Friday, August 15, 2014

Shop Update!



Just a quick little note to kick-off the weekend! I am happy to report that I have just added all of the new items from San Diego to my Etsy shop. If you have a minute to browse this weekend, you can see all of the new items here.

I don't know about all of you, but I found this week to be a particularly difficult one. Illness and tragic news has kept me a bit down to say the least. I'm planning to spend the weekend having fun and celebrating all that is great in life, and I would love for all of you to do the same. To celebrate the facts that 1. it is about to be the weekend and 2. Life is awesome, I thought I would run a little sale in the shop! For this weekend only, everything in my shop is 10% off - just use the coupon code HAPPYWEEKEND at checkout. 

I hope you all have a fabulous weekend with lots of smiles. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Cheers to SDCC 2014!



We are off again! San Diego Comic Con 2014 starts in less than a day, and we have a brand new space to celebrate this year! We will now be located in the front of the hall (near the entrance) at booth #5551! Lots of new items (including the Sidecar print above), and a whole new setup - we hope to see you there!

P.S. - I will definitely be posting on Instagram and Twitter all weekend long, so you can keep up to speed with me there! Ta ta for now!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Heartwork 2014 - Hope



I know it has been too long, and I'm sorry for that. It seems like one day in March I was just having fun, happily writing a blog post, and the next thing I knew it was nearly July! I just don't know where the time goes.

The good news is that I wasn't neglecting this space for the sheer thrill of it. I've been busy with lots of projects, and I thought I would share one of them today. I was honored to be asked by Don Clark of Invisible Creature to contribute to this year's Heartwork project - a charity project to benefit Target House. This year's theme was "Hope", and all of the contributing artists were asked to create a piece that was their interpretation of that theme. Clearly, my interpretation of the theme involves mermaids. My interpretation of any theme involves mermaids. 

This piece and many others are available for purchase right here. They are all limited to a run of 10 prints only, so if you are interested don't wait! It is your chance to get some great artwork for a great cause!

There is quite a bit on the horizon here. Part of the reason that I have been MIA is because so much has been happening, and I will be updating on everything in short order. Thank you all so much for checking in - have a wonderful week and a happy and safe 4th of July!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Ink and Paint Girls




I don't know if this happens to anyone else, but my creative process usually goes something like this:

Step 1: Receive a gallery show deadline
Step 2: Brainstorm ideas
Step 3: Drag feet/hem and haw/ procrastinate on ideas
Step 4: Panic attack one week before deadline
Step 5: Work like crazy to meet deadline
Step 5.5: Come up with the idea that I am most excited about one day before the deadline. 




 
Now, this schedule is a little bit different for every project, but something like it did go down while I was working on the Legendary Beauties show with Lorelay. We had a great time brainstorming ideas together, and I was so happy about how the show turned out. But inspiration struck just a few days before we were supposed to turn in all of our pieces, and there was just no time to execute.




For the Legendary Beauties show, Lorelay and I both wrote down a list of famous female personalities (be it real, mythological, or fictional women) who we wanted to portray. From the very start, I had included "Ink and Paint Girls" on my list of to-dos, but I could never quite land on the execution. And then one day it hit me: They should be animated. Kind of zoetrope style. In the round.

And then we had to turn in the pieces for the show. Oh well.


I couldn't get this idea out of my head though, so thankfully another opportunity to create the piece arose when we did our first ladies group show at the studio. This was the first time I had ever tried building a piece in the round, and it certainly was a challenge. Whereas I usually only have to be mindful of a few different angles on a piece, the Ink and Paint Girls had to be designed for 360° viewing. The final piece doesn't actually spin, but I think the general idea is conveyed. Perhaps working on this piece will pave the way for future animated paper pieces with motors :)



Some angles are better than others, and I certainly would alter my process on the next one, but for me the learning and trial and error is a huge part of the fun! I had a blast working on this little experiment, and in the end was really happy with the final result. Some projects are worth the wait!



On an unrelated note: Thanks to everyone who came out this weekend to say hello at the Walt Disney Family Museum. I had a wonderful time and came home so very inspired. I hope to write a post about my take on the experience soon, but for now I hope you all have a wonderful week!

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Frozen - Family


Well, this past week has certainly been one wild ride.

 In the last of my posts on the process of working on Frozen, I wanted to talk about sisters. The relationship between Anna and Elsa was what originally compelled me to join the Frozen team, and what was at once an interesting and novel concept quickly turned into a relationship that I was remarkably (almost eerily) familiar with.


