We are so excited to be interviewing our newest debut RCC artist, Nolan Pelletier, for this special Artist Spotlight post! Nolan is a breath of bold, bright, and beautiful air. He is a master of colorful and detailed work–often reminding us of styles and themes from many different eras of amazing art. If you haven’t had a chance to check out his styles of gift wrap, greeting cards, and bags–you WON’T want to miss them. The colors burst off the page, and inspire us to live our most colorful life! Read on to learn more about his work, sources of inspiration, and of course, his favorite drink. Thank you, Nolan! We love you!
Tell us about your life in Canada! How did you end up there from Connecticut?
As a pre-teen I loved the charmingly low-budget 80s Teen Drama Degrassi Jr. High. I convinced my parents to bring me to Toronto to visit the filming locations, and thought Toronto was exotic and fun and exciting. In 2007 I moved here for art school. Now all my friends and my wife (Kaley—she’s also an illustrator) are here, so I’m stuck in Canada!
My absolute favorites from that era are Naiad and Walter Einsel, Joseph Low, and John Alcorn. I was lucky to have the opportunity to get to know Naiad Einsel in the last few years of her life, and her art and life are a constant inspiration.
What is your favorite piece of work you’ve created?
Probably the newspaper I illustrate, design, and publish, The Somnolent Garden Rambler. I distribute it for free around Toronto and New York. It was bumming me out that all my personal work was only being seen on tiny phone screens, so I wanted to create something that was tactile. I’ve put out two issues so far, and would like to start work on the 3rd soon. It’s nice to have complete control over both the form and content of the publication.
We are so happy to report that Red Cap Cards is making an appearance the newest issue (90) of Frankie magazine! We love you, Frankie! For those of you in Australia–guess what!–you don’t have to wait. Pop over to your favorite fantastic newsstand and pick up a copy of Issue 90. For those of us stateside, we sadly need to wait just a teeny bit longer to catch this issue. The issue lands in the states on August 12th. OR, if you can’t wait, just order a copy here and they’ll ship it right out to you!
Our new release is finally here, and we can’t wait to show you some of the fantastic things we have been cooking up for you with our talented RCC artists. Summer is right around the corner (just a few weeks away!) so we wanted to get you started on some wild and colorful fun for the coming heat. And it’s going to be hot… Today, we’ve got new styles of cards, gift wrap, and gift bags, plus we are thrilled to introduce two new artists: Nolan Pelletier and Dylan Mierzwinski.
Our artists never cease to amaze us: in their artwork, in their lives, and in their other creative projects. We’ve been falling head over heels for some of the ceramic work by a few of our brilliant artists and couldn’t wait to share it with the world! Josie Portillo recently had a show at the Xiem Clay Center in Los Angeles and we fell down the rabbit hole of inspiration! Check out a few of these amazing pieces that she has been working on:
Also creating enviable ceramic works is RCC artist, Danielle Kroll! One of the founders of the collaborative art collective, Beech Hall, Danielle often dabbles in playful ceramics like planters, baskets, bowls and vases. “Ceramics is a happy place because I don’t take on commissioned work in that medium,” she says. “Which also means that I don’t get to work with clay that much since it never takes priority. I still feel like I’ve only tapped the surface with that.”
Yelena Bryksenkova has also shared a bit of her ceramic work after a hand-building class at Still Life Ceramics, and we are in love. Tiny little handmade vessels, full of life and character. Head over to her Instagram to view more!
Josie, Danielle, and Yelena, each of you amaze us! Keep up the fantastic work!
Lucky us! Two fantastically fun things this week in one post, from two talented Red Cap artists: Kate Pugsley and Krista Perry. This week, we are excited to be showing off Kate’s brand new children’s book from Tundra Books, Mermaid Dreams, plus an inspirational artistic process tutorial from Krista Perry. Read on for more!
Have you caught a glimpse of Kate Pugsley’s new book, Mermaid Dreams? We are entranced! Full of color, brilliant sea creatures, and with an embossed cover (oh my, check out that detail) this is one we are going to pick up for certain! Am I the only one that held my ankles together in the pool as I swam and pretended to be a mermaid? It probably looked more like flailing than swimming, but the magic was there, right!?
The story: “One sunny Saturday, Maya and her parents visit the beach. Maya loves the beach: the warm sand feels wonderful between her toes. But it would be more fun if she had a friend. Too shy to say hello, Maya watches the kids play nearby, and slowly her eyes droop closed . . . When Maya awakens she has been transported to a magical underwater world. Maya admires the sea creatures flitting around her, and she discovers that she too has a beautiful tail. Maya is a mermaid! But who is calling out a greeting from behind that coral? Whose bright eyes are peering at her from the sea grass? Whose laughter does she hear? Could it be a new friend? Or just another sea creature?”
Mermaid Dreams by Kate Pugsley, Tundra Books, 2019. Preorder now–the book comes out on April 30th. We can’t wait to get our hands on it! The perfect gift to get a little reader ready for those summer swims.
Up next, how amazing to have a little in-progress tutorial from RCC artist, Krista Perry! Each of our artist’s processes are so different and we love being a fly on the wall, able to catch a glimpse and learn a thing or two. Krista offered to guide us through her process in the creation of a personal piece, and we jumped at the chance… Take a look below, and thank you, Krista!
From Krista: The steps that I use to make a painting can be extensive, but nonetheless rewarding! I usually start with a couple quick thumbnails and then turn them into a finished drawing. When I’m sketching for a new painting, I usually have a pretty solid color scheme in mind, but still make color studies just in case experimenting with color changes my mind. Color studies also make the painting process easier to begin because you’re essentially making a color-by-number for yourself.
After drawing or printing my sketch to the size I’d like, I transfer it to the surface. I like to use red Saral brand transfer paper! Next, I paint all of the solid colors in. With most paintings, I’ll paint small details and line work last. This is a fairly straight forward technique that I’ve been following ever since I was in art school.
All of my Red Cap Cards work also follow these steps! I love working like this because it keeps me easily organized so I can focus on the best part — painting! KP
We wanted to write a post just to celebrate the amazingness of these two! Marsha and Michelle Robinson are twin-sisters and are both fine artists. Marsha Robinson (aka Strange Dirt) is a Denver-based RCC artist, with a beautiful collection of cards that we just can’t get enough of. Her work plays with the line between fluidity and order, and combines an architectural quality with nature and earth.
Michelle Robinson is a Seattle-based fine artist who utilizes boldly-colored geometric shapes and metallics to honor beautiful, organic bodies and abstract shapes and forms. Each artist creates work that is vastly unique to themselves, and because of this, we are so enamored by the fact that they are twins! How much talent can fit in a womb?
The artists have a joint art show coming up in June–more details on that to come, so stay tuned! In the meantime, enjoy the work of Marsha (top) and Michelle Robinson (bottom) below, and do visit their websites for more, linked above and below.
And we had to show off a few of our Red Cap Cards by Marsha Robinson as well! You can view her entire collection for RCC, here. Take a look below:
When artists band together, they can change the world! We are very excited for this upcoming children’s book from Scholastic UK’s Alison Green, Kind: A Book about Kindness, with a forward by Axel Scheffler (The Grufflalo), and pictures by 38 kind illustrators.
