Monday, January 31, 2011


This is an unprecedented second post of the day. I just HAD to. I heard the most amazing news:


Toronto Craft Alert is one of the first blogs I ever read. And I read it religiously. It's basically a constantly evolving list of crafty and arty events happening in Toronto. Things to see, events to participate in, cool people that are doing awesome things in the local craft community, amongst other amazing things. Mid summer 2010 the site took an extended hiatus due to stress of running the site and to re-conceptualize certain aspects of the daily workings of the whole thing. Well, much to my joy, I received an email letting me know that the hiatus is officially over and the alerts are going to start coming through again! Hip hip hooray!!!

from Toronto Craft Alert
This site is where I first learned about Print Gocco, where I found the info to apply for the Queen West Art Crawl and other shows I've participated in, and where I've found other inspirational blogs, such as Make Something. I can't wait to see what the re-vamped site has to offer. I just have to say welcome back, old friend. You have been missed dearly.

Organization Princess.

Howdy from carpool central! It's a bright, freezing cold day and I'm sitting in the back of Leanna's car, on my way to the day job.

I really don't want to go to work today. This weekend I did it. I finally tackled the disaster of a studio room I've been building piles of crap since we moved in in July. I didn't quite finish but I made an awesome start. I've been feeling very bogged down emotionally over the past few weeks. Sometimes all it takes to feel rejuvenated is to properly put away the old stuff to make room for the new.

I cleaned. I grouped like things together.

I built a new paper and illustration board drawer unit. Hello, Ikea!

And I bubble and shrink-wrapped all my old artwork. Nothing will bang up these babies!

Ahh... what a sight to see organization in my apartment! I have more work to do on my space organization, and then I'm going to continue on with paperwork and computer files. I've decided that I need a fresh start to make this year a success and I can't truly move forward until the slate is clean.

Transformation is fun!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Between a rock and a hard place.

First, I shall start by declaring
So blaaahhh is exactly how I feel right now physically. I feel blaaahhh mentally as well, especially after today. 

This year, as I've stated before, I'm bound and determined to make strides in my freelance career that I have not in the past five and build up my business so that I won't have to rely on a full time job to fund my life. I can illustrate circles around people, but I have a lot left to learn about the business world. One of my biggest business faux pas would be that I undercharge for my work. Another is that I can't say no. These are reasons I have agents to be the middle men when it comes to fee negotiations. I was approached last week about doing an independent project for a wedding for a friend of a friend. I was about to accept this very time consuming and costly job for practically nothing after I buy the supplies, which is standard practice for me in many cases. At the end of the day, as awful as I felt about doing so, I confessed to this potential client the truth about the very little money I would be taking in and sadly declined the job. I feel totally awful about it. It's eating me up inside. But I know that it's the right move for Claire Manning Illustrations. I need to make some smart moves this year and not be afraid to turn down jobs if they are not right for me.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Printsource of inspiration.

I guess what I meant to say was Thursday. Thursday I would write about the Printsource show.

I hope you've had a good week! I have to say that I feel like my old self again. My OLD old self again. No time for anything once again. This isn't a good thing at all and not a good way to start my year. It is, after all, the year that I start my journey to becoming a freelancer. I have to say I'm not off to a very good start. I have a feeling things will take a turn for the better in the next month. I have some news, but it's a bit premature to mention just yet but I will tell you about it as soon as I can. 

Now, the Printsource show!
I have been in the textile graphic design business for over six years now, and this is the first time I had been invited to attend the show. I didn't know what to expect. What I saw was a whole new side of the business. Though I was not permitted to take any photos, if I could it would show a room full of colourful booths of companies and individuals selling the graphics, prints and patterns I create everyday. Most sold their art for around $550 per graphic with all it's rights. As I observed (and participated in) people were buying. Retailers like Gymboree, Joe Fresh, and The Gap, all come to this show. And buy lots. There were mainly companies that came from Europe and from New York. Not much of a Canadian showing. I am hoping to change this in the future. In my day to day work I am usually drawing inspiration from other retailers already existing clothing lines due to time and money restraints. The people at this show offer original work based on trend forecasting. In a strange way I think that my boss brought me along on this trip to open my eyes to an opportunity I could take advantage of in my future business and I am grateful to her for doing so. Of course, at the moment I have obligations and a contract that will not allow me to start this nature of a side business just yet. I will look into creating a textile company of my own over the next few years though. If you are reading this and think it sounds like something you'd like to check out or exhibit your work at Printsource has a wonderful, information filled website to help you out. In the meantime, here are a few shining stars of the show that really impressed me:

Lemon Ribbon

Image from Lemon Ribbon

I found out about these guys before I went to the show on the Print and Pattern blog. The work they do is bright, fun, cute, and trendy too. Lemon Ribbon is run by a lovely couple, Melanie and Edward, who gather artwork from a variety of artists to create a diverse range. They are based just outside of London and have a great European flare to their work. They're a new company (less than two years old) and are already very successful. I hope to contact them to talk shop in the near future.

