Finding Inspiration + Creative Market Shop!

In the last few months, I started to really go within to figure out what kind of art I wanted to create – even though I have an MFA in Animation, my first area of study was Graphic Design and I had spent a few years working as a Graphic Designer first before diving deep into drawing & story. One of my first jobs after design school was an Illustrator/Product Designer at Hurley Accessories in San Diego back in 2007. And it’s interesting because I find myself going back to those roots now. March of this year really marked the end of freelancing with clients and really focusing on working on my own personal art.

I’ve been obsessed with creating digital tie-dye patterns. Yes, digital tie-dye! In the process of creating these patterns, I’ve had to create a set of my own Photoshop brushes to get the results that I was aiming for. I started to find inspiration in the things I liked from my wardrobe at home, I’ve compiled a photo of all of my tie-dye inspired clothing that I’ve bought over the years and started to think about what attracted me to these designs. A lot of it is color and pattern, each design is so unique and different that I decided I wanted to apply this to my own creations. I also do a lot of research online for color palettes, what brands I like to follow on instagram, and also the boho style home decor inspires a lot of my creations.

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I’m also selling my art on print on demand products on Society6! Check out some of my work below or see the full list of art and products on my Society 6 Shop here! To see more current work, Visit my Instagram account here.

I recently set up shop on Creative Market back in May and I am so excited to start selling Digital Tie-Dye Photoshop brushes! There’s a bunch of other digital graphic resources I sell, check out my product offerings here on my Shop!

Here’s one of my first products I released, a set of 18 Digital Tie-dye Photoshop brushes Vol.1, Get this set here!

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  • .abr file to load onto your brush preset palette
  • Formatted for Photoshop CS5 (if you need it formatted for an older version please send me an email through my blog)
  • All brushes are high res 2000px by 2000px across for creating higher res files.
  • 8 Large Tie-Dye Brush Clumps : for blocking out bigger areas.
  • 10 Individual Tie-Dye Stripe Brushes
  • Includes an in depth 10 Page PDF Guide Book for using brushes and Pro tips, techniques.

Tie-dye patterns and fabrics have been around for a while with roots in India, Japan, and Africa. Tie-dye is most commonly created by tying a string around the fabric, folding it in different ways and then applying the dye to fabric. It’s a very involved process, one that is messy and takes time to dry. Tie-dye in America was popularized by the hippies of the 60s mainly as an expression of their free-spirit and rebellion from the strict social norms of the 50s. Its interesting to note that a more modern version is starting to come back and finding its way into home goods, apparel, shoes, etc.

Simple tricks for creating a design:

  • Pick a color scheme and do some research online to find some inspiration
  • Paint your designs into separate photoshop layers so that you can adjust the placement of elements to your liking.
  • You can transform and edit the layers horizontally and vertically to get different results.
  • Play with duplicating the layers and changing the layer blend mode to multiply, color burn to get interesting effects. I also recommend playing with the layer opacity to get different effects.
  • Play and have fun!
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Academy of Art Alumni Panel Summer Expo ’16

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I was recently asked to speak at an Alumni Panel at the Academy of Art University in June along with a few other alumnis. We talked about our first jobs and how we hustled to get to where we are now. When I moved to LA in 2013, all I did was freelance and go from one contract job to another for two and a half years. I was constantly calling and bugging recruiters and always following up with people on a lead that I was hopeful on. I even wrote something on Linkedin about “How to Find Work as a Freelance Illustrator/Designer” Check it out, I’ve outlined 7 Steps that I used to go about finding work as a freelancer, worth a five minute read I promise!

The artist path and journey is never a straight one – and I think that is the beauty of being an artist and creative. Its part of the fun. From my experience, hustling to land my next gig kept me creatively hungry and gave me an edge. And did I really live my life on the edge for a while! Versus having landed a job and being too comfortable in a job that I wasn’t as creatively fulfilled. In the past, I’ve gotten some really amazing jobs– one job back in 2007 was an illustrator/product designer for Hurley Accessories in San Diego that I worked really hard on a test project before they hired me.

Being comfortable in a full time gig always bored me and never kept my interest long enough for me to want to stay there. I needed challenge, I needed stimulation, I need so much more than just going to a regular 9-5 everyday without purpose. But on the flip side of that I’ve also managed to stay at other jobs that I’ve very much enjoyed and liked– jobs that challenged my thinking and creativity, I was able to stay on longer. I’ve gone on to working with some really good companies in LA some include Hasbro Studios, Skechers USA, William Morris Endeavor, Fuhu Inc. to name a few.

Job security is great don’t get me wrong– but I also love the freedom of being able to have some down time in between freelance jobs or projects to be able to explore my own art.

