Stockist Showcase: Case for Making

 
 art & photo by Alexandria Lai; a small rendition of Alexis in front of her shop ☻

art & photo by Alexandria Lai; a small rendition of Alexis in front of her shop ☻

As part of our Stockist Showcase campaign, #ILLUSTORIAshopslocal, we’re interviewing the staff behind beloved shops that carry Illustoria, to spotlight the amazing people behind small businesses that make their neighborhoods so special. This week, we made a visit to Case For Making, the most dreamy studio supply shop located in the Outer Sunset district of San Francisco.

Enter through the doors of Case For Making, just a block away from windswept Ocean Beach, and you’re instantly transported into an artist’s wonderland. With a lush wooden interior and beautifully curated goods displayed in every corner, it’s easy to hole up in this cabin-esque shop for hours on end. For those who find themselves wandering in with nothing in mind, they, too will find it easy to roam through each nook and cranny.

 Illustration excerpt from "A Brief History of Vermillion" written by Alexis Joseph & illustrated by Lindsay Stripling for ILLUSTORIA  Issue 5: Motion

Illustration excerpt from "A Brief History of Vermillion" written by Alexis Joseph & illustrated by Lindsay Stripling for ILLUSTORIA  Issue 5: Motion

I had the opportunity to interview Alexis Joseph, one of the co-founders of Case for Making. Her interest in color is what initially brought her into the world of watercolor paint making. Each Case for Making watercolor is a handmade, labor of love with rocks sourced from across the United States and then processed into pigment by Alexis and her team. If you don’t see Alexis at the shop, she might be running to and from their other location, thinking up the next new color to produce with the managers, or writing her regular feature to Illustoria magazine, "The Brief History of Color." (Check out Issues 4 - 6 to read the incredible stories behind ultramarine blue, vermillion, and ochre, written by Alexis Joseph and illustrated by Lindsay Stripling; and find more episodes in the series in upcoming issues of Illustoria). Thankfully, she could squeeze out some time during her schedule to answer a few questions about Case for Making.

 photo by Alexandria Lai 

photo by Alexandria Lai 

How does Case for Making find the artists and makers who also inhabit the space? 

A lot of the original supplies I stocked the shop with were all my favorite supplies that I have used throughout a lifetime of drawing and painting as well as architecture and drafting supplies I used in undergraduate and graduate school! I quickly saw that the products that we were selling the most of were watercolors and watercolor supplies, which worked out because its always been my favorite medium. Other things we stock are made by friends, so it feels extra special to carry their work and support them in that way. Anything we couldn’t find or just wanted to see a certain way, we decided to make ourselves! 

 photo by Alexandria Lai 

photo by Alexandria Lai 

Do you have a current favorite product/book/magazine that can be found at your shop?

We really love all the Illustoria magazines!!! Other than that we just got in a line of pure pigment and all the supplies you need to make your own paint! We love being able to share and teach all aspects of what we do here with everyone who walks in or joins us for a class or finds us online or through Illustoria.

 photo by Alexis Joseph 

photo by Alexis Joseph 

How did you overcome the obstacles you faced before launching Case for Making?

I started Case for Making while I still had a full-time job. It took me three years in order to get the business (and myself) to a place where I could work full time only for Case for Making. It all took time and hard work and trusting myself to make decisions quickly. All in all, I had to learn how to get good at seeing what was working, and letting go of the things that weren’t.

What is different about Case for Making?

Our paired down selection of drawing and watercolor supplies compliments our in-house handmade products and supplies. We have over 70 colors of watercolor paint that we make by hand in the shops made from pure pigments that we source from all over the world mixed with natural binders. It’s fun to see this process in action and I hope people feel the love and care that goes into our products when they use them! Both shops are also active workspaces so you might see us mixing up fresh batches of paint or collating and gluing up packs of our letterpress watercolor postcards!

 photo by Alexandria Lai; Staff member MJ at the work station 

photo by Alexandria Lai; Staff member MJ at the work station 

Do you have any big dreams or goals for your business?

We want to continue to develop not only our handmade line of watercolors but also a range of paper and ceramic products; who knows what else we’ll dream up! We just love approaching a creative practice from a place of curiosity in terms of material and process. I’m also working on my own studio practice and am reminding myself to incorporate advice that I’ve been handing out over the years into my own process!

Can you describe some of your typical customers? What do you enjoy most about helping your customers find the perfect book/watercolors/art supply/gift, etc.?

We love all of our customers so much and we get all sorts of people visiting the shop! We have people who follow us on Instagram and plan to visit the shop while they are here on vacation and we have neighborhood artists who get all their supplies from us. We also have lots of people stumble in who’ve never heard of us and they’re excited to try out some pens and hang out for a bit! Everyone who walks in is generally pretty happy to be in an art store and we love talking to everyone about the products we make and how we produce our watercolors. We also yell at anyone who comes in and says that they wish they were artistic; we say, “EVERYONE IS ARTISTIC!” Can you make a mark on paper? Fine then, make that mark over and over on a piece of paper with a pen or a pencil or with a brush and watercolor and see what you can make just with that!

 photo by Alexandria Lai 

photo by Alexandria Lai 

Any advice for aspiring small business owners?

Simplify your idea, hone it, and build it out from there. I didn’t think I’d have a watercolor paint making company when I started an art store 4 years ago! It was all a response to what was working and what people were interested in combined with my experience and interests! Stay flexible yet clear with yourself on what it is that you’re excited about and then clearly state that in every aspect of your business!

 photo by Alexandria Lai 

photo by Alexandria Lai 

And as always, if Case for Making were an animal, which animal would it be? 

Easy. We’d be an Octopus because they have pigment in their skin and can change color on demand all of which is based on their own process of trial and error! They also have 8 arms so they could draw and paint many things at once! They’re the coolest.

 Octopus, painted in the Indigo and Titanium White handmade watercolors by Alexis Joseph

Octopus, painted in the Indigo and Titanium White handmade watercolors by Alexis Joseph


Thanks to Alexis for taking the time to chat about this amazing studio supply shop! Be sure to check out their Instagram caseformaking for regular updates and loads of paint making Instagram stories! Case for Making and Lindsay Stripling are also regular contributor's to Illustoria with their incredible feature "The Brief History of Colors".  Check out Issues 4 - 7 to read the stories behind vermillion, orche and ultramarine blue. 

Stay tuned for our next stockist showcase, and in the meantime be sure to check our stockist list to find the ILLUSTORIA seller nearest to you! 

