Monday, November 30, 2015

Is Periscope for you? Is it for me?

First Broadcast

Second Broadcast

Third Broadcast

Well, I tried Periscope for the first time and "WOAH" that is a crazy app.  I did some live drawing and I thought I was going to draw and talk about what I was drawing and people would watch and listen.  Not so!  People are on that app to chat.  And that is why it's so crazy cool.  It's like being at a big cocktail party chatting with new people with similar interests.  And I got really, really great feedback on my art.  That is definitely a big positive.  People are nice and really friendly.  I already have some followers and I've only done it 3 times.  The app is young so everyone on it is excited about it.

My plan was to use the app to do live drawings but now I'm not sure because here's the thing.  I've never drawn and chatted before, like ever.  And it's hard!  I did 3 scopes and my drawings were definitely sloppier than if I had drawn them in solitude.  In the third broadcast I tried drawing over what I drew on the second day but I still felt that the drawing was sloppy (see above drawings).  So that was a negative. 

But here's a very interesting positive, when listening back to my broadcast I thought I really sounded like myself.  I had a strong voice and it was exactly representative of who I am.  I'm kind of funny and make one liners and weird spontaneous subtle jokes.  I laugh at my jokes even when no one else does.  And I ask myself questions.  In addition, I have really interesting informed opinions about the field of art.  My voice definitely came out in a way it never does in my writing... well, maybe in texts to friends but never on this blog or my short descriptions on Instagram.  And it was easy and fun, it didn't feel like a chore.  I'm definitely considering more video at this point.

So the jury is out.  Will I do more periscopes or try to find a different video journaling (vlog) venue?  I'm not sure.  In the meantime, I'm trying to be more spontaneous on social media.  This blog post is an example.  I'm just writing it and tossing it out into the world.  Usually I read, re-read, cross out, and 9 out of 10 decide in the end no one will be interested and delete.  But not this time.  So if Periscope has taught me anything so far it's to be more spontaneous with social media posts because my voice is more authentic that way.  So thanks for the lesson Periscope! 

Friday, November 27, 2015

Fashion Designer List

Kenzo SS16 by Mary Beth Cryan

Here is the fashion designer list I referred to in my Periscope broadcast today.

There are so many fashion shows each season that I get overwhelmed trying to decide which to watch and in what order.  Organization is my key to combating overwhelm so I made a list of designers I must watch every season.  I start from the top and work my way down.  This year I'm illustrating the list from the top down.  I just finished Kenzo (pictured above) and I'm currently on Louis Vuitton.  I'm going to continue until I finish the list or until Couture week begins, whichever happens first.

If you'd like to see all of the illustrations as well as other illustrations please check out my instagram here:

If you'd like to see me live drawing and chat with me please check out my Periscope here:

Absolute must sees, not to be missed:
Altuzarra - NY
Anna Sui - NY
Balenciaga - P
Balmain - P
Burberry Prorsum - L
Chanel - P
Commes des Garcons - P
Dolce and Gabbanna - M
Dries Van Noten - P
Duro Olowu - NY - A
Fendi - M
Isabel Marant - P
Issey Miyake - P
Jeremy Scott - NY
Jean Paul Gaultier - P
Kenzo - P
Louis Vuitton - P
Manish Arora - P
Marc Jacobs - NY
Marchesa - NY
Mary Katrantzou - L
Miu Miu  - P
Moschino - M
Moschino Cheap and Chic - M
Paco Rabanne - P
Prabal Gurung - NY
Prada - M
Preen - NY
Proenza Schouler - NY
Rodarte - NY
Thakoon - NY
Thom Browne - NY
Tsumori Chisato P
Victor and Rolf - P

If my eyeballs aren't bleeding after watching all those shows I continue on with this bunch.

Alexander Wang - NY
Alexander McQueen - L
Alice and Olivia - NY
Costume National - P
Creatures of the Wind - NY
Elie Saab - P
Emilio Pucci - M
Emporio Armani - M
Giorgio Armani - M
Givenchy - P
Gucci - M
Helmut Lang - NY
ICB Prabal Gurung - NY
Just Cavalli - M
Lanvin - P
Marc by Mark Jacobs - NY
Meadham Kirchhoff - L
Missoni - M
Oscar De La Renta -NY
Robert Cavalli - M
Stella McCartney -P
Thakoon Addition - NY
Tibi - NY
Valentino - P
Vivienne Westwood - P
Versace - M
The Row - NY
Diesel - NY
Helmet Lang - NY
Badgley Mischka - NY
Dior - P
Donna Karan - NY
Vera Wang - NY
Stella McCartney-P

Friday, September 18, 2015

Fashion Illustration is back and so am I

 Betsey Johnson

It's an exciting time for fashion illustration.  Thanks to Instagram, the genre is making a huge comeback. As you know I LOOOOOOOOOOOVE fashion and may know I used to do quite a bit of fashion illustrating on the side years ago.  So I am for sure, throwing my hat into the ring.

