January 25, 2016

NUDIE TEES! Online Shop Launch

If you've been around the blog or my instagram these last few weeks, you'll certainly have seen some sneak peeks of these babies! I have been working hard at launching my Online Shop and all sorts of IRL opportunities, too!!

My "Nudie" series started with a calendar in 2015. It was a cheeky interpretation of nude calendars that I designed partly to entertain myself, and partly as a Christmas gift for friends and family. It was so well received that I made another for 2016, and began selling them too. From there, I developed an ongoing series of Nudies and Nudie products. Including my Nudie tees!

The t-shirt designs were chosen based on their ability stand-alone. These 3 illustrations are featured in the calendar as well, with 9 others which are somewhat better coupled with text. I thought that the Paradise Island, he Dirty Desert, and the Sexy Ghosts designs were the most fun and subtle and playful designs for tees!

The shirts themselves are super soft cotton printed by one of my fav small printing businesses in Toronto. Yay for supporting local businesses and for comfy tees!

I am so very excited for this little venture!

If you are in Toronto you can catch me at a few fairs/markets this coming February. To keep up to date with where I'll be, follow Katia Engell Creative on Facebook.

If you're not in Toronto, visit the Online Shop here!

I'd like to thank my lovely models, Krista and Ara, and my mom for taking the very first photo of him and I, and for letting me use the car to pick up my big box of t-shirts that I somehow thought I'd be able to take home on public transit alone... Ha!

What do you guys think of the tees?


January 24, 2016

Photo Capsule 01.23.16

It has been a super productive week, which was actually my yoga-encouraged hope for the week.

I've been working on launching my ONLINE SHOP selling my Nudie tees (YAY! More on that later...) I have been taking photos of my lovely models in the tees (and that shot of me and the fella!), getting the tees printed, picking up a box way bigger than I could carry on my own and having to make multiple trips to actually get them.

My studio has been a mess all throughout the holiday and I finally got around to cleaning and organizing it. It is so satisfying to walk in and see it all tidy and the table space all open. Oof!

Friday, I went to the closing party of a really fantastic art show at Nuvango Gallery here in Toronto. Incredible art duo Carnovsky put together a groovy, psychedelic show that was really fun to experience.

And of course, some cake pops without the popsicle part, so really just cake balls. My friend and I spent the day baking and watching crappy TV and it was a fantastic girl's day!

Happy Sunday everyone - hope you had a great week too, and if not, here's to a great one coming up!


January 22, 2016

Colour Lovin' .o2

Colour Lovin' is a series of colour palettes based on images I love. It is my hope that these colour palettes offer some visually stimulation and inspire creatives who might find themselves in need of a starting point or creative prompt!

Often, I find myself feeling grateful for the every day beauty.  Grateful for something as simple as a fruit bowl in your mom's kitchen; a life-filled indoor plant, vibrant ceramics, and the warm tones of citrus.

See the last Colour Lovin' post here!


January 21, 2016

A Thought or Two: Fear and Freelancing

Surely it is not surprising to hear that freelancing can be scary.
It's kind of the opposite of what a lot of us are taught growing up: find a job, find somewhere you fit into, find an occupation you can apply your skills to, find something stable and steady to ensure your success in life. None of these are bad pieces of advice. They apply to a lot of us, myself included.
I feel a lot of "pride" associated with freelancing. I CAN DO THIS. WATCH ME. And it's not the easiest thing to admit that it's freakin' scary, and that it might not actually be the best thing for me. But I'm gonna get nice and real here.

I have now been essentially freelancing for 8 months since graduating school. A lot of my work has been varied - I'm the only creative person someone knows so they come to me for sewing a birth banner, or for a portrait of their wife, or for some paintings for their home. Some of my jobs have come to me by sending a resume for an art instructor position and getting a response that says they don't need any more instructors, but they do need tshirt designs! Other have been by putting myself out there, or hassling my friends in bands long enough that they finally decide to take me up on my offers. It's a total thrill to land a new contract and it is hilarious how this happens sometimes.

My "jobs" are technically also freelance. I work for a wedding photographer once a week to edit photos, perform administrative tasks, create graphics for cards or promotions, update social media, and more. I also help on shoots occasionally. My other job is a freelance contract at a day program for persons with Alzheimers and Dementia. I do art sessions once a week. I love love love these jobs. I love going into work and being a part of a team. I love creating alongside others, I love helping people create. I love working with people! I have come to learn that my social nature is just as important a factor in my career as my creative nature is.

