Saturday, August 29, 2009

Crystal Cove

One of my favorite parts about where we stay in Newport is the proximity to Crystal Cove State Park, the historic site just below the cliff upon which our condo sits. The website does a better job describing it than I can, so here's a snippet about Crystal Cove's history:

Located in the heart of Crystal Cove State Park’s 3.5 miles of pristine coastline, the Historic District first developed as a South Seas movie set due to its seclusion and tropical aura. The community thrived and became beloved for its relaxed, friendly atmosphere and picturesque landscape; and in 1979, the Crystal Cove State Park Historic District was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Built as a seaside colony in the 1930’s & ‘40’s, Crystal Cove endures as a magical escape for visitors who appreciate the opportunity to experience California’s natural and architectural beauty, untouched by time.

Thanks to the efforts of the Crystal Cove Alliance, all of the original cottages are still standing today – spared from the hands of developers. Twenty-one cottages have already been authentically restored to reflect the era between 1935 and 1955, when the Cove evolved as a community.

The website is filled with beautiful pictures by J. Christopher Launi (some of which I've featured here) showing beach life in the past and the restored houses today.

My family and I walked down to Crystal Cove for dinner at the Beachcomber Cafe at sunset last night and I was able to take some pictures of my own. I really love looking at the rundown cottages that have yet to be restored and imagining the lives of their previous inhabitants. I imagine their lives to be something like a Beach Boys' music video with no worries or cares, just sun, sand, and California girls. :)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Sun and The Beach and The Wind in My Hair

We just arrived in Newport Beach, California and, as always, it is beautiful here! It's sunny and 76 degrees (which seriously beats the 100 degree yuckiness we left behind in Scottsdale) and I can't wait to hit the beach tomorrow! For those of you who don't know, every year my family takes a trip out to our timeshare at the Marriott Newport Coast Villas and we get to spend a week together on vacation. Sometimes we bring friends along, often we have other relatives stop in for a few days, and we all relax and enjoy the waning days of summer.

So, this morning all five of us set off in two fully packed cars, and with a relatively short and easy five hour drive we made it to our home for the next week. As usual, upon unpacking, we all immediately grabbed our computers because what is a vacation without technology? My parents snagged the only two plugs on the balcony (as you can see above), so I'm stuck inside writing from the couch where there is a beautiful view of the outstretching ocean.

I've recently begun brewing up a new idea for a story, and I'm hoping that this R & R week will help me bring all of the big pieces together and maybe I can even get to writing some of it soon! I'm not going to give too many details since it's just in the budding stages, but it's a children's picture book story, probably aimed at kids 4-6ish, and it's about reaching new heights. The idea came to me first visually, which was interesting because I've never really considered how I'd approach my writing... as a writer or as an illustrator. When writing papers, I often think about outlines and plot and structure and then bulk out my argument/point/thesis from there, but as an illustrator I think of visual characteristics and settings, what does the character look like? How will his appearance change as the story progresse?... I can see the story growing before I know the whys and whos and what ifs. It's very interesting to analyze how it all develops inside my head!

In other big news, I just finished designing my very first iPhone app icon! It's for a program called iServe that will be a tip tracker for people in the restaurant industry to keep track of their earnings on a daily/weekly/monthly basis. I was pretty timid when I was approaching this project because making something for iPhone just seemed so HUGE, I guess because of the amount of people it can potentially reach. I fettered for a while, unsure if or how I should move forward with my main idea, and then finally I took the plunge!... kind of... I was worried about creating the images in my own illustrative style because my pen and ink style doesn't really seem to fit the iPhone aestheic, so I took what I considered the "safe" route and created the images in illustrator, allowing me to use effects like gradients and sharp, straight edges and lines. I'm actually very pleased with the final products, and so was the guy who hired me, so that was a really rewarding conclusion.

Here's the main app icon that will represent iServe.

And here are the three small icons that will serve as the functioning buttons for the app: Settings, Charts, and New.

