Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Daily Grind

This morning began by shooting off a couple of emails to hopefully help promote my work and get organized.  First off, my school's alumni newsletter.  They are always looking to see what kind of mischief us alumni are getting into, so I said, "why not?" and told them the story of Swell Papel.  Secondly, I placed a couple of calls to local accountants to see if I could get an appointment and see if they would help me do my bookkeeping.  

Bookkeeping and accounting- the dark side of this business. 

Later I will do some more research online, work on a couple of sketches, go get groceries, to the gym, etc.  In the mean time, I will leave you with this picture-

All of the colors that you see in this picture make me unbelievably happy and they are all in my home/workspace!  It's a great way to start off my morning, along with a Starbucks doubleshot Energy + Coffee drink!

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Sentimental Heart

You know how it feels when you are happy and in love? And how loving someone sometimes feels like you are giving pieces of your heart away but it's OK because you are getting someone else's heart pieces in return?

I hope you do!

Here's a new little print inspired by such sentiment.  Of course, it is available at the shop. :)

Everybody Loves a Makeover - Part 2

[Before you read on, you must know that I am unreasonably scared of little green men (aliens). I don't like them in movies, I don't like them in pictures, and I probably wouldn't like them in real life. Please continue reading. Thank you.]
Finally!  Makeover week has come to an end over at The Boyfriend's house! Even though there are still many little details to figure out, we can finally take a breather now that the big stuff is done. Whew!

So, here are the before and after pictures of the dining room and kitchen, which constituted the second part of this makeover week.


[Image above] This is the dining room. Kind of bland, huh?  Beige is everywhere!

[Image Above] This is the old view of the dining room from the living room.  Beige, beige, blah!


[Image above] Notice the nice, light blue/gray color on the walls.  No beige around!  The coloring of the pictures looks a little off, but we used a peaceful blue-ish gray paint called Silvermist from Sherwin Williams.

[Image above] We got some nice accessories such as those red canisters in the corner, a new fruit basket and a beautiful ceramic cookie jar.

[Image above] Both wall colors complement each other beautifully.  They make the house so warm and inviting. I HEART!  The painting in the far wall is one that I made that had been hanging out in his basement (aka my painting studio) for months! It's still a work in process but we thought it might look better hanging out on his dining room wall rather than the basement.

[Image above] And of course, The Boyfriend gets the first SWELL PAPEL print as a "welcome to your new and improved home" present.

With all the painting finally finished Friday night, we decided to go out for a celebratory dinner and then stream a movie from Netflix.  [This is where the first paragraph of this post will start to make sense] We ended up watching Signs (that movie that Mel Gibson made about the aliens and before he went all crazy).  We had both watched that movie a long time ago.  It was super scary the first time I watched it, but I figured that since I had already seen it, there was nothing to be afraid of, right? 

WRONG!  I spent the entire movie curled up in the fetal position with a couch cushion close by to cover my eyes when the aliens came on the screen.  There was one particular scene- where the alien's hand comes out from a furnace and grabs the little innocent boy- where I screamed particularly long and loud.  I was terrified!  Meanwhile, The Boyfriend was doing his best to reassure me and to keep from bursting out in laughter at the little scared mess I had turned into.

I let him laugh at me. And I laughed with him- at me.

In the end, Mel Gibson's character regains his faith in God and I... I regained the faith in my ability to laugh at myself.

Good times.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Keeping the Bees- New Work

While taking a drive around the countryside this weekend, we came across an orchard and these wonderful little apiary which just blew me away!  Inside of those boxes live thousands of bees which help pollinate the orchard and produce fruit for the farmers.  I love bees.

I was inspired by all of this and I was actually able to transform that inspiration into a couple of new prints which I just posted on the shop

Here they are- FRESH!
Keeping the Bees No. 1
 Click here to place your order!
Keeping the Bees No. 2
Click here to place your order!

Swell Papel on Tall Dark Roast

With the shop opening last Friday, and having received my first orders (with an "s" - meaning more than one!), I have spent a good amount of time working this weekend- which I think is fantastic!  I have received very positive feedback about the Swell Papel shop but even then, I don't think it has fully sinked in that I'm "in business".  Wow!

This morning, I am lucky enough to be featured in Tall Dark Roast- an amazing blog about design, art, music, fashion.  Please click the photo below to see the article.

Click the picture above to go to Tall Dark Roast

Friday, August 27, 2010

Swell Papel - Now Open for Business

I am extremely pleased to finally unveil my new shop at Etsy!  