  
The Lee Girls - circa 1989

I am an older sister. I am an older, artistic, control freak, and annoyingly perfect-in-every-way sister. I analyze and approach with a calm, level head when possible. My younger, happy-go-lucky sister, Anna (aka Lainey) is compulsive. She would happily strike up conversations with complete strangers at age 5, and has been known to wildly drive golf carts into parked vehicles (also around age 5). She's a hugger, laughs till she cries, and is made of nothing but warmth. 



And though we love each other, it has always been difficult for the two of us to see eye to eye. As I watched Frozen begin to take its final shape, I would repeatedly have the wind knocked out of me at the striking similarities between the princesses and the two of us. Sure, I could give notes and feedback, but my input on plot was absolutely minimal. The story naturally moved in that direction, and I just happened to be a part of the team.


And then I was asked to illustrate A Sister More Like Me for Disney Publishing. I tell you, they sent me the manuscript and I was a weeping mess. My husband read through it in my office and I caught him being a weepy-mess as well. Why? Well, because it was like someone had been spying on my life for the last 20 years and then wrote it down in an adorable little poem. And then subsequently asked me to illustrate it.

  

The book is told from each sister's perspective as Elsa and Anna take turns talking about how each wishes her sister was more like her. Not only does it completely relate to their relationship in the film, but (I think) it also relates to every sibling who ever existed.



All images are property of Disney Publishing

Because of our compressed schedule, A Sister More Like Me had to be illustrated while I was still designing on Frozen, and though this made it difficult to get everything done, it was all completely worth it. Frozen was the learning experience of a lifetime, and a total joy at that. This little book was the frosting on the ice-cream cake.  

As we sat at the studio on Sunday watching the Academy Awards, I realized that this post would be timely for another reason. Looking at the 500+ people around me who were all cheering for the same film, it became clear how much of a family Walt Disney Animation Studios really is.  How family oriented filmmaking in general is. None of us can do it alone, and that is the beauty of the art form. We all work together, and if we are supportive and loving, we can bring out the best in each other. We can create something that is greater than the sum of all of our parts.

Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for following through my ramblings on Frozen. I'm looking forward to sharing new things very soon.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Frozen - Costume Design


 When we think about animated films, and specifically costumes in animated films, we tend to identify characters by 1 or 2 signature costumes. Cinderella had her peasant dress and her magical ball gown. Briar Rose had the same, though her ball gown was constantly shifting from pink to blue (to pink!) Alice has her iconic blue dress, and Peter Pan would not be Peter Pan without his feathered cap and tights!

Well, no such beast was Frozen. While we definitely identified "hero" costumes for our lead characters, the narrative required many, many more costume changes than what is typical for an animated film. Between the sheer number of costumes and the complexity of them (we're talking layers of petticoats, pantaloons, tights, gloves, hats, etc) Frozen is probably the most clothed animated film of all time.



 The costumes in this film kind of have a life of their own. Whenever possible, they tell a visual story that supports the narrative. The cut, color and detail work on every piece of clothing is designed the way it is for a reason. Anna begins with a bright yellow palette, and she stays in the warm greens throughout the entire time she is growing up. When you meet her as an adult for the first time, she is back in that yellow - the same tenacious girl you met as a five year old.



Elsa, on the other hand, changes rather drastically.  You meet her in her pale blue nightgown, and her palette gradually gets deeper and darker as she grows up and closes herself off from the world. Her sleeves get longer and she puts on gloves so that her skin is no longer exposed at all. Even her hairstyles evolve to be more tight and binding.



As adults, the girls are still costumed to reinforce their personality. Elsa's coronation gown is regal and restrictive, while Anna's coronation gown has inverted pleats for happy, hopeful twirling. Since the coronation is such a formal event, it seemed only fitting that Anna's hair be in an updo. To keep her playful, though, we added ribbons to her hair so that she could have a lot of great secondary motion. That same idea of added secondary motion on Anna is present in her traveling cape, where we added pompoms to the seams of the heavy wool fabric that (along with her rosemaling) reinforce her playfulness.


The bulk of my contribution to Frozen was definitely in the costume department. I ran the gamut from working on the sisters, clothing the King and Queen, and dressing the royal guard to refining Oaken's fabulous sweater/suspender combo and figuring out what troll clothing looks like   I tell you, I will never look at a lining the same way again!




I really hope that somebody manufactures that sweater for adults - I can see a use for it at many an ugly-but-fabulous-sweater Christmas party in the future.

All images are property of Walt Disney Animation Studios

It was actually a little bittersweet to work on the costuming for this film because I frequently realized that while a lot of these clothes would be made into real-life costumes for children, there was slim to no chance that they would ever be manufactured for adults. Like myself. Anna's boots?! Come on. 

