Guest series 2012: I asked fellow bloggers, makers and creators to write on their creativity and focus their essay on one of four topics: creativity and health, creativity and business, creativity and parenting or creativity and process. I am very excited to have a wonderful lot of fellow creative folk guest posting here at over the next couple of months. Please welcome…

Erin Dollar is an artist who focuses mainly on printmaking and textile arts. Her most recent project, Cotton & Flax, is a line of natural, hand printed textiles and works on paper using hand drawn patterns. She lives in Los Angeles, California, where she visits art museums with her boyfriend, and tries to keep her cat from walking on wet silkscreen prints. Her new blog is here, and she pins her inspiration here.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how the internet has shaped my art making process, and how much (or little) inspiration I get from surfing the vast expanses of the internet. I’ve been feeling something recently, something I can only describe as “visual overload”, and so I have been trying hard to limit my screen time, and get back into “real life”.

It’s tricky, though, because the internet is always trying to suck me back in. More than ever, artists and creative-types are able to quickly find inspiring and beautiful images online. Pinterest has been a huge blessing for me, in that I can visually bookmark things that inspire me so that I may review them later. But the huge wealth of amazing images online can sometimes overwhelm me, and I’ve found that when I get caught up in skimming through these images, I often close my laptop feeling discouraged, and even less inspired than when I began. I’m sure many of you relate to that feeling of endless scrolling, always finding more wonderful things to read and look at online. But lately, I’ve been trying to pull away a bit.

I’ve been trying to get out more, visit museums and galleries, and to actually meet other local artists and learn about their habits and practices. Seeing what people are making in your own community can be incredibly inspiring, and seeing work in person reminds you of the human connection, something that is often lost while looking at other artists’ work online. As a printmaker, so much of what I appreciate in making new work is the process, rather than just the final image. Seeing other artists’ prints (or paintings, sculptures, etc.) in person means that I can look more closely for clues about how a piece was made, and in that way, can discover new approaches for my own work.

Recently, I’ve found it helpful to think of all the media I consume (books, magazines, movies, TV, blogs) as “input”. If I try to vary the input (for example, spend equal time surfing the web and reading books), I feel more balanced in my process of gathering inspiration. Nurturing different parts of my brain seems to help keep my creativity flowing. Listening to music, or sometimes even science or storytelling podcasts like Radiolab or This American Life, help open up my brain to new ideas as I sit at my desk and sketch.

The thing is, once I manage to sit myself down at my desk, and maintain a consistent working schedule… the inspiration just flows. Now if only I could get myself to sit still and create new work more often!



After a five year wait, Megan Reilly returns with her new album The Well, out April 24 (Carrot Top Records). Megan is a mother, artist and musician, her new record is inspired by these three facets of her life. Website :: Tumblr :: Sew the Threads into Your Heart – from her latest album.

When I was younger I was a visual artist. It wasn’t until about the age of fifteen I began playing guitar, writing songs and taking singing seriously. Music always inspired art for me. Many drawing and sculpture assignments were finished late in the night listening to the music that inspired me, eventually convincing me to drop out and pursue it. I was a Photography major in college. I loved sculpture and painting. I learned how to weld, gesso a canvas and think conceptually about what I was making. I studied Art History and I took every art elective possible until I had nothing left but Geology and Speech left to complete my degree.

When music took the place of art, I always felt something was missing. It felt difficult to balance them. Now that I’m a mother I’ve not only figured out how to juggle all I want to do (caffeine) but most importantly art has come back into my life. I made my kid a dollhouse and a puppet theater out of cardboard boxes, painted chalkboard paint on the walls of our apartment, learned to sew and I see how all of these things inspire me in a new way. And there’s no pressure. I feel productive and satiated. I thought it was just a distraction for a while. But the older I get the more I realize that who I am is someone that needs art to function. And having other creative outlets aside from music takes the pressure off songwriting.

