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Portfolio Review with the AOI

Well, it’s that time of year again. The Christmas markets have opened in Berlin, the smell of yummy Glühwein is in the air and I’m sitting at home frantically trying to finish up some work before December 25th. Gotta love the holiday rush.

Last week, I had a portfolio review with the Association of Illustrators and was given some helpful feedback on my work and advice for the future. One reminder that was particularly helpful, was to continue promoting my work via snail mail.  I have slowly moved away from mail in the past year, thinking that in this fast-paced, online world, art directors and publishers must prefer emails over paper. But apparently, well-written personal letters and printed samples sent to the right person, are still relevant and even more appreciated. This was a great reminder, and since then I’ve been working on some ideas for Christmas promotion postcards. Here are a few of the sketches:


I was also encouraged to share about the private commissions I’m working on. This is something I haven’t always done, as some of the work I do is quite different in style from my main portfolio.

One project that I’ll be starting (and finishing!) this week is a CD cover design and illustration. The album is a collaboration between 10 different international musicians. Many of them are based in Berlin, but a few are from other places as well. The CD will be coming out just in time for Christmas and will be sold through Projekt: Kirche (a church based in Friedrichshain, Berlin). 50% of the proceeds of the album will go to the musicians, and the rest will cover the cost of production.  I’ll post more images and information on where the CD can be purchased when it’s completed in a couple weeks.

And as a side note,  if you are looking for a unique illustration before Christmas I still have time for a couple private commissions. You can message me through my website or Etsy shop if interested. Here are a few ideas below.


1) Family or couple portraits 2) Christmas Cards 3) Home-brew beer labels

I’m very thankful for organizations like the AOI that are dedicated to helping freelancers like myself. It’s reassuring to know I’m not alone in this journey and to  get outside opinions on my work. I feel encouraged to move forward with my illustration and keep growing my portfolio.

Thanks for reading!



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Magazine Feature: Daphne’s Diary Issue 7

I can’t write this blog fast enough because I’m so excited to tell you this news. My work is featured on a double-page spread (pg.78-79) of this month’s Daphne’s Diary Magazine. The magazine is published around the world in English, Dutch, German, and French. Here are some photos of the German translation I just found in a local bookstore (eeeek!!).


The design director of the magazine contacted me a few months ago asking if they could do a feature. So I’ve been sitting on this news for a little while, which if you know me, was very difficult.

It was such a crazy feeling to walk into a local bookstore today and find an article written about my work in German on the shelves. I’m super thankful to Daphne’s Diary for doing this feature, and would definitely recommend that you go out and purchase this months’ issue! You can also order it online, through their website. There are lots of fun goodies inside (including some yummy rip-out recipes).

Thanks for reading!

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‘Every branch has to learn how to grow’

Sometimes I struggle to share my artistic process. Being a bit of a perfectionist, I’m tempted solely present my best and finished work. Whenever I post a work-in-progress image on Instagram or Facebook I have to refrain from descriptions like “I know the hand is disproportionate, but I’m gonna fix that!”. I’d also love to delete all the posts on this blog from two years ago because my work has changed a lot since then. But the reality is, the process of making images, and growing as an artist, is beautiful and nothing to be ashamed of.

This past week I’ve spent a lot of time sketching at my desk. Mostly sketching bears. (Bears are super fun to draw, by the way!) I haven’t finished any of the pieces yet, as I’m trying to be more efficient by working on a batch of pictures in stages, rather then bringing the pieces to completion one by one. I think this will give the series a stronger cohesiveness (if that makes sense).


I find sketching weeks are the hardest. I spend hours drawing, erasing, and then re-drawing the plans for each illustration. Thanks to the invention of cameras and the internet, it’s easier than ever before to collect reference photos. However even with the help of technology, it’s difficult to get the correct perspective and proportions for animals and humans without access to real models. It takes A LOT of practice and time. Illustration is hard! (Does anyone have a bear or 8-year-old girl that I could borrow to model for an hour? That would be great.)

BUT. But. But. But. This process is still wonderful and worth sharing. And I’ve already experienced that the work gets easier with time.

