From Original Art To Product: Fab Ladies In The House

Details of vibrant, colorful, and playful collage and paint on paper fab ladies artwork by Alex Mitchell view 1.

It’s time to play.
The art-making process begins with play. This is true for any creative undertaking. You’ve got a vision in your head that you wanna bring to life. But you have to play around a bit before you figure out what you’re doing. In other words, things just get messy before they become clear. The only obstacle between you and that thing you wanna make so badly is, well, you.

Ya see, if there’s any part of you that needs to know how to finish before you start, it will rear it’s ugly head and keep you from trying.

The difference between feeling stuck or feeling ease is in your willingness to try. Your resistance to trying is only your fear of messing up. Making art is inherently about not being afraid of getting it wrong. It’s about trusting in the process so that whatever feels “wrong” is just the next step.

It’s perfectly okay not to know. Start anyway.

I did. And eventually, I ended up with these sassy colorful fashion misfits looking back at me. I started calling them Fab Ladies. And the name stuck.

Details of vibrant, colorful, and playful collage and paint on paper fab ladies artwork by Alex Mitchell view 2.

Fab Ladies in the house.
Let’s use my Fab Ladies project as an example of the creative process. The only thing I knew about this project from the get-go was that I wanted to do three things:

1. paint on paper
2. create a modular painting
3. apply this new artwork to Twinki-Winki products

The idea was to paint something big that I could separate into smaller equal parts for scanning. So I decided on using twelve pieces of thick black construction paper as my substrate.

Combined, the twelve papers would make a big original. But smaller combinations of four or six papers could also work.

Details of vibrant, colorful, and playful collage and paint on paper fab ladies artwork by Alex Mitchell view 3.

Layer, layer, layer.
My usual modus operandi is to work in layers. Each layer sets the stage for the next one by adding graphic elements of color, line, and texture. It’s an intentional building up of imagery that allows for lots of surprises. And this is where things get really messy, starting with the very first layer of white paint on my substrate:

1. slap on white paint
2. drip black ink all over
3. spritz water all over
4. dry
5. sand
6. paste on cut-out eyes
7. sand away white paint where I want to see more black areas
8. paste on shapes of colored tissue paper
9. varnish
10. draw with black ink to make figure shapes
11. sand
12. draw crayon lines in colors
13. varnish
14. paste on shapes of colored tissue paper
15. sand
16. varnish

The list goes on and on and on but you get the idea. There is an iterative process at play. Steps get repeated over and over until the composition feels finished.

Details of vibrant, colorful, and playful collage and paint on paper fab ladies artwork by Alex Mitchell view 4.

Composition disposition.
In the beginning, the composition happens on its own. It’s like when you stare at the clouds and out of nowhere, you see a distinct shape that looks like a galloping horse or a flying dragon. The main bits are already there. The rest you add with some imagination.

Well, I started seeing figure shapes right away, especially after I pasted on my cut-out eyes. And so my Fab Ladies came into being layer upon layer. Sometimes they appeared like a whole figure, sometimes I intentionally added color and lines to add in what was missing. There is this delicate balance of play and arrangement happening that feels easy. The hard part is knowing when to stop.

Because if you stop short, the graphic elements won’t play nice together. The whole thing will feel wonky. But if you go overboard, you lose the sense of spontaneity. You end up covering any bits that hint at the energy that went into making the piece.

Stylish cozy graphic throw blanket, beach towel, pillows, backpack, and mugs with happy multicolor Fab Ladies print.

Product application.
After creating and composing the original artwork, it’s time to apply it to products. The finished art is now ready to be used for printing. This involves scanning the originals to create digital versions.

And this is how my Fab Ladies ended up dancing all over a chic backpack, throw blanket, and beach towel. They looked so good that I couldn’t resist adding Fab Ladies to my coffee mug and pillow collections as well. Smile.

The art-making process begins with play and the only obstacle between you and that thing you wanna make so badly is you. So remember, it’s perfectly okay to feel like you don’t know what you’re doing. The truth is nobody does. And the irony is that you don’t have to.

You can apply this idea to anything you want to do in your life.

All those things you want, you only want them because it’s fun to be on your way to them.

It’s the process of becoming that thrills us. It’s what makes us feel grateful to be alive.

Twinki-Winki products in this post:
For beach towels and blankets go here:
For throw pillows go here:
For coffee mugs go here:
For bags and backpacks go here:

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