Friday, May 9, 2014

A Year in the Life of a Full-Time Designer

I've been going through all my new designs from the past year, getting ready for this summer's every-single-new-collage-sheet subscription. Working by myself, it can be very easy to get lost in day-to-day minutiae, or spend weeks and weeks on a project and then forget it as soon as I move onto the next one. So it's been fun (if not exhausting) remembering all these projects and all the work that went with them. Here's a select few.
Confession time: I'm totally not a scrapbooker; but I love the idea of using scrapbook paper for other jewelry and mixed media crafts. This series (above) was probably my favorite project of the year....a set of 50+ scrapbook pages in a vintage/travel theme. It was part of a proposal for a major craft company and I really hope it gets picked up, just so I can have a good excuse to make some more.

On the flip side, one of my least favorite parts of licensing is mocking up products with my designs on them, like this set of vintage florals I created above. There's something about twisting and warping my images to fit on pretend products in Illustrator that I must be doing wrong because it's just not fun and definitely not easy. Totally up for suggestions if anyone has any.

This set of travel designs was a doozy. I created each postcard to look like an original, vintage postcard that had traveled the world and picked up all kinds of interesting stamps and cancellations along the way. Each file can have 40-50 layers once you add in all the colors, text, stamps, etc. (and that doesn't even include all the work tracking down and purchasing all the individual vintage pieces). In the end they were grouped into sets of six and made into this 2015 Vintage Postcard calendar.

I took a class this year from Lilla Rogers called "Make Art That Sells." Before starting I had pretty low expectations for a couple of random reasons (I'd already done quite a bit of licensing; I have a very different style from Lilla's artists, etc.), but I was actually pretty blown away by what I learned and would definitely recommend it. Above are a few of the designs I created during the 6-week-course, some of which have already made their way onto other products.

My entire November and part of December was spent researching, buying and restoring nearly 1000 new holiday images as part of a proposal to a major greeting card company. Yes, I completely love having any passable excuse to buy more vintage ephemera.

Sometimes, instead of buying original prints for the piddix archive I travel around the country visiting other archives to scan especially rare and exquisite pieces not available elsewhere. The flowers above come from two different collections, one from the late 1700s/early 1800s and the second from 1855. I ran some numbers today and discovered that between original creations and scans of vintage artwork I've added 2,366 new images to the piddix collection in the last 12 months alone.

With all the other research and designing I've been doing, I haven't had much time to just be creative and design whatever I'd like. The images above are the very beginning of a whole new set I'm planning to call "Gypsy Rose." I see a lot of shabby roses and teal/aqua in my future.

A big part of my job as both an artist and an archivist is researching copyright and negotiating rights for the vintage imagery I use, and the images above have been some of my most challenging (and thus rewarding) finds this year. In January 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that there's a whole new set of laws that must be negotiated when working with foreign works, so I've been slowly re-researching all 600 of my mid-century travel posters. The pin-ups above can also be very tricky, but this year I finally was able to acquire the rights to my very first Gil Elvgren images. So happy!

I love this set of mid-cenury children's patterns. The little redhead on her bike in the blue and orange scene looks straight out of my childhood. I originally made this proposal for kids' toys, but I can see these being used for all kinds of fun products. This was one of the collections I had completely forgotten about until looking through all my recent files.

And finally, as part of the new subscription, I compiled every single new collage sheet (above left) and digital image (above right) that I sent out in the summer of 2013: over 50 digital sheets and 100+ full scans in 90 days. Yikes.

Besides making me feel both tired and excited--because man, that's a lot of new work--seeing everything all together made me realize two things: First, I should try to make more time for creating my own digital artwork, since that is often when I'm having the most fun. And second, I am so lucky to have a job where a good chunk of my day is spent doing exactly what I love: buying/restoring/researching and creating art. It really doesn't get much better.

Quick links:
For Manufacturers Looking to License Piddix Images
More Information on the Piddix Summer 2014 Every-Single-Collage-Sheet Subscription
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Anonymous said...

Lovely artwork. I collect all kinds of vintage ephemera but am at a loss to know how to use them in artwork! Do you scan and then use photoshop?

piddix said...

Thanks! Yes, lots of photoshop and scanning. Plus lots and lots of copyright research first, too.