Which is a realization that makes the idea of perpetually freelancing quite scary. I want a workplace. I want a workplace culture. I want workplace friends. I want to be a part of something bigger than just my own work. I am not satisfied with staying at home and working from home, alone, 7 days a week. I am not quite at a place in my freelance work where I can afford my own place, either, and that's a big "want" for me. It's something I've wanted since I left home the first time and so thoroughly enjoyed having an apartment to myself.

Freelance is a fantastic way to work, and it is really fulfilling on many levels. Freelance works for many people and I am a total believer in it. I'm just afraid of it, despite doing it right now. But I guess fear comes along for the ride for a lot of good things in life.

Are you a freelancer? Do you get scared of it all sometimes?

January 19, 2016

Creative Crush: Matthew James Kay

Matthew James Kay is an artist I found on instagram (because where else do I find artists nowadays?) through his diagram poems account. I find Kay's word and diagram couplings so meditative and pleasing. They really resonate with me; there's something magic about the simplicity and happenstance and creative pairing that goes into this work.

Things also get real groovy when pattern and image collage elements come into play. And if you happen to know me, you know I love me some pattern and some collage so - win win!

Be sure to check out Kay's portfolio website, as well as his etsy shop to see which pieces he's willing to part with!

By the way, how would YOU read these poems?
I instinctively start at the top then work my way around clockwise, but sometimes my eyes jump around unintentionally! Curious to see how others interpret these!


January 13, 2016

Art Fart: for Bowie

Oh Bowie.

No words or artwork or sentiments of any kind will suffice to express the loss the entire world is feeling - even as a relatively moderate fan such as myself.

I love the Bowie universe, and respect, admire, and appreciate the things he did in his life. He was an unrelenting creator, a maker of wonderful new things that really shook up the world. I love his aesthetic, I love his music, I love his attitude; I even love his ugly red Ziggy mullet. I donned it myself this past Halloween for my Bowie costume. I am very sad to see him go, and so awe-struck at the brilliant coincidence (which, I suspect, might not have been a coincidence at all) of releasing his latest and last album just 2 days before his death. Incredible 'til the end!
Bowie, thank you for the weirdness, and thank you for the magic and the sparkle.


January 10, 2016

Photo Capsule 01.10.16

The beginning of January has been a bit of a slow one - a slow start to hopefully big fast-rolling fun things!

I got some tshirts printed with my "nudie" drawings which I am VERY excited about. You can see more of my nudie drawings on the new instagram account I've made for my illustrations, @katiaillu. Fingers crossed for big things to come with this.

My friend Annie took some photos of me this week! Annie is one of my art friends who I collaborate with often and generally go back and forth with for our creative stuff. It was fun to work with a different medium (for her, photography, and for me, modelling? eh!) and I love to see the result post-freezing-my-butt-off-infront-of-the-camera and post-editing!

One of my favourite traditions is the "Galette du Roi", which is a celebration of the epiphany in early January. Whoever finds the little figurine (Traditionally: a bean or a little baby jesus, less traditionally: disney princesses and anthropomorphic animals) in their slice of cake is the King or Queen. Apparently I win every year, as my sister lamented when I won this year, so I got a crown again, and picked my king!

And of course my little doggy wog. Always.

What were you up to this week!?


January 8, 2016

Colour Lovin' .o1

I am starting a new series this year that allows me to share a) cool things I see or find, and b) really cool colours and little colour palettes! Sometimes as designers/illustrators/makers it's helpful to have prompts. It often helps to have a starting point for colours, and sometimes to have colours as a starting point. So for both myself and for anyone who might need some visual stimulation, here you go - have some colour!

I loved this combination of colours that I saw on a walk with my friend. As sad as it is that the red dot means it'll be chopped down soon, it was visually interesting and really caught my eye. The colours in this photo are completely unedited. Hashtag no filter. Ha!


January 6, 2016

2016 Mantras & Goals

I have developed a habit of choosing a new years "mantra" instead of new years resolutions. It has proven to be better for me - to have a repeatable phrase that guides me in the direction I feel I need to go.  The last two years, my mantra has been to "Have Courage". It was one of the best mantras I could have chosen at the time and I feel I am a better version of me for it.

My personal mantra for 2016 is "Let Go"

For me, letting go means not allowing events, experiences, and emotions of the past to interfere with today. I am not a victim of my past. I will not use the past as an excuse for my current emotions and I will not let it shape my present-day decisions. I will not forget - because remembering is important, but I will let go.

Alongside this mantra, I do have specific goals for 2016 too.

My goal for this blog is to be flexible.
To let the space be what it is, and to become what it will be. 

