Tag Archives: illustration

Shop Talk: Shop Til You Drop

26 Nov

Sorry I’ve been so quiet lately. I’ve been busy getting my Etsy shop up and running! This is something that I’ve been working on for a while, and I now (finally!) have some items posted: etsy.com/shop/absolutelyicebox

It’s pretty small at the moment, though I already have lots of plans for the upcoming year. One of the things I’m concentrating on right now is greeting cards. I love making greeting cards for my friends and family, and making cards available in my shop is a natural extension of that. So some of the designs may be familiar to a few of you, but here are a couple that are brand-new.

“Abominably Gifted Snowman” (c) by Chrissy Kurpeski

“Abominably Gifted Snowman” greeting card. Who doesn’t love an abominable snowman bearing gifts?

“Abominably Gifted Snowfolk” (c) by Chrissy Kurpeski

“Abominably Gifted Snowfolk” greeting card. Once I drew one, I had to draw three more. 😀 😀 😀

Okay, so this next one isn’t a new design (though I re-did the illustration), but there’s a story behind it.

“Nice Catch!” (c) by Chrissy Kurpeski

“Nice Catch!” greeting card: Every year, my large immediate family does a gift grab at Christmas, and one year I got my dad. He usually includes at least one fairly meta thing on his list each year (like “world peace”), and this particular year, he joked with one of my sisters that he wanted “a monkey and a boat” for Christmas. Haha, whaaaaaat. But I had a way to counteract his smart-ass-iness with smart-ass-iness of my own: I drew a monkey on a boat, and turned the drawing in to Christmas cards to send to all of my family and friends. And I wrote on the back of the cards, “My Dad asked for a monkey and a boat for Christmas, but all he got was this lousy drawing.” I thought I was being so clever with this whole monkey/boat business! But on Christmas morning, when I presented him with his own card and told him the story, he had no recollection of the conversation he had with my sister. Bawwwwww. But I ended up really liking this sassy monkey on a boat fishing for love! Fun fact: in the original drawing I did, the boat had the name “S.S. Nikto” on it. I don’t know why, I think I had slyly asked my dad what he would name a boat if he had one. (Army of Darkness is one of his fave movies.)

There are more cards available in the shop, as well as a few little crochet items. I’m hoping to have a few more crochet cuties up this week, and after that, who knows? I’ll keep ya updated!


Wedding Part Five: Outta Time

10 Sep

My final wedding post is about all the things I’m sad I didn’t get to make in time for the wedding! Even though I was working on stuff up to the last minute on our wedding day (well I’m lying, I took a 3-hour nap at 6:30am), there are some things that I just didn’t get to finish. A funny one was that I didn’t get to make table place cards, whoops! But to save my sanity, someone (I think Bill, our groomsman/friend-fa-life) came up with the idea that the groomsmen could act as doormen and escort our guests to their tables. That ended up working out pretty well, plus it also emphasized the personalized nature of our wedding. Hooray!

Here’s some other stuff that I’m sad I didn’t get to finish in time for the wedding:

1. Hand-Crocheted Cake Topper

These two birdies cropped up on some of the stuff we made for the wedding, and I thought it would be adorable to make crocheted versions of them for our cake topper!

But this is as far as I got! I couldn't find a (free) pattern that looked like what I wanted, so I decided to make my own pattern. I had a lot of trouble with the color work though, so it took a lot of trial and error. I really wanted this as a cake topper though! I even brought this with me to the Museum, 'cuz I thought I would have time before the wedding to finish it. Ha ha ha ha ha. Well imagine these two little guys finished, with wings and beaks and eyes, and standing on a crocheted heart. One would have square glasses like Tim's, and one would have cat-eye glasses like me.

The cake still looked beautiful though! Katie (at Clementine Cuisine) used some nifty last-minute improvising skills to decorate the cake with leftover flowers from the flower arrangements and stuff. (c) Lisa Rigby Photography

2. Past Anniversaries Special Mini-Exhibit

I’m always making random stuff for Tim as gifts. Since the wedding was in a historical museum, and we were getting married on our 10th anniversary, I came up with the idea (a few weeks before the wedding, alas) that we could set up a “special exhibit” featuring stuff I made for Tim for past anniversaries:

One year, I'd found a cool book about architectural origami in the school library, and I was inspired to make something for Tim for our anniversary that year. It was a small paper box with little paper cut-outs of the two of us (using green papers, he loves green!). I can't find it though, it's packed up in a box somewhere. So I did this little sketch from memory just to give an idea of what it kind of looked like.

