New Website!

At long, long last I finally have a website. It's taken me so many attempts to make a website that I'm excited to share with the world. In retrospect, I think my reticence to put my work out there had to do with not having a ton of work in my portfolio that I loved. There's so much advice on how to be a successful creative professional. One thought that I've heard so many people say in many different ways is only show work that you want to do more of. I feel lucky that I've had lots of opportunities to make work that is unique and truly reflects who I am not only as a creative professional, but as a human being.

Please take a look at my new website! I've taken care to only include work that I really, really like or downright love.



The Annual at the Gladstone

I had the pleasure to participate in a group show titled The Annual at the Gladstone this past October. The show was curated by Deborah Wang and Noa Bronstein and the experience pushed me to create something that was slightly beyond what I thought I could do. Also, it was a neat sync to be able to show with Tara Bursey who gave me space to make a debut of sorts a few years ago.

For this show, I allowed myself to indulge my fascination with the creative process. I find myself thinking about it often; what creativity means, how it manifests and sometimes I try to wrap my heart and mind around why it exists. This show was a great opportunity to dig into other people's creative processes, which I might be even more fascinated with than creativity itself. I chose a few dozen creative people in my life and asked them questions about how they unwind. More and more, I see the value of rest in nourishing my own creativity and I wanted to understand how other people—real people who I'm lucky to associate with—factor downtime into their lives. Specifically, I wanted to know what they did to recharge. Initially, I was only interested in folks who made a living off their creativity. But, I realized that this was too narrow a focus as so many of my favourite artists (and people) need to work a day job to keep doing their creative work. I ended up with a mix of artists with day jobs, full-time artists, photographers, yoga teachers, photo editors, designers, writers, editors and illustrators. What I found most compelling is that it really didn't matter what people did to unwind, just that they did it. For some folks, it was an act, like playing weekly soccer, whereas for others, it was visiting a place, like a park. Often, people were alone when they did their thing that refreshed them, but just as often they were with others. Almost everyone did something that they found meditative and allowed them space to breathe a little deeper.

Using my findings I wrote the following statement that guided my work:
The Preservation Series depicts distilled acts of recharging and refueling as culled from interviews with more than a dozen local artists, filmmakers, photographers, editors, writers and designers. These sometimes private, often repetitive and usually meditative escapes are shown via delicate, ephemeral paper sculptures. The sculptures live in antique mason jars that magnify the importance of these seemingly mundane acts of reflection and repose.
My talented and beautiful friend Natalie Castellino took photos of the show. Thank you to Natalie for giving me the only photos of my work (so far) that I'm genuinely happy with.


Couch Potatoes for MoneySense Magazine

Sometimes, I lead a silly and wonderful life. Last month, part of my job involved discussing, thinking about and making a paper potato for the January/February issue of MoneySense Magazine. MoneySense recommends an investing strategy called couch potato investing (also called index or passive investing). The author of the article, Dan Bortolotti explains that "you simply choose a blend of stocks and bonds suited to your personal goals, and rebalance the portfolio back to those targets about once a year."  

Having thought way too much about this, I think there's something quite lovely about the process of couch potato investing: one needs to trust initial decisions, have some inkling that everything will work out for the best and essentially, stop being neurotic.

Dan outlines the various hurdles a couch potato investor faces, which are mainly psychological. There was a legacy of a potato character from a previous issue and I was asked to re-imagine that character. I named him Franklin (true design nerds will know why) and I was really surprised how much he was able to express! I think he's quite cute, but still a bit macabre, as my style tends to be.

Once the effervescent Ronit Novak shot Franklin emoting, I made some whimsical photo collages, depicting the various challenges an investor faces. I also designed the layout, which was really fun to do.

The series was art directed by the hilarious John Montgomery. John has more energy in his little finger than I have on my best days! It was a joy to talk potatoes with him for a couple of weeks.

Silly and wonderful life, yes?


Scary Christmas Illustration for The Walrus

Essentially, I have all the same things to say this time around: I had an amazing time making this illustration and had a really fun time working with all the usual brilliant folks, namely Brian Morgan, Paul Kim, Meredith Holigroski and the piece's editor, Alex Molotkow. The article by Derek McCormack explores the connections between Halloween and Christmas and is a really great read.

I had the privilege to work with the wonderful photographer, Jaime Hogge. Not only was he fun to sit around and chat with, I felt totally confident with him and tried my best not to be one of those hovering art directors. I probably was anyway, but Jaime humoured me expertly, and I'm really happy with the result.

Everyone always asks how long these paper illustrations take me. A long freakin' time. Anything worth making takes work and paper is really finicky to manipulate. This one was no exception, but I was really pleased with the way everything seemed to click into place. All in all, the time and effort was well worth it.

This is a case where the screen really doesn't capture all the little details, so go buy a copy of The Walrus' December issue when it hits newsstands, already!


Illustrations in The Walrus Magazine

I'm very lucky to love my job and on most days, I love it quite a bit. Part of my job last month was to create these illustrations for the October issue of The Walrus. Take a look! Yes, they are handmade and yes, they are paper (and glue, along with some elbow grease).