I'll let you all know when the app is available for purchase so that everyone can buy it and make me super rich and famous! (Just kidding about the rich part... I don't get any kind of royalties for the artwork).

I'll try to keep updating with wonderful Cali news! Yay vacation!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Business Cards!

2 posts in one day! My business cards just arrived! I'm not sure how I feel about them...
Any thoughts about the colors? Is it legible? Does it look professional? Tell me what you think!

Show and Tell

Yesterday I got to share where I work, and today I'm going to finally share my work. As I've been researching how to promote my blog and optimize my social networking, I've come to realize that my blog thus far shows very little about what I do. So, I'm taking this opportunity to introduce some of my work, and I'll gradually bring more of it in to give you a sense of who I am as an artist.
This first project was my senior thesis and I'm excited that I can use my blog to showcase it, since I'm not quite sure how else to get the public to see it. The parameters for the thesis were that it had to be visual reportage - something based on observation - and something that could potentially have a place in the real world once completed. For my project, I observed real conversations and then transformed the speakers into puppets and re-enacted the scenes in a comic strip-esque layout. The result was very entertaining and, I like to think, successful. The puppets had a lot of character and I was able to control the comedic tone through pacing and "facial" reactions, thus maximizing the humor in the conversations. Here are a few snippets from the book, which included 7 conversations of varying lengths.

These were the endpages of the book, giving the reader a glimpse of what was to come without giving too much away. (Click to see larger version)
This was a conversation I overheard on an airplane. Remember, all of these conversations are real and pretty much verbatim from what I recorded.

This conversation was the most personally compelling because it featured my professor, DB Dowd, who taught the thesis seminar. As students we were often baffled by things he said because of his particular, um, talent to phrase things in ways that made them completely incomprehensible. I also achieved an impeccable likeness with the puppet!

You can see the book in its entirety here, and if you have any ideas or suggestions on how/to whom I might market it, I'd love to hear from you! I hope to expand the collection of conversations and eventually maybe present it as a web comic once I have enough material.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Peek into SeeSaw

It's time to share where and how I spend some of my days - at SeeSaw Designs! Today I spent a solid six hours trimming cards to accompany a letterpress calendar the girls are preparing for 2010. The calendar is almost complete, yet until the girls make it public, the images will need to remain a mystery for you to look forward to. However, I wanted to show you something, so I snapped a few pictures to give you a feel for the atmosphere.

This is the conference room/first room of the office where I do my cutting... take some time to admire those clean, straight edges! I'm very good at my job. :)

This is the main office room, where Raquel, Angela and Lindsay (not pictured) work side-by-side, sharing ideas, designs, and laughter.

More of the main office, with awesome floor to ceiling windows, and inside those boxes are the Thank You cards that SeeSaw has been sending out to old, new, and prospective clients. They recently had a special giveaway on their blog where they awarded a follower with 2 variety packs of cards! Check the cards out here!

Big windows in the front room, too!

Wall decor and a mini hand letterpress.

It's just too cute! Up-close view of the hand letterpress.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Vicarious Living

I just heard from my friend Meredith who is leaving Eastern Europe after over a month of incredible adventures. Meredith won a travel grant from Wash U at graduation and she used the money to fund a trip to Russia, where she continued her thesis exploration of illustrating abandoned buildings, and let me tell you, the girl is a fearless explorer! She crawled through abandoned water parks and snuck into an abandoned children's hospital filled with remnants of Soviet life, including photos of deformed children and Communist stars. Meredith has yet to post any of her own pictures due to time constraints, yet being a diligent facebook stalker, I went through all of her traveling companion's pictures and was completely awed by how incredible these sites were. I can't wait to hear more of her stories!
In the meantime, I'm going to keep an eye on her blog and enjoy these lovely previews I stole from my professor DB Dowd's blog!
PS I can't even begin to tell you how incredibly jealous I am of her travels! I wish I were somewhere traveling the world!!!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Sick, but productive!

