No news, good news!

It’s been too long! The reason for this post is to share great news with you all! 

Things are going well and I haven’t a chance to actively write on the blog since last November. I have been busy preparing the new year's workload and developing projects that will see the light of day pretty soon. 

But to get back to the great news: One the rebrands I worked on for the Alberta Construction Safety Association is currently a finalist for the Marketing Award of Distinction of the 2017 Alberta Business Awards of Distinction! The winners will be announced on Friday, February 24 and I am really excited for them since the ACSA team I worked with on this project was truly amazing. It’s awesome to see great clients get rewarded.

For this project I worked in collaboration with The Met Agency and I was responsible for the overall Creative Direction and Art Direction. I also designed the new visual identity, stationery, banners, brand book and branding guidelines. 

 

Alberta Construction Safety Association rebrand in collaboration with The Met Agency

Alberta Construction Safety Association rebrand in collaboration with The Met Agency

 

 

Crestwood, now and then

It always feels good to complete a project because it means that there is now more room for a new one! With every project comes a load of new learning experience and for this illustration, I was excited to give my new iPad Pen a try. 

Additionally, it was recommended for me to try out the digital painting app Procreate, which demonstrates lots of great functionalities. Since both tools were fairly new, I didn't feel confident enough to work solely on my iPad for this commissioned piece but I have decided to try those tools out and sketch with them.

As you can see in the video below, I first sketched my illustration on paper, digitalized it and then I traced over darker lines within the app to clean the sketch up before I could send it to the client. 

From there, I brought this sketch in Photoshop and completed the illustration with my Wacom tablet, which I felt more comfortable with.

Digital sketch created with the app Procreate

Digital sketch created with the app Procreate

Discovering new things is always very exciting and I am looking forward to the next illustrative project!

Avenue Edmonton, December 2016 - Illustration: Valéry Goulet -  Art direction: Pete Nguyen

Avenue Edmonton, December 2016 - Illustration: Valéry Goulet -  Art direction: Pete Nguyen

In closing, I would like to invite you to grab a copy of the next issue of Avenue Edmonton Magazine to read the story this illustration accompanies 'Crestwood, now and then' written by the talented Lauralyn Chow. 

Surface Pattern Design & a great book to discover

I can't believe it has already been 3 months since I last wrote on my blog! So many projects saw the light lately, and I am definitely planning on sharing them with you! For now, I simply wanted to share one great book I found on the topic of Surface Pattern Design, since it has occupied a lot of my time recently. 

Les abeilles designed by Valéry Goulet

Les abeilles designed by Valéry Goulet

I have been developing pattern designs for many years now, applying them to different products such as clocks, tumblers and gift wraps. It has been a fun experience and a great side project.

Last summer, I went to the ICON9 conference in Austin and there was a lot of discussions around licensing. It made me consider getting even more information about this industry and I have been working towards bringing this project to the next level. 

The first step for me was to research on the topic. I looked for books, websites and people that could help me find what I was looking for. I spent hours browsing and looking for useful information. I found that there is a lot of resources on 'Surface Pattern Design & Licencing' but I define those as 'inspirational resources'. It is great to be able to discover surface pattern designers and their amazing work but I was personally more interested in the history and business side of it, which I found really hard to get. 

Patternalia: An Unconventional History of Polka Dots, Stripes, Plaid, Camouflage, & Other Graphic Patterns written by Jude Stewart, has been an amazing book. It plumbs the backstories of individual patterns, the surprising twists in how each developed, the parallels between patterns natural and invented, and the curious personalities these patterns accrue over time. I definitely recommend you start with this little book and I wish you a great reading time!

Patternalia book cover

Patternalia book cover

Something new at Curioos

A couple weeks ago, I was invited to sell some of my illustration work at Curioos, an online store that sells mostly exclusive art prints. After some research and after having interesting discussions with other current Curioos' artists, I felt it was a great fit and I submitted my first design.

All prints are manually numbered, signed, embossed and shipped with a certificate of authenticity, which I thought was also pretty interesting. 

The first piece I submitted is Lapin de laine, a personal project of mine. Each illustration can be reproduced not only on heavyweight fine art paper but also on canvas, acrylic glass and aluminum.

