Friday, July 31, 2009

New Finds

I wanted to share with you some recent Illustrators I've discovered (through the art of surfing the vast world of the inter-web)

Carson Ellis is an illustrator living and working in Portland, OR. She is married to the lead singer of The Decemberists, so naturally she does a lot of work for them, including recently designing their website.

Rich Tu is an illustrator living and working in NY.

Tomas Nilsson is a Swedish illustrator with a quirky and colorful style that balances a child-like quality with a very sophisticated artistic talent.

*all images were taken from each artist's website


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Bullets and Octane poster

Here is the final version of the poster with Bullets' logo.

Check them out HERE

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Farming Fun!

Today I had the most amazing adventure, on an organic farm! I really should clarify what I mean by "farm" because coming from the midwest, it certainly wasn't the type of farm I'm used to. It was more like a very large, community garden. It is the Alemany Farm in Bernal Heights, and it is the largest farm in the city of San Francisco (almost 5 acres of land)
If you'd like to learn more about it,go here

I found out about it through my friend, Bettina. I would have never known about it otherwise, so I'm very grateful. We met there today just after noon, where we got a tour from one of the main guys who work there, then we got set to work.

I did a variety of jobs today, starting out with turning compost, which is a very important job. If you don't turn the compost, it has a harder time breaking down and is more likely to smell. It was tiring work, so after about 45 minutes or so I traded jobs with another volunteer. (and I wanted to explore and experience another part of the garden)

I spent time weeding the various crops (which include string beans, potatoes, strawberries, sweet corn, cucumber, brussel sprouts, broccoli, squash, etc.) I also helped them with their delivery program. The farm is located right next to a lower-income housing complex, and they deliver (right to their door) fresh, organic produce to those who want it.

I have mixed feelings about that program. I think it is wonderful that they make the produce available to people who might not otherwise be able to acquire it, either because of location or in this case, financial reasons. However, the farm is literally right next to this complex. I think it would be better to "teach a man to fish" if you will, and have them come pick out their own produce. Why do I have to ride the bus for an hour, work for 4.5 hours, so that people who live next door (and didn't contribute anything) can have this produce for free? That I don't agree with. It's just perpetuating the problem, keeping uneducated people uneducated, and lazy people lazy. And that holds true for the rest of the city as a whole, which is why there is such a terrible homelessness rate here. Bah.

Anyway, enough with the rant. I had a wonderful time, which is what this post is supposed to be about. We got to harvest some of the vegetables (that were ripe and ready) and got to take some home. I got a bag full of lettuce, string beans, basil, oregano, potatoes, plums, carrots, and a few strawberries. Yum! Talk about reaping the rewards.. fruits of my labor.. and all that jazz.

I am just so glad that something like Alemany farm exists in the city, and I hope to make it back again soon. I hope that someday, when I have a backyard - or roof access, that I can make my own little garden farm. =)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Bullets and Octane poster

Sorry it's been awhile since I last posted. I'm still spending most of my time working on the children's book, but I can't really show you all of those illustrations. However, I just finished a poster for my friend's band, Bullets and Octane.
Check it out, and if you're in LA, go to the show!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Process and Revisions

I am very close to finishing the dummy (mock-up version) of the children's book I'm working on. I wanted to take a moment to share with you a bit of my process for this book. Typically, I read the text and let a phrase jump out at me that I'd like to illustrate. I start by making some rough thumb-nails to get a general idea of the composition.

Once I select one I think works, I roughly sketch out the people - poses, facial expressions, etc. Then I go over that rough sketch with tracing paper, making a clean drawing that I will eventually use for the final. I scan in the clean version and cut out the image from the background and put it on a new sheet in Photoshop. I usually do this for every person and background so that I can keep them on separate layers, and can manipulate them further in Photoshop if I want to.

I then take the completed scene and place it into InDesign with the text. Sometimes I have to go back and make adjustments to make sure there is an image on every spread and that the overall book is flowing nicely. The photos below are some of the illustrations I've had to re-work because either the characters didn't look the same as the rest of the book, proportions were off or they just needed a bit more Oomph to them. (or all of the above)

version 1

version 2

I re-did this scene for a few reasons. Initially I thought that this particular image was going to be a spot illustration, but after completing a few more drawings I realized that I wanted to make more of an impact with the party decorations - and make it a full page spread. (to make the text and image flow better with the rest of the book) I think the 2nd version is much more interesting than the first and much more fun.

