Blog

Share it!

The real thing

"Dead Feminists" book by Chandler O'Leary and Jessica Spring

It’s weird. Jessica and I have been working on this thing for two years now—imagining, planning, dreaming, drawing, writing, drafting, rewriting, editing, designing, redesigning, lettering, illustrating, editing again, photographing, curating, gathering, fact-checking, editing some more. But even though we did all of that, and for so long, only now does it actually feel like it’s really happening. Because now I’m sitting here with the actual book in my hands. We just received our advance copies, and for quite a while all I could think was, “It’s real.”

There are still two months to go before the book is real to everybody else, as well, but in the meantime we have a whole lot of snippets, sneak peeks and behind-the-scenes stuff to share. But if you’re champing at the bit like we are, you can pre-order your copy now.

Share it!

A book by its cover

Cover of the "Dead Feminists" book by Chandler O'Leary and Jessica Spring

Jessica and I are on pins and needles this week, as advance reader copies of our book will be arriving any day now. So while we wait to get our hands on the real thing, we figured now was a good time to share the cover of the book with you! I got to do the illustration and lettering on this puppy, and I can’t tell you how excited I am to see it in person. Getting to this point was a long, long process (and a story that’s worth sharing, so we’ll get to that another day), and it feels good to hear that people are already responding favorably to the design.

We’re pleased to announce that the book is now available for preorder (it’ll be hitting stores on Tuesday, October 11). You can find more info and preorder links to lots of retailers on our book page. And if you’re a shop owner interested in carrying our book in your store, you can find all the info on bulk ordering direct from the publisher inside my wholesale catalog.

More details soon!

Share it!

Time and type wait for no one

Jessica Spring setting type at the Thorniley Collection. Photo by Chandler O'Leary.

I shot this photo of Jessica typesetting at the Thorniley Collection of Type last year, where she and I were asked to help inventory and appraise the collection (a dream-job moment that I promise to tell you about sometime!).

And then today I came across this short documentary, about the very last edition of the New York Times that was printed from linotype. The year was 1978, and the newspaper was mothballing all its hot-type equipment in order to adopt the brand new, cutting-edge, cold-type technology of phototypesetting. (Phototypesetting was in turn mothballed about 15 years later, when desktop publishing—design software, computer fonts, etc.—hit the mainstream.) If you’re at all interested in printing and have a half hour, I highly recommend the film, as it’s fascinating.

I loved seeing my professional ancestors at work in the film, but I had to laugh, because it struck me that my own career has been a bit, well, backwards.

I got my BFA in the early aughts; much of my design coursework focused on current print technology: design software, digital typography, etc. (Though of course, I was ornery and insisted on including hand-lettering, which was deeply unpopular at the time, in almost everything I did.)

My first industry job, however, was a throwback: I was a production designer doing paste-up at an offset printer that still did phototypesetting. This wasn’t all that long ago: by then that technology was a total dinosaur. At the time they were one of the last presses in the whole country still relying on those processes. The video above demonstrates the paste-up process, but basically the job description is what it sounds like. We took little bits of printed text and photos and, using razor blades and hot wax, pasted them onto a collaged layout that was then photographed and turned into a printing plate. I got to spend my days in a quiet room lit only by light tables, with three other girls who were as introverted as I. I can still smell the wax whenever I think of it—I loved that job, and I loved that smell.

A year or so later I got a job as a graphic designer at a firm, so I guess in that sense I went “forward” in time. But that same month I also got into letterpress printing—proof that my personal tastes were still decidedly cattywampus. I basically did what the printers at the New York Times did in reverse order, trading my cold-type skills in for hand-set hot metal.

And now, while I still keep a finger in both the letterpress (thanks to my collaboration with Jessica) and digital pies, overall I’ve kind of moved backwards in time again. Now I mostly spend my days with the really old-school equipment of paintbrushes and pencils.

And that’s just fine with me. Who says progress has to go only in one direction?

Share it!

Let’s go sketching together

In-progress photo of Craneway Pavilion sketch by Chandler O'Leary

If you’re looking to bring a little sketching into your life, or you attended last month’s sketch outing and want a little training, you can learn the basics with me in July!

