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Scribble Artist Interview with Píccolo!

"Petite Print" -  Yelena Bryksenkova

“Petite Print” – Yelena Bryksenkova

Scribble Town (ST): Píccolo, a collaborative illustration team, is the dynamic duo Sara Barnes and Lisa Perrin!  These two artists are good at what they do because they bring art to you and help spread the word of unforgettable images from various illustrators. Sara and Lisa are inspirators and makers of the moment.

Sara: Hi! I’m Sara Barnes and I am creative person living in Baltimore, Maryland. I am originally from the city of fountains and land of barbecue, Kansas City, Missouri. You can find me running, baking, making art, or coding on my computer.

Lisa: Salutations! My name is Lisa Perrin (I go by my last name for my personal illustration work: I am originally from Long Island, New York but now reside in charming Baltimore, Maryland. I can often be found illustrating, designing, pondering and teaching, as well as spending time with my beloved rabbit companion: Blanche DuBun.

ST: What are you two up to these days?  I can only imagine what a day with Sara and Lisa looks like.  I’m sure Piccolo takes a bunch of your time and I think it’s worth it!

Píccolo: We are always organizing new Píccolo projects and events! Right now we are preparing for the upcoming Baltimore Book Festival where we will have a table. We will be selling our petite prints, ‘to market’ tote bags, and a brand new collaborative artist’s book. We are working with 6 amazing illustrators and cannot wait to see it all come together.

A typical day with Lisa & Sara looks pretty adorable! We really share all of the responsibilities that come with running a small business. We divvy up sending and responding to emails, utilizing social media, updating the website, and so on. We generally include snacks in all of our business meetings.

"To Market" - Karolin Schnoor

“To Market” – Karolin Schnoor

ST: Can’t go wrong with snacks :) Your tote bags are great!  I can carry my apples, pens, and books for a day out in the park.  You girls have accomplished so much. Tell us how Píccolo began.  When did you start creating tote bags and prints?  How do you two creatively work together?

Píccolo: Píccolo began in a fancy coffee shop where it was hard to find a table and even the napkins were really nice. It was the summer before the final thesis year of our graduate program. We knew we wanted to collaborate and had a shared love of well made illustrated products. We did a Kickstarter to get our Petite Print Project off the ground in early 2013 and the rest as they say is history! Our line of tote bags were created this summer for an arts festival and to use at farmer’s markets, gallivanting around town, and more!

ST: And then poof! Píccolo popped up! From what I have read online, you both are illustrators.  Was there somebody that encouraged you to be creative?  If there is a story of your path to finding this medium that fits you so well, please share.

Píccolo: Sara has been a working illustrator but has shifted her focus to curating illustration and running her blog, Brown Paper Bag. Lisa is currently freelancing under her penname, Perrin.

"Red Bud" - paper, paint, embroidery thread by Sara Barnes

“Red Bud” – paper, paint, embroidery thread by Sara Barnes

Sara: My parents always encouraged me to be creative and supported me in whatever I do. I am very grateful for this. I started out by taking art classes when I was younger and trying out as much stuff as I could. Eventually this lead me to oil painting, which later lead me to Baltimore to attend the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). While I thought I’d major in painting, I quickly decided that illustration sounded better. I enjoy reading and interpreting text visually, so I thought illustration would be a better fit. I was right! I liked it so much that I went to graduate school for it, too.

Lisa: I was always creatively encouraged by my mother, another creative lady! And my different art teachers were influential as well. My path to illustration was hardly linear. I always loved beautiful pictures and drew compulsively, but I always had lots of varied interests. I was also a pretty serious theater kid too. Ultimately, I went to a liberal arts college and earned a BA in English and a BFA in Painting. I took some time off and then scooted off to grad school at MICA to try and be an illustrator for real.

"Eden -- an Interior" - digital painting by Lisa Perrin

“Eden — an Interior” – digital painting by Lisa Perrin

ST: What inspired you to form Píccolo? Where has this amazing endeavor taken you to?  I’m sure with many surprises along the way!

Píccolo: We knew we wanted to work together. We have unique and different skill sets, but are united in how we feel about illustration, that it is accessible and ubiquitous. Our mission has always been to produce quality illustrated products that are accessible to everyone. We endeavor to promote the illustrators we work with and make things that we would want ourselves.

"Nature of the Beast" -  gouache and watercolor by Lisa Perrin

“Nature of the Beast” – gouache and watercolor by Lisa Perrin

So far, it has been a pretty amazing ride! We had a table at Artscape, America’s largest free arts festival, successfully funded a Kickstarter, and recently we went to NYC and Brooklyn to do studio visits with illustrators that we admire. Everyone we have met and worked with has been so genuine and friendly. Making amazing creative pals has certainly been the best part.

