Thursday, May 31, 2012

My ghostly appearance and a good cause!

The story behind the portrait? It's not too big really. Rather it is part of a slightly bigger story. I was working on a skateboard design for the "Kickflip for a cause" contest, arranged by deviantart and the vans warped tour 2012. Kickflip for a cause is a contest held to raise awareness around Boarding for breast cancer. The assignment was this:

Create a skate deck design for one of the four bands that will be shredding up the stage at this Summer's Vans Warped Tour and support the work of Boarding for Breast Cancer! Even better, winners walk away with some awesome prizes! Boarding for Breast Cancer, is a non-profit organization educating young people on breast cancer awareness and breast health.

I liked the cause, I like one of the bands participating, I didn't really need more motvation than that! Anywhoot, I had a great idea for a board design, but for that I needed a female portrait. I didn't have the time to set up a photo session with a model so I photographed myself with make-up running down my face and into my eyes. It stung so much I could hardly see. You have no idea how hard it is to do a good picture when your face is smeared with make-up and water, but hey I got the right picture in the end. I based the portrait on my own face, adding, stretching, making up and beautifying my visage until I had something that looked like what I wanted. The result is below:

(c) Anita K. Olsen

it's too late to participate in the contest unfortunately, but if you would like to see some of the other entries and maybe show your appreciation towards the people who put in an effort for the cause than head over to deviantart and take a look at all the cool and different designs! Links can be found at the bottom of this post.

And of course below is my super duper bananapancakesawesome skateboard design. Enjoy!

(c) Anita k. Olsen

Until next time
Anita K. Olsen

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Feather Tattoo Design

This is the most recent tattoo design of mine. The client, in this case a friend of mine wanted to tattoo a feather on her wrist with the word "breathe" written above it, but she couldn't find anything generic that she liked, and she also wanted something unique that would be only hers. This is where I come in, solver of design problems!

I had her give me some reference material to get a clear idea of what she actually wanted and then I fixed her up with some nice sketches and when she decided on a design she liked I whipped up a lovely finished feather for her.

Here is the design itself:

(c) Anita K. Olsen

And this is what the finished tattoo looked like right after it was finished:

Need a tattoo design? Then feel free to get in touch by contacting me either her on the blog or via

Until next time,
Anita K. Olsen

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The bumblebee post delivery system!

Today my head was a total blank. I had no ideas at all so I needed help. It doesn't happen often, this whole not having any ideas, but when it happens it hits my brain hard. A lot of people have different techniques for working through a block. I usually browse the web for stuf that I like and hope that I can pick up something useful. I vaguely remembered hearing about creative idea generators that you can find online and googled the term. I found a site that worked nicely for me. I pressed the "add a word" button twice and ended up with the words "envelope" and "bee". That really got my brain up and running again. I had three different ideas swimming around in there in just a couple of seconds. I liked two of them so I've made one which is the image you can see below and I'll be making another more detailed fantasy concept that I'll try to work on during the coming week.

So without further ado I present the "Bumblebee post delivery system" or BPDS for short
Got a block? Bored? or just plain curious?

Until next time,
Anita K. Olsen

Thursday, May 24, 2012

There are butterflies in my stomach

Not literally of course. But it sure feels like I either have an army of butterflies or a really large seagull flapping around in there.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I had finally decided to start focusing on writing as well as illustration. I made a promise to myself and I made a promise to you my dear followers. I was going to finish my children's book manuscript and hand it in to a publisher.

Guess what? I did. Today, this very day. I attended the weekly editors corner at Cappelen Damms bookstore Halvbroren, which is held every Thursday. Editors from different departments who are ready to talk to you about your book idea and receive manuscripts are at the scene for an hour. I walked in there nervous as hell. I kid you not I was so nervous I was even trembling a little. That says a lot considering it's like 26 degrees celsius in Oslo right now. I came early because I didn't know whether there would be a long line or lots of people, but there was only me and one other girl. Imagine that.

I sat there waiting in the bookstore for about 20 minutes, I had to buy a smoothie from the little coffee shop next door to cool down, and to have something to focus on besides being anxious. It happens every time I do something big or meet someone who might be important to my future career. I sweat and I shake and my stomach clenches up. I think it's because I care so much about what I do. I really want to make an impression on the world. I want people to love my art, I want little kids to read my books and cherish the memories of them when they grow up like I cherish the books I read when I was little.

Anyway, the editor arrives, my number is called and I meet and greet with him. We talk briefly about the story and the fact that it was originally my grandmother that made it up, I've just put some finishing touches here and there and edited it. We spoke a little bit about my education and then he took my manuscript and said that in about 6 weeks time they would let me know what they thought about it.