Each of the 38 artists gifted their work as a celebration of kindness to this project in order to benefit Three Peas, a charity which helps families that are forced from war-torn countries, specifically Syria. A donation from the sale of each book benefits the work that Three Peas does in these countries. Illustrators include our very own Red Cap artist, Lizzy Stewart (!), Melissa Castrillon (see her gorgeous illustration of a “kindness jar” below), Sir Quentin Blake, Chris Haughton, Birgitta Sif, Britta Teckentrup, Marianna Coppo, Nick Sharratt and more! You can get your own copy here, soon to be available at more locations. We can’t wait to get our hands on one, and are inspired by the kindness, beauty, and love that art can inspire. See below for a statement from Alison Green. Way to go, artists! #keeptheloveflowing
Publisher Alison Green says: “Kind is one of the most important projects I’ve ever worked on. I’m thrilled to be raising money for Three Peas, to support their vital work, and I’ve been overwhelmed by the response from all of the illustrators. I’m incredibly grateful to them for their generosity in donating the artwork for the book, and would like to thank Axel, in particular, for all his support in championing the project. This feels very much like the right book at the right time. With so much division in the world, it seems more important than ever to talk about kindness, and to offer children a positive, hopeful and empowering message.”
The newest, long-awaited issue of Bright Lite magazine has finally arrived in the mailbox! This month, Bright Lite features four amazing and talented female Red Cap artists in their colorful and gorgeous, matte pages, as they discuss art, life, and mental health. If you haven’t taken a look inside this treasure trove–definitely get to your newsstand quickly!! Bright Lite is an independent magazine created for girls, ages 10 – 16, and we are so inspired by the the magazine’s mission. Here’s a bit about them straight from the source:
“Every issue, we strive to give young girls a place to express their experiences and reflections on a central theme. We, at Bright Lite, strongly believe that it is never too early to start communicating and connecting with one another.
Our bi-annual magazine will be a collection of submissions from girls all over the world, including photos, interviews, articles, recipes, crafts, journals, music and advice curated just for them.
Bright Lite is a safe space for you, me and everyone else. This is a place where you can express your thoughts, feelings and everything in between. We’re kind of like a giant shared journal.”
This month, the central theme is HEALTH. We had the pleasure of interviewing Kate Pugsley, Bodil Jane, Krista Perry, and Dinara Mirtalipova to discuss how art helps to center their lives and work as women and artists. Definitely pick up Issue 8 and check out the interviews, plus so so much more, like an amazing coloring page by Krista Perry, recipes, comics, articles and more. ALSO, make sure to take a peek at their super-cool website which has fun quizzes, horoscopes, stories and articles that are so fun and inspiring for young girls.
Thank you so much, Bright Lite, for including us in this issue. You are a sparkling gem!! See below for some pictures of this amazing new issue:
We are beyond delighted to introduce to you a special guest collaborator, Cressa Maeve Beer aka @beeragon! She is a self-described: “stop motion artist, video preditor, and queer dinosaur living in Brooklyn,” and has produced content for Refinery29, New York Post, Hearst, and MTV among others. We are so honored that she has used her amazing, breath-of-fresh-air talent to create a special series of stop-motion videos for Red Cap Cards! You may have seen a few popping up on our Instagram here and here with fantastic music by @a_sarr — but we know you want to know more! Using her trademark stop-motion Godzilla characters to perform haiku greeting cards by Johnathan Rice for RCC, she has created the most enchanting films that are pure wit and joy. Just take a look below! And read on to hear about her life, her creative process, and the best piece of advice she’s ever gotten. Be sure to check out her other work on her Instagram, @beeragon, or her website, cmbeer.com.
Tell us about a day in the life of Cressa!
My mornings are really important to me – I tend to get more work done, and I can think a little more fluidly. Creativity comes a little more clearly too. I usually get up at 5 AM and try to exercise while I’m too groggy to realize that I hate jogging. After that I have a small daily ritual of making a pot of tea, journaling, meditating, and gratitude. Then I make breakfast (and on weekdays cook my lunch to take with me to my day job) and do a little personal work, whether that’s writing or editing a stop motion project – sometimes I’ve even managed to squeak out a short shoot before having to catch the train. During the week I work as Head of Post Production for the video team at the New York Post, where I’ve been editing and occasionally producing the last few years.
Here are some of my best pieces that I did, if you want to see what I shoot outside of stop motion:
After work varies daily, but some of my favorite things to do are seeing a show at House of Yes, peruse Strand Bookstore, catch up with a friend over ramen, or just take a walk with my partner. Weekends tend to see me cozied up with movies, books, and probably hours spent with a camera and a little monster.
What defines you as a person and an artist?
I honestly have a hard time with self-definition, but if I were to aim for something, it would be to become a bed of flowers for people to discover and give them a smile when they need it most.
Do you remember being an creative/artist as a child? Do you have a specific memory of when you really knew what you wanted to do?
I was that kid on the playground who would dream up entire worlds and characters with elaborate backstories, subsequently bossing their friends around to act things out in just the way I would envision. My parents were serious movie buffs, showing me Godzilla vs. Mothra and La Strada in the same day, which I feel shaped a lot of who I am. I used to play Ray Harryhausen VHS’s, specifically Clash of the Titans, until the tape no longer worked. That, alongside catching Wallace and Gromit on PBS, got me massively into stop motion. I used to hijack my parents’ camcorder to create little frame-by-frame movies with my LEGOs, and usually that’s what I would end up turning in for school projects.
I also have a very vivid memory of when I knew I HAD to be a filmmaker. I was 14, and my parents decided to show me Apocalypse Now. I just remember being completely struck by the editing, particularly in the opening sequence, and having that be the first time I noticed a movie was the sum of its parts, and those parts could be manipulated into countless ways to create new meaning and illicit all sorts of emotions from the audience. I recall turning to my parents when the movie ended and saying “This, this is what I want to do.” They weren’t surprised.
Who or what is your greatest inspiration?
My inner child has become my greatest inspiration and source of energy and creative output. It’s sad, but I feel as though as I got older, I ended up suppressing myself in a multitude of ways – in order to not be ‘weird’, or to just fit into a certain mold. Even if I was experimenting creatively and ambitiously pressing forward, I really put a restraint on who I was. I wasn’t able to really understand this until just recently. When I let my inner child free, and allowed myself to come out to play in the sunshine, things became brighter – fog lifted in my everyday life, and I was able to create things from a source of purity. It’s hard to describe. I’m an incredibly sensitive person, but I let myself be sensitive to any sort of joy, no matter how simple; the way a leaf perfectly falls from a tree above me, the soft smile of a stranger on the subway, the coincidence of finding a book on the wrong shelf in a store that ends up becoming your new favorite. I aim to view my life as my four-year-old self would: new, magical, and full of possibility.
Tell us about your stop motion filmmaking process. What are your favorite aspects? What do you find most difficult?
It’s a tedious, tedious, tedious, tedious process – but it’s extremely meditative, too. The movie standard is 24 frames per second – so that’s 24 pictures to create one second of animation. But it’s also not quite that mathematically simple either, because then things would be too robotic. It’s an odd balance of intuition and craft.
I’m sure I make a lot of other stop motion artists pull their hair out in frustration, because I tend not to do too much planning when creating something. I’ll have a general outline, and I’ll see it all in my head, but a lot of the final product doesn’t shows up until I’m in in the actual act of creation. A minute long piece might take me 10 hours to shoot, depending on how complicated movements are and how many subjects have to move in one frame. I also feel a lot of things out and change my mind constantly based on what I’m seeing happen – after so many hours, your subjects tend to take on lives of their own, and their personalities illuminate and guide your project. I’m certain that makes me sound a little crazy, but bringing these things to life and letting them ‘live’ in front of me is the whole payoff for hours of tedium. I suddenly have a sunny little world with little monsters to play in.