School of Visual Concepts photo by Chandler O'Leary

I’ll be teaching my one-day urban sketching workshop again at Seattle’s School of Visual Concepts on July 16—I only teach this workshop at most once a year, so if you’ve been wanting to get some drawing skills under your belt, this is your chance!

Materials for urban sketching workshop with Chandler O'Leary

In the class you’ll get a crash course in everything you need to get you on your feet and sketching. We’ll cover travel-friendly materials, tricks for setting the scene, finding inspiration on-the-go, and all kinds of drawing, watercolor, perspective and composition techniques.

In-progress photo of Chambers Bay Golf Course sketch by Chandler O'Leary

And of course, you’ll get plenty of hands-on experience with the chance to get out there and draw in the wild.

Students sketching in Seattle during urban sketching workshop with Chandler O'Leary

My favorite thing about teaching sketching workshops is seeing my students learn from each other. We’re all basically drawing the same thing, but since everyone has a different style, point of view and level of experience, the finished results are wildly varied.

Students sketching in Seattle during urban sketching workshop with Chandler O'Leary

Last year we all walked to South Lake Union Park, and I loved seeing what everyone chose to focus on in their sketchbooks.

Student sketching in Seattle during urban sketching workshop with Chandler O'Leary

We had both beginners and veterans among us that day, and everyone completed at least one full-color sketch (several went to town and came back with a whole handful of drawings!).

Student sketchbook drawings from urban sketching workshop with Chandler O'Leary

The really fun part is the end of class, where we all got together and shared our drawings. No two were even remotely alike, but all were completely gorgeous!

In-progress photo of San Francisco sketch by Chandler O'Leary

So if you want a fun kickstart to your new life as an urban sketcher, join us! Here are the details:

Urban Sketching: Learning on Foot
Saturday, July 16, 2016
School of Visual Concepts
2300 7th Avenue, Suite B, Seattle, WA
BYO sketching materials (a list of suggested materials will be sent when you sign up)
More info and registration here!
(Use the code GIVE_SMALL at checkout for a $25 discount!)

Note: unless it’s pouring rain, we’ll be sketching outdoors. Please dress accordingly, and plan to be on your feet! Bring lots of drinking water (and snacks if you need them), layered clothing, sunscreen, a protective hat, and good walking shoes. Last year it was 100°F outside, but thanks to everyone being prepared and smart about the heat, we still had a great time!

Save

Share it!

Jaunt + Jot

"Jaunt + Jot" exhibition featuring sketchbook drawings by Chandler O'Leary. Photo by Shawn H. Nichols, taken at the Artist Trust on Tour: Tacoma event.

Photo by Shawn H. Nichols, taken at Artist Trust on Tour: Tacoma

If you happen to be in or passing through Tacoma soon, I’ve got a new show of sketchbook drawings up right now, at the brand new Feast Arts Center on Hilltop.

Installation of "Jaunt + Jot" exhibition featuring sketchbook drawings by Chandler O'Leary

Like the way I do it on my travel blog, the images in the exhibit are arranged thematically rather than chronologically—this made curating the show something of a challenge, since I have frillions of drawings to choose from. So I did a practice run on my living room floor, with a notebook in hand to jot everything down (seems fitting!).

Installation of "Jaunt + Jot" exhibition featuring sketchbook drawings by Chandler O'Leary

That ended up being a really good idea, because pre-arranging everything beforehand made the installation of the show much, much easier. All I had to do was measure and level everything, rather than try to make any aesthetic decisions on the fly. Still, you can see from the above photo that hanging a show is always a big, big mess—no matter how prepared I am ahead of time. Everything is total chaos until the last possible moment!

Installation of "Jaunt + Jot" exhibition featuring sketchbook drawings by Chandler O'Leary

The show consists of ten original sketchbooks, paired with reproduction prints hung on the walls of the gallery. Displaying original sketchbooks is always another challenge, since it’s only possible to show one page at a time, and the books are delicate enough that they can’t stand up to constant handling during the show. But the folks who run Feast, Todd Jannausch and Chandler Woodfin (yes, there are two Chandlers involved here!), had the great idea of displaying the books in unobtrusive, handmade glass tabletop cases.