ST: When you develop an illustration what is your creative process like?  Also, how is it different for the works created for Píccolo?  What are some favorite tools you like to use to create?  Both of your styles are so unique yet the choice of medium you two choose really brings out the subject in the picture in a perfect way.

Sara: I was always taught to sketch first. I look back at past things I’ve drawn and see if I’d want to incorporate them into what I’m working on. I sketch in pencil first, a bunch of little sketches to try and get the composition how I want it.

"Under glass" - paper and paint by Sara Barnes

“Under glass” – paper and paint by Sara Barnes

From there, I refine my sketch and eventually use it as a blueprint for what I will make. If I am feeling stuck, I will often send work in progress to Lisa, because she really understands my style and how I work.

Lisa: My process begins with lots of thoughts. It Is not unusual for me to just think about an illustration I want to make for days or weeks before it really starts to happen. Then comes sketching and research followed by the revising process. Lately I start everything pencil and scan it in to create my piece digitally. I always send things to Sara in progress because I value her eye and opinion. I don’t think you can have a good collaboration without that mutual respect for each other’s opinions. I always value her feedback!

For Píccolo we give the illustrators certain parameters, like size and color palettes, but generally we give them a lot of freedom to create a unique illustration. Generally, we like letting our artists have a lot of freedom, because we feel that it allows them to make work that they really love!

"Contained Risk" - digital painting by Lisa Perrin

“Contained Risk” – digital painting by Lisa Perrin

ST: For a couple of curious cats, as you two seem to be, what are some other hobbies or interests you like?

Sara: I really enjoy running. I am currently training for a half marathon, and am planning a marathon for early 2014. I also have a major sweet tooth and like to bake cakes and cookies.

Lisa: I love thrifting and hunting down inspiration. I enjoy the process of discovering something that gets me excited and then learning as much as I can about it. I like snacks, movies, and cute animals on the internet.

ST: Where do you find yourself feeling really inspired to create?  Or is there a time of day that better suits these bubbles of creativity?  Who or what is inspirational for you these days?

Sara: My morning routine inspires me. I am an early bird, and make my best creative decisions after I go running, make a cup of coffee, and turn on the radio. Not many people are up as early as me, too, so there is little distraction! I too am inspired by what I see on the web, including blogs, Pinterest, and Instagram.

"Under glass" - paper and paint by Sara Barnes

“Under glass” – paper and paint by Sara Barnes

Lisa: I actively make a point of getting out of my house to go to a studio space because I find fewer distractions helpful for creative productivity. For me it is not about a specific time of day so much as having a sizable chunk of available time to work. I need to know I have a couple of uninterrupted hours on hand (which is easier said than done!) I get inspired by amazing illustrations I see on tumblr and pinterest. I am also a very avid museum goer and Baltimore has got some gems!

ST: What is your studio environment like?  Is there a Píccolo in Baltimore?

Píccolo: We had a studio space while we were in graduate school together. Now we meet mostly in coffee shops. A lot of our process takes place through emails and social media too. Sometimes we see buildings for rent or sale and loftily dream of creating a real Píccolo headquarters. For now we work more simply, and there is a cat or a bunny around, and all is well.

ST: Thanks Sara and Lisa for sharing with us your own artwork and all about Píccolo!  I think it’s incredible that two friends can make their dream come together.  With snacks, of course!  Ok, Scribblers, let’s check out Píccolo at!

Piccolo 'To Market' Tote Bag by Jessica H.J. Lee

Piccolo ‘To Market’ Tote Bag by Jessica H.J. Lee


Scribble Artist Interview with Marianne Murphy!

Scribble Town (ST): Just like this picture of an alien astronomer, Marianne Murphy is an artist who is a seeker of all sorts and finds a way to communicate with you…even with creatures from outer space.  Creative to the bone, Marianne let’s us know what she’s done and where she wants to go.  3 2 1 blast off!

"Alien Astronomer" 2013, digital art, by Marianne Murphy

“Alien Astronomer” 2013, digital art, by Marianne Murphy

Marianne Murphy (MM): My name is Marianne Murphy, I’m 21 years old, I was born in Maryland and attend the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where I’m studying animation. I also have a lot of experience with filmmaking, puppetry, and graphic design. I hope to work in children’s media when I graduate and to someday design and write children’s books, television shows, and games to promote education, literacy, creativity, and self esteem.

ST: You are off to an amazing start!  Your goals and your vision are so clear.  I’m excited to see what paths will unfold before you, but for now where are you and what are you up to these days?  That is, besides you making these great folded paper animations such as your “Penguin Journey” 2013.

