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Some people write letters to the editor when they’re happy or disgusted or proud or worried. I get on Cafepress and make swag.

Today’s swagfest is a tribute to a guy I’m proud to call a fellow American. Al Franken! He’s smart, he’s dedicated, and as far as I’m concerned, he’s a FUCKING ROCKSTAR. When the world (and the US in particular) seems crazy, I can listen to him speaking or read something he wrote, and realize, “Hey! There are some cooler heads, there are some smart people, there some really good, hardworking civil servants busting their asses to keep the rest of us safe and happy in a healthy, normal world.” Thanks, Al.

In case anyone else shares my Al enthusiasm, I made a boatload of Al Franken tee shirts, Al Franken pins, Al Franken stickers and other items emblazoned with heartfelt hoorays for Al.

(Thanks, Jon Tester, too, BTW. This happens to be Al’s day, but there’s not a day that goes by that I’m not grateful for Montana Democratic Senator, Jon Tester, and many other smart, decent, fair-minded people who do the difficult, crappy and thankless job of representing the people of the USA. Keep on rockin the free world.)

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An upbeat greeting card…

I drew these birds a couple of years ago and they just resurfaced. I had been inspired by a “draw an alphabet” prompt from fellow illustrator Sharon Glick, and at the time, they just seemed too horribly, horribly sad to even show anyone! I was afraid people would think I was in a pretty dark place.

It actually happened kind of innocently. I was trying to think of words that start with A, and I guess abject was the first one that popped into my head. I mean, like, after aardvark. I just rolled with it from there, and produced a rapid, messy sketch, which I then hid away from the world as too weird and creepy to take credit for.

When I exhumed the S.A.D. birds from my drawing pile a few days ago, I was sort of charmed, in a wallowing way, by the sad, sad, sadness of them. I decided it was time to let them see the light of day.

After I made the greeting card, I made some hand-colored 8×10 SAD Birds prints, in case anybody might be weird enough to want them.

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8×10″ print half-heartedly hand-colored in dismal tones

That’s when I discovered how much fun (and creatively non-threatening) it is to color crappy drawings of sad birds, so I made my drawings into a teeny little coloring book. On one hand, I feel kind of bad unleashing such a sad coloring book on the world, but it is actually really fun to color, so maybe there’s something therapeutic about it? I left lots of space on the pages so people can draw in their own circumstances. Maybe a happy surprise is right around the corner for these birds, who knows? (I mean, that didn’t happen on any of the pages I colored…but things might go differently for you.)

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4.25×5.5″ mini SAD Birds coloring book

But the mini coloring book is really best for colored pencils, so next I got busy and created a crayon-ready 8.5×5.5″ version. The line-work blends with crayons so your crayon lines won’t look “foreign to the overall work.” (Try to read that while picturing me looking deeply serious.)

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Crayon-Ready 5.5×8.5″ version

And I decided to make a print-it-yourself instant download version in 8.5×11″ format, too. Whew!

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8.5×11 instant download (PDF) version

And poof! My whole day was shot! (Two days, really, who am I kidding.) As in many cases, I figured, well, if nobody buys them, they’ll make great gifts for my weird family.

In any case, I know from experience that the sun does eventually get higher in the sky, and things grow again, and the days won’t always be so bleak and short. So until then, I’m eating plenty of cookies and coloring sad birds.

(If you feel compelled to purchase any of these sad items, click on the picture or visit my Etsy shop, Kitschatorium.)

 

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Anybody who knows me very well knows I really have issues with people who don’t pick up after their dogs. I mean, how can we have peace and compassion in the world if people don’t even care enough about each other to pick up their dog’s poop when nobody’s looking?

So, a while back I drew this illustration, and I just got around to making some prototype yard signs.

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First, I tried a wooden plaque, but frankly, it was kind of a lot of work to make, what with doing the image transfer, and all the Varathane coating. So the wooden version may very well be a one-off, unless demand is huge.

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I decided a small 9×12″ vinyl banner was probably more convenient for me to make, and for people to install on a cheap garden flag holder. I know, I probably should test one for a season before I start selling them, but I’m not a patient person. I’m going to make a few available on Etsy, and if people buy them (in spite of my caveats that they’re untested) I’ll just replace them if they don’t last.

If nobody buys them, I might just gift them to the city of Bozeman to install at dog parks around town!

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laundry

I decided to revive my original Etsy shop featuring my vintage fabric illustrations! I now have two Etsy shops:

Goodwerks has cute and vintage-looking stuff (like the birdie thing above) that you’d traditionally seek on Etsy.

Kitschatorium has weirder, artier stuff (like this) and the occasional vintage oddity.

Frankly, I have no memory of why I created two shops, but it probably had something to do with being dumb.

