature I would like to draw every single thing in the world and do nothing else! It worries me sometimes that I haven’t drawn everything. I guess that’s why I draw in the between moments as well as in the studio. I draw the cups on the table, the glasses on the bedside table, the chairs in the cafe, in some sort of attempt to pay attention to everything around me.

Who are your role models, in terms of art or otherwise?
I always find this question touch, maybe because it changes all the time? I do love the classic illustrator choices like Maurice Sendak, Richard Scarry, Saul Steinberg

Artist Spotlight: James Gulliver Hancock for Red Cap Cards

If you didn’t work as an artist, what would you hope to be doing?
I know what I’d be doing, I’d be drawing regardless, whether or not it’s art or illustration, for myself or someone else I’d continue to make things. My making obsession satisfaction does spill into other areas, I get it from woodworking, from cooking, from gardening… maybe I’d eventually spill into one of those… ?

Any advice to burgeoning illustrators?
Make stuff all the time and show it to as many people as possible.

James Gulliver Hancock for Red Cap Cards

Any upcoming projects you'd like to tell us about? Ever since the success of my All the Buildings in New York book I’ve been making a lot of books, so my colouring book just came out which I’m excited about, and this has informed a new children’s book I wrote and illustrated with an old friend. It’s been really fun exploring character design and environments, working with a very talented and fastidious editor and making the best book we can, it’s really exciting. I can’t wait for it to come out so I can read it to my kids. It’s funny, at every stage of my kids development I’ve wanted to take the making into my own hands, when Quinn was little I made him these hand painted children’s blocks, I made him a book about wheels, when he was obsessed with wheels, and it’s almost a career journey that now I’m doing this dense and detailed children’s book for him.

Children's blocks by James Gulliver Hancock

And one we must ask all of our artists: favorite drink?
Your finest whiskey, straight, with a large ice cube.

To view James Gulliver Hancock's designs for Red Cap, click here. Thank you, James!

Artist Spotlight: Dinara Mirtalipova September 11, 2015

It's been a bit of time since we've profiled one of our fabulous Red Cap Cards artists, and we're so happy to step into interview mode with our newest recruit, Dinara Mirtalipova. Dinara currently lives and works in Sagamore Hills, Ohio with her husband and daughter, Sabrina. Her art work is complex, lovely, and reminiscent of eastern European folklore. Along with her illustration work, she is also the founder of Mirdinara Kitchen, and is currently working on the grand opening of her brick & mortar shop, Mirdinara Home + Gifts. We adored chatting with her here and are excited to introduce you. Make sure to click over and see her new designs for Red Cap, here.

Artist Spotlight with Dinara Mirtalipova for Red Cap Cards

You are originally from Uzbekistan, but your bio says that you “landed in snowy Ohio” — how did you end up there?
Shortly after graduating from college my family and I moved to the US. At first we landed in LA, but even hot Uzbek summers felt like nothing before the LA's firing pot. So we moved to New York. But it still felt very temporary as the city is enormously huge and uncomfortably noisy for folks like us. So eventually we found ourselves in Cleveland Ohio and simply fell in love with it's beauty and nature. Yes, the winters are very cold and rough, but it's so beautiful here all year long.

Did you always want to be an artist, even in childhood?
Nooooo, not even close. Being artsy was such a norm in my family, it was considered more like a hobby that people normally do after they get home from their real work. Growing up I just couldn't help but to doodle all over the back pages of my notebooks, but I never considered applying for an art institute after high school. I thought computers will be the future so I dedicated four years studying computer languages and coding. There are parts of me that regret that I was so lousy about my passion as a child. I wish I could go back and learn so much, but then I think it made me who I am.

Artist Spotlight with Dinara Mirtalipova for Red Cap Cards

Your work is so intricate and seems to be influenced heavily by Russian folklore–what inspires you most about that genre?
Growing up I was surrounded by folklore. My one grandma was a native Uzbek who spoke broken Russian. My other grandma was Russian who found a shelter in Uzbekistan during World War II and stayed and learned the language. We always celebrated both cultures and traditions. I think I fully realized how vividly it runs in my blood only after leaving the place of my childhood. I never thought I would become so sentimental about it, but nostalgia just pours out of me and I can't stop it. It's something about the wall carpet above my grandma's bed, about the bright textiles that women wear, the songs my mom sang to me and the architecture of the ancient buildings.

Artist Spotlight with Dinara Mirtalipova for Red Cap Cards

You used to be an artist for American Greetings and are now a freelance illustrator–what are the pros and cons of working for yourself?
It was a privilege for me to serve my good nine years at American Greetings. For someone with no degree in art, AG replaced college teaching me about technical skills like paper sculpture, paper engineering, building a repeat pattern, working in Photoshop and Illustrator, preparing files for production, hand lettering, calligraphy, silkscreen, block printing, and I can go on and on. It was a great school for me! All that technical knowledge plus my art style made me ready to eventually go solo after my daughter was born. She was a screaming 24/7 baby and I was very sleep deprived, plus we both developed separation anxiety as we were both crying every morning before me leaving to work and while at work I missed seeing her little face and holding her so terribly. That made me take an important but difficult decision to leave my cozy comfortable nest at AG and to dive into an unpredictable world of art licensing.

On a positive note, being a freelancer allows you to build your own schedule. I'm not a morning person, so taking a little longer in the morning is very crucial to me, not even mentioning skipping the angry 45 min morning race to work. But on the global scale I'm pretty much working towards my own goals, day after day building my own brand and giving the companies and the people who support my product the promise that I'm here and I will always draw for you. It is also the excitement of fun collaborations.

Artist Spotlight with Dinara Mirtalipova for Red Cap Cards

How do you balance motherhood, home life and work?
It's not easy, I'm not going to lie. I'm working mostly at night when Sabrina is asleep. There are nights, of course, when she still wakes up at night and needs me, but as she gets older she understands that mommy works at night. She started pre-school, so I have the morning hours to emails, quick file tweaks and phone calls, the afternoons are usually dedicated to after school programs and museums.

Did your daughter, Sabrina, inherit your love and talent for art?
I believe every child is artsy and every child loves to paint. I have never met a child in my life that refused a brush. She's still too little to declare whether she loves art to that degree. I'm not pushing her at all. Art is necessary for a child's development just like dancing or running, so yes, I am certainly exposing her to different art programs. But I'm not going to influence her decision to make it her thing when she grows up. I'm rather very curious to see who she will become as an adult.

Artist Spotlight with Dinara Mirtalipova for Red Cap Cards

What is your dream job (besides what you are doing now?)
That's the one I'm doing right now. There is no other dream job. I guess I'm living my dream now. I might sound like a maniac, but I go to bed thinking of illustrating this and that and I wake up and I'm still day dreaming about art. I can do it 24 hours non stop. Before Sabrina I could draw all night long and still go to work. With Sabrina I can't afford not to sleep, but on some Friday and Saturday nights I do stay longer then my usual because I know that in the morning there are other family members who can fix her breakfast in the morning and I could stay a little longer in bed.

What inspires you?
Everything. Nature, flowers, forest, movies, songs, fashion, books, stories, colors, shapes, people, animals, antiques, museums.

Artist Spotlight with Dinara Mirtalipova for Red Cap Cards

Which artists, designers or illustrators are your favorite?
I really admire classic artists. They absolutely fascinate me. The quality of work they created before the computer era is so astonishing! The wallpapers by William Morris leave me speechless, I love collecting some old books by Alice and Martin Provensen, Roger Duvoisin, postcards of paintings by Ivan Shishkin. There are many many other great names that I bow before and compared to them the current art seems so insignificant.

Artist Spotlight with Dinara Mirtalipova for Red Cap Cards
A sneek peek of Mirdinara Shop, coming soon!