Q & Artist: Cover Artist Marina Muun

 
 Illustrator Marina Muun

Illustrator Marina Muun

 

We are so thrilled to showcase Marina Muun, our cover artist for The Symbols Issue. Marina hails from Bulgaria and currently resides in Vienna, Austria. She has illustrated for The New York Times, Tate Publishing, Google, BuzzFeed, The New Yorker, Wrap Magazine, and many more esteemed publications. We fell head over heels in love with her beautiful, bold artwork for our latest cover:

 
  Illustoria  # 6: The Symbols Issue; Cover art by Marina Muun

Illustoria # 6: The Symbols Issue; Cover art by Marina Muun

 

Check out The Symbols Issue to see her beautiful illustrated comic, "The Rock Garden," which combines her fascination with modern architecture with her reverence for the antiquated. 

Enjoy Marina's illustrated Q & Artist interview. We're pretty sure you will fall in love with her and her artwork as much as we have!

Stockist Showcase: Skylight Books

 
 photo taken by © Kelly Brown

photo taken by © Kelly Brown

Skylight Books is the epitome of a bookstore that truly defines the neighborhood it resides in.  This bustling bookstore was born in 1996, and since then, has become a home not only to those who have worked or shared their stories there, but also to travelers looking for respite on both bright and rainy (though rare!) days. If their large glass windows, which usually feature a themed display of some sort, do not stop you from wandering in, then the chalkboard sign full of amusing messages surely will.

 ILLUSTORIA's publishing assistant and LA native Claire Astrow considers Skylight Books a home away from home. 

ILLUSTORIA's publishing assistant and LA native Claire Astrow considers Skylight Books a home away from home. 

Follow @skylightbooks on Instagram for more fun posts!

 In our new stockist showcase campaign, we're featuring some of our most beloved shops where you can find the magazine and introducing readers to the heroes running their most treasured neighborhood shops. This week, we're featuring our home-away-from-home @skylightbookstore located in Los Angeles.  We had the opportunity to interview Steven Salardino, the manager of Skylight Books, on what this historic bookstore that stocks ILLUSTORIA is all about. 

Please describe what a customer will experience when they walk into your bookstore.

Some notice the tree in the middle right away and some look up years later and wonder if it has been here the whole time. A lot of people don’t know that we have an Arts Annex next door even though it has held our selection of art books, music books, comics, architecture, film, and magazines for the last ten years. Still, others wonder if we are related to the “comic book store next door.” I think the combination of books, music, and staff work well with the space to create a feeling that is relaxed and makes one feel both “at home” and connected to something cultural and communal.

 photo taken by © Lindsay George

photo taken by © Lindsay George

Is there something unique about your bookstore that cannot be experienced anywhere else?

You know those words that can’t be translated into English? Like there is no direct translation (see: “wabi-sabi” or “saudade”)? That is sort of what you want your bookstore to have as an experience. There is a specific bookstore feeling that says, “This is what a bookstore should feel like,” and then there is, “This is what this bookstore should feel like.” On a good day, it feels “rènào* (热闹).”

*Rènào captures the feeling of a lively space bustling with noise and excitement—a fitting description of Skylight Books

...And we have a fifteen-foot cardboard sculpture with hidden messages.

 photo by Steven Salardino himself!

photo by Steven Salardino himself!

There is no denying that the community behind Skylight Books is large and supportive, but like any independent bookstore, there were quite a few obstacles faced before establishing the business. When asked about the beginnings of Skylight Books and what they had to overcome, Steven told us this:

Bookstores in general have faced many challenges since we opened twenty-one years ago. The challenges of opening any business can be tough. We have had to face competition from discount and chain stores as well as online behemoths. Then, there was the presumed threat of electronic books to the bookstore world. Skylight Books has always tried to be positive. We have always loved books (and magazines and journals) and believed other people did too and would feel as we did – that books and bookstores were important and should be supported. I know that I often find myself buying books at other independent bookstores on my day off!

If Skylight Books were an animal, which animal would it be?

I would like us to be one of those Dr. Seuss creatures…like four animals grafted into one, brightly colored, and with a silly smile.

 Illustration by Skylight Books staff, Alex Hemming

Illustration by Skylight Books staff, Alex Hemming

Thanks to Steven and all the folks at Skylight Books for taking the time to chat about your awesome bookstore! Stay tuned for our next stockist showcase, and in the meantime be sure to check our stockist list to find the ILLUSTORIA seller nearest to you! 


Everyday, there are endless tasks to complete, patrons to help, and emails to answer. But whether the staff are busy tidying up the bookstore, feeding their resident cat Franny, or posting about upcoming book releases and author readings, they will never be too busy to share their love for the community of booksellers, artists, zinesters, and readers that inhabit their space! So don’t be afraid to ask any of the staff you get to meet what their current favorite read is. With any luck, maybe they’ll be able to convince you to take it home too.

Steven’s current favorite book is: Monograph by Chris Ware. Though it has already been a year since its release, Steven still can’t get over how huge, beautiful, and detailed this graphic novel is, noting that Ware is one of the most important artists and storytellers of our time. If this has enticed you, don't hesitate to swing by Skylight Books to purchase your very own copy of it. 

Be sure to check out Skylight Books for upcoming events, programs, and more! 

 

Illustoria Issue 6 Release Party

 
illustoria issue 6 release.jpg

WHERE:
Morningtide Shop
847 Cornell Avenue
Albany, CA

WHEN:
Saturday, February 24th, 11am – 2pm

WHY:
Celebrate the release of our latest issue, meet friends, shop local, color and craft, get swag and discounts!

Grab your friends and come party with us Saturday, February 24th, 11–2 PM at Morningtide, our favorite little shop in Albany to celebrate the release of the oh-so-beautiful Issue #6: The Symbols Issue!! There will be CD Mandala crafting, an exclusive DIY project from Issue #6, as well as a big coloring table for all you drawing wizards. Come ready to snack because Good Eggs, the absurdly fresh grocery delivery service, will be providing delightful treats! And if tasty snacks weren't enough to solidify your Saturday plans, our amazing sponsor Sakura will be giving out free pen/marker set for every ILLUSTORIA magazine purchase. 

 Issue #6: The Symbols Issue Cover Art by Marina Munn. 

Issue #6: The Symbols Issue Cover Art by Marina Munn. 

There could be no better place to share The Symbols Issue with you than Morningtide. This exquisitely curated boutique shop was founded by friends Lisa Fontaine and Lisa Wong Jackson, who share a love for objects that bring happiness and offer a sense of well-being. 