One more Frozen post coming up, and many more updates on the horizon. Thank you again to all who continue to take interest in this little website. Have a wonderful week!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Phone Love




When it comes to technology,  I am the Queen Bee of procrastination. I'm running on operating systems that were released before the dawn of time because I don't want to go through the "hassle" of updating. When did instagram add videos to their platform? A year ago? Well, I wouldn't know because my phone operating system was so out of date that EVEN THEN I couldn't use the new features on the app. And I don't even remember the last time I could use twitter from my phone. Sheeesh.


So when I got the new Iphone 5s in December, I thought "This is perfect. I will get my technology organized and up to date for the New Year! Resolution #1 is in the bag!" I plugged my new phone in and started to restore all of the apps I already own... and received an error message telling me that my version of Itunes was out of date and that I needed to update it before I could restore my phone further. Oh...okay. Well, I guess I will just do this later then. 


That was over two months ago. I have had a brand new phone in my possession for over two months and have stubbornly refused to set it up because I didn't want to update Itunes. I am happy to report, however, that I was able to get my act together this weekend and get my brand-spanking (2 month-old) new phone up and running. And yes, by order of my husband, automatic updates are turned on. Permanently.


In similar Brittney procrastinating fashion, I have had oodles of shiny new Iphone cases sitting boxes in my office for months now. I had originally planned on releasing them on Etsy before the new year, but then other projects got the better of me, and the poor little phone cases fell by the wayside. In honor of my current wave of technology inspiration, though, I'm releasing eleven new iphone cases to my etsy shop today! Most of the new designs are for the Iphone 5s (not 5c, sorry!), but there are a few still available for the 4/4s.
They feature various old and new designs, and come in a pretty packaging for gift-giving. You can have a peak at them all right here.



 Whew - I don't know about you, but I love accomplishing things on a Monday. It sort of sets the tone for the week, don't you think? Thank you all for stopping by, and have a wonderfully productive week! I will have more posts (including a few more on Frozen) up soon, so stay tuned!


Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Frozen - Elsa


I'm an Ariel girl. That really isn't news to anyone who has frequented this blog, but if you are a new visitor - there you go! The Little Mermaid landed on my lap when I was very small and deeply and profoundly changed me. Everything about her was everything that I wanted to grow up to be, and it thoroughly annoyed me for most of my life that I did not have luscious red locks with anti-gravity bangs. Or fins.

Final Elsa design

And then Elsa. When I initially started working on Frozen, Elsa was a very different character. She was moody, more jealous, and the only part of her that I could really relate to was the fact that she was an older sister. The more the story team finessed her and her motivations, though, the more I realized that I am more like Elsa than I ever was like Ariel. When you have fancied yourself as a bubbly mermaid for most of your life, the realization that you are actually more of a snow queen kind of hits you like a ton of ice-bricks. 


The images  above illustrate the transformation in Elsa's silhouette and palette.

Thus the experience of working with her throughout the making of this film was an extremely personal one. Elsa walks a fine line between being a distant and a sympathetic character, and I wanted to contribute in any way that I possibly could to make sure that audiences would love her and understand her the way that I already did. In a weird way working with her was an exercise in self-preservation.



One of the first assignments I received on Elsa was a redesign of her hair. She had initially been designed with a sharper silhouette, but as her character changed it became apparent that her style needed to be refreshed. We wanted something for her that was more approachable, more romantic, but that still retained some Norwegian ethnicity. Oh, and magical - it would be great if it was magical, too.


First pass at Elsa's braid.

Final braid design.

After many passes and many meetings spent discussing what hairstyles say about personalities, the above braid emerged as the winner. There is a flame-like quality to it that I loved when put into juxtaposition with her ice-powers. It is fragile but sharp (like she is), and also no-nonsense. Elsa doesn't have time to fuss with her hair - she just freezes it in place and gets on with the show.




And then there is that dress. What I wouldn't give for someone to ice-magic me that dress. Just like Elsa herself, her dress went through many, many iterations until it finally felt right for our girl. When this dress materializes, Elsa is at her most confident. She is open and free after years of controlling and containing all of her emotions. Since costumes should be designed to support the character, this dress needed to be a glorious breathe of relief.





Once we had snow queen Elsa figured out, we had to work backwards to establish who she is when we first meet her. Before her coronation, Elsa holds everything in. She is controlled and contained. Her initial braided bun reflects that, as well as her coronation dress and cape. She is quite literally the pillar of strength that the people of her kingdom need her to be, and yet she is completely closed off from them.


