Today I want to talk about one of my mentor’s, Bonnie Christine, and her incredible Surface Design Immersion Course. What’s that you might be saying? Well in short…
“The Surface Design Immersion Course is a beloved 8 week online training program for those who want to learn Adobe Illustrator, the art of surface pattern design, how to become a licensing artist and create a sustainable business as a creative entrepreneur. “ There is so much more to it than that and I’m going to encourage you to head over to Bonnie’s website HERE to read the specifics.
What I mostly want to share with you here today is my experience in learning from Bonnie over the past seven years. Bonnie has an amazing ability to connect with her students and it’s that connection, along with the relationships that I’ve made in her communities and other communities I’m a part of that has really encouraged me to keep pushing forward, to be better in my career, to reach my goals and continue to set new ones. Watching Bonnie grow and succeed in her own career, from just a small blog to a 7 figure business owner, has pushed me to work hard at what I love to do and has given me the confidence to know that I can achieve any goal I set my mind to. I don’t know if I would have this wonderful creative career had it not been for her caring and consistent guidance and inspiration over the years.
I was recently thinking about a day in my final year of art school (a 4 year degree costing over $30,000 by the way). My school was very conceptual and one of the first things that I discovered while there was that being myself, liking things like pretty art and stationery stores, was not okay and I quickly learned to shove that part of myself down and hide it away. On this day, I was meeting with one of my my teachers and showing her my uninspired grad project. At one point she looked over and saw something I had pinned off to the side. It was a miniature book that I was making for my family as a gift illustrating the Twelve Days of Christmas. I showed it to her and told her that this is actually what I love doing. She turned her nose up and sneered. Needless to say, I got the message over and over again from the teachers who were supposed to be helping me learn and grow into the best version of myself that who I was, was wrong.
I spent the next eight years floundering around, trying to figure out how I fit into the art world. I tried a lot of things but nothing seemed to fit. Then one day I stumbled across a post from one of my favourite bloggers at the time, Bonnie Christine. She was teaching her very first course all about something called… Surface Pattern Design. "What the heck is that?" I asked myself. Of course I immediately signed up. The information she shared was eye-opening. I had never considered the fact that creating artwork for things like fabric, cards and gift wrap was actually a thing people did for a living. They certainly never taught us anything about that in art school. After the course I found myself more energized and inspired about creating than I ever had been and within a month I had learned Adobe Illustrator, created my first fabric collection and won Bonnie’s Surface Pattern Design Challenge. Most important of all I had a newfound confidence in myself and my abilities. I continued to take as many classes as I could on commercial art, online marketing and business from many incredible teachers. I put in a lot of late nights and eventually I started getting noticed. Eventually I landed my first licensing job, which just so happened to be illustrating the Twelve Days of Christmas for the wonderful Bespoke Letterpress. That work also went on to be licensed as a set of soaps in Anthropologie last Christmas.
Looking back on this, what strikes me the most is the huge, life altering difference a good teacher and a caring and empowering community can make. This is why I’ve continued to follow, support and learn from Bonnie over the years and why I’m sharing my story with you.
You can make money doing what you love and Bonnie will show you how to do it.
A Special BONUS!
I’m so excited to be affiliating for Bonnie again this year and I have a special bonus for everyone who signs up through my affiliate link HERE! I’m in the dreaming/planning phase of creating my very own course! I’m going to be sharing all about drawing one of my favourite subjects… People! I recently asked over on Instagram what you might like to learn from me and one of the overwhelming responses was “how to draw people” and I totally get it. There are so many ways to draw people but, no matter your style, there are just some basic structural things that need to be there in order to make things make sense. As humans we love seeing images of ourselves and having the ability to comfortably include people into your work opens you up to so many opportunities, not only in terms of getting more creative work but also the ability to connect with your audience on a deeper level. I’ve been dreaming for some time now about creating my own course and I feel like this is the year! I’ve taken a lot of classes over the years and, to me, nothing is better than the interactive and community experience of a live course so that is my vision. I’m excited to share my approach to drawing and incorporating people into my own work with you!
While the course will be available for anyone to purchase when I do launch it, I’m excited to offer it for FREE as a special BONUS to everyone who signs up for Bonnie’s Immersion Course through my affiliate link. I am a strong believer in investing in yourself, your growth and your education but I also realize that Immersion is a big investment and so I’m hoping to help offset some of that with the addition of my course as well. As I said, I’m still in the early planning stages but I’m hoping to launch the course in the late Spring/early summer. Bonnie will be sending me a list of all students who purchase through my link after the course begins and I will reach out to you after that and keep you updated. I hope you'll join me on this adventure!
You can sign up through my link right HERE.
Intro to Gesture Drawing
Did I mention I'm also teaching a bonus module as a part of the Surface Design Immersion course?
It's true! I'll be teaching you all about gesture drawing. You'll learn how to capture the basic structure of your subject through the use of line, shape and speed. Gesture drawing gives life and energy to your art and can help you develop a natural, signature style. With practice it can become second nature to draw almost anything!