I’ve been listening to “Every Age” by José González today, and it so perfectly describes the beauty of process, growth, and the struggle of art/life. I’d recommend listening to it, if you have a free second. Here are the lyrics below:

Every age has its turn
Every branch of the tree has to learn
Learn to grow, find its way,
Make the best of this short-lived stay
Take this seed, take this spade
Take this dream of a better day
Take your time, build a home
Build a place where we all can belong
Some things change, some remain
Some will pass us unnoticed by
What to focus on, to improve upon
In the face of our ancient tribes
Feels so clear, feels so obvious
To each one on their own
But we are here, together
Reaping what time and what we have sown
We don’t choose where we’re born
We don’t choose in what pocket or form
But we can learn to know
Ourselves on this globe in the void
Take this mind, take this pen
Take this dream of a better land
Take your time, build a home
Build a place where we all… can belong




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New Birthday, Baby and Thank-You Card Designs with Mr.Buttonman

It’s September! This means back-to-school for many poor souls and back to work for me! I had a lovely 2 week vacation in August, and am ready to jump into some new projects this fall. There are some exciting things coming up, but I can’t share all of them with you quite yet :)

What I can tell you is that I’ve finished designing 5 new Mr.Buttonman folded greeting cards. The new baby card will be available in pink, blue and/or green. As of today, they are up on my Etsy shop. Yipee! When folded, the cards are A6 size  (148 mm by 105 mm) and printed on 300g satin white paper, blank on the inside and come with a kraft paper envelope. I’ve chosen to do a print-on-demand approach this time, which means that the cards will be lovingly cut and folded by hand after each purchase. This is to reduce paper waste and help me determine which cards are the favourites before making any big orders. They are available for individual sale, but also in packs of 4 or 5, similar to last years Christmas cards.




Ciao for now :)




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First Embroidered Goldilocks Illustration

It’s finished! If you’ve been following my Facebook page or Instagram account, you’ve probably seen some of the sneak peek photos of this illustration for Goldilocks and the 3 Bears.

I tried to document my process this time, as I often forget to do that and this is one of my most detailed embroidered illustrations, thus far.  Everything, the leaves, trees, rocks and tiny pink high tops were cut, attached and stitched by hand.  Some parts took an especially long time until I was happy with them. For example, I stitched and carefully un-stitched and then re-stitched Goldilocks’ head about 3 times. I’m not going to lie, I had a few moments of “Why the heck am I doing this?!”.  But now that it’s finished, I’ve forgotten all the pain (almost).





Here’s a photo that shows the dimension of the final piece.


Thanks for reading!

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Sketches and Flying Penguins

For the past couple weeks, I’ve been busy with business logistics and planning for the future. While I love the business side of  illustration, I find that it can easily take over my time. Before I know it, two weeks have gone by and I haven’t made a single illustration. So this week, I stopped the planning and started sketching.

After the trip to Bologna, I made the goal to bulk up my website with more samples of children’s book illustration. I’ve decided to do a series of children’s classics with embroidery. The first story will be Goldilocks and the 3 Bears. This is going to be a longer project, as the illustrations will be quite detailed.  However, I’m hoping it will demonstrate the possibilities of embroidery for picture book illustration. From all the research I’ve done, there are not many children’s books with embroidery. As this is a medium very dear to my heart, I want to change this! Below are some beginning sketches for the new series.


On a different note, I finished a new illustration of a flying penguin today. This is a re-work of a digital illustration I did a couple years ago.  Sometimes it’s fun to re-visit artworks and imagine them in a new way. I’ll be putting prints of this up on my Etsy shop, for those of you interested.




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Airborne- Illustration Friday Post

I’ve submitted one of my older illustrations for this week’s Illustration Friday Blog. The theme is ‘Airborne’.  This is still one of my favourite Mr. Buttonman illustrations. I sold the original in an art exhibition last summer, but have made a new copy for myself which is hanging in our bedroom at this very moment. ButtonmanBalloonWEB

If I imagine a story around this illustration it would be that Mr. Buttonman has decided it’s time for him to travel the world. Button balloon travel is by far the best mode of transportation for a Buttonman, and the great thing about these balloons is they never deflate. He does, on one or two occasions, end up in places he did not plan on visiting, but overall has a grand adventure. The end.

Have a happy weekend, full of blue skies and flighty thoughts :)




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Happy Birthday Illustration


This illustration is dedicated to my Mom and cousin Megan who both have birthdays today. Happy Birthday to you both, wish I could be there to celebrate with you.