Do you have a favorite piece or film you have created? Include link or photo if possible. I think the pre-screening bumper I made for Nitehawk Cinema in Brooklyn (above) is my best work, but my favorite is one of the bumpers I made for Cinepocalypse film festival in Chicago (below) that my darling friend Ryan Oesterreich runs.
It’s like everything I wanted to happen as a kid.
What was the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
During an especially low point in college, a friend stroked my head and said ”It’s okay to be vulnerable.” I try not to forget that.
Any upcoming projects you’d like to tell us about?
I just did a shoot with one of my favorite rappers, Fat Tony, and I have some other collaborations with artists I love popping up. And then some very special things for the upcoming Godzilla King of the Monsters movie, but I can’t quite be detailed yet about those. Mwahaha.
Obligatory Red Cap question: favorite drink?
My inner child is also an old lady, so my favorite drink is my first cup of green tea in the morning (right now it’s Kukicha from Physical Graffitea on St. Marks).
It’s finally time to shine the spotlight on Daren Thomas Magee–another of our newest artists that is now a member of our tight-knit RCC family! Daren is an introspective and visionary illustrator and designer from Ojai, California. A master of blending the natural with the supernatural, Daren creates thought-provoking work that inspires us to become closer together as humans and, in turn, connects us to a higher consciousness.
His RCC card designs have been flying out the door and that’s no surprise to us! Read on to learn more about Daren, his work, and his inspirations. Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us, Daren!
We are so very excited for our first of three upcoming Artist Spotlight posts, highlighting the newest artists, designers, and writers in our RCC family. We love these short interviews, because it gives us a chance to dip a toe into the minds of such brilliant creative forces.
First up: Johnathan Rice. A singer, producer, and writer living in Los Angeles, Rice has spent his adult life inhabiting different corners of the entertainment industry. Signed to Reprise Records at the age of nineteen, His debut record “Trouble Is Real” arrived in 2005, the same year he played Roy Orbison alongside Joaquin Phoenix’s Johnny Cash in Walk The Line. He spent the next ten years making records and touring the world.
In 2016, Rice started posting haiku poems on Instagram. The haikus gained a rabid following and led to the publishing of Rice’s first Book Farewell, My Dudes: 69 Dystopian Haikus by LA’s Hat & Beard Press. It became the fastest selling book in the company’s history, buoyed by celebrities like Mandy Moore and Anne Hathaway’s “readings” of their favorite haikus on Instagram and Rice’s appearances in bookstores, comedy clubs and concert venues nationwide. W Magazine called Rice “the beat poet of the Instagram generation.”
Do you remember being an writer as a child? Do you have a specific memory of when you really knew what you wanted to do?
I always remember being interested in words and particularly the combination of words and music. I always thought of sentences in a melodic and rhythmic way. I grew up between Virginia and Scotland, and I think that made me very conscious of the different ways people speak and all the varieties of accents, slang, patois, etc. I always pretended that I was a musician, and then eventually I became the thing I was pretending to be. I loved the musicians who took daring risks with their lyrics: Shane MacGowan, Dylan, Townes Van Zandt. Even though I’ve spent the majority of my adult life as a musician, I think at my core I’m really a writer above all other things.
Who or what is your greatest inspiration?
There is a feeling inside me that I come into contact with sometimes. It’is somewhat elusive. It’s not happiness or sadness or something I can even fully describe. When I am inspired, I am in contact with that feeling and everything feels right. I felt it when I was a child, and I can still feel it now. I don’t know what it is. Do you?
Tell us about your writing process. In terms of creative work–is time spent working more spontaneous or do find that it is regimented like a job?
It’s both. Sometimes the best writing is very spontaneous and comes from an unconscious place. However, some ideas are meant to be explored beyond that initial flash of inspiration and chased around until one can fully understand and possess them. It’s a somewhat mystical thing, and I think that’s why so many artists are superstitious. Bad writing is also very important. You gotta write some real garbage sometimes.
You are very successful in a wide variety of mediums including music and film. What is your favorite and why? Or do they each serve important elements of your life?
I don’t have a favorite. I consider whatever medium I’m working in to be part of the same body of work. I feel very lucky to have experienced so many different modes of expression.
What was the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
“To live outside the law you must be honest”
Any upcoming projects you’d like to tell us about?
I have a new record called The Long Game that’s coming out this summer. I’m very proud of it.
Obligatory Red Cap question: favorite drink?
Gin and Tonic.
We are so proud to help share this fabulous news from a long-time member of our Red Cap Cards family. Christian Robinson, award-winning illustrator of many books (Rain!, School’s First Day of School, Last Stop on Market Street, Gaston, and so many more…) is now debuting the cover and release date of his first solo picture book project: Another from Atheneum Books!!
Debuting on March 5th, 2019 — mark your calendars! — Another tells a story of perspective through wordless illustration. In “Alice-in-Wonderland” form, a little girl follows her kitty down a hole into a magical world all her own. And in a fun twist, you may find yourself holding the book upside-down and twisting it all around!
‘”When I think about stories that I gravitated toward as a child, I think of narratives that take you on adventures to other worlds, places in which anything is possible,” Robinson said in a promotional letter he wrote for the book addressed ‘Dear Observers,’ which he says “feels like the most accurate name for someone viewing a wordless book.”‘ (Publisher’s Weekly)
We absolutely can’t wait to get our hands on a copy and are delighted to see another creative project from such a wonderful human and artist. Hurry up, March 5th! We love you, Christian!
See below for some of our favorite shots of Christian’s work for Red Cap:
Time to take a look at one of our favorite Red Cap cards through the “real-life” lens! Our Life In posts are some of the most fun to play with and this one was just as sweet. Kitty Carols by Christian Robinson for Red Cap cards has been making holiday smiles for years, and today is no different. Check out the fun we had below!
• A sweet, mid-century piano stool, but you’ll have to custom cover this one with that blue pin stripe!
• An upright piano, of course!
• A vintage, holiday piano song book.
Ho Ho Ho! It’s time for another Arlo’s Book Club: The Holiday Edition! And don’t forget that you can always look back to some of Arlo’s holiday picks from 2015, 2016 and 2017, for some awesome holiday cozy-up-with-a-book ideas. This year, we are feeling jolly and have some fantastic holiday picture books that we can’t wait to share with you. Grab a blanket and a friend and let’s snuggle up!
The Gingerbread Man
by Bonnie and Bill Rutherford
Whitman Publishing Company, 1963
This classic cookie tale by powerhouse illustration couple, Bonnie and Bill Rutherford, teaches an important lesson: never trust a fox. Delicious freedom is everything to the gingerbread man…until he meets a violent end! If that’s supposed to teach us something, we’re decidedly ignoring it! So, pull out those cookie cutters and get your baking on after reading this one, and pay extra special attention to those intricate, colorful, vintage illustrations. Those endpapers! Plus, it has been rereleased by Golden Book, a classic for a new generation.
Josie and The Snow
By Helen E. Buckley, Illustrations by Evaline Ness
Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Co., Inc, 1966
The color palette of this book takes the cake! Stylized tones of pink, orange, aqua, lavender and grey make the aesthetic of Josie and the Snow super-special and a standout pick. We follow Josie as looks for an outdoor playmate (all of the animals are a no-go) and then as she explores the wintry outdoors, feeding birds, sliding down hills and making snowmen. A mid-century delight!
