Tag Archives: Design

Proof of Concept


Layers! Onions have layers; reality has layers. You get it. 

This is a proof of concept drawing for my next big project about which I am stoked and can now discuss: collaborating with the always-amazing Linda Addison to create 1 or 2 comics for her upcoming book of interconnected short stories, Negative Spaces. Originally, based on the tile of the book, I have envisioned a very different style–much more black, much simpler lines–but after we talked about the project for a couple hours, the layers started to come together.

This image won’t be an actual comic panel: it just demonstrates the style in which the eventual comic will appear, more or less. Still needs some tweaks, but the idea is that each layer of reality has its own weight and solidity.

  • The background is a manipulated photograph; in the next iteration I’ll leave off the stippling and just play with the contrast and brightness to take it down to line work.
  • The human character is a pencil sketch, with the interiors filled in with grayscale to pull it forward from the background.
  • The kid’s imaginary friend is drawn in crayon, then reproduced at 50% opacity so it’s partially transparent but still heavy enough to interact with the kid.
  • The 5th dimension beings are a 3D polymer clay model set on the scanner bed to make them hyper-real.

These aren’t the actual 5th dimension beings, whose design specs have not yet solidified: it’s 3 different angles on the “chronic pain and insomnia” figurine from my personal demons collection, because it was the only monster I had lying around that seemed as if it would lie easily on the scanner. The actual 5th dimension beings will be flatter, for maximum scannability.

Of course, these comics have to be black and white, but knowing that in advance gives me the opportunity to experiment and possibly understand how playing with grayscale can add dimensionality

Green Cell Mandala


Sometimes I think: this could be an element of something really beautiful. Or it could be a cross-section of something really horrible. 

Not much to report for this weekend. Added 3 new designs to my RedBubble shop and started to work on a 4th. Wish I understood more about typefaces, about how designers choose lettering for visual appeal, readability, and emotion. Also, how to design specifically for different article of clothing, versus drawing things as they come to me and then sticking the same image on a variety of surfaces.

This is a tidy little mandala, another amoeba type. They really do fall into simple categories.

Sorry there’s nothing of any depth or substance in here. The Rabbit told me she wanted us to make a business plan, and I told her, “You make the plan and I’ll just do whatever you tell me to do.” I swear to god, a woman came up to me at a party this weekend and said, “I had this idea for a T-shirt and I heard you sell them online,” and then proceeds to tell me that she works in marketing. I’m like, Lady, you don’t need my help. You’ll probably sell more T-shirt than me without even trying. I have no idea how to sell things. I just create the.

But, you could buy my book, support my Patreon,  or order my merch if you wanted to prove me wrong.

Metal Zentangle 1


Going for the gold, and the silver, and the bronze.

At the same time I acquired 3 pounds of polymer clay, I also picked up another set of Sharpie Metallics to replace the defective ones I bought for October’s Black Cat Bulletin Board. These came from Michael’s, rather than Walgreen’s, and probably hadn’t been sitting on the shelf long enough to completely dry out. Then I got really excited to do a zentangle on black paper, so excited that I somehow failed to notice that this paper was substantially larger than 8 1/2 x 11 (i.e. somewhat larger than my flatbed scanner). So the edges of the design got cut off in the scan, but otherwise this one looks really nice.

Even though this piece was drawn yesterday, I’m still uploading it an hour late today because it’s hard to get back into a rhythm after a vacation, and also other reasons. Needless to say, I never got the chance to actually make anything today, except, of course, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. So now I’m behind on everything.

If you’re going to let a blog slide, December is the time to do it. No one has time to screw around online in December. In related news, my holiday sales are booming: 2 Tshirts and 2 stickers in 2 weeks. Success. Yeah. Please, buy my stuff so I can pay for all these art supplies.

World’s Latest Boyfriend

I'll see you when you get there, if you ever get there.

I’ll see you when you get there, if you ever get there.

The Man and I belong to a rather thrilling social club, comprising a diverse group of interesting folks of various ages, backgrounds, and walks of life, but in the last 6 months, between typical small group dynamics and people with upwardly mobile careers, we lost a huge chunk of our membership. It was determined that the rest of us should submit names of potential new members, and after a few months of discussion, a half dozen people were invited to a final meet-up to determine whether they would fit well with the existing group dynamic and to assess their interest in joining a social club.

It was the first time in quite a while that everyone RSVPd yes to the meet-up, which was cool, and after a couple hours of mingling, we gathered formally to introduce ourselves. One woman, after identifying herself, mentioned that she had the world’s latest boyfriend, which struck me as particularly hilarious. I don’t know how she felt about it. In fact, although I’d known this woman for over 2 years, I wasn’t sure I even remembered her boyfriend ever showing up at a meeting. (Later on in the evening I found myself standing next to him–he must have arrived eventually–and became extremely confused as to who he was, and how there could be anyone at this small private gathering I didn’t know.)

