Archive for January, 2010

Books You’ll Love: Fables.

arnold lobel3

I am really excited to start these book posts on the blog! There are a lot of blogs that review their favorite books, but I want to focus mostly on the illustration and design of picture books: Why I love what I love and what makes these books great because of the story they tell in pictures.  Come on now…isn’t that why we all love children’s picture books? Because of the pictures? Ok…the words do help a little:)

Fables. This book shaped my childhood. Really. Still, to this day, I can remember the emotions I felt while staring at these pictures. Each fable gets a single picture, so you really have time to stare into these images. Pure genius.

I mean, an alligator lying in a comfy bed with pretty wallpaper? A rino dressed up in her best dress? I love Arnold Lobel’s Elephants and especially his frogs…OH! His frogs! Love. But Fabels gets a special place in my heart because the stories and characters think they are in very serious situations. Yet, it is all so farcical and silly. Can you tell by the color and dress and body postures? It’s just a great mix of fun visual storytelling.

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Is it the color? The texture? the detail? Yes. Yes. Yes. But…let me add: Arnold Lobel has incredible composition of his frames and incredible characters. His greatest strengths I think. In some of his other books, the Frog and Toad series, and Owl at Home, for instance, there isn’t much color, or texture. But don’t be fooled: his images are captivating. I thought it was just me…I figured my kids wouldn’t go for the muted colors.  I mean, I didn’t grow up in a competing world of visuals, right? (I am not that old, but compared to now, I thought my kids would for sure dismiss the colorlessnes of his other books). But honestly? His less colorful books are my kid’s favorites. Even as 2 and 3 year olds. Why? Because his characters are so believable and his compositions are so strong. He doesn’t fuss with what isn’t important. He gets to the meat of the storytelling, and keeps is to is most key elements. I look back at what I loved as a child, and it is still the same today. And beyond that, beyond the things I could articulate, there is that “it” factor that I can’t articulate, nor do I want to try. I just like it. Love it. And it is so captivating. And it proves true when I read it to my own children.

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And I love Arnold Lobel. If I had the chance to visit with any illustrator of my choice, he would for sure be on my list.

I still find myself staring at these pictures. Eye Candy.  It received the Caldecott for a reason.

Happy picture looking!


sarah jane

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Mahar Dry Goods.

family tree vintage summer

I often get asked what my favorite pieces are from my shop, and my answer is always the same: “The piece that is currently in my head by not yet in print.” Once it’s up in the shop, the creation of it is done, and I am moving on to the next thing. I don’t tend to get attached. But I do have a few favorites, and I am so happy to say that one of my favorites is going to be carried by a very favorite online site of mine.

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Have you browsed around Mahar Dry Goods lately? If there was a online store for children that inspired me most to get my shop up and running, it was this one. Was it the enter page illustrated so brilliantly by Jen Corace? Was is the quirky novelty toys? There is an exclusive tea set from Mahar Dry Goods which shows up in my Summer Tea Party print (commissioned for Small Magazine) that was too amazing to not be inspired by. Short story: I love this shop. And, this week, I found out, that they will be carrying my Personalized Family Trees and Paper Dolls.

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I have a long list of retailers that I love working with, but I was just tickled to hear the news, simply because this shop is truly what inspired my desire to enter the handmade children’s industry. Robert, who also has a very hip and retro children’s blog Junior Society, has fantastic taste, and always offers a pic me up when I visit his sites.

Horray for good design. There is something about good design that feeds my soul. And today, I am thankful for great associations.

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ALT Wrap up

OK. If you weren’t there at ALT, you really need to go next year. Like, really.

It was that much fun. Packed full of info, meeting my favorite bloggers, networking and sharing experiences. I learned so much at this conference and it really helped to solidify in my mind the importance of this new wave of information sharing we have created: Blogging for design. Is my blog a “design” blog? No… well kinda, maybe. But all in attendance had a common bond: We love blogging. We love writing. We love sharing. We love visuals. And we can’t stay away from design elements to communicate daily to others over the web.

It was a party. Everyone was so generous, open, warm and really….it was like we had a big family reunion for all these people who only communicate over a keyboard and monitor. I made a lot of great new friends, and even had the chance to say “Thank You” to some of my hero bloggers.  We were in a super fancy-shmancy hotel, and the whole event was so put together. I just loved the fact that I got to leave home and have a day away to spend with people who were hungry for the same information. And I must say, having the chance to speak was incredible. It was a great opportunity to collect, in a small pocket of time, so many of the things I have learned over the past 2 years!

Here is an inconclusive list of Bloggers who came to speak, to give you an idea for what to expect for next year.