IMG_5616.jpg

We hope you can join us to craft, snack, and most of all get inspired by all of the amazing content to be found in Issue #6. Get your hands on our interview with the brilliant cult artist Yuko Higuchi, an exclusive look at the making of Her Right Foot written by Dave Eggers and illustrated by Shawn Harris,  a stunning comic by cover artist Marina Munn, the latest edition of Literary Giants as Kids featuring Dr.Seuss by Elizabeth Haidle, and so much more. See you there! 

 photograph by Morningtide 

photograph by Morningtide 

 

Creator Crush: Teresa Sdralevich

 
 photo by ©Saskia Vanderstichelen

photo by ©Saskia Vanderstichelen

You will have no trouble finding Poster Power! on the shelf at your local bookstore. Nor will you have any issues describing it to your friendly bookseller to make sure it's in stock (which it definitely should be!), your best friend, your kids, kid's teacher, monthly bookclub, or absolutely whoever for the very reason that this glorious guide to poster design and history by Teresa Sdralevich stands out like a bright sunbeam in the middle of a grey winter. This is not only because of Poster Power!'s unmissable huge neon orange cover that basically shouts, "OPEN ME, I AM EYE CANDY!"  but because it's contents are masterfully designed, written and curated by Sdralevich to create the ultimate joyful reading experience.

  Poster Power!  book cover by Teresa Sdralevich. 

Poster Power! book cover by Teresa Sdralevich. 

Each page is handwritten by Sdralevich in eclectic, dazzling fonts composed on the page like a visual poem or lovingly doodled notes passed back and forth in class. With wit and hilarity, Teresa breaks down graphic design into delicious bite size chunks and washes it all down with striking examples of posters from all over the world. Best of all, Teresa invites readers to practice their poster-making skills right on the pages on the book with inviting prompts and interesting questions. 

  Poster Power!   by Teresa Sdralevich

Poster Power!  by Teresa Sdralevich

Poster Power! leaves no stone unturned, covering all matters of importance from typography, color interaction, and composition to design technique, printing methods and poster making history. You and your young readers will finish this book, published by the ever-brilliant Cicada Books, feeling inspired and invigorated to become poster-making power-houses. However, it is very likely that like us, you'll be dying for more. And lucky for you, there is! Check out our Q&Artist with the mastermind herself Teresa Sdralevich on the making of Poster Power!, her life as a butt-kicking freelance designer, and who makes her top list of every designer a 12 year old should know. You can also find more of Sdralevich's work on her website, at http://www.teresasdralevich.net/. Happy reading! 

 photograph courtesy of Cicada Books

photograph courtesy of Cicada Books

The collection of posters featured in Poster Power! are absolutely stunning. What was your process for finding them all?
With a few exceptions, I know these posters inside out, they really shaped my way of seeing. The collection reflects my main influences, Polish and modernist posters. There are also works by designers whom I personally know and who had an important role in my life. 
 

 photo courtesy of Teresa Sdralevich

photo courtesy of Teresa Sdralevich


What’s the hardest part about being a freelance designer? The best?
I think I skipped the worst part, which is earning enough money to survive at the beginning of your career. Taking all the decisions can be very tiring, but for advice there are friends, my partner and my mother – she throws her sharp eye from Italy if necessary.

The rest is the best part: working without steady hours (which means, at least before having a family, almost all the time), working alone, skipping meetings and all the "workplace" literature, which I abhor.
 

 Teresa Sdralevich's printmaking studio in Brussels. 

Teresa Sdralevich's printmaking studio in Brussels. 

What was your favorite part about growing up in Milan?
Probably our independence, at respectively age 6/7/8 myself, my brother and sister, we would go alone to school or to the park (which was gloomy and not at all children-friendly!). Like all middle-class families we escaped every week-end to Varese, an extraordinarily green city: we had our caravan parked in the huge park of of an uncle's villa, that was our kingdom, our paradise...

 Poster Power by Teresa Sdralevich

Poster Power by Teresa Sdralevich

 Poster Power by Teresa Sdralevich

Poster Power by Teresa Sdralevich

You interned for designer Jean-Christophe Geluck in 1996. What was that like?
My internship lasted one month, then I became part of the studio; I learned almost everything from Jean-Christophe and his colleague, Thierry Suykens. Actually you may say that a huge part of the book content comes from my experience there. It was then a small studio that mainly produced posters (notably a yearly series of unconventional accident prevention posters) and book covers; right from the start it was a very balanced relationship, because they needed me as much as I needed them, and we spoke the same language except that I still had to learn it. We had a lot of work but I managed from the beginning to illustrate young readers' books for two Italian publishing houses, and to build my own list of clients or do pro bono actions. I had security and liberty at the same time.

 Teresa Sdralevich's printmaking studio in Brussels. 

Teresa Sdralevich's printmaking studio in Brussels. 

It’s incredible that 99.9% of Poster Power! is handwritten. What inspired that decision? How long did it take to create all of the text?
A couple of years ago I had an exhibition of my posters in a cultural center in Belgium; I knew that many classes of children from 6 to 15 would visit it so I thought that it would be nice to write a guide to give them a key for looking. I don't have a laptop, I was running late and had to work while at my parents' so I simply decided to begin writing: I drew this booklet in a few days, with no plan, and gave in the pile of paper directly for photocopying. That was the first draft of the book to come. I don't want to think how long did it take, certainly an incredible amount of hours, hours of pure pleasure!  Generally speaking, the less I sit in front of a computer, the happier I am, even if it's an awfully useful engine.

 Poster Power by Teresa Sdralevich

Poster Power by Teresa Sdralevich

 Poster Power by Teresa Sdralevich

Poster Power by Teresa Sdralevich

What was the biggest challenge of creating Poster Power!?
I was really afraid to end up with some boring pedagogical book that would miss the humor and taste for nonsense that came out naturally in the first version; but the publisher, Ziggy Hanaor, edited the text with an incredible respect for my personal tone and at the same time an eye for structure and detail, the two things that make a book run smoothly.

What are your top 3 favorite fonts?
For years, my favorite font has been Akzidenz Grotesk, the font that the only graphic design teacher I ever had, Patrice Junius, always used. I also love Futura, especially Bold, because it's so impossible to manage, it inevitably sets the viewer in the 1930's, in the Bauhaus spirit. It's so beautiful and difficult to draw.

 Bronx Shaded Font, photo by Teresa Sdralevich

Bronx Shaded Font, photo by Teresa Sdralevich

Then I would mention Bronx Shaded (see above) is a beautiful and bizarre alphabet that in a way stands for all the bizarre alphabets I can use and copy because I own a lot of old letter transfer sheets, or Letraset.

 Letraset pages are a great (and vintage!) lettering tool for any graphic design project.  