You may be expecting my old vector art style however, I'm back with a colorful, kooky, and hopefully clever colored pencil interpretation of fashion.  I'm adding my own personal spin to the genre with a bit of a newly acquired cavalier attitude.  The illustrations you see here are some of the art I created during New York Fashion Week. If you'd like to see my newest art, minutes after its creation please follow me on Instagram at @marybethcryan.

Speaking of New York Fashion Week did you follow the coverage?  It was an illustration extravaganza! Fashion Illustrators were live drawing at shows, live drawing at parties, live drawing at stores, live drawing backstage, drawing from home, drawing from New York, drawing on the other side of the earth, drawing, drawing, and more DRAWING!!  And people were paying attention.  Here's a list of pretty impressive press from this year to prove it:

Harper's Bazaar 12 Fashion Illustrators To Follow on Instagram
Instyle 10 Fashion Illustrators to Follow on Instagram Right Now
Vanity Fair 5 Must-Follow Illustrators on Instagram
New York Times  Seeing Fashion With a Sketchpad and Markers
Man Repeller Are Illustrators the New Fashion Bloggers?
Who What Wear 5 Mind-Blowing Fashion Illustrators to Follow on Instagram
Fashionista How to Make it as a Fashion Illustrator in 2015

This is crazy people!  When was the last time illustrators got press like this?  It's all very exciting.  I hope this trend picks up steam and continues because I am hoping to hop aboard the wild ride. 
Tommy Hilfiger

Prabal Gurung

Friday, August 21, 2015

An apology to children artists

Dear Child Artists of the World,

I apologize.  On May 5, 2015 I shared my love of art made by children on this blog.  But then I completely belittled the genre by expressing my embarrassment about my love.  I realized my mistake this week while reading "Drawing for Older Children & Teens" by Mona Brookes.

In the book, Brookes sets artists up for success in the first chapter by explaining that many people need to let go of their preconceptions about judging art because their criteria in most cases is irrelevant.  Whoa! I have been using absurd comparisons to judge art and never realized it before.

For example, back when I created solely vector art I used to say, "I wish I was an oil painter instead of a vector artist because the best vector art will never be as good as the best oil painting."  I see now that comparison is completely absurd and led to unnecessary feelings of inferiority.  It's like saying the best apple will never be as good as the best orange.  Or the best football player will never be as good as the best baseball player.  You can't compare and so you shouldn't.  When these comparisons are made genre's of art, sports, fruit, etc. are disregarded.  I am guilty of disregarding the medium of vector art and children's art in this way.

This book is really good so far.  I've only read the first 11 pages but already a huge weight of judgement has been been lifted off my shoulders and I have a new appreciation of all art genres.  This is definitely going to help me be more realistic in judging my own work and keep me from backing myself into a judgement corner where no art is good enough. 

I'm going to keep reading and I'll let you know if I have any more epiphanies. 

Below is a drawing I did as a child.  I LOVE this drawing FYI. 

Here is a scribble project (the first project in the above mentioned book) completed by me this week.  It is really relaxing to put medium to paper and not be concerned one iota what the outcome will look like.  And as far as scribbles go I think it's pretty cool.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Pencil Sharpener!

Woo hoo!  I just bought a new pencil sharpener and I'm really excited.  Whew, I've never said that before but I really am excited.  I really wanted the Panasonic kp4A because everyone recommends it but I think it's discontinued.  Actually I think it's been discontinued since like 2009 because that was the most recent discussion of pencil sharpeners for colored pencils I could find on the internet.  I guess it's not a hot topic of discussion, surprisingly.  Or not.  Anyway, I found A LOT of reviews on Dick Blick and decided to go with the Bostitch QuietSharp6 Classroom Pencil Sharpener.  People love this thing!  Like sleep with it on their pillow love.  Okay, maybe not but they did give it 4.5 stars and that was good enough for me.  I'll let you know if I like it or not.  And if you see me in public with pencil shavings squashed on my face, now you'll know why.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

How having two art styles is like having two medium piles of dirt

Is it possible to build an art career and have two art styles? This is a question I hear asked a lot by students and people starting in the industry.  I've come up with a clear cut answer as to why you should strive to only have one style.  It's because having two art styles is like having two medium piles of dirt.

When talking about art it is easy to get bogged down with words like talent and who-you-know and agents and luck and right-time-right-place and location.  It seems impossible to compare the careers of two artists  So when answering questions about art I like to break it down, way down.  Instead of saying "creating art" say "digging a pile of dirt."  You will be surprised how quickly the truth becomes clear.  So let's try it with having two styles.