You can visit my site and/or make a purchase by doing any of the following:

  • Clicking HERE will take you to my Etsy shop.  
  • Or go to
  • Or by clicking on the handy-dandy gadget on the right hand side of the blog to go directly to each of the prints.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Sneak Peek- Precious Map

This is Precious Map, my latest design draft.  

I've always been enamored with these ice-cream-y colors.  So much so, that on more than one occasion, I've described my outfit as "an explosion at the Skittles factory during the Easter Skittles production".  They quite simply make me happy.

Wishing for Figs

I have been daydreaming about figs lately.  Up until a few days ago, I hadn't eaten one in over 10 years, and I wanted to get some just to remember what they taste like.  I wasn't actively pursuing the figs (i.e. going to the store and buying them), but I just kind of new that they would somehow magically find their way into my hands (and then my tummy!).  And on Monday, completely out of the blue, I got my figs!  Turns out The Boyfriend had gotten them as a gift from someone and decided to share them with me.  Sweet Boyfriend...

This just reaffirms my belief in the law of attraction- the idea that thoughts influence reality.  I believe in "The Law", not in a cult-y, weird way... but as just another truth of life (like gravity, life and death, or nature) because it has been demonstrated to me over and over and over throughout my life.  And the figs are just the latest demonstration that sometimes if you want something, and you direct your thoughts towards it, it will come to you.

Hopefully this post inspires you to put The Law into practice for something you wish for.  And if by any chance you don't wish for anything in particular, at least think of abundant happiness.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Freshness

Hello there! 

One of the things I enjoy the most during the summer and fall is the bounty of fresh produce that we get in Michigan.  There are so many farm stands all around and it's wonderful to stop in and pick up some fresh sweet corn, some crispy kale, gigantic zucchini, a wonderful assortment of berries and cherries, crisp apples, or the sweetest peaches you can imagine. It is delightful to know that any given day I can get my produce locally grown and so fresh! 

The Boyfriend and I have been diligently working on painting the dining room/kitchen and we're almost done.  We're exactly three beers and some Thai takeout away from finishing, and it's exciting to see that the end of Crazy Home Makeover Week is thisclose.  It's been wonderful so far, though.  We work well together and I'm enjoying helping make his home a little more welcoming and cozy.

In more upbeat news, I've been stealing tiny bits of time here and there to work on the prints and I am happy to report that I have a total of 7 prints ready.  This means that I'm almost to my self-imposed goal of 8 prints, which in turn means that I'll be in business in no time... somewhere around 5 grande caffe americanos, 2 Red Bulls, and 4 Diet Cokes.  

And yes, around here we measure time in food and drink sometimes.

I can't believe I started Swell Papel only 2 weeks ago (approximately 1 bottle of wine, 4 Diet Cokes, 70 oz of french pressed coffee, 6 cereal bars, one yogurt, 2 bags of popcorn, and a tuna sandwich ago).  


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Brown Paper Packages

Oh, Brown Paper Packages! How I love thee! Whether you are tied up with string or masking tape- it doesn't matter to me.

I got my monster printer yesterday.  It weighs about 40 lbs and takes up about 25% of my dining room table desk.  It is HUGE! I was floored when I saw the massiveness of it in my living space.  I don't mind, though. This printer is the MOTHER of all printers- the printer all other printers aspire to be.  It delivers high-quality, archival prints in sizes up to 17 x 19 inches in a variety of media. It is a great investment that I am absolutely happy to have made.

I'm also so glad that I ordered a new desk.  Otherwise it would be too little space to get my groove on.  Here's a picture of the desk that I ordered.  I'm going to squeeze it in my "dining room" (i.e. office).  I love the color, too!  I don't think I will help but be creative using a desk like this.
I'm trying to keep myself from ordering my dream Eames desk chair (see below), but perhaps one day...

It's so easy to just go berserk shopping online.  It doesn't feel like you are spending real money sometimes... like all your dreams are just a few clicks away and delivered to your door.  Wow! How cool is that?!

Anyway, with the arrival of my monster printer, I'm a skip and a hop away from actually being able to do business.  I do need more designs, but I don't want to be like a factory and mass-produce them, though. I want to spend time with each and every one of them; I want to bond with each drawing and make it special- make it the best little drawing it can be.  

I have decided that as soon as I have 8 designs ready, I will open the Etsy shop.  Why 8? Well, 5 seemed like too little, and 10 seemed like too much.  And that's that!

Off to work/sketch/live now!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Everybody Loves a Makeover!

... especially The Boyfriend's living room!

