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I always look forward to Studio Tour because it’s the time of year when I produce the biggest crop of new pieces—and get to “try out” new work with the folks who know me best. This year has turned out to hold some pretty major shifts in direction for my studio practice, and I’m both excited and extremely nervous to put this stuff out there in the world.

(My internal worry-wort lately: “What if they don’t know it’s me?” “What if people ignore this and just ask, ‘What happened to [X]?’” “What if I can’t make the finished product look like it does in my head?” “Who says you get to do [X]?” Ugh.)

Studio Tour takes a lot of that pressure off, because I get to show this new work, in person, to folks I already know, before I release it into the wild. People who already get me and understand what I do—who don’t need me to launch into any awkward elevator-speech explanations of why. They already know the because. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for that.

And I’m grateful for you, the reader, as well. Whether you live in my town, or you’re part of my online circle—thank you.  I can’t wait to show you what I’ve been working on. More soon.

(If you’re lookin’ for it, Studio Tour info here.)

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When you’re an illustrator, you have to start celebrating (or at least gearing up for) every holiday months in advance. So that means I’ve got Christmas music stuck in my head already. That’s okay, though, because it means I’m churning out new work for the holiday season! And I’m having an extra fun time this time year, because I’m trying some new things, in a little bit of a different style.

If you’re local, you can be the first to grab the new crop of goodies (including brand new illustrations from the Drawn the Road project, and the new Red Deck of the Tacoma Playing Cards) at this year’s city-wide Studio Tour circuit, held during the first weekend in November. I’ll be open both Saturday and Sunday, as usual—more info and maps/directions here.

If you’re not in the Seattle-Tacoma area, look for the new items to appear online during the first week of November. Or you can find out the moment they’re ready by signing up for the mailing list.

Hope to see you at Studio Tour!

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It’s funny how totally different projects can converge into a single theme. This summer and fall I’ve found myself to be doing a whole bunch of similar commissions for completely different clients. The theme this time? Book covers.

First up is a how-to travel book by my friend Mary-Alice, author of the wildly popular blog, Dog Jaunt. M-A is the hands-down expert on how to bring your pup along on your adventures, and she’s written what I think is the Bible of pet-travel advice. This was a fun project for me because (for once!) I got to design something clean, spare, and simple—and indulge in some serious punnage. And as an added bonus, M-A let me redesign the look of the Dog Jaunt blog to match—woot! (I mean…woof!)

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Next is Erik Hanberg, who is not only the tech genius behind my new travel blog, but also Tacoma’s own Parks Commissioner and a fabulously talented writer. Erik has just finished his latest novel, The Lead Cloak—one of the best parts of being asked to illustrate the cover was that I got to be one of the very first to read the book. (It’s a page-turner!)

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This design was a departure for me again, because I got to mix a very graphic, slightly abstract sci-fi style with a more painterly background. It ended up being an uneasy combination, which we both loved—because it matches the tension and unease of the book. (If you want more details than that, you’ll have to pick up your copy at the book launch tomorrow!)

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Last, but never least, is the magazine cover I was asked to illustrate for Eastern Washington University. From beginning to end, this project was an absolute joy—because I was able to do exactly what I would do if I were standing at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge with a sketchbook in hand. My art director was inspired by the sketches I was posting on Drawn the Road Again, and asked me to replicate the style for the magazine.

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Now all that’s left for me to do is to visit the place in person—and start filling the ol’ sketchbook.

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They’re here! At long last, the Red Deck of the Tacoma Playing Cards is finished, printed and delivered.

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(You’ll have to excuse my cheesy phone photos—I was just too excited to dig out the fancy camera.)

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It’s so great to see the finished product, and how well everyone’s artwork reproduced at playing-card size. But you can also see the originals—if you’re local, stop by the big launch party this Friday, October 4 in downtown Tacoma. If not, you can find all the originals for sale on the Tacoma Makes website.

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I illustrated the Queens again—and in the process, saw some secret pockets of Tacoma I’d never visited before.

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I also got to revisit some old favorites,

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some beloved institutions,

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and even some hidden corners of old haunts.

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But best of all is the feeling of seeing both decks together. Maybe now I’ll finally learn how to play Bridge…

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This is a busy time of year—as the school year begins again and the pace of life quickens, the easy pace of summer has made way for a season of bustling, planning, and dreaming of times ahead. Yet worldwide, over and over again, the plans and dreams of so many women and girls are cut short by violence. In light of recent high-profile crimes halfway around the world, Jessica and I though it was high time we spoke up. This time we drew inspiration from the Nightingale of India:

What hope shall we gather, what dreams shall we sow?  — Sarojini Naidu

“Nightsong” honors the hopes and dreams of women and girls in every culture—in defiance of the world’s dangers. The illustration depicts a lush dream menagerie printed in bright, exotic hues. Tigers, peacocks, elephants and nightingales stand sentinel around our heroine, surrounded by detailed paisleys and florals drawn in the style of Indian mehndi designs.

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To make this print more dreamlike, we decided to throw a tricky technique called split-fountain printing into the mix—or “rainbow roll,” for short.

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A split fountain is extremely difficult to control (advanced Eagle Scout printing here, folks), but the results are so lovely that it’s absolutely worth the effort. As an added bonus, we were careful to keep our inks translucent—so when we registered the second color, that mixed the colors even further, giving us an entire rainbow spectrum with just two passes on press.