I want to have a wonderful flourishing art career.  I want to be one of the best in my industry.  I want lots of people to notice my work.  Should I have two art styles or concentrate on one?  Okay, here we go: I want to dig a giant pile of dirt.  I want to have the biggest pile of dirt in the my industry.  I want lots of people to notice my giant pile of dirt.  Should I dig two piles of dirt or concentrate on one?  Well now it's obvious.  Clearly if you want to get noticed and be recognized in your industry you want to have one giant pile of dirt not two medium piles of dirt. 

Let's say you spend the rest of your life shoveling two piles of dirt.  Let's assume you just got out of college and you are going to work until the day you die.  Let's say you spend all your working hours for 80 years shoveling equal amounts of dirt into two piles.  You are going to have two big whopping piles of art, I mean dirt.  But now your buddy, who also graduated the same day, spent the same amount of time over the same 80 years shoveling all his dirt into one pile.  Think of how ginormously gigantic his pile of dirt is going to be compared to your two piles.  It will probably be so big people will come from miles around to see it.  And everyone will talk about it and blog about it and share it on Facebook and he will be really famous and revered.  Everyone will say, "Wow, he is the best dirt digger in his industry.  Look at what he has accomplished in his career."  And you will be like, "Hey, I shoveled the same amount of dirt as he did.  Why is he getting all the attention?"  It's because no one cares about two medium piles of dirt.  In fact, your buddies one pile of dirt was as big as your two piles 40 years ago. 

If 80 years is too large to conceptualize, let's break it down to 4.  If you spend 4 years developing two styles your two styles will only be as good as if you spent 2 years on each.  But your buddy will have 4 years experience in one style and be 2 whole years ahead of you in his career.  And it only grows from there.  In 6 years he will be 3 years ahead of you.  In 8 he will be 4.  See how this goes?

So my point is, if you spend your time spread over two illustration styles, the best you can ever hope for is two styles that are only half as good as the styles of the people in your industry who only have one style.  And in the end you will never be able to come close to their accomplishments because you didn't have enough time to adequately hone two styles.  So how do you meld your two or three or six styles into one?  I'm going to work on that and get back to you. 

In the meantime, I dug out my first website from 2005.  Below is a sampling of the four art styles I was working in at the time.  And yes, this art is making me cringe (as all old work should).  If you want to see my current pile of dirt please check out my Instagram feed.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Inspired by a chef and reality tv

Oh wow, I just watched a REALLY good reality show.  Anyone who knows me is probably like, "Oh no not again, last time it was the Vanderpump Rules finale what is it this time?"  But I'm serious this time.  I saw a really great show about following your path as an artist through unacceptance into total and complete success.

If you have Netflix you must, must, must watch the first episode of "Chef's Table."  It's the story of an Italian Chef Massimo Bottura and his restaurant Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy.  I found it very inspiring.  He and his wife tell the story of how he graduated from culinary school, started a restaurant, realized he was doing what everyone else was doing, found a new path, met resistance, contemplated giving up, and finally had an encounter that was totally happenstance which led to his acceptance by the world.

As a visual artist I can totally relate.  I feel like I just passed the realizing that I don't want to do what everyone else is doing part of my career.  I'm currently getting a glimpse of my new path, bracing myself for the resistance part, and hoping the acceptance comes around sooner rather than later because, like Bottura, giving up is NOT an option.

I usually learn a lot more about the artist process when I study the work of an artist that is very far from my own discipline.  This is why I like to watch shows about chefs, musicians, and others in creative disciplines other than illustration or art licensing.  I can more clearly hear their message and story.  If I listen to another illustrator's road to success I get too caught up in the details.  I hear, "I am successful because I draw lighthouses."  When they are really trying to say, "I am successful because I draw something near and dear to my heart."  I get all confused and start thinking, "Should I draw lighthouses too?"  And I totally miss the point.  I'm a good example of can't see the forest for the trees in that case.

Anyway, thanks for the great lesson Chef Bottura. These experimental eggplants are for you.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Please don't be frightened by my spot on trend predicting

About 2 months ago I noticed that I was starting to find children's drawings very inspiring.  "That's weird'" I thought to myself.  It kept happening over and over again.  I would see a child's drawing on a blog or Instagram and proclaim, "Oh my gosh, this is genius.  Who is the artist?"  And then I would feel a little embarrassed when I saw that the caption read, "a drawing by my daughter."

Fast forward to today, I am catching up on my Fall 2015 fashion shows and my jaw hits the floor when I see Dolce & Gabbana's Mamma inspired collection.  They have eight beautiful dresses in the collection covered in children's drawings.  So, thank goodness it's not just me!"  If you'd like to see for yourself you can check out the Dolce & Gabbana collection here: Dolce &Gabbana Fall 2015. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Hot art hashtags on Instagram right now

I am a huge fan of blogs and I always have been, especially those written by the makers, manufacturers, and distributors of product with art on it.  I use Feedly to organize and read all of the blogs I follow (well over 100).

