Keys & Beetles

After the busyness of summer, it's been nice to hibernate a little and do some designing. I've got so many ideas for patterns brewing that I've had to start a list to keep track of them all. Here's a glimpse of two of my new designs. These days I'm leaning toward more conversational/novelty motifs but have been working on some florals and geos too.

My birthday is coming up this week and I'm looking forward to a fun getaway in Portland next weekend, one of my favorite towns. I'm sure some great inspiration will come out of that!

Keys by Laurie Baars
Beetles by Laurie Baars

Bergamot Studio

My husband's family has a beach house on Vashon Island that has been in the family for 3 generations. It is shared by many family members and we are lucky enough to get it for a few weekends a year. Vashon Island is a beautiful, lush, fairly rural island just a 20 minute ferry ride from Seattle.  Last weekend my husband and I snuck out there last minute for a couple of very relaxing days and decided to explore the island a bit. We did a hike in one park and were on our way to another, driving through the town of Burton, in a part of the island I'd never been to, when I saw a sign saying "vintage-inspired modern textile design." Of course I demanded we stop immediately. 

I was so happy to discover Bergamot Studio, a lovely shop and working studio run by textile designer Kassana Holden. When I walked in she and another woman were cutting prints of Kassana's designs to make greeting cards. She has four wide-format ink jet printers in the back where she prints her designs on silk and paper to make scarves, pendant lamps, pillows, greeting cards, framed prints, and decorative papers, among other things. She also carries work by other local artists including wood, leather goods, ceramics, and jewelry.

Kassana has 25 years in textiles and product development and struck out on her own just a couple of years ago to start making and selling her own work. She is doing fantastic things combining vintage fabric with her own designs for a very unique effect. She also takes on custom projects using her printers. It was so much fun talking "shop" with Kassana and learning about her experiences in textile design. I highly recommend visiting her shop if you are ever on Vashon Island!


Lilla Rogers Global Talent Search Entry

I just submitted my entry to the Lilla Rogers Global Talent Search! Lilla Rogers, the illustration agent who taught the course I just completed, is running an international competition to find one new artist to bring on to her studio. The first assignment in the competition was to create a journal cover with a vintage playground theme. I have to admit, this was a really tough one for me for a number of reasons. One: it's not a theme I would normally choose to work with. Two: I've never drawn playground items so this required a stretch of my drawing skills. Three: after just finishing up Lilla's rigourous course, I was feeling a little low on creative juices. However, I'm always up for a challenge, so tried to give myself lots of time to take it at my own pace. I came up with a somewhat retro-inspired design that I'm pleased with. 50 entries from this round will be selected to move on to round two. 6 entries from that round will be given a third brief and the winner will be selected after that. I'm just happy to have submitted something at all and am now going to reward myself by enjoying some lovely Seattle summer sunshine!

A Day in the Park journal cover by Laurie Baars

Make Art That Sells E-Course

I just finished up a 5 week odyssey into art-making courtesy of top art agent, Lilla Rogers’ Make Art That Sells e-course. I signed up for this class back in the winter when I was working full-time, making no art, and pretty down about it. I thought the class would be a bright spot on the horizon and a good kick in the pants once I had time to start creating again. And boy was I right! Each week focused on a different market: Week 1: Bolt Fabric, Week 2: Home Decor, Week 3: Children’s Books, Week 4: Wall Art, Week 5: Gift. Some of the markets I knew I was interested in (bolt fabric, wall art). Others I knew would be a huge stretch (children’s books).

Lilla gave us tons of information on what buyers in each of these markets are looking for and lots of tools to help us create. The structure of the class was really helpful for me. A mini/warm-up assignment on Monday’s to get us sketching and then the big assignment each Wednesday that incorporated what we’d worked on in the mini. Assignments were due on Sunday’s and shared in the private Flickr group. It was so fun to see the immense variety of work submitted by a lot of very talented and experienced artists from all over the world. Just seeing everyone’s work and hearing Lilla’s video review of 15-20 select pieces at the end of each week was very educational.

I was really honored to have my last piece, the “hyper-lush” art for a zipper pouch, included in Lilla’s review. I wasn’t really that excited about the assignment and had very little time to complete it as I was going out of town that week. But once I started on it I decided to go for it, try to overcome my tendency toward minimalism and subtle colors, and punch things up. I really stretched myself the most on this one and it payed off. I learned a lot from this and now want to go back and re-work the earlier assignments to try to punch them up as well. I think I still need to find that balance between maintaining my own style and taking it to the next level, but I feel like I’m off to a good start. I’m excited about the ground I’ve gained in the last 5 weeks and all the tools, tips, tricks, and inspiration I’ve taken away. Now I just need to keep up the momentum. Thanks Lilla!