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I should add, though, that while we love printing with a rainbow roll, the process is completely unpredictable, and the finished prints are far from uniform. So rather than an edition of absolutely identical broadsides, we ended up with a beautiful range of yellows, oranges, pinks and even reds, that vary from print to print. So my scans here are representative of the edition in general, but no two prints are exactly alike (so if you order a print, please allow for some slight variations from what you see here).

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To help restore hope to victims and in honor of our dreams for the future, a portion of our proceeds will be donated to Take Back the Night. In order to create safe communities, Take Back the Night seeks to end sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual abuse and all other forms of sexual violence.

Nightsong: No. 18 in the Dead Feminists series
Edition size: 147
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:
Sarojini Chattopadhyay Naidu (1879 - 1949) — also known as “The Nightingale of India” — was born in Hyderabad, the eldest of eight children. She was a gifted student, proficient in five languages, and by age 16 left the country to attend King’s College to pursue her interest in poetry. Inspired by the suffragist movement in England, she joined the struggle for Indian independence, traveling the country to lecture on social welfare, women’s rights and nationalism. Naidu played a leading role during the Civil Disobedience Movement and was jailed along with Gandhi. Naidu wrote beautiful lyrical poetry, focused on Indian themes, to inspire the nation. She was the first woman to serve as president of the Indian National Congress, and the first woman to become the Governor of the state of Uttar Pradesh. Though Naidu humbly claimed, “I am only a woman, only a poet,” her birthday is celebrated as Women’s Day throughout India.

Illustrated by Chandler O’Leary and printed by Jessica Spring, calling for an end to violence against women all over the world.

Available now in the Dead Feminists shop!

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I moved to Washington five years ago today. In that time, I’ve enjoyed a whole lot of apples,

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beheld countless spectacular views,

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stared out to sea a zillion times,

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stood beside many lit (and unlit) beacons,

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memorized every crag of my favorite mountain,

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lost count of all the city sunsets (even in the rainy Northwest!),

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and numbered my lucky stars over and over again that I get to call this place home.

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If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you already know that I keep a sketchbook with me wherever I go. And I go a lot of places. Over the years, this has translated to literally hundreds of drawings. Basically, I had a whole, huge body of work that nobody had ever seen, because somehow it never quite fit within the little world I had created online.

Until now.

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I’m pleased to present Drawn the Road Again, a new kind of travel blog. You won’t find a single photograph on the site. Everything I post there is entirely illustrated—from scenic panoramas to urban gems to roadside attractions.

The blog isn’t in real time—nor does it follow any one trip from beginning to end. It jumps around from place to place, at different times, depending on the season, or the occasional running theme, or whatever happens to be on my mind. The result is a broad sampling of topics and places—I hope you’ll find it as much fun as I do.

Soon there will even be a little shop on the site, offering brand-new illustrations based on my travels. I’m still working out a few technical hiccups on the site, so look for the shop to go live in early August. I’ll make a quick announcement when it’s up and running.

This project has truly been a labor of love, and would not exist without the help of some very good friends. And I’m grateful to everyone who ever thumbed through one of my sketchbooks and said, “You should really put this online!” I finally listened.

So without further ado, let’s hit the road!

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Okay, folks, the countdown is ticking away. The Big Secret Project that I’ve been working on for months is almost ready to share, and it’s going live on Monday morning! (Can you guess what it is?) So check back here for all the details—thanks for sticking with me while I’ve been so secretive.

See you soon…

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More than a thousand towns and cities in the U.S. are lucky enough to have had a Carnegie Library under their belt, and Tacoma is no exception. Today, our Carnegie Library is a wing of the expanded main campus of the Tacoma Public Library—and the rotunda now houses the fabulous Northwest Room, the ultimate resource for Tacoma and Northwest history. It’s a gorgeous space, and beloved in these here parts. So I figured it would be a perfect addition to the Red Deck of the Tacoma Playing Cards.

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I didn’t think they’d take kindly to me breaking out the watercolors in a room full of rare books, but I was at least able to do the line drawing on-site. (’Scuse the wobbly iPhone photo.) And that’s always a tricky prospect for me—I always do as much drawing from life possible, but I’d much rather disappear into the woodwork while doing so. My drawings are always better when I can concentrate uninterrupted. The trouble is, the only place I can consistently sketch in public without anyone noticing me is New York. Here in Tacoma—where I run into someone I know at least once a day—it’s a different story.

In the Northwest Room there was a table right in front of me, which would have made me far less conspicuous while sketching. But in order to get the point of view I wanted, I had to stand dead-center in an aisle, right in the middle of the room. Yet not once in the hour-plus I stood there, sticking out like a sore thumb and obviously not doing what people normally do in there, did anyone bother me—or ask me what the heck I was doing, or make eye contact, or even register my existence.

I think I just found my new favorite sketching spot.

Reminder: the shop is getting rearranged on Monday, so this weekend is your last chance to snag letterpress prints at lower prices, and the last few bird prints before they’re discontinued!

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I’m working on something huge (and secret!) that I’ll be launching very soon. In the meantime, I’m going through the studio and doing some housekeeping (both literally and online). As happens with any big shift, it’s time to take a good hard look at anything that doesn’t quite fit the puzzle going forward.

So at noon PST on July 1, I’m going to be making some changes to the shop in preparation for the big thing to come. And while they’ve had a good run, I’ll be removing a few things permanently—including the last remaining hand-painted linocuts from the Flock series. (Don’t worry, the bird cards will still be around.)

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Most of the rest of my hand-printed artwork (like the Mt. Rainier and Horse prints) will still be available, but the prices will go up on July 1—some by quite a bit. So if there’s anything you’ve had your eye on for awhile, now might just be the time for you to snag it.

Take your pick over at the shop!