Happy Halloween!

AnniBetts_Dracula_bat

Happy Halloween everyone! In honor of the spookiest holiday I drew this homage to one of the scariest characters out there — Dracula. In Bram Stoker’s original tale, Dracula is said to come to the shores of England at Whitby, during a foreboding, terrible storm. Whitby is just an hour and a half away from where I live, and I’ve visited it a couple of times and it’s a charming coastal town with some good seafood and that 19th-century-resort-town feel. So I liked the idea of combining a view of Whitby Abbey with Dracula coming to shore in the form of a bat. (I’m taking a little bit of artistic license — in the original story he comes to shore in the form of a large black dog. But I felt like drawing  a bat!) I hope this adds to your Halloween fun today — Boo!

Get your holiday cards!

AnnBetts_Holiday_Cards

I can’t believe it’s the last day of September already! While the falling temperatures and shorter days create that cozy, crisp feeling of autumn they’re also a good reminder that the holidays will soon be upon us. You may be thinking, “Gosh, soon it will be Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah! How will I send my greetings to friends and loved ones?” You’re in luck! My new holiday greeting card designs are now available in my Etsy shop to help you mail a little bit of love to everyone you hold dear. They’re part of the A. Smyth Co. collaboration I’ve been working on this year, and are all printed responsibly on eco-friendly papers. These also feature greetings on the inside, as opposed to the previous cards which were blank on the inside, so if you’re not great at coming up with something to say, the work is done for you!

I have several Christmas designs, including one featuring fuzzy, kissing chinchillas. Who doesn’t love a chinchilla? The collection also contains two non-religious Happy Holiday cards depicting fun winter sports, a Thanksgiving card (turkey in a top hat!) and a tasteful, nature-inspired Hanukkah card. If you’re looking for holiday greetings look no further!

Wedding Bells on Two Continents

I love a good love story, and I also love weddings, so I was quite pleased and excited to work on a couple of very special projects recently that helped one couple from two continents celebrate their happy day.

It all started several months ago when I was contacted by groom-to-be James, asking if I could work on some illustrations for his wedding stationery. He was from the UK, while his bride Meg hails from Australia, so they were planning to first have a wedding on the beach in Sydney, and then celebrate again in winter with a reception in the UK. The groom’s vision was to use illustrations of animals from both countries to bring their invitations to life and help convey their unique story.

While I don’t often work on commissions for individuals, I couldn’t pass up such a fun and romantic idea! I worked with James to create colorful illustrations of a kookaburra and a kangaroo to represent Australia, and a robin and a squirrel to represent the UK. I also drew little portraits of the bride and groom, surrounded by greenery from their respective countries. Then James took all of the illustrations and applied them to their save-the-dates and wedding invitations. It was so fun to work on, and James was a dream to work with! Here’s a look at how those illustrations turned out:

AnniBettsAussieUKAnimals

AnniBetts_wedding_portraitsImagine my surprise then when I was contacted several months later by James’s twin brother, Tom! He had a project that was just as irresistible: his whole family wanted to commission a map as a wedding gift for the couple, one that told the story of how James and Meg fell in love, traveled the world together, and finally settled down in Australia! Tom supplied me with the entire story of their journey and lots of great reference photos to go with it. I used all of that to create a unique map that showed all the places the couple had been, with numbers showing the order in which everything happened, and even a few Indiana-Jones-inspired vintage airplanes buzzing back and forth from location to location. When it was all done, I had it printed on archival canvas and Tom took it with him to the wedding in Sydney. Here’s the final product! (You can click on the image to see it larger)

AnniBetts_wedding_map

These were both such fun projects, and it was a great new challenge to create such a detailed map including likenesses of the actual folks involved. I’m so grateful to James, Meg, Tom and their whole family for giving me the opportunity to get to know their wonderful love story, and to be a part of the wedding celebrations via my illustrations! I wish them all a very happy happily ever after.

Summer Love

AnniBetts_SummerLove

Here’s a happy snail proclaiming his Summer Love, a new picture I drew to send out as a hello and as an Etsy print. Here where I live in the northeast of England, starting about now there are a plethora of adorable snails roaming the sidewalks as soon as the sun begins to set. It’ll make you watch where you step when strolling around then neighborhood, I can tell you! They’re all different colors and shapes and sizes, and so I was inspired to make a friendly colorful snail the mascot of my summer greeting. I hope you’re feeling the summer love!

New Print: Bear and Bird are Friends

AnniBetts_Bear_Bird_Friends

I just added this happy duo to my Etsy shop, they can be found here. This friendly pair is adapted from the growth chart I created a while back for my dear friend Mel. It featured various woodland creatures in an enchanted forest, and I thought the Bear and Bird here would stand nicely on their own. I’m sure they’d like to come brighten up someone’s walls!

Spring Inspiration

Illustrated hand-lettered Shelley quote

One great advantage to living in England is that spring arrives so much earlier than it did in Chicago. As early as the first week of February, snowdrops were popping up everywhere! They were followed by profusions of crocuses a couple of weeks later, and then a few weeks ago masses of daffodils took their place. The trees have buds and flowers, the grass is thicker and greener than it was in winter, and the musical sound of blackbirds fills the air in the late afternoon. It’s quite a treat to have such a long, beautiful spring.

In tribute to this lovely time of year, I just finished illustrating this quote from a Shelley poem, The Sensitive Plant. I love how this quote captures the idea of nature waking up from a long winter’s sleep and filling the world with beauty in spring. I’m planning to send this out as a little self-promo emailer soon, and will make it available as a print in my Etsy shop.

I hope wherever you are spring has come already or will soon!

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