Tuesday morning I woke up feeling awful, but thinking I just had a regular cold that I could sleep off in a day with the help of some nyquil and emergen-c. I was supposed to work AM care at camp, which meant I'd need to be at the J by 7am, so at 6am I called my boss and told her I wasn't going to make it in and I'd try to be better by tomorrow. By Tuesday night I thought I'd for sure be able to go back to work the next day... until Wednesday morning came, and I felt even more awful. So I stayed home again, but by the afternoon I was feeling well enough to go to the Scottsdale Gun Club with my family and shoot some rounds (I hit one target in the head!!), so I must have been getting better, but my throat was still killing me. Thursday morning I went to work, but left after an hour because I was afraid I'd get the kids sick - it's very difficult to interact with 5 and 6 year olds without making any physical contact - there is always someone who wants me to hold his hand or carry her to the next activity - it just doesn't work when you're sick. By Thursday night I was feeling worse than ever, and I finally went to the doctor who told me I have an ear infection and some kind of virus! Ick! I don't think I've had an ear infection since I was four! But now I'm on some medicine and hopefully I'll be back to normal soon.

However, for a sick girl, I've been very productive in these last few days. Taking advantage of all the free time I had at home, I began working on creating a brand for my freelance design. As I mentioned in the last post, I've been trying to come up with a name for my business, and I came up with a bunch of hippo-something ideas and fouroneone(411) creative, which I really liked but thought it sounded too boring to represent my illustrations. So, I talked to my brother about it, and he said I should use one name for my design work and more serious material, and another for my illustrations and more child-oriented work. And thus fouroneone creative was born, and I began working fiendishly on getting the business going, purchasing a domain name ( and designing a logo and business card. I drove my family crazy asking every ten minutes if they liked this variation and how they felt about that little change, and for the most part I was met with the response that it's my project, my brand, my choice. Some help! But I finally arrived at a font, a color palette, and a design that I'm happy with (I think) and I sent in the order for business cards last night! So, in 6-12 days I will officially be in business, and I can give you my card to prove it! Sometimes being a grown up feels good, even when you're sick!

Let me know what you think of the card! Criticism and compliments are welcome.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Beginning

The time has come for me to finally start my very own blog! I'll be updating as regularly as I can about things I'm working on and plans for my future.

So, let's start the update!

I'm currently working at Shemesh Day Camp again, but only for another week before all of the kiddies return to school. I'm the counselor for 25 soon-to-be first graders, and the last week has been full of lots of chaotic and hilarious moments, including six little boys peeing all over the backyard of the JCC - oops! The kids always keep me laughing but I'm totally exhausted by the end of the week!

I also just got hired (today!) for a part-time job at a children's clothing store called Peek... Aren't You Curious? The store is adorable and they do all of their own design and display work. The store is sorted out into themed sections like the Americana boys section, which is accessorized with cowboy books and firetrucks. So cute!

I'm also interning at a really great design studio called SeeSaw Designs. It's a really small studio set up by two girls who graduated from ASU's design program a few years ago and they specialize in letterpress work. I love their work and I love working with the girls, and it's a pretty unique experience since they allow me to give my input on new projects and brainstorm with them so that I can improve my own design skills.

Finally, I'm working on branding myself - creating a business name, a business card and a website. My top choice for a business name is 'The Artful Hippo' because it plays off The Artful Dodger character from Dickens' Oliver Twist, tying back to my literary roots, and, well, because I really love hippos. The website is on delay until I finalize the business name, but I do have my portfolio up at I'm working on the business card design and I'll post some preliminary ideas when I get a chance - suggestions and opinions are VERY welcome! (That goes for the business name, as well).

And now that I've written a small novel, I think I'll conclude my first post with some other exciting news: I qualified for the next round of phx layer tennis! PHX Layers is a design contest where designers volley an image back and forth for six 30-minute rounds (3 turns each) manipulating, adding and subtracting to each image. Check it out at to learn more and see my qualifying round vs. Claudia Miranda.

Ok, I think that's enough for my first post! Thanks for reading!