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:
Characters: the people who frequent the house
Elements: The furniture and larger objects
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
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!
After so many requests, I finally bring you an analysis of You’ve Got Mail. With Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, the movie dates from 1996 when internet romance was still something very new. Who would guess we would end up swiping forever on Tinder? No, no, things were way slower, romantic a mysterious on those times.
The characters of the movie are very interesting and fun, but for me the best part of the movie is the visual. Kathleen Kelly brownstone house in NY is the coziest home in the universe, it’s been more than 20 years and we are still talking about it! Her store, The Shop Around the Corner, is a paradise of books, cute toys and lovely sparkling decorations. The way NY in the end of the 90s is captured is so captivating, the city looks so lovely and full of life. The “Starbucks” aura and Joe Fox apartment are also very on point. Seriously, filmmaker Nancy Meyers is a genius for style.
If you never watched this film stop and go watch. My analysis has lots of spoilers and revels the plot – just a warning!
But now lets get to action. Today we are going to focus on Kathleen Kelly Living Room and a tiny bit of her other rooms. The movie starts with the camera flying from outside to the inside of her house showing an overview of the space.
From the first scene you can get a glimpse of how cozy is this place. The colours are warm and harmonic, the wide door moldings have a soft and pleasant texture and all objects feels purposely mismatched in a casual, effortless vibe. This scene is already a masterpiece of composition. Notice how many planes you can see at the same time:
The outdoor curtains
The home office corner on the left
The washroom on the right
The piano room and living room behind the office
The entry hall light coming from the washroom window
The building on the other side of the street (through the window)
Lovely introduction! Now let’s check some details
On this side of the apartment you can see this lovely cube bookshelf, Kathleen’s desk , her piano and the living room. Notice how the books are not organized, there are piles in all directions and no shelf is perfectly tidy. Everything here is intentional and this “messiness” creates the feeling of a well lived place, specially close to the desk. You get the impression that Kathleen actually reads a lot and check those books all the time.
Above, a better view of the home office . The wooden desk and wicked magazine stand add to the warmth of the space. Notice the frame with a round in the middle – that’s actually a framed crochet dolly! Other frames around the house have lots of vintage botanical illustration. All these small details helps build Kathleen Kelly character: she is a warm person who treasure family mementos and values her history.
Here is another floor to ceiling bookshelf! It’s probably normal for a bookstore owner, but seriously, that’s a lot of books! Here you can see more objects and the decoration team tried to reinforce a few messages:
Kathleen’s love for daisies: the vase and the frames feature her favorite flower
Her longing for romance, symbolized by objects in pairs. Here you can see this pair of frames but her whole apartment is full of objects in pairs: table lamps, frames, candlesticks and even a painting with a couple of swans. I find this just a genius idea coming from the filmmakers!
Here you have a better look on the living room and bit more of her bookshelf on this side. Again objects in pairs – notice the frames on the wall and candlesticks on the bookshelf. This sofa is an invitation to get cozy, isn’t it? I just adore this print and all the lovely cushions. The mismatched chairs give a lot of personality and bring contrast and value to the space. On the shelves some more amazing decisions from the filmmakers: here the books are more organized since they are a bit farther from the desk and you can notice a picture on the top left, that’s probably Kathleen’s enchanting mother.
When you get to the last corner of her living room: Surprise! Another book shelf! This time it’s a smaller one, slightly less crowded and decorated with objects. Joe Fox brought some daisies for Kathleen and the green of the leaves stands out on this warm and blush frame.
So we crossed the whole living room, from window to window. Now lets get back and take a quick peak on the other corners.
Above, on the left you see the bookshelf that surrounds the washroom and behind it, a bit of her bedroom furniture. On the right you see her desk, the TV (she can watch it from her bed) and a bay window with another sofa. This window faces the street and is the one we “used” to get inside her house in the first scene. All spaces are integrated, except the washroom and the kitchen.
Don’t miss the details, like the pairs of pictures on the wall, or pair of objects on the shelves. I adore her desk chair and the curtains, so delicate! Also notice the lovely vintage furniture with green details, absolutely charming!