Installation of "Jaunt + Jot" exhibition featuring sketchbook drawings by Chandler O'Leary

Here’s Todd putting one of them together—

"Jaunt + Jot" exhibition featuring sketchbook drawings by Chandler O'Leary. Photo by Shawn H. Nichols, taken at the Artist Trust on Tour: Tacoma event.

the end result is sleek and professional, and it made it easy for me to come in and turn the pages of each sketchbook once a week or so, to change things up during the show’s run and give folks the chance to see multiple pages over time.

"Jaunt + Jot" exhibition featuring sketchbook drawings by Chandler O'Leary

These little map cards tie everything together, providing a little context behind the drawings and explaining my rationale for the themes I chose for the prints.

"Jaunt + Jot" exhibition featuring sketchbook drawings by Chandler O'Leary

I’m so pleased with how the show came together—this has quickly become my very favorite solo show. So major thanks to Todd and Chandler for making it happen and handling the logistics!

"Jaunt + Jot" exhibition featuring sketchbook drawings by Chandler O'Leary. Photo by Shawn H. Nichols, taken at the Artist Trust on Tour: Tacoma event.

Photo by Shawn H. Nichols, taken at Artist Trust on Tour: Tacoma

As an added bonus, the folks at Artist Trust, a statewide arts organization, hosted an event to tie in with my exhibit opening. Since Artist Trust recently funded me with an artist grant to continue my sketchbook work, they asked me to speak about my process at the opening. I brought my very first travel sketchbook with me, and it was great to talk shop with the crowd that showed up that night!

"Jaunt + Jot" exhibition featuring sketchbook drawings by Chandler O'Leary. Photo by Shawn H. Nichols, taken at the Artist Trust on Tour: Tacoma event.

Photo by Shawn H. Nichols, taken at Artist Trust on Tour: Tacoma

The show closes on Sunday, June 12—here are all the details, if you’re looking to visit:

Jaunt + Jot: a solo sketchbook exhibition by Chandler O’Leary
May 19 through June 12, 2016
Feast Arts Center, 1402 S. 11th St., Tacoma, WA
Open Saturdays 12 to 4, Sundays 9 to 1, or by appointment

"Jaunt + Jot" exhibition featuring sketchbook drawings by Chandler O'Leary. Photo by Shawn H. Nichols, taken at the Artist Trust on Tour: Tacoma event.

Photo by Shawn H. Nichols, taken at Artist Trust on Tour: Tacoma

Or if you’d like to try your hand sketching yourself, Feast, Urban Sketchers-Tacoma and I are hosting a special ad-hoc sketch outing this Sunday, June 5, as part of Feast’s Sunday Coffee series! The event is free and open to anyone who would like to try their hand at urban sketching—no prior experience is necessary, and all you need to bring are your own sketch materials (paper or sketchbook, pen or pencil, watercolors, or whatever you like to use).

Here’s how it works: Feast Arts Center will open at 9 am on Sunday, so visitors can see the exhibit. Anyone interested in sketching will gather at 10 am at Feast for a quick meet-and-greet. We will then split up and sketch around the Hilltop neighborhood; you can choose to stick around Feast, or wander farther afield and sketch whatever strikes your fancy. Some people sketch in groups, others go off by themselves. Then we’ll all meet back at Feast at 12:30 for an informal show-and-tell of our sketches. This part is completely optional (so if you’re nervous about showing your drawings, you don’t have to!), but it’s always fun to see everybody’s different styles, materials and points of view. Feast will remain open until 1 pm. Here are those details again, in digest version:

Ad-hoc Sketch Outing, sponsored by Urban Sketchers-Tacoma
Sunday, June 5, 2016
Feast Arts Center (open 9 to 1)
1402 S. 11th St. Tacoma, WA
1. Meet at Feast by 10 am
2. Sketch in and around Hilltop
3. Show & tell at Feast at 12:30

Please note that this is not a class or workshop, so neither I nor any Urban Sketchers members will be offering instruction. But this is a great opportunity to meet other sketch artists and find inspiration. People tell me all the time that they’d love to try sketching, but aren’t sure where to start. This is a great way to get your feet wet amongst friends—so don’t be shy! Grab your pencils, and we’ll see you this Sunday!

