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!

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!

Creator Crush: Mike Lowery

 
Sneak peek from  Issue 5: Motion : Mike Lowery doodles his answers to our Q & Artist interview.

Sneak peek from Issue 5: Motion: Mike Lowery doodles his answers to our Q & Artist interview.

 

Who cannot absolutely adore Mike Lowery for his amazing doodles, hand-lettering, books, and inspiring-hilarious-addicting-to-watch #randomillustratedfacts?

 
From  Mike Lowery's Instagram feed , where he regularly shares videos of his sketchbook drawings featuring engaging and adorable random illustrated facts. 

From Mike Lowery's Instagram feed, where he regularly shares videos of his sketchbook drawings featuring engaging and adorable random illustrated facts. 

 
 

Mike is a prolific children's book writer and illustrator who infuses his work with a sense of humor and child-like simplicity that never fails to amuse and delight us. His latest series with Workman Publishing, Doodle Adventures, invites kids to draw their own characters into the story and, page by page, the interactive book continues along via prompts for more illustrations by the reader. It's an ingenious format that combines drawing and doodling with the silly escapades of a wonky cast of characters that will keep everyone anticipating the next funny episode. By the end of the book, the reader will have helped to co-write a totally unique story that can be read over and over again with family and friends for a riotous good time. 

Doodle Adventures Series

Doodle Adventures Series

Thankfully with three books out (The Search for the Slimy Space Slugs!The Pursuit of the Pesky Pizza Pirate!The Rise of the Rusty Robo-Cat!) and counting in this series, your little doodlers will have enough to keep them creatively satisfied for some time. We are thrilled to share Mike's book trailer for this series, a series which has been described as "a visual Mad Libs: part game, part graphic novel, and a thrilling, interactive experience in which the reader draws him- or herself into the story and becomes the star." So much good!

 

And a few more glances at Mike's Q & Artist for Illustoria, issue 5: Motion:

 
Yes! Roald Dahl books...we couldn't agree more. 

Yes! Roald Dahl books...we couldn't agree more. 

 
 
Art by Mike Lowery. See The Motion Issue for the full Q & Artist feature!

Art by Mike Lowery. See The Motion Issue for the full Q & Artist feature!

 

Don't miss out on Mike's awesome books and make sure to get a copy of The Motion Issue to learn more about what inspires Mike, what he's currently up to, and when he feels his most creative.

And be sure to enter our GIVEAWAY in partnership with Workman Publishing between now and Friday, 9/15/17, for a chance to win a set of Mike's Doodle Adventures books. Head to our Instagram feed for contest details.

Cray-Pas Oil Pastels

 

The first time I picked up an oil pastel was in the fourth grade, when I fell head-over-heels in love with the notoriously shorty of Post-Impressionist fame, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. If I recall, it all started with an assignment to create a class report on a famous artist that I took far too seriously. When the project was assigned, there was no doubt in my mind that I would report on Toulouse-Lautrec. Just the weekend before my grandma and I had visited the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, where I became hypnotized by the artist's boisterous cabaret ladies drawn fanatically in day-glo colors I never knew we were allowed to use. That a lady's face could be colored absinthe green and her legs neon purple simply blew my mind.

Seated Dancer in the Pink Tights , Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1890. 

Seated Dancer in the Pink Tights, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1890. 

At the Moulin Rouge , Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1895. 

At the Moulin Rouge, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1895. 

I came away from the museum knowing two things:

1. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was my new favorite artist of all time. 
2. Oil pastels, Toulouse-Lautrec's art material of choice, were the coolest thing ever. 

Fast-forward thirteen years later, and I still feel the same way. If you ask me, oil pastels, specifically Sakura of America's Cray-Pas Junior Artist Oil Pastels, are an essential in any art class or creative home. Why, you ask? Well if Toulouse-Lautrec's paintings aren't proof enough, get this: oil pastels are so incredibly waxy and smooth that when you drag a stick across the page it feels like drawing with butter. It's insanely satisfying! 

Also, Cray-Pas are filled to the brim with delicious pigment, and are exceedingly more rich and vibrant than your run-of-the-mill oil pastels. The smooth quality of the sticks allows Cray-Pas colors to be super easy to mix and blend. There's many different styles and techniques for drawing and blending, and it's fun to experiment with oil pastels to see what works.  

Some helpful tips and tricks for using Cray-Pas oil pastels that I've learned over the years:

1. Mixing colors with your fingers (like you easily can with chalk pastels) is fun, but pretty messy. Try using a palette knife to mix, or experiment with the amount of pressure you use when you press down your pastel. 

2. Experiment with different drawing surfaces. Grey and dark beige heavy weight paper amplify the vibrance of the pastels. Pastels also look ultra-cool on cardboard!

3. There are many different stroke methods you can use to create interesting effects with oil pastels. You can layer colors to create unique color combinations, or try sgraffito, a method of scratching lines through thick layers of colors to reveal the color underneath. 

You can also try stippling, a method where you use short, quick strokes or dots of color to create an optical effect when seen from far away, as in Georges Seurat's Pointillism paintings. To create a soft, defused effect like Claude Monet, try scumbling by creating controlled scribbled marks. 

