frequently asked questions
working with me
are you available for freelance work or personal commissions?
I am currently taking a break from all freelance jobs, commissions, and work for hire to focus on personal projects and gallery work. However, I am always willing to consider projects that have a strong focus on wildlife conservation or natural science education.
can you design a
tattoo for me?
Sorry, but I am not currently designing tattoos.
can i use an existing
design as a tattoo?
Thank you for wanting to get something I drew tattooed on you, that will never not be a big deal to me! I’m totally fine with people getting tattoos done of my work, as long as you remember to respect your tattooer as an artist themselves and make sure they’re comfortable with basing your tattoo off of someone else’s work. I tend to think that the best tattoos come from finding a tattoo artist whose work resonates with you and trusting them to design something custom for you in their own style. But I also understand that sometimes you fall in love with something specific and you need to find someone to replicate it; in that case it’s probably best to work with your tattooer to make changes to the artwork, both to fit their art style and adapt the illustration to be better suited for a tattoo.
Rather than asking any sort of fee for the use of my art, I request that you make a small donation to one of the following:
How can i buy an original?
Almost all of my originals are created for gallery shows and sold through the gallery. The best way to find out in advance about my gallery shows is to subscribe to my mailing list for email updates; there is also a regularly-updated list of upcoming shows on my bio page.
To make it easy to find originals that are still available, I have a page in my shop that lists all prints and originals currently available through other shops and galleries.
can i reserve a
copy of an item?
Everything in my shop is sold first-come first-served so that it's fair for everyone. Custom requests are also very hard to accommodate, mainly because I am forgetful, and it’s highly likely that I’ll forget about your custom request and you will be mad at me :) Thanks for understanding!
when will this item be released?
will you be reprinting
this sold out item?
Screenprints, giclées, foil prints, and letterpress prints that are marked "limited edition" will never be reprinted. Open edition prints, enamel pins, stickers, postcards, and other items will be restocked as soon as possible if you still see them listed in my shop after they sell out.
can i place a
i have an assignment to interview a professional, can i send you my questions?
I really wish I was able to respond individually to each one of these requests — I had this assignment myself when I was in school — but I get dozens of emails about this every semester and it’s just not possible for me to answer all of them.
materials & techniques
what medium do
you work in?
My gallery work is painted by hand with gouache & watercolor on paper. For most of my freelance projects, the linework is created by hand in black and white, with color added digitally.
My most frequently used supplies are Holbein Acryla gouache and watercolor on Fabriano Artistico 300lb hot press watercolor paper. Greyscale work is done in black gouache or pencil or ink on smooth bristol. I do digital work in Adobe Photoshop CC with a Wacom Intuos Pro tablet.
do you use
Yes! Whenever I can, I try to rely on my own reference, whether from photos I take out in the wild, specimens at natural history museums, or books. But since I don’t exactly have a catalog of every living thing in every posture and variation, I depend heavily on finding reference images online. I use dozens of images to sketch a single animal, pulling several references for pose and anatomy, others for details like feet and tails and teeth and ears, others for markings and feather patterning and fur texture. I like to collage together a frankenstein animal so that I’m not basing everything upon any one source, and can make the animal look and move exactly how I want it to.
careers in illustration
do i need to go
to art school?
Absolutely not! Many artists and illustrators are self-taught and just as successful or more so than others who have a degree. Being motivated and hard-working about what you want to achieve is more important than any external measure of achievement. I have a BFA in Illustration from the Minneapolis College of Art & Design and got a fantastic education there, but a strong creative community can provide you with many of the same things that an education institution can.
how can i find clients?
Since I'm not actively freelancing at the moment, I don't feel that I'm the best person to give instruction on this subject at this time. My best general advice for aspiring artists is to make work that you are truly passionate about, and keep sharing it with the world without getting discouraged, until opportunities come.
I think it’s also important to ask yourself whether you actually want to make work for other people. Sometimes this is presented as the only way to make money in the arts, but you can have a successful career by making and selling art or products yourself, and never take on a single freelance job. It just depends on whether you like collaborating with clients on lots of different types of work and helping someone else’s vision come to life, or whether you have your own vision or something you want to create without any input from other people.
is it hard to balance two very different illustration styles?
I’ve maintained my children’s illustration as a separate practice from the rest of my work for many years, and it’s only ever helped me. Basically it allows me to get the work opportunities of two different illustrators, so that it hasn’t been as hard for me to make ends meet. Plus, both styles are important to me and allow me to explore separate worlds, and I'd be heartbroken if I had to give either of them up.
I would absolutely recommend that if you are interested in a few things, you should pursue all of them, rather than feeling pressured to narrow your focus.
how did you
develop a style?
For me it has been a process of lots of tiny choices and influences over a long, long period of time and through making many, many pieces of art. My style is still slowly evolving and I believe it always will and always should.
I’ve found it’s best to focus on what you can offer that is unique and feels true to you as an artist rather than fixating on what other people are doing or how they’re better than or different from you. Personally I really adore loose, scribbly line art from other artists, but when I try to work that way I can’t seem to make it look good, so I try to focus on what I am good at and let other people be good at their things too :)
who are your
Pat Perry, Andrew Wyeth, João Ruas, Kate Mackay Gill, Jesse Narens, Neva Hosking, Alex Kuno, Edward Kinsella, Nomi Chi, Nicomi Nix Turner, Zoe Keller, Lily Seika Jones, Riikka Sormunen, Landland, Rebecca Green, Fumi Mini Nakamura, Nick Sheehy, Carson Ellis, Sam Alden, Alexandra Dvornikova