The Importance of a Sketchbook



Lately, as we've been preparing for an upcoming product line (!), we've been mulling the importance of an artist's sketchbook. That isn't just to say a visual artist--this also includes writers, musicians, teachers, and more. Practice makes perfect, as the old saying goes. Allowing for your art form to take shape in a fluid, stream-of-consciousness fashion in a journal or a sketchbook is one of the best ways to keep your mind on-point and your craft solid.

Kelsey Garrity Riley Studio

How inspiring are some of the shots below of a few of our Red Cap artists sketches and sketchbooks? We especially love the video series that Anke Weckmann shoots with drawing time lapses. We nabbed this week's--full of lumberjacks!--to show you here. You can view even more on her Youtube channel. Lumber beware, cause those sketches are sharp! Have fun taking a look below, and don't forget your sketchbook and a pencil.

Kelsey Garrity Riley sketchbook
Kelsey Garrity-Riley


Anke Weckmann

Lizzy Stewart Sketchbook zine
Lizzy Stewart Sketchbook art gallery
Lizzy Stewart

Meg Hunt Sketchbook
Meg Hunt

Jaime Zollars Sketchbook
Jaime Zollars

Anna Emilia Laitinen Sketchbook
Anna Emilia Laitinen via Design*Sponge

Sarah Burwash Sketchbook
Sarah Burwash via Design*Sponge

James Gulliver Hancock sketches
James Gulliver Hancock


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Artist Spotlight: James Gulliver Hancock



It's been quite a while since we've been able to interview one of our awe-inspiring Red Cap illustrators for our Artist Spotlight series, and we are so happy that today is the day at last! We had the opportunity to chat with our newest Red Cap family member--James Gulliver Hancock--about what inspires him, what his creative process is like and much more:

Artist Spotlight: James Gulliver Hancock for Red Cap Cards

Tell us about your childhood—did you always want to be an artist? Did you have any other aspirations?
I had a great childhood! I grew up in Balmain, an inner suburb of Sydney. Sydney is made up of lots of harbour inlets, so there was a lot of taking little boats on adventures with friends, exploring the local nature and challenging ourselves. I drew all the time, and somehow knew I wanted to make things all the time. I drew all the time, even from a very young age. One early memory was using drawing at preschool to get out of doing any other tasks. I drew the most complicated thing I could think of so it would take all day and I wouldn’t have to do anything else - I still do this today ;-) I was definitely lucky that I knew what I wanted to do from early on, I really only vaguely had other aspirations, which were somehow relevant to the creative visual obsessions… I almost enrolled in aeronautical engineering at university!

You split your time between New York and Sydney. Is that for work, leisure, a bit of both?
I do split my time, but it’s more international even than that now. I’m lucky enough to have clients all over the world, so I get to travel to lots of different places for work. Couple that with my wife (Lenkamusic.com) who is a traveling musician means we’ve gotten to see a lot of different places and cultures, and actually live in them, rather than just be a tourist, which is really special. I don’t tend to split the idea of work and leisure though, they are one and the same to me, I’d be drawing regardless of whether it was for clients or not. I’m always drawing.

James Gulliver Hancock for Red Cap Cards

What is your creative process like?
Like I said, I draw all the time, it’s a great advantage as I’ve got a pool of ideas to work from at all times. If ever I’m stuck at any part of the process I can pull up something I was interested a while ago from a sketchbook and get the inspiration to carry on. My process generally starts with really rough sketches, sometimes they are so rough they aren’t really intelligible to anyone but me. From there I usually refine by tracing that sketch to another sketch phase that the client can comment on, something like the attached below:

Artist Spotlight: James Gulliver Hancock for Red Cap Cards

Then I typically draw this out for the final line work, making any last little tweaks. I don’t use anything particularly fancy during my process, typically it’s pencil and pen and paper. I do like to use a dipping pen sometimes, as it pulls in that accidental messiness that I love. Once the final line work is done and approved, I scan it into the computer and use a wacom tablet to add colour underneath the line work. I try to treat my process a bit like silkscreen printmaking, so there are only 2 or 3 layers and the color is blocky and finished by the line work sitting on top. I do a lot of silkscreening for my personal projects, selling the prints on my website. I still remember the first time I tried silkscreening and the excitement it gave, combining elements of photography, collage, and drawing, coupled with the ability to print on almost anything, it’s inherent multimedia aspects had me hooked.

