Mermaid Parade

The problem with projects like this is that there are soooooo many options and ideas floating around in my head. It's hard for me to grab one and stick with it. I made lists and lists and finally decided to go with one of my favorite summer kick-off events that combines a few of my most loved things: Mermaids, the ocean, boardwalks, parades, the vintage vibes of Coney Island, and color.

Before I moved to Brooklyn from Seattle I heard a song called the Mermaid Parade. I had to look it up. I couldn't believe it was a REAL thing. How awesome! My sister and I got our glitter and scales on and headed down there last summer. It was beautiful. I love dressing up and being surrounded by others in costume. It's so surreal.

I started off with sketching in my notebook (I love pens) and then found some photos from last year and went and took some a few weekends ago (I live close to CI).

One new-to-me tool I used is Adobe Shape for my iphone. It's so fun! Way easier than scanning in images. Plus, since I like to start my sketches with black pen it works perfect for me. It imports the images right into my Adobe Library and it's all ready for me in Illustrator. Just drag and drop. Super easy.

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I made a list of ideas that I wanted to try. Of course I had to do a mermaid and I knew I wanted to do some intense colors with a bit of vintage/retro flare. So I started here:

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I knew I wanted to do some type work so I found some old pics I took from when I first went to CI in the winter and went and took some new ones and traced bits and pieces. It was so hard to edit them down because there are so many great hand drawn signs that I wanted to include - I love hand painted signs and vintage type.

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And then I made my way through the list. Sometimes I knew exactly how I wanted it to look and other times it just fell onto the page in such a great, unexpected way - that is the best feeling! I loved all the "play" of pattern making. A few things I learned along the way:

1) Sometimes the ones that I think will be the easiest turn out to be the hardest and the ones I think will be the hardest turn out to be the easiest. I thought the net would be super easy, but it was kind of challenging making it not look perfect  and lining it all up just right (I wanted a slightly rough, not PERFECTLY symmetrical net - with a hand drawn vibe to it.)

2) It's just as important to leave things out as it is to put things in. I caught myself trying to force ALL of the illustrations I did into the patterns, when sometimes it was best just to leave them out.

3) This is too fun and I could spend forever messing and tweaking these. I could get sucked into this forever. Good thing there is a deadline!

4) You will start dreaming in patterns. But it's cool, I swear.

And here it is! My finished collection. Just in time for this year's parade!

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And here is an alternate color theme I tried out, but the one above just feels better and more "mermaid parade" to me:

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