Erica Sirotich Illustration

Erica Sirotich Illustration

I'm an illustrator for the children's, gift, product and character design markets.
I love animals, patterns, coffee and stamps.

Cuddlefish Press on the Etsy Blog!

I just discovered that one of my personalizable prints appeared on the Etsy blog last week! It’s "Garden Party," appearing as #8 in their guide to gifts that are extra special because they can be customized for children! Thanks so much, Etsy!

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Happy Inktober!

This month I’ve been participating in a challenge created by the inimitable Jake Parker, to post an inked drawing on Instagram every day. It turns out a few really big projects landed on my desk this month, so I’ve just been participating intermittently, but I wanted to share a few of those inklings before the month is over. Happy Inktober guys! 

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This is for the folks who often ask me what tools I use: my staples are Borden & Riley’s and Pentalic’s Paper for Pens (best inking papers ever), Zebra extra fine brush pens (these are Japanese but you can find them on JetPens.com) and Microns. #arttools

This is for the folks who often ask me what tools I use: my staples are Borden & Riley’s and Pentalic’s Paper for Pens (best inking papers ever), Zebra extra fine brush pens (these are Japanese but you can find them on JetPens.com) and Microns. #arttools

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Connor loves Cuddlefish Press (and the Muppets)

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I just adore receiving photos from customers showing Cuddlefish Press prints in their natural habitat—kids’ rooms! This gem came to me from Connor’s mom Sarah. Connor’s room sports two Cuddlefish Press limited edition prints: Let’s Read and Creature Alphabet. Seriously, could this be any cuter? Photo courtesy of VinSue Photography

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Dribbble and Instagram: Social Media for Illustrators

Over the years I’ve developed a modest following on a few social networking sites that have translated into real results for me, in the form of freelance projects and sales of prints from my shop, Cuddlefish Press. Two of these stand out as the most positive and productive use of my marketing time and efforts. I wanted to share a bit about how and why I use them, and how and why they work for me, so that other illustrators might consider adding them to their toolkits as well.  

Dribbble

Dribbble is simply a “Show and Tell for Designers.” It’s a curated (invite-only) site that allows users to share small (400 by 300 px) thumbnails of pieces and projects they’re working on. Over time users build up a secondary portfolio of process work and detail shots that highlight the nice little elements they labor over so endlessly (but that many people may never notice when looking at a completed piece or design). 

Dribbble is primarily targeted at designers so illustrators seem to be a minority of the site’s users. I’ve found this to be to my advantage. Often it feels like illustrators are mostly talking to other illustrators online, especially when it comes to matters of art process. Dribbble opens up the conversation to include other creatives and, most importantly, creatives who are in a position to hire illustratorsMy Dribbble account has generated a dozen or more freelance jobs since I joined in 2011. (I do subscribe to Dribbble Pro, which makes it easy for potential clients to contact you from within the site and includes some additional account bells & whistles, like advanced stats. For $20 a year, it’s more than worth it.) These jobs have mostly involved character design or the creation of images for websites, a favorite example being my branding illustration project for Helio.io. Below are a sampling of shots from my Dribbble account, starting with one from Helios: 

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It is true that, in order to reap the benefits of Dribbble, you must first create a “prospect” account and be “drafted” by another “player” (user), and that can be difficult. Last year Dribbble co-founder Dan Cederholm reported that the site had 25,000 users and 60,000 prospects waiting for invitations. I’m sure the numbers have multiplied since that time. But I do have a handful of Dribbble invites available and am happy to consider requests from really talented illustration folks who’d like to give it a try.   

Some other tips for making Dribbble work to your advantage:

  • Put yourself in front of other players by posting quality work as often as possible;
  • Follow and interact with those whose work you appreciate;
  • Follow and interact with those you’d like to work with;
  • Tag your work thoughtfully and strategically;
  • Post the kind of work you want to be hired to do;
  • Upgrade to Dribbble Pro.