The Nightmare Before Christmas
By Tim Burton
Disney Press, 2013
Most probably know the story of Tim Burton’s, The Nightmare Before Christmas, but some smaller kids may be able to handle the picture book version a bit earlier than the film. Jack the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town sets out to “steal” Christmas (he means well), with disastrous results–don’t worry, Santa “Claws” come to the rescue. A creepy, silly, and brilliant story. Readers will recognize the whispy illustration style of Tim Burton.
Red and Lulu
By Matt Tavares
Two tiny winter cardinals are separated when their tree is chopped down to be the official Christmas Tree in Times Square. The birds are separated and it takes a Christmas miracle to reunite them again. Gorgeous, peaceful illustration that offsets the tension of the story. A celebration of New York City, love, and the spirit of the season.
Another Night Before Christmas
By Carol Ann Duffy, Illustration by Marc Boutavant
A new version for the ages! Former poet laureate to Britain, Carol Ann Duffy, writes a follow-up to “The Night Before Christmas” by Clement Moore (1822) with fun and vibrant illustration by Marc Boutavant of Mouk fame! This time, the story is told from the perspective of a little girl, and can be found in a version illustrated by Rob Ryan.
Photos courtesy Emily Isabella
We’ve always loved the elegant touch of a lined envelope, and now we have found a way for you to create your very own if you’d like to experiment with papers and cards and a teeny, tiny bit of crafting along the way.
Step One: With your freshly printed and cut-out template (I used a cardstock version so it would be more visible), trace around the edges of the template onto your sheet of gift wrap with a pencil. Don’t forget to line the desired pattern up just right!
Step Two: Cut out the traced liner, along the interior of the pencil line.
Step Three: On the back-side of the liner, carefully line only the top edge of the liner with double-sided tape. Take care to get that tape all the way across the top, and flush with the edge of the paper. Snip off any excess tape.
Step Four: Gently guide the liner into the envelope and adhere the taped edge just below the gluey envelope edge.
Step Five: Fold the envelope flap down, allowing the paper to move organically into place, to create a nice, clean fold line and voila–it’s complete! Write a loving message and send that card out into the world!! #keeptheloveflowing
Recently, Forbes magazine published an op-ed by economist, Panos Mourdoukoutas, about why we should do away with public libraries as we know them, and replace them with Amazon Bookstores. You heard me correctly! The article detailed the taxes levied toward keeping public libraries afloat, and the opinion that libraries “don’t have the same value they used to.” All of the services provided by libraries (according to Mourdoukoutas) have been replaced: community and wifi are now provided by Starbucks; video rentals by Netflix and Amazon Prime; and books by Amazon.
Needless to say, the article has since been redacted by Forbes, with apologetic comment: “Forbes advocates spirited dialogue on a range of topics, including those that often take a contrarian view,” a Forbes spokesperson says in a statement. “Libraries play an important role in our society. This article was outside of this contributor’s specific area of expertise, and has since been removed.”
Regardless of the disastrous article and subsequent backpedaling by Forbes, the article did it’s due-diligence in getting people talking about libraries again. What are they, why are they? Are they important. The answer, it seemed, was a very loud YES from across the internet and country.
Here is what a library means to us:
• Fosters a love of reading, education, and art in children and adults.
• Provides access to a world of art and illustration materials that teach as well as entertain
• Gives free access to media materials, internet and computers for all citizens regardless of class and pay grade.
• Offers jam-packed programming schedules with classes such as ESL, citizenship, writing, cooking, and more.
• Offers free tickets to museums, zoos, aquariums and other experiences
• Schedules after-school programs for kids and teens
• Archives genealogy and historical materials.
• Acts as a community safe haven for those in need.
• and so, so much more.
In 2016, one of our own beloved artists, Christian Robinson, partnered with the San Francisco Public library and Chronicle Books for a program called “Summer Stride.” Check out that awesome swag (below)!! The program “encouraged all ages and abilities to have fun reading and learning” during the summer. Here are some amazing images from that program:
This summer, the program is up and running again, this time with work by Shawn Harris. Check out their awesome video, and “stop by a neighborhood library and check out books, comics, eBooks, audiobooks, movies, music and more. Plus, choose from more than 800 programs (all free!) to deepen reading enjoyment, spark STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) passions and learn through active, outside exploration.”
We love you, libraries. Don’t ever change…unless you want to start offering free coffee and drinks too. We’re good with that.
And sidenote: if you need ideas, you can check out my handy-dandy hashtag on Instagram: #overduelibrarybookoftheweek for the best books that I’m going to end up paying $0.25 a day for.
Don’t worry, kids! (And sorry, parents.) There is still a whole month until school starts–if you’re lucky that is. That means that summer reading is in full swing, and if you’re about to head out on your family vaca to the Grand Canyon, make sure you’ve packed some of these to get those minds molding in the back seat. The theme for this edition of Arlo’s Book Club is “What Was Old is New Again”… re-releases of old treasuries, a new spin on an old tale, or a new depiction of a classic story. We’ve chosen some new and old favorites to inspire some page-turning, so check them out below and enjoy! Happy Summer!
Moomin: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strips – Book One
by Tove Jansson
Drawn & Quarterly, 2006
If you’ve been a long-time reader of our blog (check out our 2014 Scandinavian Dreams post), or a classic illustration enthusiast, you may know a lot about the late Tove Jansson. Jansson was a Finland native, responsible for creating the wildly popular The Moomins in the early 1940s. The Moomins appeal to young and old alike, with simplistic yet deliberate drawings paired with satirical and witty comedy, these characters and comics continue to stand the test of time. Don’t forget to check out another recently re-released classic by Jansson about a Moomin named Susanna who is bored with her life in The Dangerous Journey (April, 2018).
Over the Ocean
by Taro Gomi
Chronicle Books, 2016
For the younger set, Taro Gomi is a must to pack into any suitcase. The bright and unmistakeable illustration is enough to keep this on the bookshelf for life! Originally published in Japan in 1979, Over the Ocean or Umi no Mukô wa depicts the visions of a young girl standing at the seashore and thinking about the worlds she is connected to via the ocean. A beautiful and timeless treasure that we are so glad Chronicle Books picked up!
A Werewolf Named Oliver James
by Nicholas John Frith
Alison Green Books, 2017
Written and illustrated by our own Red Cap Cards artist, Nicholas John Frith, A Werewolf Named Oliver James is finally available in the USA after it’s original UK publishing in 2017. The protagonist in this twist on a timeless, spooky tale, Oliver James, unexpectedly turns into a werewolf while traveling home from school. A possible metaphor for more relatable social quirk, Oliver’s “werewolfness” is a source of anxiety for him, until he finds his way back to his loving family where he completely and utterly belongs.
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
by John Boyne with new illustration by Oliver Jeffers
Knopf Books for Young Readers, reissue 2016
The Holocaust novel, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, was originally published in 2006, and focuses on a 9-year old boy named Bruno who develops a relationship through a barbed wire fence with another young boy, Shmuel, while Shmuel is imprisoned in a concentration camp. Recently, the novel was released with new illustration by world-renowned illustrator and artist, Oliver Jeffers. The heft of the story is balanced by the thoughtfulness of Jeffers’ illustration, and creates a heartbreakingly lovely new work for a younger generation to enjoy and experience.
