My Artistic Personalities

When it comes to artistic style, it is usually best to just create and let it develop naturally. I’ve been struggling, however, with my own. I feel like I have split personalities that are all me, and yet not me at the same time (if that makes any sense). In other words, I don’t feel like I’ve settled on what makes my style unique just yet. So I thought I’d take time for a little analysis, because I think a little self-awareness is good. The process shouldn’t be entirely passive.

 To start, I went through my catalog of artwork and divided by similarities. As I did this, I found certain styles and phases I’ve gone through as I’ve developed as an artist. Then I went through and listed what it is I liked and didn’t like about each method, so that perhaps I can find my perfect mix.

The Watercolorist


My watercolor art tends to be semi-realistic and soft. I use light, quick washes of color to create a more painterly effect.


Watercolor paint, of course, but I’ve also created similar works using markers and ink.


I like the handmade quality of paintings, and it is very suitable for florals and botanical work.


I feel that my skills in painting traditionally are still a bit lacking, but I just need some practice. As a lot of my pieces end up onscreen, scanning and color correcting can sometimes be a challenge, as is creating repeats for patterns. Watercolor as a medium itself is not my favorite.

The Doodler


I had a phase where I put a lot of emphasis on line. I enjoyed creating intricate designs, mandalas, and zentangle-type drawings.


Primarily pen and marker, but also things like chalk and pencil. Some of my adult coloring pieces were finished digitally with the pencil tool in Illustrator.


This is a good style to use for adult coloring pages and jobs that require black and white only. I like the quality of hand-drawn doodles and intricate patterns.


I’m finding that nowadays, I like to emphasize shape, color, and texture more than line work. But I think I could still find a place for lines.

The Graphic Designer


This is the side of me that loves all things digital, from vectors to typography. This type of work uses a lot of flat geometric shapes, clean lines, and some patterns.


Digital software such as Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and Indesign.


Being a book designer for many years, I love to work with type and study font design—great for page design and things like greeting cards. Although I love to draw and paint on paper, I also love to play around with vectors in Illustrator and create art with simple shapes and clean lines. This style is well-suited for surface design as using vectors makes scaling and repeating easier. Also good for work involving graphic icons.


It’s a little more difficult to add personality to vector work. Unless you are drawing freehand with the pencil tool, it can often look rather cold and generic as it doesn’t have your unique drawing handprint, but that’s not to say it’s impossible. There are lots of great vector artists out there. While there are ways to add texture to vectors, I tend to stick to flat colors with vector work, which has it’s good and bad points as well.


The Mid-century Illustrator


This is a style most prevalent in my recent work. This style feels vintage and hand-painted. It’s a little fun and quirky, and there is an emphasis on flat stylized shapes and bright colors. Big influences include Mary Blair and Rifle Paper Company products.


Gouache paint is a popular medium in this style, and other media that can create similar flat layers of solid color. I’ve used acrylic paint, marker, and digital brushes in Procreate or Photoshop.


I like the use of flat stylized shapes found in vector work I’ve done, but this introduces a more painterly, handmade quality. Very suitable for children’s illustrations, pretty florals, and happy holiday designs.


As mentioned under The Watercolorist, I feel that my painting skills still needs work to get to where I want it to be, and physical art needs to be scanned and color corrected. This isn’t a problem with digital work, though! This style tends to be simplified, so I’d like to find a balance of using flat shapes with my love of intricate pattern. Enter folk art…

The Folk Artist


This evolved from the mid-century style. It has the same flat shapes and colorful palettes, but with the added use of lots of PATTERN. I’m often inspired by various forms of decorative folk art such as naïve Americana, Norwegian rosemaling, and Ukranian pysanky Easter eggs. It can also be very painterly.


This suits both traditional and digital media. I’ve recently developed a love of acrylic paint for its ease of use and ability to create opaque layers and wonderful painterly textures.


This style incorporates many things I love—bright color palettes, pattern, and stylized shapes. Very suitable for decorative work, which is the bulk of my art.


I love painterly textures, but not sure if it’s best for surface pattern work, where flat colors are more prevalent and practical when creating colorways and separations.