Because of the Dribbble user demographic that I mentioned above, I imagine an account will be most fruitful for illustrators able and willing to do character and branding illustration work and perhaps even more so for those who also create icons and logos.

Instagram

I am most active on Instagram, sharing process work just about every day I’m illustrating. Where Dribbble is great for sharing the digital stages of the illustration process and completed work, Instagram allows me to share the time-intensive sketching and inking portions of my process with ease. My Instagram feed has close to 2000 posts; most are of doodles, drawings and prints in the early stages of their creation process, and these don’t really appear anywhere else (even here on the blog). Last month my Instagram account surpassed 1000 followers—perhaps not so significant in the realm of Instagram fame, but not terrible for a small-time illustrator.

I find my Instagram followers to be some of the most engaged, supportive, genuine and curious people I interact with online. And though I’m not sure whether the account has resulted in any freelance gigs, I’m certain it’s increased awareness of and sales from my print shop. I encourage illustrators who derive secondary income from prints and products to take advantage of Instagram’s potential to reach wider audiences interested in handmade and artist-produced goods. And in order to maintain those audiences’ interest, keep your Instagram feed well-curated and relevant. If you must post dozens of shots of lattes, succulents and your dog, consider maintaining a separate account for your personal use. People who follow artists want to see, primarily, art.

A selection of my Instagram posts of pencil, ink, gouache and print work:        

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Ok, I admit that I sometimes deviate from my own rules and post something like:

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But I try my best not to overdo it. Think of Instagram, and your other social media accounts, as valuable marketing tools. As a freelancer and an artist, every opportunity to share visual content is an opportunity to get hired, cultivate a customer or attract a fan. Not to mention to get advice, form alliances and even develop friendships with other creatives around the world. My illustration career was launched and is maintained by these tools and connections and I can’t imagine where I’d be without them.      

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Refined sketch.

Work/Life 3!

I am super excited to finally share the piece I created for this year’s Work/Life 3: the UPPERCASE Directory of Illustration! “Rubbish Round Up” is the second in a series of children’s activity page illustrations I’m working on, a personal project that I hope will translate to similar client work down the line.  

My assignment for the directory was to ”Create a sweet and silly activity book page for the 9-year-old version of yourself. Fill it with things you loved then and now. Include yourself in the illustration.” This assignment was based on my responses to a detailed interview Janine conducted to determine the direction I’d like my illustration career to move toward. I explained that I’m aiming to move further in the children’s market, creating art not only for picture and novelty books, but also children’s products, toys, games, accessories and educational materials. I’ve realized I have a blast coming up with puzzles and creating little worlds full of tucked away elements to seek out. “Rubbish Round Up” incorporates my childhood passion for the ocean and its care with the delight that comes with exploration and discovery.

Work/Life 3 has just been released and is being sent to art directors, designers and publishers around the world. One hundred amazing artists contributed to and were profiled in the publication (and look at that beautiful cover by Jeff Rogers!). You can pick up your own copy here.  

Work/Life 3!

About Work/Life 3: With the third edition of the UPPERCASE directory of illustration, we are pushing the personal nature of Work/Life to a new level. This edition’s theme is “An Illustrated Life” in which we explore the ups and downs of illustration and what it takes to stay creative 24/7. Each participant offers their unique take on this theme and have created an original illustration based on a bespoke assignment specific to their interests and story given to them by UPPERCASE editor Janine Vangool.

Unlike awards annuals or traditional illustration directories, our publication is personal. One hundred artists from around the world were individually interviewed about their creative focus and artistic technique as well as their inspirations and aspirations. Additional imagery (sketchbook pages, studio shots, inspirational objects) are integral to each participant’s spread, allowing the reader to take a peek into their entire working lives.