What do you enjoy in your “free time?”
In my free time I draw. Yes, sorry to sound so boring, but that's what my free time is for. I draw with no theme in mind. I usually put on a music, typically there's one particular song that I favorite at a time and I keep listening to it on a repeat. I like “blind drawing,” that means drawing without sketching first or any concept in your head. Just the paints and the brushes. That's like reading a good book–it takes you to unexpected places and the final piece turns out like nothing you could ever see coming. With my busy schedule I can afford that free time only on a Friday or a Saturday night as the rest of the week is usually filled with jobs and family. I also try different techniques, like wood carving, block printing or pottery making. During long winter evenings I like taking different art classes and attending workshops. Art can be so versatile, it's like a galaxy of endless possibilities.

Artist Spotlight with Dinara Mirtalipova for Red Cap Cards

Images courtesy Dinara Mirtalipova

Artist Spotlight: Lizzy Stewart March 9, 2015

We're wrapping up our mini-series of three consecutive Artist Spotlight interviews with illustrator, Lizzy Stewart! Hailing from London, Lizzy is the author of Minnows, and is the illustrator for various products and editorials. Her work is sharp and colorful, with an inquisitive twist! We loved chatting with her about her inspirations, favorite artists and how to use watercolor “wrong.” Thanks for chatting with us, Lizzy!

Artist Spotlight on Lizzy Stewart by Red Cap Cards @redcapcards

You live in London–have you always lived there? Where else have your travels taken you?
I’ve lived in London for just over three years. Before that I was in Edinburgh, in Scotland where I studied, and I grew up in Plymouth, in South-West England, by the sea!

What inspires you most?
I don't know….I get asked this a lot and there's no answer really. I think, as a rule, creative people are greedy, we consume books and music and film in high volumes and that contributes to our work, of course it does. But its hard to pinpoint, at any given moment, where an influence has come from as its merged with all the other stuff going on in your head. So a drawing might come from a song I've heard, something by Withered Hand or Karen Dalton perhaps, but it also comes from the mood I was in when I woke up that morning, the weather, who I've been speaking to. Rarely do my 'favourite things' crop up in my work. I have plenty of favourite books and films (Annie Hall, Days of Heaven, The Golden Notebook, The Secret History, for example) but they don't really have much bearing on work looks in the end. Its just a feeling you get when you see something that 'gets to you.' That irrepressible urge to make things. Its important not to disregard anything you encounter, its all good stuff. The greedier you are with things the more you'll have to go on.

Did you always want to be an illustrator when you were growing up?
I wanted to be an archaeologist when I was small, I liked dinosaurs and digging, it made sense. The minute it became apparent that drawing was my thing I switched my allegiance to artist (I guess when I was nine or ten). I wanted to be a painter, originally. I moved to Edinburgh to study Fine Art when I was eighteen but somewhere along the way I realised that I was, probably, an illustrator instead. Illustrator isn’t really one of those jobs they suggest to you at school, I hadn’t even realised it was an option until I got to college.

Artist Spotlight on Lizzy Stewart by Red Cap Cards @redcapcards

If you could be anything in the world (besides what you are doing now) what would you be?
I think my back-up was always writer. Which is ridiculous! I’m not sure you can ‘fall back’ on being a novelist! There are so many things that would be fascinating to do. I love the theatre and set design has always intrigued me. Similarly textile design.

Artist Spotlight on Lizzy Stewart by Red Cap Cards @redcapcards

Do you have any upcoming projects that you would like to share with us?
I have quite a lot on the go at the moment but nothing that I can directly share I don’t think. Mostly I don’t want to jinx anything! There’s at least one book on the way…hopefully. Unless I really balls it up!

We noticed your website is named after a song by The National–do you find inspiration in music? What other bands or songs do you relate to?
Urrrgh, thats sort of an annoying bi-product of naming your website during your second year at college! I thought it sounded nice to say but now I just wish I’d used my own name. Oh well. Music is, of course, really important to me. What you listen to when working can totally steer how you work.

Artist Spotlight on Lizzy Stewart by Red Cap Cards @redcapcards

Do you have any spare time hobbies?
I swim three times a week. That's really important to me. Its good to do something that uses your whole body when you spend most of your time hunched over a desk. I always feel so much better after a swim and that first moment, when you dunk your head under and push off into the water, that's a great feeling. Every single time.

Artist Spotlight on Lizzy Stewart by Red Cap Cards @redcapcards

Who are your favorite artists or designers?
Carson Ellis is a long-term favourite. I used to pour over Decemberists artwork as a teenager, it was sort of a revelation to me. It was so beautiful and it fit the records so well and that was the first time I’d really noticed illustration beyond children’s books. Jillian Tamaki is constantly astounding. She seems to have the ability to pull an expressive portrait out of thin air with just two or three deft strokes of a brush. Laura Carlin makes beautiful books and seems to be one of the few artists doing less figurative things in UK children’s publishing. Leanne Shapton does drawing and pictures with equally preposterous levels of skill and subtlety. I like paintings by Agnes Martin, Richard Deibenkorn, Eric Ravilious. All sorts. There’s so much good stuff, fill your boots!

If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be?
I loved Copenhagen, I feel like I know how to live there, not that I could afford it! I don’t know, I like London a lot, sometimes. Its a shame that its such an expensive city and its slowly driving everyone who isn’t obscenely rich away.

Artist Spotlight on Lizzy Stewart by Red Cap Cards @redcapcards

What is your favorite medium to work in?
I love watercolour, I love using it wrong; painting with scrubby, dried out brushes, loading on too much paint, making textural work out of a medium meant for washes. I’m also very very fond of a straightforward pencil. The simplicity of it is so satisfying.

Artist Spotlight on Lizzy Stewart by Red Cap Cards @redcapcards

What is your favorite piece you have ever created?
I wish I could answer this. It feels like such a cop-out to say that I don’t have one. Favourites grow tired quickly for me. Equally things I hated when I made them don’t look so terrible a few years down the line. There are projects I have been proud of (the book Minnows for example) and that's a good feeling…but there are very few things that I would say I fully ‘liked’. That's terrible isn’t it?

Artist Spotlight on Lizzy Stewart by Red Cap Cards @redcapcards

To view Lizzy's designs for Red Cap, click here and view her website, here.

Images courtesy of Lizzy Stewart.

Artist Spotlight: Blanca Gómez March 5, 2015

Next in our quick series of Artist Spotlights: illustrator, Blanca Gómez! Blanca has been a part of the Red Cap family for quite a while, and we love her happy, minimalist, colorful illustrations. Hailing from Madrid, Spain, Blanca uses bright shapes and clean lines. We loved being able to have a little chat with her about what inspires her work, where she would like to travel and her plans for future projects. View her new(!) and old designs for Red Cap here or check out her website, here.

An artist spotlight interview with illustrator, Blanca Gómez by Red Cap Cards @redcapcards

Tell us a little bit about yourself. Did you always want to be an illustrator?
Hello! My name is Blanca, I'm from Madrid and I'm an Illustrator. When I was a child I didn't know one could be a professional illustrator, so when I was asked I used to say I wanted to be a painter. Just to say something, to be true. When I grew up and after a lot of drifting I ended up being a graphic designer. Some more drifting and I reinvented myself as illustrator, and I hope to stay as one.

An artist spotlight interview with illustrator, Blanca Gómez by Red Cap Cards @redcapcards

What is it like living and working in Spain?
I have been living here all my life, except for some breaks, so I guess it isn't that bad. Here in Madrid almost everyone of us has a love/hate relationship with the city, but in my case I think love is finally winning. It may be a cliché but what I like about Madrid is that being a big city, it still feels like a small town; I'm a city rat, but yet I enjoy that simpler, slower life, so to speak. While I physically work here, I don't consider I work in Spain, given that the 99% of my workload is for clients abroad (luckily!) There's always exceptions, but by my limited experience and what my friends and fellow Illustrators say, we still have a long road ahead.

