Happy New Year!

The first day of 2012, I made some resolutions:

  1. To give up all vices (except for sugar. Sugar, you're my only friend, and not for long).
  2. To be an artist.
  3. To be the best friend and girlfriend I could be.
  4. To rock.

Now, looking back on the year on the last day of 2012, I'm pretty confident this was the best year ever. Here's just a few of the things that 2012 brought that I'm grateful for/stoked about:

So, even though my computer of five years just died on Friday and I lost a bunch of files and had to go buy a new laptop, and even though I have eight books to edit this week, you were pretty awesome, 2012, and I am so stoked to start 2013. Apparently resolutions work, so I'm going to have a hundred this year. Some things I hope to look forward to: 
  1. Launching of my Cabin Fajitas comic. A comic a week! (If I tell you here, I have to do it, right?)
  2. Art/research road trip to Canada. I've got a story to tell, and it's in Alberta.
  3. Another illustration residency!
  4. A new, new website!
  5. More collaborations!
  6. And 95 other less interesting resolutions like flossing, being better about backing up my files (weep), getting French doors for my studio so I stop living in it, going to the library regularly, and apparently making you read a lot of lists, dear reader (check!). 
So, make some resolutions! Resolve to get awesome or do whatever. I'll be your sponsor. And may your new year be healthy, inspiring, and super rocking. GET JAZZED MMXIII!

Oh, also, these are selling like hot cakes, but I still have New Year's card sets for sale (featuring the above image). See more pictures of them here and purchase them here. There's also a print of this image in my shop!


Studio closed! December 24-January 2

Happy holidays! The studio will be closed from December 24 through January 2. I am still having a pop-up shop in Santa Rosa December 24, and my Etsy shop will be open for some of that time as well. I might pop in to make a blog post this week, but otherwise I'm closed for business! See you next year!


House Calls! Sun-Mon 12/23-24, Santa Rosa

{Tissu Haus: an upcoming product I'm mocking up! © Mikayla Butchart}
We're finishing up our Christmas shopping this weekend and then packing up the car to spend a few days in the North Bay with our families. If you're in the Santa Rosa/Sonoma County area, and you're interested in purchasing a last-minute Christmas gift, I'll be bringing a little of everything from my Etsy shop: prints, Aphrodite and Thanks a Million totes, New Years cards and blank Good Dog cards, felt trees, stuffed volcanoes, and even some stuffed ships in a bottle. Send me an email (mikayla[dot]butchart[at]gmail) if you're interested in purchasing something in person and I'll let you know when I'll be doing house calls or where to visit my pop-up shop! Sunday (12/23) and Monday (Christmas Eve)!


Professional Illustration class with Lisa Congdon!

Lisa finishes up her talk on the business of being a professional illustrator. @ Makeshift Society
Last night I attended a talk on Professional Illustration given by illustrator extraordinaire Lisa Congdon at Makeshift Society, a superspecial clubhouse for creative professionals in San Francisco. I've been an admirer of Lisa and her work for a while now, in part because her work is fun and sincere and approachable and whimsical and everywhere (pick up a copy of the Guardian, she's illustrated their anniversary issue; fall down an Internet wormhole and land at the Land of Nod children's retailer website even though you know barely any children, and hey, there's some hand-painted Lisa Congdon ornaments; drool over some Hygge & West wallpaper, hey that's Lisa; Lisa on Cloud 9 fabrics; Lisa on temporary tattoos; Lisa on the walls of Conference Room E at Chronicle Books, my old haunt). But the other reason I admire and follow Lisa's work is that she didn't go to art school; she is self-taught and was on a very different career path until she decided to make the switch to being a full-time, self-employed artist. I'm trying to forge a similar path, so her blog (and especially her FAQs) have been a huge inspiration for me. She's incredibly generous with sharing her experiences and tips there, and it was such a treat to hear her talk about them in person (and to meet her afterward!). I took pages of notes, and some of it was familiar already, but here were my biggest notes to self:

  • Get dressed as if you were going to an actual job. (I think that the reason a lot of freelancers don't do this is not because they're lazy/getting away with what they can, but because they're so stoked on what they're doing that they walk straight from bed to their workspace. Art trumps pants!)
  • Eat breakfast. (Same thought here. Also lunch and dinner, probably.)
  • You don't necessarily need a studio outside your home, but it's preferable if it's a space you can close up and leave at the end of the day. (French doors 2013!).
  • Keep regular work hours even when you don't have regular work. (For me, this should also apply when I have too much work.)
  • Know when to say yes and when to say no.
  • Know your dream projects and set goals: it'll help you set a direction and expand and hone your portfolio.
  • You don't have to have only one style, but be authentic. Experiment and develop bodies of work.
  • Only show work you'd like to make again or see licensed on a product. (If things suddenly disappear from my online portfolios, now you'll know why.)
  • Show up for people in your community! Go to art shows and classes and talks! (Yeah!)
  • Be nice, be professional, be assertive, be confident, be patient, be positive, be prompt, be gracious, be easy to work with, and work hard. (nbd.)
Anyway, this has been a big year of learning for me, and of approaching illustration with intention and focus. It is nice that this opportunity to take Lisa's class came at the end of year, as things wind down and hibernate for a few days and I have an opportunity to reflect on 2012 and set some goals for 2013. I'll start with breakfast. 