This next scene I changed for similar reasons. I had intended it being a smaller illustration, but I thought it was a bit too bland on it's own. Also, in the first version I drew, the proportions are too-off (hands and feet are way too small - I always have difficulty drawing hands and feet!) Also, the characters looked a little different from the rest of the book, so I re-drew it. I was much happier with how the characters looked, but I thought that it was still too boring on it's own, so I added a background scene. I have trouble coming up with background scenes too, but they really do add much more interest, especially in children's books. (they are kind of essential)

version 1

version 2

version 3

Once I get the drawings how I want them, I will start adding color in Photoshop, which can take anywhere from 5 to 20 hours depending on how elaborate the scene is. So yeah, it's a very time consuming process for sure. But, it will be very full-filling once the book is completed and printed. =) I don't work this way exclusively, meaning, I don't only make work via Adobe products, but for this particular project I am.

Well anyway, I'd better get back to drawing. I'm so close to finishing the first step it hurts!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

More sketches

Here a just a few of the new sketches I've done for the children's book I'm working on. I'm only showing the characters and not the entire scene (I don't want to ruin the book for you now) I'm almost done sketching out the dummy book! I've just got a few from the beginning I need to revise and then I'll get going on the finals.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Pool Tradeshow - Palmercash

This is another t-shirt design I did for the guys over at Palmercash for a tradeshow they've got coming up. It's for a competition they are entering so I'm not sure if it will be chosen or not. (I hope so!)

Anyway, it was a nice break from working on the children's book I'm doing. Sometimes it's good to work on multiple projects at once so you don't get burnt out.


- Karen

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Children's Books

I decided to take a break this morning from drawing and wandered off to the library to get some inspiration. The children's section of the library wasn't enormous by any means, but man did they pack it full of books! It was impossible to go through them all, but I did manage to find a few that I found interesting, and a few I wanted to share.

However, I must admit, that I haven't actually read any of these books. I only got them for the pictures... I know they say you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover, but I do, and I'm not ashamed of it.

"Burt Dow Deep-Water Man"
by: Robert McCloskey

"The Incredible Book Eating Boy"
by Oliver Jeffers

"The Secret Olivia Told Me"
Written by N. Joy
Illustrated by Nancy Devard

Monday, July 13, 2009

New Finds - Lisa Hanawalt

I have a new art crush, Lisa Hanawalt. This girl's drawings are fantastic! (so many lines and patterns, yay!)

Here are a few of her lovely drawings - The giraffe is my fav!

*note* all images are from

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Just for fun

*copyright Karen O'Bryan 2009

4th of July weekend

Sorry this is a few days late. It's been a hectic week.. but, I have many photos to share with you to make up for my over-due post.

Well, for the 4th of July, I went home to spend a few days with my family and some dear friends who I haven't seen in ages, not to mention get in a very needed mental health break! I had a blast! (which I'm sure had something to do with the fact that most of my best friends were around) and it truly felt like a holiday. All of the holidays I've experienced so far here in SF haven't really felt the same.. probably because of the lack of fun decorations and family members.

Anyway, my home town always has a big 4th of July parade. It was a little rainy out this year, but not too bad. It was kind of nice actually. I don't think I could've handled 90 degree weather on my first day back.

The parade goes right along the street were both my old middle school and high school are. My middle school looked just like it always did.

However, I was a little shocked to see my old high school...

Apparently they decided it was a good idea to tear down the building and build an entirely new building right behind it.. even though they just spent hundreds of thousands repairing the old building over the past few years. Whatever. They are morons, I've always known this. I don't really care so much about that building. It was pretty dark and depressing, and only half of the rooms had air conditioning, which was awesome on those 90 degree days.. but either way, it was still kind of weird to see it in pieces.

After the parade, we had lunch at my sister's place, which was followed by cocktails and board games. Love it.

I met up with my friends shortly afterwards, and many more drinks and games ensued. Followed by a journey towards the town carnival and fireworks. They didn't seemed to go all out this year like they usually do (I suppose the recession is even hitting the firework committee) but it was still enjoyable nonetheless.

The next day I went to a park/reservation with my family, that isn't too far from our house. It's always a must-do when I go home, especially in the summer. It seemed like everyone and their mom was out that day on the lake. (too bad we don't have a boat too.. oh well)

The rest of the time at home I either spent with my sister or my friends (usually drinking was involved) I had kind of been hoping for a bit more alone time, but I certainly don't regret spending the time with my friends, because who knows, it might be another 3 years before I see them... But I admit, I wasn't ready to leave. I seriously contemplated extending my trip another week. It was so nice to not have to worry about anything for a few days. To have more than one room to walk around in. To not be in front of a computer every moment of my waking life. To get away from people and the city. It was great. I think next time, I'll have to take a tent and just wander into the woods by myself for a day or two.

Until then, it's back to the grindstone.