We are in the middle of the dog days of summer, and I don’t know about all the kids out there, but we are in need of a hot weather pick-me-up. Enter: The Show With No Name, aka The Lauren and Arlo Show! Keeping it weird on YouTube, the super talented and hilarious Lauren Duarte has teamed up with kidboss extraordinaire, Arlo Mertz, to make a silly show to inspire fun! And check out that dollhouse by Duarte Dollhouses with Red Cap wallpaper by Danielle Kroll! They’re aiming for 1 million subscribers, so let’s get on this, folks! Make sure you stay tuned to hear Arlo’s amazing (and eerily accurate) horse ‘neighs’ and dollhouse fun. Follow the show on Instagram for news on new episodes and happy photos, and watch the full episode below:
Need some more summer fun? Check out these two other fun things to keep you and the kiddos busy during the hot hot heat:
Have you had a chance to check out Bravery Magazine yet? Started by pals Elyse and Ashley, Bravery focuses on highlighting positive–and brave!–role models for young girls. Gorgeous illustration (yes, that’s Red Cap Cards artist Bodil Jane’s work on the cover!) coupled with powerful stories and ideas empower young children to find the bravery inside themselves. You won’t regret this one, its a must for summer reading!
Need more dollhouse fun? This one is a super-fun book to get those little minds thinking creatively: Treasure Hunt House by Kate Davies and Red Cap’s Becca Stadtlander! Releasing August 2nd, Treasure Hunt House is an interactive children’s book about two children who receive an invitation from their great-aunt Martha to visit her incredible house. From there, they set out on a treasure hunt to solve as they explore the rooms! Readers can lift flaps and solve the riddles on every page as they join them on their treasure hunt, learning about famous historical and cultural objects. We can’t WAIT to get our hands on this one.
My goodness, Krista Perry is a true gem. This interview had us in stitches!! What a creative and artistic soul. Krista Perry is the newest member of our Red Cap family, and we couldn’t be more ecstatic! From her vibrant, retro-inspired color palette to her imaginative wellspring of ideas, Krista adds a new perspective to our artist collective that we absolutely adore. We had the happy opportunity to throw a release party in her honor recently at The Social Type, and get to know her in person in sunny Los Angeles. So much fun. Check out her website here, and view her new designs for Red Cap here. Welcome, Krista! We love you!
Tell us about your life in Boston!
I lived in Boston during college and eventually graduated from MassArt in 2015. I moved back home for two years and focused on replacing nearly all assignment work on my website with illustrations that better fit the types of clients I wanted to attract. Eventually, my boyfriend and I moved back to the city. We’re starting this year off in a new apartment which is exciting because I’ve never had so much space to make art. We’re eager to take better advantage of being so close to the city and I’m hoping to really get out and experience more of the creative spaces that Boston has to offer.
Do you have any aspirations to live somewhere else?
I’m not really sure where I’ll end up at this point! Prior to visiting Los Angeles this June, I thought for sure I’ll end up there. But right now I’m kind of just figuring out my next step. I loved the creative atmosphere that LA offered but I’m not so sure how I felt about all the traffic, haha! LA was great but I totally LOVED the desert. When we were visiting, we spent a decent chunk of time in Yucca Valley and even made the long trip out to Salvation Mountain! It’d been a dream of mine since forever to visit! But anyways, I think my #1 priority before I move somewhere drastically different is to pay off all of my student debt.
What does a typical day look like for you?
For the time being I am a coffee slinging barista. All through the process of creating my debut collection with Red Cap Cards, I worked opening shifts nearly every morning. I’d set a “warning” alarm at 3:30, and usually allow myself a luxurious additional 30 minutes to sleep until I really had to get up at 4. Getting up super early was tough to get used to but it afforded me the freedom of the rest of the day to work on illustration projects after my shift. When I get out of work, I usually eat lunch and relax a bit to recover from the morning, haha. When I start working on illustration stuff it’s usually pretty easy for me to get lost in it. I like to pick out a favorite record or find something to listen to like a documentary or podcast to get started.
Did you always want to be an artist? Did you have any other aspirations?
When I was six, I wanted to be a dolphin trainer. Yup, I wanted to teach dolphins how to do flips in the air. I also wanted to do something with horses at one point or another. I was probably the token horse girl in your 3rd grade class…
What is your work process like?
I like to start with lists!! I have about 7 active idea lists on my phone right now!! Sometimes I’m just minding my own business and a super funny idea will pop into my head. I write it all down because I never know what’ll be my next funny illustration. Another great idea generator is keeping a sketchbook! I can’t encourage young artists enough to keep a sketchbook! You can make anything you want in those suckers! I usually have at least two going at the same time. I have one to do whatever I want in i.e. sketches & random typography practice, and one that I like to treat more importantly where I try to make completed pieces of work on each spread. If I’m working on a project that I was hired to do, I start by researching and drawing super rough sketches, then I draw more detailed versions of whichever sketches are chosen. Once narrowed down, I create color studies for the best ideas. Since getting an iPad Pro, this process has been much easier to do. After approval, I get to work on the final piece! My very favorite part of the process is working on the small details of the painting. I like to see how realistically I can render things. It has always been a super fun challenge for me.
Speaking of sketchbooks, here’s one now!
What inspires you most? In work? In life?
Sunshine, a good color palette, laughing….
It’s tough to narrow down what inspires me the most… if you visit my Pinterest you will see a disgustingly large amount of organized imagery that I love to stare at. I like to collect old magazines and I also keep a Fun Shit box where I throw all of my favorite little things into. Feeling the urge to create something is very empowering. When I feel inspired it’s almost as if I can’t control myself. I feel like I’m being tightly embraced by it in the loveliest way. Inspiration is like a breath of fresh air, it fills me with life. When I see someone doing what they love, or explaining why they enjoy it so much, it often rubs off on me and I think “wow I need to work on something pronto!!!”
What is your favorite piece if work you’ve created?
It’s not necessarily my favorite thing I’ve ever made, but I discovered who I was when I painted Ocular Garden during my second semester of senior year at MassArt. I was a little stuck. I had spent the entire previous semester researching and painting for my thesis project on the Manson Family. I knew I wanted to break out of that shell a little bit but also knew that I was still clearly very inspired by motifs of the 60s. I felt a lot pressure to focus on strictly editorial work, but since I was still a little confused about how I wanted to be making art, I was lost. I would completely over-think the editorial assignment and waste so much time getting frustrated. I decided maybe I wanted to create something fun for my new website that would garner possible licensing work. I liked the idea of making pretty designs that didn’t have to be full of hidden messages like an editorial assignment might include. I bought a huge piece of black paper (which was very different for me) and just started painting. Months prior, I bought a tub of gold gouache and decided I finally wanted to try using it. This piece was cool because it had little to no planning whatsoever. I just remember thinking “wow this is really exciting,” and the rest is history. I think when I brought it to critique, I knew it was the beginning of something pretty cool.
What was the best piece of advice you were given when starting out?
I think the biggest piece of advice I received in school is that you really are in control of your own destiny. Once you’re out of school, you have nobody but yourself to rely on to keep you going. When you’re in school, you’re sort of corralled with other illustrators and artists who have the same or similar goals as you. You’re also getting constant assignments to work on and gallery shows that you must be in. It was really strange after graduating because I took a couple months off from art and then thought “oh shit, I need to get going!” For me, there was this constant need to stay relevant and active. I truly love making funny, weird, and different art. It makes me happy to be actively creating.