Letraset pages are a great (and vintage!) lettering tool for any graphic design project.  

What were your favorite children’s books growing up?
Although our house was filled with books, there were very few books intended for children; the one that's really engraved in my memory is Sembra Questo Sembra Quello (in English, It Looks Like This, Looks Like That), a beautifully crafted, simple book by Enrica Maria Agostinelli. I have been reading it to my daughters and it never wears out, the images and the rhythm are just perfect. We had also the "Little Bear" series, illustrated by Sendak, those are books thet still move me, even if I see many poor editions around –– poor in terms of printing quality and paper. We also read the Moomin cartoons and Richard Scarry, an underestimated gentle giant, was also present on our shelves.

  Sembra Questo Sembra Quello  by Enrica Maria Agostinelli  

Sembra Questo Sembra Quello by Enrica Maria Agostinelli 

  Sembra Questo Sembra Quello  by   Enrica Maria Agostinelli .  Translation:  It Just Looks Like A Yellow Flower....

Sembra Questo Sembra Quello by Enrica Maria Agostinelli. Translation: It Just Looks Like A Yellow Flower....

  Sembra Questo Sembra Quello  by   Enrica Maria Agostinelli. Translation: ...... No, it's the beak of the parrot

Sembra Questo Sembra Quello by Enrica Maria Agostinelli. Translation: ......No, it's the beak of the parrot

Who are the graphic designers you wish every kid (or grownup!) knew about?
This is a difficult and tricky question! In the book there already a few good names, so I will not mention them, the majority being of course poster designers – but if I have to I throw an alternative list of classics it would include: Dick Bruna (before Miffy), Robert Massin, Alvin Lustig, Tibor Kalman, Ed Fella, Bruno Munari, Charles and Ray Eames, Sister Corita Kent – whom I would not call a designer, but she's certainly worth knowing because she was so much more. This is a different list than the one I would write tomorrow, but I think what's important is to get to know someone's work deeply, in the frame of his or her time, which is the opposite of the Pinterest approach.

 Dick Bruna, Koop niet alléén zwarte beertjes  (Buy not only black bear-books)  poster to promote Zwarte Beertjes books  A.W Bruna & Zoon. Utrecht  1961 

Dick Bruna, Koop niet alléén
zwarte beertjes
(Buy not only black bear-books) 
poster to promote
Zwarte Beertjes books
A.W Bruna & Zoon. Utrecht
1961 

 Sister Corita Kent in her silkscreening workshop at Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles, CA. 

Sister Corita Kent in her silkscreening workshop at Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles, CA. 

  La Cantatrice Chauve  by Ionesco. Design by Robert Massin, 1964. 

La Cantatrice Chauve by Ionesco. Design by Robert Massin, 1964. 

  A Season In Hell  by Arthur Rimbaud, Cover Design by Alvin Lustig.  

A Season In Hell by Arthur Rimbaud, Cover Design by Alvin Lustig.  

Where is your favorite unusual place to hang a poster?
The most unusual place I ever hanged a poster is... the wrong country! For the Europalia Italia Festival I had almost 800 posters displayed on the walls of Brussels; nice posters altogether, but announcing cultural events that were taking place at that very moment in Italy. It was surreal and I like to think that it puzzled people. On a smaller scale, I did the same with British posters for the opening of the British Council.

 MSF Belgique: Brochure FR/NL, 2017 by Teresa Sdralevich  ©

MSF Belgique: Brochure FR/NL, 2017 by Teresa Sdralevich  ©

What project are you currently working on?
I continue my collaboration with MSF (Doctors Without Borders), I continue making three drawings every week for an Italian magazine, I prepare two workshops that I will lead in the next couple of months, I answer interviews... and somewhere in the back of my mind I think about a book for small children, a sort of sequel of My Family is a Zoo (published by Minibombo) that I made a couple of years ago. It will deal with those typical phrases you hear a lot in family gatherings (especially in Italy) like "She looks like her late grand-grand-mother!" or "He has his uncle's ears". But then I might work on a totally different kind of book!

 Stop Cyberbullying: PAGE magazine by Teresa Sdralevich © 

Stop Cyberbullying: PAGE magazine by Teresa Sdralevich © 

 by Teresa Sdralevich ©

by Teresa Sdralevich ©

 Tribute to Rene Wanner: Bienal del Cartel - Bolivia 2013 by Teresa Sdralevich ©

Tribute to Rene Wanner: Bienal del Cartel - Bolivia 2013 by Teresa Sdralevich ©

Do you have a favorite type of pen, or brush, or paper for drawing with?
I drew Poster Power exclusively with Artline 70 black markers, and I used Staedler very fine markers for retouches. For years I worked with the Pentel brush, that enables you to trace either perfect lines or messy strokes. As for paper, I only pay attention to it when I am printing in silkscreen – my favorite is Steinbach – but usually I work on the most common office 90g A4. I waste an incredible amount of A4s.

P1092064.JPG

Poster Power is filled to the brim with top-notch advice. But if you had to boil down your words of wisdom into one statement of advice for young aspiring graphic designers, what would it be?
Oh... I hate giving advice, did I really do that in the book? Probably I would say: look, draw, have fun while working, look, draw.

 Conference in Spain: silkscreen, A2 by Teresa Sdralevich ©

Conference in Spain: silkscreen, A2 by Teresa Sdralevich ©

 Posterzegel march 2014: Family, don't feel like it by Teresa Sdralevich ©

Posterzegel march 2014: Family, don't feel like it by Teresa Sdralevich ©

 La Donna Scimmia: poster remake for an exhibition by Teresa Sdralevich ©

La Donna Scimmia: poster remake for an exhibition by Teresa Sdralevich ©

We are thrilled to have partnered with Cicada Books to make this blog post possible. Be sure to check out their excellent selection of stunningly illustrated books, and participate in our giveaway of Poster Power on Instagram on January 21st, 2018! 

 

Illustoria's Fav Kids' Books of 2017

 
best books 2017.jpg

2017 is coming to a close folks, and you know what that means! Time to look back at all of the books this year that have provoked, charmed, inspired and anchored us. This year more than ever before, we've sought to celebrate the qualities that bring our friends and neighbors together while simultaneously honoring what makes our communities unique. In times of uncertainty, books such as Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers and Shawn Harris, Ghost by Jason Reynolds and This Is How We Do It by Matt Lamothe have guided difficult but fruitful conversations with our families and illuminated the beauty and strength that exists in complex, richly diverse spaces. This list wouldn't have been possible without the thoughtful recommendations of our dear friends at Mr. Mopps' Books, our favorite little bookstore in Berkeley, California. We hope some of your own favorites are on this list, and that you discover some new treasures to check out in the new year. 
 

Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers, illustrated by Shawn Harris 

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  Her Right Foot  by Dave Eggers, illustrated by Shawn Harris 

Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers, illustrated by Shawn Harris 

  Her Right Foot  by Dave Eggers, illustrated by Shawn Harris

Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers, illustrated by Shawn Harris

As if Dave Eggers, founder of the literary journal McSweeny's, co-founder of 826 Valencia, and author of This Bridge Will Not Be Grey (among many other adult novels,  such as What is What), could be any more genius or cool, his newest children's book Her Right Foot knocked us right out of the park. This timely story explains the significance and history of the Statue of Liberty, a topic that is especially poignant in a year when immigration and citizenship in the United States made headlines day after day. The illustrations by Shawn Harris are deceptively simple, but don't be fooled. Each page was a pain-staking labor of love by Harris, who drew sketches, then cut, edited, and arranged each detail of the illustrations in paper. Check out his website to see how several of the pages came together, from beginning to end.

Nina; Jazz Legend & Civil-Rights Activist Nina Simone by Alice Brière-Haquet and illustrated by Bruno Liance

  Nina; Jazz Legend and Civil-Rights Activist Nina Simone  by Alice Brière-Haquet and illustrated by Bruno Liance 

Nina; Jazz Legend and Civil-Rights Activist Nina Simone by Alice Brière-Haquet and illustrated by Bruno Liance 

  Nina; Jazz Legend and Civil-Rights Activist Nina Simone  by Alice Brière-Haquet and illustrated by Bruno Liance

Nina; Jazz Legend and Civil-Rights Activist Nina Simone by Alice Brière-Haquet and illustrated by Bruno Liance

  Nina; Jazz Legend and Civil-Rights Activist Nina Simone  by Alice Brière-Haquet and illustrated by Bruno Liance

Nina; Jazz Legend and Civil-Rights Activist Nina Simone by Alice Brière-Haquet and illustrated by Bruno Liance

This book takes on two equally difficult challenges, first, of honoring the life and legacy of Nina Simone, and second, of explaining racial inequality to young readers. Unlike the many children’s books that water down challenging topics or simply avoid them all together, Alice Briere-Haquet and Bruno Liance do immense justice to their subject matter, taking both Nina Simone’s life as a civil-rights activist and their audience seriously. Bruno Liance’s quietly gorgeous charcoal illustrations will take your breath away and Alice Briere-Haquet’s poetic narration will empower and strengthen. Thanks to this great book, and Nina Simone’s recent induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, we have lots to celebrate.

This is How We Do It by Matt Lamothe 

  This is How We Do It  by Matt Lamothe

This is How We Do It by Matt Lamothe

  This is How We Do It  by Matt Lamothe

This is How We Do It by Matt Lamothe

  This is How We Do It  by Matt Lamothe

This is How We Do It by Matt Lamothe

Who needs all the packing and potential nausea of world travel when you can just pick up This is How We Do It; One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids from Around the World? This masterpiece of a book will introduce you to the customs, food, favorite after school activities homes and adorable quirks of kids from Uganda to Russia. By teaching us the commonalities that exist among such different lives, This is How We Do It wins Illustoria’s award for The-Book-We-Really-Needed-In-2017. So pack your imaginary bags (no 8 oz bottles necessary!) and good luck not falling in love with all of the families you meet on the way.

 

Yak and Dove by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Esmé Shapiro

  Yak and Dove , by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Esmé Shapiro

Yak and Dove, by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Esmé Shapiro

  Yak and Dove , by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Esmé Shapiro

Yak and Dove, by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Esmé Shapiro

This book is an example of picture-book magic: when words marry illustrations to create a rich world that you'll want to visit over and over again. Shapiro’s artistry is rich with details and a warmth that invite you into the world of Yak and Dove—you’ll never want to leave! Yak and Dove is a story about friendship and celebrating differences but also so much more. Parents may see themselves and their kids in these characters. A takeaway: there is profound joy to be had in simply being present and appreciating those we love for who they are.


Lines by Suzy Lee 

  Lines  by Suzy Lee 

Lines by Suzy Lee 

  Lines  by Suzy Lee

Lines by Suzy Lee

We can’t get enough of the uber-talented Suzy Lee. The creator of WaveShadow, and Open This Little Book brings her deceptively simple, majestic storytelling to her latest masterpiece: Lines, where the graceful lines created by the blade of a skate on a frozen pond by a young skater interweave with the storytellling lines made by an artist with the tip of her pencil. The youngest readers will enjoy every turn of the page, which progresses cleverly with each spread. There’s a heartwarming message about perseverance, artistry, and letting go of perfection that will resonate with all ages. Older readers will appreciate the subtle shift from black lines on a white page to the inverse. Every element of Lee’s quietly powerful storytelling is like poetry, a meditation on creative expression in its purist form. 

The Wolf, The Duck & The Mouse by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen 

  The Wolf, the Duck & The Mouse  by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen 

The Wolf, the Duck & The Mouse by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen 

  The Wolf, the Duck & The Mouse  by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen

The Wolf, the Duck & The Mouse by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen

  The Wolf, the Duck & The Mouse  by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen

The Wolf, the Duck & The Mouse by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen

Oh woe. Oh me! The Wolf, The Duck & The Mouse is a picture book to die for. Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen, the power duo behind Triangle and Sam and Dave Dig a Hole out-do themselves in their latest Kafka-esque tale of a duck and mouse that get swallowed by a wolf and decide to call it home. If you're a fan of stormy woodland Eastern Europe children's tales such as Hedgehog in the Fog  (a classic 1975 film by Yuriy Norshteyn later published as a children's book in 2006) or the fantastically dark tales of Roald Dahl, you'll love this delightful tale. 

Meet the Artist: David Hockney by Rose Blake 

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The first thing that popped into our heads when we saw Meet the Artist: David Hockney by Rose Blake was " So. Jealous." So jealous of the kiddos that can enjoy this extremely cool activity book (on one of the coolest artists of all time, no less) which is filled to the brim with innovative projects, hip Hockney-inspired doodles, and introductions to the artist's life and work. In a world filled with artist bios for kids that feel outdated and stale, Blake's activity book sets the bar high. Celebrate the art legend's 80th birthday (born July 9, 1937!) with this book, and if you're lucky enough, the amazing Hockney retrospective on view at The Met until February 25, 2018. 

