Friday, February 7, 2014

Free Valentine's Printables!

They're up! Go to A Practical Wedding for full instructions, and here for the free download.

Friday, January 17, 2014

A pre-Valentine's Day hello!

I am in the midst of a new year's revamp of the Printable Press website, a revamp of my understanding of the business, and adjusting my ideas about our crazy cat. Which is, that if I want to stage some photography, he had better be locked into another room.

Typical outtakes of every stationery photo shoot. And the printable valentines are coming soon with A Practical Wedding!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Time to 'fess up

I'm going to confess something to you. From April 2012 to April 2013 we experienced 5 deaths, attended 4 funerals, lost our last remaining grandparents, and both of our pets. And it was this final one, my cat of 17 years, that spun me into silence. I flipped out.

I had been preparing for her death for years, essentially ever since I moved in with Paul. She and I had been sole companions for over a decade and it was quite traumatic for her to move in with a boy ("What??") and a dog ("What the fuck??"). She was skittish, quiet, the runt of a litter found in a car engine, and it took her a year to trust me. Do you know how special that is? To be the only trusted one? It was like having a little wild animal around whom you had tempted with tiny bits of food to approach your campfire, the little animal creeping closer and closer, until one day you look down and realize it's sitting on your feet. You don't even breathe, not wanting to scare it off. 

That's what it was like—ever precious. And then she joined me on all my adventures.

When her time finally came I knew that no matter how much preparing I had done that I would still flip out. And so I let myself weep for days, and then on and off for weeks, and if the wrong commercial comes on or tender moment in a movie, I still tear up. 

But what I had not expected was the depth of flip-out. Her death, for some reason, made me doubt everything. This is sort of what happened to my head for a few months:

What has happened to my life? Who's that two-year-old in the other room? Who's this man sitting next to me? What is this, I own a stationery business? And I've fooled myself into thinking I'm capable of doing that?

Where did so many things go, those things I did when it was her and me alone? Where was art and staying up until 4am sketching, where was staying at the beach until sunset, where was staying at the cabin with a cat hiding under the bed when we heard a deer outside at night? Because it is always deer, not bears, definitely. Absolutely. It couldn't be bears.

Where where where did I go...

I stopped being able to do a happy blog, and I couldn't do an honest blog either, because I knew even my nearest and dearest were tired of hearing my confused dementia-esque repeated questions and flailings. When you do not recognize your life or your deepest self, you gotta solve it yourself. 

One of the things that I am receding from is social media. I have a whooooole lot to say on that front, which I'm still pondering, because if every single person in the business world is telling me I have to maintain social media then obviously I need to take them seriously. Perhaps. But sometimes, when things get to be too much, you have to slice off just a couple of things that are too much.

I am not solved, but I am pushing forwards. Right now with just a stick trying to force aside mental brambles and vines, I want to be strong enough to turn it into a machete, and go THWACK THWACK through the dead weight I've let twine up around my brain. 

I'm not even going to re-read this: here is my post. Please pardon any spelling errors...

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Zoo shots

Baboon butt, paintings by sea lions and porcupines, meerkat alertness, sea lion training, feeling cold. Continuing to have fun with my new camera. These aren't much or terribly original, but animals are always a good time, and this is the first time I've been able to capture one of the sea lions in action! They are one of the few creatures who have fun the way we do—not just to practice their hunting skills, not just something they grow out of, not just instinctually chasing the laser light, but doing something "just because". Like chasing and retrieving frisbees! Painting! The Prospect Park Zoo is only about 1 long block away from us through the park, we go like every two weeks. August refuses to learn the world "seals", since all he sees are sea lions. He gets furious with us when we say seals at all.

I'll learn 'im when he's older. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Watercolor and boarding the bandwagon

What I've been up to—lots of thinking, and lots of watercoloring. Here's what I've been feeling—conflicted.

A while ago I came across the sun prints of Anna Atkins made of British ferns, published in 1843. I wrote about her here. Ever since then I've been wanting to make watercolors of ferns (since I'm not much of a sun print type), but have been busy with the business/baby/life trilogy. I've finally found the time to fiddle with watercolor, and am discovering that these new designs look an awful lot like a lot of stationery and illustrations out there. Hand-painted artwork is very trendy right now, artwork informed by old illustrations and vintage-y colors. So these designs will look very much, or ARE very much, like I'm jumping on the bandwagon.

The current message sent out to all designers is to be true to your own vision and nurture your original look. But to be honest I don't really have one. Trained as a children's book designer, I was trained to be at the service of a narrative—to create designs that brought out other people's work, where the designer is and should be essentially invisible. It's all about the story, it's not about you.

Now as a stationery designer (and still book designer, designing 2 right now, how do I think I have the time for this...) I find that although I do have a specific perspective, I do not have a single unified look. I'm swept away by too many things. And I want to share these things with people. In a way, I feel that my design skills should be at the service of those looking for unique stationery that could still be within their budget.

So, about this bandwagon thing. I feel bad about creating things that will smack of other people's work, even if I'd had it in mind for years. But when custom artwork is out of most people's grasp, is it such a bad thing to find a way to give it to them? Especially if you happen to have a background in watercolor?

What does it mean to feel in service to customers rather than your own "style"? It's not the motto out there. If you're a small business you are not supposed to be talking about money or sales, you are supposed to be true to yourself and stick to your guns.

I guess I'm not on that bandwagon. I guess I think that mindset is its own bandwagon. A good one, one that everyone should aspire to! But I simply don't have a singular design style. If "eclectic" is the word of the day for interiors, can't it be that way for design as well? I design with other people in mind, I design things to make people happy. Design is at the service of others, to be used and loved. It's not art, and THAT'S OKAY.

I'll talk about my artwork some other time!