I’m planning on using this illustration in a new series of Mr.Buttonman greeting cards, which will be available on my Etsy shop in the coming months!


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Bologna Book Fair 2015 – Looking Back

I’ve decided to make a habit of going to book fairs every year. The 5 days I spent in Bologna were incredibly inspiring and well-worth the time and money it took to get there. There were some disappointments, don’t get me wrong. But, the overall experience was amazing.  I’ll try to keep this blog concise because there’s a lot I could say!

Bologna as a city was beautiful. It’s a little off the tourist map, and we were fortunate to have sunny weather the whole week. We even got our first sunburns (but only on half my face, nice right?). We stayed in an airbnb place close to the Bologna Fiere and could walk there within 10 minutes. Our hosts were super friendly and helpful in recommending places to eat and to go when we weren’t at the fair. We also randomly ran into two good friends from Vancouver. We happened to be standing in the same Piazza at the same time. That made my week! Here’s a few photos of Bologna and us outside the Fiere.

BolognaBlogPhotos1I was pretty nervous going to the fair, but as soon as I stepped through those doors I felt at home.  It hit me that: all of these publishers and illustrators are people who love children’s books. When you realize that you’re in the company of people who love the same thing as you, it’s hard to get down. Here are a few photos from inside the fair:


You’ll notice that I got my picture with the one and only PIPPI LONGSTOCKING. That’s right. Don’t be jealous because I know you all love her too. Well, actually this was a booth with her books; the real Pippi couldn’t make it out. The foreign agents man looked at me like I was crazy while taking this photo. That stopped me from lifting that little horse over my head.

I’d have to say that I fell in love with the foreign publishers (not surprising). I realized growing up in North America, I missed out on a lot of other books. Not to say that North American books aren’t beautiful. But there are SO MANY books in the world. One of publishers who I fell in love with is Didier Jeunesse.  They have really unique books and some with embroidered illustrations. I was instantly excited when I saw their work. You can see one of their covers in the photo above.

In regards to meeting publishers, there were some disappointments there. I didn’t anticipate that many (if not most) of the American publishers had no editor or art directors willing to review portfolios or talk to illustrators at the fair. Of all the research I did, this was not something I had heard. That was a disappointment for me and made me feel like I flew all this way for nothing. On the flip side, I could understand why this was the case and decided to just browse through the books, collect some business cards and move on. And I was able to cross a few publishers off my list, just from looking at their recent books. After a while I started to get a sense of where my work might fit.

Luckily, many of the European publishers had portfolio review times and a couple Canadian publishers made time to meet with me (the Canadian publishers were the nicest people I met all week, and that made me miss home. Go Canadian friendliness!) I was also able to talk with a few German publishers, in German. All those classes finally paid off!

Looking beyond the fair, the plan is to continue working on my Mr.Buttonman picture book, in the hopes of getting it published.. The fair inspired me to buff up my website more, so you can look forward to seeing new work up here in the coming months.

Thanks for reading and hope you have an inspiring weekend!
















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Bologna Children’s Fair 2015- It’s go time!

It’s the night before my first day at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. I just finished my first plate of lasagna in Italy and a lovely glass of red wine. Life is good. I anticipate this week will be exhausting, exciting, disappointing and rewarding all at the same time.

I’m thankful that I’ve got my trusty “translator/husband” by my side to keep me company (I registered him as my translator to get him into the fair. Ssshh, don’t tell anyone. But if you do know of anyone who needs German/English translation, let us know!). I’ve also been notified that my German friends are pressing their thumbs for me, which is always reassuring :) It’s now time to wade into a pool of 25,000 children’s book professionals; bring on the networking!

I successfully finished my first batch of dummy books for the fair, AND managed to design and print some posters and postcards for promotion. I’m calling this a victory already, no matter what happens after this week.

I’m posting a few snapshots from my dummy book below. If you follow my Instagram and Twitter feed, you may have seen these final spreads already. The dummy book is mostly made of sketches, with three completed spreads to give publishers an idea of the final style. I am really excited with these sample spreads and the direction the work is going in. Let’s hope a publisher will be too!


Stay tuned for a follow up on the book fair. I’ll have a lot more to talk about after the next four days! Thanks for reading.