An artist spotlight interview with illustrator, Blanca Gómez by Red Cap Cards @redcapcards

Do you gather inspiration from your environment? What else inspires you?
I'm not really conscious, but inevitably my environment inspires me, I'm sure; everything I like sticks in my head one way or another, and reflects when it is time to work. Because (I always say this but is true nonetheless) there is no inspiration without work. I'm a great believer in randomness during the creative process. I have started with pottery a short while ago, and I'm really enjoying it, so I think it will reflect in my work somehow.

An artist spotlight interview with illustrator, Blanca Gómez by Red Cap Cards @redcapcards

What is your favorite medium to work with?
I'm not an expert in any medium, so I guess I don't have a favorite one. I like mixing and discovering new ways to make things, without an elaborate technique. Lately I like working with collage, inks and pencils.

What is your favorite piece you have ever created?
It's yet to come (or I really hope so! 😉 I'm very happy with the kids book I just finished, Dear Bunny, but I'm still learning, step by step.

An artist spotlight interview with illustrator, Blanca Gómez by Red Cap Cards @redcapcards

What about your favorite Red Cap Card?
Hmm, this is a tough one. I think one of the first or one of the last. Ok, I'll choose one of the last I made. I like the Present Truck, I don't know why, but a truck full of presents is always a win, I think.

If you could work in your dream job (other than what you are doing now) what would it be?
Children book author 😉

An artist spotlight interview with illustrator, Blanca Gómez by Red Cap Cards @redcapcards
An artist spotlight interview with illustrator, Blanca Gómez by Red Cap Cards @redcapcards

Any artists or designers you really look up to and why?
Lowry, he is a painter that reminds of an illustrator. I think I've been inspired lately by his landscapes full of little people. A short while ago I discovered a Japanese artist, Aoki Tetsuo, who works with woodblock. I'm also fascinated lately by the work of Roman Muradov, mostly his inks. I must be in a somewhat dark period. I could keep going forever… so to finish, I will say I like many of the artists from Red Cap Cards, like Christian Robinson (he is pure joy!) or Jon Klassen, or a thousand more.

Favorite meal or drink?
I could never say no to a good pasta, a steak tartare or my mother's meatballs and croquettes, accompanied with red wine.

An artist spotlight interview with illustrator, Blanca Gómez by Red Cap Cards @redcapcards

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? 
Argh! I'm not really answering any question :D! I don't know, there's still a big world for me to discover. I worked abroad once, I went to Berlin for a month and a half, but I came back. I would like to live for a while in Lisbon… which is also close by. I have this fantasy about traveling around the world, working and living in different places. My mother decided to go to London for a very long time when she was sixty, so there's still hope for me!

An artist spotlight interview with illustrator, Blanca Gómez by Red Cap Cards @redcapcards

Are there any new/current/upcoming projects you would like to share with us?
Lately I've been illustrating children books mostly. I've been illustrating one for the US, one for the UK and I have collaborated in a third, and they will all be out in the next months. Right now I'm illustrating another book for the UK, but this time is a completely different thing, it is not a book for children. When I find some time and energy, I want to start illustrating my own story. It's already written, and patiently waiting in the desk drawer. It's a hard step for me. And spring is almost here, so I project to plant a new vegetable garden in my terrace, and watch the flowers blossom.

Images courtesy Blanca Gómez

Artist Spotlight: Anna Emilia Laitinen February 24, 2015

With the brand new designs by Blanca Gómez, Anna Emilia Laitinen, and Lizzy Stewart, we thought we would do a few more Artist Spotlight posts to introduce you to the artists behind the beautiful designs.

First up: Finnish illustrator of the whimsical and wonderful, Anna Emilia Laitinen. We mentioned her a while back in Part 1 of our Scandinavian Dreams post. She spends her time creating fantastical watercolor worlds and we are proud to have her as part of the Red Cap family! See below:

Artist Spotlight on Anna Emilia Laitinen by Red Cap Cards @redcapcards

You live in Finland–have you always lived there? Where else have your travels taken you?
In Iceland I have been living many times since 2003. I was working there with children and older people and when I started to study graphic design, I also did exchange studies in the Art University of Iceland. Now I have been living back in Finland many years, but still my dreams are to live in Iceland or another Northern island one day soon again. Lately I have been traveling in the continental Europe: Portugal, The Netherlands, Scotland, Bulgaria, Estonia and also Scandinavia. I also have been travelling a little bit in Russia. Another place that I dream to go back to is Svalbard, where I visited two years ago. It was so beautiful with glaciers, motor boat trips on the Arctic Ocean and walking in the mountains. And a little bit scary too with the 3000 polar bears.

Artist Spotlight on Anna Emilia Laitinen by Red Cap Cards @redcapcards

What inspires you most?
Nature and people. We as human beings are very small next to the powerful nature. That is what I think most of the times when I paint. Even though we are very clever and all the time learning and discovering new things, we will never be as powerful as the nature is. The beauty of the nature is also how everything there interacts somehow together.

Artist Spotlight on Anna Emilia Laitinen by Red Cap Cards @redcapcards

Did you always want to be an illustrator when you were growing up?
Maybe I was thinking of some more traditional occupation when I was small. I used to be a teacher many times when playing on my own, my favourite part was to teach my (imagination) pupils things in the nature. But all my childhood was about making things by hands: drawing, painting, knitting, sewing, baking. When my teacher told me to apply to study graphic design, I was not sure what it meant, but I think it was a good choice, as you cannot really study only illustrating in Finland. Only after studying some time I understood that I could illustrate.

Artist Spotlight on Anna Emilia Laitinen by Red Cap Cards @redcapcards

What other dream jobs would you love to pursue?
Still I think that teaching might be fun. Also working in the nature or baking.

Do you have any upcoming projects that you would like to share with us?
At the moment I am working with a Japanese tableware company and the first cups, plates, glasses and bowls will be released soon. I wish to have more time this year also for a few own projects. One lovely secret I have, but I am not able to tell about it before the end of April!

Artist Spotlight on Anna Emilia Laitinen by Red Cap Cards @redcapcards

Your work is very tied to nature–do you feel a kinship with the environment in Finland?
Yes, very much. I think we always carry our surroundings with us, at least the ones from our childhood. I believe also to carry the landscapes of Iceland in me as I think so much about them. It is such a huge difference in a way: East of Finland where I grew up is filled with thick forests of fir trees and birches. In Iceland there are not that many trees, you can see so far that you don’t reach it in one day. The glaciers and volcanoes are so beautiful with the North Atlantic framing them. It is very interesting to think of the contrasts, though as people I think Finnish and Icelandic are pretty the same.

Artist Spotlight on Anna Emilia Laitinen by Red Cap Cards @redcapcards

What other things do you like to do in your spare time?
During winter I like to go cross-country skiing and skating. I walk a lot, and run too. I also started to do some simple yoga. During summers I like to bicycle. It is good to be outside in the nature as much as possible. With friends and my god-son we are searching new things in the city. I also sing in a choir, we sing mostly traditional Finnish songs with some jazz and more entertaining ones. Whenever it is possible, I travel abroad or inside Finland. When I am painting, I cook and bake quite a lot too, it is good change to working and silent but practical time to think about the next ideas. During evenings I read a lot.

Artist Spotlight on Anna Emilia Laitinen by Red Cap Cards @redcapcards

Any artists or designers that you look up to and why?
Mostly I am following musicians, I enjoy to go to concerts a lot. Last time I saw an Icelandic singer-songwriter, Ólöf Arnalds, and before that a Finnish jazz musician Verneri Pohjola. One artist that I really enjoy is Andy Goldsworthy, he works with nature in such a special and respectful way. What I love to do on my travels, is to go to see lighthouses: they tell so much about the history and how life has been. The architects that designed the lighthouses, the people who built them and the lighthouse keepers who worked in them in harsh conditions are huge heroes!