Image from Peagreen
Though I did not get a chance to get to talk to the folks here as much as at Lemon Ribbon, their work was SO GREAT! Also based in the UK, their design is whimsical, they use amazing colours, they had it all! Graphically, I felt they were one of the strongest booths at the show. After looking at their website it looks like they do paper printing as well. I would gladly hang their work on my wall or wear it on a t-shirt!

Lylove Studio
Image from Lylove studios
 The booth that Lylove had set up caught my eye the minute I walked in the show. The bright unique colours, the beautiful florals, the cool travel themed prints- they had me at hello. I lyloved them. They are based in New York. I sat and watched as two women hmm-ed and haa-ed over two prints that we wanted to purchase from these guys. Eventually they bought and we were out of luck. We didn't leave empty handed though- three fabulous prints came home with us! I look forward to their upcoming website!

Wow! The night has flown! Tomorrow Ronaldo's band is playing a gig AND I have book club. Busy busy! Time to paint my nails and go to bed. 

Nighty night!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

It's up to me. New. York. Newwww. YOOORRKKK!!

Here is a little shot of the weekend that has just passed. This photo will be a test to see if Ronaldo actually reads my blog. If he does, I will be deader than meat, but this is a great shot, no? Totally worth it? I think so.

I decided to take some time off to re-coup from a rather dramatic and exhausting few weeks. Though the trip to New York was TOTALLY amazing and it was so great to see my little sis, I was happy to return to normal life. Before I talk "business", here are some shots to set the mood.

Here are some of the world's tiniest snowmen on the edge of Central Park.
Emily was excited about an exhibit on the brain at the Natural History Museum and so we went. It was my first time, and I will have to go back again because the place is HUGE! And AWESOME!
The opposite of AWESOME was where we went for dinner that night. DO NOT go to the Jekyl and Hyde Club. Regardless of what the sign says outside the door, the only reason you would have a heart attack would be because the food, not the frights. Thank goodness Emily and I are twits and Tyler is non-judgemental. We had fun anyway. Look at the prizes Emily won! It only took one quarter because they were stuck together from the years sitting in an ancient claw machine!

After I left Queens I moved into a hotel room on Madison Avenue. 

I took away a lot of information and lessons from my first ever business trip. Mostly, a big heads up to a new world of freelance that is out there for me to take advantage of one day. The fact that my boss was willing and wanting to show me this world was incredible. I could fill another whole post just on the Printsource show.... and I intend on doing just that. Tomorrow.

Or Tuesday. 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Claire loves... New York AND Cat's Night Out

Happy Saturday!
I have officially survived one of the hardest weeks I've ever had. I've had my chance to mourn the loss of my Grandma, and now it's time to celebrate her life, and since Grandma loved to travel it seems appropriate that I'm sitting here at Pearson Airport waiting for a plane to take me to New York City. As I mentioned earlier this week, my day job is sending me to the Printsource print and pattern trade show. I'm there to help prepare for the Spring 2011 season that I will start working on soon. I have to say that I'm pretty excited to be there for my own reasons. I have followed this show from afar for many years on the design blogs I follow, and one day I would love to be a vendor there myself. I really can't wait to oogle all the wonderful arty goodness! I will post from the show when I'm there to share it all with you!

I have some arty goodness to tide you over until Monday. Seeing at I'm in a New York state of mind, I wanted to introduce you to a book I was given over the holidays thatI have fallen in LOVE with called "Cat's night out".

It's by Caroline Stutson and illustrated by someone I'd never heard of before but now follow religiously, Jon Klassen
The story breaks my heart in the best way- it's all about cats dancing at night in NYC. All kinds of dance- samba, tap, line dancing... it's totally amazing. The illustrations are stunning AND adorable. Jon's style is great- his use of traditional mediums mixed with digital is seamless and what I strive to attain in my own work. I love to grungy feel of his work in this particular book.

Image owned by Jon Klassen

Jon's blog is pretty great too- I would check it out if I were you!

I will be in touch in a few days with lots of New York fun. For now, I've got a plane to catch!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I'm smarter than I look.

Well, this week took an unfortunate U turn.

I have loads of things to share and awesome news but none of it's important anymore.

