Four Days in Seattle – Part Two

Monday – Day Three

In the mornings during my trip, I started the day with a walk down the seawall, which was lovely. It was sunny most of the days while I was there. After my walk I would go to the original Starbucks and do a little painting. It was a nice, slow way to start the day.


Monday morning I went to an underground tour, called Beneath the Streets. I learned they have one in Gastown in Vancouver too, so I might check that out sometime. Pioneer Square in Seattle, is where Seattle originally started. The pioneers built the town too close to the water, so when the tide came in, it flooded the streets, and was quite messy. A fire started in one of the shops, and burnt the whole town down. Fortunately the area that burnt down was only the merchant shops, the homes were further up the hill. No one died in the fire. The town considered the fire a fresh start, and re-built the town, fixing the mistakes they made the first time around. They re-built higher up from the water. We toured through tunnels left from the original town. Apparently the tunnels were used during the American prohibition to smuggle booze in to America from Canada. It was a really informative tour, and our guide cracked a few jokes along the way. Our group was quite small as well, which made it more personal. There is another company that does underground tours, but their groups are really large, like 50 people. Our group was maybe 15-20 people.


Watercolor sketch of a detail of a building downtown Seattle.

In the evening I went to the David Sedaris talk. It was a fun night, his humor is quite in-your-face and blunt. It was very adult humor, so I’m not sure what the 12-year old kid sitting in front of me thought. David read journal entrys that haven’t been published yet, it was nice to hear new content. He also read a speech he gave to a graduating class of a university.

Tuesday – Day Four

The last day in Seattle, I didn’t have anything planned for the day, so I asked the staff at the front desk, and they recommended checking out Capitol Hill, which is a trendy/hipster shopping area. It was a bit of a walk from the hostel, but it was nice outside. I also tried to find Volunteer Park, which is supposed to have good views of the city, but I didn’t find it. I stopped in a coffee shop and did some painting; there were two other artists there drawing and painting as well, so we had a little art party going on at one of the larger tables. It was cool. During my walk around Capitol Hill, I also found a chocolate shop (See’s Candies), which gave me a generous sample of one of their treats. Later in the afternoon, I went to Fran’s Chocolates, where I got another generous sample of one of the chocolates.

In the morning during my painting time at the Starbucks, I had a neat little experience. I was painting away at my table, and an elderly couple sat down next to me. They became very interested in what I was doing, and we chatted and joked a little bit. The husband asked me if the coffee helped my drawing at all, and I said, yes, it does! I started painting one of the other customers in the Starbucks, and halfway through my painting, he got up and left. The wife said, “Uh Oh!”, and the husband said, “Do you want me to ask him to sit back down?”. We had a chuckle. They were lovely, and wished me a good day when they left.


Then in the evening, I took the train back to Vancouver. All in all, a very fun trip, and I had a good time.


Four Days in Seattle – Part One

This past weekend I took a short trip to Seattle, to see my favourite author, Neil Gaiman, do a talk. I also saw David Sedaris, but was mostly excited to see Neil Gaiman. The events were in the evening, so I had the daytime to explore Seattle. I stayed in a hostel called the Green Tortoise (excellent hostel, would recommend it). They had a kitchen for people to use, and fridges to store food in. Nice common area to hang out in, and the front desk staff were super helpful. The hostel was right by the Pike Place Market, and across from the original Starbucks, so that was cool to be right in the tourist hub.


Saturday – Day One

I arrived in Seattle around lunchtime, and had a few hours to kill before checking into the hostel, so I explored the area around the hostel a bit. Pike Place Market was crazy busy, so I didn’t spend too much time there that day. I went down to the waterfront (a block or two away from the hostel) and walked down the seawall. Saw the famous ferris wheel, and walked down to the Olympic Sculpture Park. Also checked out the Gum Wall (literally walls covered with gum, not sure why this is a Thing).


This is a watercolor painting of one of the sculptures in the Sculpture Park.

Sunday – Day Two

Sunday morning I went to the Museum of Pop Culture. They had a special Marvel exhibit on, which was amazing. Costumes that the actors wore in the movies and TV series (Iron Man, Daredevil, Captain America, Black Panther, Thor, etc). There was also a lot of original comic art, which was probably my favorite part of the exhibit. Some of them were from the 1950s. I saw artist’s work that I learned about in my History of Illustration class in university, like Jack Kirby. There was also comic work from Frank Miller, who I admire. It was neat to see the original work, because it was pre-digital era, so everything was literally pasted together, and there was a lot of white out used, and notes in the margins for the press people.

These are some watercolor sketches from the exhibits at the museum. Iron Man costume, and Gimli’s axe from Lord of the Rings. There was a Fantasy exhibit too, which was really interesting. Movie props and costumes from LOTR, Wizard of Oz, Princess Bride, to name a few. There was also an original Dungeons and Dragons book, which was cool. I learned that Dungeon and Dragon characters were originally based on LOTR characters, like hobbits. Then it was changed because there was a conflict between LOTR and Dungeons and Dragons.


After MoPop, I wandered around for a bit and stopped for some beer at Seattle Beer Company, which had all Washington craft beers. I tried Bruski Patrol Dark Lager, Lucky Envelope Raspberry Sour, and Pyramid Coffee Ale. My favorite was probably the coffee ale, although the sour was really good too. I also discovered a letterpress shop, and talked to the shop attendant there about printmaking. She also does etching, so we exchanged instagrams.


