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Self Love Club!

Yesterday I heard in the radio that only 9% of the people keep their New Year resolution by the end of January. That’s so depressing!

Well, I’m determined to keep mine this year! My main resolution is to do things I love and share more here! This year I want to care more about enjoying the process and be happy about every step. That includes drawing more, having more fun with my illustrations, expressing more my feelings and ideas and experiment more with design and photography. Be more artistic and less shy. Let myself out a bit more! Focus more on creativity and worry less about the hard part of the business.

How about you, how are you keeping your resolutions?

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New arrivals on the way!

Hello and Happy New Year!

Here is just a quick update. In 2023 I’m increasing my range of products, introducing new bag styles, ceramic mugs and new wall décor. Some of these products will be available exclusively here on my website, others will also be on Etsy.

I’m also experimenting a bit with my visual communication, please feel free to send me feedback!

Let me know how are you doing and if you would like to share any goals for the year please leave me a comment!

Cheers! 🥂

jo

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Designing the Winter Wishes Collection

When I thought about Christmas and Winter I always remember happy moments from my childhood. One of those moments were watching Christmas movies. I grew up in Brazil, where Christmas happens during summer. I’ve never seen snow until I moved to Canada, so watching those kids playing in the ice and snow was fascinating for me!

One of my favorite movies when I was a kid was Home Alone. I love movies from the 80s and 90s and I thought that would be the perfect inspiration for my new winter collection.

Choosing the elements

I watched the movies again and did an analysis of some key elements, you can read about it below:

I wanted to design some people but I didn’t want to use the thieves or Kevin’s family. Instead, I focused on characters that barely have a screen time during the movie, like the ice skaters, choir singers and shoppers. I also got inspired by some of the house wallpapers, overall colour palette and ornaments.

  1. Characters: Ice Skaters, Shoppers, Choir Singers, Kevin and Santa Claus
  2. Elements: Wallpapers designs and Santa House
  3. Miscellaneous: Toys, Presents and Christmas ornaments

I designed the elements in my own style and then digitalized using Adobe Illustrator. My goal was not to recreate the movie most famous scenes, instead I tried to illustrate the fun atmosphere of Christmas and winter in the 80s and 90s. I really enjoyed dressing the characters in vintage clothes and vibrant colours.

Slide the picture below to see my original drawings and the digitalized version

Slide and watch the magic!

Creating the Patterns

For this collection I decided to create 5 hero prints,5 secondary prints and 5 blenders.

Hero Prints: the statement ones! Patterns with characters, lots of elements and colours.

Secondary Prints: patterns with smaller elements and medium complexity

Blender Prints: abstract patterns with limited colours

I tried to create patterns that could be used not only for Christmas but also for the whole winter, so colours include not only the basics red, green and golden but also some whites and blues to add a bit of ice and snow to the mix.

Mock-ups

I always like to visualise how the patterns are going to work in products, here are some tests

Printing Fabrics and Licensing

This collection available for purchase in my Spoonflower shop – that means you can shop fabric by the yard and create your own projects.

I ordered a small quilt to make sure colours will look all right, that’s how it’s going to look like:

Producing Embroidered Products

As usual I’m offering some of the designs in an embroidered version. The winter tote bag is a must have, and the hoops are a great idea for decorating your house or for giving as gifts. Visit my Etsy Shop to see what is available.

What did you think about this project? Did you like it? Let me know in the comments!

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Designing The Book Lovers Collection

It’s been more than a year since the last time I drew a surface pattern design collection. Reading is one of my passions and drawing a book collection has always been in my plans. I’m also a big fan of the visuals in the movie You’ve Got Mail, since the main characters are owners of bookstores and there are books everywhere. I’m specifically attracted by the decoration with so many bookshelves and cozy objects, I find it simply brilliant. With a bit of inspiration and lots of imagination, here is a bit of my process creating The Book Lovers Collection.

