-Agatha Ruiz de la Prada-

As a designer I am always looking for inspiration that motivates me to keep pushing myself to think differently. I have recently started to design for younger crowds and I have to admit that my inner kid is more awake than ever. I love designing for them because no matter what, you know it will be fun! But FUN takes another level with Agatha Ruiz de la Prada. This Spanish designer, born in the 60's, entered fashion runways in the 80's with a women collection in Madrid; since then she has built a colorful, unpredictable empire. Her line expanded in the 90's to several products, and now she owns around 140 stores around the world. I mean she is a BIG deal! Make sure to check her out! Her use of color is smart, bold, spontaneous and playful. I really enjoy her work and admire her boldness. Hope you do as well! :)

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ARTIST HIGHLIGHT

I am extremely excited to finally bring another Shine Bright post; this time featuring the GRRREAT Ashley Castro. One of the cool things about working at Hobby Lobby is that you get to see a lot of talented people, Ashley is talented for sure. Her illustration skills as well as her passion shine through, this is why I have asked her to share some insights of her design and some thoughts. Enjoy & make sure to check out her work afterwards!! 

For me, enjoying what you do no matter what, is fundamental to having success. What do you think you enjoy the most about being a designer?

I've always been a quiet, introverted person. I didn't have a lot of friends growing up because I moved around quite a bit since my dad was in the military so I used art as an escape. Eventually art became more of a passion rather than a hobby. As I gained more skill, I fell more in love with it because I could be more expressive. For a long time I was super shy about sharing my art with people but my family gave me a lot of encouragement. People started recognizing my talent and asking me to do things for them which made me feel good. It's an amazing feeling when someone loves your art so much that they want you to do things for their wedding, business, etc. The fact that I get to live my passion every day and make people smile by sharing it with them makes me happy. That's what I enjoy the most. 

Recently I have noticed a lot more clients enjoy authenticity over clean minimal designs, and you do a lot of that type of work. Why do you think the market for hand drawn art has grown so much?

I think because it's so unique. Each piece of art is different as each artist has their own style. I think it's a nice break from the polished 3-D looks that we used to see in advertisements, commercials, etc. Almost anyone can do digital artwork these days with the millions of apps out there, but hand drawn art is more personal. In the graphic design world, trends are constantly shifting but it seems like hand drawn designs have stuck around for awhile. For every artist who enjoys it including me, I hope it sticks around forever.

Do you feel like this is kind of your style? 

I'm still learning what exactly my style is. I can say that I love to do hand drawings with a little mix of digital illustration. I sketch out a piece, scan it into my computer, manipulate it a little through Adobe Photoshop, and then finish it in Adobe Illustrator.

...And what inspires your art?

Mostly artists I follow, life events, and music.

Any favorite artist? How about illustrators?

I have so many favorites. The main one I can think of is Chris Piascik. He's the first ever illustrator I began following when I was just becoming more confident in my art. When I saw his art, I thought to myself, wow...this is what I want to do. His art is imperfect but it's so awesome and he just makes it his own. He has a style and he has a certain look that I like. He inspired me to find mine. There's Chris Piascik and then there's Rhianna Wurman aka Ellolovey on Instagram and Etsy. Her art is so adorable and she is such a lovely human being, I can't help but admire everything she does which also made a huge impact in me finding my style as well. 

It might be silly, but I have to ask... What's you favorite and most hated color?

I love Black! I know that's not really a color though so if I had to pick one I'd say teal, and I hate all things orange.

Some designers have a weird design process. Any quirky facts about yours?

I have to listen to music while I draw or work. I love music almost as much as I love art, so if I'm not listening to music while I work sometimes I feel like I'm not doing my best. I think it's because I think a lot and music helps me focus. It also channels my emotions depending on what I listen to. 

You have quite a bit of freelance work don't you? Many designers struggle finding clients, how do you find yours?

Mostly word of mouth. I'm blessed to have great friends who do amazing things like photography, own hair salons, and who are just so anxious to share my art with other people because they love it that much. It usually starts with them. I started up an etsy shop and I post a lot of my work on social media as much as possible. Hashtags will become your best friend if you're trying to reach out to people on social media. As far as finding freelance, I've heard of some really cool websites out there that are specifically made for artists looking for freelance. One that I know of for sure is Odesk.com

Are you currently working on something?