Anyway! I just posted my first few cute vintage fabric illustration prints in the Goodwerks shop, so cuteness lovers, head over thatta way. I’d love to hear about what items you might like to see there, as I’d like to see if I can make a go of this Etsy thing. (In the past I’ve tried it about once a year, gotten discouraged after zero sales, and let my listings dry up. Maybe this time I’ll do better?)

If you’re looking for weirder, darker, artier things, go by way of Kitschatorium. This is where I post my wilder creative meanderings: It’s less a commercial venture than a “Hey, I made this…” kind of thing.

My resolution is to be slightly less right-brained and update the shops regularly, so please consider following this blog if you want to keep up with newly offered items. Your encouragement (in the form of comments, purchases, likes, favorites, follows, etc.) help inspire me to keep putting it out there.

Acronym Haters of America hat

I know this is kind of silly.

In my line of work, I frequently create publications for educational programs (PEP).

Many my educational clients insist on naming their programs with Incomprehensible Acronyms that Mean Nothing to Anyone Outside of their Organization (IAMNAOO). It drives me nuts!

I may just be your everyday writer/editor/designer/illustrator, but I also know a little about branding. And naming your thing with a perplexing, hard-to-remember, impossible-to-say acronym that carries no implications or connotations that connect in any way with what the thing is about is—to use some high powered branding terminology—just plain dumb!

I would love to be able to sneak up on these educators while they are sleeping and surgically implant in their heads the idea that meaning should be part of a name! But usually by the time I am hired, the program is already named some sterile, meaningless, off-putting acronym, and it’s too late for them to benefit from my wisdom.

So, for therapeutic reasons, I decided to start an imaginary club called Acronym Haters of America. I named it AHA!

Then, since the first thing I do when I think of anything is to create some merch, I made a Cafepress page full of “AHA!” merchandise.

I later found that I wasn’t the first person to have thought of this painfully ironic club. I did a web search and realized somebody had created the AHCA “Acronym Haters Club of America” on Facebook, but they haven’t posted anything since 2009, so apparently the anti-acronym hysteria has died down a bit.

If I get rich on my AHA! merchandise, I will entertain the idea of splitting the proceeds with the AHCA, for charitable or educational use.

But that might be a while, as I have yet to make my first sale.

I spent a good share of today, when I should have been wrapping presents, working on some cute designs to sell on CafePress. The recent (moderate) success of my cute Corgi designs made me think, huh… if I did some election related stuff now, maybe I’d sell a few. Then I started thinking about the kinds of election-year messages I’d like to see. I really don’t enjoy seeing mean-spirited, divisive stuff… So, I came up with the slogan, “Democrats are Nice.”

Next, I did a “Babies for Obama” design, which although not terribly original, is a lot cuter than some I’ve seen out there. Babies make such great (albeit smallish) sign boards to promote their parents’ political agendas!

Last, I drew a “No Time for Hatin'” design that shows a kitty taking a leisurely paw bath. It’s like I had a cuteness seizure or something! I think I have it out of my system for the moment, but on the other hand, that itchy feeling I have might just be a cute bunny coming on.

I’d been meaning to do a cutesy design that captures the way that my corgi, Wally plows through snow, so I finally sat down and did a couple of corgi snowplow graphics. Granted, I could have spent some time and made them ultra fabulous, but I just wanted to get the idea out there, rather than never doing it at all. I put these on some mugs and T-shirts and stuff at Cafepress.

I started thinking about Christmas cards today (none to soon) and decided to sit down and try a fabric illustration with a semi Christmas theme. I thought I’d try to draw a pretty deer. The picture I ended up with doesn’t look particularly Christmassy, but I had fun and really enjoyed some of the colors I ended up with. I decided to put the art on some products like coffee mugs, necklaces and trivets at CafePress. Click here to find them.

I have other vintage fabric illustrations available as prints and clipart at the Goodwerks Etsy store.

Dancing Sheep - Yarn Shop Fiber Day Poster

I just updated the poster I did last year for the Yarn Shop’s annual Total Immersion Fiber Day, which takes place July 18 2011 at the very cool 13 Mile Wool Mill. The mill/farm is located (you guessed it) 13 miles North of Bozeman on Springhill Road.

The illustration for this poster, which I did in gouache, is a good natured ripoff of Mucha’s Dance.

The colors are a little bit brighter than my taste would dictate, but Barb, my friend who owns the Yarn Shop, really goes for fuchsia, so this year’s poster is very, very fuchsia.

If you are interested, you can find mugs, tees, knitting journals, totes and stuff with my dancing sheep illustration at my Cafe Press shop.

If you missed the Fiber Day event, there will be one next year, and the Yarn Shop offers some fun classes throughout the year.

It’s a beautiful drive to the 13 Mile Farm and it’s a fun place to visit (They have a very small woolen shop in the old barn that’s been transformed into a very small wool mill. You can see how they wash, card and spin the wool.) I believe they are usually open to visitors, although I think they suggest calling first.

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