And thanks, Lisa. That was awesome. 


Shop Party! Thank You!

Photo by Cleo Malone

A big thank-you to everyone who came and visited me at Shop Party yesterday (or even supported from a distance by "liking" or "hearting" my photos on Facebook or Instagram). I'd had about 40 minutes of sleep the night before and I would have bargained my way out of making the drive to Santa Rosa that morning if I could, but you know what? Shop Party was awesome. I was so heartened by all the visitors who lingered over all the offerings at my table and by all the sales I made. This has been the first year I've really tried to make a go of being an illustrator, and this was my first craft show of any kind. I got into illustration and artmaking because I like drawing or whatever but specifically because my favorite genre is the gift: I love making things to make people happy (pathologists would probably call this a constant need for approval). So as a fledgling illustrator who hasn't shown much in the past, sitting at my first craft fair, talking to craft-shoppers face-to-face, and selling a bunch of probable gifts I'd made was nothing short of amazing. And important. Because sometimes you're not sleeping very much and you're making a huge mess of the entire apartment for weeks and Wells Fargo is sending you pie charts of your spending habits and you're like, Dear god, 47% of my income on felt?! and the threat looms that you'll hang it up or scale back the art phase, oh well, it was worth a shot. But then you sell out of all your Good Dog totes and you suddenly want to write a big gushy paragraph about the experience. So thanks, Shop Partiers. Truly.

Oh, and a HUGE thank-you to those who helped me prepare and those who helped me get through the day. You know who you are. You're the best.

My lovely assistant and me.

The Sea Poppy (a stuffed ship in a bottle), tiny stuffed volcanoes, and totes!

Archival art prints, felt forest trees, New Years and Good Dog notecard
sets, and Hella Hello postcards!

* * *
My Etsy shop is a little depleted, but if you're interested in making a purchase, there's still plenty of stuff left! I recommend you order by December 19, at the latest, to get things before Christmas. Otherwise, you know what is a good time for belated gifts? All the time. 


Holiday shopping sneak peek: Felt forest trees

I will have my felt forest trees for sale at the Shop Party holiday craft fair in Santa Rosa this Sunday, December 9! These are an improved version of the trees I mocked up in May as an ode to Hendy Woods. They are very meticulously made, but they're worth it, and I will miss them. I seriously considered making one twelve times larger and using it as our Christmas tree, but I'm trying to get started early on my New Year's resolution not to be a maniac about everything. Unless you think that's something a normal, logical person would do?


Several of these sold at Shop Party, but there's still some left and I'm always making more. Find them in my Etsy shop!


Holiday shopping sneak peek: Good Dog totes

Another of my screen-printed canvas totes that will be available at the Shop Party holiday craft fair in Santa Rosa December 9! BFF James from A Second Story helped me by hand-screen-printing one of my Good Dog illustrations on these roomy cotton twill totes. I have a very small quantity of these, so come early!


These completely sold out at Shop Party, so they won't be available in my Etsy shop just yet. We are discussing printing a new edition, maybe in a different color. What color would you like to see? In the meantime, this illustration (in pink, not orange) is available as a print and in a set of notecards.

Aw yeah. James's superexclusive Milo cuddle sweatshirt.


Holiday shopping sneak peek: Aphrodite totes!

Aphrodite, you hot number! My friend James at A Second Story helped me hand-screen-print my illustration of three Aphrodite busts on these natural cotton totes. A limited quantity will be available at the Shop Party holiday craft fair in Santa Rosa on December 9, and they're also now available in my shop! I'll post my last tote tomorrow, so stay tuned!

{Hey James}


Holiday shopping sneak peek: Thanks a Million totes

They are slowly banning plastic bags in San Francisco (at the moment you can buy them for ten cents each at smaller stores) and I had really grown to like the flowered "Thank You/Have a Nice Day" plastic bags that you could get at corner veggie stores and Chinatown markets here. You used to come home with quite a variety!

So I designed my own reusable version, and it will be available at the Shop Party holiday craft fair in Santa Rosa on Sunday December 9, and a batch is currently online in my Etsy shop! Each cotton twill tote is individually hand-screen-printed with the help of my friend James from A Second Story. I will be sharing the other totes we made over the next couple of days, so stay tuned!