To learn more about this product and also to keep an eye on my upcoming designs (some great exclusives), I would like to invite you to visit my Curioos page

Frame art print

Frame art print

Canvas print

Mixed Signals on a Recession, a fun project.

Between teaching my three classes and working on other client projects this past winter, I had the opportunity to work with Art Director Natalie Kress for the April 2016 issue of the Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine. The article I illustrated for this client speaks to the sinking stocks and how they don't necessarily presage an economic downturn.  

llustration detail

llustration detail

Working for a new client is always a little stressful and very exciting as you want to make sure you create something that both of you will find interesting. For me, each new project is an opportunity to learn and improve myself. With editorial illustrations, you want to make sure your message is well communicated and that your illustration captures the essence of the article you illustrate well. This is easy to say but sometimes the ideas are not that easy to find. 

With each client, my creative process needs to adapt to them. To better understand my client's expectations, I always get started with some rough sketches and share different ideas we could work on. Since most of my editorial illustrations are created for clients that are often located in different cities, many of our conversations take place through emails. With this project, since the article wasn't fully written at the time I started, the Art Director sent me the following information:

Ahead – The Bear Market, 1/3 page - We are thinking to have two bears peeking out of a cave

Below is the very first document I sent to my client. Those sketches were accompanied by a short sentence. With editorial illustrations, I feel that the image must speak for itself. If you need to write up a long story that explains it, it is probably because you didn't get the right idea in the first place. 

Rough sketches

Rough sketches

Once the concept was selected (Idea no.3), I recreated the bear illustration with the Adobe Draw application. 

Screen capture from Adobe Draw

Screen capture from Adobe Draw

Screen capture from Adobe Draw

Screen capture from Adobe Draw

Once the bear was completed, I imported the illustrations in Illustrator, where I added the colours and created the simple graphic elements that compose the illustration. 

Illustration in Adobe Illustrator

Lastly, I completed the illustration in Photoshop before I could send my final illustration to the Art Director.

Kiplinger's Personal Finance, April 2016 - Illustration: Valéry Goulet -  Art direction: Natalie Kress

This assignment was really pleasant to work on. Finding the right idea is probably the toughest part of a project of this kind. I had a lot of fun creating this illustration and Kiplinger's Art Director Natalie Kress was amazing to work with. 

If you have any question about this project, please feel free to send an email and I will be happy to get back to you. 

 

This is only the beginning and there is a lot more to come!

I can't believe we are at the end of May already and that I couldn't find a moment to write on my blog until this evening. I am really good at managing my time and I have to say that it has been an exceptionally busy year so far. I started 2016 with a teaching load of three classes. Back in December, I was afraid of the idea, since I have never taught that many classes in a term. My university students were amazing and I enjoyed sharing my knowledge with them. In return, I had the opportunity to mark amazing projects and I have decided to share some of them with you. 

The project below is a book cover created by Jamie Craig (@mellowkittehh) for the DES 496 illustration class at the University of Alberta. 

DES 496 University of Alberta - Book cover illustration by Jamie Craig

DES 496 University of Alberta - Book cover illustration by Jamie Craig

DES 496 University of Alberta - Book cover illustration by Jamie Craig

DES 496 University of Alberta - Book cover illustration by Jamie Craig

'Steal like and artist'
Below is an illustration inspired by @mengju and created by Song Park. The objective of this mini project was for the students to create an original illustration inspired by an artist of their choice without copying them.

DES 496 University of Alberta - illustration by Song Park

DES 496 University of Alberta - illustration by Song Park

As a variation, the students had to choose a masterpiece and illustrate it in the style of the artist of their choice. Below is the work of Marie Espenido who based her illustration style on Juan Carlos of Jotaka Illustration

DES 496 University of Alberta - illustration by Marie Espenido

DES 496 University of Alberta - illustration by Marie Espenido

Also, I wanted to share one of the numerous animated .gifs we created in February. Nikolina Mileusnic is the author of this funny one. 

DES 496 University of Alberta - illustration by Nikolina Mileusnic

DES 496 University of Alberta - illustration by Nikolina Mileusnic

Finally, because so many great projects were created this past 5 months, I didn't want to include them all in a single post. I am preparing some more for you to keep up with my 'fabulous' creative life. À bientôt! 