Do you have any advice for up-and-coming artists and illustrators?
Kick your own ass into gear, and literally never stop. If you truly want this, it’ll force its way into your life one way or another. Keep your eyes on the prize!! It’s really, really easy to compare yourself to others. In a world where social media is so important, it’s good to remember that what people post is just a super small chunk of what’s going on in their lives. My biggest word of advice is to remain focussed on yourself and your own story. Theres nothing worse than getting tangled up in other people’s success. Another biggie piece of advice is staying as true to yourself as humanly possible. BE YOURSELF & HAVE FUN! Having your own unique voice is key. It’s really exciting once you start to figure out what works for you in terms of process, work ethic, and style.
Favorite mediums to work in?
When I’m working on a full illustration, I usually prefer to paint with Holbein Acryla Gouache. They have THE BEST COLORS!!!! They’re so yummy and beautiful!! Sometimes, I like to practice with traditional gouaches (the kind that reactivates when water is added). They each provide their own special qualities that I get way too excited about. I’ll never forget the first time I was introduced to gouache. It was in a Media Techniques class at Massart, taught by one of my former mentors and good friend, Mister Reusch. That class was really cool because it required young illustrators to experiment with different mediums. I knew from the moment I painted with it for the first time, that it was my medium of choice.
If I feel like drawing, I also looove: Gelly Roll gel pens, POSCA paint markers, Tombow dual tip markers, Permapaque markers, Prismacolor markers, my metal mechanical pencils, and many more!
Who are your role models in terms of art or otherwise?
I think really anyone who takes their dreams seriously and makes them a reality. It’s awfully morbid but I always think about dying someday so I need to make it work (and start focusing on my own happiness for once). I feel very grateful for the cool stuff I’ve been able to work on so far.
If you didn’t work as an artist, what would you be doing?
Oh man! I bet you didn’t see this coming! I would love to work as a forensic scientist or something relating to coroner’s work. I am completely obsessed with horrible diseases and true crime. I love watching documentaries and researching famous crimes and serial killers. Honestly, the more gruesome the detail, the better. I wanna hear the good stuff. I actually recently started listening to two podcasts in particular; Sword & Scale – a more serious, down-to-business kind of show, and Last Podcast on the Left – which is equally as detailed as it is hilarious. I often have to pause so I can get all of my laughing out. I’m at the point now where I listen to it so frequently that when I walk to work in the morning and hear something, I assume I’m going to get murdered. It’s usually just a rat.
Any upcoming projects you’d like to share?
Nothing big right now… but, I’d like to expand on my definition of illustration. Up until now I’ve really only worked on 2D pieces. In the future, I’d like to explore with other mediums such as fiber arts and sculpture. I’d also love to go beyond what little comprehension I currently have for basic animation. Whenever I’m working on something, I sometimes imagine how I would animate it if I knew how to. I was really into super funny shows like Ren & Stimpy, All-That, SpongeBob, and other classic Nickelodeon gems as a kid so I’d love to work on funny videos or skits of some sort. I do have a little experience creating gifs in Photoshop which has been incredibly fun! Now that we are back from our vacation to California, I’m excited to start making new work for my website & promotional materials to send out to possible future clients. I’m also working on a new special sketchbook!! It’s different from any other because this time I’m giving myself a prompt. I want the pages to go in rainbow order, start to finish! I recently started making compilation videos of my completed sketchbooks too. Other than that, I’m excited to settle into our new space more.
Open my own roller rink, split a pizza with John Stamos, and QUIT MY SHITTY DAY JOB !!!
Obligatory Red Cap question: Favorite drink?
A nice cold strawberry milk from Wrights Dairy Farm in Smithfield, RI!!! You can visit the sweet the cows and stock up on yummy pastries there!! Strawberry milk is a special treat that I let myself have once in a blue moon.
Photos courtesy of Anthony Fusco.
Red Cap Cards is proud present, “The Stepmother.” It is the first in our Keep the Love Flowing (#keeptheloveflowing) film series, starring Arlo Mertz and Lauren Duarte. Directed by Carrie Gifford, the film was shot and edited by Earl and Echo, with original music by Jayden Lee. Costumes by Shop Gordon, with hair and makeup by Dorados by Tony.
Collaboration is the heart of what we do at Red Cap and we believe that love and gratitude is the pulse that connects us all. Thank you to our amazing collaborators, dear friends, and artists who continually inspire us and are always game to play. Most importantly, we raise our glass to you, our family, friends, fellow makers and fans! Keep the Love Flowing..
Perhaps you’ve been noticing that we’ve been repeating a certain phrase a lot lately. Keep the love flowing: a simple sentiment that we have found ourselves living by for a while, in our day-to-day projects and overall life and work outlook. Its origins are special, however, and not just a simple hashtag we stumbled upon. I got a chance to talk with Carrie a bit about why she keeps the love flowing, and what it means to Red Cap Cards:
During his journey with cancer, Carrie’s late father, Doug Gifford, made it his mission to connect family and friends through a series of blog posts that lifted up his ultimate epiphany about life: keep the love flowing. This was the mantra he would say at the end of all of his writings. It was his thought to leave us with, the gift he was giving us, his wish for a better tomorrow and his way to remind us that we are all connected.
“My father taught me a lot about good old fashioned love,” Carrie told me. “He gave love, he shared love, he accepted love, he was love, and in the last year of his life, he continually reminded us to celebrate love.”
That’s it, and truly all that is important in every aspect of everything. It is the answer to every question, and that’s how Doug asked us to continue. And so we have! You’ll find it peppered here and there on this blog, and on our Instagram. You’ll find it in our upcoming catalog and in the overarching theme of all that is Red Cap Cards. We desire to keep the love flowing through our work, through our artists’ work, and in our relationships with the talented, amazing people that we come into contact with every day. With every card we make, with every card we give, with every card we receive, we hope to keep the love flowing.
“I am easily influenced by the seasons; they truly dictate how I spend my free time. Come spring I am taken over with gardening plans. My desk becomes a heap of seed catalogs and garden schematics. In the summer all I can think about is hiking, kayaking, camping, and swimming with my dog. Then fall happens and I become a nut. It’s my favorite season (color, temperature, and food-wise), but since it seems to happen so fast I feel a need to rush. I slow down and cook, sew and think over cold crops while watching old movies. When winter hits, all I think about are snow activities, hot beverages, good books, and the ritual of unwrapping all of my vintage ornaments.” –Michelle Morin
We’ve been loving having the amazingly talented Michelle Morin as one of our newest collaborating artists, and are happy to add her to our Artist Spotlight series. Her beautiful, scenic watercolors of natural environments and ethereal landscapes absolutely take our breath away. Michelle’s background designing and maintaining gardens continue to inspire her work: “My paintings are an attempt at finding a balance within the complexities and subtleties of nature using texture, pattern, and narrative elements throughout.” -MM
On top of beautiful works of fine art, Michelle is also a creative innovator in illustration and surface design. Just check out her brand Spring line of children’s wear that just debuted at H&M! How much do you wish these were in grown-up sizes??
Check out the awesome commercial (with some talented kiddos to boot) and photos below, plus some shots of Michelle’s independent art work and her Red Cap Cards designs. We love you, Michelle! You are amazing. View more on Michelle’s website or her artist page here.