MM: I’m currently in Philadelphia, sequestering myself in my apartment to finish a film I’m working on for a puppetry festival in my hometown, Bethesda MD (Puppets Take Strathmore). It’s about the ideas of nostalgia and memory, and it combines a lot of cool puppetry and digital animation techniques. I’m also working on putting together some curriculums for Creative Writing and Cartooning camps for children ages 8-12, and will be leading them as a counselor in early August, which should be really fun. I love inspiring children to be creative and I can’t wait to see what they come up with during those weeks!

"Cloud Explorer" 2013, digital art by Marianne Murphy

“Cloud Explorer” 2013, digital art by Marianne Murphy

ST: Puppets Take Strathmore looks like such a fun event!  I can’t wait to see your film.  When did this creative bug start buzzing around in your body?

MM: I’ve been drawing for my entire life and my parents and teachers have always encouraged me. I started making films when I was in elementary school with my mom’s video camera, and I taught myself how to use editing software. At that point I was just making short videos with my friends, but in middle school I started making puppet films and having my puppets lip sync to popular songs. This interest in puppetry went on all the way up to high school, and I briefly attended the University of Connecticut to study puppetry. I realized there, however, that my interests had expanded to include illustration, writing, drawing and graphic design and I transferred to my current school to combine all of these interests into a new major: animation!

"Puppy Dreams" 2012, digital art, by Marianne Murphy

“Puppy Dreams” 2012, digital art, by Marianne Murphy

ST: New interests always come about in interested people and I think you definitely fit the bill ;).  I wonder, where do you find yourself feeling inspired to create?

MM: I’m very inspired to create by children’s books and television. I love seeing how shows and books are creatively using new technologies and art forms to inspire children. I also notice a lot of shows these days are focusing less on education/creativity and more on marketing products, and these kinds of shows inspire me to create art that can help children learn real, important lessons about life. Artists who believe in teaching children these lessons, such as Jim Henson, Fred Rogers, Judy Blume, and Lemony Snicket, are very inspiring for me.

Pears, France" 2011, digital art, by Marianne Murphy

Pears, France” 2011, digital art, by Marianne Murphy

ST: You mention artists from a range of mediums and genres.  I take it that you are a fan of everything art.  What other forms of art do you practice and what are your favorite tools you use to create?

MM: I practice a lot of filmmaking, editing, puppetry, and figure drawing. I also play piano and drums and love to create soundtracks for film projects. I love working digitally with a Wacom tablet and pen, and I love working in my sketchbook with mechanical pencils.

"Honeybee" 2012, digital art, by Marianne Murphy

“Honeybee” 2012, digital art, by Marianne Murphy

ST: Get ready for a hard question- who is your favorite artist?  Sometimes this gravitation towards a piece of art comes out of nowhere, but why do you think you connect with their artwork?

MM: My favorite artist is children’s book illustrator Lane Smith. He worked on books such as “The Stinky Cheese Man and other Fairly Stupid Tales” and “Math Curse” with Jon Scieszka, which were my favorites growing up, and he most recently wrote and illustrated “Abe Lincoln’s Dream”. I love his drawing style and his use of collage and different mediums to create wonderful, haunting works of art. Each of his books feel like an awesome, magical world to me. I also love the work of children’s book illustrator Jon Klassen (This Is Not My Hat) and children’s book writers Mac Barnett (Chloe and the Lion) and Joanna Cole (Magic School Bus) for their extremely innovative designs and ideas.

ST: From an artist who has already explored and created so much and is on a mission to encourage young artists, do you have any tips, advice, or ways of encouraging our scribblers?

"Ice Skating Unicorn" 2011, digital art, by Marianne Murphy

“Ice Skating Unicorn” 2011, digital art, by Marianne Murphy

MM: In my experience, all children are creative, and drawing is an amazing activity. I recently taught a camp with 6-8 year olds, and whenever a child had a problem or a troubling anxiety, I asked them to draw their feelings or what they wish would happen. The creativity helped them express themselves and deal with their emotions! Also, I’ve noticed that children are really interested in a lot of popular television shows and characters and love to talk about them. The excitement for these shows can easily be transferred into creativity. Inviting children to create their own stories, comics, drawings, props, costumes, or games about their interests is always a good idea!

ST: Marianne has shared a great Quick Scribble Activity with us on the Scribble Shop.  Try it out for yourself!  Thanks Marianne for sharing so much with us!

We will say, “see you later!” with Marianne’s winning Best Sophomore Object Animation at UARTS 2013 titled “Numbers”.

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