If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be?
I love Finland, but partly I could live in Iceland, Faroe Islands or Svalbard. Anywhere by the sea would be perfect. Every place can surely become a home.

Artist Spotlight on Anna Emilia Laitinen by Red Cap Cards @redcapcards

What is your favorite medium to work in?
Most of my works are done by watercolours. I enjoy them the most, though I also draw a little with ink and do collages.

Artist Spotlight on Anna Emilia Laitinen by Red Cap Cards @redcapcards

To view our card designs by Anna Emilia, click here.

Images courtesy Anna Emilia Laitinen

Artist Spotlight: Nicholas John Frith October 1, 2014

It's time for another Artist Spotlight post! In the hot seat today, is our newest addition to the Red Cap family, Nicholas John Frith! We are so excited to have him as a part of our team and just love his fantastic designs in our collection. With a nod to vintage illustration, bold colors, plus a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, his cards are selling out as fast as we can stock them. Below, Nicholas chats with us about how he stays inspired in day-to-day work, his brand new children's book and pipe dream job. Don't forget to check him out on his website and blog as well. Thank you, Nicholas!

Artist Spotlight: Nicholas John Frith for Red Cap Cards - interview and pics @redcapcards

Artist Spotlight: Nicholas John Frith for Red Cap Cards - interview and pics @redcapcards

Tell us a little bit about yourself. Did you always want to be an artist from childhood?
Yes. I’ve heard recalled the tale on countless occasion of how, when I was 6, my teacher told my parents that she thought one day I’d be a graphic designer – well she wasn’t far off.

In secondary (high) school I was always getting my marked science book back with disapproving notes in red about the doodles in the back pages. After school I went to art college and then university, but although I was passionate I was unfocused, unguided. I’m not sure there was ever a conscious decision to ‘be an artist’ or to do it as a job. I just always drew. That’s what I did, who I was. That was enough for me. I guess that’s why I spent the next 12 intervening years doing other things. I never stopped doodling and noting down ideas though. And there was always that pipe-dream lurking of one day writing and illustrating books.

Some things happened in my life a few years back that made me think, and one day it all just clicked. The focus started to come. I took the gamble and moved from working from full-time in my job (waiting tables) to part-time. Hard work and a little luck followed. I eventually took that final leap to full-time freelance. And well.. here I am. Jeez, that feels like a rant. Sorry. Like, that’s the last 30 years of my life in a nut shell there. Scary. Ha!

Where do you gather your inspiration?
Everywhere. Experiences. Dreams of yesterdays past. Books. Nature. And, in the last year, Pinterest!

Artist Spotlight: Nicholas John Frith for Red Cap Cards - interview and pics @redcapcards

What is your favorite medium to create with?
I sketch in pencil (2B, usually), artwork using a brush with black drawing ink, and colour in photoshop. I love a bit of silkscreen printing too, but I rarely make time for that anymore, sadly.

What is your favorite piece you have ever created?
That’s tough to answer. I wouldn’t say I have a favourite, though I’m still pretty fond of a piece I wrote and illustrated a couple of years back for children’s magazine ANORAK, it was a cautionary tale about a mean and greedy wood-pigeon. Oh, and I’ve recently done these fab cards for an ace LA-based company. You may have heard of them… [Editors note: Aww, shucks!]

Artist Spotlight: Nicholas John Frith for Red Cap Cards - interview and pics @redcapcards

Do you ever get “creative block”–and if so, how do you combat it?
Not so much a block but more of self-doubt thing. My brain flips out every few months. So a bit of distance and perspective help. And a lot of post-its on my desk saying ‘relax!’ Doing something else creative without thought to ‘work’ helps too… Time in the kitchen is a good one – I love to cook. Or a long walk. When it happens, it’s a wave that I just need to ride.

Artist Spotlight: Nicholas John Frith for Red Cap Cards - interview and pics @redcapcards

We love your wrapping papers! Will you be doing any special projects like that in the future?
Thanks. Yeah I hope to do some more wrap but there’s nothing in progress yet. I am working on some new things with a company called Beast In Show though. Dave and Sally (the owners) were really the very first supporters of my work – about 4 years back – and doing new projects with them is always such fun. We’re working on a little china snack bowl (we’ve previously done some mugs) and also cushion too.

Artist Spotlight: Nicholas John Frith for Red Cap Cards - interview and pics @redcapcards

If you could work in your dream job (other than what you are doing now) what would it be?
Ooo…Provided I had a very comfortable amount of funds. I’d be happy with no job at all and a lot of hobbies – lots of hobbies to do with travel, writing, cinema, food, music, books… But that does not answer your question does it. Because that’s not really a ‘job’ is it!? Dream job? Okay. Film director, maybe. Brewer?

We hear you are working on a children's book–can you tell us a bit about it?
Yes, that’s all done. Phew! But it won’t be hitting the shelves until next summer. It’s my first picture book, which is pretty exciting and daunting. It’s titled, Hector and Hummingbird, and is set deep in the mountains of Peru. It’s a fun story of the relationship between two odd couple friends, a bear and a hummingbird. It’ll be published here in the UK by Alison Green Books (an imprint of Scholastic), but with some luck it’ll make it’s way to the US and beyond too. Watch this space. I’m starting work on my next book this winter!

Artist Spotlight: Nicholas John Frith for Red Cap Cards - interview and pics @redcapcards

Any artists you really look up to, and why?
Hmm. I love the work of Roger Duvoisin, Leonard Weisgard, the Provensens. Dahlov Ipcar is an inspiration. Speaking of more contemporary artists though. and it may sound like a Red Cap roll-call but Meg Hunt and Jon Klassen. I’m a big admirer of them both. Also Carson Ellis, Bjorn Lie, Jean Jullien, Blexbolex… ah, the list goes on.

To see more of Nicholas John Frith's work for Red Cap Cards, click over to his artist and shop page.

Images courtesy Nicholas John Frith

Artist Spotlight: Josie Portillo May 15, 2014

You may remember meeting Josie Portillo when we wrote a blog entry a few weeks back about her gorgeous map illustrations. Now, she's a part of our Red Cap family, with a brand new line of illustrated greeting cards! We're so happy to have her with us, and are very excited about her brand new designs. We caught up with her to ask her a few questions and get to know a bit about her work and life in Los Angeles. Thanks, Josie!

Interview with Josie Portillo for Red Cap Cards

You live and work in LA–do you take inspiration from your surroundings?
Absolutely! Los Angeles' natural landscapes are just as diverse as its people and communities. Inspiration in inevitably everywhere.

What was it like to be a child in Los Angeles?
I'm lucky to say I had a very pleasant childhood. I'm thankful for having been raised in a city that embraces diversity and creativity. My parents both immigrated from El Salvador in the 1980's so like many others here, I'm a first generation American. Los Angeles provided a nice middle ground for the two converging cultures, so I grew up with a strong sense of identity and an awareness for other cultures and backgrounds. I think understanding different walks of life has been extremely helpful in creating artwork that can connect with a wider audience.

We love your “map” work. Do you plan to illustrate any other cities?
Thank you! Yes, (as soon as I get a free minute) I'm planning on continuing maps of cities I've traveled. I loved New Orleans so much when I visited a few years ago, so that's next on my list as well as a map on my personal take of Los Angeles.

What is your favorite medium to create with?
I'm in love with gouache. I like using lots of different opacity layers when illustrating and think gouache lends itself so nicely to that. I work digitally most of the time but like to incorporate some traditional paint layers in the beginning of my process. Because gouache can be such a tricky medium the results can be a lot more organic, fun and unexpected.