The Crafter


This one’s a bit of a wildcard. I’ve always loved to craft in many forms. I’ve recently been exploring illustration that uses hands-on methods or is inspired by crafts, such as paper art, collage, embroidery, quilting, and digital art made to look handmade (such as my digital felt flowers).


Various craft supplies—such as embroidery, fabric, beads, paper, yarn, glitter, and paint (and their digital equivalents).


This type of art makes use of many of my skills—crafting, design, painting, and drawing. Digital pieces present other fun challenges that appeal to my technical side. Things like scrapbooking incorporate graphic design elements and photography, which I also love.


Although I want to continue experimenting, it’s probably not a practical avenue in the long-term as far as my illustration goes. It’ll be best used for specialized projects such as scrapbooking embellishments and crafts for my Etsy shop.


In creating this list of my artistic “personalities,” I’ve found a few common threads that I feel are totally ME: 

  • Florals. There will always be florals and botanical elements in my work. It is my favorite subject matter and is found throughout my work regardless of medium or style.

  • Pattern and detail. Pattern is always present as well, whether in creating surface designs themselves or incorporating pattern details in my illustrations.

  • Bright color. When it comes to color, I tend to favor bright, saturated palettes and jewel tones over neutrals or pastels. Perhaps this is due to my love of flowers!

  • Handmade feel. I love my clean vectors, and they have their purpose, but I think in general I like it when my work has a more handmade quality, even in its digital forms. I think going forward, I can achieve this by incorporating more texture, freehand drawing, and traditionally painted elements.

Other observations: Many of these seemingly distinct styles bleed into one another. I don’t just switch from one to another. Rather, I incorporate different elements as I go. I also think that, for me (not everyone), it is best not to get tied to any one medium. I like creating digital and traditional art pretty equally, and I think I would get bored sticking to just one or the other. I think I can still find a unique style that works across several methods. Though it might make things a tad more complicated, it’s not impossible. Each medium has their pros and cons, so it’s just a matter of what’s needed for the specific project.

I really enjoyed this exercise, and I think it will be very helpful as I continue to develop as an artist. It was sure fun to see how things have evolved over time. I think I am growing in confidence every day, and all these phases I’ve gone through are stepping stones. Thanks for bearing with me as I go through this process, and I hope my fellow artists get something useful out of it!

Sincerely, Nicole

2018 Year in Review

Another year has come and gone. I am very happy with how 2018 turned out. I am excited for starting fresh with new goals for 2019. But first, here's a summary of 2018:

Developing Creative Habits

I really focused on creating art on a regular basis. I gave myself a few monthly projects that helped to keep me going, which included collections of floral patterns, fan art, and mandala sketches. I also participated in various online art challenges, such as Homwork, Paint Every Day, and Inktober (my most successful year yet!). I worked specifically on my hand lettering and digital illustration. I also played around with various traditional mediums like watercolor, gouache, acrylic, chalk, and colored pencil.

I Made A LOT of Art

With the help of regular sketching and painting, I was very productive in the amount of art I output this year, especially when compared to recent years. I have added many new pieces, including a few collections, to my portfolio (which has been updated! Take a look…). I am still experimenting and developing my process and style—though I think that is an ongoing thing for any artist. I was also lucky enough to be able to purchase an iPad this year, which has been a big help to my digital work. Below are some of my favorite pieces by category.

Everything is Made Out of Magic

I released my nature-themed journal Everything is Made Out of Magic in September. Working in publishing as a designer and typesetter has given me a love of creating and laying out books. I have been a little slow in getting some of my own books out there, so I was proud of myself for actually finishing a project this year. Hopefully there will be more in the near future, and perhaps even a book proposal to a publisher one day as well!

My Goals for 2019

Make Art Every Day

I want to keep the momentum from 2018 going into 2019! Perhaps EVERY DAY is a lofty goal, but doesn't hurt to try. 

Shop Development

I feel like 2018 was a lot about developing my portfolio and body of work, so for this coming year, I want to move on toward doing something with all that art I've been making, and will continue to make. I've opened up accounts with a few print-on-demand sites, as well as an Etsy shop for digital products and original paintings. I really want to focus on creating products with my designs for people to use and enjoy!

