>> goal #8

Nearly a month ago I celebrated my 27th birthday & decided to compile a “Things To Do/Accomplish While 27” list.  I love to write down lists as it helps me to visualize my goals and allows me to reference them as a happy reminder whenever I need to. Most of the goals are personal in the sense that I simply want to become more aware and actively pursue them in my day to day life. Goal #8 is to draw from life more often. I tend to, especially with my map series, search for reference photos because it’s quick and  easy to do while I’m researching. Though I will still work this way, I’ve begun a sketchbook that will solely be observational drawings. It forces me to unplug (another one of my goals!) and to carve time out to really observe, as well as improve my drawing skills. I bought a new fine-tipped ink pen and got started! Inspired by a sweet package of seashells all collected from the Gulf of Mexico- I thought they would be the perfect subject matter to study first. Here is a glimpse at the first two pages (with a little addition of watercolor!!!)!

Hello Niccoco Seashell studyHello Niccoco Seashell Study2

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>> representing me

One of my all-time favorite things to do is send snail mail. Handwriting a simple note of thanks, a sweet hello, congratulations or happy day is a craft that I want to keep alive. And when I sell a print through Etsy, or have a custom request that needs to be shipped, my love of creating/selling work and putting together a package merge into one fantastic happy moment. What could be better than opening a pretty gift? I want to instill that excitement when I ship an 8×10 map of your favorite state to you. Each design is unique and original, thats why you are supporting handmade right? The interaction of creator to customer should be just as special. I’ve been inspired to share this thought because of a recent blog post by HandMade in PA that nails it on the head with personal experience and featured my maps in the article! Though I’m constantly re-thinking and evolving my mail-to-you package experience, I would like to think I always share a part of myself with each mailer that is sent out. A mental checklist begins to form once I  sit down and begin to package orders. Always included are business cards (yes multiple, in case the buyer wants to share with a friend and keep one for themselves), a hand written thank you note that’s personalized with their name and the item they purchased- sometimes even a story sneaks its way in, a special goodie- whether it be a note card or special print for them to keep or pass on as a gift, designed mailing labels, colorful strips of washi tape, and a piece of yarn to tie it all together! phew!

A rainbow of blank Hello notecards ready to be written on & sent out with orders!

A rainbow of blank Hello notecards ready to be written on & sent out with orders!

A customer bought 4 illustrated state prints! I included a special "hello from Florida" notecard as a thank you!

A customer bought 4 illustrated state prints! So I included a special “hello from Florida” notecard as a thank you

I just recently updated all of my state map photo’s on Etsy to represent this “package” of mine. Because, really it’s not just the end result of what you receive in the mail, it all has to tie together and this whole process begins at the initial stage of wanting to make the purchase. And doesn’t that excitement and wanting start when you first lay eyes on the product? If it is, then those product photos will be the first thing (sometimes even the only thing…) the customer will experience! As I evolve, so will the product photos, the package, the designs, everything will ever so slightly change and change again but it will always be a true representation of myself.

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>> keeping track

MAP

An insiders peek at how I’ve been keeping track of which states I’ve completed already!!! I just finished Nebraska and am en route to New Mexico! This little map will be colored in completely before you know it! Have you seen all of the finished designs? They are on view in full in the hello niccoco etsy shop!

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>> Summer Inspiration!

If you follow me on instagram, you may have seen my latest and greatest inspiration board! I love to change it to fit seasonally, with bits of color and imagery tying it all together. It’s a calming and creative process for me to dig through saved ephemera and the end result being a work of collage hanging over my desk in the studio. I often find myself studying the patterns, hues, and small details within the collage which then aides in my hand drawn creations. This summer inspiration board is compiled of my recent adventures! While traveling throughout California, I mainly picked up interesting postcards as my souvenirs- beautiful visual eye candy makes me incredibly happy. My purpose in picking postcards was premeditated, I knew I wouldn’t be able to part with them and they would soon be tacked up on my bulletin board!

summerinspiration

Notice the peeks of summer- ice cream sundaes, bears in swim trunks, strawberry wrapping paper, fanciful florals- all charming representations of my favorite things about the season! If you look even closer you’ll notice a blue PCA&D pin- I must admit, I received that at my orientation in 2004 (I save everything)!

 

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>> a whirlwind

Have three months nearly passed since my last post?? Well, its been a bit of a whirlwind of all good things since then!! In brief, Matt and I spent 10 days traveling the oh so beautiful state of California in May and once we landed I started a shiny new job as an admissions counselor at Pennsylvania College of Art & Design!!! Phew! Sounds quite seamless when condensed down into one sentence… but looking back it was a moment of crazy filled excitement with little time to do much else but breathe.

