I began my illustration blog in 2010 and it has been four years since my last post in 2011.
When I first began writing about my illustration career that spanned over three decades, I thought my career was pretty much over. My workload kept decreasing; for years I had few assignments and it seemed like my watercolor paintings weren’t commercially useful anymore.
But Tillamook was all it took to inject life back into my art career. I am very excited to write for my illustration blog again so I can share stories about working for this wonderful company.
I have been an illustrator throughout many turbulent parts of my life. When I turned 50 in 2010, my illustration work had pretty much stopped. That was when I began writing and it restored my sanity.
After my last post in 2011, I decided to begin a new life and separated after a long marriage. It was challenging to dismantle my large art studio so I could fit everything into a small apartment. I donated many art materials that I hadn’t used in years to schools and other artists.
Prior to my moving, I also had cataract surgery. Many people love their “new vision” afterwards, but I had a lot of difficulty adjusting to it. I was very nearsighted all my life and later on a doctor even told that it wasn’t uncommon for the brain to have difficulty accepting implanted lenses. I had many complications from cataract surgery and the worst part was when I developed dry eye syndrome.
I haven’t painted with watercolors for over five years, but working with a computer has been easy for me. I explored and expanded my digital abilities and suddenly many illustration projects began to pour in after my divorce last year. It truly was miraculous.
In the span of my art career, I have never worked with a more wonderful company than Tillamook.
Subject: Re: Shipping Tillamook Products!
Good news! Tillamook marketing is going to send you samples of the new Tillamook ice cream novelty products launching in 2015! Since the products have to be frozen we wanted to make sure someone would be around to get the package. Let me know what day is good for you.
Wow, Erika – This is a first! I’ve illustrated for a long time and I don’t remember clients ever sending me the product (just the printed labels and I usually have to request them). You have no idea how much my son loved the small ice cream samples that I received in order to illustrate the Tillamookies. He’ll be very excited about this. Wednesday or Thursday of next week is best. Thank you again so much!
Judy, that makes us so happy to hear! I will pass on your words to the rest of the team! Thank you!
I just wanted to let you know I received the shipment of Tillamook products today. Wow!!!! My son and I had a Strawberry Tillamookie for dessert tonight and it was absolutely fantastic. I was so proud to see my illustration on that label. Thank you again so much for sending me those delicious treats. How will I ever diet? I’m currently illustrating Tillamook’s Greek yogurt line with granola, so the challenges continue!
Take care, Judy
Judy, I am so glad to hear you enjoyed the yummy snacks! It’s the least we could do for all your help! I passed along your kind words to the rest of the team. Enjoy the rest of your treats.
Best, Erika & Tillamook team
For my projects with Tillamook, I’ve worked with two different agencies: Sandstrum Partners and Flint Design. Both agencies provided clear and excellent art direction. It wasn’t as if every illustration was simple – I always did numerous rounds of layouts and final art occasionally required some changes. But as an illustrator I expect that and it is one of the reasons why I love working digitally. It’s so easy to make changes to my illustration using a computer in comparison to revising a watercolor painting.
I have not illustrated everything for Tillamook; another illustrator has done all of their ice cream cartons before I came on board in 2012. But my work can be seen on all their yogurt labels and ice cream novelties.
I am going to share my process and the illustrations related to those projects on separate posts later on.
My 18-year-old son came along to tour the cheese factory and we both were given royal treatment. First, a lovely woman named LeeAnne Mitchell gave us a fascinating tour. The quality of Tillamook’s cheese was easily apparent even before I learned how much care they put into their product.
I learned a lot that day from LeeAnne. I loved seeing the “whey” cheese was made – it never o”curd” to me how complicated the cheese-making process was.
My son and I were treated to a complimentary lunch. He said his Mac ‘n Cheese was the best one he had ever tasted (the sauce was made with sharp garlic cheese). LeeAnne even scooped ice cream out for us so we didn’t have to wait in line!
I was excited to see my illustrations printed on Tillamook labels; there were many that I hadn’t seen printed before. My son took a picture of me examining the yogurt and ice cream novelties.
The following day, I visited Flint Design and Sandstrum Partners. I started at Flint Design. The building was in the Pearl District of Portland and it was a very quaint area. I snapped a picture of their door before entering.
Catherine Healy was the owner of the agency and we had a lot to talk about. I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to meet the art director I worked most closely with, Amy Vaughn. Unfortunately she was out that day due to a death in her family.
But I did get to meet another favorite art director, Jeff Geisinger. I was touched when he handed me a stack of printed labels; I love having printed samples of my artwork. Years ago, I used to cut labels out and mount them on black boards to send to my artist representatives.
I told Jeff how upset I was when I discovered that my son had ripped open the ice cream boxes Tillamook had sent me. My son didn’t know that I wanted to preserve those boxes. When I told him that I wished he had asked my permission, I was greeted with a blank look and statement of, “It wasn’t for me – I wanted to share it with my friend!”
Well thankfully, I have a sense of humor about these things. And now that Jeff gave me those pristine flat labels to save, all is well.
Of course, I don’t need to mount them on black boards anymore. Those days of sending portfolio additions to my artist reps are long over.
I left Flint Design and drove my rental car through Portland to find Sandstrum Partners. While I was waiting, I snapped a few pictures inside their offices.
The owner of the agency, Steve Sandstrum, chatted with me until he had to take a conference call. I enjoyed having coffee with Lauren French whom I had worked with closely only two weeks ago on a Greek Yogurt/Granola line of labels. Unfortunately, another favorite art director of mine, Kay Zerr, wasn’t able to be there that day because she was at a press check.
From the time I began my career as an illustrator, I worked very hard in order to make it. I strived to “get there” and I’m not sure even where I actually wanted to go.
This is such a stark difference to my current situation because now I feel like I’ve arrived.
And the place where I am is a wonderful place to be!