All images are property of Walt Disney Animation Studios.

Two years passed from the first time I worked on Elsa until the actual release of the film,  and she went through a tremendous amount of changes during that time. I am so happy about where she landed and so honored to have been given the chance to work with her.  Ariel still holds a special place in my heart, but if I am honest with myself... I am an Elsa girl.

More Frozen and other posts to come. Have a wonderful week!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Frozen - Rosemaling

Research is a huge part of what we do. Once the team had decided that Frozen would take place in a kingdom that was based on Norway, a group was sent to Norway to gather as much first-hand reference as possible. While there were many things learned on this trip, the one thing that the team came back with that directly affected my work on the show was the art of rosemaling.




Rosemaling is a type of decorative folk-painting that can be seen just about everywhere in Norway - it is used on everything from architecture to clothing. My fantastic art director, Mike Giaimo, (if you don't know who he is, do yourself a favor and look him up!) decided that we needed to develop our own library of rosemaling for Frozen - and that is where I came in!



My first month or so on Frozen was dedicated solely to creating rosemaling for the world of Arendelle. I worked on everything from wallpaper to tapestries (like the ones above) to painted architectural designs to costumes (there will definitely be more on those later). The great thing that we discovered about our rosemaling was that nothing went to waste. We needed so much of it to propagate throughout the film that even if a design didn't get picked in the first round, we ended up using it later.




For costuming, we wanted our rosemaling to reinforce each individual character's personality traits. Anna is bright and bubbly, so her rosemaling is always effervescent and floral. Elsa is poised and refined, so she has long, elegant designs with a hint of crystal-like geometry.  Since Kristoff is a bit of an outsider, his patterns are much more geometric and banded, reflecting design elements seen in the clothing of the Saami people of Norway.








The tapestries that hang throughout the castle in Arendelle were a fun challenge. They had to be approached with the design language we established with Arendelle's rosemaling, but with an added element of storytelling. The tapestries below were initially requested as a set of two: one representing Spring and the other representing Winter. Eventually it was decided that we should have all four seasons, so Summer and Fall were added to the mix. 






All images are property of Walt Disney Animation Studios.

I don't think I had any idea when I started on Frozen how prevalent rosemaling would be. Honestly, I was thrilled to just be able to work on the movie, so I happily doodled away for days and days on these designs. Now I look back and am so thrilled to have been given this task. As a visual development artist, it is really rare that your actual work makes it to the final frame of the film. Our jobs are to inspire and inform the artists who make the actual assets, but in this case I get to see my work on the walls and the hems of their skirts. It is magic. 

More to come on Frozen soon, as well as other updates! Thank you so much for your response to the last post, as well as your continued support.  Have a wonderful weekend!


Thursday, January 16, 2014

FROZEN: Elsa and Her Ice Palace


I have been holding off on writing a post about working on this film for some time now - mainly because I haven't been able to find the words to do it justice. I will be grateful for this experience for the rest of my life. The schedule was really tough, but in some ways that made those of us who were working on the film love it (and each other ) even more. It is crazy to think that six months ago, I could (and did) belt "Let it Go" in my car and nobody else knew what the heck I was talking about. Now everybody and their brother is belting it in their car, and I am watching their videos on Youtube. Amazing.





I was so lucky to be able to touch many different aspects of the film. This one, though - she is very near and dear to my heart. The more Elsa's character evolved, the more I felt like I was looking in a mirror. While I can (and probably will) go into more detail about the eerie similarities between the lives of the sisters of Arendelle and the Lee sisters, the thing that really hit home for me immediately was this: Elsa is an artist. She expresses herself through creation. 

Well, hey! I know that girl. 

This characteristic presented an interesting problem. Not only did we need to design Elsa and the world around her, but we needed to design what she would design. Just like her character, this visual language evolved over time, eventually settling on a lyrical rosemaling-inspired treatment for her magic and a sharp-yet-delicate snowflake-inspired treatment for her final creations. I had the great pleasure of working on the interior of the Ice Palace, where a few of these principles went into play. 

These are a few of the pieces I did while working on the palace - This first one was done before we figured out the rules of Elsa's design language. It is ethereal for sure, but not quite right for her. 



The rest of these pieces actually reflect the final design. The snowflake was the key to this world: once we started to base the design around her snowflake (specifically the one on the floor) , the palace was able to grow like snow/ice crystals around her. 









 All images are property of Walt Disney Animation Studios.

I will do a few more Frozen posts over the next couple of weeks to cover different aspects of the film. In the meantime, I hope you all have a lovely weekend!