Then in the evening, was the Neil Gaiman talk. It was AMAZING. Neil didn’t really do a talk per se, but instead answered audience questions that had been collected beforehand in the lobby. He also read from some of his books, including Good Omens, Norse Mythology, and Trigger Warning. He talked a little bit about his writing process, which I found interesting. He said if he is writing a particularly dark book, he will switch to writing a children’s book for a while, then go back to the dark book, so his mood doesn’t get too dark. He also mentioned he uses different color fountain pens, and writes his first drafts by hand in a notebook. He uses different colors so he can see how much he has written on a particular day. His second draft is done by transcribing his handwritten writing onto the computer, and this is where he starts his editing process.

Sunday was a full day, but by far my favorite day of the trip.

Stay tuned next week, for the last two days of my trip.

Photo Documentation

If you create traditional artwork, and have physical pieces, it is important to photo document your work, so you have a digital copy. When applying for art exhibitions, often the gallery will want digital samples (usually JPEGs) of your work. Digital images are also handy for images for your website. Having these digital images ready makes it easier to apply for shows or residencies when opportunities come up. I had some photo documentation done for some of my etchings. I recently found out about a printmaking residency in Italy, and am planning to apply for it online using the photos of my etchings.

I chose photography over scanning because my scanner is too small, and professional scanning is expensive. I hired a co-worker of mine who has professional photography equipment. It’s good to do the photography in batches; once you set up for one artwork, it is fairly easy to swap out the art and keep photographing. We did about 10 images in an hour.

I outsourced the photography because I do not own a good quality camera, and I do not have the photography skills to light artwork properly, etc. A camera is not worth the investment for me, considering I do not need a high quality camera that often. I make do with the camera on my cell phone. This is one area of my business where I am happy to pay someone else for their skills.

Grieving on Social Media – The Illustration Process

In this post I will share images breaking down how I created the final full page illustration that I recently completed for Shameless magazine. I start by referencing my rough, and figuring out what I need to draw for the different parts of the illustration. In this case I drew a portrait for the profile pic, a landscape for the cover photo, and a candle for the candlelight vigil portion.


I draw all my components, then carve them out in lino, and print the lino blocks.

After I scan in all my prints, I digitally collage them together in Photoshop to create the composition. In this case I duplicated the candle several times, and stretched or squashed it to create some perspective. The candlelight circles in the background, I created digitally.


When I am happy with the composition, I add the grey tones. Usually at this point I add color, but in this case the illustration was going to be black and white.


Ta da! All done!

Thanks for reading!

Grieving on Social Media – The Idea Process

A couple weeks ago I shared an illustration I worked on for Shameless magazine, for an article about grieving on social media. Here is some of my idea generation process.

I started by playing around with gravestone imagery and combining it with the Facebook layout. I also drew some ideas with the social media icons. I used candle imagery to reference memorial candles at shrines or altars. I put the social media icons on the candles to reference memorials on social media, like a memorial Facebook page.

My first rough combines the ideas of a traditional newspaper obituary with a Facebook memorial page. My second rough combines the ideas of a traditional candlelight memorial, with a Facebook memorial page. I liked the juxtaposing of old and new ways of remembering people.


I did a full page and a spread for this project, and the art director chose the candle imagery for both illustrations. Above is my first draft of the rough for the spread. The art director had a couple ideas for revisions, so I sent a second round of roughs for the spread.


The art director chose the rough with the shadows.

That’s my idea process in a nutshell for this project. Little bit of back and forth with ideas with the art director, but that’s normal. Thankfully not too many revisions.

Thanks for reading!

Day in the Life


Another peek into my freelance/artist life.

Tuesday October 23

8:45am Wake up and get coffee

9:15am Admin work

10:20am Leave for networking event (Connect Now)

11:15am Networking event. I go to Connect Now monthly, which is a networking event for small businesses and entrepreneurs. They have lunch and learns, with different speakers every month, on business topics. I find it encouraging and nice to have an event to talk to other people on the entrepreneur journey.

1:30pm Shop downtown a bit, browse the comic book store, and pick up supplies for printmaking.

2:45pm Arrive at Dundarave. Work on etching and proofing for November group art show.

4:45pm Coffee break

5pm Continue printing. I printed the edition! Yay!

6:45pm Finish printing, done for the day. The plate I was working on, I had the most challenges with. So it was nice to get it finished.

Thanks for reading!


Grieving on Social Media


In September I worked on an illustration for Shameless magazine, for an article about “Grieving in the Age of Social Media”. The article questions if social media affects our grieving process; does it help or hinder it? On Facebook one can create a memorial page, where the Facebook page of the deceased is preserved, and friends and family can comment on their wall. Some people find grieving online helpful; while others find it triggering and become saddened seeing their loved one’s Facebook memories pop up in their feed. A quote from the article:

The question still remains: is talking to the dead on social media healthy, or does change how you can “move on” once that person is gone? Whether you believe one or the other, the act of communicating with dead, publically or intimately, has always been around. Some mourners may write letters addressed to their deceased loved one, speak at their graves or try to communicate with them in a religious setting. – Kaitlyn Severin

In doing the illustration for this article, I learned about how people grieve online. I didn’t know Facebook had memorial pages for deceased people. The article also talked about memorial posts for deceased celebrities, and how Twitter and Instagram are used by people to express their grief for people they don’t know personally, but are still affected by their death.

Very interesting article. Unfortunately it is not available online, so I can’t link to it, but Shameless magazine is available in bookstores across Canada (I think), so check out your local bookstore for the magazine if you want to read the article.