I am not disciplined and that’s fine. Or maybe I’m disciplined to work like someone with attention deficit. I realized when making my most recent record with a 3yr old in the house, I worked whenever I could. I wrote a line of lyrics when she watched tv or was in preschool. Sitting down to make a quilt or puppet theater kept my mind busy and thinking creatively. I let go and the whole enchilada worked out and I made the best music of my life so far.

Years ago a teacher showed me Grandma’s Bottle Village-The Art of Tressa Prisbey. A lady in a moomoo digging through the junkyard to make art. She’s my inspiration.


Barry Friedland is the owner of Thumbtack Press, a curated, open edition art print store with top lowbrow, illustrator, and character artists from around the world. Read the TTP blog and the Tumblr.


It’s possible that, thanks to technological advances in printing, we’re living in an age with as much change and new potential for culture as the generation of the printing press, or the steam engine. Aside from online stores that allow artists to reach and sell directly to fans and collectors without middlepersons taking a cut, digital printing has reached a level so advanced that the whole notion of art editions has exploded.

Limited editions, at one point, meant that an artist created some kind of print or carving or cut or type, etc., and used a press to literally press different editions of the work onto another piece of paper. These presses could only churn out a handful of prints because eventually the cut and the ink would wear away. Hence limited editions, with the first prints in a limited edition valued higher because they were closer both physically (with fresher ink) and in reproduction to the original piece.

Enter digital printing. With digital printing, high quality cameras can scan any work of art, no matter its materials, and high quality printers use high quality inks to create a print. These digital reproductions are still called prints because that’s what they are, and they create an entirely new set of possibilities.

Kill Me If You Can CHRIS LYLES

Now, there are three levels at which you can buy art:

Level 1: The original. The original work of art can run in the tens of thousands in the genre we’re concerned with, which is a pretty penny for most of us. There’s also just one original! So, you know, good on you if you manage to own only originals, but it’s simply not feasible for most of us.

Level 2: Limited editions. Limited editions are replications of originals, produced in limited numbers. So whereas there is only one original, there may be some 25, 50, or 200 limited edition prints. These are often sold with their number in the print written somewhere in the margins (a habit picked up from the days when the lower numbered prints were closer to the original than later prints). When limited edition prints are printed digitally instead of on a press, they are usually less expensive than physically printed prints (and the original), but can still often price in the hundreds of dollars.

Level 3: Open, or unlimited, editions. Open editions are literally unlimited. Because of the digital printing technology that prints the 5,000th print with the same quality of reproduction as it prints the first or second print, artists can sell an infinite number of open edition prints. Because there are so many of them, their price is decidedly the most affordable of the three. Thumbtack Press sells open editions.

Cycles #2 by Colin Johnson

Because you can print infinite prints, and because they are so much more affordable than limited edition prints, it suddenly became obvious to me that artists could reach a much bigger base of collectors if they sold open edition prints. And what’s more – think of all the young people who, with limited budgets through their university years, for example, can now afford a high quality print of great art that was previously unattainable for them.

That’s what Thumbtack Press is now. It’s a curated community of artists and art lovers, people who love a particular aesthetic, yes, but also people who appreciate having access to art at affordable prices. Our various paper, canvas, and framing options are just a bonus. The key tenet is a shared passion, amplified by the technology of our age.



November: Month of books at

Stitch Magic: A Compendium of Sewing Techniques for Sculpting Fabric into Exciting New Forms and Fashions By Alison Reid, published by STC Craft/A Melanie Falick Book (April 1, 2011).

Stitch magic is as the title says a compendium of techniques. There are a few projects showing off the techniques, but primarily the techniques are stand alone for you to use as you will.

For example cut fabric shapes, can be used in a variety of ways to enhance and decorate a simple design. Different methods of cutting and attaching are discussed, as well as which fabrics will work best with this technique – then you can make a belt and a place mat using what you have just learned. Next you learn about folded shapes and can decorate a bed throw (pictured above) using this striking yet simple technique. Pleating, pintucking, quilting, cording, and smocking all are designed to take you from simple sewing to more detailed and complex sewing. It’s time to move up to the next level.