Holiday shopping sneak peek: Tiny volcanoes!

decorative cute small felt stuffed volcanoes

I will be a vendor at Shop Party in Santa Rosa, California, this year (December 9, Arlene Francis Center, 11-4)! I'll be bringing prints and notecards from my shop, and I'm also making some exciting new things just for the event. I've made a couple of stuffed volcanoes as gifts for friends over the years and they've been such a hit that I've decided to make a bunch of little ones to sell! These are about three inches tall (not including the "fire") and they'll be available in my online shop after December 9.

I'll be posting more of the things to look forward to at Shop Party over the next few weeks, so stay tuned!


Limited edition Loma Prieta "Dark Mountain" re-press

I'm excited to tell you that my friends Loma Prieta (look at how cute they are) have re-pressed their Dark Mountain LP, which came out in 2009 and has since gone out of print. I did the artwork for them, and the new version of the cover doesn't have any text, so it's just pure, uncut, unobliterated mountain painting for you. The re-press is limited (only 500 copies) and available directly from the band (HxCMerch or Discos Huelga), so be sure to pick it up, hardcore fans, lovers of landscapes. 

By the way, you can also buy a print of this painting in my shop, and hang it in your hallway like we do.


Happy Halloween!

I learned from the 1995 film Houseguest starring Sinbad (which I went to see on my first date ever) that if you bite your lip while dancing it makes it look as if you're a better dancer. Or something like that. Anyway, it's the weekend before Halloween and the Giants just won the World Series and everyone is partying. So shake it, Funky George Marchington and Black Swan Leary!


Tiny diorama: Secret Study

My friend Kathleen, who used to live here in San Francisco but who has since moved to New York, is visiting the Bay Area this week to promote her debut novel. Yesterday was her birthday, and I had an unexpected afternoon off, so with much too much coffee I whipped up this tiny paper diorama in a jewelry box for her. You enter by way of a secret door behind a bookcase.

Inside is a secret writing study, with everything you could possibly need for long stretches of writing prose: a cozy fireplace, an elegant tufted armchair, an ornate Louis XV writing desk, a potted palm, a zebra print rug (faux, of course)...

and a rotary phone, off the hook:

Here is what that's about. Earlier this year, I read somewhere that "the poets Anne Sexton and Maxine Kumin famously used to telephone each other and work for hours composing verses, each with her phone beside her so that she might try out a phrase or line, or just seek sustenance from the other without having to redial. (When one wanted the other's attention, she whistled into the receiver.)" When Kathleen still lived in San Francisco, we enjoyed working together at cafes, but now that we're on opposite sides of the country, a tiny paper study with a tiny rotary phone off the hook is where we'll have to work together in spirit.

Anyway, you should read her book, The Dangers of Proximal Alphabets. The Wall Street Journal calls it a "beautiful story of love and heartbreak" and a "joyously good first novel."


Milo blank greeting cards and prints now available!

You remember the Highlighter Milos from yesteryear? I drew three portraits of our Jack Russell/fox terrier mix Milo (sweetheart, rascal, runt, old man, love of my life) using whatever I could reach (an ink pen and three dying highlighters), as he was lying on my lap at the time. Well, highlighter as a lasting art medium is pretty laughable and these have been fading into oblivion over the years to my great sadness. But I recently redrew and repainted the Milo portraits using juicy archival acrylic ink (just try to fade now!) and they look better than ever! They are now available as prints and as a six-pack of cards in my etsy shop.

(Psst: Like Milo, but like your own pet better? I do custom pet portraits! Contact me for details.)


Hella hello!

Cheery San Francisco homes and some NorCal dialect for you! Hey, for a limited time you can get this print in the form of a free postcard with every etsy order! Hella free!


2013 New Year's cards now available!

Every year I promise myself I will send New Year's cards--two years ago I even populated my mailing list and got halfway through a painting for the year of the rabbit before I got distracted and aborted the endeavor. But this year will be different. I am thirty now. I will disappoint no one. I have some lovely cards and envelopes all ready to write and send, and no excuses.

It seems only fitting that I adapted one of my ongoing (unfinished) projects, the night garden numbers I've been using to count down the days for my 30 to 30 project, for these lovely 2013 New Year's cards. I just got them back from the printer, and they are so vibrant and sturdy and satiny! I made some for you, too: they're now available for sale in my shop in packs of eight (or less or more, if you're feeling specific about your needs) with envelopes, while supplies last! May all the cards you send and receive this holiday season look like this one. They will look so good on your fake mantle:

The 2013 image is also available as an 8x10 print in the shop if for some good reason (marriage, new baby, Arrested Development season 4) you want to commemorate the year forever. Soon there will be more cards in the shop! For all occasions! And no one will make you send them!