Interview with Josie Portillo for Red Cap Cards

Have you always wanted to be an illustrator? Did you create art as a child?
I never took art classes as a child but loved to draw a lot. I initially wanted to become an architect so my older brother who was enrolled at Art Center College of Design's Saturday high school program encouraged me to take a foundation design class there. My teacher there saw some of my drawings and suggested I look into illustration as a career option – something I had never considered. I was 16 then and that's when I started taking drawing pretty seriously. 6 years later I received my BFA in illustration from Art Center College of Design. And funny enough, my brother became an architect – so I get to live vicariously through him.

Where do you find inspiration for your work?
Reading is important to me, and is a big source of inspiration. I'm also inspired by some of the travels I've done and a lot of what I do is based on memories of experiences I've had and places, people, and things I've seen. As far as reference goes, I was looking at a lot of 1950's children's books when I was in college – I think a lot of the simplistic shapes of that era stuck with me.

What is your favorite piece you have ever created?
I enjoyed working on this piece for NPR's annual calendar. The assignment was to create my own interpretation of what NPR means to me. Not only was it my first commercial project but the creative freedom it gave me made it tough to narrow down my ideas. I just knew I wanted to integrate my hometown in there so I wandered into downtown LA during a jury duty lunch break and sat around the streets eating a kabob plate and sketching what I saw – the idea of an informed and integrated community by way of news access fell into place at that moment.

Interview with Josie Portillo for Red Cap Cards

I also enjoyed working on this poster for the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. The kind folks at the Hollywood Reporter asked me to create a visual representation of the festival and gave me so much creative freedom to do so. Sometimes the projects with the most creative freedom are the most challenging but the fact that art directors can trust my judgement means the world to me.

Interview with Josie Portillo for Red Cap Cards

What is your studio space like?
I share my apartment work space with my photographer boyfriend Scott and our two interns, Chori and Roscoe – (they're really just our lazy doggies). We spend a lot of time working from our home office so I've taken a liking to collecting indoor plants as a way to feel connected with nature. Keeping our space organized and lots of natural light for painting are also a must!

Interview with Josie Portillo for Red Cap Cards

What do you like to do in your off-time?
I like to read, spend time with my dogs, family and friends and whenever I can squeeze in the time, I like to dedicate a part of my day to sitting around at my local coffee shop soaking in my surroundings. Also every Sunday I play on a coed soccer team in order to counter the long hours of sitting at my desk.

If you could work in your dream job (other than what you are doing now) what would it be?
I've always wanted to be doing something in the creative field. If it wouldn't have been illustration it might have been architecture. There was also a moment in high school when I was making my own clothes and handbags, so I briefly considered going into fashion. That might have been fun but I'm thankful I found my path doing illustration.

Interview with Josie Portillo for Red Cap Cards

To view designs by Josie Portillo, visit her shop page.

Photos courtesy Josie Portillo

Artist Spotlight: Christian Robinson March 28, 2014

We are ever-so-excited to be interviewing Red Cap artist, Christian Robinson in the artist spotlight today! He is the illustrator of Harlem's Little Blackbird, which was nominated for an NAACP Image Award in 2013, and most recently won the Ezra Jack Keats Award for his work in Rain!. Christian currently lives in San Francisco where he works mostly in the medium of paper-cuts and animation. His illustrations make us so happy! We're honored to have him in the interview hot seat.

Artist Spotlight on Christian Robinson by Red Cap Cards

We absolutely love your illustrations and papercuts–what is your favorite medium to work with?
Thank you! Paper cut-out might be my favorite. I love the texture and simplicity of collage. Cut-outs force me to design simple and rely more on basic shapes to communicate.

Artist Spotlight on Christian Robinson by Red Cap Cards

Did you always draw and create? Did you always want to be an artist as a child?
ALWAYS! As a child I wanted to be a paleontologist, Jurassic Park convinced a whole generation of kids that you could have a pet dinosaur. Later on I learned how to bring dinosaurs back to life with animation!

What is or has been the biggest inspiration for your work?
Epic question! So many things inspire me. Children's book illustration and graphic art from the 50s-60s, nature, simplicity, cities, children's art, animation, fine art, music, I could keep going.

Click the image below for an old blogpost on things that inspire me:

Artist Spotlight on Christian Robinson by Red Cap Cards

Do you have a personal admiration for Josephine Baker, ie your work in Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker? Are there other historical figures about whom you would love to illustrate a children's book?
Yes, Josephine Baker is one of my Sheros and someone who's story inspires me. When the opportunity to illustrate a picture book about her life crossed my path I was beside myself. I'll share this story that I came across during my own research, It just shows the magnitude of Josephine's heart.

What was your favorite book as a child and why?
Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman. This is probably too heavy of an answer: I was raised my grandmother and probably felt very empathetic to this baby bird trying to find his real mother.

Artist Spotlight on Christian Robinson by Red Cap Cards

You just won the Ezra Jack Keats Award for Rain!–how did you feel when you found out that you won?
GREAT!!! Like, please-don't-awake-from-this-wonderful-dream-great!

Artist Spotlight on Christian Robinson by Red Cap Cards

What is your studio space like?
Well, until recently my studio was a corner in my bedroom. Josephine was created in this sunny corner. But now I work in a shared artist studio.

Artist Spotlight on Christian Robinson by Red Cap Cards

What other contemporary illustrators do you admire?
Lots! Beatrice Alemagna, Kevin Waldron, Jean Jullien, Jockum Nordstrom.

What is your dream job (besides what you are doing now)?
Honestly just being able to continue doing all the sorts of things I'm doing now is the dream. I want to continue making animations, hopefully some music vids. Also to write and illustrate a picture book of my own one day.

What are your favorite things to do during your free time?
Dance, laugh and movies!

If you could vacation anywhere in the world–where would you go?
India is pretty high on my list, ooh or Istanbul!

What is your favorite piece or work you have ever created?
Thats tough, considering I'm my worst critic and often times find it difficult to be satisfied with my work. although it's that same unease that drives me to want to continue to grow and create. Sorry for the non answer 🙂

Artist Spotlight on Christian Robinson by Red Cap Cards

And–what is your all-time favorite meal?
Dang these questions are tough! I can always eat Pupusas (El Salvadorian dish) with avocado and rice and beans on the side. Oh and fried plantains are a must!

Thank you, Christian! Check out Christian Robinson on his website, The Art of Fun, or follow him on his blog.

Images courtesy Christian Robinson.

Artist Spotlight: Kelsey Garrity-Riley February 5, 2014

Artist spotlight posts are our very favorite kind of blog posts! We are so excited to introduce you to our brand new Red Cap artist, Kelsey Garrity-Riley. Whimsical and nostalgic with a touch of melancholy, Kelsey's illustrations are refreshingly natural, comforting and the perfect addition to our family collective. We just loved reading about her unique upbringing around Europe, her inspirations and calming workspace. Welcome, Kelsey Garrity-Riley!

Spotlight on Kelsey Garrity-Riley for Red Cap Cards

What was it like growing up in Germany and Belgium? Do you go back often?
I really love where I grew up. In Belgium we lived in Brussels (such a large, crazy city) then when I was ten we moved to a tiny village of 350 people in Germany on the edge of the Black Forest. It was worlds different! I spent all my time there enjoying the freedom of running around outside. I'm really grateful I had the mix of both those experiences. I think, though, that the feeling of not being entirely from either country or the US has resulted in a lot of mixed emotions. Where my parents live now is fifteen minutes from the French border, and we always spent a lot of time in France. I think more than any other country in Europe I feel at home there–I speak French more than German and just prefer the culture. I'm so grateful that I've been able to go back for a month every year around the Holidays. Its so amazing to get to spend that time with my family and be re-inspired by the familiarities of home.

Did you always want to be an artist as a child? Did you draw and create even then?
I always loved creating things, but I don't think I knew that illustration exactly was the path that would best fit my creativity until college. I was constantly drawing when I was younger. I spent a lot of time on more three dimensional creations as well–mainly a little village of mice characters I made out of clay and different small found objects. There was no question I wanted to pursue art in school–but once I got to SCAD I spent a lot of time deliberating between fashion, painting and illustration. It seems like a no-brainer now but it wasn't at the time.