Creating art is a spontaneous act and trying to control the creative process too much is just unnatural. Sure I think its super important to have a list of goals for the day, week, or month– but you also have to give room for growth and evolution of who you are and what kind of art you want to create. Patience with oneself and one’s own process is the most important thing. Too many times I’ve seen younger artists not being patient enough with themselves and also judging themselves too hard. Every new insight gives us an opportunity to grow and develop our understanding of the world around us.

Creating art for me is so sacred, the creation that comes from deep within me always has a purpose and meaning. I create beautiful work to inspire other people and that creating daily is a process of communing with my own spirituality and feeling connected to something greater than me.

There may be naysayers in your life– especially our families or people close to us that give us bad advice or force us to think in terms of being part of the “rat race” mentality, influencing us to get a full time job when in fact it may not be the best thing for us. But I always say try everything and see how you feel working within a company or corporate structure in a 9-5 job. But each and every one of us is boundless. We have so much unlimited potential inside of us, the best way is to guide that and focus it onto something that would truly give us happiness– and of course figuring out a way to make money from the thing that which gives us true happiness and the freedom to be our true selves.

It was very enlightening to have younger students approach me afterwards and tell me that my story spoke to them. I didn’t find art until my early 20s, having my son at 21 made it a bit challenging but thank god I had my family to help me while I attended college. Even though I had a few obstacles in my way, I still did everything I wanted, I still had the drive to want to be a better and successful artist. I had a vision of the type of life I wanted to create and providing for my son was motivation enough for me to want to succeed.

My main advice to younger artists or people just starting out as an artist– embrace your own journey. Sometimes we have a slow start but that also forces us to look deep within and to know what we truly want. Don’t let fear, negative self-doubt, and what others have to say cloud your own vision of what you want for yourself. It’s your life, at the end of the day you have to ask yourself what will make you the happiest. Build up your confidence as an artist and seek support from other artists/friends who support your vision. Find a mentor that will help you. I had a wonderful mentor for a year before I went to grad school that encouraged me to become a better version of me. Also, have discipline–practice your craft, let your passions fuel your creations and let it lead you where it wants to lead you. And please have lots of patience with yourself and know that this is all a part of a process and a bigger plan for your life that you probably don’t know about just yet. Let if unfold the way its supposed to. So that when you do finally stand on your own, your foundation and structure will be so solid that nothing can ever break you apart or tear you down.

~Diane

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Living Freely

I recently just moved from LA back to San Francisco in February. I decided to move back to San Francisco after being gone for five years. In those five years I have lived in NYC for two years exactly and then LA a little over two years. I’ve lived in 3 different cities since 2009. 2009 was the year I began my journey.

I was feeling stuck in LA and the driving an hour a day in the morning and at night really didn’t alleviate any stresses I had.

I’m addicted to change.

If you subscribe to numerology and spiritual meanings in life – I’m a 5. Movement, change and travel has been the only thing that’s constant in my life.

I really thought I would be working full time in SF with a start up company that scouted me out on Linkedin and but it turned out to be even better when it didn’t happen. Instead I started to focus on working on my own art and creating products. I’ve been able to create artwork that I could probably not have explored if I had gotten a full time job. I have now been able to direct all my focus on creating work and also starting to see money flow through these online shops. It’s been such a life changer.

Getting older means also re-evaluating what you want in life, and what I want most in life is to have a better quality of living where I work only on passion projects and people I like to work with and spending more time with my loved ones. At the core of my being I just want to be and spend time doing things I enjoy.

The most important thing I’ve learned if I’ve learned anything is to trust your gut intuition and to let go of where you think you should be. Releasing judgement on myself and accepting who I am now instead of who I thought I should be is the biggest lesson I’ve ever had to learn.

When I fight the flow and try to plan and overthink things in my life is when everything gets screwed up. Control is something I had to learn to stop doing. Just letting go and moving towards my intentions & focusing daily on what I wanted to create has helped me to move things in my life along.

Inner strength builds inside when we have gone through the worst of things. In the last couple of months I wondered where my journey was going to take me. But in my quest for living freely did I really start to learn to live in the present moment and not to think too far ahead into the future. Because being present means you are co-creating your reality and shaping it into the future you want to have.

As an artist and creator, creating art is a spontaneous process and a very in the moment act. Of course there are things you want to plan to work on, but in the moment is where the magic happens– embracing that inherent act of creating work is a sacred space within ourselves. Patience and lots of inner reflection within ourselves is necessary to grow as an artist or a creator. Rome wasn’t built in a day, therefore we must have patience with ourselves. Our journey to self discovery takes time in order to live a free and artistic life.

To be happy means being true to yourself.