“I was able to apply my greenhouse knowledge to a tight, two-acre garden that became my sanctuary for two years. I came to realize that this garden, while full of hundreds of plant species, was also home to countless animals, including owls, hawks, hummingbirds, box turtles and numerous insects. Witnessing their daily routine gave me the inspiration to make paintings that referenced the colors, patterns, habits and curiosities in this world. I took it all in during the day and painted it by night.” –MM
“I come from a family of makers. Like a lot of artists, it was the environment I grew up in that inspired me to be creative. On weekends everyone in my family was joyfully busy with their own projects. My parents and brother each had different ways of expressing this creativity, and it generated a nice balance in the house. My dad could be found tinkering with anything from a new shed to a backyard ice skating rink, my mom and grandmother would be busy with one of their numerous projects, from building spool dolls, to sewing quilts, to canning pickles. All the while my brother studiously practiced his piano in the background. I fit into this picture anywhere and was happy to hop from one activity to the next. Over time, with the help of great teachers and talented friends, I learned how to focus this creative instinct into a more artistic career.” -MM
It’s been a minute since we talked up a few of our favorite shops, so this week we are focusing on four Shops We Love two from the East Coast and two from the West. Scroll down to learn more about some of the most innovative, creative, and stylish brick-and-mortars around–and they just so happen to carry Red Cap Cards!
Shorthand is a Los Angeles-based, gem of a stationery store. Owned and operated by the founders and amazingly talented designers at Iron Curtain Press, the shop’s mission is “to feature simple and beautiful desk and office supplies; from inexpensive to luxury, from the serious craftsperson to the youngest artist.” (Sidenote: here’s a fun story about them from their Seattle days, by our own Andie Powers in Uppercase Magazine!) Bonus: you’re in luck if you aren’t local–they have an online shop. Enjoy!
This family is one of the hippest on the block! Another Los Angeles-based treasure, The Reckless Unicorn is a magical place for the coolest kids and the coolest parents. Annie Segal and Derek Reckley opened the space because they “saw a big need for a one stop shop for all the families in and around the area. Together, they wanted to sprinkle a little unicorn love through out their community.” From clothes to toys to awesome books–this place is fabulously enchanting. We are IN!
Happen to be in or near Charlottesville, Virginia? Well you’re in luck. Stationer and gift shop, Rock Paper Scissors, should most definitely be on your star map. This community staple (pun intended) has been bringing the joy of fine paper and desk accessories since 2002. Plus, those window installations–to die for! Those are just folded envelopes! Stop by for the chicest in office accoutrement and more.
A boutique named after two dogs is obviously going to be amazing. Gus, the Brussels Griffon and Ruby the lab/hound mix are the namesakes for these two shops–Gus & Ruby Letterpress–located in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and Portland, Maine. The owners, Samantha and Whitney, met while working for a small advertising firm, and decided to follow their dreams right into a letterpress studio. We love these kinds of stories! Portsmouth is a diamond in its own right. You’ll find their New Hampshire shop nestled between designer clothing boutiques, cozy coffee shops, and inspired art galleries.
Arlo has missed you! We’re back with a brand new edition of Arlo’s Book Club, and we can’t wait to connect with your tiny readers as they learn about and examine their surroundings through the written and visual word. In light of the recent political and social climate, we wanted to spread some love to the people around us. Times are tumultuous–peace and mindfulness has been at the forefront of our thoughts, and feeding those we love is important. Who are we and what is our purpose? How can we spread love to all that we come into contact with on a daily basis? Mindfulness starts with a seed. A favor. A compliment. A picture book. We picked several of our favorites to promote mindfulness in our tiny successors. Sponges. Bright lights. Enjoy:
“I breathe slowly in,
I breathe slowly out. My breath
is a river of peace.
I am here in the world.
Each moment I can breathe and be.”
Nothing connects us more strongly than the bond we have with nature. Our earth is our home, and through it, we may see others’ experiences and joys. Breathe and Be is a collection of poems by Kate Coombs with illustration by our own Anna Emilia Laitinen, that lends an ear to the quiet nature that goes on around our bustling lives and conflicts. A beautiful reminder of where we fit on the planet.
Singing Away the Dark
by Caroline Woodward, with pictures by Julie Morstad
Simply Read Books, 2017
Not just a simple picture book about a frightened girl walking home from her school bus–Singing Away the Dark unwittingly captures an undercurrent in today’s society about fear, consequence, and light at the end of the tunnel. This is a gorgeous work of art that offers quiet solace to a long walk toward more joyful times.
They All Saw a Cat
by Brendan Wenzel
Chronicle Books, 2017
What do others see? What do they feel? Who would I be if I walked a mile in someone else’s shoes? They All Saw a Cat offers picturesque perspectives of what a wide variety of characters view when they see a cat. This is a beautiful book that offers the first existential explanation of “the other’s gaze.” Let us all seek to understand what others see and what they feel.
You Belong Here
by William M. H. Clark, Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault
Compendium Inc., 2016
“And you belong where you love to be,
and after each day is through,
you will always belong right next to me
and I’ll belong to you.”
We have a soft spot in our heart for this one, as our own Red Cap artist, Jill Labieniec, served as art director along with Heidi Dyer. This beautiful narrative shows us the different home environments of mammals and birds and fish and humans. The different places that we “fit” on earth and amongst each other. A beautiful reminder that we are but a piece of a magnificent, ever-moving puzzle.
Horton Hears a Who
by Dr. Seuss
Random House., 1954
Quite possibly the poster boy for mindfulness, kindness, and respect, Horton Hears a Who follows an elephant who stumbles upon an entire town that lives on a simple speck of dust. The story follows the existential realizations of the elephant and of the town, as they learn about what makes a person a person, and what equality truly means. A brilliant, encompassing picture book for every reader, young and old.
“The black ink is the blood of my work. It gives my pieces life. They become so alive…you could almost hear a heart beat.” –Marsha Robinson
We are beyond thrilled to finally have Marsha Robinson‘s beautiful and intricate botanical abstracts as a part of our Red Cap collection. Marsha lives and works in Denver, Colorado, where she has created an art portfolio that spans beyond the page into tactile forms, such as wall hangings, textiles, apparel and glassware. Her work is reminiscent of an other-wordly, botanical art-deco era, and it makes us think that Frank Lloyd Wright would most definitely be taken with it.
We thought we would show off a bit more of her work, as well as some wonderful written profiles she has had recently, as a little twist on our usual Artist Spotlight interview. Check out the cover of this month’s Cherry Creek Lifestyle Magazine (below), plus a few quotes from fabulous sources that tell a bit more about Marsha’s art story. Enjoy! We love you, Marsha!