I'm currently working on wedding invitations for a friend of mine, 2 tattoo designs for 2 different people, and Christmas projects that I'll be giving away as gifts. 

Any future plans you look forward to? Any short term goals?

I look forward to growing more as an artist. I'm always learning new techniques. Wherever that leads me, I'm sure I'll enjoy it. My short term goal would be to find time in my day to do a small doodle. I kind of lost that since I've been so busy working on other things for people. I don't want to lose me-time completely. 

Well, THANK YOU THANK YOU for taking the time to share all this awesome information with me, I am sure a lot of designers will find it helpful and inspiring. Any last advice you can give them? 

Be yourself and don't compare your art to other artist's. One of my art professors once told me, "Art doesn't have to be perfect." It has stuck with me and I tell myself that each time I get insecure with my art or mess up on a piece. If you're a perfectionist like me, this will be a good reminder as well because it will help save you a little time. - haha. 

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-Oliver Jeffers - What a Genius-

For the last couple of months I have been doing some illustration for a freelance job, and while researching I found my favorite children's book writer and artist. OLIVER JEFFERS. I am in love with how crazy he is, and how simple his process looks. I am obsessed with reading all his books, and trying to buy them. His style is so.. effortless, but so human at the same time. His writing, as well as his execution are brilliant. This guy is truly inspiring. 

Oliver Jeffers Author Video 2013 A film by Mac Premo oliverjeffers.com oliverjeffersworld.com

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ARTIST HIGHLIGHT

Taking a picture is an art. Many can take good photos, the tricky part is to excel and move to the next level. From Maine to Southeast Asia, Rory Doyle's lens captures everything. His ability to describe emotions and personalities in one frame have impressed many. Even though he works currently for Delta State University as a full time photographer; his clients list includes: Mississippi Magazine, Reebok Spartan Race, Teach for America, Delta Magazine, and more. I have worked with this talented guy and I am sure there are still many things I can learn from him. This is why I asked him a few questions, that I believe can help us all to improve our photographic skills.(Picking some of his work to represent his photographic style was one of the hardest thing i've ever done. I apologize, these images do not do any justice to Rory's work. Go visit his website and you'll see what I mean!)

1. How do you look for the perfect picture? What is the creative process you go trough before a planned photo shoot or an event?

Most of the fine art images I create are about exploration. One of my favorite things to do is just get in the car and go — see what the universe provides. Once I’m out shooting, I’m looking for light, colors, lines, patterns, moments. I always think about creative framing and producing a photograph that’s unique. In the Delta, there’s so much to explore and this process becomes therapeutic for me. When it comes to event coverage, it helps a lot to know what the environment will be and what the lighting will look like. If I have the chance to scope out a location in advance, I take it. A lot of times I don’t have that opportunity and I look to best utilize light that’s available. One thing I always keep in mind is background. Sometimes we get so caught up in snapping a photo that we forget that having an appropriate and appealing background is crucial.

2. How have you pushed yourself to get to the next level on your career as a photographer, and become "professional"?

When I first started out, I was beyond nervous. Self-doubt is common for beginners and I can remember how uncomfortable it felt. I was so worried about letting clients down. The key for me was having confidence in myself, improving on my weaknesses and learning from mistakes. Photography is a learning process that is ongoing and will be forever. But getting over that initial hump is huge. I intentionally took on more stressful assignments knowing that if I avoided them I wouldn’t produce a better product. And I’m not done pushing myself. I know there are a number of skills I need to develop, and I continue to commit to improvement. When your practice means something to you — when you have true passion for it — you should never lose the desire to learn and improve.

3. What do you enjoy the most about your job, and how do you keep things interesting?

To me, photography is inherently interesting. There are so many elements that go into capturing a good photo, and I like that challenge. I like the feeling of grasping an exposure, taking control of it and concluding with something creative. I’ve also been extremely fortunate to be hired for diverse gigs. When you’re hired as a photographer, it gives you a special level of clearance and access. It’s allowed me to meet and interact with remarkable people and go places I never dreamed of visiting. Being with camera means being with adventure.