The Book Lovers Collection

This collection is perfect for book enthusiasts, writers, students, all people who loves vintage vibes of old paper books, typewriters, lots of coffee and a cozy environment. Adding a hint of humor, warm elements and colours, it’s a perfect collection for back to school in the fall or to enjoy the whole year.

Deciding what to draw

I decided I wanted to get most of my inspiration from the movie You’ve Got Mail, so I watched it again. There are so many things to get inspired, like the Shop Around the Corner, or NY in the fall, or even the Fox Books store. But the place I would love to seat and read was actually Kathleen Kelly’s brownstone house. You can read my analysis of her living room here.

I wanted to have a mix of characters, objects and miscellaneous designs. Watching the movie, I tried to focus on the people who visited the house, on objects, patterns and colours that decorate the space. I divided those in 3 categories:

  1. Characters: the people who frequent the house
  2. Elements: The furniture and larger objects
  3. Miscellaneous: Small objects that decorate the place

With that in mind I drew each element by hand in my own style, and later digitalized using Adobe Illustrator. Don’t be surprised if you don’t see a likeness to Meg Ryan, Tom Hanks or Greg Kinnear, that was intentional. I placed these characters in new situations and tried to focus in the book lovers theme. I want my drawings to appeal to all book lovers, not only fans of the movie.

Slide the picture below to see my original drawings and the digitalized version

Slide and watch the magic!

Creating a Pattern Collection

For this collection I decided to create 4 hero prints, 6 secondary prints and 6 blenders.

  • Hero Prints: the ones with more colours, more elements and higher complexity. All the characters are in the hero prints.
  • Secondary Prints: patterns with medium complexity, moderate use of colours, medium contrast and no characters
  • Blender Prints: simple patterns with limited colours and no complex elements, low contrast

When choosing colours I always try to imagine if the patterns were transmitting that cozy, cute and fun atmosphere. My goal was to create an attractive universe for book lovers, with patterns that work well in different applications.

Trying a few mock-ups

It’s always great to visualise how the patterns are going to work in products, so I always make a few mock ups to test.

Printing Fabrics and Licensing

I decided to make this collection available for purchase at Spoonflower – that means you can shop fabric by the yard and create your own projects.

In order to sell on their website we need to print prof the designs and make sure all colours are fine. I ordered a sample of each fabric on a cheater’s quilt (an amazing option available on their website, you can make one for yourself!). Here is how mine is going to look like, in case you need some inspiration. (If you would like to shop these fabrics visit my shop ).

Producing Embroidered Products

And of course I wouldn’t miss the opportunity of offering some of these designs in an embroidered version. So hoops and tote bags are available featuring some of the icons from the collection. Visit my Etsy Shop to purchase them.

I hope you enjoyed learning more about my process. I find it amazing and surprising to see how much we are able to create with few pieces of inspiration. As the times passes I’ll have even more items to grow this collection so keep in touch! And please let me know what do you think in the comments!

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The Happiness of Designing a New Collection

Hello and welcome back!

This year started with great productivity for me. When we are happy at our work, everything flows better, isn’t right? Since I started creating illustrated embroidery designs I’ve been more relaxed and stable in my process as never before.

One part of me was able to lower my expectations and focus on simple things. I guess on the surface it might look like as I’m not pushing hard or not trying to do anything complex or new. But it’s really interesting how our mind works. As I create a lot of simple designs, I’m having a lot of ideas and I guess you will see some very original projects here if you keep in touch.

You can’t have new ideas if you are not creating. At least that’s how it works for me. I need to do constant research and produce tons of things to start merging all the ideas in my mind. I have way more concepts than I have time to explore them, but I’m not anxious. It’s such a pleasure to create and I’m glad I have a huge list of subjects, I can just pick one and go.

This week I’m launching some floral designs for Valentine’s day and they are inspired by Botanical Illustration. This is a subject I’ve been always thinking about exploring and it’s a constant presence in the interior decorations I’m attracted to. I’m going to add more designs to this first launch but if you enjoy them you can shop the hoops on my shop.