A few anniversaries ago I designed Cubee Craft (Love them! cubeecraft.com) versions of the two of us. Here's a mock up of what they look like! I also posted about them here: https://meincrafthaus.wordpress.com/2009/11/25/cubee-love

I was also going to include a print of the Save the Date post card I made, since it's technically for our 10th anniversary, har har!

I couldn’t remember any other anniversary pieces off the top of my head, so I decided to add some bonus pieces to the “exhibit”:

Bonus Piece #1: Here's a valentine I made for him one year. I can't find the printed piece, so here's a .jpeg of the design.

Bonus Piece #2: Here's a random colored pencil drawing of us that I did. I used to have short blond hair. (I've had a lot of different hair styles over the years!)

3. Directional Signage

I had all these ideas as to what to do for directional signs to the Museum and signage inside and stuff. But this is as far as I got with it! I did bring the poster board and my wide selection of color Sharpies with me on the wedding day though, I thought I'd have time to whip up some sweet signs before the festivities. Ha ha ha ha ha.

Well, that’s (finally) it for wedding posts, folks! Thanks for letting me share my special day with y’all. And I should be back to posting more regularly starting next week. We shall see…

And if you missed ’em, here are all the previous posts about my little personalized D.I.Y. wedding!

Part One: Hand-Made, Heartfelt, & Hitched!

Part Two: Close-Up of the Book Invitation

Part Three: Sew Crazy

Part Four: DJs on the Dance Floor

Wedding Part Two: Close-Up of the Book Invitation

7 Sep

I would love to post all about doing a DIY wedding, and go in to detail about the pieces I made. But for right now I will settle on just focusing on the biggest project: The Wedding Invitation Book!

Here's another spread from the book. Aww, 8th-grade Tim and Chrissy! (c) Lisa Rigby Photography

Well, if you know me, you know that I really like books. I dig ’em as objects that can not only relay information, but also create a personal interactive experience. And I’m wild about the role I have as a designer to help create that experience. Hachi machi, gimme a multiple-page document any day of the week, and I’ll be in design heaven!

I really really wanted to make a book for our wedding invite!! But due to time and budget restrictions, I didn’t know if it could be an option for us. I had to research different ways to produce the book and come up with some price estimates. But in order to do that, I needed to know the specs of the book. To figure out out how many pages the book would be, I created an outline of the content I wanted in story, then designated each piece of info to a page. I came up with 24 pages! Then I looked in to standard USPS mail dimensions as well as standard envelope sizes in order to determine the trim size: I decided that 5 in x 7 in would work nicely.

I then picked the brain of my awesome friend Ginny, who knows everything about book manufacturing. And I quickly realized that there was no way I could afford to have the books professionally manufactured. Looks like I’d have to make them myself! But how would I be able to print it all?? I checked out some recommended copy shops and got a few quotes, but turns out I couldn’t afford that either. I decided that I needed to print them at home. And that the 5 in x 7 in trim size was still doable with my home printer.

The next step was to figure out the binding, and after consulting with a publishing colleague, Karissa (yes the same Karissa who ended up making my dress!), I thought a simple Japanese stab binding would work well (and I increased the trim size of the book to 5.5 in x 7 in to account for the binding, and it would still go through standard mail, woo!). I also continued with the content of the book: checking the flow of the story, writing out the gist of what would be on each page, and sketching thumbnails of the shape of each illustration. Then, I put together a full-size mock-up comp to make sure all the elements were working well.

I don’t have any pics of the legwork, but don’t worry, it’s not anything fancy to look at (the mock-up comp was made out of folded scrap paper and tied together with a piece of yarn, haha!). But you can bet your bottom dollar that I saved every shred of paper used for planning out this project and that it’s currently all sitting in a box in the middle of my dining room!

Once I had the layout figured out, I sketched out all the illustrations. Then I scanned the sketches and placed them in to the book layout, to make sure the illustrations fit in the designated spaces.

Then I traced all the sketches on to watercolor paper. When doing this kind of work, I use my Barbie fashion plate light box from when I was a kid; it still works, but methinks it might be time to upgrade to a professional light box!

Once the sketches were transferred, I did a preliminary ink outline of all the illustrations, then I colored them all with watercolor pencils, then did the final ink work. I was leaving a path of craft destruction around my house wherever I was working, so I soon had to move to the dining room to find a clear spot to paint. And also, yes that's a pair of pants on the table. They're not mine, I don't know why they're there!