Nightlights by Lorena Alvarez 

  Nighlights  by Lorena Alvarez

Nighlights by Lorena Alvarez

  Nighlights  by Lorena Alvarez

Nighlights by Lorena Alvarez

  Nighlights  by Lorena Alvarez

Nighlights by Lorena Alvarez

If you or your kiddo is a fan of gorgeous day-glo illustrations and seriously creepy storylines, Nighlights by Lorena Alvarez is the book to fawn over. This short story graphic novel stars Sandy, a talented and ever distracted artist who would rather doodle all day than pay attention to the drone of her school teachers. Sandy's troubles catch up her though when a supernatural creature named Morphie tries to convince her to use her drawing skills for evil. This book is perfect for anyone that is currently obsessed with the Hilda series by Luke Pearson and is ready to turn the scary dial up a couple notches. All who enter the surreal, sinister world of Nightlights beware: the cliff-hanger ending will have you praying that a prequel is in the works for 2018...  

Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder 

  Orphan Island  by Laurel Snyder 

Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder 

It's no secret that here at Illustoria HQ, we can never have enough Laurel Snyder, author of award-winning books Swan, Charlie and Mouse, and The Forever Garden. She's also graced the pages of the mag in Issue 1: Beginnings with her Dusty Bookshelf recommendation and in Issue 2: Canvas with Martha Graham in Motion,  Her latest middle-grade novel Orphan Island made this year's National Book Award Longlist and is a masterpiece that will have you reading way, way past bedtime. The book takes place on a mysterious island inhabited by nine children and haunted by recurring tragedy. Every year, a boat appears on the island to take the eldest of the group and replace them with a new child. This eerie and thought provoking tale is a contemplation of childhood in all of it's beauty and terror. 

Wishtree by Katherine Applegate 

  Wishtree  by Katherine Applegate 

Wishtree by Katherine Applegate 

Why do books where trees take center stage pull at our heart strings so? First The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, then A House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros and now: Wishtree, a 2017 bestseller by Katherine Applegate. In Applegate's heart-felt tale, Red is a 216-year-old oak tree who must make a change when a new family moves into the neighborhood. While the perspective of a stationary tree may first have readers scratching their heads, this pun-ny oak will open readers' hearts, and remind all why love, inclusion and diversity are the core of any strong community.     

 

Creator Crush: Willie Real

 
 artwork by © Willie Real

artwork by © Willie Real

Encapsulating the eclectic spirit, rich diversity and historical gravitas of San Francisco is no easy task. But the ultra nostalgic and mischievously charming illustrations by local Bay Area artist Willie Real make capturing the uniqueness of the 510 area code look effortless. With street scenes of anonymous pedestrians waiting for the bus and gorgeously detailed drawings of the Victorian structures distinct to California, Real's illustrations pull on the heart strings of anyone who aches for the foggy hilltops of SF. However, you don't have to know anything about the Bay to dig Real's illustrations. The satisfying geometric simplicity and bold sensibility in his work recalls the style of Mid-Century Modern children's book illustrations (think Miroslav Sasek and Bernice Myers) that are universally heart warming. Real's style veers from the trendiness of this mold with a distinctly urban coolness seen through his earthy color palette and edgy characters that are reminiscent of Bay Area street art legend Barry McGee

 artwork by © Willie Real

artwork by © Willie Real

 artwork by © Willie Real

artwork by © Willie Real

We were lucky enough for Willie to grace the pages of Illustoria in our Issue #3: Outside-In, which featured his imaginative 263 Josephine, a story of a Victorian apartment complex with a heart of its own. Since then, we had the chance to pick Real's brain for a bit and get an inside scoop on his process, inspiration and fond memories as a kid growing up in SF. Check out more of Real's work on his website and Instagram

 artwork by © Willie Real

artwork by © Willie Real

Hi Willie, tell us a little about yourself! 
Hi, my name is Willie Real and I'm a freelance character designer and illustrator from San Francisco. When I'm not working or dabbling on my own projects I go outside and play in Golden Gate Park or along the Pacific Ocean.

What are you currently working on?
I just finished designing characters for an animated movie with a friend! It's a good time when you get to work with people you're close to. I'm doing visual development sketches for another animated project so it's been busy for me which is great. I still manage to get out for some personal sketching though. 

Can you talk about your process of creating a work/project/book/zine/product from start to finish, and share some process pics with us?
This is an illustration or a portrait if you will, of a victorian home. 

1. This is my favorite part... I go sketch homes outside, all day! I pick the sketch I like and it's ok if it's not perfect, I'll tweak it to my liking later.

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2. I scan it in and twek away... finalizing my sketch. I print it out at the final size I want and tape the pieces together. 

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3. I trace/transfer the sketch onto bristol board using a light box. 

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4. Once the drawing is complete I'm ready to paint with acrylics and gouache. I establish my colors and values on my palette and paint away. I kept this one simple... yellow for the building, grey for the roof and a few accent colors for the door and the chimney. I start with lighter colors first, filling in all the shapes and colors and build up to the darks. Once the paint dries I add the drawing and details with prismacolor pencils. 

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5. I scan it back in, make any final adjustments I want and that's it!

 artwork by © Willie Real

artwork by © Willie Real

Where did you grow up? Where do you live now? 
I gre up in SF till I was 12 and moved to a small town in Sonoma County where I went to high school and later a Junior College. I live in SF now... the Lower Haight! 

What were you like as a kid?
Active. I loved playing outside with friends from the block in the Excelsior, playing tag, baseball and going to the deli on the corner. They gave us salami ends! When I wasn't outside I was conducting these elaborate scenarios in my imagination with my toys... that or always drawing away. 

 artwork by © Willie Real

artwork by © Willie Real

What were your favorite childhood books?
I remember the Highlights magazines from the doctor's office! Those were fun. 

Did you have a favorite subject in school? A least favorite subject?
From 1st grade all the way into High School I loved art classes. All of them! Painting, Drawing, Cursive Writing, Woodshop, Computer Graphics, Pottery... they all scratched the creative itch. Math was always tough for me... too many numbers! 

 artwork by © Willie Real

artwork by © Willie Real

Can you describe your first childhood memory?
Can't say this is the first but one of my earliest memories is when our parents would take us to La Taqueria in the Mission. I remember the smell, the mural and there were these wooden stools with leather weaving that looked like they were hand made a hundred years ago. They're still there today! The blue and red tiles along the sidewalks in the Mission are also a fond, early memory. 

 artwork by © Willie Real

artwork by © Willie Real

When did you know you wanted to be an artist and writer?
In high school my English teacher (Mrs. Wolf) pointed me in the right direction and told me that I had a passion I should pursue...and that illustration was an actual profession! I'm eternally grateful to her. 

