Archives for category: Illustrations

Since hitting the 4 YR mark, which I referenced in my last post, I’ve been doing a bit of reflection. (all most of this was brought on by a conversation with my best friend, Amy, over a glass of wine and delicious food on Saturday night.)

This will require a little bit of a rewind…

Business trip to Chicago, 2010.

Business trip to Chicago, 2010.

(Please keep in mind the thoughts in the below paragraph are only my view point, not an actual representation of the field.)
I stumbled upon art licensing.

While receiving my degree in illustration, no one taught me about it, or mentioned that it was an option, or even a career. When I first discovered it 4 years ago, it seemed like a majority of artists in the licensing field had an incredible design career, and then reached a point where they decided to do something for themselves. For example, I would read multiple stories like,

“I just couldn’t find anything cute for my kids, so I decided to do it for myself…”

By the age of 24, still very young in the design world, I was the Art Director for a product manufacturing company that made napkins. About a year into my job, the company wanted to start an everyday line of napkins for things like birthdays, holidays, and girly get togethers. I had lots of ideas for designs to start out this new line, but the company decided to license a collection of new designs from an outside artist. That was the first time I heard of “licensing” art and paying someone for it.

I immediately spent all my time looking up everything I possibly could about this “art licensing” and finding out: who does it? how they do it? what it’s like? how does someone get into that field? are their artists I like out there? are there things I’ve seen or own that have been licensed? etc. I was enamored with the idea that my art could be put on a multitude of products, my name would be on those products AND of course I would get paid for it! Something clicked in my mind, this was what I had been looking for.

Art Director! Check out all the sketches behind me...

Art Director, 2011! Check out all the sketches behind me…

So we developed the new line. I stood by quietly, my brain swirling with ideas that I thought my friends and I would surely buy… I would draw on blank sample napkins all day, every day. And lucky me, at a certain point, it was time to update our line and the company decided I had some good ideas and we would use them! I was so excited! MY name would appear on a product, it was something I’d always wanted. (This is actually where I learned my first lesson in art licensing the hard way. Sign a contract first or you’ll get screwed. More on that subject some other time.) I created a bunch of ©Lezlee Elliott napkins that were fantastic!!!! WHAT!?!? Everybody loved them, and over the 6 months we noticed that my designs consistently made an appearance in the top selling designs for each month. This was great news! It means I had solid proof that my ideas were likable and people PAID FOR them! This was a whole new world for me.

Eventually, the company gained lots of interest and everything seemed like it was moving in this amazing direction, when suddenly we had interest from a much bigger company to BUY us. It was an opportunity to work with a major manufacturer on a much larger scale, it was like our dreams for this company were coming true! Throughout this process of proposals and numbers my coworkers and I, which Amy happened to be one of, came to the realization that this purchase may not actually happen and we needed a Plan B like asap. That’s when I decided art licensing might be next for me. This is when the Chili’s meeting happened and I began developing a small portfolio.

Jump to the end already, the company did not get purchased and corporate thought it was a good decision to let me go. to conserve money??? The job market was in a major recession, I was now almost 26, and my choice was either find another job or make art licensing a reality. I made the leap. Well… I guess I was pushed, but I decided now was as good a time as ever.

Fast forward to Saturday…

In the beginning, my goal was just about being successful at art licensing. That was enough for me! I mean I’d made the leap to be my own boss, and I was going to “take over the world” as a licensed artist and I was super excited. And now, 4 years later, I’m actually starting to achieve some of those goals, so as my best friend Amy asked me on Saturday, “what’s next?”

My initial response?

FREAK OUT: What do you mean what’s next??!!?!? I just got here, to where I’ve been working so hard to get for the last 4 years??? How do you expect me to have a “next”?? I don’t know if I’m like most people, but I didn’t think about the part after you achieve your goals. But, she made a valid point…

“if your only goal is to get to where you are, you’ll never go any further.”

She’s right. Damnit. I’d made an initial leap, and was content just where I’d landed. I was achieving the goals I had set for myself 4 years ago… and had not one single thought past that. I made the leap most people don’t even attempt to make and that was enough for me. But was it?

Most people I know, and myself, have big dreams, but at what point do you define them as actual steps to take towards achieving that dream? Organizing what has to happen in which order and with what information to take the next step. It’s a difficult thing to do if you’ve never tried. And at this point, I was confronted with a question that I was not prepared to answer.

But in true best friend fashion, Amy was there to help me answer it. We wound up talking for hours about where I really wanted to go, how I could actually get there, what small steps and big leaps would need to be taken, who’s support I would require, etc. It was an eye opening, mind bending, juices flowing type conversation… and by the end my freak out turned into a proactive plan to “take over the world.”