After a weekend of waging war against beige, the living room is finally close to being finished.  It only needs a few decorative touches... a nice arrangement in the mantle, some new pictures hung, some artwork, etc.  Needless to say, it is a vast improvement from what it was.  

Without further ado, the following are the before and after pictures.


[Image above] Please notice the strange angle of the fireplace and the placement of the couch.  Also, Internet, I would like you to meet Blue, the amazing aussie that supervised the entire project.

[Image above] You can see that the living room has "good bones" to it.  I adore this space- all the angles, the sharp edges and tall ceilings... Challenging, yet lending themselves to discovering new design ideas.  To the left are a few paint tests we did some weeks ago. The bulky entertainment unit which was competing with the fireplace.

[Image above] By changing the entertainment unit, bringing in some live plants, and changing the angle of the couch, we made the fireplace the focal point of the room.  It's amazing how changing the the angle of the couch, even though it's at a really odd angle, makes the flow of the room make more sense and be more peaceful.

[Image above] Here is a detail of the curtains.  They add a certain freshness and softness to the space. It is one of my favorite things about the entire makeover.

So, we still have to tackle the kitchen and dining room this week.  We are hoping to get at least the painting done and then worry about the decor later.  I will post before and after pictures once that's finished!

There are some exciting but small developments @ Swell Papel, but I will post those later in the week. 

Friday, August 20, 2010


The work week is finally coming to an end!  I've been driving myself insane between work and Swell Papel.  For those of you who do not know, I have a regular job to pay my bills.  Granted, I work from home, which gives me enough flexibility to pursue Swell Papel and then make up work hours during my lunch hour or in the evenings if needed, but it's still a "real" job and it's been a really busy week trying to juggle everything. 

This weekend, The Boyfriend and I will be working on painting his living and dining room.  I'm excited to see the change and there's little I enjoy more than remodeling and making spaces more beautiful.  It's going to be amazing!

Speaking of spaces, I have my own dilemma to solve in my apartment.  I really need a work station for Swell Papel, but the problem is that I live in a small one-bedroom apartment and don't have a lot of flexibility to just put a desk anywhere.  I'll either have to get rid of the TV/stand in my living room OR, butt the dining table against the wall to make room for a small workstation. Ugh! It's probably not going to look so great, but I'll have to make do.  Between the printer, paper, shipping supplies, etc, I really need a decent work space with enough storage to get by.

Whatever the case, I sense a trip to Ikea soon!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


I'm an Illustrator goddess!

I've managed to make this drawing from start to finish in less than 2 hours, which, if you've been reading the past posts, is a HUGE deal for me. This is my first completed piece and I would put it on the Etsy shop immediately if it wasn't for the fact that I don't have a printer yet...  

Oh yeah... I need to get on that (buzzkill).

Anyway, if you feel so inclined, I would love it if you would leave me a comment and tell me what you think!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Word of the Day

 An exclamative. Made popular by the character Shaggy on the television show Scooby Doo. Often used by itself to express fright, panic or fear.

Today I've been working many hours on digitally tracing a drawing of mine on Illustrator, and I'm thinking, will I ever finish?  

I'm sort of out of it- like someone sprayed mild bug spray in my face- and it is because I cannot believe how many hours I have spent working on this one drawing and it's still not done.

I keep looking on the internet for a magical video which will help me do what I'm doing faster, and praying that the almighty folks at Apple or Google come up with a Bio-USB stick of sorts which you just plug into your brain and download knowledge... SOON!  It's not that I don't want to learn- I do!  It's just that the patience to sit there and go through the mechanics of reading, watching, soaking, practicing, repeating, etc is not there!

But if I know anything in this life is that the things that are truly worth it take time.  Without time, one can't really appreciate the true value of an effort, nor can one really savor its rewards.  I take solace in the fact that one day I will look back at all the things I've learned and achieved because I decided to throw myself into doing something I love as a means to make a living.

Until then, Zoinks!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Oh! The Joy!

I got off to a very productive Monday morning today. Hurray! Getting my space in order when the week begins is a great way for me to get my mind ready and receptive to creating. And boy is my mind ready!

One of my favorite things to do is put fresh linens on the bed and making the bedroom a fresh oasis waiting to embrace me after a long day. My favorite part of the bedroom is this nightstand, which has 3 of my favorite things.

I'm obsessed with birds on wires and I was able to take a picture of them while riding shotgun in a moving vehicle.  I'm so lucky it turned out so well!

The little funky cat I got in the Bazar del Sábado in Mexico City.  I got him on a trip to visit my grandmother in 2008 and he hasn't left my side ever since!

