• Design
  • Illustration
  • M Chen Wears
  • M on the side
  • dad
  • Contact


Archive for October, 2009

Halloween and a poll for the sweet tooths

October 30th, 2009

(Or is it sweet teeth?) Tomorrow is Halloween, and to celebrate, here are a few spooky items made by some über-talented folks; these should get you in the spirit…

  1. It’s the Great Pumpkin Hat, Charlie Brown by Yokoo
  2. Zombies vs. Townspeople Checker Set by PsAndQs
  3. Tiny Ghost and Goblin Necklace by AnoriginalJewelry
  4. Bunny Rabbit Feltidermy Headpiece by girlsavage
  5. PeeWee Pumpkin Soaps by bovinebubbles
  6. Black Cat Tee — Women or Men styles by SickOnSin
  7. Bats Tattoo Tights by post


And now, a favour to ask of you… it’s somewhat related to Halloween because it has to do with candy. We’re going to have a candy buffet at our wedding (in less than a month, yipes)… and I would love to know: What sweets should we include in the candy buffet?

Please leave a comment and let me know your favourite sweets. I’ll draw a name on November 12 (two weeks from now) at 9 a.m. EST from those who are kind enough to weigh in, and send the winner a whack of greeting cards or holiday gift tags, whichever they choose. THANKS!


Happy haunting :)

etsy.com , , , , , , , , ,

Lightning Round with artist Sorya Gopalan

October 27th, 2009

A heartfelt woot woot to my lovely and talented friend Sorya, who is just days from her first ever solo art exhibition. Sorya’s The Dancers Bring The Rhythm and The Storm will be at Snapdragon Gallery (Ottawa) from October 29th through November 19th!

The Vernissage / Opening Night will be this THURSDAY, October 29th from 7 to 10 pm
at Snapdragon Gallery — 791 Bank Street (at Third Avenue)

Sorya kindly agreed to be in the hotseat for some rapidfire questions, which will give you a little background and insight into her work:

1. How and when did you start painting?
I’ve been painting pretty much all my life, but seriously in the last three years.

2. How did you arrive at the decision to take that next step to exhibit your work?
I was approached by Snapdragon Gallery last year and have had some of my pieces there since October 2008, and some at La Petite Mort Gallery since January 2009. During the summer of 2009, I needed a challenge and thought it was a great time to start considering a solo exhibition.

Sorya at a local art festival, Summer 2008

3. Ideal lazy Sunday?
Sleep in, yoga, meet friends for brunch, read a great book, walk my dog along the Canal, and make dinner — sounds busy, but it’s all good busy.

4. Early riser or night owl?
Early riser for sure. I wake up at 6:30 – 7:00. I get most of my work done earlier on in the day. I love the light of day, it gives me energy!

5. You were born in Afghanistan. How do you think this influences your art?
My life and experiences from Afghanistan have definitely influenced my art. In some of my pieces the influences are more visible than others; that’s precisely the case in my latest work, The Dancer series. I was initially inspired by classical Afghan music, Ghazal, and I began to study the movements of Sufi dancers (a kind of dance that is also performed in Afghanistan). That’s how this series was born.

Desert Dancer I, 2009

6. What is your kryptonite?
Quick afternoon naps.

7. If you had the time, what’s something you’d work at improving or learning?
I would love to learn how to do encaustics. I love the effect the final product gives. It’s something that I’ve been thinking about for the past little while and hopefully can start practicing sometime in the coming year.

8. Happiest kid memory?
Playing in the fresh snow in the front yard of our house in Afghanistan, and going in to warm up around the fireplace.

9. What’s the last movie you saw in a theatre, and did you like it?
I saw The Time Traveler’s Wife. Loved it. I read the book for a book club, and watched the movie to compare the book to the movie — liked the book, but preferred the movie.

10. You have an extremely supportive and proud partner. Can you tell us a little about Bhaskar?
My husband Bhaskar — he is my biggest supporter and number one fan. He’s not shy to go around and introduce me to people as his wife who’s an ‘artist’, with a big smile on his face. He’s my first audience, so he is the first to see when a piece is complete. His sense of humor lifts me up when I’m having a tough day, and he’s quick to remind me how much I love doing what I do.