What inspires you?
Everything around me basically. I like to gather influence from anything from a bike ride around the block, to reading a children’s book to reading a science or philosophy article online. I don’t typically look at other artists or illustrators for inspiration, as doing so usually has the opposite effect, I like to pull ideas from more abstract thoughts. Even just seeing an interesting pattern, or the way the tree in the park meets the grass can lead to a new way of thinking about a drawing.

Favorite medium to work in?
Pencil and paper, I don’t think I’ll ever get over the satisfaction of making a picture appear on blank paper. It still feels like magic. My other favorite as I mentioned is silkscreening, with it’s flexibility and bold blocky colors.

The Process: James Gulliver Hancock's illustration for Red Cap Card in pencil

Do you have a favorite piece that you have created? I’m usually in love with whatever it is I’m working on at the moment. I love the cards Red Cap and I did of course, especially the medals. These were an idea I’d wanted to work up for a long time. I think reward is such a big part of growing up in a society, wanting to please people around you… at least it was for me, so I thought these rewards for acts of loving were a nice idea. It’s funny when you create something you like and you just want to stare at it. I’ve just released my first coloring book and I still love looking at the drawings even though I did most of them about a year ago. You know you’ve done something right when you’ve pushed yourself a little and you need to look at the drawings a lot after you’ve finished them. It’s like being in love and wanting to be with that person all the time for no good reason other than you just want to be next to them.

James

You have worked in both corporate and independent illustration—which do you prefer?
I’ve worked hard to have a very varied practice. I consciously made decisions to have a strong commercial practice as well as a personal one. They aren’t separate though by any means, it’s more like I’m making and drawing every day for myself thinking of projects I could do, but most of the time before I get the chance those ideas get folded into client work. I love this process. Being constantly self motivated also has it’s advantages in any downtime (which is becoming more and more rare) so that when there aren't any nagging deadlines I can just shift over and do some printmaking for my store or work on a long form book concept…. or just draw the flowers on my desk to give to a friend.

Tell us about All The Buildings in New York.
All the Buildings in New York is a project that came out of my love of traveling. Being 1/2 British I traveled a fair bit since I was a kid. It really ramped up after high school when I started wandering around the world by myself. My longest journey was a year or two out of University when I drew a wobbly line from my hometown in Sydney, Australia to London, England, and made plans to do the journey by land/sea. It was an amazing experience, but not only did it influence my personal life it really directed me professionally. I was a bit lost thinking I wanted to be a designer, and getting into my travel sketchbook I realised a way of working that culminated in this project. I would draw obsessively the things around me, collecting things to draw like a hoarder of pictures. Eventually these grew into prints which I started to sell. Then when I eventually ended up in New York I started the project focusing on the buildings, trying desperately to collect the whole New York experience by drawing all of the buildings. Unwittingly it was a brilliant way to introduce my work to this international city, as fairly soon after it started it got quite a lot of press and eventually I had publishers calling me to do a book, and once the book came out clients wanting to work together.

New York Public Library by James Gulliver Hancock

Do you take building requests?
I do indeed, head to the website--allthebuildingsinnewyork.com--and in the shop section you’ll see how to order. I love doing these as it is a real connection to stories about New York that I otherwise wouldn’t hear. I remember one special one was a couple wanting a portrait of the buildings they lived in separately coupled with the new building they were moving into together… a very sweet sentiment, celebrating the architecture around their love.