Creation of this work was made possible in part by Artist Trust Grants for Artist Projects. Special thanks to Artist Trust, Feast Arts Center, School of Visual Concepts, and Urban Sketchers-Tacoma.

"Jaunt + Jot" exhibition featuring sketchbook drawings by Chandler O'Leary. Photo by Mary Holste.

Photo by Mary Holste.

Share it!

Spilling the beans

Process photo of Dead Feminists book by Chandler O'Leary and Jessica Spring

A year ago we told our families and closest friends. A few months ago we started whispering to colleagues and acquaintances. Lately we’ve been spreading the word on the down-low, at events and gatherings. And now we can finally spill the beans in public:

Jessica and I are publishing a Dead Feminists book!

We’ve been hard at work for months already, and the writing, editorial and design part of the process is entering the home stretch. But it’s still too early for us to be able to share many nitty-gritty details, but we can tell you that the book will be called Dead Feminists: Historic Heroines in Living Color, and that it’s coming in October 2016 from Seattle’s very own Sasquatch Books.

There’s so much more to come, everything from photos to the cover design to sneak peeks to event details. But for now, enough things are still up in the air that we can’t show all our cards (or mix all our metaphors) at once. So to make sure you don’t miss any announcements, I suggest signing up for our mailing list.

More soon—we promise!

Share it!

Social currency

Harriet Tubman on the reimagined $20 bill

For the past year there has been a movement to replace Andrew Jackson’s portrait on the $20 bill with that of a woman, thanks to the folks at Women On 20s. The effort went viral, with people all over the country weighing in on who should grace the bill instead. Harriet Tubman was the most popular choice—and last May Women On 20s presented the signatures of a nationwide petition to the US Treasury. Just a month later, the Treasury responded with the news that a woman would soon be featured on a bill—but the much less widely circulated 10-spot, not the 20. Now that it’s Leap Day and Women On 20s just turned one year old, Jessica and I are adding our voices to the call.

The last time a woman appeared on American paper currency was Martha Washington in 1886. Since we think it’s long past time to #DitchJackson and include a woman on our money, I put together a little snippet of a Tubman bill. Here’s hoping that after her effigy garnered so much public support, Ms. Tubman will get rewarded with a little hard currency after all.

Share it!

Age Before Beauty

"Age Before Beauty" Dead Feminist broadside by Chandler O'Leary and Jessica Spring

When it came time for us to find our next Dead Feminist, our thoughts turned to our own mirrors. Like every woman in our pop-culture-driven world, Jessica and I are bombarded with imagery and messages that urge us to scrutinize and criticize our own appearance. Unsurprisingly, we are taught to find ourselves lacking in one way or many, and to compare ourselves with an impossible ideal.

We were a little surprised to find courage and consolation in Ancient Greece, where they were all about the impossible ideal. Yet if you sift through the lofty architectural theory, stylized scenes and tales of the immortals, you’ll find a honey-tongued poet who speaks the plain truth: Sappho.

To be human is to grow old.

Detail of "Age Before Beauty" Dead Feminist broadside by Chandler O'Leary and Jessica Spring

Our 23rd broadside, Age Before Beauty, reaches further back in time than we ever have before—to the 6th century BCE. As you can clearly see, the illustration is styled after the designs and motifs of ancient Greek pottery, right down to the amphora handles.

Detail of "Age Before Beauty" Dead Feminist broadside by Chandler O'Leary and Jessica Spring

Yet even though she lived and worked thousands of years ago, Sappho’s words ring true as if they were written yesterday. We especially loved her self-reflection in the poem we chose, and the way she managed to view her aging body with kindness. It brought to mind, for me, an image of dual goddesses who are really two faces of the same woman—like the Maiden and Crone archetypes so common in other pre-Christian cultures.