My beautiful Grandma, Ruth Marie Durst, passed away yesterday morning. She was an outstanding grandparent. She never got cross with me when I was little and hyper, and had loads of fun activities for us when we came to visit. She was computer savvy. I bet if she could have she would have had blog and it would have kicked my blog's butt. She was crafty. She crocheted baby clothes for the preemies at the local hospital, made afghans for all of her grand kids, and taught me how to knit. Grandma D. was hilarious, and clever. Her laugh was infectious.
She had been suffering from the
cruelest disease, Alzheimers, for many years now, and had the personality that made her who is is taken away from her.

Worst. Disease. EVER.

Those who know of someone dealing with Alzheimers, my hear goes out to you. I recommend visiting the Alzheimers Society website to learn more about the disease and the steps being made towards a cure. Heck, you can even donate if you feel like it.

I will share my news as well. I'm excited to tell you that I will be going to New York City next week for the upcoming Printsource trade show! I will be going with my full time job, helping to organize graphics for the spring season. I'm going to be with family for the next few days, but will write from the show next week with all the New York greatness.

Rest in peace Grandma. I'll love you always.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A trip down memory lane.

Yesterday I mentioned that I would tell you the story of my first illustration... and here it is!

I will take you back to 2004. I was in year three, the final year, of my illustration diploma at Sheridan College. In the final year of my program I was to do a three week unpaid work placement. I knew as soon as I was told about it that I wanted to do it with a studio of working illustrators in Toronto that I knew were super talented and that I thought I could learn a bunch from. The guys in the studio were Steve Murray, Ben Shannon, Cameron Stewart, and Kagan McLeod. I couldn't have been more right. I owe these guys a debt of gratitude for the words of wisdom. It was my first exposure to the REAL illustration world. I spent most of my time in their studio, but I also had the opportunity to follow Kagan into the offices of The National Post, where he worked in office on Fridays. It was amazing to see the inner workings of a newspaper. I went with portfolio in arms, totally excited to show anyone who wanted to look at it. I was introduced to the art director for the Arts and Life section. He flipped through my book and he must have seen something workable as he asked me if I wanted to do a job for the paper. It was for a review of a book about bird watching. I was over the moon. The rush I got from that first offer was unforgettable, even though it was unpaid. I would have paid HIM! I called everyone I knew to tell them. I'm not sure what the due date on the job was, I remember spending my fair share of evenings in the computer lab at Sheridan and painting my butt off so I'm sure it was quick. I loved every minute of it! When the paper containing my hard work hit the newsstands I couldn't believe it. I knew right then that I was in love. What a high!! Over the remainder of my placement I did a few more freebies (I was not to be paid, remember) that eventually led to my first paid illustration through the National Post. It was the start of a long running relationship with the paper that will always take the credit for launching my illustration career and helping me realize that it can be done. 

Here is the paper that started it all!
I spent this morning updating artwork on  and highly recommend checking it out. Hopefully I will have more to share soon!

Do you have any memorable firsts?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New year, new illustrations!


I had a bit of a rough morning, but had a great new year's eve with a bunch of awesome buddies! I hope you enjoyed a similar scenario for your eve. When I was "healthy" enough to venture of of my apartment today I was met with my very first illustrations of 2011. Remember two weeks ago when I nearly died from creating 13 illustrations in 7 days? Well, today was the day that The Toronto Star published ALL of them in their tribute to FIRSTS. They asked various contributors to write stories about significant firsts that they've had through their lives. Then, they asked me to illustrate as many of them as I possibly could in a week. And so I did. The prospect of this job was daunting but such an amazing concept- I couldn't say no. I have to say, seeing the finished project I am so happy that I sucked it up and went for it.

It ended up that my work ended up not only in the Living section of the paper, but also the FRONT PAGE of the paper and much to my father's delight, the Sports section. The latter is a first of my very own!

Due to the speedy nature of the job I was pretty much given free run on size and shape of each piece by the art director. I was sending them in to the Star as I finished them and so I didn't know what their vision was as far as layout goes. I was blown away by how they fit them all together. It truly looks amazing!

I will be updating my website tomorrow with all of the illustrations from this spread so you can have a closer look at them all. In the meantime here are a few of my favourites.

This one is my ultimate favourite- My first alone.

My first catch.

My first typewriter.

My first brush with death.
My first regret.

I hope you like them! You still have a few more hours to run out and pick up a copy of the paper if you feel so inclined to.

In the spirit of the theme of these illustrations, tomorrow I will share with you the story of a very important first for me- my first published illustration! It's hard to believe that it's already been 7 years since I hit that landmark, but I remember it like it was yesterday.

Now I will go back to nursing my new years hangover. Unfortunately not a first for me.

Auld lang syne to you my friends, and thank you so much for reading my babbles in 2010. I promise some exciting posts in 2011.