Anyway, I decided to create a “World’s Latest Boyfriend” T-shirt, although, to my mind, any person who actually buys a shirt like this is probably going to be single in the next 6 months. I guess there are some guys who would think it was funny, although to me it’s pretty passive-aggressive. Well, it’s a little funny, at least, and I drew it, and here it is. You can buy “World’s Latest Boyfriend” on an ever-expanding variety of fine products in my RedBubble shop.

The Perfect Passion Flower

This is Cthulhu's favorite flower.

This is Cthulhu’s favorite flower.

Wow! This design took forever! And it’s complete at last. In retrospect, maybe it didn’t need to be quite so complex; a lot of the detail gets lost at the resolution at which it will be viewed. It’s weirdly, uncomfortably humid here, which made it hard to focus on work. Maybe I could have finished this yesterday if it hadn’t been so sticky.  But here it is: the perfect passion flower.

You can acquire the perfect passion flower in my shop on T-shirts, tank tops, and more. There are even some totally new product types, including a pencil skirt, and a drawstring bag.

Working on this digital painting made me consider the 5 day a week publishing schedule. Obviously, I had nothing to post on Tuesday. I was so focused on trying to get through this piece that I didn’t even have a chance to scan and write about an old piece. And while I do enjoy doing the comic, I miss the opportunity to throw myself into larger projects. Is 3 a week the best option? Would 2 be better, or even 1? Still pondering. But this is what has occupied my attention for the last week or so.



Peacock Design at Long Last

Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 11.58.27 PM

Vanity Has a Thousand Eyes

This work was a long time in coming, something I tinkered with sporadically for probably about 6 months. For a while I figured it would never be done, but tonight I just went at the last bits and got something I could live with. This design looks pretty boss on this smartphone case, and does its job just fine on a T-shirt. It also makes a particularly stunning throw pillow.

I actually don’t care too much for peacocks as living, breathing creatures. The summer before 7th grade, I went to camp at the Philadelphia Zoo. We had a lot of special privileges, including getting into the zoo 15 minutes before it opened and being allowed to go behind the scenes in a lot of exhibits. There were peacocks, everywhere, taunting me. Every kid there found a peacock feather that summer. Every kid but me.

Well, you say, that’s no reason to hate peacocks. OK. My second year in college I did an internship at an elementary school that kept peacocks on the grounds. For atmosphere, I guess. Peacocks were sort of their mascot. Part of my compensation was the use of a trailer on the school grounds. The compensation wasn’t all that great: besides the trailer I got $25 a week and leftover pizza on Fridays. And not only did I have to share the trailer with the principal’s 12-year-old son (apparently he was so obnoxious that the principal and his wife didn’t want him in the house either) but I had to share the roof of the trailer with a flock of peacocks.

I had a rough time getting to the school; there was an utter lack of communication on the school’s part concerning my arrival, compounded by the fact that I had sprained my ankle earlier in the week. When I finally got to my destintaion, many hours later than anticipated, and with my leg swollen to twice its normal size, I just wanted to sleep. The principal casually mentioned that I might hear some strange sounds in the night, as it was the birds’ mating season. He did not mention that the birds’ preferred mating ground was the roof of my trailer. At 4 o’clock in the morning. He further did not mention that the mating call of a peacock sounds eerily like a small child screaming for help while suffering excruciating pain and abject terror.

Ha ha. Peacocks. They’re terrible birds. The elementary school also kept a potbellied pig, a flock of chickens, and a sheep on the grounds, all of which would have made better mascots. When the peacocks laid their eggs and hatched their babies, the rat snakes ate all the chicks. Rat snakes would have made a better mascot.

Like many creatures, peacocks are successful in the modern world because they are nice to look at. Because if they weren’t, they would have gone the way of the passenger pigeon. Peacocks take irritating to the next level. I understand they were considered quite tasty in the medieval world.

I photographed this proud gent at the local zoo. The Girl and I had lingered after closing time and security had not yet found us to throw us out. I could tell the peacock thought we should leave, but I don’t like to be kicked around by birds, no matter how magnificent their tail feathers may be. If you, like me, enjoy looking at peacocks but would prefer not to experience them in person, consider purchasing “Vanity Has a Thousand Eyes,” now available on a variety of garments and household goods in my RedBubble store.

A Rainbow for the Dark

If this onesie looks small to you, don't worry. Rainbird is available in a wide variety of sizes and on many products.

