"Do you do illustrations for books?" was a question I got early last week, so I wanted to take a trip down memory lane when it comes to creating illustrations. With all that is still going on in the world, I've taken to doing more digital drawing as a familiar coping mechanism lately since mostly moving away from chalk lettering. It had been a while since I drew regularly, but getting back to it has been a relief and something I look forward to daily.
The first book illustration I ever tried was for a book cover design for a project my father published entitled Escape. I remember him giving me a synopsis of what he was writing about and asking me to draw something. At that time, I sketched it on paper with pencil and shared it with him, but the drawing didn't go much further than that. Eventually, and I'm not sure how much later it was... there was a second book that is available online via Amazon/Kindle that I did a watercolor design for and then used as a project to learn how to make vector art using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. I wrote about falling in love with that process in one of my first-ever blog posts here seven years ago.
That was only the beginning, and I had no idea that I would create illustrations for three different author's projects some years after that. I haven't seen any of these author's books as finished, printed products yet, unfortunately, but learned a lot with these early illustration works that I still use today. Read on for more about my first few storybook projects!
2016 Illustrations for Kevin Norman's book Golden
I met Kevin while attending a Valentine's event with my good friend Alicia in 2014. The singer Marcus Canty was having a concert at a venue in Fayetteville, and Kev was its host. We became cordial over the years and even casually dated before realizing it wasn't going to work out between us, but were able to collaborate on a few cool projects in that season.
One of those projects was a children's book he wanted to release and he asked me to do the illustrations. It took some months of brainstorming and tweaking, but I completed the designs and sent them to him in June 2016. Since then, I haven't heard anything more about publishing the book, unfortunately, but the illustrations can be viewed in the slideshow below. My process was to 1) sketch, 2) ink the drawing and scan it into the computer, and 3) color and edit in Photoshop, then save save as a PDF.
When I reached out to Brenda Miller Holmes years ago to inquire about getting involved in her project as a volunteer, I never imagined what would come with it or after. I shared a couple of posts in the past that touched on the Durham Civil Rights History Mural Project, one in July 2014 and the other in September 2014. This year, Myra Weise received an Arts About grant from Downtown Durham, Inc. (DDI) to fund a performance event inspired by the mural. Originally, she wanted to have Brenda create the temporary ground work, but being the equity-conscious person she is, Brenda suggested getting another artist involved and recommended me. At first, I wasn't sure if I could deliver what Myra envisioned, but I got more and more excited after meeting with her, getting an overview of the event, and sketching some ideas out on paper. We even met one weekend for a photo shoot to get images for promotional material (pictured below and also taken by Zoe Litaker Photography).
On the day of the event, Myra was busy going through a super long list of logistical tasks that included things like picking up road barricades and chairs and dropping those off along with supplies and setting up, etc. I arrived on site a little after 10 a.m. and began to mark up the parking lot. The goal was for me to lay out the design in the mock up shown that would both serve as a place the community could color in for a couple of hours before the performance as well as the stage space for the dancers to perform within.
Time flew as I started installing the stage's border. I quickly went through a number of the chalk spray paint cans and began to improvise when I was running out. In the home stretch, one of the men featured in the mural stopped by... Walter Riley, who was in town visiting due to a National Lawyer Guild's convention on civil rights (he's an Attorney who's done incredible work; look him up!). We talked for a while and I learned that he, too, is an artist and paints often with oils.
All in all, it was a great experience. I wrapped up and went to work, and when I finished my shift, I came back to see bits of the performance and to check out Derrick Beasley's exhibition inside of the Durham Arts Council building. Some photos from behind the scenes are in the slideshow below as well as two brochures that were handed out during the event that share more information about the mural itself. Thanks for much for reading, and as always... feel free to leave a comment or two!
Hello, hello... hey hello, hello! Today, I am writing to share steps for creating your own chalkboard sign(s). Last July, I had the pleasure of lettering wedding signage (shown in photo) for the first time for a friend. Prior to this experience, the only time I had ever made signs on chalkboard was while working as a part-time barista years ago in a local Starbucks. Oh, the things you discover while you're trying to figure life out! Coffee culture, hand-lettering and custom chalk menus seem to all naturally group together as a 'thing', and thankfully I left with a small appreciation for them all by the time my barista days were over.
This past week, I got the opportunity to be a part of a project that brought together the works of a group of phenomenal businesswomen. A local baker, the one who actually did my aforementioned friend's wedding cake, saw the ceremony and reception signage, and then connected and hired me to do signs for her daughter's 7th birthday soon after. I also hand-lettered gift bag name tags and painted a few custom frames for her party. I'm so filled with joy to know the words I took the time to write last summer left such a grand impression that it led me to do more. If you're ready to make your own inspiring chalk signage, keep on reading (and/or feel free to contact me for your chalkboard signage needs)!
Materials for this DIY:
*For the chalkboard spray paint, I've tried both of these brands. You can find 1 in home reno' stores, i.e. Home Depot or Lowe's and 2 in local craft stores, i.e. Michaels or A.C. Moore.)
**I used a variety of chalk pens from the Craft Smart, Chalk Ink and Bistro brands. All great!
I used the following items, but they are not required to create your chalkboard sign; completely OPTIONAL.
Thanks so much for checking out this post and I hope it helps with whatever creative projects you might be working on! My step-by-step process is in the slideshow and photos from the party are in the gallery below. Until next time... peace!
As mentioned in my last post, here is a process video of my Save The Elephants design - inspired by the presentation I attended a couple of weeks ago at the Carolina Theater. Environmental Artivism... Support!
Hello, hello! It's been one week since I've been working on the illustrations for a soon-to-be published, children's storybook. I met the author exactly three weeks ago while I was at my day-job and I'm grateful for the opportunity to give her the illustrations she desired and to do all the layout designs for her book. I'm very excited and proud of the progress I've made thus far, so I am giving you a sneak peek! I can't show you EVERYTHING, of course, but here's a glimpse of what I've been creating in my free time. Enjoy!
About the Author
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