I’ve taken one leap already, and it’s been amazing. Soon it’ll be time to take another one, and I’ll still be just as nervous and terrified as the first one, but I know it’ll be worth it. And after that leap? I know what comes next.

How about you?

 

This post is dedicated to my two best friends, Amy and Liz.

biffles for. ever.

biffles for. ever. 2005

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CardGnome.com (where I have 47 greeting cards) is so wonderfully participating in sending troops over seas some 10,000 holiday cards! They were doing a promotional event to get those cards movin’ in a coffee shop in Denver, Colorado on Monday and some of MY CARDS made it into the mix they chose to send! The local news covered the event and you can see my cards! I was so excited, I just had to share!

Enjoy the video and play “I SPY” on my two holiday greeting cards!

 

You too can send a free card just by going to CardGnome.com! Do it, it’s free, seriously there’s no reason not to!

And just to help you out, I’ve attached screen shots of my cards in the video :)

When you’re in school for art, or in my case, Illustration, you are drawing, painting, photographing, sculpting, etc every. single. day. It’s awesome when you look at what other people have to do every day… but it’s creatively exhausting at the same time. Luckily, you get really good at all of those creative outlets because you’re having to work on them every week.

Once I got out of school I worked for an advertising agency (yay for getting a job so quickly)! BUT, because I was designing everyday, I was no longer being creative and drawing, painting, photographing, etc, and I literally forgot how to draw. A while ago (3ish years), I took a drawing course at night at Emory so that I could introduce myself to drawing again. I had felt so lost not drawing everyday and actually loosing the ability to draw terrified me. I identify myself as an artist and I felt like I couldn’t even begin a drawing. It was not what I wanted with my life.

Eventually I wound up getting a job at a napkin company out of desperation as a secretary… 2 weeks into that job I was doing design work again and not really being a secretary any longer. Approximately one to three months later, I was promoted to Art Director because I was solely doing design work again. At some point the company decided to design “everyday” napkins and I had come up with cool designs that I liked but then I had to draw them! Yikes! BUT, I started drawing again… and it got easier and easier… and I did less and less erasing and starting over. I really LOVED drawing again and I was getting good at it all over again!

The end of that story is when I noticed my personally designed napkins were some of the best selling products in the entire company, the company somehow decided they didn’t need me and let me go (HAH!) and I decided to take a leap and push myself into licensing. That was a little over 2.5 years ago!

Now that I’m in licensing, I draw EVERY day!!! I absolutely love it. But I rarely get a chance to do some of that other stuff like photography, sculpture and **gasp** painting. Of course… I’ve kind of lost my touch on those too… but not as horribly as I had before. So when the opportunity was presented to do a commissioned painting, I hesitantly accepted. It was for one of my best friend’s and she was going to give it to her husband for his birthday… Pressure from the get-go to make it look great. She wanted to give him a painting of something he cherished possibly more than her his Gibson guitar, but she didn’t just want a picture of a guitar because they had a couple of those already. She wanted something unique and different.

I’ve NEVER painted a guitar… or even attempted to draw one… how in the world do you make a guitar different and unique? After doing some looking around I figured out what I wanted to do… and I warned my friend that this would be a learning experience for me since I hadn’t painted in 4-5 years a while. So we snuck some pictures of his guitar, obviously I needed reference, and I composed the image I wanted to paint.

Then I decided to go big, I bought the 30×40 canvas and started out by painting it black. Have you ever attempted to do a drawing on a completely white sheet of paper? It’s nearly impossible. Where do you start??? A trick, shade the paper with your pencil or, in my case, paint the canvas black. It’s MUCH easier to find a place to start. Trust me, it works. Anyhow, I began by putting grid lines on the canvas and the printed picture of the guitar which helped me estimate exactly where everything went on the canvas.

And off I went… slowly starting to paint here and there until shapes started to form… I’m not ashamed to say, I started over one or two times in certain areas. I’ve included some in progress shots of the painting that I sent to my friend so she knew what was happening.

It was right after this photo, that I was on the verge of giving up because I was struggling on the “Gibson” letters and I’d hit a wall on how to do this… and luckily I painted over them, and started over.

And here’s the final image…. It’s safe to say he loved the painting even though I was terrified nervous because it was my first painting in years. After this I was creatively exhausted… it may be a while til’ I do another painting, but I’m glad I did it. I impressed myself!

Happy Birthday man! I hope you enjoy this forever and ever!!!

Is there ever a “slow season” with licensing? I feel like I keep telling people it’s my busy season… but it never officially slows down. I’ll admit, there are a lot some days that creativeness just ain’t happening and I can tell from the moment I get out of bed. There’ll be a HUGE to-do list waiting for me and I just cannot focus… so instead I get groceries, spend hours on Pintrest, see who has repinned my pins, look at clothes online, decide what I want my “look” to be this winter, figure out how I should decorate my future house, decide I need new boots and where I can get them for a good price, ya know… generally avoid doing anything really productive.