Gypsy Soul

As a writer and illustrator I’ve been very retrospective of the life I’ve led and the life that I am continually living. Before I studied art and animation I had always been a writer. I had always kept a journal of my day to day living for as long as I can remember. Writing was my solace and a time to gather my thoughts and to make sense of the world around me. Mainly I was interested in people, relationships, observing the details that made people who they were. My love of reading books also allowed me to escape and to get lost in these stories, my imagination would then fill in the blanks.

I was thinking about where I was a year ago today, still struggling to finish my thesis project for grad school and doing freelance jobs that I wasn’t too fond of. I worked different odd jobs here and there in LA like sales jobs, small design jobs, one children’s book project gig, some press junkets BS gig and I tutored one student part time at Otis College. I HUSTLED to get my bills paid.

Last July and August of 2014 through the first week of September that I dedicated finishing my thesis project for grad school and dedicated those two and a half months working on it day in and out on a small 10.5 screen tablet fujitsu that I found on craigslist that I drew on and I went and worked at a different cafe everyday. I was up early everyday, I was restless, I couldn’t sleep. I had an internal clock that wouldn’t leave me alone. I HAD to finish… there was no other way. Diligence paid off. And soon I was done and as soon as I declared being done… many companies I had applied to started calling me back. I started getting a ton of interviews with different companies.

By October I started freelancing again. Then I had a medical condition I had to take care of through surgery and I spent the next 9 weeks recuperating on my grandparents couch in San Diego through November. I was lucky enough that I found a start up gig in November that allowed me to work from home on my laptop while I got better. It was no cake walk, I had never felt so crappy with my health as I did then – during the 3rd week I had low blood pressure and almost passed out. I hid my crappy health from everyone except my family. I had never spent so much sleeping in those 2.5 months as I did. And I’m not the kind of person who sleeps early and neither sleeps in too late, I’m comfortable with 5 or 6 hours a night. But by November I had gotten a gig at WME in Beverly Hills for a few days to do some in house character illustration work that I completely enjoyed and it helped bring my spirits up when I needed it. It reminded me of what I love doing the most. Looking back at this last year, I’m thankful for what I’ve learned, the experiences I’ve had, and the people I met colored this landscape.

And I think about this year… I’m sort of in a similar but different boat. I’m still freelancing – but getting better gigs. I’ve learned that summer is the slowest time in LA to freelance – companies are on hiatus or out having some kind of summer vacation. I’m in a similar boat this year like last because I am working on what was once my thesis project and now an Animation project that I’m trying to pitch to different studios. I’m so glad I stuck with finishing it last year–that no matter what I persevered and I finished it. And I know I will somehow see this project through, I’ve already committed to seeing this through no matter what the outcome– at least I can say I tried. I’m not the type of person to ever give up especially when i am completely passionate about a project.

I am a gypsy– because I have no permanent home and I am constantly on the move, I’ve moved out of the house that I used to rent a room in since last year in West LA. And quite recently, I packed up all my stuff into storage– To once again be a gypsy. To save money I am living with my family in SD and traveling up to LA once a week to freelance with a company that I have freelanced with since December of 2014. Half the week I am working on my animation project “Northstar Warrior” in San Diego.

Excited because the project is moving… I  have a few friends and people I know that I went to school with at the Academy of Art University helping out for free and wanting to be a part of something. The collaboration has been the key thing to push this project further along. Any smart person knows that one person can’t do it alone– not without a team of amazing artists and creatives who are willing and able to provide support and encouragement. Having my core group of friends and colleagues to provide this support has been so beneficial and I am so grateful– and its a testament that this project has the potential to be something. Could be something amazing.

I think about all the things I’ve sacrificed the last two years working on this project. One: sacrificing raising my kid and allowing my ex-husband to take on the responsibility. Two: My time, energy, effort… spending lots of time alone to work on this… was never the life I wanted to have. Three: Not having much of a social and dating life, I haven’t kept in touch with a lot of friends through this process. Its been hard. But sacrificing myself for the love and passion for a  project is the most beautiful thing in the world.

At the end of the day you have to do what you’re passionate about even if it means sacrificing a piece of yourself for the bigger picture. Otherwise you can live a very unhappy life.

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I am a Story Artist.

This is a video of a presentation that I recently made at the Beekman 33 Salon in New York City this last March. It was sort of a Salon to give individuals a chance to showcase themselves, their creativity, or their business. I’ve been meaning to post this but life got so busy! I wanted to post this to give people an idea of who I am and what I do, I now realize that this video really does give others an insight as to who I am. As a story artist as you’ll soon come to find out in the video, I create concept art for the purpose of telling a story. I am grateful that I have found this career path and lucky enough to realize it while I’m still young. The business of telling stories that evoke the imagination and touch the hearts of others is what I enjoy doing the most. I hope you enjoy this video and that it inspires you in your own life. Comments, questions, please tell me what you think!

Salute!