I hope you are having a great start of the year! Keep in touch! Cheers!

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Embroidery and the cute life

I got an embroidery machine. A beautiful, amazing machine and I’m enjoying every minute!

Did I ever tell you I worked with custom embroidered products from when I was 15 until my 20s? When I was teenager, my parents opened an embroidery shop and I worked with them for a long while. We used to make mostly hats and t-shirts. Themes were more casual and we didn’t focus on home decoration.

Working in my family business, 1997. I’m the one on the phone.

A few weeks ago I went to Brazil to visit my parents, and they still have the same shop. While I was explaining my project for illustrated products, my mom insisted that I should buy an embroidery machine. That thought actually crossed my mind a few times but I was not thinking seriously about it. But she was confident I should get a machine now, and I should start creating embroidered illustration.

Well, I got myself some courage, cave in a bit of my savings and here it is. A lovely Brother Innovis NQ1700e.

Her name is Fofina

The machine come with many designs but of course I’m not so interested in using other peoples designs. I want to create my own illustrations and convert them in stiches. For that I use the same program my parents have been using for the last 20 years, a Brazilian software called Bordarte.

Bordarte and I, a partnership of more than 20 years

I’m amazed at how beautiful anything looks as you transform them in thread and stitches. I decided to start as simple as possible so I’m creating just embroidery hoops. Some are ready to shop, and others are custom designs. After that, my next step is to get back to the tote bags, but this time, embroidered.

Check some of my first creations:

A custom name embroidered flower hoop
A monochromatic hoop to decorate the studio

It’s been a lovely experience. I really enjoy the texture and the cozy feeling of these pieces and I’m thinking in more ways to explore the machine and software possibilities.

This is just the beginning! I hope you enjoyed my big news and keep in touch to see lots of new cute embroidery designs coming in.

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Creating my first pattern collection

Drawing patterns is an old dream and I did my first course on the subject in 2018 (with the lovely Elizabeth Olwen on Skillshare).

I got way too busy with other things, time passed and I forgot the little I learned.

This year I said: the time has come!

I enrolled in a course by Ana Sanfelippo at Domestika and it is exactly about what I wanted to learn: tell stories with patterns.

1. Chose the theme

NBC Universal

I was inspired by a short scene in the movie Gosford Park. I love the bedroom furniture and ladies style.

If you want to read my full analysis of this bedroom click here.

2. Define what to draw

My drawings were divided in 3 categories:

Characters: the ladies who socialize in the bedroom
Elements: the furniture and window
Miscellaneous: small objects of the room and wallpaper details

3. Decide where to use the patterns

Early on I decided I wanted to apply the patterns mostly for decoration. Fabrics, wallpapers and art prints are my main goal.

4. Search for references

I always like to get extra references for my projects, so they feel very unique.

For this project I also got inspired by:

  • Chinese scrolls and vases
  • French Toile de Jouy fabric and wallpapers
Images: British Museum and Pattern Observer

5. Draw the elements

This part took forever but it’s so important! I drew all elements by hand in my personal style, then digitalized all elements on Illustrator. It was a very long and exhausting process but now that I’m done I understand how important it is to draw each element very carefully.

Slide to see before and after!

Before and after

6. Pattern creation

For this collection I drew 10 patterns, but in this first moment, I’m publishing just 3:

  • Micro elements
  • Vertical Stripes
  • Brick / Toile inspired

7. Have fun with mockups!

I can’t finish an illustration without testing on a mockup. That’s how I adjust colors, proportion and other small details. When I worked as an architect, I couldn’t live without 3D models and mood boards.

I guess my brain still works the same, I need to see it in the real world!

8. Print fabrics and licensing!

Ok I’m not there yet! I’m still waiting for my fabric samples to arrive, but we will get there and I’ll be here updating you ASAP!

In the mean time check this super cute video I did for my my Instagram, speaking about my pattern process.