If this onesie looks small to you, don’t worry. Rainbird is available in a wide variety of sizes and on many products.

Throw off the burden of darkness and feast your eyes upon this updated version of my original design. Rainbird still believes you can make your own magic, but it’s more of a tacit message.

The thought still holds true, but the shirt seems better balanced without the text. Live and learn.

As pictured, this onesie cost $18.04. You can buy it here. You can also find it in kid and adult sizes all the way up to 3XL and on tote bags, pillows, phone cases, stickers, of course, and also paper. See all products here.

My First Mandala

The start of something, 1996

The start of something, 1996

This is the first mandala I ever drew as an intentional mandala, knowing something of what it meant to draw a mandala. I had recently finished the class on CG Jung where I began to develop some understanding of spirituality beyond what they taught in Hebrew school and what I’d come to understand in a few years of atheism. I had also recently broken up with my boyfriend of almost 3 years, the one with whom I used to do a lot of collaborative psychedelic art.

I’m pretty sure he had come around to try to get me to take him back, or at least to get me into bed, but it was pretty transparent and I was pretty much through with him. Instead, we ended up painting.  Not collaboratively, though. I don’t remember what he worked on, but it wasn’t my mandala. I told him a mutual friend had confided her attraction to him and he left happily, although our friendship was sort of rocky.

Looking at the huge lapses in symmetry, I wonder if my psyche was that deeply out of alignment, or if I just lacked any skill with a paintbrush.

QWERTYvsDvorak, the T-shirt Shop Part 1

My first T-shirt design

My first T-shirt design. Buy it here!

If I had all the time and money in the world, I would have gone back to school and studied visual art or graphic design, but that simply wasn’t an option, and I had a pretty good idea of what I need to do anyway. The Trickster’s Hat was simply the first few credit hours in my personal graduate study of art. With my husband encouraging me, I gave up my day job devoted myself to drawing. I calculated I could cover my expenses from savings for two years, and if I couldn’t make some kind of impact in two years, I would move on and figure out something else to do with my adulthood.

I love my giralicorn!

I love my giralicorn! Available for purchase here.

Instead of creating art in a vacuum, which had been my basic MO for most of my life, I decided to publish my final products, here in this blog, but also on some T-shirts. I liked the quality and artist-centric philosophy of RedBubble.com and found the site easy to navigate. I acquired a Wacom tablet and forced myself to learn how to use it. Then I began drawing like my life depended on it. I knew that my work would be imperfect, and I embraced that. Whether or not people loved it, I was going to take this chance seriously.

Squid vs Whale, the struggle

Squid vs Whale, the struggle. Show your love with a T-shirt! 

You can acquire any of these designs, and more, on a variety of products: shirts of every size, style, and color, plus sticker, device covers, pillows, tote bags, greeting cards, and poster. Visit my online shop for more details.

The Javelina Happi Coat

Original hare design

Original hare design: the gradient later had to be eliminated, as the printer said they could not execute such fine color shifts.

Shortly before I started The Trickster’s Hat, I was visiting my brother in San Francisco. I was trying to work, but my brother’s wifi somehow was not playing nicely with the proprietary database I needed for the job, so I was mostly just reading to my niece and wishing I didn’t have my job. It was a good job, that paid extremely well, allowed me to work from home, didn’t take up too many hours of my time, and was easy for me to do, and somehow it made me miserable. I had been a starving artist before, and I had been happier with no money.

Original coyote design

Original coyote design, also later flattened to eliminate the gradient

That morning, I received two surprising emails, one from a woman I had worked with through this job a year earlier, asking me to do some freelance for her 501c3, and another from a woman I had recently become friends with, asking me to do some design work.

The javelinas

The javelinas

Until recently, I had not done much in the way of displaying my art, but I had showed this woman a few pages from the Alphabet of Desire, and she was impressed. She was a hasher: a member of a running club for athletes who like beer. Hashers drink and run and party, and often wear silly costumes while doing so. They favored a particular style of Japanese coat, and each region had its own design. My friend lamented the fact that Tucson hashers were forced to wear what she considered the dull and uninspired design from the Phoenix clubs. She wanted a local design by a local artist: javelinas chasing a hare across a desert landscape.


The jHavelina Hash House Harriers Happi Coat is customizable with your hashing name and the name of your club. You can buy this coat here!

With the help of another local artist, Jeffrey Woods, I managed to bring her vision to life. I consider this her work as much as it is mine, since I was drawing to her specification and would not have made many of these decisions myself. Apparently, my design was pretty popular, because the coats are being reissued. To me, the experience was eye-opening. If people would pay me for design work, unsolicited, maybe I didn’t need my well-paying job after all.