I'm a bit in shock right now. I can't believe I did it, but I did. I handed in my very first manuscript. Yay!
Of course I will let you know how it all goes. In the meantime here is a little snack from an upcoming image:

(c) Anita K. Olsen

Until next time
Anita K. Olsen

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Oh sweet sweet temptation...

I love cupcakes, I can't help myself. I bake them quite a lot, and I usually end up eating all of them in a feeding frenzy.

I was a little bored today and it is a sunday. So I decided to draw something for fun, but didn't know what to draw. So I scanned my apartment for something to draw and my eyes fell on my small ceramic cupcake jars. I think they are super cute, my fiancée on the other hand hates them and believes them to be totally useless...

Hah, proved him wrong didn't I, because they inspired me to draw this awesome blue cupcake:

(c) Anita K. Olsen

Tomorrow I'm starting a new week. Hopefully I will be able to get some paperwork done, since that is quite important when you are running a business. Have a nice new week everybody ^^

Until next time
Anita K. Olsen

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Who says you can only have one career? Superstars nowadays seem to be juggling up to two or three careers at the same time, singer, designer, television  host, actor, you name it they do it. So why can't I?

I have grown up with dreams of becoming a rock star, an artist, an author, a dancer, at one point I even wanted to become a truck driver for the Coca Cola Company! (I was very little, don't judge). Some dreams faded and died and some are still alive today. I realized pretty early that I could not be a dancer because I don't have one co-ordinated bone in my body. I am afraid of cars and traffic so truck driver was out of the question, and I never learned to play an instrument, though I am still a decent singer so who knows. One of the dreams that have stuck with me so far is obviously the artist thing, I am an illustrator so that dream is coming true every day. The other dream that has made it so far is the dream of writing, and lately the urge to write has become stronger and stronger. I feel I can't ignore it anymore.

Illustration (c) Anita K. Olsen Illustration

I've been writing for years. Short stories or the beginnings of books, I have never published a single thing though. I love dreaming up characters and plots, weaving a magical tale that will set the imaginations of others on fire. I feel good on the inside when I write, just like I feel when I make illustrations. it's the intense joy of creation. Just thinking about it gets my heart pumping and makes my face feel warm. My only problem is that I am afraid to believe in myself and my own writing. I'm always afraid that it won't be good enough. I may love it myself, but will others? Therefore I have never submitted anything to a publisher. The closest I get to publishing things is when I write this blog. I enjoy it a lot, but I still dream of holding my very own book in my hands, written and illustrated by me...Aaah that is truly the dream.

I have a short children's story about the wind that I would really like to publish. It was originally created by my grandmother, she used to tell me that story when my brother and I slept over at her house. We absolutely loved it. Last Christmas my grandmother gave me the story, needless to say I cried like a baby when I opened the present. I think she hoped that I could finish what she had started. Her dream had been to become a children's book writer. She wanted to have her stories published, but she never got around to do it. Sadly, she died this year and thinking about it still breaks my heart into tiny pieces. So in honor of her memory my intention is to publish her story, as a last tribute to a wonderful person and a fantastic grandmother..Wish me luck..

Illustration (c) Anita K. Olsen Illustration

Until next time
Anita K. Olsen

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A short rant about motivation!

Oh! motivation you treacherous villain! Some days are just harder than others. You know those days when nothing seems to be working out for you and all your hopes of becoming something seem to be impossible fantasies conjured up by a wayward silly child? Your life seems to be nothing but bills and expenses and you barely have enough money to make sure you have dinner to put on the table. I 'm having one of those months!

At times like these it is important to remember that the negative feelings of today will probably fade away tomorrow or some other day, hopefully sometime soon. I am lucky enough to have a significant other that always tries to cheer me up. I swear he is the sweetest man alive. Without him I don't know if I would be able to do this whole business thing. I have really bad nerves and I agonize over every stupid little detail if someone doesn't keep me in check. This may seem as just a personal rant and of no use to anyone, but there is a point to this I promise.

Then get to it you say? Very well!

The point is that having a good support system is crucial. Not to your success that is up to you, but to keep you going until you reach success or decide to throw in the towel. It doesn't really matter who your support system is as long as it works. It could be your family, your significant other or your friends. The important part is having someone to talk to about your troubles, be they professional or on a more personal level.

Why is it important you ask?

It's important to have support because keeping your troubles to yourself is sure to drive you crazy in some way. You may start having anxiety attacks, or maybe you get so stressed by your problems that you run yourself into a ditch. You wouldn't be the first person in the world to hit the wall.  Maybe you'll start to isolate yourself, burying down into your work, or maybe you'll become snappy and moody.Talking about problems or difficulties is good, it resolves matters, gives you a different perspective on things, and it makes you feel like your not in it alone. If you don't have a functioning support system in your life there is always the option of making a new one which is a lot of work but is usually worth it in the end. Or maybe the solution lies in going to a psychologist. Whatever floats your boat!