Spotlight on Kelsey Garrity-Riley for Red Cap Cards

Where do you find inspiration for your work?
I love objects–things with stories, collecting things, arranging things, discovering things. The natural world is hugely influential. I always go back and draw from memories of experiences and places. I love looking to current interior design and fashion–even if they don't show up directly in my work. I feel very blessed to have family and friends who inspire me creatively. My brother has been staying with us for the past few months while he works on his studio apartment–he does the most amazing woodworking. Lately it has been especially inspiring to spend so much time talking over new projects and creative plans with him and my husband.

Spotlight on Kelsey Garrity-Riley for Red Cap Cards

What is your studio space like?
The studio room that my husband and I share is in our apartment in Savannah, Georgia. Its actually the biggest room in our small house (the landlord is still very confused by that choice). There are vignettes of objects we find especially inspiring all around–lots of found sticks, books and odd treasures. I'm really terrible, though, laying out messes and projects all around the house. I end up working at the dining room table a lot, or spread out on the floor.

We love your work with The Paris Market! Were you hired to create installations exclusively? What is your inspiration for creating there?
I was working there (retail) during my last few years of school, and right around the time I graduated it just so happened that another coworker and I took over doing all of the visual merchandising and display art. I absolutely adore it there! It's been such an unexpected creative education in so many ways, and I love getting to work with such a wonderful close group of people. I always thought my creative dream was to spend all my time alone, working from home. But now I really relish that balance of spending time working on projects with a few other creatives who share the same vision. I think its been especially good for me to get to practice curating objects. Its one thing to be fascinated and enjoy beautiful things, and it's another to view them as a part of a fuller collection, knowing when to add more and when to leave things out. It's a lot of the same basic design principles that apply to art as well, but on a larger scale. As far as inspiration, it's such a small group of close friends. We end up just talking over things that inspire us personally, or cool vintage finds or pieces of history. Ideas end up snowballing naturally, usually over sketchbooks and coffee. Getting to work on a project from the initial idea, to the sketches, to the buying, to the creation and then display is really exciting.

Spotlight on Kelsey Garrity-Riley for Red Cap Cards

What is your most favorite thing about being an artist? What is your least favorite?
My favorite thing? When the desire and the idea inside actually match up with the moment and present themselves on paper. My least favorite part about being an artist, is that it also means being a businesswoman- definitely not my strength- but I'm working on it!

What is your dream job (besides what you are doing now)?
I'm definitely excited about life as an illustrator, but if I had to choose another route I would probably go into antiquing/display/styling full time. And if I could choose a third thing I would love to be a florist/botanist/gardener.

If you could vacation anywhere in the world–where would you go?
So many places! But recently I've been thinking that I'd love to explore Japan if given the chance.

Do you cook, if so–what is your favorite dish to create?
I do really enjoy cooking. Nothing too fancy. We eat a lot of beans and rice- or curry over rice (great on an artists budget and thankfully we really enjoy it). If I could eat Thai food for every meal I would, but no recipe I've tried matches up to curry from our favorite restaurants. I even ordered an assortment of curry pastes on amazon hoping to discover the secret. No luck yet- just a fridge full of crazy tubs of curry.

Your husband, Erik, is also an artist. Do you ever collaborate on work?
We never collaborate on literal pieces, but there isn't a piece, or a day that goes by that we don't talk about where we're at with our work. I'm continually blown away and inspired by the balance of humor and beauty he creates. Selfishly I can't imagine not having his critical eye or his encouragement in my own work and life. I feel so enormously fortunate that creating alongside each other is such a mutually important part of our lives together.

Spotlight on Kelsey Garrity-Riley for Red Cap Cards

What is your most favorite piece you have ever created?
I created six pieces for an Italian Children's Book competition called Teatrio my senior year at SCAD. The theme was “cannonball lady”. I don't think I've ever felt more personally proud of anything I've created. Ironically, even though it got 3rd place in the competition internationally, I was told repeatedly by publishers in the US that the style was too dark and alienating, and to keep it out of my portfolio. I don't regret cheering things up a bit in my work now, but I would like to one day explore working on more pieces that have this color palette and character ambiguity.

Spotlight on Kelsey Garrity-Riley for Red Cap Cards

View Kelsey's designs for Red Cap here, and view more of her work on her website.

Thanks, Kelsey!

Photos courtesy Kelsey Garrity-Riley

Red Cap Artist Spotlight: Anke Weckmann October 31, 2013

We love Anke Weckmann! Hailing from London in the UK (originally from Germany), Anke is a valued member of our Red Cap family! With introspective drawings that portray both wit and whimsy, she manages to convey emotion as well as humor in her work. You may remember our post (Apprendre le Français avec Anke Weckmann) on her French lesson series from July, and since then, Anke has been churning out even more incredible work! We are so happy to introduce her to you in our artist spotlight.

PLUS we are starting a brand new, fun project with all of our artist interviews! We've asked Anke to curate her very own “What Anke Likes” board onto our Pinterest page. It's always so fun to catch a tiny glimpse into an artist's mind. Click here to view and follow!

Anke Weckmann for Red Cap Cards

Have you always known that you wanted to be an illustrator?
I've always known that I wanted to do something creative. When I was little I wanted to be an author who also draws the pictures in her books even though I didn't really write, but I always loved to draw. Back then I didn't know illustration could be a job or I'm pretty sure I would have wanted to do exactly that! When we had careers advice at school, the only creative jobs that came up were architect, graphic designer, fine artist and fashion designer. I enjoyed making stuff so after I graduated high school I started studying fashion design and sewing. It was a pretty rubbish course and I was miserable a lot of the time but it also made it clear to me that what I really wanted to do was draw! Another thing I had always wanted to do was to live in England, so I decided to move to London, began studying illustration and have been obsessed with it ever since.

Where do you gain most of your inspiration for your work?
Looking at everything, especially shapes and colours. Good food. Films and music. All the girl characters I've been obsessed with since I was little. Starting with Pippi Longstocking (in the amazing picture book illustrations by Ingrid Vang Nyman), later Anne of Green Gables, Harriet the Spy, Margot Tenenbaum, Lisbeth Salander and so many more.

Anke Weckmann for Red Cap Cards

We see that you just did a cover for Frankie and Frrresh! Do you have any other great projects coming up?
Commissions are usually a bit secret until they're printed, but I'm planning a new series of weekly illustrations for 2014 that I'm excited about.

Anke Weckmann's cover for Frrresh on Red Cap Cards blog

Which do you enjoy more–commissioned editorial work or works from your own imagination for your brand?
Definitely both. I always enjoy doing my own work and I'm sure I could entertain myself with personal projects for the rest of my life. But it's also fun to work with other people, draw things I maybe wouldn't have thought of myself and of course seeing the work printed! I also like how the two areas inspire each other and are challenging in different ways.

We love your French lesson series. How long have you been studying French, and why did you start?
I'm glad you like them! Well, I had French classes in school but back then I was obsessed with English and had zero interest in French, which I totally regret now because I made very little effort to learn it. Two years ago I started to learn French again and I've been doing some online classes. Knowing a language opens up a whole world of films, books, art, music and people – translations or subtitles just aren't the same. And France is so close to the UK, I look forward to exploring it when I'm a little more fluent.

Anke Weckmann for Red Cap Cards

What is your favorite piece you have ever created?
I rarely look back on stuff when it's finished, so my favourite thing is always what I'm working on at the moment or what I'm planning to do next.

If you could have any other job besides what you are doing now, what would be?
I can't imagine doing anything else, if I don't draw I get unhappy very quickly. Having worked in retail for 6 years (during university and for a few years after) I really appreciate being able to illustrate full-time.