Speaking of not getting stuff done, I’m busy painting my nails… BUT this is part of my work I swear! Uh… I mean… according to my new discovery. I had a conversation with a friend which led to a realization, and I wanted to share it with you. So, ladies, go paint your nails while you’re at work and when your boss says, “shouldn’t you be working?”, you can safely say, “I am so step off.”

My friend asked me why my nails were painted dark blue, my response was “cause I like the color duh” but in the midst of discussing our favorite colors, I had an epiphany. It’s very simple. I use nail polish to alter my mood.

Who doesn’t, right?

But really… I figured out that when I need to develop, color or create a design I am unknowingly using nail polish to get my creative juices flowing. I think it’s actually kind of interesting… have you ever thought that changing your nail color can change your mind set? I usually just think I need something pretty on my nails… but to realize that it affects my way of thinking is kind of crazy. But it works.

I relate certain colors to certain mind sets. I have some examples that I’ve identified, and now I can actually get my work done a little faster because I can choose a certain color for my nails and magically the creative juices start flowing! PLUS you get a little peek into some things I’ve been working on for the shows in January. (That’s right, show season is in January so I’m S.T.R.E.S.S.E.D. where’smynailpolish…..)

I decided I wanted to create home decor and kitchen items with my Moroccan Muse pattern, so I wanted to change the color palette to something more appropriate (if you saw it before it was gold, pink, brown, purple, etc… not really “let me decorate my kitchen with this” type colors). I grew my nails a little longer and painted them red, which in turn made me get into a sophisticated, decorate-my-home, my-husband-will-love-this mode. I felt older, sophisticated, like I have a big house, the time & money to get manicures, and it reminds me of my Mom (her nails were always red). I also think of 50’s housewife ads, I think they always had red nails… so maybe that has something to do with it.

Regardless, here’s some work that came from me having red nails….

I did something similar for recoloring my Feathered Peacock patterns. I wanted to feel young, careless, summery, like I was in my late teens early 20’s… so I chose coral and cut my nails to about mid length. 

And the resulting work….

And lastly… I was working on my NEW Haute Wine girls, they’re amazing by the way, and I needed to feel confident, fashiony, sure of myself, defined, artsy and basically like a total badass… so I went with short dark blue nails! I think black is overdone, so I go with dark blue. They almost look black but then it’s like a surprise when they catch the light and you realize it’s blue… It’s pretty awesome.

And as a result of my badassness…

I’m telling you, it works. Try it. NOW! I’m almost out of nail polish remover and now I’m obsessed with finding new nail polish colors to try… Any suggestions?

Well well well… I do exist. It has been a busy last couple of months, I mean I can’t even tell you what all I’ve worked on. No really. I can’t tell you.

But I’ve had quite a few exciting things happening over here and I can finally tell you about one of them! The other one is like supercalafragalisticexpyaladocious exciting… and I’ll just say this. Next spring/summer, you’re whole kitchen/picnic can be filled with lezleelliott products!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ok, now, the news I CAN tell you! Greeting cards!!! 46 of them to be exact. That’s right 46 lezleelliott greeting cards are NOW AVAILABLE to you online at CardGnome.com! Let me first explain where/how this whole awesome website works.

Card Gnome provides an online shopping center with tons of cards. Once  you purchase a card, you can either 1. personalize it right there on the computer and have it sent to your recipient, OR 2. you can send it to your house and write your message and send it off (with the extra included envelope) yourself! Here’s the best part. You can sign up for a “Card Plan,” which allows you to purchase all the cards you need for the year and have them sent out on dates you choose! So literally you can pick every birthday card you need, choose when it should be sent, fill in the message and BOOM, not worry about it for the rest of the year. AND postage is included in the price of the card!

You can also purchase the cards in bulk, like Christmas cards. Cause duh, mine are the cutest.

Here’s the kicker, Card Gnome has categorized the cards into “The Jewel Store” because other fantastic artists from my agent are also in there like Simon & Kabuki, Robin Pickens, Darcel Phillips, PhiloSophie’s and Heather Rosas. But I have all kinds of cards in there for Birthday, Baby, Cocktail, Halloween and Christmas! There are currently 36 of them up… so I’m working to get the last 10 on there, my Haute Wine Girls!! Everything else is from my Too Sweet candy/cake/cupcake collection, Cocktail hour (Martini/Margarita/Wine) collection, Baby Animals (elephant/giraffe/lion) collection, Haunted Halloween collection, and Winter Woods (birds in trees and circles) collection.

So go check out all the cards, and buy some!!!