640 Broadway by James Gulliver Hancock

What is it about the structure of architecture that you love to draw?
For one, they stand still, so I can sit and observe for as long as I like. I think also generally architecture is underrated. People use buildings all day everyday, and we don’t really stop and look at them. I know architects and building lovers do, but I met so many people in New York that would say to me that they’ve lived in this or that building for 10 years and never even noticed it was so beautiful. It was a great moment when people cited my drawings as an impetus for looking deeper into their surroundings. When you do start to look architecture almost becomes just like sculpture and the city a big museum, that’s what it is for me now. I’ve mentioned this before in other talks I’ve done, that what is also lovely for me about this project is that the buildings become like friends. Once I’ve drawn a building I never really forget it, I’ll be walking down the street and see a building I’ve drawn and it’s almost like we say hi or give each other a high five. Because New York was an adopted city for me it was a great way to make new friends ;-)

Is there any every day object that you haven’t drawn yet—you seem to have covered most! If so, will you be working on that tonight?
As part of my obsessive nature I would like to draw every single thing in the world and do nothing else! It worries me sometimes that I haven’t drawn everything. I guess that’s why I draw in the between moments as well as in the studio. I draw the cups on the table, the glasses on the bedside table, the chairs in the cafe, in some sort of attempt to pay attention to everything around me.

Who are your role models, in terms of art or otherwise?
I always find this question touch, maybe because it changes all the time? I do love the classic illustrator choices like Maurice Sendak, Richard Scarry, Saul Steinberg

Artist Spotlight: James Gulliver Hancock for Red Cap Cards

If you didn’t work as an artist, what would you hope to be doing?
I know what I’d be doing, I’d be drawing regardless, whether or not it’s art or illustration, for myself or someone else I’d continue to make things. My making obsession satisfaction does spill into other areas, I get it from woodworking, from cooking, from gardening… maybe I’d eventually spill into one of those… ?

Any advice to burgeoning illustrators?
Make stuff all the time and show it to as many people as possible.

James Gulliver Hancock for Red Cap Cards

Any upcoming projects you'd like to tell us about? Ever since the success of my All the Buildings in New York book I’ve been making a lot of books, so my colouring book just came out which I’m excited about, and this has informed a new children’s book I wrote and illustrated with an old friend. It’s been really fun exploring character design and environments, working with a very talented and fastidious editor and making the best book we can, it’s really exciting. I can’t wait for it to come out so I can read it to my kids. It’s funny, at every stage of my kids development I’ve wanted to take the making into my own hands, when Quinn was little I made him these hand painted children’s blocks, I made him a book about wheels, when he was obsessed with wheels, and it’s almost a career journey that now I’m doing this dense and detailed children’s book for him.

Children's blocks by James Gulliver Hancock

And one we must ask all of our artists: favorite drink?
Your finest whiskey, straight, with a large ice cube.

To view James Gulliver Hancock's designs for Red Cap, click here. Thank you, James!
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Red Cap Cards on Write_On!



"I think when people find our cards they are inspired by the art. They see a story that’s familiar or intriguing and make it their own. They want to share what they’ve discovered and they sit down and write. I love how our cards can trigger a memory or create a dream world that people want to connect through." -Carrie

Red Cap Cards on the Write_On blog Red Cap Cards on the Write_On blog
We're so excited to have Carrie on today's interview series installment on the Write_On Campaign blog. Carrie had the chance to sit down with Write_On and tell her personal perspective of what a handwritten letter means. See below for a little taste of the interview, and click over to Write_On to view the entire thing. Thank you, Write_On!

Write_On: What does your letter-writing practice look like?

Carrie: Well it’s not as creative as it was when I was in 7th grade. Boy, those were the days. The amount of time and effort I put into writing was beyond! I must have written a million letters a day. Not to mention I had pen pals. Do you remember having those? I had a teacher that set us up with complete strangers in other countries and we’d write to them every week. How awesome is that. It makes my current letter writing process seem very sad. That’s why I’m looking forward to your challenge!