Take it from someone who pretty much looses her marbles every other week, it's a neat little piece of advice.

Until next time
Anita K. Olsen

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Why am I an illustrator?

This fascinating subject was put in front of me by illustration agent Anna Goodson through her weekly FeedbackFriday question, if you don't know what FeedbackFriday is then you can read up about it here!

The question was this:

Who/What influenced you to become an illustrator?

I gave her an answer on Twitter, but I didn't feel that this was a subject that could just be over and done with so quickly. This whole thing got me thinking, what really did influence me to become an illustrator? Why didn't I decide to do Fine Art instead or become a graphic designer? What drove me to wander this particular path? I have thought about it before of course, but never really sat down to ponder it deeply, until now that is.

The many emotional stages I can go through while examining my life and my choices...look familiar?

The truth is that there are several reasons why I became an illustrator and not any given one can be said to be the singular most important reason as to why I chose to do what I do. They all contributed in their own special way. I wont list all the reasons in length, but I will go in depth on the most important ones.

Ever since I was a little girl I have been drawing, but I rarely drew things just for the heck of it, when I had my pencils out I would draw fairytale princesses like I imagined they would look like and I would try to recreate my favorite stories or movies or comic book characters. My mother being the fantastic creature she is, always told me that my drawings were lovely. That's where it all began.

I was a shy kid in school and so I often doodled by myself, but sometimes other kids would come and peek at my art and be all excited about it and all of a sudden I was making a new friend, art has helped me grow as a person,  and it brings people together in so many ways. Art made me able to reach out and talk to others, from family, to classmates to people on the other side of the world that I have never met. I owe a lot of near and dear friendships to art and illustration, and that's one of the reasons why abandoning art could never be an option for me.

When growing up I was surrounded by comics and graphic novels like Elfquest, Bamse (the worlds strongest bear) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and so on.  I watched japanese animé like Silver Fang, the Blacksea Pirates, Sinbad and all the Disney classics. I was amazed at how people could narrate entire stories though images and create dream worlds you could get lost in. That's probably why I ended up doing it myself on an unconscious level. At some point people started telling me that my pictures told stories, they were more than just pretty pictures of pretty women, there was emotion and a love of storytelling behind it. So eventually I decided that I wanted to tell stories for a living.

This did not happen over night of course, it took time and a lot of agonizing. My way to becoming an illustrator may have seemed straight forward to the people around me, but has never been easy. I graduated from my college of further education in 2007, I was 18 at the time and completely green. I had no idea of where to go and what to do. I just knew that whatever it was it had to be something creative. I started looking at schools, just to see what was out there and I stumbled upon a school that offered illustration classes. At the time I didn't even know what an illustrator was. I had a background in art, design and art history, but when I read what the course was about and realized what an illustrator did. I just knew it, this was what I was supposed to do with my life!

I applied to the school and was accepted, but I couldn't afford to go so I didn't reply and figured I would just have to apply again next year if I could save up some money. After a while the school called me and asked why I hadn't replied to their acceptance letter. I explained my predicament, and to my surprise they were gracious enough to promise me a spot in next years class. All I had to do was sign the new acceptance papers the coming year. Boy did that give me motivation to save up some cash! I worked like a dog for a year at a local grocery store. I saved up money to buy myself my very own laptop, ( I am using that same laptop right now 5 years later, it's the best investment I ever made). I also saved up enough money to be able to pay a deposit for a flat because I needed to move across the entire country to Oslo, to study at my school of choice. My family did not have money to support me through it so I had to take up loans and apply for scholarships, and have a part time job on the side to make ends meet. I studied in Oslo for two years and graduated with a C, something I remember feeling very unhappy about since I'm more of  an A/B type student. I then chose to take a third and final year abroad as an undergraduate in the UK, so I could finally achieve a Bachelors degree in Illustration (this was a dream come true for me, I always dreamed of studying abroad and getting a degree from a University when I was a kid). I got accepted into the University of Wolverhampton, I sponsored the whopping tuition fee with new loans and scholarships. I graduated with a B in 2011, which in English terms is a 2.1 BA(Hons) in illustration.

And now...Now I try to tell stories for a living, through images and words both. I still work part-time, I still barely make ends meet, but I am doing what I love and I am following a dream. And that ladies and gentleman is why I am an illustrator.

Do you know why you want to be an illustrator and what really inspired you to become a storytelling artist?

Until next time,
Anita K. Olsen

Sunday, May 13, 2012

What's up? I'll tell you what's up!...literally

I realized that I haven't written anything this week, and that is sad, but I have a good excuse. I promise! I have been busy. Not at work really since I only worked one day this week, but with learning French and making illustrations. I was working for several days on the "Trinket defuses a bomb" image from my last post, and then jumped into a new project designing a tattoo for a friend of mine as a gift to her. Now I am working on a new image for the latest ArtOrder challenge, I'm hoping it will turn out awesome. I'm going to try to be humorous, which is not always my strongest suit. My stuff is cute, or nice, rarely humorous unfortunately.

