Blog2018-10-08T18:53:01+00:00
14February, 2019

Making art is pay to play; I wish it wasn’t.

Everything Else|5 Comments

I was reading a post on a friend’s Facebook page a few days ago. Her daughter is a dancer; she was a dancer in her youth. The post (which my friend didn’t write, but was commenting on) was an open letter to some dance-related organization about girls showing up to audition for something and having to pay a fee to audition. There were a lot of comments, mostly that expressed outrage that anyone should be expected to have to pay to participate in an audition. I didn’t comment because I am not part of that community, but I snorted and thought to myself “Welcome to the club!”

As an artist, I have to pay to audition all the time. Nearly everything I apply to has a “jury fee” associated with it. I was talking with friends about this several months ago and we were all surprised. They had never heard of a “jury fee” and I didn’t know that my non-artist friends didn’t know this was a thing. So that seemed like a great reason to write a post about it.

Most of the shows and exhibitions my work would be a good fit for have an application process. You submit an artist statement and maybe another statement about how your work fits the theme of the show. You upload an art resume. Then you choose images to represent your work or the specific pieces you think would belong in the show. The specs for these are always wildly different. You spend a LOT of time recropping and resizing your images so they fit whatever format that the spec says. Then you pay a fee. The last few shows I have applied for have been $15-$45, due when you submit your application. “Art sale” […]

6February, 2019

Spoonflower Design Challenge: Rockabilly

2019DesignChallenges, Spoonflower & Fabric Design|0 Comments

This design challenge theme was the cause of a big discussion among my family about what “rockabilly” really was and how you could represent it. Spoonflower’s design spec said “Originally from the 1950s, the iconic genre has a strong following that has withstood the test of time. As you create your entry this week, channel the rockabilly style with themes centered around vintage tattoos, pin-up girls, polka dots and even skulls.” My parents (who remember the original rockabilly trend) said they thought of it more as Elvis and ice cream sodas. We had a good time going through the contest entries and seeing how everyone interpreted the design. (Lots of cherries. Lots of skulls.)

My dad is a collector of vintage guitars, so I decided that rockabilly era guitars were my inspiration. I modeled mine after a Gretsch guitar from the 50s. I started drawing them in shades of grey just to work out the design and get the repeat set, intended to add some color. But the more I looked at the shades of grey, the more I liked it. One of the motifs that popped up when I googled “rockabilly style” was dice, which I didn’t really love, so went with card suits, which I felt like had the same vibe and I loved the tiny pops of red that it added to the design. This was all vector Illustrations in Adobe Illustrator.

The 33 you see on the swatch of the design above is the place I finished in the design contest. 33 of 325, which is my third highest finish ever in a contest (I have ranked #11 and #22.) THANK YOU if you voted for my design. You can find it here on Spoonflower.

22January, 2019

Spoonflower Design Challenge: Moon Landing

2019DesignChallenges|1 Comment

The design challenge theme this week was “Moon Landing”, celebrating the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landing on the moon. It was a partnership with Princess Awesome, a company that designs science and technology themed clothes for girls. Many designers went with “girls in space” interpretations of the theme, but I wanted to celebrate the event itself.

I did some photo gathering online and looked at the way I would have experienced the moon landing: watching it on TV. I found lots of pictures of people gathered around television sets. I drew a collection of slightly wonky retro televisions from elements I saw in the photos and made illustrations of some of the iconic images from the broadcast with astronauts on the bright surface and deep shadows. On a few tv screens I put the captions that were on the broadcast. (This photo is from a friend of my mom’s who took a photo of his tv screen while he was watching.)

I wanted my televisions to be black-and-white, so I added a vibrant blue background to the design and then some transparent pops of color on top.

It was fun to work on and especially fun to do the photo research. You can see more moon landing designs at the contest page.

18January, 2019

Office Hours Video: Designing fabric with Amaziograph and Spoonflower

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Welcome to my first Office Hours video. I am starting a series of quick video lessons about fun things you can try while designing fabrics. Many of the topics are going to based on questions that I have gotten from students, friends and fans. So if you have something you’d love to know – just ask!

This first video isn’t quite perfect, as is always the case with technology, right?! FB dropped the video after a couple of minutes, so I started up again and have stitched those two videos together. Even though it didn’t show it to me on the screens I was watching, it also squished the ipad screen a couple of times. I decided that it wasn’t ideal, but you could still definitely follow what was happening. Hoping to fix that for the next time.

If you’d like to learn more, here are links to Amaziograph, PicMonkey and EscherSketch, which I mention in the video.

14January, 2019

Spoonflower Design Challenge: Animal Print

2019DesignChallenges, Spoonflower & Fabric Design|Comments Off on Spoonflower Design Challenge: Animal Print

Animal prints are not my cup of tea, but I get why they are appealing; I do love bold graphic patterns. Instead of going with a leopard or zebra print for my design challenge entry, I wanted to pick something that was a little less obvious. So I decided to go with ducks. Female mallards are pretty well camouflaged with their brown feathers, except for the bright blue, black and white bars on their wings. You almost don’t see them at all when they are sitting quietly, but as soon as they take off there is a flash of that blue. (Thanks to my mom for the mallard photo above.)

I drew a vector illustration for this design, layering the feathers so I could make a repeating pattern. I felt like the design was a little flat. I often feel this way about vector designs, I often feel like they need a little more texture. So I layered it first with a watercolor pattern to give it some light/dark/grunge. Then I added a chevron stripe to mimic the “grain” of feathers.

The overall pattern makes a stripe which I think would be fun for couch pillows or tote bags.

You can check out more animal prints at the design challenge page.

7January, 2019

Spoonflower Design Challenge: Be My Valentine

2019DesignChallenges|1 Comment

In 2018, I participated in every one of the Spoonflower Weekly Design Challenges. Every week there is a topic posted and artists are challenged to design something to match the theme. Themes range from art elements (large scale black and white) to color limits (navy, orchid, maroon, white) to topics you can interpret anyway you like (sloths, four wheels, astrology). I wrote about how 2018 was for me and what I learned in a previous post and I realized that although I had shared all of those designs on all of my other social media channels, I talked about very few of them here. So for 2019, I am going to remedy that.

The theme for the first week of January was “Be My Valentine”. One of my strategies for coming up with a challenge design is to challenge myself. I first think about the immediate image that comes to mind when I look at the theme (red hearts, arrows, roses) and I throw that out. I try to never design the first thing I think of because often that’s the cliché. And for me, I like to think about what I want a design to be and what I want it not to be. When I was thinking about my Astrology theme design, I knew I wanted it to be fish (for Pisces), but not starry sky.

There is a legend in my family of the Valentine card that my dad made for my mom way back when they were 20somethings. My dad wrote her an irreverent poem and drew her a picture of a heart. A “real” anatomical heart. It wasn’t exactly what she was expecting at the time but it is one of my favorite stories of the two of them.

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Hi, I’m Becka.

Talking about fabric design, Spoonflower, teaching, and the life and business of being an artist.

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