If you haven’t signed up yet for Bonnie’s FREE mini course Creating a Career in Surface Design, it’s not too late, aaannndd it’s amazing so go do it!
Finally, if you’ve made it all the way to the end, thank you! As always, please reach out to me if you have any questions. I’d love to hear from you and I’m happy to help you figure out if Immersion is a good fit.
All the best,
I'm so excited to share some new holiday cards I designed for Lagom Design that are now available over on their website. The more cards I design the more I fall in love with it. A well made card is like holding a tiny treasure. It's a keepsake and these ones are particularly close to my heart. I love Christmas! They are beautifully printed on quality card stock with blind embossing and gold foil detail to make them extra special. I hope you and yours enjoy them as much as I do!
You can also check out my designer interview, The Magic of Small Things here on the Lagom blog.
All the best,
I’m so excited to share with you a sneak peak into my creative workflow. I’ll be sharing everything from how I come up with ideas to planning, sketching and creating a finished piece. Starting is the hardest part for me, but when I break my process down into steps it really helps to remove the overwhelm, and lets me get to the fun part, painting!
Firstly, I should say that this is the method that I’ve found works best for me. There are infinite ways to create artwork and this is only one. I work mainly with traditional media in an illustrative style so that’s what this process is geared towards. If you prefer to paint intuitively or work purely digitally then some of these methods might not be a perfect fit but you can always adjust them to suit your unique process. Take what works for you and leave the rest! So with that said let’s get to the nerdy good stuff…
Research involves, gathering ideas and inspiration. Taking inspiration from your daily life is an easy place to start. You never know when a great idea will pop into your head so be ready to write it down so you can reference it later. A little notebook works great for this but my favourite tool is the Notes app on my phone. I keep a running list of anything and everything. These don’t have to be flushed out ideas, just a word or two, and not everything will pan out but you might be surprised by what does make it into a finished piece!
Creating a mood board of colour and reference images can also help you create a beautiful finished product. You can create a physical inspiration board with magazine clippings, colour chips and and other objects or you can create a virtual board using Pinterest. Reference things like home decor, photography, vintage patterns or anything else that you find interesting, but try not to include artwork in a similar vein as your own. You want to come up with your own, original work and not be overly inspired by someone else's.
Planning ahead will help remove the overwhelm when starting a new piece of art. Once I’ve done my research and I know what my subject matter is, I like to spend a little bit of time experimenting in my sketchbook to get warmed up. You can play with sketching or painting some individual elements or jot down a few quick layout ideas that you have floating around in your head. Look for interesting shapes and details that you might want to feature or embellish later. Don’t think too hard just play and discover. No one is going to see this so just try anything and everything you can think of.
Next I usually move on to figuring out a basic layout by drawing some simple thumbnail sketches. I find it easier to do this ahead of time partially out of personal preference but also because, depending on what I’m working on I may have to send sketches to a client for approval before moving forward. They don’t have to be complicated, these are just rough layout suggestions to act as a guide or jumping off point. These are meant to be quick and rough so take the preciousness out of it by giving yourself a time limit of 4 thumbnails in 20 minutes. Make it 10 minutes if you’re up for a challenge! If you’re comfortable painting loosely, without a lot of structure then you can choose your favourite thumbnail and move on to paint from here but if you’re like me you might want to refine your chosen thumbnails into a slightly more flushed out sketch. Either method is just fine so do what feels best for you.
You can also plan out your colours in advance which is what I do. Check out my Free Guide to Creating Stand Out Colour Palettes, to learn all about how I choose my colours.
Now for the really fun part…
Of course you can tackle this step any way you’d like and if you have a way that works for you then go for it! There is no right or wrong way to create your final image, be it paint, collage, digital, etc., but here’s what I do because it works for me…
I like to build up my artwork in layers. This allows me to see and adjust the entire piece as I go and that helps with getting a well balanced look to the final artwork. I start by either lightly sketching or using a light table and then blocking in the basic shapes of my composition first. The idea is not to focus on just one area at a time and make it perfect, but to instead focus on the overall shapes you are creating and build up the detail evenly around the piece. Think of it in terms of writing an essay, you need to create your outline first and then refine and refine from there in order to end up with a cohesive finished product.
Side note - If I’m creating something that I know is going to end up as a digital file for licensing then I will usually break my composition up into icons so that it’s easier to edit and assemble on the computer, however I’ll still use this method of working in layers within each icon. Again, not necessary, just what works for me.
Finally, take your time. Give yourself a break. If you find yourself struggling, sometimes the best thing you can do is walk away and come back with fresh eyes, and if after that you still feel the need to stop and and start again, that’s okay too. What might look effortless on Pinterest or Instagram probably had a lot of hard work and a good dose of frustration put into it. It’s totally normal and all part of the process.
Thank you so much for following along! I hope that you’re able to implement some of these strategies into your own workflow and I’d love to see what you create! Feel free to leave a comment below, tag me on Instagram or send me a message letting me know what you want to learn about next!
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You can also check out my full range of greeting cards with Lagom Design here.
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