  • Nicole Balch of Making It Lovely
  • Allison Czarnecki of Petit Elefant
  • Jaime Derringer of Design Milk
  • Karey Mackin of Mackin Ink
  • Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan of Apartment Therapy
  • Heather Armstrong of Dooce
  • Grace Bonney of Design Sponge
  • Kelly Beall of Design Crush
  • Joy Deangdeelert Cho of Oh Joy!
  • Rachel Jones of Black Eiffel
  • Emily Goligoski of The SanFranista
  • Victoria Smith of SFGirlbyBay
  • Gayla Trail of You Grow Girl
  • Sarah Jane Wright of Sarah Jane Studios
  • Erin Loechner of Design for Mankind
  • Megan Reardon of NotMartha
  • Kathryn Storke of Snippet & Ink
  • Joslyn Taylor of Simple Lovely
  • Stephanie Brubaker of Stephmodo
  • Sheila Bernus Dowd of Lookiloos
  • Chelsea Fuss of Frolic
  • Maggie Mason of Mighty Girl
  • Justin Hackworth of Justin Hackworth Photography
  • {list compliments of Apartment Therapy}
    Really, if you are a blogger with a desire to learn more about branding, building an audience, photography for the web, advertising, designing for the web, and the applications of social media, I hope to see you next year! I will for sure be coming again. Thanks ALT Design Summit!
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    Follow me here.

    Picture 10

    I know a lot of you have emailed or tweeted the sad news that you can’t attend the conference this weekend. But no worries. I plan on tweeting about it, so stay tuned.

    So, if you tweet (Do you tweet?) you can keep up by following #altsummit, or follow me on Twitter by clicking the little orange button just to the right.

    Sorry…I just have to say that I never thought I’d ever be using words like “tweet” to refer to correspondence. Who’da thought. Communication is so fascinating, ya? But, it’s all about using what works! More about that tomorrow!  Happy Weekend!

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    Dance a little.

    Every shop has the favorites…the ones that sell over and over again, and then the ones that shine quietly in the back. This print, a first of mine when the shop opened 2 years ago, always makes me happy.  These elephants often get stuck in the back, and I wanted to give them a proper reintroduction. Translation on the print is: Dance with me (which can easily be omitted if you just don’t speak french like these elephants do).

    So, say “Hello Elephants? How’s the dancing?” or, if you are brave and feeling up to it, you could say, “Bonjour Elephants, comment va la dance?”

    Because really, how can you not smile and laugh when you dance. I have learned well from my kids: that when the days get yucky, we turn up the music. It works every time.

    Happy weekend, and happy dancing.

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    Caldecott Medals 2009.

    On Monday, the 2009 Caldecott and Newbury awards were announced, and I must say I am no less than inspired. Working on my own children’s book has given me a completely new perception of what these awards represent.  Here at home, we acquire new books monthly…mostly from the library, but we have since built up our own children’s book library. I even have my own picture book collection that the kids aren’t allowed to touch (or chew or rip!). And I started thinking….I would love to start a picture book review weekly on the blog! Every week, I’ll introduce a favorite find…old and new in the category: Books you’ll love.

    But for this week, here are the Caldecott winners for 2009!

    The Lion and the Mouse illustrated and written by Jerry Pinkney (Caldecott Medal)

    All the World illustrated by Marla Frazee, written by Liz Garton Scanlon (Caldecott Honor)

    Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski, written by Joyce Sidman (Caldecott Honor)

    It’s really fun to think that right now, I have acquired these books without the medal on them. I purchased them before the gold sticker perminently gets placed. I think I like it best that way: it reminds me of what first came out of the publishing house…fresh and raw, ready for review.

    But check these books out…you won’t be disappointed. How a story is told in pictures is a genius I am so intrigued and inspired by. Hope you are too!

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    Design on my mind.


    What do these images have in common? There is a theme here, and I’ll give you a secret: it has to do with ALT DESIGN SUMMIT this weekend!

    Ok, Can you guess?

    These are the ladies I’ll be speaking with on my panel under a topic that will for sure spill overtime cause there is so much to talk about: Building Your Brand and Your Business.

    I am so thrilled to be speaking with Victoria from te super savy style blog Sfgirlbybay and the expert gardener and renaissance woman Gayla from You Grow Girl. We all have something in common: we love what we do, we started to put ourselves out there in the blogging world, and a business grew partially by accident and partially planned. We will be talking about the steps we have taken to get there and advice for the journey. Come with your questions too…I think we’ll have a Q&A at the end if we have time!

    So, if you haven’t had time to get your tickets, this is your last chance! The first ever blogging conference with design in mind. I can’t wait to hear from some of my biggest social marketing heros, and design heros. It will be a party with lots o lots of packed information.

    If you can come, please come over and say hi! This will be my first day away from the baby, so I will be considerably more lonely than normal…either that or completely care free!

    See you there!

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    She Knits.

    knitting i love you2

    Shhhhh…..I am supposed to be working on my book….but I have February on my mind, and I have been warming up with some sketches. Here is a darling friend I’ve had in my head for a while. She may or may not end up in the shop, but she is sure making me smile this weekend. Back to book art….and hope you have a lovely weekend! I’m going shopping for a bit of spice to wear to the ALT Design Summit. Are you going? I can’t wait.

    Ok…enough tangents. Happy Weekend. And happy creating.

    xo, sarah jane

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