11. You’re a fellow Ottawan (woot woot!)… what do you like most about living here?
There are so many things I love about Ottawa. The Parliament buildings, beautiful green summers, friendly faces, Beavertails and hot chocolate in the winter, but most importantly the Canal, summer or winter, it’s the best. [Editor’s note: Beavertails are pastries, for those who don’t know!]

12. Chocolate or vanilla?
Vanilla. I’m probably one in a million who doesn’t actually like chocolate.

13. Who are your favorite artists?
I have many favorite artists. I love Van Gogh’s work. I appreciate his struggles with putting his work out; it put things in perspective for me. I enjoy all kinds of art, particularly the work of new artists as I can easily relate to them on many levels.

14. Introvert or extrovert?
Extrovert. I get energized by the energy around me.

15. What do you like best and least about being your own boss?
Best: I have the freedom of doing what I like; I love that I can make my own schedule.
Least: I must practice more self discipline than I like to.

16. When / where / how do you get your best ideas for paintings?
Going for walks, music, books, conversations, dreams….I also go through periods when I’m dry, and don’t have any creative juices flowing. I generally go and look at other art, either at galleries, or the National Gallery (which is another gem in Ottawa). Doing so helps me accept what I put on canvas and be comfortable with it. Art is very subjective, so at times that is one of my struggles (being comfortable on my own ‘canvas’).

17. Dream job and location?
Being an artist — living half the year in Ottawa, the other half in Venice & Tuscany, Italy.

18. What would you be doing if you weren’t doing art?
I would be teaching, something I may consider for the future, in addition to painting. I am a ‘hands-on’ type of person, so painting and teaching are the careers that would be extremely satisfactory to me.

19. What are you most proud of right now?
Starting a family. Bhaskar and I are expecting our first child, and this is one of the best and most proud moments in my life.

20. Finish this sentence: “I am…”
An animal lover, friendly, sociable, dramatic at times, romantic, and wow so many other things; I’ll stop here.

Find out more about Sorya and her work by dropping by:

And keep your eyes peeled: both she and Bhas are regular models for my tees — lucky me!

A huge congrats to you Sorya — it’s been so exciting and inspiring to watch you follow your dream and achieve each new success. Something tells me your first solo show will lead to more of the same. And I cannot wait to meet Baby Gopalan :)

good peeps , , , , , ,

Three cheers for the holidayification of Tarts ‘n’ Crafts

October 25th, 2009

Cheer 1:

Earlier this year, I designed a new poster for Ladyfest Ottawa’s 2009 craft sales, called Tarts ‘n’ Crafts. They recently asked me to rejig the look for the upcoming holiday event, using more festive colours and incorporating falling snow. Here’s the web version of the updated poster:

I played around with actual six-sided snowflakes and even looked around for Photoshop brushstrokes, but since the original design was already so detailed, I thought I should go with less literal elements — and went with just the suggestion of flakes, blurs and shapes. The white specks and details were all done in Corel Painter on my Wacom Cintiq (as was the “XO” illustration). Closer up:

As with the initial design, this was a really fun project (I think that every time I get to use the tablet ;).

Cheer 2:

One other update I had to make was to add the logo of the Ten Oaks Project, the beneficiary of the event. As a complete fluke, I’d actually done the design of the Ten Oaks logo almost exactly a year ago; I tell you, Ottawa is a tiny town. Here’s a closer-up look at the logo:

Cheer 3:

Helping out with the poster doesn’t mean I don’t still have to apply and sweat over whether or not I make it into this show. This time around, they got three times the number of applications as there are spots. So I’m happy and very relieved to say that… I got in. Woohoo!

Event details:
- Ladyfest Tarts ‘n’ Crafts Holiday Sale: Sat. Dec. 5th from 10 am – 5pm at the Jack Purcell Community Centre (320 Jack Purcell Lane, Ottawa); $2 admission (proceeds to support women in the Ottawa Arts Community)

Drop by and say hello if you’re in town! This’ll be a terrific event with plenty of amazing DIY gift ideas… If I looked particularly exhausted that day, it’ll be largely due to the fact that the event is exactly one week after my wedding! Hooo boy.

Are YOU doing any upcoming craft shows? Are you ready???

horn tootin', m chen wears , , , , , , ,

© 2010 Emily Chen Design & Illustration. All Rights Reserved.