Focus on Handmade Crafts

I am always looking to learn new things. I've been particularly fascinated by all forms of folk art lately, which I'd like to incorporate into my work somehow. I also want to explore handmade, craft-centered media like paper art, embroidery, and collage—both the physical crafts themselves, as well as using them as inspiration for digital work. You may have seen the faux-felt flower and embroidery clip art I made recently. I'd love to add even more digital "handmade" products to my Etsy product line for digital scrapbooking. I would love to start selling original paintings, drawings, and crafts as well!

It’s going to be a challenge to implement everything that I want to do in this coming year, but I look forward to tackling it all! Happy New Year, everyone!

Sincerely, Nicole

Christmas Embroidery Clip Art - FREE Download

If you follow me on social media, you may have noticed that I’ve been hard at work developing my new Etsy shop. My vision for the shop is to provide a mix of artfully crafted handmade and digital items in the form of original art, patterned papers, clip art, and small crafts. It’s still at the beginning stages, and I have A LOT of ideas that I’m excited about—it’s just a matter of getting them done! It will be one of my main goals for the coming year.

Right now, I’m focusing my efforts on building up a stock of digital goods for designers and scrapbookers. Besides providing some of my pattern designs as digital paper sets, I’m also having a lot of fun using my crafting experience to create faux-handmade clip art. You may have noticed the digital felt flowers I just listed. My latest product is a set of digital holiday embroidery elements. As my Christmas gift to you, I’m providing these as a FREE download.

Click on the image below to access the zip file, which contains the 7 embroidery elements as png files and a bonus striped green textured paper used in the example graphics. (In the Google Docs screen, click on the download arrow in the upper right corner. File size is approximately 32.4 MB.) I hope you enjoy these, and if you’d take a moment to browse my Etsy shop as well, I’d greatly appreciate it. And stay tuned for more to come!

Sincerely, Nicole

Looking Forward to What's Next

Take a look at this picture…


This is my daughter after she walked in covered in diaper cream. I share this not only because it’s funny, but also because it’s a great representation of what my life is like. Not the Insta-worthy, picture-perfect artist life one might wish to have—it’s messy and makes me want to laugh and cry all at once (like this picture).

I’ve had a hard month dealing with a lot of frustration personally and professionally. For those who don’t know, I work mainly in book publishing as a freelance designer. I’m proud that I have those skills and that I’ve built a business from it, but I LIKE it—I don’t LOVE it. It’s not painting and drawing for a living, which is what I WANT to do. Sure, I’ve had a few art jobs here and there—little successes—but I’m not quitting my “day job” anytime soon. Even so, the art that I share with you here on this site, that is my passion.

Why am I telling you this? Because I’m sure there are many of you who are in the same boat. Maybe you're striving to achieve a creative dream that hasn’t happened yet. Maybe you’re jealous of all the talented artists on social media with perfect studios and lots of followers. Perhaps you’re a stay-at-home mom striving to build your own home business. I’m here to tell you that I am with you. I get up every morning, put on my ugly sweats, and work by myself in my humble apartment that needs cleaning. My desk is overcrowded, I often have screaming toddlers around me begging for snacks, and I’m usually working on jobs that are not so much fun.

I guess I just wanted to remind myself, and you, that no one is as perfect as they might appear on Instagram. Life is messy and chaotic and takes a lot of work. Everyone has their own journey and struggles. I hope you enjoy the art I share because I put my heart into it. It is what I love to do. Maybe one day I’ll find that elusive “success,” but maybe not. For now, I’m happy to have fun making and sharing with you, and looking forward to what’s next!

Inktober 2018 Summary

I did it! I completed my Inktober challenge and created two pages of drawings EVERY day in October. It was my most successful Inktober yet.


I had a lot of fun with it. I think my inking and painting skills improved a little as the month went along, though I definitely still have more I could work on. I added color to a few of them, but for the most part kept to plain black and white. Browse through the complete collection of drawings below.

Sincerely, Nicole