I can't really say much about the concept as I don't like to share too much information before the illustration in question is finished, so you'll just have to live with it. Sorry. But I can give you a peek at a piece of the sketch!

Now this little fella is real miffed about something, but what?

It will however be uploaded to this page as soon as it is finished, and on Facebook, and Twitter and my portfolio website...It'll be all over the place so it should be hard to miss.

Now on a more serious note, I am having some trouble figuring out what my next post in the
"starting up  a business" project should be. Does anyone have any good suggestions for me? Anything you are curious about? A little help would go a long way. OOooh I just had an idea, literally right now, so at least there will be one post coming up shortly in the series.

Until next time
Anita K. Olsen

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Follow me onTwitter!

Yes I have now opened a twitter account. If you are on Twitter(which you probably are) and you like reading up on what I'm up to then follow my channel there for little updates on my current projects and thoughts. you can fin my channel


Enjoy the everyday marvels that sneak out of my marble .

Until next time,
Anita K. Olsen

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Trinket defuses a bomb!!

So this post has been about 4 days in the making. I started this drawing three or four days ago. Time is hard to keep track of when you are working so the days tend to mix into each other. I call it Art Fever. A state in which your mind and body can no longer grasp the passing of time, and all that exists is you, your tablet and your drawing.

Now this is one of my step by step posts. I will be showing you the process of making the image
"Trinket defuses a bomb" which is based on a Pathfinder RPG session I had with my roleplaying group a couple of weeks ago. Trinket is a Gnomish Mage trying to defuse a bomb by using the spell "Ray of Frost". Trinket is my own original character and should therefore not be copied by anyone.

 Now that you know a bit of the story let's move on!

step 1:
I start by drawing a rough sketch with black, I just like sketching with black, though a lot of the pro's prefer blue or red sketches. I put in rough color suggestions to set the mood and decide what my palette is going to be. I then start drawing it up a bit more precise on a new layer before  start coloring in properly.

Step 2:
as you can see I have focused on drawing the character first. I've fixed her anatomy, figured out how I want her hair to look and worked extensively on her outfit. I've been particularly careful to remember where my light sources are going to be. (bomb and moon)

Step 3:
Now I've started working a bit on the foreground, drawing in the bomb and the sand where it has landed. I'm doing this on a new layer to keep them separate and to keep more editing choices available.

Step 4:
Not much has happened, I've done some detailing on the sand and drawn in a plant. Now the reason I'm showing you this little bit of progress is because the success of a picture is knowing where to put the minor details. Like in sandgrains and where light hits things and stuff like that.

Step 5:
More vegetation! As you can see I've added some fern looking plants here and there. I realised that th image looked a bit empty in the foreground and that I needed something that could create a sense of depth and visual interest.

Step 6:
I've now pretty much finished the foreground and have moved on to the background. Painting in the moon and the stars. It was suggested to me that moving the moon would be better for the backlighting so I did as advised. at this point I start to realize that the palmtrees in the back are too short. Damn it! So I have to fix them at some point.

Step 7:
I continue working on the background, I paint in the little houses on the cliff in the back, I scale the trees upp to a slightly larger size. and keep fixing minor details that start to pop up here and there. Cleaning up an image is just as important as the composition and the rendering. If the image is sloppy and full of little errors all over then it's not going to look good.

Step 8:
Her as you can see the backlighting from the moon has been added on trinket's clothes and her hair and on the palm trees. It's a minor detail, but has a rather striking effect in my opinion. The sky behind her looked a little dead and flat so I put in some white soft "fuzz" with the help of the trusty airbrush tool.

Step 9:
Finished!! The magical effect of her spell has been added to her hand. I didn't want to make it too bright as it would steal a lot of attention from the bomb and the rest of the image so I kept it small. Hope you like the end result as much as I do :)

Any questions? Dont hesitate to ask!

Until next time,
Anita K. Olsen

Friday, May 4, 2012

Happy Star Wars Day!!

May the 4th be with you!

Since I myself am a big Star Wars fan I deem it appropriate to be a little bit excited about today. So for those of you who don't follow me personally on Facebook here is a little snack for my followers.

My fiancée and I received some awesome t-shirts from a friend of ours and me, I got excited as I always do and though that it would be really funny to make a recrutiment ad for the empire(even though I am more of an alliance girl myself).

So I "forced" (for once he actually thought I was being funny) my other half into posing for me and helping me to photograph myself. I then went and did some light photoshop magic and tada!!!

Who wouldn't want to join the darkside now? All we're missing are clipboards and recruitment papers!