During this time, I was also working on the final draft of the story. I’m not a writer by trade, but I had a lot of fun “designing” the writing: figuring out which words to use, what info was important/unimportant to include, and the pace of the story. Tim, who’s a great creative writer, pitched in to punch up the wording here and there. Then my friend Melanie (yes, the very same Melanie who taught me how to knit and crochet!) did a few proofreading rounds, and helped make all the words more sensical.

Then it was time to set up the final text for the book! I wanted something hand-written so it would have the same feel as the illustrations. And I wanted to make sure the leading, tracking, and heck even the letterforms themselves were all optimized for legibility. I was working under the gun at this point, so there was no way I could successfully hand-letter the book legibly. So I set the text digitally, using Adobe Caslon Pro 14/16, then I printed it out at 120% and traced it all.

Cheater cheater pumpkin eater!

This took ages to finish. During this period of time you would have encountered me frantically tracing letters on the bus, in restaurants, even trying to eek out a few letters here and there at work while I was waiting for large, slow files on my computer to open.

Okay, cool, so now we have this awesome book! But it’s also a wedding invitation, and we have to make sure all the guests have all the info they need.

So I stuck a library pocket on the back page of each book, and designed and printed hotel info/directions/etc. to go in the pockets. In this pic, if you look at the back page you'll notice a lot of signatures. I'll explain that in a bit! (c) Lisa Rigby Photography

I also made RSVP post cards. They were going to go in the Library Pockets... brilliant, right? Too bad I overlooked that the pocket interior dimensions is slightly smaller than the outer dimensions advertised. D'oh! So we just stuck them in between the last pages of the book. Also, I am proud to say that the little "interactive food exhibit" line was a genius collaboration between Tim and me!

Tim helped trim all the postcards and the book pages. And he helped prep the envelopes to be mailed. I had designed this little thing for our address that I like to use as a return address on envelopes, but the invite envelopes weren't going through the printer. In order to keep a hand-made feel, I went and got a rubber stamp of the design made! Well, I forgot to account for the spread of the ink, so when we used it it kind if looked like a blobby mess. We still used the heck out of it though!

I couldn’t tell ya how many hours it took to do all this. I spent a lot of time making sure the outline and layout worked, and I thought that was going to be the hardest part. Then I started on writing the story, and I thought THAT was going to be the hardest part. Basically every time I moved on to a new task in this process, I thought it was the hardest part! I believe I started this officially in February, and was ready to start production of the book in March. I figured it would take me two weeks to do the sketches, illustrations, text, printing, trimming, and assembling (we were busy at work so I couldn’t take any time off, and weekends were usually filled with other obligations, so I could only work on it after work). Ha…..

I hadn’t attempted anything like this before, so I had no clue how long everything would take. Well, after 6 weeks of close to zero sleep, the production was finally done, and the books finally hit the post office in early May!

*Phew!* If you’d like to see all the pages of the book, I posted little jpegs of each page up here. You are welcome to check it out!

So that picture of the back page of the book, with all the signatures? You’ll notice that it’s a colophon/credits page! I had everyone who helped make the book sign this keepsake copy for me. I’d like to especially point out that under “Assembled by” is listed “The Tim and Chrissy Fan Club.” Lots of folks expressed interest in helping make the books, but when I printed everything, I didn’t know who would actually be able to help out. So now I would like to officially introduce you to…

...The Tim and Chrissy Fan Club! We've got Melanie (knitter/crocheter/proofreader), Karissa (bookbinding guru/wedding dress maker), Kerry (awesome co-worker who's crazy good at hand-binding books) and Anny (mistress of book production)!

My vixen-y sis Amelia is part of the club to, but she wasn't in the group photo, but I still wanna give her props. Thanks sis!

I don't know how these books would have been made if it weren't for the help of "The Club". For two evenings after work, I rented out one of the conference rooms at work, and we had a "Wedding Bee"! In the end, I think we made about 87 books. Here's a bunch of books in progress.

I’m really, really happy that I got to make this book for our wedding invites!! It was worth all of the time and effort, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. But! Now I know how much time something like this takes, I would have definitely started, like, I dunno, a year earlier? The incalculable amount of hours and the sheer amount of mental and physical energy a piece like this requires… this is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime labor of love!

In case you are curious, here are all the materials I used.