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Illustrated Swag for Photobooth SF

A few months back I had the opportunity to create a new graphic for San Francisco photo boutique Photobooth Tintype Studios. This place is awesome; they preserve and restore early self-developing (instant) cameras, hold workshops, take tintype portraits and host gallery shows. For the new design we wanted something both San Francisco-quirky and vintage photography-relevant. We decided to depict a pigeon—the most omnipresent form of wildlife in our fine city—atop the classic Polaroid Land Camera. image

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This was a two-sided design so we had a bit of fun with the reverse. I used Mission Script from Lost Type Co-Op for the text; not only does it look handsome, it’s named after the San Francisco neighborhood where Photobooth is located and designed by local letterer & typographer James T. Edmondson. I love its classic sign-paintery feel. And it evokes the era from which instant photography comes.  

A while back I shared the original sketch for this but here it is one more time :) It’s fun to see a design’s progress from concept to final. 

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Many thanks to Melissa Santiago who not only connected me with Photobooth but also modeled the new swag once it came in. You can pick up totes and pins directly from the Photobooth store.  

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A House on Scott St
I had the opportunity to do a second house portrait this summer. This one’s an Italianate Victorian on Scott Street in San Francisco. I’m really enjoying these; they’re quite a departure from the type of work I typically do.

A House on Scott St

I had the opportunity to do a second house portrait this summer. This one’s an Italianate Victorian on Scott Street in San Francisco. I’m really enjoying these; they’re quite a departure from the type of work I typically do.

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Facts About Alligators

A while back I started thinking about all the unusual ways that animal parents care for their young. I love gators (I’m a Floridian, after all), and find one particular fact of their upbringing really endearing—that their mothers carry them in their mouths to keep them safe. 

I thought a series of these might be a fun compiled into a board book for toddlers. Cichlid fish also carry their young in their mouths; swans, sometimes on their backs; papa seahorses in their bellies; the list goes on!  In the meantime, I made the first gator illustration available as a print from Cuddlefish Press. 

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storypanda:

Hedgehog watering a cactus | Illustration by Erica Sirotich

Storypanda beat me to blogging my new piece for a children’s book concept I’m working on, so I’m just reglogging his original post :) Thanks for sharing it Storypanda! This is Quilliam, by the way! Here’s the original post in my portfolio.

storypanda:

Hedgehog watering a cactus | Illustration by Erica Sirotich

Storypanda beat me to blogging my new piece for a children’s book concept I’m working on, so I’m just reglogging his original post :) Thanks for sharing it Storypanda! This is Quilliam, by the way! Here’s the original post in my portfolio.

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Custom House Portraits

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I recently had the opportunity to draw our own San Francisco home when our neighbors upstairs commissioned a house portrait! This was used on their new son’s birth announcement, which I also designed. I really loved drawing this and thought other folks might like to have their homes (or their childhood home, grandparents’ home, etc) drawn too. So I’m now offering custom house portraits through Cuddlefish Press.

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Ourrrr house, is a very very very fine house.

Ourrrr house, is a very very very fine house.

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Branding Illustrations for Helios

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Earlier this year I created a series of space-themed illustrations for San Francisco start-up Helios. I approached them a bit differently than illustrations I’ve done before, working with shape as well as line (my old stand-by). Though these started as line drawings and shapes drawn with ink, they were then vectored and collaged together in Photoshop, and then embellished with textures and overlays. (A process I also used when creating the Living California wildlife map, which I documented over at Ten Paces & Draw.) You can see some of the sketches for these here on the blog. And be sure to see the entire set or visit Mattt Thompson’s use of them at Helios.io. Really pleased with how they came out and excited about Helios’ launch today! Thanks and congrats Mattt! 

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Idea for a new project for Photobooth SF :)

Idea for a new project for Photobooth SF :)

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Some of the my drawings from the weekend. Trying to develop some characters for the portfolio to show that I can draw kids as well as animals. Would really like to get more children’s magazine work.

Some of the my drawings from the weekend. Trying to develop some characters for the portfolio to show that I can draw kids as well as animals. Would really like to get more children’s magazine work.

Tagged: #line work
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