Because we went on such an epic adventure, flying into San Diego and driving northward to San Francisco visiting friends and family… I’ve decided to share just a few (out of the 1,500) pictures we took! The trip was filled with such visual inspiration its hard to believe its over and gone… that we left a month and a half ago. Its just sinking in.

our first view of the Pacific Ocean at La Jolla

our first view of the Pacific Ocean at La Jolla

On the edge of the USA on Highway 1

On the edge of the USA on Highway 1

Woke up in Cambria to explore the tidal pools

Woke up in Cambria to explore the tidal pools

Felt so tiny while walking among the Redwoods

Felt so tiny while walking among the Redwoods

can not wait to come back and visit again!

can not wait to come back and visit again!

Truly, it was a trip of a lifetime and we have open invitations to visit again! Next time, we plan to explore the National Parks- there is just so much to squeeze in we may have to go for a month!

Since starting at PCA&D last month, a routine is just now forming for me to find the time and desire to work on my personal projects. I’ve just completed illustrated state number 33 and I’ve already begun number 34! Plus I’m willing myself to doodle each day with the instagram doodle-a-day challenge.

a peek at my bulletin board

a peek at my bulletin board

The past three months have been filled with change, growth and learning and I can not wait to see where this new path takes me. I’m most excited about the people I’ll meet as an admissions counselor- students, parents, peers and instructors and discover where their path has been/is going!

I’ll still be sharing snippets of my work, inspirations and doodles amongst the new routine of my daily life!

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>> collected & studied

Last Saturday was the first day I had off that felt like an actual spring day, sunny with temps in the 60s- just perfect! Matt and I enjoyed a walk at the Lancaster County park on our favorite trail the follows alongside the Conestoga river. We brought our walkin’ shoes, cameras and a ziplock bag to take home treasures. We found so much inspiration tucked in that bag that what we got home we assembled and reassembled our collection to showcase all the different colors, shapes and textures.

collected

We both proceeded to take our favorites and really study them, each in our own way. My favorite drawing tool of choice is of course my medium point sharpie pen. I did some fairly quick studies in my new sketchbook and am pretty pleased with the page. Finding time to draw like this is really such fun!

studied

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>>halfway

Over the weekend I reached a milestone on my illustrated map series… number 25, the halfway point!! I can hardly believe it! It feels great knowing that as I continue with the next state, I’ll be more than halfway done.

The lucky state is… New Jersey!! This print and the 24 others can be found in the hello niccoco etsy shop!

NJ

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>> finished!

It’s a miracle. For the first time I think in the history of ever, I finished a sketchbook. Not only that, but in the process of completing said sketchbook, none of the pages were ripped out and immediately trashed!! Truly amazing if you ask me. I’ve had this horrible habit of disliking a drawing so bad I would risk ruining my bound sketchbook by tearing the paper out for fear of constantly being reminded of my embarrassing doodle. So silly, huh?

a peek into a "never been seen before" page

a peek into a “never been seen before” page

Even though each page isn’t a masterpiece, or even the beginning of something remotely interesting, I feel quite accomplished. Weeks ago I knew this moment would soon be approaching so I went ahead and purchased 2 more Moleskine’s to fill up. Each blank spread appears as an opportunity to draw whimsical notions that pop into my head, its an amazing feeling.

colorful new moleskine's

colorful new moleskine’s

Here’s to embracing quirky drawings and loving them even if they are never shown to another set of eyes!

first page in the sunny yellow sketchbook

first page in the sunny yellow sketchbook

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>> happy easter!

Hope your weekend it most egg-cellent and filled with treats beyond your wildest imagination! Image

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>> nostalgic flashback

pcad

This past weekend I had the pleasure of being a part of my alma mater’s (do people still say that??!) Open House for perspective students. As an alumni, I helped to represent the illustration department along with another past student/current professional and all the faculty I remember so fondly! It was really an interesting experience chatting with students (and their inquisitive parents!)- mostly high school age and finding out what they love to do and showing them what I love to do. Along with current work I brought a handful of pieces that I created as a student there… and wow! I’ve always though it was fun to look back on designs I created last year and notice big changes, but these are from FIVE years ago. F-I-V-E. They seem ancient, yet I can see my future self in them. Though I work differently now and the finished designs are digital, I still hand draw everything. My line work is something that I loved then and love now… it’s quite curious to see how it’s evolved. I’ve decided to share this peek into my past as a reminder to myself to be proud of where I once was and how much I’ve grown since.

nicoleduquettestudentwork

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