Watercolor Paper: Arches Hot Pressed 140 lb 14 x 20 Water Color Paper Block

Watercolor Pencils: Pro-Art Watercolor Pencils (had this set since high school, the colors are so much more fun than traditional watercolor colors!)

Tracing Paper: Canson 9 x 12 25 lb Tracing Paper

Inking Pen: Micron, sizes 5 and 8 – Black

Book Interior Paper: Paper Source 8 1/2 x 11 Luxe Text Paper – Cream

Book Cover Paper: Paper Source 8 1/2 x 11 cover weight paper – “Paper Bag”

Library Pockets: Self Adhesive 5 1/4 in. H x 3 1/2 in. W with a 2 1/2 in. D Book Pockets

Labels for Library Pockets: Paper Source Oval Labels – Superfine White (I bought these in a panic once I discovered that the Library Pockets didn’t go through the printer very well)

Book Mailing Envelopes: Paper Source A9 Envelopes – Pool (“irregular”! They were half-priced, and looked just dandy!)

Custom Rubber Stamp: Rubber Stamp Champ 3/4″ x 2″ Hand Stamp

Printer: Epson Stylus Pro 4800 (We used ours, and our friends Aimee & Carlos let us borrow theirs so we could do twice the printing in half the amount of time. But we ended up just using their ink. Stupid print drivers.)

* Pro Tip: It takes a lot of ink to print 87 24-page full-color-illustrated books. You’re not going to get by with just one set of ink cartridges. So do yourself a favor and buy extra ink ahead of time so you’re not having any late-night panics. Your brain, and wallet [overnighting ink to your house multiple times is $$!], will thank you!)

If you missed it, check out the previous post: Part One: Hand-Made, Heartfelt, & Hitched!

And tune in for the next post: Part Three: Sew Crazy!

Homestead: New Business Card Prototypes

9 Oct

I’ve been meaning to update my business card design. I started sketching out my ideas about 8 months ago! But recently I got with-it, and yesterday I finally created some prototypes. They’re basically the same idea as my old business card: it’s a little envelope-ish type thing that opens up to reveal some thumbnails of my work. With my old design, however, I thought that, since there’s something fun inside, there doesn’t have to be anything fun on the outside. That way the inside would be like a little surprise. So I just had my name and title on it. But now I realize, why not make the outside fun too?? So this time around, I illustrated the front!

Here are some quick pics I took at work yesterday! (I think there’s something funky going on with my camera’s macro lense, hence some of the graininess in some of the photos.)

Fin, Flight, and Fur! Three different outside design options for fun. I like fishies and I love drawing goldfish in particular; bats are also really fun to draw; and I really like doggies!! I especially like French Bulldogs.

"Fin, Flight, and Fur!" Three different outside design options for fun. I like fishies and I love drawing goldfish in particular; bats are also really fun to draw; and I really like doggies!! I especially like French Bulldogs.

See, its an envelope thingy!

See, it's an envelope thingy!

What it looks like when you open it.

What it looks like when you open it

thumbnails of some of my illustration work.

One side: thumbnails of some of my illustration work.

Thumbnails of some of my recent design work, and my contact info.

The other side: Thumbnails of some of my recent design work, and my contact info.

My template design; Im able to get three on one sheet of paper!

My template design; I'm able to get three on one sheet of paper!

I love stickers!! Since I dont have any business cards from my work, this is how I included my work contact info (and address to this art blog!).

I love stickers!! Since I don't have any business cards from my work, this is how I included my work contact info (and address to this art blog!).

Paper Source 1.25 Round Labels.

I had wanted a more zazzy sticker, like a shiny gold starburst or something, but this is the only cool printable option I've found so far: Paper Source 1.25" Round Labels.

I brought some of these with me to the Bookbuilders of Boston Casual Networking Kickoff Event last night to see how I (and others) felt about them. I’m still not 100% sure about the illustrations: One issue is, the doggie has solid colors on him, where the other two don’t. If I got rid of his solid colored markings, he’d be like the other two, but would also be a bit boring. I could just outline the markings, but that’s weird too. I dunno! Also, why do I have three different outside designs, but the same inside content? I think I have enough work to make different thumbnails for each one. I dunno. We shall see!

I printed these on a color laser printer. The outside paper is Paper Source Superfine Soft White 8 1/2 x 11. Eventually I’d like to print the outside with my Gocco printer. It’s not that budget-savvy materials-wise, and I’d have to experiment a lot to see if the small type would work out okay, but it would add even more personal I-like-making-stuff charm to ’em.