Friday, December 31, 2010

Leif Parsons

Holding degrees in both philosophy and design, NYC-based Canadian artist Leif Parsons is known for his cleanly detailed illustration work for such companies as Poketo, LA Magazine and Dwell. His show "He looked at her, She looked at it, It looked back" at Wild Project in NYC is a demonstration of a completely different artistic facet, which features collage and spontaneous line-making. This is the style which he chose for his reply. You can view more of his illustration work here. In addition, I recommend taking some time to explore Leif's labyrinthine website.

Sent: "What's your favorite spot in New York City?"

Received: "here"

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Evah Fan & Brendan Monroe

Today's mail is from husband and wife couple Evah Fan and Brendan Monroe in Hägersten, Sweden. These two American artists met at their own gallery showing, shortly after graduating college (Pratt in NY and Art Center in Pasadena, respectively). Here is a great article from Fecal Face featuring a ton of great photos of their L.A studio back in 2007, two years before they moved to Sweden.

Brendan describes his work as "sort of eerie, but not scary, while also making something I think is fairly beautiful" while Evah refers to her primarily "travel-size" art as "scatter-brained fragments (formed) into some sort of naïve narrative". Both are wonderful and completely different, yet somehow complimentary. These two pieces arrived, stickered side-by-side to a piece of cardboard. After seeing them separately here, I feel like they are meant to be viewed together.


Received: Evah Fan

Received: Brendan Monroe

Monday, December 13, 2010

Words of wisdom from the inspiring Sheilah Beckett

Canadian artist Sheilah Beckett is one of the great female illustrators of the mid-century. Entirely self-taught, she became the first female illustrator at Charles E. Cooper, a highly respected advertising art agency in New York in the '40s and '50s. Today, at 97 years old, she is still drawing (with a Wacom tablet no less) and, in 2005, she published "The Six Wives of Henry VIII". Among her other published works are included several Little Golden Books, a series of Gilbert & Sullivan illustrated songbooks and a paperback printing of Voltaire's 'Candide'. If you are curious to learn more about the career of Sheilah Beckett, I recommend this four part post from Leif Peng's wonderful illustration blog.

I first discovered Sheilah's art when I picked up a copy of John Fowles' Cinderella (Little Brown & Co., 1976) at my favorite Half-Price Books in Redmond several years ago. Upon opening it, I discovered the sweetest most elegant black and white line drawings I'd ever seen in a published work. I have studied her use of patterns and her characters' gestures endlessly (I especially love the way she draws hands) and frequently find myself referencing this book in the same way one references an anatomy drawing text.

So, even though her card came back without art, I love that she replied because I consider her something of a personal hero. And because her answer to the question was so lovely.

Sent: "What advice would you give a young illustrator?"


"Skip the waiting.
Drop the knitting.
Take your dreams to the drawing board.
And work, work, work.
Enjoy the battle!
You'll reap the rewards.

The very best of luck,

You're well on your way."

Friday, December 10, 2010


I just replenished my supply of envelopes this afternoon at Paper Source in Bellevue. I absolutely love their stationery; the quality and colors are wonderful and worth the extra cost. Half the fun of creating these pieces is matching the art and the envelopes, so naturally over the course of this project, between the outer envelopes (A2) and the small return envelopes (4 Bar), I have accumulated quite a rainbow of colors. Today I was inspired to buy some metallic papers in the spirit of the season (and because they are shiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnyyyyy).

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Double feature, part two: Melinda Josie

In addition to Shaun Tan's fishy roommate, I received this lovely watercolored Icelandic stamp from Toronto-based illustrator Melinda Josie.

I love the quietness of Melinda's work; that it is painted simply and then given lots of open space to breathe on the page. Also, there is almost a Scandinavian folkloric sense to her design. She recently won the TD Canadian Children's Literature Award (Prix TD de littérature canadienne pour l’enfance et la jeunesse) for Le Géranium, a French-language kids book she illustrated with writer Mélanie Tellier.

Sent: "Where would you like to go?"

Received: "Iceland!"

Tuesday double feature, part one: Shaun Tan

Shaun Tan is an incredibly talented visual storyteller. I first discovered his work three years ago when I walked past the featured children's books table at the University Bookstore in Bellevue. I noticed amidst the pile of brightly gleaming kids stories, one seemingly worn sepia-colored book with a bewildered-looking man and a small white monster on the cover. Upon opening it, I was captivated by a story completely devoid of words but nonetheless impeccably told through pictures alone. This book was "The Arrival", the story of a man whose family, much like the Jews of WWII Germany, is being persecuted. He sets out alone to an outlandish new world to find work and set up a new home where he can bring his wife and child. How the monster comes in, you will have to find out for yourselves because there is little point in me putting words to a story which is told so breathtakingly well without them.

Sent: "Describe the worst room/house mate you've ever had."


He included this postcard from "The Arrival" with a nice thank you note on the back.

"The Arrival" was made into a remarkable stage presentation which featured actors, dancers and puppets. Here is a short video with some excerpts.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Audrey Kawasaki

Audrey Kawasaki, interestingly enough, contacted me first. She heard about Mailbag Art Museum via Amy Sol's Twitter and emailed me when she saw her name on the list of artists.

I originally learned about Audrey when I saw the beautiful letterpress print created by Pressure Printing (Denver, CO). Over the last few years, her work has grown increasingly well-known; her girls, with their sleepy eyes, seductive mouths, and delicate pink-tinged fingers, are easily recognized. A Pratt graduate, she has been featured in Juxtapoz and on the cover of Hi-Fructose.

You will notice the two pink splotches on the border; Audrey included in the envelope a folded piece of blue cardstock explaining how these accidental marks came to be. I like that they are there and am happy she did not decide to re-do the piece.

Sent: "What 3 albums have you been listening to lately?"

Received: " 'Brothers' by The Black Keys, 'Applause' by Balthazar, 'Broken Bells' by Broken Bells"