Who or what inspires you?
Oh man, so many things...family, food, walking around the city, art museums, nature...I get so much out of 'the little things' in life. 

What is the most challenging part about being an artist/writer/maker?
I get nervous when showing personal work I've created. I think making art is a very personal, honest and intimate practice... an extension of yourself. You're putting yourself out there with your work which can be very scary and empowering as well. 

 artwork by © Willie Real

artwork by © Willie Real

Do you have a favorite project that you worked on?
Earlier this year I made a poster for the women's day march that took me a couple of hours.. short but very sweet. My sign was a portrait of my mom and it said 'Marching for my Momma'. She approved :)

 artwork by © Willie Real

artwork by © Willie Real

When do you feel your most creative?
Right after I've seen a great movie or an art show. It's very inspiring to see other makers and creatives succeed at their craft. It's a contagious feeling! I want to rush home and get my ideas down. 

 artwork by © Willie Real

artwork by © Willie Real

Do you have a favorite tool (type of pen, or brush, or paper, etc. --- related to your work)? 
Grey Tombo markers and black prismacolor pencils. I keep it simple. It's a quick an easy way to get line variation, you can fill in shapes super quick and you get all three values with black (the pencil), grey (the marker) and white (the paper). 

What advice would you share with young aspiring artists?
Dedicate time to your work and your craft. Don't be afraid of getting lost or not knowing what to do. Getting lost is an adventure, go on it, explore, experiment, and most of all have fun with it. Soon you'll find what you're looking for and it'll show in your art. And don't forget to go outside!

 artwork by © Willie Real

artwork by © Willie Real

To see more of Real's work check out his website http://www.williereal.org/. Thanks Willie, and Happy Holidays from ILLUSTORIA to all you readers out there!

 

5 Rad Things to do with Sakura's Pigma Professional Brushes

 

Everyone's got their own simple pleasure. Mine just happens to be a super inky, versatile and smooth brush. When it comes to brushes that are fun to use, Sakura's Pigma Professional Brushes just really hit the spot! With the ability to create an amazing variety of lines, the drawing possibilities are endless— that's why I created my top five favorite things to do with these super fun brushes. 

1. Blind Contours of Your Friends & Family 

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Drawing blind contours of your friends and family is the perfect, most hilarious way to fend off boredom. All you have to do is grab a pen and draw someone for a minute without looking (or two to three minutes if you really want a challenge). The results are always guaranteed to make you cry laughing. I love using Sakura's Pigma Professional brushes for this because of the variety of lines I can create without even trying. 

2. List Making 

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Since I can remember, I've been obsessed with list making. I find it can be a really cathartic and sometimes really interesting way to organize my thoughts. As I write this blogpost, I'm in my childhood home in Los Angeles for the holidays. Inspired by many other artists that love list making, including Nigel Peake and Lisa Hanawalt I decided to make a doodled list of all the odd-ball things that decorate my parent's house (otherwise known as tchotchkes). I love how the finished list came out, it reminds me of the work of the amazingly talented illustrator (and former contributor to Illustoria) Nina Chakrabarti.

 Hello Nature by Nina Chakrabarti, published by Laurence King 

Hello Nature by Nina Chakrabarti, published by Laurence King 

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Making your own random list is easy as can be! Just try observing your surroundings for similarities, for instance five strangely trimmed hedges in your backyard, or all the bald men you've ever met. Or, catalogue your own favorite collection of objects! 

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3. Draw a Comic! 

Of course, you can draw a comic with any kind of pen or pencil but illustrating with Sakura's Pigma Professional brushes is just so much fun! Since Thanksgiving is just a day away, pie was definitely on my mind when I was coming up with this short story. Try writing a comic about your own wacky invention! 

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4. Practice Calligraphy 

 In hindsight, it was a questionable decision.  

In hindsight, it was a questionable decision.  

Because Sakura's Pigma brushes respond so instantly to changes in pressure and have such a lovely continuous ink flow, they are arguably the perfect brush for letter-making, specifically calligraphy. I am by no means a calligraphy professional, but this little drawing was great practice and I highly recommend giving it a shot if you consider yourself a novice (or highly experienced!) letter-maker.  

5. Draw on the Walls! 

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Didn't see that one coming did you? I'm definitely not suggesting you give your kid a brush and let them go willy-nilly on the lovely clean walls of your home! BUT, if you happen to have a wall you're about to paint or space designated for a mural I highly recommend trying out the pigma brushes. They're archival and can draw on pretty much any flat surface with ease. Just as a clarification, this wall as drawn by my sister (and super talented doodler) Lilly Astrow many years ago in Sharpie, not Sakura's Pigma Professional Brushes. But Sakura's brushes would work equally, if not even better on a similar project. 

Well, these are all the tips I have for you this time. No matter what project you're working on with Sakura's Pigma Professional Brushes though, you're certain not to go wrong. And even more certain is what a great time you'll have using these super satisfying drawing tools!

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We're so delighted to have Sakura sponsor ILLUSTORIA's issue #5: The Motion Issue, which is on shelves and available now. Hope you enjoyed my top 5 projects, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving! 

 

The Making of a Mural

 
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I visit the Artist and Craftsman in Berkeley (on 2573 Shattuck Ave, to be specific) more than any other store in the whole world. I kid you not, I'm there running errands for my various art related jobs at least once a week. If you've never been, I implore you to hop on your moped, bike, scooter, or heck even Boeing 747 and check it out. Never have been to an art store with cooler vibes, nicer people or more expansive color selection of gouache paints. After a solid year of hard crushin' on A&C (visiting every week, sometimes twice in the same day, and lingering too long in the paint brush section, where I would philosophize on the benefits of the filbert brush) they finally popped the big Q: Would I be interested in painting their Fall window mural? "I'm so down!!" I most likely said, after mopping up the puddle of profound honor and excitement my body melted into. 

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After proposing a couple sketches, we landed on the one I made of two best friends talking on the phone while making art in their rooms, which is by no coincidence how I spend the majority of my time.

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 After making a sketch, I scanned it onto my computer and played around with the color in Photoshop. 

After making a sketch, I scanned it onto my computer and played around with the color in Photoshop. 

The initial inspiration for the mural, titled No You Hang Up, was the playfulness and kitschy nostalgia of early 2000s TV friendships like Lindsay Mcguire, as well as my gratitude for my creative group of friends. As I finalized my sketches, I realized I also wanted the mural to be a celebration of the brilliant, loving, and inclusive Bay Area art community that I feel lucky to be apart of. For me, celebrating this community meant paying homage to the vital artists and organizers who dedicated their lives to supporting and building it. 