Sometime last year my Feedly feed started getting really sparse and some regular bloggers started disappearing all together.  It was a mystery to me.  Where was everyone going?  Was everyone at a party that I hadn't been invited to?  YES!  Everyone is at a different party and that party is Instagram.  Holy jackpot of fresh and beautiful art.  I can't stop scrolling through art, art, and more art.

I discovered this week that the HOTTEST spots at the party are the hashtags #nss2015, #surtex, and #surtex2015.  The National Stationery/Surtex show is coming up next month. Hundreds of artists and manufacturers are toiling away making their best art and posting it on Instagram.  The above screenshot is the last 16 images posted on #nss2015.

I actually decided not to attend the show this year because I'm going to watch the whole thing unfold on Instagram.  I'm already spotting a lot of fun new trends.

So go check out those hashtags.  Your eyeballs will thank you!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

LOUIE Award finalist!!

I am jumping up and down right now because the "Santa Train" card I conceptualized, illustrated, and engineered for the Museum of Modern Art is a LOUIE Award finalist in the category Christmas/Seasonal Boxed Set Above $2.  Hooray, hooray!  If you aren't familiar with the LOUIE it's the highest honor in the greeting card industry.  This is the third time I've been a finalist and I even won once before.  Soooooo exciting!  Okay, I think you get the picture that I'm excited.  If you would like to see all the finalists you can view them here:  27th Annual LOUIE Awards Gallery.  It is quite a remarkable display of greeting card excellence!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Follow me on Instagram

I took the plunge and started an Instagram feed.  I am fully committed to posting fresh, original content for your enjoyment.  The plan is to post a lot of sketches of my art experimentation in hopes that this will inspire others to sketch and grow their style too.  Here are the first three pictures I've posted.  If you enjoy them I hope you will follow along with me.  My Instagram feed is . If you are more of a Facebook person I am going to post all of my Instagram photos there too.  Here is my Facebook feed .  Thank you in advance for following!!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Exploration of a creative idea

I am a little behind on my fashion show watching lately so I just saw the photos of Viktor and Rolf's Spring 2015 couture show.  Wow, wow, wow!  These guys know how to take a concept all the way.  I love how their shows always have a clear, concise idea.  My mind is officially blown for this week.  They start out with a cute dress, a cute straw hat, and some flip flops and go on a journey to a mind blowing dress, a mind blowing straw hat, and some flip flops.  You need to see the progression for yourself.  They are genius.  You can see the whole thing unfold here  I think this piece is my favorite:
Photo from

This reminds me of sketchbook exploration.  When I sketch in my sketchbook, I keep my eye out for a tiny glimmer of an idea.  Then I try to stretch it and stretch it until it takes me somewhere really special.  This is when the best art is created.  Watching this fashion show feels like watching Victor and Rolf's idea evolve in the same way.  It's a great example of where you can go if you persist on a creative journey until you reach something amazing.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Do your research!

I was just reading the book "Cardboard Design Now" by Black Dog Publishing and I'm shocked to read their excerpt about Charles Eames.  It reads, "Charles Eames, along with his brother Ray...".  How on earth could a designer not know Charles and Ray Eames was a husband/wife team?  They were only the most famous designers ever.  That is pretty bad!

What can we learn from this?  Always do your research!

Friday, February 20, 2015

I love a free summit

I don't think I've admitted this before but I love me a free art summit!!  I really enjoyed Bonnie Glendinning's Thriving Artist Summit.  Everyone she interviewed has a class, book, or paid mentoring program which they talk about during their time.  So if you love someone, you can follow up and learn more from them.

I listened to almost all of the interviews and my favorite was Samantha Bennett.  She has AMAZING advice on how to get out of your own head, get unstuck, and get your art out to the world.  I'd go so far as to say her interview changed my life.  I listened to her interview twice and took notes.  I also listened twice to Ilese Benun's marketing advice and Lisa Congdon's living as a working artist views.  Both were excellent!

I just signed up for Jennifer Lee's "The Right-Brainers in Business video summit."  One of the interviewees is SARK.  What?!  My roommate in college had her inspirational artist poster hanging in our dorm room.  I can't wait for that one.

And of course, everyday is a free summit over at Smart Creative Women.  I've listened to A LOT of Monica Lee's interviews.  But I've decided I'm going to listen to them all over again in alphabetical order this year!  There are 156 guests and some have more than one interview.  Do you think I can do it?  We'll see.  So far I'm still on the Bs so it's not looking good.  I think I'll skip my own interview.  Only 149 more to go.  Ha-ha.