I've been feeling pressure to make this space a particular way, to organize it in a way that will lead to "success". There's nothing wrong with structuring a blog to be that way and to aspire for your blog to be that way, but I have found it stifling for me. There is value in an editorial calendar and an e-mail news letter and e-courses and planning ahead - of course! I'm just going to go at my own pace and see what works for me and this blog.

My goal for my art work is to put myself out there and simply, make it happen!

It is really challenging to get your work out there without a fair amount of time and money investments and that can really put a damper in the process. But I'm going to dive in and take the risks I need to make it happen. So stay tuned ;) !

What are your goals for 2016?
Have you posted a 2016 goals list? Share your link in the comments!

January 2, 2016

2015 Year of Thrift Challenge: That's a Wrap!

The last year absolutely flew by! I hope you all had lovely ends to your 2015, full holiday seasons, and wonderful celebrations to ring in the new year!

With the end of a year wherein you took on a year-long challenge comes the inevitable year-end reflection and summary. My Year of Thrift was one of the best challenges I've taken on (and actually stuck with) and I am incredibly happy with how the year went!

My year of thrift Manifesto began with this:

"In the year 2015 I will think sustainably and purchase all my clothing, accessories, and any other goods through thrifted means. [...] What can't be purchase through thrift I will find alternatives that are handmade, environmentally friendly, and small business; things like jewellery, beauty products, bath and body products, hair products, etc."

I had some exceptions to the rule and feel as though I approached the challenge reasonably. Here are my thoughts on the exceptions now:

1. One good pair of jeans: I bought myself a black pair right before 2015 started. I didn't buy any new pants this year, except for a Halloween costume (which I thrifted!) Check!

2. Underwear: I think I was all set in the underwear department this year, but I'm almost at the point where I need to re-stock now. Check!

3. Socks: I bought some. Mostly got some funny ones as gifts though! Check!

4. Functional shoes: I bought myself two pairs of functional shoes this year and they were great investments. Shoes for my backpacking trip, and black boots for winter because the ones I had since highschool died this year! Check!

5. Beauty/Bath/Body Products: This was actually a huge focus by the end of my Year of Thrift. I have now moved on to almost entirely natural products for my face hair and body. I have a few makeup items that I am hoping to find better alternatives for still, but for the most part I'm all natural. Deodorant was the HARDEST thing to find. I have found one that works right now. It's got a few quirks, but it is the only one that hasn't stained my clothes or left me stinky every few hours. I will review it on the blog soon! Check!

6. Leggings/work out clothes: This is an extra exception I didn't anticipate. It is really hard to find tight-fitting things second hand.

7. Sunglasses: It is REALLY hard to find second hand sunglasses that fit my face. I ended up buying a new pair.

8. Hats: Hats aren't really the kind of thing that I wear, except toques in winter time. There's something just a little bit odd about buying a secondhand toque, and they are often stretched out. So new ones are something I am OK with buying. Though I will try to go for handmade hats in the future!

So I added only a few exceptions by the end of this challenge and I'm really proud of how well I did at only thrifting all year. I DID screw up though....

Late November I went to a small local shop after a morning of only going to secondhand stores and I didn't get out of my "I can shop here" headspace. So I bought a beautiful sweater on sale, and only realized after I got home that I had just broken my rule and couldn't return it as it was on sale. My solution was to not wear it until 2016. It sounds a little silly, but I just felt really badly that I had broken my rule, so that made me feel better about having bought it. Woo!

The hardest time of year was the change in seasons, when all sorts of new patterns and textures pop up in the storefronts. But even then, I would thrift. 

What now?
My perspective on shopping has changed so much. I feel so comfortable in my wardrobe, more so than I have in the past, and I am still feeling fabulous and stylish (as much as I want to be, anyway) in the clothing that I have collected from thrift stores. I have a new appreciation for clothing of good quality and with unique traits. I am almost grossed out by big box stores now and don't often feel a pull to go in and buy things.

I don't think that my year of thrift challenge is going to change much in the new year. The only difference is that if I am absolutely smitten with an item, I will buy it, even if it may be from a store I don't want to support. But that is a rarity in big stores for me. I am much more smitten with the big fringe-covered cow-patterned sweater I snatched at Value Village the other weak and have practically lived in since. Yes, that sweater might make an appearance on the blog soon... ;)

So, thank you for following along on my year of thrift. Thank you for following this blog's other posts as well. I'm looking forward to a plentiful, productive, and fun 2016.


ps. do you like my little "party party" collage? I thought it was New Years appropriate... sparkles!