Gosford Park Scene: NBC Universal / Video Music: Spring @iksonmusic

If you love it and would like to see more, please check my portfolio page:

Thank you so much for reading! Tell me what do you think about it in the comments!

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Getting frustrated about your work is actually great

When you look at other Illustration accounts, do you often feel you are so behind and have so much to learn? Do you know how to stop feeling overwhelmed and take action? Check these 8 points!

1. You can’t get the result you want

We all have been there.

You have an amazing idea for an illustration, you sit to draw and all you see is:

  • lack of proportion
  • weird colors
  • an overall feeling that something is off

You erase a thousand times, start again.

But you still can’t get the result you want.

2. Things work in your mind, but not on paper

When you have an idea, it looks like you can do something great!

You feel confident!

But as soon as you start drawing you can see clearly it doesn’t work.

You close your eyes and try to remember how it worked in your mind.

But things are blurred now.

You can’t connect imagination with reality.

3. Your work is not as good as the other artists

You decide to search for more references.

The work of other artists look so much better than yours.

So. Much. Better.

You can’t even explain why it’s better. You just feel humiliated and feel you want to give up.

4. You just can’t do it, it’s so frustrating

You feel so small and distant from your goal.

It seems easier to just give up of everything.

When there is so much to improve, the whole challenge seems impossible.

5. What you want to do is different from what you can do

You want to do more and better than what you are doing now.

That means:

you can see potential in yourself for growing.

You can see there are lot of possibilities to improve.

You are just not able yet.

6. This lack of satisfaction is actually great!

It’s easy to focus just on the moment and forget the big picture.

Looking at the present, all you can see is that you can’t have the result you want.

Actually what you found was an opportunity to grow and now you can make a choice.

You can choose to improve!

7. Acknowledging your standards are higher than your skills is the first step to success

When you are 100% satisfied with your work, there is no need to improve.

You are comfortable and your work is on a plateau. There is nothing wrong with that!

But if you feel your work is behind, that’s because your mind is ahead!

So congratulations, you are on the way for progress!

8. Choose just one skill to focus at a time

What makes you overwhelmed is the feeling that everything needs improvement.

Focus on one thing.

There are many areas to improve:

  • colors
  • composition
  • linework
  • proportion
  • texture
  • storytelling

Choose just one!

On the next posts I’m going to speak more about how to chose one skill to improve, what to consider and how to measure your progress. Follow me for more tips!

Thank you so much for reading! All photography courtesy of @rf._.studio

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5 ways I improved my feed in the last 5 years

Many people start social media accounts and have no idea how to organize their posts or how to create a consistent presentation. Social media is everywhere and we are naturally attracted by high quality images and good quality content. In the last 5 years I improved the quality of my Instagram feed and I would like to share my tips.

All creators can benefit from a beautiful and organized feed. If you don’t know where to start, here are my tips.

1. Give a nice presentation

It can be the most beautiful drawing in the world, if your picture is dark, blurred and missing details, nobody will notice you.

2. Learn to use colors

Images in black and white are captivating but colors transmit emotions. If you don’t want to add color to your artworks, at least use colorful frames from time to time.

3. Try different techniques

Experimenting something new will boost your creativity and improve the quality of your work

4. Use your imagination

Copying other works and drawing from observation are important tools for learning but creating something new and showing your own vision of the world is what really makes your work pop

5. Give some air

Too many pictures in the same style can get a bit tiring. Alternate the way you show your creations, zoom on details, show your work space and make things more attractive.

Bonus: Show your face

People love to see who you are! From time to time show your face, your process and your opinions. Make it personal and really connect with people. It’s a social media space, not just a portfolio, so be social.

Did you like these tips?

Share with that friend who is just staring in art!