Anke Weckmann for Red Cap Cards

What do you like to do in your off-time?
I love exercising, it gets me away from the desk and keeps me pain-free and happy. And I like exploring London with James, I feel like even though I've lived here for 12 years I haven't that done nearly enough because I've been working so much. I also spend a lot of my off-time drawing in cafés, libraries and working on personal projects.

Thanks, Anke!

To view Anke's collection for Red Cap Cards, click here.

Photos courtesy of Anke Weckmann

Red Cap Artist Spotlight: Sarah Burwash September 19, 2013

You didn't think that we had forgotten about talented Sarah Burwash, did you? Debuting alongside Yelena Bryksenkova, Burwash is a talented and valuable artist in our Red Cap family. Her beautiful and calming watercolor illustrations convey a casual lovely elegance that is perfect for the every day. We are so happy to have her as part of our team–and happy to introduce her to you! Meet Sarah Burwash:

Sarah Burwash for Red Cap Cards

Tell us about your life in Novia Scotia. Have you always lived there?
I grew in Rossland B.C., a small interior mountain town. I moved to Nova Scotia three years ago, I drove from one coast to the other in a 1987 Tercel with two friends, I felt a pull East, it was an intuitive decision and have stayed. I currently live in a camper trailer across from the ocean. The mountains are in my blood but I have found myself very taken by the East coast and the Atlantic ocean and still have so much to uncover.

Have you always wanted to be an illustrator? Did you create art as a child?
I wanted to be an artist since I was little. I grew up in a very arts and crafty house hold, we had craft time every day as kids and I always loved to draw. I didn't ever plan on being an illustrator though as a teenager I dreamed of illustrating children's books. I came into it serendipitously. My drawing style is illustrative and that naturally led me to doing small jobs for people here and there and as more work came my way I decided to pursue opportunities myself.

Aside from your elegant illustration work, you also make ceramics, jewelry and collages. Which medium do you prefer, and how do you find so much inspiration for so many different types of art work?
Ha, well drawing, painting, and illustrating would be what I am most invested in. My drawing practice in particular which I consider different my from my illustration practice though they over lap in a big way. Other mediums weave their way into my practice. I grew up doing so much crafting that it feel natural to jump between mediums and do a range of things. I also grew up in a 'do it yourself' family. I have very talented parents and between the two of them and their different skills, they could make almost anything. If I went to the mall as a kid with my mom and liked something she'd say 'We can make that' and that went for a lot of things in our house. So when I see things I like or have an idea for clothing, jewellery, ceramics that I want in my wardrobe, kitchen, life it is my instinct to try and make it myself. Those avenues then bleed into my 2d work and vice versa.

Sarah Burwash for Red Cap Cards

Tell us a bit about your work for magazines like Kinfolk. Do you enjoy editorial illustration–and do they give you free reign to create as you see fit?
I have really enjoyed doing editorial work, it can be challenging, and to be challenged in my work is something I crave so I am grateful for the opportunities and like the balance between my personal art practice with freelance work. My work for Kinfolk has been both very open ended and very specific. They have been great to work with, I appreciate the trust and confidence they have in me.

Sarah Burwash for Red Cap Cards

If you could have any career (besides what you are doing now), what would you want to do?
I would run a bed and breakfast in BC or Nova Scotia with cabins/ yurts/ trailers that me and my fella built. I love to cook, to be outdoors, to grow, to live intentionally and unconventionally and I would love to share the things that drive me with others, a share a place that is important to me with people from afar, give them an authentic experience. I have lived in many places driven by tourism and I am critical of it and would be interested to take a different angle.

What is your favorite piece that you have ever done, and why?
Oh I have I no idea, I don't have one, it's ever changing.


What's your dream vacation?
Sailing to Norway and perhaps the Greek Islands with my sweetheart.

Thank you, Sarah!

To view Sarah's collection for Red Cap Cards, click here.

Select images courtesy of Sarah Burwash.

Red Cap Artist Spotlight: Yelena Bryksenkova September 10, 2013

We're so happy to have brand new Red Cap artist, Yelena Bryksenkova, in the artist spotlight today! Yelena's illustrations are touching and elegant, while maintaining a whimsical, every day lightness (this one is the perfect example of that happy whimsy!). She is a great addition to our little family and we were delighted to get to know her a bit better and to share her interview with all of you. Enjoy!

Yelena Bryksenkova for Red Cap Cards

Tell us about your upbringing–such an interesting juxtaposition between Russia and Ohio!
My mom and I left Saint Petersburg in 1996 when I was eight years old, and in recent years I have been returning to Russia for a few weeks at a time. I feel lucky to be familiar with and able to navigate seamlessly between two such different worlds. For me, very tangled, often sad, feelings are associated with emigration, but also great beauty. Some days it feels like a special secret that only I know, other times it can get lonely because I know I can't ever be truly able to explain how I feel, at least not in words. So I hope some glimmer of it comes through in my work.

Have you always wanted to be an artist?
Not at all. I drew pictures, but not much more than the average kid. It wasn't until the last two years of high school, when I took a commercial art class designed to prepare students for art school, that I even considered it. I took everyone–including myself–by surprise when I became serious about it and enrolled at the Maryland Institute College of Art. It was there that I discovered illustration as a career path and I haven't looked back since!

What is your imaginary pet elephant's name and what does he do all day while you are working?
His name is Vaclav and he's usually curled up sleeping under my chair. He's a very low-maintenance pet.

Yelena Bryksenkova studio

Where does your inspiration come from?
Books, films, music, memories, exhibitions, clothing, interesting color palettes, images I come across on the internet–absolutely everything. There's usually one thing that has me captivated at any given moment and I live under its spell until the next wave of inspiration. I try to keep my eyes open and carry a notebook for writing down half-formed ideas or themes to return to. My mind and my computer are visual catalogs where I file away all of the beautiful things I see, and they all appear in my work eventually, in one form or another.

Yelena Bryksenkova studio

We love the artistic process videos that you have posted on your blog. Is your art process usually the same for each piece?
My process stays uniform for every piece until I accidentally have a breakthrough and discover a new way of doing something. It's through these small changes that my style evolves.

If you could have any career (besides what you are doing now), what would you want to do?
I would be a flight attendant, probably on an International airline.

What is your favorite piece that you have ever done, and why?
I'm usually “over” every new thing I do within a day, but this painting, “Ghost,” feels special to me. It's not particularly interesting or skillful in style or color, but it felt so personal that I was afraid to share it on the internet! That seems crazy now, but I was so nervous, and for that reason it's very dear to me.

ghost by Yelena Bryksenkova

To view Yelena's collection for Red Cap Cards, click here.

All images courtesy Yelena Bryksenkova

Red Cap Artist Spotlight: Francesca Montanari July 16, 2013

We are so happy to have Francesca Montanari (aka “Frenchy”) in the Red Cap artists' spotlight today. We were first introduced to Frenchy's work years ago, when we saw the Devics “Secret Message to You” video below–directed by Marco Morandi–and fell in love with her simplistic, pure illustration.

After our initial crush on her illustration work, we met in 2007 and Frenchy became the first artist to collaborate with Red Cap Cards! A multi-talented artist, Francesca works in multiple mediums suh as illustration, fashion design and even designs show posters for musical artists!

francesca montanari

Where were you born and where do you live now?
I was born in Italy in a small town called Lugo where, after living in America and Berlin for many years, I came back to. I live in Lugo at the moment.

Did you know you were an artist at a young age?
Artist is not a word that I usually use or used. I consider myself a creative person who is experimenting with different tools to express my voice. I started as an illustrator, then I did graphic design, then I had a passion for hats and right now I'm making clothes and knitting.

tortoise by francesca montanari

Were you formally trained as an artist?
I went to Art College but I never really studied to become anything that I ended up doing. I've always been a self-taught.