Drawn to Stitch: Line, Drawing, and Mark-Making in Textile Art by Gwen Hedley, Interweave Press (USA) (October 12, 2010), Batsford (UK) and distributed in Australia through Capricorn link.

Textile artist Gwen Hedley, takes the most basic of drawing concepts – the line – and explores it with stitching. The first two chapters of Drawn to stitch, discuss materials and techniques (collage, weaving, sewing, printing, and drawing), and this then leads in to Chapter three which Gwen Hadley describes as “the kernel of the book”. This third chapter is visually stunning. Gwen uses examples of textile art and deconstructs the techniques used. This chapter showcases sketches, inspiration images and samples of work when discussing how a certain piece of work came into being. The final chapter – my personal favourite section – takes line drawings and sketches and shows how they can be interpreted in stitch.

This book is not only visually stunning and an essential manual for fibre and textile artists but also for others looking for a different perspective on drawing – it is part instructional manual, part workshop and part inspirational journal.

Examples of Gwen Hedley’s work – from her sketchbooks


Guest post by Heidi from Uncovered cover art

Uncovered Cover Art features reimagined children’s book covers. Professional and amateur artists can submit artwork, and new illustrations are added daily. Art directors, designers, and agents are all frequent visitors.

When you browse through the bookstore or the stacks of a library, a book cover makes all the difference. A good cover provokes an emotional reaction and instantly lets the reader know what the book is about. Every artist has their own unique style. That’s why it’s so fun to see a book illustrated again and again. As a children’s book editor, I’ve always enjoyed the process of finding an artist and working with the art director to design a new book cover. And I LOVE when we get a chance to go back and refresh a book with a new cover. It makes all the difference and I fall for a book all over again.

There are so many talented and creative artists in our world. Uncovered Cover Art is my way of celebrating them. I really hope this website will be a matchmaker for artists, art directors, and agents. I’ve been amazed by the response to the website with agents encouraging their clients to submit and artists sending in new work every day. I’m so excited each time I get a new submission. Here’s what I love to see…

I love art that feels loose and alive.

I discovered Jana Christy on Seven Impossible Things and her Little Red Riding Hood is a favorite on Uncovered Cover Art. She is so sassy!

I love color.

Meg Hunt gets it completely right with her Alice in Wonderland pieces.

The Princess & The Pea has been a source of inspiration for so many artists because it offers so much room to design amazing textures and contrast colors in fresh ways. This piece by Heather Ross would make me return to the book again and again.

I love texture.

Kate Slater’s The Owl and the Pussy Cat is the ultimate example. I could not care less about this poem, but there is so much here to draw you in.

Kevin Stanton’s homage to Where the Wild Things Are is so dreamy. I just want to stumble along the edges of this paper world and fall in.

I love being surprised.

Some of my favorites are those that just completely reinvent the book.

I absolutely love Quentin Blake’s artwork, but this illustration of Matilda is stunning. Chrystal Chan created this piece for the Gallery 1988’s Required Reading show in Los Angeles. It’s gorgeous, poignant, and made-you-gasp memorable.

This version of The Little Prince by Jennie Lynn Paske is so surreal. It truly feels like Le Petit Prince has landed on another planet.

Billy Nuñez’s Chinese take on Goldilocks is just right. His work has been hugely popular on the site because it feels so obvious (How Has This Not Been Done Before?) and yet, so fresh.

Dokino hails from Mongolia and gave an entirely earthy and unexpected African twist to Alice in Wonderland.

Berk Ozturk’s punk Rapunzel is funny, dark, and suggests this story could be updated for tweens and teens.

To celebrate the launch of Uncovered Cover Art, the three most popular artists will receive a copy of Show and Tell: Exploring the Fine Art of Children’s Book Illustration. If you know someone who should submit to Uncovered Cover Art, I would be delighted if you spread the word to your friends, any all other souls who are passionate about children’s books. Voting ends August 30th.