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A career may blossom to some unimaginable outcome

We often hear stories about people who change their careers for something completely unrelated and become extremely successful in their new areas. One of my favorite examples is the business entrepreneur Sara Blakely. Sara got a degree in law but was not able to pass the LSAT test. She spent seven years selling fax machines door to door until she finally invented Spanx and today her company is worthy one billion dollars. In numerous interviews, she looks to her past and explains how being repeatedly rejected and learning to deal with failure set her up for success. I also like Steve Jobs’ journey. In a very famous speech at Stanford University, he explains why dropping college and enrolling on a random calligraphy course was essential for the success of Apple later on. Even being fired from the company he founded contributed for his success, as he used this time to start other creative companies like Pixar, today a multi billion animation company.

Sara Blakely
Steve Jobs

I’m fascinated by this kind of journey because I’ve been in a career transition as well. Although I graduated and worked as an Architect, it’s been 5 years since I decided to become an artist. During this period I worked at a coffee shop, clothes store, department store and finally at an art studio. In 5 years I got some praise but also I heard multiple times I was wasting my talent. The fact that I served coffee at Starbucks for 2 years was a source of much controversy. Why would an architect with a masters degree decide to serve coffee? How would this contribute in any way for the development of an art career?

Deep inside me I knew I was learning from this experience but since I couldn’t see the outcome, many times I got anxious or frustrated during my journey. Looking back, I can finally see things coming together and the more I work, the more everything makes sense.

You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.

Steve Jobs

Focus on what you can control

When I decided to become an artist, I got a part time job at Starbucks, and started classes at the Alberta University of the Arts. Every morning I wore an apron and served coffee, all afternoons and evenings I was drawing or studying. I had big dreams and was full of creativity and motivation. I couldn’t see clearly where I would reach, but I was happy and focused.

The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter into one of the most creative periods of my life

Steve Jobs

People around me couldn’t understand. I remember introducing myself to a new person saying ” I’m studying arts” and some friend discreetly would add “but she has a masters degree in architecture!”. I used to get upset at these reactions because I thought my friends were embarrassed from my choices. Today I understand it was not their fault. If I couldn’t see clearly the future, why would I expect other people to be able to see? This was beyond my control. In these past 5 years I learned to focus on what I can control, that means, what I want to study, how many hours I can dedicate to my practice, how I respond when I face a challenge. People’s reactions to my choices are beyond my control. I choose to don’t get upset anymore.

Keep track of your progress

I spent my whole first year exploring the city with a sketchbook and a black marker. In the beginning I used my phone to take pictures of my work and the environment around me. After a while, I noticed other artists presented their work in a more clean way. I got a scanner and stopped sharing pictures that were not art related. All my drawings were based on the reality around me and I was afraid of colors.

Studying colors was the biggest change of all. I went from simple black and white sketches to very colorful compositions. The architectural style gave way to experiments. Acrylic paintings, pastel drawings, watercolors, pointillism, chalk markers. Animals became my favorite theme because they could be so colorful. I learned a lot. Working at Starbucks made a huge impact in my art. Since I was constantly drawing chalkboards for them, I brought the black background to my paintings and also started learning about typography. The experience of working in this huge company also taught me many business lessons, the most important of all was understanding what a vision is and why I should have one if I wanted to grow.

In the beginning of 2018 I developed my own vision, I want to make the world more interesting. Everything that contributes to my vision is given priority, anything that doesn’t help me achieve the vision is abandoned. Many times I discarded artworks because I didn’t think they were interesting enough. The vision should be something huge and abstract, not a simple goal. I’ve been following this vision since then.

Looking to the past I noticed I didn’t have a consistent style. I was all over the place. I decided to experiment again until I could find “my style”. I also wanted to understand the meaning of “interesting” for me. At this point I already knew I wanted to work with limited colors, mix them with some black and white and use more patterns. First I got inspired by fashion illustration and later for art for kids. I tried digital drawing, unexpected colors, printmaking, stamps and stencils. Experimenting and going out of my comfort zone was essential to discover what I liked or not.