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No You Hang Up references Ara Jo, a radiant human being who supported, welcomed and befriended countless artists in the Bay Area and beyond. The mural also makes reference to Aaron Curry, commonly known as ORFN, a prolific and raw creative who influenced generations of street artists. Both artists passed away a year ago, in December 2016. This mural is dedicated to them, as well as artist Jeffery Chung, founder of Unity Press who continues to build and grow community for queer and POC folks in the East Bay. 

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Painting the mural was such a blast and tremendous privilege to paint, and I couldn't have done without the help of my friends and the awesome crew at A&C. If you're in the area, come stop by! It will be up until the end of December. And if you're an East Bay resident, stay tuned for a zine workshop I'll be teaching there on December 10th! 

 

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS! THE BLACK & WHITE ISSUE

 
 Art by Elizabeth Haidle

Art by Elizabeth Haidle

 

Are you an artist or writer who would love to contribute to ILLUSTORIA? Well, we'd love to hear from you!

We have a few slots left in our upcoming issue, themed "BLACK & WHITE." In particular, we're looking for:

- a couple of 2- to 3-page comics or illustrated stories

-spot art or standalone illustrations + minimal text or poetry

-1–3 panel comic strips

Pssst...! We  may be a wee bit biased toward work that celebrates diversity, silent films, and b&w photography...but also totally open and excited to see your original ideas! 

Submissions due by October 12th, 2017. Find out more about our submissions guidelines here, then email your submission to: submissions@illustoria.com.

Good luck!

Why Making Cards Makes us Happy

 
 Eunice and Sabrina Moyle, founders of Hello!Lukcy. Photo © Zoe Larkin

Eunice and Sabrina Moyle, founders of Hello!Lukcy. Photo © Zoe Larkin

 

Sisters Eunice and Sabrina Moyle are founders of Hello!Lucky, a San Francisco-based, award-winning purveyor of letterpress greeting cards and other doodled objects. They’re also authors of several books including their latest, Happy Mail and the forthcoming Be the Change.

This week, Eunice and Sabrina join Illustoria to share some insight into their art style and why they love to doodle, hand-letter and send snail mail!

 
  Happy Mail  just launched! Enter to win a copy, details at the end of this post. Photo © Zoe Larkin

Happy Mail just launched! Enter to win a copy, details at the end of this post. Photo © Zoe Larkin

 

There are lots of reasons why doodling and writing snail mail cards makes us happy. For one thing, Eunice loves to draw and Sabrina loves to write, so cards are a perfect way to team up!

We also love cards because they’re fun and social.  Since cards have a clear purpose -- to say hi, thank you, happy birthday, etc. -- they can be less daunting than drawing for no reason on a blank piece of paper.   Kind of like bowling with bumpers!

 
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When we make a card, we usually start with the occasion and person in mind. Then, we brainstorm concepts -- the combination of words and images that we think will create a good vibe, a smile, or a laugh. We love to look on Pinterest for inspiration. Sometimes a cool pattern or illustration gives us a great idea that we can apply in a new way. There’s nothing wrong with looking for artists you like and trying to learn their styles, just as long as you make it your own!

 
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Doodling cards is simple. They don’t take a lot of time to draw.  Since they’re small, you can easily try different ideas or start over. Sometimes the simplest cards are the best!

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We love cards because they combine words and pictures. We like to think of these as two different languages.  Many of us are more comfortable with words than pictures (ahem, Sabrina!), so cards give us a way to use both -- it’s not so scary to draw when you also have words to fall back on. We’ve seen great cards that are only hand-lettering or hilarious one-liners, and we’ve also seen great cards that are all picture with no words. Our favorite? A pun paired with fun illustration!  Cat puns, especially!

 
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Our rule of thumb for card-writing is keep it short, light, and sincere. We love the fill up the page with hand-lettering and add doodle flare, like rainbows, stars, and hearts.  Writing short messages lets us try different styles without worrying too much about messing up or rambling!  That said, we also love hunkering down to write a multi-page letter to a pen pal -- it’s an amazing way to catch up when you have a lot to say, and way better than a multi-part IM! :D

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You might think that in today’s tech-enabled world, handmade cards and handwritten letters aren’t important.  In our personal experience, that’s not true.  Handmade cards and letters are another form of communicating, just like texting, calling, or sending an email. Each one has its place, and a handmade card makes a great impression.  

 
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We like to think of snail mail cards like slow food or home-cooking. They take a while to prepare, but they’re satisfying and unique to the cook or sender.  Social media has its place, too, just like fast food. Sometimes you’re in a hurry and you just need to get a message sent (we love french fries but try not to eat them for every meal ;))

Nothing beats getting a handwritten card in the mail, personally addressed to you.  These days, it’s a memorable experience. It’s something you can hold, read, re-read, and keep forever.  (Sabrina still has letters she exchanged with her BFF in high school! Amazing time capsules!).

 
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Making cards makes us feel more connected.  We like to make cards for friends, family, and even strangers because it allows us focus our attention on relationships.  To us, relationships matter most in life, more than material things. Cards remind us of what really counts!

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Sending cards or letters can be like a meditation or gratitude practice. When we sit down to draw a card or write a letter, it immediately puts us in a happy place. Why? Because we’re focusing all our imagination and energy on how we can make people happy. What hilarious idea would make them snort with laughter? What would make them feel warm fuzzies?  Thinking about these things gives us a real high, like planning a surprise party!

 
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You can almost always find a good reason to send a card.  Birthdays, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, holidays, and or any time you receive a kind action, gift or letter.  We especially love sending cards to grandparents and people who might not be as tech-savvy. You might even keep a calendar of card-sending occasions, or a list of people you want to write to along with their snail mail addresses.

 
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Most importantly, though, making and sending cards is just good fun.  We crack ourselves up coming up with funny, punny card ideas and we have even more fun sending them to our friends.  So the next opportunity that comes up, grab a pen and some paper, and start doodling!  Pop your creation in the mail and see what happens!

 
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You can pick up lots of card and hand-lettering ideas and inspiration, letter-writing prompts, and even ready-to-write tear-out cards and self-mailing letters in our new book, Happy Mail.  So have fun making your own cards!  We know they’ll be totally paw-some! :D

 
 Sabrina holding a copy of  Happy Mail ! Photo © Zoe Larkin

Sabrina holding a copy of Happy Mail! Photo © Zoe Larkin

 

To celebrate the official Happy Mail launch, we’d like to offer one of you your own copy! Follow @illustoria_mag and @helloluckycards on Instagram and tag a friend you would send handmade happy mail to and we’ll pick a winner at random!