Here a quick peak on her bedroom. Her bedsheets and bed cover changes throughout the movie, reflecting changes in her own life. The quilt adds to the Kathleen’s love of history and family mementos. You can see the pair of table lamps on the dresser and the painting above her bed is actually a pair of swans (you can see better in the next picture).
Above, the couple of swans in whole glory! Speaking about pairs, notice how her nightstand lamps are mismatched. This is to symbolize how Kathleen and Frank were not made for each other, her love life is not in perfect balance yet.
Should we talk about the bed linens? Throughout the movie they are are so inviting I could write another post just about her bedroom and linings, seriously! But not today! Our goal was just the living room, I’m already getting distracted!
Still we can get a very quick peak on the other spaces, above the dining room (taken with Frank’s electric typewriters), the lovely kitchen, a glimpse of the washroom and the entry hall with the amazing stained glass window. By the way, guess what is in the painting on the entry wall? Tip – it’s also a sculpture in the kitchen window. Yes you guessed right, a swan!
If you like this style you might enjoy the collection I designed based on this movie:
I’m obsessed with romantic style and lately I discovered they are popular again, thanks to grandmillenials. House Beautiful describes this as: “Ranging in age from mid‑20s to late‑30s, grandmillennials have an affinity for design trends considered by mainstream culture to be “stuffy” or “outdated”—Laura Ashley prints, ruffles, embroidered linens.”
Pink floral wallpapers give a dreamy vibe to my grandma chic style. Scroll through for a glimpse.
Morris and Co
At Houghton Hall
Rifle Paper Co
With Loloi Rugs
By Yves Town
By The Green Eyed Girl
By Minnette Jackson Interiors
By Brewster Home
By Peonie Cole Cottage
Did you like my selection? Leave me a comment telling me what you think
Improving a skill requires constant effort. As an illustrator, I’m always trying to find interesting ways to tell stories through drawing. After a long gap without producing art, I finally felt inspired again and started a series of illustrations in late May. I was motivated and happy but in less than two months I felt trapped and had to stop again to reorganize my plans. What happened?
I’ll tell you the truth. I’m addicted in social media.
I need to draw, post on Instagram and see the reaction of people immediately. I even started to post videos everyday sharing not only the completed drawings but also the process and each part of what I was doing. The result? In one month I got stressed and bored. Every time I was not producing fast enough, I would feel guilty and on my videos I would repeat just “I’m stuck, I’m stuck, I’m stuck”. So annoying! Not having time to reflect about my work led me to make a lot of mistakes and bad choices. In the last week of July I chose some very strange colors and did some really weird patterns. Not proud!
Making these mistakes helped me realize I needed more time. I decided to draw 2 months in advance, so in August I started to draw for Canadian Thanksgiving , October 12. That was a great decision. I finally got time to breathe and see a full collection finished before I started posting. It’s been challenging to stay away from social media and don’t see interactions everyday, but I believe this will be very important to start producing good quality artwork.
I recently finished reading On Writing, from Stephen King and it’s a great book! Here is something he said that was important for me (on drawing on my case)
Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open. Your stuff starts out being just for you
I think I opened too much of my process and the truth is that most people are not interested, except for my artist friends. That limits too much my potential and reach. Also makes me insecure about my choices and I feel very inconsistent, as I rush things to show in public fast. I also notice I don’t give myself time to review my work.
If you are in the creative career, either writing, painting, music, anything artistic, I really recommend this book. I’ve never read other books from Stephen King because I’m not into suspense stories but I really enjoy learning about his creative process and where he gets inspiration for his projects.
I also watched the September Issue again. I love this documentary about Vogue and Anna Wintour. I really love Grace Coddington participation, Anna and Grace are both really inspiring women in very different ways. It’s great to see how they prepare the fashion editorials, how the teams plan the stories and what happens in the edition room. I like how they take their job very seriously and how sometimes hard decisions are made to keep the magazine aligned with their ideals. One thing I noticed is that they started the plan for the September issue about 5 months before the launch! I didn’t know they start so early.