Much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on

Steve Jobs

I finally understood what I consider interesting. My whole life I loved to read and I have read lots of books. Many years ago I even had a blog about books and movies, I used to analyse how people tell a story. I discovered the most interesting thing for me is storytelling. All my illustrations should be part of a story or be the story on itself. The techniques and style has been compressed to just follow the story. This is what I’m working on now.

Looking back to move forward

Keeping track of my own art, constantly reviewing it and comparing with other art I like was essential to identify opportunities for growth. I archive my drawings and the process to arrive at the final piece. Stephen King expresses this idea much better than I when he speaks about writing. The same could be applied to any form of art:

“You have to read widely, constantly refining (and redefining) your own work as you do so. It’s hard for me to believe that people who read very little (or not at all in some cases) should presume to write and expect people to like what they have written, but I know it’s true. If I had a nickel for every person who ever told me he/she wanted to become a writer but “didn’t have time to read,” I could buy myself a pretty good steak dinner. Can I be blunt on this subject? If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.
Reading is the creative center of a writer’s life. I take a book with me everywhere I go, and find there are all sorts of opportunities to dip in …

Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

In 2015 I simply copied the reality around me, without thinking so much. The exercise of studying other people’s art and process lead me to improve my own process and make it much deeper. Today I define my theme and start with some loose sketches and simple written notes. As I get to the first concept, I study what other artists did, as well as explore my own memories. When I feel I have a stronger visual base, I advance on my drawings and add more details, while I transform my written notes into a text. The process is a collaboration between memories, references, drawings and thinking. For me, an idea is a person climbing a narrow gap between two buildings. It departs from the pavement, made from my memories and references. It puts the feet on the wall of the first building, my drawings. Get some impulse and put a feet on the second building, my writing. It keeps climbing dangerously with the support of both building, writing and drawing, never losing sight from the floor, my memories and references. Will the idea trip and fall back to my mind? Or will it reach the top? Can my ideas fly?

Be excited about what you don’t know

Understanding there is so much to learn is the best way to discover new techniques and approaches to solve problems. My career changed in some unexpected ways, one discovery led to another and I’ve seen myself walking on paths I’ve never imagined before.

Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know.

 Sara Blakely
An open circle with no limits

Improvement can only exist if I’m willing to see new ways of doing things. As we plant the seeds of our destiny, we imagine and plan where we are going to reach but so many discoveries on the way lead us to unexpected paths. The circle of choices is open but it’s my mind that closes its border. I’m the one who creates this invisible ceiling and says – here is where it stops. What if I could see there is no end? 

Changing the mindset is the most interesting way to grow and discover value in our own experiences. Imagine how many combinations you can make with each piece of the knowledge you already have. 

Good story ideas seem to come quite literally from nowhere, sailing at you right out of the empty sky: two previously unrelated ideas come together and make something new under the sun. Your job isn’t to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up.”

Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Today I feel I’m combining everything, there was no right or wrong path. Skills from all my previous jobs, ideas from all my hobbies, memories from all my travels, slowly all my life experience is getting compressed and molded into new matter and transformed in illustrations. The unexpected is great. The mystery and vastness of the future are fascinating for me.

Do you wonder what the future holds? Do you ever wonder where you will be in 5 years? If I could look through the crystal ball, I would visualize an immense maze of ways and possibilities. The maze of our destiny is so vast it simply doesn’t have an end. It’s infinite. Walking on the roads of my destiny, every single day I discover new possibilities, every single moment I can make a new choice.

All these experiences together brought me where I am now. Working with large companies and learning about business helped me understand how I should guide my own career. Being open, trying with different art supplies, techniques and ideas helped me improve the quality of my artwork. The love for reading made me understand how a good story is important for me. Being excited about the future motivates me everyday. 

Would you like to see your career growing in ways you never imagined before? Here is what I see so far:

  1. Focus on what you can control
  2. Keep track of your progress
  3. Look back to move forward
  4. Be excited about what you don’t know

I hope you enjoyed reading this post! Leave a comment or share, I would love to know how you are approaching your own career growth. Thanks for your visit!