I promised myself that I'd enjoy the process as much as possible and I did: these were really, really fun to do. I worked with a loose theme of the city from which to create the subjects. On reflection, the theme turned out okay. It was nice to work within parameters that had lots of give. Half the fun was collaborating with the talented, supportive and hilarious Walrus staff, especially Brian Morgan, Paul Kim and Alex Molotkow. Thanks, guys!

If you like what you see, you can download a free desktop wallpaper version of one of the illos, here.

If you love what you see, consider donating to The Walrus Foundation. It's tax deductible and you'll feel like a better person. Or, treat yourself to a subscription and you'll feel like a smarter person. Do both and you'll feel better, smarter and secretly superior. Promise.

Miscellany section header: illustrated type

Editor's Note: reflections on political revolution
Contributors section head

Letters section head

Factoid spots


Baby's First Commission

The good people at Webcom, a book publishing/printing company in Toronto, recently asked me to make three pieces for their Game Changers event. They were awesome to work with mostly because all my fears about not being taken seriously as an artist were very quickly squelched. The Webcom folks were supportive and challenged me in the best ways possible.

I have an amazing day job that allowed me to take time off to dedicate to the project. More than a couple of times, I experienced the joy and freedom of being able to walk down the street to Ezra's Pound in the middle of the morning for a coffee that I got to enjoy sitting down, in a proper mug and everything. I was that person. It was great. (I might've also ordered a pastry to celebrate being that person.)

Of course, that freedom was accompanied with all the regular angst that goes along with creating stuff for a client. I'm used to that, but my paper work is usually something I only do to suit my own taste. In this case, I worked from detailed concepts created and approved months before, so veering too far off track wasn't really an option. It was really great to have an opportunity to practice such discipline. I'm happy to report that even though it was a week of very little sleep, I actually finished early! Installation/delivery day was quite calm, so I actually enjoyed the process. Imagine that.

All pieces were created out of paper and glue and constructed by hand. I think that Webcom was happy with the results and I'm pleased to say that I am, too.
Webcom logo composed of four pieces of paper.
Within each piece of paper, I cut out tiny logos.
I won't tell you how many exacto knife blades I used.
3D paper sculpture of Webcom's BookFWD Arrows.
The arrows were constructed from 50 folded paper prisms of various stock.
The circular frame was a single piece of card stock, jigged to be 3D.
I'm glad I paid attention in packaging class.
Mobiüs strip paper wreath created from paper remnants.
Each entwined Mobiüs strip was surrounded by hundreds of
smaller Mobiüs strips. It's deep, I know.
It was a happy accident that the paper remnants
Webcom sent for this piece had CMYK swatches on them.
P.S. Any frustration I ever had with just-okay photos of artwork on other's sites is now explained and forgiven, because:
  1. Thinking of the best way to photograph one's own work is the very last thing on one's mind, post-installation.
  2. Sometimes the lighting sucks, even if the camera is fancy.
  3. The digital photography standard taking many pictures of every possible boring angle (though smart and helpful in hindsight) seems daunting when all one wants to do is go grab dinner.


Installation Love

I had such joy this past weekend, with my paper fire escape sculptures in Come Up To My Room at The Gladstone. By nature, I don't like being the centre of attention, so I was really overwhelmed by all the attention I received from friends and strangers, alike.

It sounds incredibly naive, but I was genuinely not expecting the positive reactions I received. In fact, since I do this type of thing for myself first, I really wasn't expecting much from the weekend beyond having an excuse to bring lots of lovely people from different corners of my life together in one, happy place.

On top of all the lovely, kind words from lots of folks, I got tagged by DesignLines as one of their many loves for the design weekend in Toronto. So flattering!

There's also been some neat blog love over at MocoLoco, NotCot, Design Upcomers and SOS Design.

Last but not least, I got to meet really amazing artists and designers throughout the weekend. I have my favourites, but truly, the calibar of the show this year was fantastic, so I don't want to single out any one to your attention, but encourage you to check them all out.


Come Up to My Room 2011 | Jan. 28–30

I'm crazy-excited to be in the heat of preparing for this design show! I have a small paper installation to contribute and am incredibly honoured and nervous in equal parts to be participating in Come Up to My Room 2011 at The Gladstone. 

If anyone is in town, please come by because I want to see your lovely faces!
{Room by Allyson Mitchell.}


Escape wrapping paper

I still have an amazing amount of joy whenever I wrap a present for, well, almost anyone. But, the sober understanding that most people throw wrapping paper into landfills has squelched my wrapping joy (but not my card fetish, that will never go away). Consequently, I haven't had to buy wrapping paper in many, many years. I do miss going to the store and picking out a pattern that someone has lovingly designed. Here's some fictional wrapping paper, based on some fire escapes I made quite a while ago. Cute repetition always makes me happy.


Wedding Invites

I was lucky enough to be in the wedding party of two dear friends who got married (to each other!) this summer. I had a tonne of fun making their custom wedding invitations and all the other little things that come with. Not only are these two a lovely couple, but they also have great taste so I was extra-excited to collaborate. We decided on a type treatment and muted palette because the two are amazingly well-read and also embody understated elegance without ever being snobby.

Hand screen printed, two-colour cover.
An imperfect heart shape gave the cover some extra depth.

Main invitation.
Info. card: the bride has a way with words
so the copy was adorable!
Thank you cards that were tied to homemade sugar cookies,
which were gobbled up before I could take their photo!
Detail of the type pattern.