Discover Victo Ngai

I recently shared the fantastic work of the talented illustrator Victo Ngai with my students and I thought it would be a good idea to also share it with you here.

Victo Ngai is a New York based illustrator from Hong Kong who graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design. "Victo" is not a boy nor a typo, but a nickname derived from Victoria - a leftover from the British colonization.

Victo creates art for newspaper and magazines such as the New York Times and the New Yorker; makes books for publishers such as the Folio Society, Abrams and Tor Forge; and works on advertisement campaigns with companies like the McDonald's, IMAX, MTA Art for Transit (New York subway), Lufthansa Airline and General Electric.

MoneyHorse, The New York Times - Source: victo-ngai.com

MoneyHorse, The New York Times - Source: victo-ngai.com

Living in the Moment, Sarah Lawrence Alumni Magazine - Source: victo-ngai.com

Living in the Moment, Sarah Lawrence Alumni Magazine - Source: victo-ngai.com

Not only is her work fantastic but I also found the following video to be quite true to the reality of most professional illustrators. You can discover more of her work by visiting her website

Monsieur Santa Giveaway!

On every Friday of December, Valérydesignwrks is giving away a set of 5 greeting cards to a lucky Instagram follower! To participate, simply 'regram' the appropriate image and you are in! 

For the first giveaway, starting the week of November 30th, Valérydesignwrks will be giving away the Monsieur Santa card set! Now, in order to prepare accordingly, make sure to follow @valerydesignrks on Instagram! This giveaway is open to people from all around the world! 

In case you really want to own this Monsieur Santa card set, it is possible to purchase it in the Valérydesignwrk's online boutique!

Bonne chance!

Monsieur Santa Card Set


Colourful illustrations by Mouni Feddag

This week, while preparing my material for the illustration class I teach at Grant MacEwan University, I discovered the amazing work of Mouni Feddag, a UK based illustrator who graduated from the University of Applied Sciences Darmstadt in Germany.

Her work is incredibly colourful and each piece is so interesting! She works mostly with lead pencils and black ink on inkjet paper and she colours everything digitally.

Source: mounifeddag.com

Source: mounifeddag.com

Source: mounifeddag.com

Source: mounifeddag.com

You can see her work on her website, purchase her great illustrations on her Society6 shop and add some great colours to you Instagram feed by following her work @mounifeddag!

Source: mounifeddag.com

Source: mounifeddag.com

Source: mounifeddag.com

Source: mounifeddag.com

Source: mounifeddag.com

Source: mounifeddag.com

Source: mounifeddag.com

Source: mounifeddag.com

Source: mounifeddag.com

Source: mounifeddag.com

Linogravure (Linocut) by Olga Ezova-Denisova

Lately, I have been experimenting with Linocut. As I was researching the topic, I discovered great illustrators and artists and I wanted to share their work with you. To start this series of posts, I chose the work of Olga Ezova-Denisova, who is an artist and illustrator based in Yekaterinburg, Russia. Her work is fantastic. She not only applies her illustrations to a range of paper mediums, but also to fabric and it is definitely gorgeous. 

I also read an interesting interview she did with Frankie, an online Australian Magazine. You can find more of her work on her website as well as her blog. You can also follow her journey on Instagram and Behance. Enjoy!

Olga's studio - Source: ezovadenisova.ru

Olga's studio - Source: ezovadenisova.ru


Below are some projects and images of her process I found interesting and beautiful. 

Source: ezovadenisova.ru

Source: ezovadenisova.ru

Source: ezovadenisova.ru

Source: ezovadenisova.ru


Source: ezovadenisova.ru

Source: ezovadenisova.ru

Source: ezovadenisova.ru

Source: ezovadenisova.ru

Source: ezovadenisova.ru

Source: ezovadenisova.ru

Source: ezovadenisova.ru

Source: ezovadenisova.ru


Source: ezovadenisova.ru

Source: ezovadenisova.ru

Source: ezovadenisova.ru

Source: ezovadenisova.ru

Source: ezovadenisova.ru

Source: ezovadenisova.ru

Source: ezovadenisova.ru

Source: ezovadenisova.ru

Source: ezovadenisova.ru

Source: ezovadenisova.ru


La rentrée, and a ton of great tools to use.