All this helped me regain my focus. I finished my fall illustration series and I’m ready to start the Halloween series. I will post on Instagram only in September but if you are reading here you can see my fall illustrations before everybody! Just visit my portfolio page –> here.
That’s it for today! Thank you so much for reading and we keep in touch!
Hi! How are you today? I hope great! For me it’s been a very productive week with so many insights and personal growth. I drew a lot, wrote a lot and learn so many things.
I’ve been inspired by an online game called Covet Fashion. It’s a funny online game where you dress your “doll” according to a description of a story. You need to use certain clothes or accessories to “pass” a challenge. The game is telling the story of Etta who crossed a portal and now is travelling in the sky. When she arrived in the sky everything was very weird, she saw this strange woman walking on top of the clouds and her pet was an alligator. The game challenge us to style a look using leather boots and acrylic sunglasses. Now I cannot imagine… you cross a portal, fall from the sky on a cloud and there she is, this very cool lady walking her alligator. Ha! Ok!
I decided to create an illustration based on that. I started to think about how I could show the shoes and have something dynamic with the alligator. I remember those modern paintings from the moderns times, like the Abaporu, by Tarsila do Amaral. I wanted the woman a bit in perspective, feet large and head far in the sky. I didn’t want to exaggerate too much her proportions, so I tried to remember examples in real life. Suddenly I remember this advertise from Nike from many years ago and I was so happy I was able to find a screenshot I took at the time. Nike really knows how to feature their shoes!
I got her some Miista boots with an amazing snake pattern and then all I needed was her pet. After a bit of researching I found a crocodile from an old Peter Pan book and I tried to draw it more playfully and sassy. I also added some pattern to make it connect with the boots and of course, I put it on a leash since it’s a well behavior alligator.
My idea is to create free wallpapers for iPhone and other mobiles. I started using as a background my own lock screen and it’s just so awesome, makes me feel very cool. I imagine I’m this giant woman, facing up the sun with my mind distracted in another universe. My alligator friend tells me something spicy, look how his hand is all sassy, we are full of attitude. We have hours of conversations in the sky, traveling between pink clouds, there is nothing else in the world. Life is really cool! ⠀⠀
The best thing about this illustration is how much I achieved and how well I used skills I’ve been working on. Click on the images to see some of the skills I used in this image.
Drawing on iPhone
I think it’s so cool to create art for iPhone directly on my iPhone! I’ve been drawing all my artwork with a strange (but wonderful) stylus called Pony, using Procreate Pocket. When I downloaded the Procreate app last month, I started by doing a ton of studies with just my finger. Drawing with my finger helped me keep one eye on the scale of the project and have an overall feeling of the artwork. My amazing painting instructors always taught me to start with my largest brushes. Do you know why? Because it gives the feeling of the painting, it directs the composition, fills quickly the canvas and avoids overworking or getting lost in details. Drawing with the finger is like that, your finger is that super large brush. It’s a great start, but at a certain point, you need a smaller brush. That’s why I got a stylus. Buy why this stylus is so strange?
IPhone surfaces are designed to react with your finger, a wide surface that transmits energy to the screen. You can try a stylus with a sharper tip and they won’t work, your iPhone is not capable of understanding. So Pony found a great solution, this style with a transparent disk! The disk is wide enough to transmit the information for the iphone, and is transparent, so you can see what you are drawing. It’s connected to the pen by a flexible piece, allowing you to incline the pen while you draw. I love my Pony stylus! People who are familiar with the iPad pencil might get a hard time with a Pony. It’s definitely harder to make precise lines or really express your strokes with that tip. But I got used very quickly and I just love the freedom of making art anywhere at any time. Can you imagine changing all art supplies, tons of brushes, pigments, pencils, papers, canvas, sponges, easels, boards, all that volume of things for something that you already have in your pocket? I love my traditional art materials, but I’m seriously hooked by the digital art and all the freedom and possibilities I see here.