My favorite thing though, has to be that little porcelain bowl.  I made it when I was in school and it's probably the best thing I have ever made.  

Today I hope to learn more about Illustrator.  I've been playing around with it and so far, so good! I still need to show Illustrator who's boss and make it do what I need it to... but I feel much more confident on my ability to do so than I did last week!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Design*Sponge - Perfect Post at the Perfect Time

I'm a huge fan of Design*Sponge- have been for years! And today, while doing research and hunting for inspiration, I ran across Grace's post about how to take a business full time.

I will need to keep this video handy because I do want to be able to take my baby business (more like "fetus" business) full time eventually.

Ready Inspiration

I woke up with a nice burst of energy that I hope lasts through the day.  I am expecting the delivery of my drawing software (Adobe Illustrator) today and I intend to spend a good part of the day going through tutorials online and reacquainting myself with it.

I also need to figure out what kind of accounting system I'm going to use.  I'm dreading this because I  am not exactly literate on accounting practices, so it's something I'm going to have to research and learn as I go.  I realize the importance of having this set up right away and I'm willing to do the leg work because I do want this to be a functioning business and not just a hobby.

Of course, I also have to sketch some more.  After all, there can be no business without anything to sell!  So, in order to get some of those creative juices flowing, I took the time to take some pictures of things I have in my little apartment that inspire me every day.

I LOVE the "Keep Calm and Carry On" design.  I have a full size poster framed by the door too.  This little book is full of inspirational quotes about, well... how to keep calm and carry on!  I love it!  Next to it is a spray painted, crumbled piece of paper.  I used it on a project I was working on  (to keep the floor from getting spray painted silver) and I just couldn't throw it away. I love all the facets and shadows that it creates.  I also have a couple of framed pictures- the smiley people are my lovely parents and the other one is of a painting I made with gouache.  And in the very back are two vases from Ikea and a little geometric thingamagig I found at CB2.  I heart all these little things.

This is a painting I made that's the focal point in my living room.  I finished it before getting my own place and when I was planning my apartment, this served as my main inspiration.  It's the reason I have a green couch!

It's going to be a busy day today!  Better get to it!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Handmade Marketplace

I picked up a copy of The Handmade Marketplace by Kari Chapin the other day.  I'm finding it amazingly helpful and I'm so glad she rounded up other people out there who know a thing or two about the business.  

I'm getting some great pointers from this book and I highly recommend it!  So far I've followed most of the recommendations on Chapters 1 and 2, and I'm making great progress! In just one day I was able to come up with a name, set up a blog, set up a shop at Etsy, file for an LLC, draw up some sketches, and order a few materials I need to get Swell Paper started.  Whew!  It sounds exhausting but it has been surprisingly enjoyable.

I'm especially looking forward to tomorrow because I should be getting my copy of Illustrator in the mail.  I really need to get re-acquainted with it.  It's been a while since I last used it and I'm somewhat scared (but in a good way)! 

Now I'm off to make dinner for The Boyfriend who's stopping by shortly.  

Tonight's Menu
Tofu with zucchini, and mushrooms
Brown rice
Fresh arugula salad with hemp/lemon dressing

Happy Birth Day

I'm on a roll here. I've been dreaming this up for years now and I finally decided to go ahead and do it- become part of the indie craft movement (or whatever it's called).  I used to belong to this community, having had a small handmade tile business, but after some time trying to sell my work in art fairs and online, I decided to close shop.  It all felt too mechanical, too forced, and not organic at all.

But now, having decided to take the leap once again, I feel refreshed and excited to be doing this.  I have fallen in love with paper, lines, facets and color and have discovered that it's the perfect medium for me.  The work that I've been doing over the past years has inspired me and I feel strongly enough about it to make it a more serious part of my life.

I've just set up a shop on Etsy.  I'm hoping that in a month I will have my first listing.  Listing of what, you ask? I'm thinking about digitized reproductions of my own drawings printed on nice archival paper and with archival inks.  I won't be scanning and printing original drawings, but rather, scanning my drawings, then using software such as Adobe Illustrator to digitally "recreate" the image.  

I'm just now starting... Right this second.  So I'm off to Etsy to learn more on how to set up shop, then to the sketch book, and then to do some research online (to figure out the business side of it).

I'll likely be posting some sketches here soon and hopefully you can comment and critique my work prior to digitizing and putting them on my shop.

In the mean time, happy birthday, Swell Papel!

PS: I haven't linked to the Etsy shop yet because there's nothing there.  As Opening Day draws near, I will make sure to post it on this blog.