When artist and designer Leslie M. Ward closes her eyes, she sees a world infused with broad strokes of vibrant color. As a result, Ward’s deeply emotive, abstract ink and watercolor paintings are experimental and elemental in approach. While working, she allows intense colored inks to flower and spread organically across the working surface, creating vibrant fractal-like patterns. Ward’s unique process has ignited a profound sense of curiosity, leading her to explore a plethora of unconventional techniques and materials.
Q: Can you discuss how your promotional materials communicate your unique style and overall brand?
A: As a self-confessed paper junkie, my goal was to find interesting color and texture combinations between the letterhead paper, envelopes and cards. Special little touches like the foil stamp on the notecards and the wraparound stickers and seals were some of the ways that indicate my style. My promotional materials strike a balance between the abstract painting that I do and the products I design. Because the artwork is so colorful and dynamic, the type treatment needs to remain rather simple. I use thin sans serif fonts with an occasional bold didone type to highlight areas. My type combinations are definitely fashion influenced. When it came to showcasing a particular image in my branding materials, I had a difficult time deciding. In the end, I chose Peridot Sapphire Sea, which has been a favorite for a while and contains so many of the different elements that show up often in my work.
Q: What advice can you give other artists and designers when it comes to developing successful self-promotional materials for both print and web?
A: It’s a process. Don’t rush it. Every person you run things by can make suggestions, but ultimately you are the only one who knows what your goals are when you’re self-promoting. Find trustworthy people within your target audience to comment on the general overall look and feel. Not everyone understands branding, but everyone can tell you whether they’d trust you based on the visuals you share. Trust is important to foster for any brand.
One thing that can be hard to think of when you’re working on promotional materials is the actual copy and the language you share with people. This covers any piece of text (short or long) that you are sharing with the world. It’s ok to work with a copywriter or editor to get advice on how to position your language properly. This is something I am still working on, and probably will always be fine-tuning. When it comes to the web, it’s really easy to change things, so get your work out there and then make more, which is the only surefire way to get better at anything. Done is, almost always, better than perfect.
Q: Is there any other advice that you would like to share when it comes to promotional endeavors?
A: Keep going. Promoting yourself as a creative is always a process. Make something the best that you can and print it. Launch it. Say it. Passion is contagious, so the more excited you are, the more you will begin to attract like-minded individuals for partnership and collaboration as well as building a customer base.
Q: As a colorist, where do you get your inspiration? What are your artistic and design influences? Do you follow color trends?
A: Color trending has been an interest of mine for years. While in college, I even spent a summer as an intern with The Color Association of the United States, the nation’s oldest color forecasting group. Color itself is my inspiration: whether it’s found in flowers, in the paint section of a home improvement store or in an oil slick. I’m also inspired by tiny details which is the one thing the medium I work in (alcohol ink) has fully indulged. The closer you look, there is always something intricately beautiful in the way ink spreads on a surface. As for my art and design influences, I look at a lot of fashion and stationery brands for inspiration but I do my best not be too influenced by any one brand, artist or designer.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your approach to product development? Discuss the process, design, formats and color palettes you employ.
A: The products I make all come from a place of, “Oooh, I want that!” Every product I’ve designed started with me wanting my colors all around me, hopefully in a useful way. I started with phone cases then moved into planners. Simultaneously, I was getting artwork printed large for my walls and on fabric to be able to wear. I have an ever growing list of products that I want to ink, so I’m still running small batches of things to test in my online shop.
The design of all my products is centered around a focus on color. I also really love type so I am always trying to find a good balance in adding type where appropriate. As for formats, I try to be flexible. I look up what size greeting cards are selling from small shops and how many of my friends use iPhone vs. android devices, etc. I can’t make everything for everyone, but I hope to grow and provide more options as I do.
Q: Describe your artistic working environment and how it helps support your distinctive process and approach.
A: I paint with an alcohol-based ink on non-porous surfaces, usually synthetic paper. The inks are brightly colored and have interesting properties, making them difficult to blend, but beautiful to watch. I find my approach to art-making therapeutic. For me, making art is like meditation. Sometimes when the ink moves the way I want it to, my heart starts to race as I move the paper around, making sure it dries at the right time.
When it comes to my work environment, I’m not very picky. I did one painting a day for one-hundred days and I learned to ink in less than ideal conditions. All I need is my ink, paper and a flat surface, and even that is negotiable. Recently, I started to organize my workspace to make it easier to create work quickly. Sometimes just the time it takes to clear space and get supplies out can stop the creative flow. When I have everything accessible, it makes it easier to get to the good stuff faster.
Q: What do you see yourself incorporating in your work as your vision evolves?
A: I’m currently looking into more custom options, whether that be commissioned artwork, original pieces or even monogramming. I may even add resin or acrylic inks to the mix. I’ve also been at play with collage lately, so some of that might make it to public view eventually.
Article written by Lisa L. Cyr.
Lisa L. Cyr (www.cyrstudio.com) is an accomplished multidisciplinary artist and author with a content-driven approach. Her artistic oeuvre has been exhibited both nationally and internationally in museums, galleries, universities and at industry organizations, including traveling shows with the Society of Illustrators of New York and Los Angeles. Cyr writes for many of the creative industry’s leading art publications and has authored seven books on art and design, including the cutting-edge bestsellers entitled Experimental Painting and Art Revolution (North Light Books). In addition, the artist speaks actively about successful promotional strategies, marketing opportunities and entrepreneurial endeavors for the creative industry and gives workshops on creating imaginative, figurative art using innovative, mixed-media techniques at professional organizations, universities and trade conferences across the country. Her work has been featured in magazines, books and online, including numerous features in Spectrum: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art, AcrylicWorks: The Best in Acrylic Painting and Incite: The Best in Mixed Media. Cyr’s art is included in the permanent collection of the Museum of American Illustration as well as in private collections.
Painting the Mythical Figure