FiftyThree Takeover: Bey All The Way!

FiftyThree saw my Hot Sauce Lettering piece inspired by Beyonce's new song "Formation" and asked me if I'd like to take over their Instagram feed again with more Bey-inspired lettering. I've never said YES to anything so fast in my life. I had a blast creating these pieces and I'm pretty sure I listened to so much Beyonce over the course of a weekend that my ego grew three sizes. Cause I slay. 

FiftyThree Takeover!

FiftyThree, the creators of the app Paper and Pencil, the awesome iPad stylus pictured below, asked me to take over their instagram account for a weekend to share how I use their products to #createanywhere. This was such a huge honor for me because I literally use Paper and Pencil everyday. It's such a huge part of my creative process. You can see more of the pieces I shared on their feed below. 

#53takeover by @thepapergnome -- I lettered a line from one of my favorite poems by e. e. cummings last week.

A post shared by FiftyThree (@fiftythree) on

Creative Blocks

I have been having a sort of creative block for the past several weeks. I went from carrying my ipad and sketching everyday on my commute, to leaving it at home, uncharged for weeks at a time. My schedule has been all over the place. Earlier shifts at work mean catching a train during rush hour, which means no seat for the hour long commute on the way to and back from work. I am not skilled enough to sketch standing up, let alone while maintaining balance, sandwiched between several other commuters. 

Not being able to utilize time I previously devoted to sketching was a problem, but honestly I don't know if I had anything to sketch even if I could on the train. On rare days that I did get a seat, I used the train time to listen to spotify, play Two Dots on my phone, read, or (despite my best efforts) to sleep. 

This weekend I got the urge to draw again because one of my previous model muses, Gabifresh posted this amazing look from PlyApparel.  I don't know if I'm 100% out of my creative slump, but I'm happy with this illustration. 

Some Healthy Competition

This is my first time competing in a Minted Design Challenge over at The prompt for this challenge was to create Baby Shower Invitations. There are a variety of cash prizes, and winning designers will have their designs produced and sold on, while receiving a commission on all the sales. It's a pretty neat deal, but regardless of whether my designs win any of the awards, I am happy for the design challenges and it feels good to make work that I'm proud of. These are my entries for this challenge, and if you would like to vote and like my designs to help me out or see the other entries, click below. 

From a Window Seat

I took a bit of a break from drawing and designing recently. It wasn't intentional. The holidays came and went, my boyfriend and I were on the hunt for a new (bigger) apartment, and my mother became very ill. All of these things made me stressed and creatively blocked. I didn't feel like drawing much of anything. 

Then, after a long first year in New York without a trip home, I was on my second flight to see my parents in a month, and found inspiration in a sassy little cartoon of a woman who was my flight attendant on a GSP-JFK flight. Here's to you, lady. 

From a Window Seat

I've recently seemed to find my groove again, and I'm back to drawing daily. Should have some new things to share very soon!

Shante, you stay.


This weekend I binge watched Season 6 of RuPaul's Drag Race with my boyfriend. Now I have all the lingo running through my head and an urge to contour my face and buy some ridiculous false eyelashes. I made this illustration of Mama Ru serving up bedazzled fierceness. Can I get an Amen? 

Process Work

Sometimes I think that people see a drawing and imagine that the person who drew it just came up with it out of the blue and got it right the first time their pen touched the paper. Perhaps some artists are able to do that, but for me illustration is about a lot of trial and a lot of error. I recently added a new design to my shop called Night Owl. Here's the process that got me to the finished piece.

When I start an illustration, I like to draw some grid lines to keep my character style consistent.  Drawing these grids also help me to redraw the character in other poses, while maintaining the same proportions. I decide to draw an owl character but I don't have any reference so this is as much of an owl as I can draw from my imagination.

In order to draw this character from other angles, I'm going to have to do more research. I spend a while doing image searches of owls and try to sketch the character in as many poses as possible.

After I have them roughly sketched, I go back and refine each drawing, using the color palette I used in the original character design. I don't have a final composition in mind, but having a variety of poses to choose from will come in handy when I figure it out. You might recognize the bottom left owl as the basis for my Party Owl illustration.

I duplicated the previous page in Paper, and erased everything but the top two owls. These were my favorite and I thought it would be fun to do a night scene with one of these two owls as the subject. I really liked the contrast but something felt off about the composition. I wanted to give it something to ground the drawing. You can see on the right where I roughly sketched a thumbnail incorporating mountains into the drawing.

After some more tweaking, I added trees and then I felt like I had a good drawing.

The next step was to get the illustration cleaned up and in the correct file format. I used the app Inkpad to vectorize my drawing so that the resolution will be high quality and I can resize it to my heart's content. This allows me to upload the design to Society6 where I can add it to products, like the pillow below.

That's what my design process looked like for this particular product. What is your design process? Do you keep the process sketches & files?

Plus Size Models in Paper

I got an iPad specifically to draw on during my commute on the subway. I work in lower Manhattan and I commute from the end of the R line in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, so my travel time is about an hour in each direction. That's a lot of wasted time each day if all you do on the ride is listen to Spotify and avoid making eye contact with strangers.

I downloaded several drawing apps, but my favorite by far is Paper by fiftythree. If you've ever gone into the Apple store to play with the iPads, Paper is the drawing app that they have loaded onto all of their in-store models. Compared to other drawing apps like Sketchbook Pro by Autodesk and Procreate, which function like advanced drawing programs such as Photoshop or Illustrator, Paper is super simplified. You only have 5 tool choices (pen, pencil, thick or thin marker, paintbrush) and an eraser. That's it. It's basically just a digital sketchbook. It has done wonders for my creativity lately. Drawing makes the ride go by so quickly and I'm really proud of the work I've been creating. 

Using Paper, I've created art that I honestly don't think I would have been able to make otherwise. I get frustrated when I sketch with actual pencil and paper. I erase a lot and get discouraged when a drawing isn't coming along the way I imagined. There is something so liberating about digital sketching and being able to endlessly undo mistakes. Below are some of my favorite sketches so far, and their respective inspirations. I am endless inspired by plus size models Nadia Aboulhosn, Tess Munster, and GabiFresh. I love all three of these looks and wanted to practice drawing figures using a new set of proportions (big heads, nipped waists and hips for days). I am so pleased with the results and I can't wait to do more illustrations in this series.