The feeling of home

Since I have been living in California, I have often wondered about the meaning of home. When I visit Montreal I speak of going home, but when I return to Los Angeles I'm also going home. In French the closest equivalent of home would be a chez-soi, and in Quebec we'll often say chez nous, using the plural form whether it's one or many persons' place. That plural can sometimes also relates to us as a group, and to our culture. 

Montreal is where my family and culture is, but over the years the city has changed, and I've changed... it's still my hometown but I can't deny it feels different. Los Angeles was very foreign to me when I first arrived, but now it holds a great deal of memories and people I care about. More than that, it's a place of innovation, artistic expression, and possibilities. And I feel at home with that. As Herman Hesse says... "Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you or is nowhere at all." 


This exploration of the concept of home was my response to this month's assignment in Lilla Rogers' MATS Bootcamp. It started out with a mini about Ellis Island which then turned into designing mugs with the hairstyles of the era of Ellis Island. I was quite challenged by that. How to place the topic of immigration on coffee mugs, or even as an editorial, limit it to the era of Ellis Island though it expands way beyond that time to today? As others did, I first tried to approach it simply with the fashion angle, which is quite fascinating considering the costumes and the hairstyles of the time. I sketched some motifs, explored the connection between some historical hairstyles and those in vogue now.


But I also had the thought when seeing photos of the people of Ellis Island that they had to carry their whole home in a suitcase. Those big trunks looked so heavy to carry, why they didn't attached wheels at the time I have no idea. Although mine had wheels, actually it was a truck of belongings following me, I can relate with packing my home and moving it in a far away place. And somewhere between drawing a fancy hairstyle and being nagged by the concept of moving and home I got the idea of designing the girl's dress as a house and found the perfect quote to go with it. See my Pinterest board of inspiration.

I meant my illustration to be used as an editorial piece, to be pitched to lifestyle magazines for articles talking about home. But I also managed to turn it into a mug as suggested for the assignment. 

And I couldn't resist animating that one too ;).


The courage to be a creative entrepreneur

After the lettering and courage journaling exercise the big assignment for bootcamp came as a surprise and quite a challenge: turn our 5 acts of courage into a mind map and make it using the style of our illuminated letter. I didn't even know what a mind map was. Wikipedia says it's a "diagram used to visually organize information that is hierarchical and shows relationships among pieces of the whole." But I stuck to the word "map" and decided to make mine as an actual map with roads and building and all. 

I also thought it would be better to extract the bigger picture from each of my courageous acts and make it generally about being a creative entrepreneur so more people could relate to it and have it be more marketable as an editorial piece. I thought no one would care about my personal experiences. But I realize now that was total bulls**t. Many people in the group made their mind maps very personal and they were totally if not more relatable. 

However my map is not completely impersonal because all the little drawings represent actual experiences from my life. There's the beaten old Ford I learned to drive with at 30 in LA freeways  (terrifying). And playing my ukulele in front of an audience, which is teaching me to be less shy and more myself in front of others. There is also selling little fabric characters to a boutique in town when I was 8 years old, and then later in LA walking into two stores and selling paper cards (back when there was no internet and buyers would buy on the spot). 

I may also have opened mysterious doors and fallen down rabbit holes, to end up on shaky grounds. But for sure on one hot summer night a raccoon terrorized me as its shadow crossed my crack opened window. Then there's time's always ticking. And feeling like a fish out of water at each career change in a completely new field. 

This map has been a big learning and therapeutic activity for sure. It got me to examine my life and... finally stop talking about getting back to animation and really do it! You can see below pieces of my map come alive. Hope it's as fun to watch as it was to make.


My life is a game of chutes and ladders

When asked to draw an illuminated letter of my first initial and think of 5 courageous acts from my life for Lilla Roger's bootcamp assignment, the first thing that came to mind was my many "brave" career changes. I started over at least 4 or 5 times in my life: from engineering to hydrogeology then leaving academia to start coding for internet startups, drafting and model making in architecture, returning to the web and brand new UX field, and now illustration.

While doodling my S, it looked to me as a chute like in the game of snakes and ladders and for fun I added a ladder to it. It may be brave to start over but there can be a fine line between courage and foolishness. Had I been brave enough to follow my heart from the beginning perhaps I wouldn't have had to start over this many times!


And now that I'm "there", having art as my career, I'm finding there are still more chutes and ladders! I guess no matter what we do there will always be the need to start over in one area of life or another. And I find this realization kind of freeing. Does it matter which ladder I'm on? Not really. So why fret about it, the climb is what makes life interesting!

New work: ocean-inspired designs

Do you remember my post from last month where I shared a whole bunch of new pieces with a holiday theme? Well this is one of the same kind, except now the theme is nautical and the chapter chosen for February from Draw Every Day Draw Every Way was "a month of Sea Life".

Like holidays, nautical is another popular licensing category that I've been wanting to expand on. And I'm finding it really helpful to have these little paintings to spark ideas for new pieces. It's almost as big a game changer as when I got the iPad Pro and Pencil. Kind of big. I still go through many design iterations and often will need to paint new bits and pieces along the way, but the blank page isn't as scary as it used to be.

I hope you enjoy this collection! You'll see some changes in my portfolio very  soon, cause I've been planning a big re-org :).


Tropical Rainforest bedding set

Are you dreaming of warm weather already? I know I am, and this past week even more so as the topic for the third week of FolioFocus was a tropical fabric collection for a bedding set. Another trend-inspired brief this time looking to fashion's love for lush brightly colored tropical fauna and flora. Makes you feel like going on a vacation, doesn't it!

To give you a little taste of the process, here's some of the painted icons I started with and one of the compositions and colors I've tried along the way. 

Put into a repeat pattern and voila.