Write_On: Modern times have made digital correspondence increasingly available and convenient. Why is it important for people to send handwritten cards and letters?

Carrie: Recently my Dad passed away and I found a box in his desk with all the letters and cards I had written to him over the years. Each letter was a bit different. I thanked him for money, I wished him a happy birthday, I reminded him of favorite childhood memories, but in each letter at some point I always express my love and gratitude for him and my mom. As I read each letter I realized how important they were to him and how grateful I was that I took the time to sitdown and let him know how I felt. Connection through hand written letters in invaluable, we should all do it more often….

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National Letter Writing Month & The Write_On Challenge



April is National Letter Writing Month, so we’re taking the Write_On Challenge, writing thirty letters in thirty days. The project was initially created by The Write_On Campaign and sponsored by Egg Press, Chronicle Books, Hello Lucky! and more. Write_On is a campaign to promote joy, creativity, expression, and connection through hand-written correspondence...and if there is anything we are about, it's that! We are proud to be a participant in this important and wonderful campaign that promotes spreading the love to all you know (and even some you don't!)

Red Cap Cards takes the Write On Campaign Challenge

Red Cap Cards takes the Write On Campaign Challenge

If you didn't learn about the campaign in time to snag one of their complimentary Write_On kits, that's okay! You can still grab some swag from their shop, like note sheets, a calendar or enamel pin. When it really comes down to it, however, this campaign doesn't cost much--except maybe the price of a stamp--and anyone can participate. If you're showing what you're writing on social media, don't forget to hashtag #write_on so that we can see all the incredible work you are doing, spreading love to friends and family. And if you're in need of supplies, look no further than the cards in our shop, Egg Press or Hello Lucky!

Need some Reasons to Write? We are loving these suggestions that were included in the kit. Here's a few favorites:

• Draw a self portrait and send it to your friend.
• Write to your mom or dad about how they've inspired you.
• Kids love mail, too!
• Write a letter to your future self.
• Send a letter in multiple parts--they have to wait for the next episode!
• Write down your favorite quote and give it to a stranger.
• Decorate the envelope--go wild!

Click the cards below to be taken to the Egg Press and Hello Lucky! shops:

Red Cap Cards takes the Write_On Challenge
Red Cap Cards takes the Write_On Challenge

And follow us on Instagram to see the notes we are sending out this month for Write_On. We're looking forward to seeing what you're getting up to! Here are a few notes we're writing:

Red Cap Cards takes the Write On Campaign Challenge
Love Ants by Nicholas John Frith
Red Cap Cards takes the Write On Campaign Challenge
Many Hellos by James Gulliver Hancock
Red Cap Cards takes the Write On Campaign Challenge
Bestie Mermaid by Dinara Mirtalipova
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Arlo's Book Club: Spring Fun Edition



Spring is here, and we're excited to bring you another edition of Arlo's Book Club. We're showcasing some recent favorites this round, including a few special books by Red Cap artists, Christian Robinson and Nicholas John Frith. Run, bike, skip or hike to the library or book store and grab Arlo's favorites below. Cuddle up together in a big, cozy chair and enjoy:

Arlo and Simone: Arlo's Book Club by Red Cap Cards

Hector and Hummingbird by Red Cap Cards artist, Nicholas John Frith. Nicholas John Frith's first novel is a charming and colorful tale of a bear (Hector) and a hummingbird. Hector just wants some peace and quiet and Hummingbird is a noisy fellow, buzzing from here to there. It captures the friendship and challenges that such an opposite pair may find themselves in.

Arlo's Book Club: Spring Fun Edition
Arlo's Book Club: Spring Fun Edition
Arlo's Book Club: Spring Fun Edition


This Is Sadie by Sara O'Leary with illustrations by Julie Morstad. This one is an absolute written and illustrative delight. Meet Sadie, a quiet but imaginative girl who has lived many lives in her world of pretend. "This is Sadie. No, not that. That's a box. Sadie is inside the box." Sadie also has wings, and you might too. Have you checked lately?