Not only are you are you a talented illustrator but you are fashion designer. Do you have a preference between the two?
I've always preferred the thing that I was doing while I was doing it. Right now I'm a clothing designer and love it.

clothing by francesca montanari

I have always been a huge fan of your hats, they are so beautiful, especially on you. Where did the love for hat come from?
Thank you so much! I've always loved hats but I started to make them while I was leaving in LA in the 2000. I was invited at a fancy party and I wanted to wear a hat for the occasion so I made myself one. People at the party loved it and some of them wanted it so…one after the other I created my collection. It has been a very fun period of my life!

hats by francesca montanarihats by francesca montanari

Where is the most inspiring place you’ve ever been?
I would say that each place I've been to inspired me something different and gave me something unique and precious. All together is who I am today. But sure it's traveling and living in different places in the world that really opened my mind and taught me a lot of things, enriching my life and knowledge.

Do you have a favorite Children’s book?
mmm…I love so many that I can't think of one in particular. I'll think about it and I'll let you know 🙂

View Francesca's designs for Red Cap here on the Red Cap Cards website.

Thanks, Frenchy!

Red Cap Artist Spotlight: Chris Sasaki May 22, 2013

We are so excited to introduce a brand new, very talented artist to our Red Cap Cards family: Chris Sasaki. If you haven't had a chance to view his newly-added greeting cards on our site, make sure to skedaddle over there soon, as his charming style is not one to miss! When he's not designing cards for us, Chris works as a character designer at Pixar Animation Studios in San Francisco. We were delighted to catch up with him and ask him a few questions about his life and amazing work!

A little birdie told us that you grew up in Hawaii–so did Hal! Which island did you grow up on? And how old were you when you left?
Actually, I'm not from Hawaii, but my extended family is. My great-grandfather worked in the cane fields there at a young age, and my father grew up in Honolulu. That's where I spent a lot of my childhood summers, and my grandparents still live there. Matsumoto is still the best shaved ice I have ever had!

Did you draw when you were a little kid?
As soon as I was able to hold a pencil, I was always drawing. I remember spending hours and hours drawing with my grandfather, who is an architect. He was always encouraging me and those are some of my favorite memories. I still love to fill placemats at restaurants with doodles, just like I did as a kid.

Chris and his good buddy, Beans

Obviously you work with a lot of different mediums. Do you have a favorite? What was the process that you used for creating your collection with Red Cap?
The mediums I choose are always different. I like to explore and keep things exciting. I hate to narrow it down to one thing. For the Red Cap cards specifically, I used ink, crayon, and colored pencils. When I have the time and opportunity, I always gravitate towards traditional mediums, although I do some tweaking and touch-ups digitally. I feel like it's a nice break from doing things at work, where I mostly draw digitally to accommodate changes and the intense time constraints.

Do you have a favorite card in your collection?
I think my favorite card in the collection is the boar “Thank You” card. It was the first idea I thumbnailed. I drew a lot of thumbnails, and a lot of things changed, but the boar is one that stuck.

boar thank you card by Chris Sasaki for Red Cap Cards

Currently you are a character designer at Pixar. Did you always want to work in animation? What characters or films have you worked on most extensively?
Actually it's interesting, I always loved to draw, and loved the classic Disney films (101 Dalmatians especially) but never really thought I would make a career out of it. In high school I really didn't know what I wanted to do afterwards. Then I saw Monsters Inc. and it became a big turning point in my life. It had great characters, a lot of heart, and a great story. Within that week I applied to animation schools.

Amazingly, the first feature film I worked on professionally was Monsters University and it has been incredible to see things come full-circle. I got to design a lot of the new cast, and it was so rewarding to give back to something that inspired me to pursue animation in the first place. One of my favorite characters I got to design was a monster named Art. His design is like a furry purple rainbow, and the animators really went to town on bringing him to life. I feel like he really steals the show, and am so proud to have been a part of the process.

Image courtesy of Disney // Pixar

We think you would make amazing picture books. Would this be something you’d ever consider doing?
YES! It is one of my big-time goals. At Pixar, my job is to design characters for film, but the audience almost never gets to see the drawings. I would love to illustrate a story where my drawings are the final product.

We’ve noticed that you have quite a few tattoos. How old were you when you got your first one? What was it?
Yes, I do have a lot of tattoos. I love tattoos and how they can be a graphic memento of something people experience. I think that's the storyteller in me. I was always fascinated with tattoos, and would always be drawing fake ones on my arms with a sharpie when I was a child. So, naturally when I turned 18 I made it real. My very first tattoo was a tree on my left shoulder, which is a symbol for my last name.

I'm going to assume that you are a whiskey drinker. Is that a safe assumption? Do you have a favorite?
Yes! I love bourbon. I recently went to Brooklyn, NY and visited Kings County distillery. If I had to choose one as my favorite for this month, that would be it! But I'm always finding new and tasty ones!

Thank you, Chris!!

Red Cap Artist Spotlight: Jill Labieniec May 1, 2013

Here at Red Cap Cards, we want you to get to know (and love!) our artists as much as we do, so we've put together a new little Artist Spotlight series. This time, we're interviewing Seattle-based illustrator, Jill Labieniec about her artistic process, upcoming projects, and adorably “drooley” St. Bernard.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your illustrations. What are you inspired by?
A lot of my inspiration comes from daydreams of adventures I would like to have. I really enjoy drawing partners in crime traveling the world by kite or simply enjoying a picnic.

A few facts about me.. I grew up on a dirt road in Connecticut. The serious dirt kind where I actually had to stop my car to let a reallllly slow cow cross the road.

I was home schooled up until the sixth grade, which I am pretty sure made my middle school experience ten times more awkward than the average kid's. In homeschool, my mom let us pick out our “first day of school” outfits which we wore excitedly while we did our science experiments in the kitchen.

I first attended college for costume design but after three consecutive New York blizzards, headed south to Florida where I took up illustration.

After college I moved out to Seattle where I currently live. We recently adopted a St Bernard named Truman. He drools a lot. You can see a million pictures of him on Instagram if you are the kind of person (which I am) who likes to look at way too many pictures of animals.

What is your artistic process like? What mediums do you use?
I adore my Gocco printer! Anything I can print with that little plastic box makes me pretty happy. Recently I have been learning all about letterpress, and while I am not very skilled, I am having a blast. Once I got over the fear of squashing a finger or two it started going along quite nicely 🙂

We've been noticing some books that you designed and illustrated here and there! What do you have published, and do you have any new ones coming out? What is the publishing process like for you?
About two years ago I started freelancing for Compendium Inc, where I now work full time, and got to design my first book, Celebrating You. It was definitely a learning experience! I recently finished the companion book called Lucky Us, which overall went a lot smoother. Another recent project is a guestbook called Celebrate. I was very excited because I got to use gold foil on the cover. I would probably foil everything if they would let me.

What is your favorite part of your work? The process, the outcome, or something else?
A little bit of both…is that a lame answer? They can be equally frustrating or rewarding. Sometimes you have an idea and the design process is smooth sailing but then you start printing and a million little problems pop up. There are prints I have made where I am lucky to get ten really good ones out of sixty pieces of paper. On the other hand, sometimes you hit a serious creative block, but you really have the desire to print, so you sit around for hours/days doodling before you finally have something worth wasting some ink and paper on. And fingers crossed, if all goes well, those prints usually end up coming out the best.

Who are your favorite other artists or designers?
Honestly, I feel really lucky to work with the designers that I do. They are all pretty awesome. Also, getting involved with Red Cap has opened my eyes to some really great artists and I still can't believe I get to be on the same label with them! All of those amazing people aside, I really enjoy the work of Jim Flora, M. Sasek, Leah Duncan, Grady McFerrin, and my big sister and her husband’s collaboration: Lab Partners. And a whole lot more!

View more of Jill's work on her website. Thanks, Jill!

Images courtesy of Jill Labieniec and Compendium Inc.