Artwork by Laurie Baars for the Make Art that Sells e-course

Math Geek Chic

Math is not my favorite subject, but when I sat down to design something for Spoonflower's Fabric 8 Contest with the theme of "Geek Chic," I found I was drawn to the lines and shapes of math and science symbols. It seemed like a great way to play with creating a spare, contemporary design. I used one of my favorite color palettes composed of blacks, grays, creams, and yellows. I am drawn to that time after time. I wonder if I'll ever get tired of it!

I was thrilled to learn that my design made it into the top 100 semi-finalists, out of 750 entries. After the final voting, I came in 32nd out of the final 100. That's the top third, which is plenty good enough for me!

math geek chic by laurie baars

Moyo Magazine Feature

My pomegranates design is featured in the latest issue of Moyo Magazine (see page 48)! Several weeks ago I was contacted by Louise Gale, one of the contributors to Moyo, asking if it was OK to include my design in a red color stories feature in the upcoming issue. I wasn't even sure how she'd found it and only later recalled that I'd submitted this design to Moyo in a call for entries several months prior. 

This particular design was one of two that I did for a Spoonflower contest last year. I was torn between the two designs and ended up submitting the other, which came in 15th out of about 200 entries (and is my current Twitter background pattern). I secretly always liked this one better though and am so pleased that someone else felt the same.

Moyo is a great new online magazine about surface pattern design started by Rachael Taylor and Beth Nicholls, the two women who started the surface design class I took last year. Be sure to check it out!

Ethereal Pomegranates by Laurie Baars

Efuto Fun

I recently participated in a fun project with my surface pattern design group, organized by designer Gill Eggleston. Efuto is Japanese for "envelope art" (e = picture and futo = envelope). The idea was to create take an envelope, get creative with it, and mail it to the person after you on the list. In turn, you were to receive an envelope created by the person before you on the list. I agonized a bit over what to put on mine but finally came up with some stylized black, silver, and white flowers. Although it was tempting to work in some color, I've been so drawn to black and white lately that I decided to keep it simple. I sent my efuto to Lesley Todd in the UK and received a lovely one from Krishnaa Shyam Sundar who lives in Bath, England. Gill has also put together a directory incorporating all of our efuto's. For that one, I submitted a slightly different version with my favorite lime green mixed in. All in all it was a fun effort and the finished directory, the Little White Book of Surface Pattern Designers, looks fabulous.

 The lovely efuto I received from Krishnaa

The lovely efuto I received from Krishnaa

 Efuto by Laurie Baars 

Efuto by Laurie Baars 

The End of a Very Good Thing

6 months ago I started an e-course called the Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design, run by two  women in the UK, Rachael Taylor and Beth Nicholls. I had no idea what to expect as it was the first online course I’d ever taken. To be honest, my expectations were fairly low. By the end of the first week, I was blown away. The course plunged me into creative territory I had not traversed since I was around 7 years old. I was seeing inspiration everywhere. I was sketching, something I hadn’t done in years. I was running to the art store to buy supplies. I was turning my doodles and sketches into patterns that I really liked. I was having fun! Where I had been yearning for a creative community, I now had one. And not just an ordinary one, but one made up of 200 incredibly supportive, talented designers from all over the world. The course motivated me to start this blog and website. I’ve entered countless design competitions and my portfolio has grown exponentially.

And now I can say I’m a proud graduate! I'm sad that this part of the journey has come to an end but I’m really looking forward to the future and brimming with goals and plans. In six months I gained creative confidence, technical skills, direction, and a sense that it is really possible to do what I love. Thanks Rachael and Beth.

 From inspiration to pattern

From inspiration to pattern

Lacy Nails

One of the projects in my surface design class was to create a design for nail art.  I have been fascinated by lace recently, so came up with a black & white lace-like design that I thought would look really cool on nails, although I wasn’t sure if it would actually be possible to replicate it with nail polish.

Well, the talented MaJo Bautista proved it was possible.  She has been running a weekly blog feature where she paints her nails using a design done by one of us in the class.  Check out her handiwork below and on her blog.  

MaJo is a fashion and textile designer from Columbia who currently lives in Milan and has a great portfolio of whimsical, fun, modern designs with a lovely, organic, hand-drawn style.