Arlo's Book Club: Spring Fun Edition
Arlo's Book Club: Spring Fun Edition
Arlo's Book Club: Spring Fun Edition
Arlo's Book Club: Spring Fun Edition


Can I Play Too? by Mo Willems. The perfect tale of an empathetic duo (Elephant and Piggie) that want so badly to include their new friend--a snake--in their game of catch. But how is that possible when the snake has no arms? Kids will love this story of how to solve the puzzle of including everyone in games with friends.

Arlo's Book Club: Spring Fun Edition
Arlo's Book Club: Spring Fun Edition
Arlo's Book Club: Spring Fun Edition


The Dead Bird by Margaret Wise Brown with illustrations by Red Cap Cards artist, Christian Robinson. Christian Robinson brings Margaret Wise Brown's classic tale of a group of kids' discovery and memorial of a dead bird to new life (so to speak). Colorful, thoughtful and introspective, this is one makes you remember what emotions felt like when you were a child.

Arlo's Book Club: Spring Fun Edition
Arlo's Book Club: Spring Fun Edition


The Little Gardener by Emily Hughes. This book introduces us to an overworked but very loving and teeny-tiny gardener, who teaches us that sometimes love is the most important part of the labor.

Arlo's Book Club: Spring Fun Edition
Arlo's Book Club: Spring Fun Edition
Arlo's Book Club: Spring Fun Edition

Arlo's Book Club: by Red Cap Cards
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Books & Friends for Easter



Remember last year, when we created our ideal Easter basket? That was a pretty fantastic way to spend the holiday, but this year we thought we'd ask the Easter bunny to grab something different for our favorite kids.

Books, books, books galore! Some of the more popular children's books are lending their characters to bedding and clothing lines, plus other fun gifts. We know a few little ones who would be super excited to find these gifties in their Easter basket on Sunday morning. Check out a few favorites, and don't forget to write them a loving note!

Books for Easter by Red Cap Cards

From top left:

• "If you run away," said his mother, "I will run after you. For you are my little bunny." Perfect for Easter: The Runaway Bunny book and t-shirt, from Out of Print Clothing.

• "This is the best day ever," said the shy little kitten. Love The Shy Little Kitten and accompanying pillow from Land of Nod.

• With all of the sugar those kids are about to eat, you better get this Max crown ready for some wild things! Oeuf Knit Wild Things crown from Barney's New York and Caldecott-winning book, Where the Wild Things Are.

• This year's runaway bestseller, Dragons Love Tacos is the perfect brain-candy for kids, and this shirt from Target is absolute fun.

• Last but not least, Olivia fans can have their very own Olivia dress with this creative line of clothing for girls at Gymboree.

Happy Easter, everyone!
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Master's Showcase: Barbara Cooney



It's been a bit since we've posted a Master's Showcase (or past posts have included looks at Leo Lionni, the Provensens and Mary Blair) but with Spring just around the corner, we were reminded of the great Barbara Cooney, who brought us Miss Rumphius. If you haven't read the story about a woman who spreads flower seeds across the land in order to make the Earth more beautiful, do yourself a favor and high-tail it to the children's section at your library.

Master's Showcase of Barbara Cooney by Red Cap Cards

Barbara Cooney (1917-2000) was an American Caldecott medal-winning illustrator, who wrote and/or created the artwork for countless classic children's books, such as Ox-Cart Man, The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree: An Appalachian Story, Little Women, Eleanor and Chanticleer and the Fox. Some of her work (particularly that from Ox-Cart Man and Louhi, The Witch of the North Farm), is sometimes reminiscent of beautiful scenes or landscapes from the middle ages, with similar color and detail. We even spy a style reminiscent of our own Red Cap artists, Becca Stadtlander and Anna Emilia Laitinen. Have fun mulling through some of our favorite photos below, and do some digging on your own as well to see more of a master at work!