Dreaming about hidden worlds
Imagining different realities has been an amazing source of inspiration. While I was thinking about clouds and sunglasses and strange new things, I started to retrieve memories from a long long time ago, when I was about 7 and my mom hired a girl to help her babysit my sister. This girl was a very funny and was always dreaming about having the perfect boyfriend. She would spend all the free hours of her day looking at gossip magazines and admiring all these guys from the movies and advertisements. This happened during the 80’s and the standards for men were quite different from today, their faces were quite angular and their presence felt a bit distant, sometimes even robotic. In one of her magazines there was an advertisement from RayBan where the guy was standing there, very masculine, with all these clouds reflected in his sunglasses. It was so cool! When I thought about sunglasses and clouds, that was the image that came to my mind. I decided to use this reference and mix with something more current. After searching how people advertise sunglasses today, I found an ad from Lanvin that I liked, the girl was cool and the composition was simple but well done. I especially like the plant on the right side or the picture, it brings a bit of mystery to the story and softens her expression.
I choose to base my drawing on this picture because it is somehow connected but opposed to the energy from the RayBan ad and it was fun to play with these concepts. The guy was facing forward, outdoors in the sun, nothing in front of him. The girl was behind a plant, indoors and in the shadows. But both look distant and in another world. Mix and match with a bit of line drawing and here it is, this designed a cool lady ready to escape to new hidden worlds.
I found it funny how I mixed an online fashion game with memories from the 80’s and advertisements and got here. I love thinking about the creative process and all these associations of ideas.
Multiplying an idea
Every time I create an illustration I want to create a set of other illustrations that are inspired and related to the main work. It’s an exercise I’ve been doing to multiply my art and transform one concept in many interconnected works. I love the idea of collage and during the quarantine I discovered an app called PicCollage. I stayed hours and hours creating silly collages with any image that attracted my mind, escaping to a world with no limits and full imagination. The main purpose of the app is to add a frame and stickers to your picture, or use it like a scrapbook. There are thousands of backgrounds in all colors and textures, and the stickers are designed by many illustrators around the world, in all kinds of styles and themes. There are also fonts and other features I didn’t discover yet. I started to use the app everyday just for fun and then I wanted to have my own stickers and backgrounds to make even more collages and create compositions with my own works.
While studying how to represent snake pattern, I drew over the boots design by Miista. Then I thought, hey, I can transform these boots in a sticker! So I mix some stickers from other artists and my own and create a silly but awesome PicCollage. Is this a masterpiece? For sure no, but it’s so much fun and helps me release the power of my own imagination!
Creating a collection
In the same idea about multiplying my art and getting more out of the same theme, I’ve been creating simple patterns that brings happiness and hope for those who see them. I plan to design those patterns fast and don’t worry too much about details, but in reality, I actually struggle. The pattern for this collections was particularly challenging. I started with the idea of drawing a swamp full of alligators. I chose my colors and composition, searched for references and started drawing. The more I drew, the less I liked the results. It’s not that the drawing was bad, but it was not communicating what I wanted to tell. After 3 days working on the same idea, I had an “A-ha!” moment. I finally realized my mistake was placing the alligators floating horizontally on the water.
Although that was a fine image, it had nothing to do with my theme, it was too static and realistic. Looking at my own works I saw that I needed to keep the composition more dynamic and that the theme was all related to the clouds and imagination. Alligators on a swamp is common place, what is new is alligators on clouds. The concept was wrong and I was telling the wrong story, no matter how good was the drawing, I would never get the result I wanted.
I spent so much time thinking and researching about alligators I started to see alligators everywhere! I’m very happy about what I was able to achieve and this was important to stay within the concept.
Drawing this collection was just so much fun and I feel I’ve been travelling with Etta in this strange new world. If you loved the concept and would like to travel too, you can use one of my wallpapers on your phone as well. Send me a email requesting the image and I’ll be happy to send you. Just choose one or all of the 3 wallpapers below
The joys and challenges of this art process were immense and added so much to my life. I feel I’ve been to a real journey. If you enjoyed learning about all this adventure and had fun while reading, leave me a comment, push like or share this post. I want to know more about your dreams and what makes your head get lost in the clouds. Thank you so much for reading and see you in the next adventure!