So I know it’s been about two months since I last wrote… I’ve been busy lay off! I moved, again. Third time this year. Blah. I’m finally settled, but also had to finish up all my presentations for Surtex. Madness all in itself. And NOW because my presentations were tha bomb really good, manufacturers are requesting files and I’m busy making sure they get everything they need!

But in the midst of all that, some samples have arrived! Which means that products should be shipping out to stores and they’ll be prepping to put them on the shelves! Yay!

I’m gonna show you all the samples I just got, BUT I need your help… if you spot these items out in stores you MUST TELL ME WHERE!!! I don’t know where these items will be, I just know they’ll be out, so I’m dying to know if you see them!

Anyway, out this summer are these fantastic coasters! Two designs and a wooden holder, they’re perfect for summer time drinks.

They LOVE me over at Design Design, cause they have LOTS coming out this Christmas! A greeting card featuring one of my Haute Wine girls!!!!!!!!!!, wrapping paper, gift tags, dinner plates, dessert plates, beverage napkins, guest towels (buffet napkins), and lunch napkins! Looking forward to seeing pictures of Christmas celebration tables decorated with these.

The card is fantastic, her dress and the circles and the text are foil stamped so the shine in the light! It looks soooooo great!!!

 

The wrapping paper and gift tags also have foil stamped birds on it, so they shine!

So did I make up for the two months I’ve been gone?? I think these will look great this winter!

If you are like me, you make lists about every 5 minutes. OR you have some little note, thought or song name to write down at least 5 times a day! So I use jotters. Small notebooks (4×6) with a rubber band closure (to keep those suckers shut!) that literally fit in your back pocket, and easily slip into your purse to write notes in about everything. They’re perfect.

And now, I’ll be selling them on my Etsy site! But first, I have to decide which patterns to sell… so of course, I thought I’d poll the audience to find out which ones you like best.

There are A LOT to choose from (22 designs) because I have the worst time deciding which ones I think are prettiest…so I’ll let you! You’ll need to go vote here where I’ve loaded all the designs, just click “Like” on your TOP 10 favorite designs.

Let me know by Sunday, so that I can put them up for sale on Monday!

Offices always need a little pop of color to brighten your day, and EVEN THOUGH it’s February, it’s NOT TOO LATE! Get one of my desk calendars and be happy to get into the office everyday!

12 months (and let’s face it, at this point you’re only missing out on 1 month… so it’s REALLY not too late) of cute, colorful, bold and fun patterns by lezleelliott

Here’s an idea for a GREAT birthday gift… a bottle of Two Buck Chuck and a FABULOUS lezleelliott birthday card from Trader Joe’s!

I finally get to tell you about it and I’m SO excited, these totally cute cards should be in a Trader Joe’s store near you, so you have no reason not to go get one for the next birthday you celebrate…or for yourself :)

I’ll be keeping my eye out to see if I come across one, and if I do I’ll most likely scream like a 10 year old girl who just met the Biebs… but what are ya gonna do?

I have been SO busy with quite a few things so there’ll be a couple posts here. BUT I know you have been waiting to see what my Halloween pumpkin looked like!!!

Tah-daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah

My very first time carving a pumpkin :) I think it went alright… there were a few snags here and there, but generally it was painless. The gah-rossest part was getting the guts out. I refused to touch them. So I left them all in there and would turn the pumpkin to scrape the sides and then once I was pretty good into it I used paper towels to get the guts out. I’m pretty sure I’da puked if I had to do it by hand. The little bit that got on my hand grossed me out… Anywho, once that was done I sat down to carve it and made my stencil by hand [yeah I know, I made those nice stencils for ya’ll and didn’t even think to do one for myself]. I punched most of the stencil in using a carving kit from Wal-Mart and then basically went at it.

It only took me a couple hours – which I thought was amazing. I thought it might take all freakin day. But Rob had gone to baseball [4 hours of wonderful alone time quiet for me] and I started the whole process when he left, and right when he got home I finished it!

I had a “lighting ceremony” and everything with him, me and the dog… lol but it was fun! And I was very proudof my work. Of course, I still see flaws… but that’s just me being an annoying perfectionist artist. Can you tell where the design came from? ;)

It only lasted one night, because the lines were so thin, but that’s ok. I was only really hoping for one good night of glory! The funniest part was, the second day it was out, I didn’t plan on lighting it, but I came home to this. The neighbor loved my pumpkin, and unbeknownst to me, I won a pumpkin carving contest. Hahahahah The paper says, “The WINNER! #1” and has a 1st place trophy drawn on it! It was hilarious.

All in all it was fun to see my pumpkin all lit up. Now, I KNOW a bunch of you pulled off some of those carving templates, so LEMME SEE! Email pictures to lezleelliott [at] gmail [dot] com if you’ve gottem :)

Til’ next year…