Because it is my first couple weeks of class and I also want to share as much as possible with my graphic design and illustration students, I have decided to introduce you to some of the tools I have been using, along with some comments so you can decide for yourself if you would like to add them to your set for the new school year.

Traditional tools

As far as I can remember, I have always appreciated pens and pencils. Shopping with my mother for my school supplies was always exciting for me. These days, I love to look for new tools I can share with my students and friends. 

Our local art stores have a lot to satisfy us in that regard. You can go there and spend minutes trying their demo pens to finally find one or many that feel good for you. In Edmonton, I like to go to Colours and DeSerres. They carry different brands so you have a lot to choose from. 

I also like online shopping, as the sent parcel feels just like a surprise bag and I am always excited to see if my purchase was great. 

Jetpens is definitely my favourite. They have so much, so much stuff! Often you can read the reviews so your purchases are in most cases, good ones. With our dollar value right now, it might not be the best deal you can find, but they definitely have some special gems you won't be able to access easily elsewhere. 

My day-to-day pen is a simple Pilot Rasor black pen. I find I can either write or draw with the same tool which is quite convenient. I often bring this one with me at meetings as well as at working sessions. 

Source: Jetpens

Source: Jetpens

Now, when it comes to a specific illustration style, I've discovered a ton of great tools over the years. For my '5 Minute Face' illustration booth, I use the Staedtler Marsgraphic 3000 Duo in black. Since it is a hard one to find, when I get my hands on it I usually buy a box of 12. I currently buy them from Colours

Staedtler Marsgraphic 3000 Duo

Staedtler Marsgraphic 3000 Duo

'5 Minute Face' illustration created with the Staedtler Marsgraphic 3000 Duo

'5 Minute Face' illustration created with the Staedtler Marsgraphic 3000 Duo

Since the Marsgraphic 3000 Duo creates thick lines, I like to pair it with my very old 00.30 KOH-I-NOOR Rapidograph. The advantage of those technical pens is that you can refill them at any time. They are quite durable and you can keep them for years if you take good care of them. Unfortunately, they require some serious maintenance. You can't leave the ink in the pen, otherwise it will dry and clog it. 

KOH-I-NOOR Rapidograph Set

KOH-I-NOOR Rapidograph Set

If you are buying any rapidograph, you should also think about getting an Ultrasonic Cleaner. Mine is doing an excellent job and it was fairly cheap.  

Magnasonic Ultrasonic Cleaner

Magnasonic Ultrasonic Cleaner

With my Marsgraphic 3000 Duo brush pen, I got quite excited about brush pens and ordered a bunch of different ones to see if I could experiment with different brush thicknesses and lengths. I bought the Double-Sided Brush Pen Sampler (set of 5 brush pens) from Jetpens and was absolutely delighted by the range of styles. I would definitely recommend anyone to buy it. Some of them are super soft and others are quite hard. Also, one was similar to the Staedtler Marsgraphic 3000 Duo I own. This set simply gives you an opportunity to try brush pens and see if it suits your illustrative technique or not. 

Double-Sided Brush Pen Sampler (set of 5 brush pens) from Jetpens

Double-Sided Brush Pen Sampler (set of 5 brush pens) from Jetpens

Finally, always under the brush pen topic, I wanted to share with you the Akashiya Sai Watercolor Brush Pen as well as the Pentel Colour brush. Those types of brush pens are truly made just like a real paintbrush. They have bristles and the line can split if you push too hard while drawing. I like them because they offer a wider range of stroke widths from super thin to really thick. They are a little harder to get used to but once you are comfortable with them, you will certainly adopt them forever. The Pentel Colour brush is refillable. You can either buy refills or attempt to refill them by looking up how others do it on Youtube. 

Akashiya Sai Watercolor Brush Pen Set

Akashiya Sai Watercolor Brush Pen Set

Pentel Colour Brush

Pentel Colour Brush

I was planning on getting into the digital tools but I think I will keep this for another post. I found other great posts about tools other illustrators and letterers are using and it is my pleasure to share them with you. I hope you enjoyed this post.