“When Strange Dirt’s Marsha Robinson discovered a box of gouache paints her mom had kept under a bed, the Denver artist had no idea it would be the key to her creative destiny. Robinson was interested in art throughout high school but knew art school was out of the question because it was too expensive. Instead, she opted to dive into administrative work but something kept telling her it wasn’t the road she was meant to take. ‘I was moving away from home with my first love and my mom gifted me the box of paints. I was surprised she had kept it but there was a reason for it and I’m so grateful she did. I had an itch to pick up the paintbrush and see where my hands wanted to take me. So I opened up that box and the rest is history,’ Robinson said. Using gouache, an opaque water color, would lead her up to using ink, her main medium today. Even after dabbling in art shows at local venues and selling pieces, Robinson felt her work still needed a stronger focus. Frustrated with working in the food industry, she took the leap and decided to pursue art full-time.” – 303 Magazine
“The finely inked botanical drawings and textiles of Denver artist Marsha Robinson, aka Strange Dirt, seem suspended in a time warp, inspired by science and symmetry and maybe a touch of William Morris, yet they belong to no real period of art history. Distinctly personal, Robinson’s works are clearly the product of a decorative inner vision, beautiful and elegantly contemporary.” – Susan Froyd, Westword
“The botanical world fascinated me–I think of it as the ultimate example of true, natural beauty.” -Marsha, via Cherry Creek Lifestyle Magazine
“When I moved to Denver I tried to live in collective houses and met a lot of people who were anarchists. I saw a lot of patches on hats, denim jackets and backpacks and they all meant something very important to the people carrying them, and they were so dirty and so loved. I wanted [these] patches to have a life and last longer than a year. I wanted my work on garments but I didn’t want to find a t-shirt I created in a thrift store because of fashion trends changing with seasons. I want for people to hold on to the patches as long as they could.” -Marsha Robinson, via 303 Magazine
“My mission as an artist is simple–to spread beauty.” -Marsha Robinson, via Cherry Creek Lifestyle Magazine
It’s that time of year again! It’s time to dust off the old bins of holiday decorations and cheer, toys, knick-knacks and ornaments you swore never to put out again, but your kids just love them, and so there they hang. And at the very bottom of the box are the holiday books, which get more and more special and exciting every year, when they are pulled out and loved once again. For this edition of Arlo’s Book Club, we have some new and old selections to add to the bottom of that box of treasures. Enjoy!
William’s Winter Nap
by Linda Ashman, with pictures by Chuck Groenink
The 12 Days of Christmas
by Greg Pizzoli
You can already sing along with this one, as Greg Pizzoli’s new picture book, The 12 Days of Christmas, illustrates the treasured holiday song in a new and hilarious way. Elephant loves receiving the gifts, until they start piling up and taking over the holiday! Brilliant, modern illustrations and fun imagery that you can laugh along to with the kids.
Pick a Pine Tree
by Patricia Toht, with illustrations by Jarvis
You may recognize this one from the recent giveaway we did with Book Bloom, and we’re happy to add it to Arlo’s Book Club! This book celebrates the joy of picking the perfect Christmas tree to take home and decorate, and the warmth that it creates as families gather and enjoy. Sparkling illustrations and rhyming text add to the fun of tradition, ritual and celebration.
When Santa Was a Baby
by Linda Bailey, with illustrations by Genevieve Godbout
Tundra Books, 2015
This one reminds us a bit of a tall tale (think Paul Bunyan or John Henry). Baby Santa has a loud, booming voice, stands in front of the refrigerator to cool off, and is already giving his gifts away to all of the boys and girls in the neighborhood. His loving parents don’t know what to think but are proud all the same. The retro illustration and color scheme allow this one to fit right into your vintage collection.
The Story Orchestra: The Nutcracker
Illustrated by Jessica Courtney-Tickle
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2017
The classic Nutcracker tale is told musically, in this interactive book with illustration by Jessica Courtney-Tickle. The magical twist: press a button and hear Tchaikovsky’s original suites that go along with the story. Read along with the story and listen to the songs that accompany the Nutcracker battle, the Sugar Plum Fairies andthe Land of Sweets!
White Snow, Bright Snow
by Alvin Tresselt, illustrated by Roger Duvoisin
“The policeman said it felt like snow, and his wife said her big toe hurt, and that always means snow.” Sweet, matter-of-fact prose coupled with Roger Duvoisin’s bold illustrations are cozy and bright in this Caldecott Medal award-winning picture book. Read along as a quiet town goes about their business in quiet awe of the falling snow. Duvoisin’s winterscapes in in soft blue with bright splashes of yellow and red give the story a magical touch.
We’re starting your Thursday off with a dose of artistic inspiration from an ancient art form with a modern twist. Block printing is a traditional form of printmaking that utilizes handmade stamps: i.e. wood, linoleum, rubber, or many other materials. Artists carve images into the material with special carving tools and then transfer the impression onto paper or fabric using inks, dyes, and other paint resources.
We are fascinated with some of the amazing work that is emerging from contemporary printmakers, and couldn’t wait to share some inspiring images below, plus a short bio on each amazing artist. Block Shop, Richelle Bergen, Katharine Watson, Andrea Lauren of Ink Print Repeat, and Erin Dollar of Cotton & Flax are just a few of our favorites. Click the caption link to view more work by these talented designers.
Block Shop is a textile company that marries the traditional Indian hand block printing process with a modern California aesthetic. Our products are a collaboration between sisters Hopie and Lily Stockman in Los Angeles and the Chhipa family of printers and dyers in Bagru, Rajasthan. Our entire process is manual: we design on paper, print with wooden blocks, and dye in small batches – the same way it’s been done in India for more than three centuries. No two textiles are exactly alike.
[Richelle Bergen] creates block printed artwork, inspired by nature, botanical patterns and seemingly ordinary daily details. Each print is hand carved on artist’s linoleum or rubbing carving block, and hand printed with eco-friendly inks onto premium papers. Because of the hand printing process, each print may have slight variations, which make each one unique and original.
Katharine Watson started printmaking in college, when the spot she hoped to take in a painting course didn’t fit with her class schedule. She fell in love with linocuts there, and went on to study block printing in India and then to focus on printmaking for the remainder of her art education.
What began as a college thesis and side project has since turned into Katharine’s full time career and has led to features in Vogue and Martha Stewart Living, as well as collaborations with the Metropolitan Museum and Chronicle Books, among many others.
Andrea discovered her love of printmaking during a Lithography class in the basement print studio at Columbia University in New York. She is inspired by vintage picture books, folk stories and woodland walks.
While Erin mostly creates patterns featured in Cotton & Flax as ink drawings (she creates each pattern by hand, using a brush and sum ink, then transfers these patterns to a silkscreen to print multiples on fabric), she does dabble in gorgeous block-printed works as well and has taught workshops on The Crafter’s Box, a virtual workshop space. (Pictured)
Cotton & Flax textiles are made using natural materials, including linen fabrics and eco-friendly water-based inks. Erin chooses linen-blend fabrics for their unique qualities: high absorbency, durability, and increased softness with time.
In honor of Halloween, we wanted to showcase a friend of ours, whose artwork embodies the spirit of the holiday and conveys the fear, the mystery and overall spookiness that comes every October 31st. Gris Grimly is a prolific talent that is a creative force to reckon with! His paintings seem effortlessly brilliant, but convey detail and darkness in the most prodigious of ways. A painter, illustrator and author, Gris’s work has been utilized by schools and classrooms, and has illustrated numerous published works by the literary greats, such as Edgar Allen Poe and Ray Bradbury.
From his biography:
“The release of Edgar Allan Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Madness in 2004 brought attention to a need in the education system. When Gris illustrated the comic/storybook hybrid, he did so with the desire to create a whimsical interpretation that is heavily illustrated and yet maintains the actual prose of the master. He had no idea that schools would use this book as a tool to help young adults comprehend the otherwise difficult Victorian text. The book has exceeded a dozen editions, generated a sequel and has been translated into multiple languages. Other graphic interpretations of classics would follow, including The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Frankenstein, all of which have been implemented into school curricula worldwide.”
Check out all of his books here, and take a scroll through a small selection of his fantastic work below. Plus, don’t miss his amazing #31OctoberPortraits for original portraits of all of your horrific Halloween favorites. Happy Halloween! Let’s get into the spirit!
PS. If you’re in the holiday spirit already, check out Grimly’s Santa Claws!