Like the art of ancient Greece, the illustration is chock full of allegorical imagery. For instance, young Sappho carries Aphrodite’s mirror, while Athena’s wise owl looks over her aged self. Both figures play a seven-stringed lyre: Sappho was a lyrical poet, which means her poetry was designed to be performed to music. (Incidentally, some scholars also credit Sappho with the invention of the plectrum, a tool similar to a guitar pick that was used to pluck the lyre’s strings.) Finally, the band of dancing deer at the base references Josephine Balmer’s recent translation of Sappho’s Old Age Poem.

Process photo of "Age Before Beauty" Dead Feminist broadside by Chandler O'Leary and Jessica Spring

Compared to our previous broadsides, the composition and color scheme of this piece are fairly simple. The printing, on the other hand, was not. All those curves made it hard to line up the plates, and we had huge floods of color paired with delicate lines and text. To help her with the ink coverage and add just a tiny bit more pop to the color, Jessica ran the vase shape in a run of subtle cream first.

Process photo of "Age Before Beauty" Dead Feminist broadside by Chandler O'Leary and Jessica Spring

The cream pass helped with the super-tricky registration of the black and terracotta, as well.

All that fiddly and difficult technical stuff made the finished product that much sweeter. We’re pleased as punch about the results—we hope you will be, too.

Detail of "Age Before Beauty" Dead Feminist broadside by Chandler O'Leary and Jessica Spring

To help all women and girls see themselves in a more positive light, we are donating a portion of our proceeds to About Face. Founded in 1995, About Face works to improve girls’ and women’s self-esteem and body image by helping them understand and resist harmful media messages.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Age Before Beauty: No. 23 in the Dead Feminists series
Edition size: 158 prints
Poster size: 10 x 18 inches

Printed on an antique Vandercook Universal One press, on archival, 100% rag (cotton) paper. Each piece is numbered and signed by both artists.

Colophon reads:
Sappho (c. 630 – 570 BCE) is the only woman counted among the Nine Lyric Poets revered in ancient Greek culture. Plato called her “the tenth muse,” but all that remains of her work is a handful of fragments. This quote is an excerpt from Fragment 58, a mysterious Old Age Poem that can be read either as a lament or a celebration of mortality. Illustrated by Chandler O’Leary and printed by Jessica Spring, in hopes that all women might see themselves both with Aphrodite’s gaze and Athena’s wisdom.

Now available in our Dead Feminists web shop!

Detail of "Age Before Beauty" Dead Feminist broadside by Chandler O'Leary and Jessica Spring

 

 

Share it!

Through the looking glass

Process photo of "Age Before Beauty" Dead Feminist broadside by Chandler O'Leary and Jessica Spring

It’s that time again—we’re inking and printing up a storm right now, because we’re just about ready to introduce you to our newest Dead Feminist!

Process photo of "Age Before Beauty" Dead Feminist broadside by Chandler O'Leary and Jessica Spring

We hope you’ll like her as much as we do—after getting to know her history, we feel like she’s become something of a deer friend.

(Sorry, I can never resist a terrible pun.)

Process photo of "Age Before Beauty" Dead Feminist broadside by Chandler O'Leary and Jessica Spring

She’s already made her first (and second, and third) impression with us, and oh so soon she’ll do the same for you. Stay tuned!

Share it!

St. Valentine’s Day Massacre

Tulips photo by Chandler O'Leary

Inside the house we have these this morning…

Photo by Chandler O'Leary

…but Valentine’s Day looks a little different in the yard. Spring is already on its way here, so we have to seize the moment and get going on the massive pile of landscaping projects we have planned for the year.

Photo by Chandler O'Leary

So we’re spending our romantic weekend with chainsaws and tree stumps. Hope your Valentine’s Day is a special one, too—whether you stick to tradition or not!

NOTE: the shop is currently closed for summer break. All orders placed now through the end of August will ship on Tuesday, August 30, 2016. We apologize for the inconvenience!