Tools I use and Love by Lisa Congdon

Lettering Gear Guide 2015 by Ryan Hamrick

Living on the Fringe

This time around, I want to walk you through the most recent illustration I've completed for the Avenue Edmonton magazine 'Living on the Fringe'.

 

For many illustrators and designers, the process is what they struggle with the most. With editorial illustration specifically, because the budget is often tight, having an efficient process is really important in order to stay within budget. 

For this assignment, I started with reading the article I had to illustrate and highlighting the group of words I felt were important and that I could represent somehow in my illustration.

• Whyte avenue
• meet Edmonton
• Fringe
• dazzling sun
• melody of sounds
• sweet, salty tang of food
• wine
• tickets

Once I had this list, I started imagining how they could be translated into images and started sketching on blank sheets of paper. Some people like to sketch with a pencil, I prefer to sketch with ink. In this case, I used my Pentel brush pen since this brush was inline with the look I was going for. 

After I illustrated some elements, I started to think about my layout and then created images to present to Pete Nguyen, the Art Director on the project.

Sketch no.1

Sketch no.2

Once those sketches were presented, the Art Director and I both agreed that it would be interesting to complete the first sketch. He also suggested that we illustrated most elements in monochrome and have the couple being fully coloured.

Once you have your idea and your plan, it is way easier to get into the final execution of your illustration. All I needed to determine was which tool I would be using for the final execution. In this particular case, I wanted to keep the style of the brush pen but wanted to have something that looked cleaner so I recreated all the elements using my iPad, stylus and Adobe Draw.

That app is great for a clean brush pen look. You can certainly also create the same effect in Illustrator but I found using the app faster and more natural. 

Screen capture from Adobe Draw

Screen capture from Adobe Draw

For the most part, I worked in Illustrator. I refined the layout and coloured the illustration using that software. Once I was happy with it, I brought my illustration into Photoshop to add the textures. 

Illustration detail

It was a very efficient process and my client and I are happy with the result! If you have any question about this project, please feel free to send an email and I will be happy to get back to you. 



Beautiful Canadian Stamps

I recently went to the post office to purchase some new stamps and the Love your Pet Collection immediately caught my attention. This beautiful series of stamps was illustrated by Genevieve Simms, a talented illustrator who once lived in Edmonton. Genevieve has been working in collaboration with Lara Minja atLime Design who art directed and designed the project. I have had the opportunity to work with Lara in the past and I can only imagine how fun this project must have been. Bravo to both of them! Hopefully, Canada Post releases other beautiful collections soon! 

 

Illustration: Genevieve Simms - Design: Lara Minja, Lime Design Inc.

Illustration: Genevieve Simms - Design: Lara Minja, Lime Design Inc.

Riikka Laakso

I recently discovered the work of Riikka Laakso and I fell in love with her illustrations. She also has a very interesting process which you can read about on the Eye on Design Blog published by the AIGA.

Here are some of the projects I enjoyed the most. 

Source: riikkalaakso.tumblr.com

Source: riikkalaakso.tumblr.com

Source: riikkalaakso.tumblr.com

Source: riikkalaakso.tumblr.com

Source: riikkalaakso.tumblr.com

Source: riikkalaakso.tumblr.com

The very first blog post: Alesya Nesolenova, a great Canadian illustrator

I want to use this blog to share with you all the great things that inspire me and feed my passion for the work that I do. l'm also hoping that this blog will become a great place for my students (and other Creatives) to find resources that will help them with not only the assignments that I am tasking them with, but also with their professional and personal projects.  

Finally, I will also use this little blog to share with you what is going on in my little studio and hopefully inspire you to follow a similar path - or not. Working in this creative industry is not always as simple as it may seem. The possibilities are endless and unfortunately, when we are new to this world, it can sometimes be tough to see through it all. I hope to be a useful resource in this.


Alesya Nesolenova is an illustrator located in Toronto. She amazes me with her linocut work which we can appreciate on her Facebook page

Harry Houdini

Harry Houdini


Photography taken from her Facebook page.

Photography taken from her Facebook page.

Photography taken from her Facebook page. 

Photography taken from her Facebook page. 

Photography taken from her Facebook page. 

Photography taken from her Facebook page.