Master's Showcase of Barbara Cooney by Red Cap Cards

Master's Showcase of Barbara Cooney by Red Cap Cards

Master's Showcase of Barbara Cooney by Red Cap Cards

Master's Showcase of Barbara Cooney by Red Cap Cards

Master's Showcase of Barbara Cooney by Red Cap Cards

Master's Showcase of Barbara Cooney by Red Cap Cards

Master's Showcase of Barbara Cooney by Red Cap Cards

Master's Showcase of Barbara Cooney by Red Cap Cards

Master's Showcase of Barbara Cooney by Red Cap Cards

Master's Showcase of Barbara Cooney by Red Cap Cards

Master's Showcase of Barbara Cooney by Red Cap Cards

Master's Showcase of Barbara Cooney by Red Cap Cards

Master's Showcase of Barbara Cooney by Red Cap Cards

Master's Showcase of Barbara Cooney by Red Cap Cards

Master's Showcase of Barbara Cooney by Red Cap Cards

Master's Showcase of Barbara Cooney by Red Cap Cards

Master's Showcase of Barbara Cooney by Red Cap Cards

Master's Showcase of Barbara Cooney by Red Cap Cards

Master's Showcase of Barbara Cooney by Red Cap Cards

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Introducing Carolyn Gavin



We have another exciting addition that we are adding to our Red Cap family this Spring, and can't wait to show you what she's working on! Meet Carolyn Gavin, who hails from Toronto, Canada--another new and amazing talent that is joining the ranks of the Red Cap elite. Come this Spring, prepare to pocket some of these hot-colored floral and patterned masterpieces, ready and waiting to be signed, sealed, delivered through the post office to your loved ones. It will be like receiving your own ink-ed bouquet.

To learn more about Carolyn, check out her representation website here, and view lots of other illustrations on her Instagram, here. We also love this interview with Carolyn, here.

Carolyn Gavin: Brand new artist for Red Cap Cards, coming this spring


Carolyn Gavin: Brand new artist for Red Cap Cards, coming this spring


Carolyn Gavin: Brand new artist for Red Cap Cards, coming this spring


Carolyn Gavin: Brand new artist for Red Cap Cards, coming this spring


Carolyn Gavin: Brand new artist for Red Cap Cards, coming this spring


Carolyn Gavin: Brand new artist for Red Cap Cards, coming this spring


Carolyn Gavin: Brand new artist for Red Cap Cards, coming this spring


Carolyn Gavin: Brand new artist for Red Cap Cards, coming this spring


Carolyn Gavin: Brand new artist for Red Cap Cards, coming this spring


Carolyn Gavin: Brand new artist for Red Cap Cards, coming this spring


Carolyn Gavin: Brand new artist for Red Cap Cards, coming this spring


Carolyn Gavin: Brand new artist for Red Cap Cards, coming this spring


Carolyn Gavin: Brand new artist for Red Cap Cards, coming this spring


Carolyn Gavin: Brand new artist for Red Cap Cards, coming this spring


Carolyn Gavin: Brand new artist for Red Cap Cards, coming this spring


Carolyn Gavin: Brand new artist for Red Cap Cards, coming this spring


Carolyn Gavin: Brand new artist for Red Cap Cards, coming this spring


Carolyn Gavin: Brand new artist for Red Cap Cards, coming this spring


Carolyn Gavin: Brand new artist for Red Cap Cards, coming this spring


Carolyn Gavin: Brand new artist for Red Cap Cards, coming this spring


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National Women's History Month



Did you know that March is National Women's History Month? It's a wonderful time to do some reading about some of the most influential women in history. We especially love these Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World Illustrated posters by Rachel Ignotofsky. If you need a special reason to write to Mom, Grandma, your sister, or daughter, or any other woman who has inspired you, consider using Women's History Month as an excuse! Check out some of our favorite cards with the ladies in mind below. There's still time to order!

Click over to our SHOP section to view these cards in detail.
National Women's History Month with Red Cap Cards
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