4. Any advice to photography students? 

Appreciate your teachers. I’m mostly self-taught, but I did take an elective photojournalism course as a journalism student. My professor taught us to use a camera manually. The rest of my classmates were just in the course for an easy three credits, but to me, photography clicked as soon as my professor taught me about manipulating exposures. I would also say never give up. You’ll know if photography is for you because you’ll never lose the passion. Sure, you’ll go through some creative ruts, but keep pressing on. Practice, read, get tutored, volunteer with a pro, become an assignment. Just find a way to keep growing.

 

ARTIST HIGHLIGHT

I believe that every artist is like a raw diamond. Even though some remain hiding, and some shine like no other, they are all beautiful and unique in its own way; this is why i believe they all need exposure. I've decided to make a contribution to our community and expose as many artist. This wee I can. This week's highlight belongs to my dear friend Brittney LeighAnn. I met this sweet lady at a 2D class in Mississippi, and since then I've admired not only her work, but her capacity to be everything she can and want to be. Her inspirations go wider than the sea and her creativity runs wild. I love seeing all the ways she expresses her art, and I cannot wait to see what the future waits for her. I asked her three questions about her work and creative process and here it is what she had for us. 

1.  What do you enjoy most about creating a piece of art?

I love that I can start with or without an idea of what the end result will look like. It is both a conscious and serendipitous process simultaneously for me. Whether its a color palette on a page made with acrylic paint one day, and the next day on the adjacent page a collage with bits of fabric and paper; then the discovery that certain elements compliment and harmonize with each other on both pages and inspire a new piece of color-paint-collage bliss; this is why I keep creating. It is experimentation, discovery, and perfect happiness tied into one. It may be a photographic frame one day, and a video composition the next. So many things to create, and always so little time. Just like any day-to-day routine, there is this literal need to create something. To evoke or express something as vague as a concept or an emotion. I actually keep a notebook in every drawer in the house for when ideas come (I have tallied 6 notebooks thus far, not quite every drawer but I daresay I have run out of notebooks). There has always been this urgency to record thoughts, ideas, and feelings; oh the joys of creativity!

2.  What inspires you?

I could probably rant on for hours. It sounds cliché to say the “world around me” but this is rather relevant; colors, textures, lines; all of the proper design elements I suppose. But mostly, I am obsessively nostalgic. I had a girl tell me, “Brittney, I feel like you should have been born in another time” and this rang so true to my essence. I immerse myself in museums and antique shops, I read history articles and historic costume books and fictions for the thrill, and cannot find enough BBC period dramas to watch. Although I like to pull inspiration from all different eras, I would most certainly go back to the Edwardian/Ragtime era (1910ish-1920's) art noveau/joy epoch art movements. I would definitely put my hair into the Gibson Girl bun and drink coca cola from a soda fountain if this was acceptable . I cry every time I watch Titanic because the colors and details of the garments are so beautiful, and I watch behind the scenes videos about the cast and hair of Mr. Selfridge, and have watched pretty much every directors commentary for my favorite films to gain insight into the spirit of the times. I am somewhat of a nerd I suppose.

3. What is your advice for every raw diamond out there?

Start Somewhere; give yourself time to create. As I am sure any creative would agree, there have been weeks, even months where I felt I was creatively stagnant and uninspired, and had this anxiety hanging above me like a dreary raincloud preventing me from trying something new; fearing it would not turn out the way I anticipated ( if I even had the faintest of ideas in the first place). It was not until I began creating this routine; waking up at 5am every morning, before the sun, before the majority of the world was awake-before school and work, and life really. And I would get up and make a cup of coffee (or a soup bowl of coffee for that matter, I drink more than I should) and block off just 1 hour to create something. Weather it was tearing up scraps of water color painted paper and ink markings and collaging them, cutting a linoleum block to print make, or merely dreaming up ideas with a pen and paper,gathering inspirations for a photography project, or trying a new process like embroidery or beading unlikely materials;such as paper. This creative “play” and mental reflection and time, forced me to try something, whatever it was. To create for the sake of creating. No pressure. No anxiety. Sometimes I absolutely loved what I created. Other times I hated what I created. And most surprising, and yet usually most of the time-something that I thought I hated ended up being a piece that I loved months, even years later; incorporated into another project, with a revised color palette or composition, or even just left as is. The important thing is to simply give yourself time. If you are not much of a morning person, be a night owl and give yourself this creative time. The worst that can happen is 1 hour turning into 2, or 3, and you miss class because you are too deep into your project. (and yet this has happened multiple times.)