Today we’re going behind the scenes with super-talented Hallmark Artist, Livy Long. When she is not creating sketchbooks for her niece and nephew, she is illustrating the cutest collection of gifts for the latest Gold Crown artist collection. Join us as she shares how her career started, what special tools she uses, and a few other curious questions. Read on!
Coffee or tea?
Do I seem like a caffeineaholic if I say both? Coffee is definitely a trusted companion each morning, but later in the day, nothing beats a freshly brewed pot of organic honeysuckle white tea from Shang Tea, here in KC.
Sweet or salty?
I’d have to go with salty. Although not much can come between me and my occasional indulgence in carrot cake, on the daily I tend to gravitate towards salty snacks like almonds or roasted edamame.
What is your background? When did you decide to pursue a career in art and why?
I think I always knew I’d end up in some kind of creative field, but for a while I was set on the glamorous position of elementary school art teacher.
Right around the time I started applying for colleges, I had an urge to try and see if I could be a successful full-time artist, so with the help of my art teachers, I switched my application focus to schools with great illustration programs. I ended up majoring in illustration at Ringling College of Art and Design, where I developed an interest in graphic design and realized that I enjoyed drawing letters and words a lot more than anything else. After a summer internship at Hallmark, I managed to snag a position in the lettering studio before anyone realized that I have no official design credentials.
And how long have you been at Hallmark?
If I weren’t an illustrator and lettering artist, I’d be…:
A gym-owning, professional-organizer/summer camp counselor.
First drafts: by hand or with a mouse?
I feel way more explorative when I start sketching by hand. I try to keep things rough and fast in the beginning and allow the idea or composition to be more important than the fine details.
What tools do you use when creating your work?
My workhorse traditional tools are standard printer paper, black markers and pencils, and white-out correction pens. From my drawings, I make high contrast scans to preserve textures and always bring the final piece together in Photoshop.
Digitally, I work on a Cintiq (a large monitor that allows me to draw directly on screen), so making edits to my scanned traditional drawings feels as natural as drawing by hand. I always leave color play to the end, because I find it to be the most relaxing and fun part of my process.
Ideal way to feed your brain/soul/creative spirit:
I always feel renewed and inspired after writing and sending mail to friends, looking through design books, and spending time alone in coffee shops or libraries. I usually need to feel like I’m in my own world to tap into my creative flow, so if I’m at the office, I am always listening to music with huge wireless headphones on – making it extra fun for co-workers to grab my attention (sorry for that, guys!).
Current trend obsession:
I’m a huge fan of and advocate for the health conscious trends that have been popping up; from food, to fitness, to all that fresh fitness gear… I love it all! The best part about this trend is that it’s not trendy at all – it just makes sense.
Favorite Hallmark product to date (maybe something you’ve worked on?):
I might be a little biased, but I think my favorite Hallmark products are the activity journal and limited-run stationery kit that are both available along side my artist collection.
The activity journal was a format originally inspired by the long distance sketchbooks that I keep with my niece and nephew, but quickly developed into something a little bigger. Rooted in the idea of a typical coloring book, this journal combines self-reflection, artistic exploration, and the “pay it forward” mentality, all with a focus on our personal journeys: where we’ve been, where we’re at, and where we dream to go.
The stationery kit is a no-brainer, must-love package of totally sendable, blank cards that feature some of my favorite illustration and lettering I’ve created to date. I LOVE sending (and receiving!) snail mail, so I was all sorts of excited when we started working on this collection. And I’m glad that the kit has so many details and additions that allow for total customization of the envelopes and cards – I want people to feel like they can still create something unique for their snail mail recipients.
I think I’m also just proud of these products in general, not only because they both feel so personal to me, but because of the teamwork involved in creating them. I’d be remiss to not mention the amazing design support of Ai C. and Melissa T., the editorial contributions from Bill M., and the direction of Cece M. Thanks for putting up with my occasional comments and critiques and constant headphone wearing.
You love to make, we love to make, check out the Think.Make.Share pop-up shop online here to get Livy’s sketchbook and Make & Mail Card Kit. And while you are making “like Livy” share your creations on Instagram with #handmadehallmark.