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Week 5 of Make Art that Sells: Gift Market

For the last week of the course we are looking into the Gift Market which means any product you’d find in a gift shop: stationary, bags, wallets, books, toys, picture frames, etc. Lilla planned for us a crazy fun week where she wants us to let loose and stretch ourselves while producing something personal. Personal like things we collect. So we were to search through our house and look for our “collections”. Yay, I jumped away from my laptop and started putting things together so I could post to the Facebook group before heading for work. On the spur of the moment I found 5 collections: ukuleles, teapots, art mannequins, christmas ornaments, and my little plastic animals.  

For the mini assignment we had to draw, paint, photograph, scan, or vectorize the items from one of our collections, any which way we wanted. Of course I picked the ukulele collection, and started to think of other items to add to it. People in the group posted their travel souvenir and that reminded me of the kitschy hula girl statuette playing ukulele I bought last summer on my first trip to Hawaii. And who says Hawaii also says tropical fruits, flowers, exotic plants and birds.. how convenient since we did all those in the first two weeks! I started with sketches of the hula girl. Fun to draw a human for a change :).

Then the big assignment came on Wednesday, which was to design an “hyper lush” zippered pouch such as maybe a pencil or makeup case. I was kind of seeing it as a handbag. Especially since Lilla was talking about taking inspiration for this assignment from a trend in the fashion world and showing up photos of dresses with lush floral designs. “Abundance” was the key word this week! And for this we could throw in any items we drew the previous weeks. Hurray! I began doodling about what the ukulele meant for me: a magical way to relax, feel good, and that allows me to dream..

I wish I could share everything I was looking at on the web this week, there are so many cool ukulele related things! I chose to focus on the 1920 period. I have always liked art from this era but lately I am super drawn to this style. In every assignment I tried to give an Art Nouveau flavor and I will keep trying until I get it ;). There was this piece of vintage oil cloth that connects with the sensualness I wanted to bring to my piece with the hula girl. And also this fabulous painting from Henri Rousseau of a ukulele player on a tiger which inspired me to put the hula girl on a flamingo with a lush jungle background. I always forget about him but he must be one of my favorite painters!

Here’s the progress on my hula girl, to give her an 1920 art deco style and put her in a sitting position. Then the next step was to vectorize her and the ukuleles.

By Friday night I am always still trying to figure out what to do, which is a bit stressful knowing that the assignment is due in less than two days! So to reconnect with my ukulele theme, relax and remember why I LOVE it, I looked for the joy of the music. I found this fun video, the favorite ukulele moments in movies. Press play, it will put you in the mood too! It got me going until 2am that night. I was looking in my folders, throwing in anything I could find. It’s a strange scary feeling to go for an abundant design when you’re normally a minimalist. But I pushed through my fear, arms in the air and screaming the whole time “this is crazy, this is nuts, but I’m doing it anyway, I can always hit delete!!”

This is what I ended up with that night. I posted it in the group but next to everyone’s super colorful pouches my color palette looked really muted. A few people suggested I add more green. Ok! I turned to my favorite Nylon magazine for inspiration. 

By the way this magazine is a great reference for trends, and the April issue was filled with tropical fruits, succulents, floral motifs, foxes and even flamingos..! Everything Lilla has mentioned throughout the course. She was right on :). 

So here’s the same design with the new color palette. Yes, what do you think? I like it, and so did my classmates! Even though they said it was “lushy” enough, I wanted to add foliage and make it more of a jungle a la Henri Rousseau. And add Art Nouveau style floral motifs.

Thanks to Lilla for suggesting the Dover books on Amazon (and thanks to Amazon Prime!), they are a great reference for drawing all kinds of plants and florals. Although I added a lot of the foliage from my own head, it was really helpful, especially for the flowers.

So after much drawing, scanning and vectorizing, there’s my ukulele jungle! A thing this course has taught me is to keep pushing pass my usual stopping point. I could have stopped at the last version, but now this feels much more complete.

 Last but not least, we had to mock the design as a real pouch and make it into a nice presentation (ps, the zipper was cut out from my new favorite paravent pouch). Not a small feat! Even though I finished my design Saturday around dinner, I scrambled again until the very last minute for the Sunday 2pm deadline. Phew! What a ride this week was. But it really felt like a breakthrough, now I’m not so scared of lush designs! 

I can’t believe this course over, it was quite an amazing experience! I feel very grateful to have mixed with such a pool of talented artists and learned from a warm and dedicated teacher like Lilla. This final week was the perfect ending to a perfect 5 weeks. Time to bust out a tune! 


You can buy this pouch on Zazzle:


accessories illustration

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