Close-Up of  Circus Slideshow,   George Seurat, 1888

Close-Up of Circus Slideshow,  George Seurat, 1888

Impression, Sunrise , Claude Monet, 1872

Impression, Sunrise, Claude Monet, 1872

 

4. For inspiration, make sure to check out Toulouse-Lautrec's gorgeous oil pastel sketches of everyday life. 

Henri Toulouse-Lautrec

Henri Toulouse-Lautrec

Henri Toulouse-Lautrec

Henri Toulouse-Lautrec

 
 

We're so excited to have Sakura sponsor Issue #4 of Illustoria, which is on shelves and available now. We hope you enjoy our Cray-Pas oil pastel tips, now get out there and start sketching! 

Hervé Tullet & ILLUSTORIA at Bank Street Book Store

 

Hervé Tullet is known for his interactive picture books that engage readers in an experience that is always new and spontaneous. photo ©  Andrey Klemeshov

 

Illustoria is thrilled to be pairing up with Hervé Tullet to celebrate the release of issue 2 at Bank Street Book Store in New York City! Hervé is the internationally bestselling author behind Press Here, Mix It Up!, Let's Play!, Art Workshops for Children, and many more titles equally loved by grownups and kids.  

 

Hervé Tullet painting at one of his many art workshops for kids around the globe.

 
 

I'll be on hand sharing some of my favorite pieces from Issue 2: The Canvas Issue. (Cover to be revealed shortly so stay tuned!) photo © Melissa Kaseman

 

Hervé will talk about his unique approach to storytelling, staying innovative, and what we can all learn from making art with kids. I'll be interviewing Hervé about his process and inspiration, his favorite medium, what music he listens to while he paints, and how to create stories that appeal across generations. I'm also excited to share highlights from issue 2: The Canvas Issue. 

 

So calling all artists, writers, parents, kids, teachers, and librarians: Come join us for an afternoon of inspiration and fun, pick up a copy of the newly released issue 2 and any number of awesome Tullet books that may be missing from your home collection, and enjoy coloring, crafts, light snacks, and swag! For more information about the event, go to the Bank Street Book Store events page and RSVP here

HERVE TULLET + ILLUSTORIA
Bank Street Book Store
2780 Broadway
New York City

When: Saturday / November 19th / 1–2 pm 
 

We Heart Sakura

 

Who doesn't love a maze?! But with a selection of colorful Gelly Roll Pens at our side, doodling and writing takes on another level of playful pleasure. Photo ©  Melissa Kaseman

 

When Michaela Yee at Sakura of America heard about us through a Facebook post, she connected with us right away. Aside from the fact that we have an amazing friend (Patricia Wakida of Wasabi Press) in common--one of those connectors of people who attracts artistic, talented, energetic, generous souls into her life--we both knew right away that Sakura and ILLUSTORIA were going to get along like playground pals at recess. 

 
Mark working on the Archidoodle activity for issue 1, with his trusty Micron Pens of course.

Mark working on the Archidoodle activity for issue 1, with his trusty Micron Pens of course.

 

While Sakura as a company is nearing its centennial and ILLUSTORIA is just a newborn pup, we have a lot in common. We believe in quality materials, access to artistic expression for all, and keeping creativity alive in both grownups and little ones. I must admit, as the new kid on the block I was already smitten with everything that Sakura represented. Art supplies are one of those pleasures that need not be guilty! Micron Pens are a staple in our house, with my architect-maker husband constantly sketching with his number 01s and 02s and on up the spectrum. The Pigma Sensei Pens are never far out of reach of my 10-year-old comic artist in the making, and my youngest can't get enough of his collection of Gelly Roll Pens.

 
Paper and ink are so important to me as a reader and as a publisher. I made sure to test out our uncoated interior stock for maximum drawability before we hit the press. The Gelly Roll Pens truly glide smooth as jelly on the pages of our mag, and the ink dries beautifully too--so no unsightly smudging when you flip the page! Photo ©   Melissa Kaseman

Paper and ink are so important to me as a reader and as a publisher. I made sure to test out our uncoated interior stock for maximum drawability before we hit the press. The Gelly Roll Pens truly glide smooth as jelly on the pages of our mag, and the ink dries beautifully too--so no unsightly smudging when you flip the page! Photo ©  Melissa Kaseman

 

We pretty much as a family tote them around to every and all long car rides and dinners out. I personally use a selection of all the above to capture my wandering thoughts and doodles. There's really something so satisfying about putting not just pen to paper but really lovely ink that glides oh-so smoothly and beautifully. The words and illustrations somehow look more intelligent and attractive on the page. Really, it does!

 
A selection of colorful Gelly Roll Pens on our table beckons the creative (and silly!) spirit in all of us. 

A selection of colorful Gelly Roll Pens on our table beckons the creative (and silly!) spirit in all of us. 

 

For Sakura, then, to see this new fledgling indie press and believe in us from the start--with no track record to show of but a lot of heart, enthusiasm, a dedicated team of contributors and a mission to inspire artistic expression, they proved to me that they are true supporters of the creativity cause. Their motto celebrates the "Power To Express" and we at ILLUSTORIA couldn't agree more. May we all tap into our own artistic expression and find the tools that work best for us individually, for our own daily creative practices. 

A very hearty thanks to our issue 1 sponsor, Sakura of America, for your support of us and your dedication to creative expression in all ages!