Tag Archives: illustration

Reacquainted with crayons


Portrait of a Becky

Perhaps it would have made more sense to post the top 10 list I promised on Monday’s post. Or the question about writing that I promised yesterday. Promises yet no delivery!

What‘s more important takes less time, is that I drew pictures with crayons last night until the sun came up (in Casablanca).

I had another improv class and it was FUN. We played the game at the end where you have a partner and you go back and forth and end up with some gnarly-monster-burn-out-lady-with-a-rat-on-her-head sort of thing. Class is about PLAY, but I wasn’t satisfied with only two hours of it. I went home and drew all sorts of things! New ideas and heaps of paradoxes.

Best use of my sleepy time? Probably not. But I’ve learned to entertain the creative whim when it shows up. 

What I’m trying to say is, Casablanca is about five hours behind the Central time zone.

And you should play with crayons because they are magic. And creativity is more fluid when its comfort food, crayon, is at the party.

follow on Twitter Instagram


Thoughts on gratitude

happinessishereI’ve been feeling really good lately. There are a lot of contributing factors, but I’ll talk about the top contender.


You already know it’s good. It’s healthy. It’s important.

But unless you make an effort to practice gratitude, you won’t be transformed by it.

At my core I’m pretty optimistic and fairly reasonable. When I hear myself complain about false problems (“I hate that I’m so busy! I have social engagements every night this week!”), I’m usually able to snap out of it and remember that this is a good problem not a problem.

But there have only been three seasons in my life when I specifically remember making a daily effort to be thankful. More than just a quick “thakya” prayer. Each time I’ve engaged in an “attitude of gratitude”, I’ve been changed by it. My perspective shifts on nearly everything. I’m less likely to compromise or get stuck. I dream bigger and my mind doesn’t have time to think about the worst case scenario—I’m too busy dreaming about what’s to come. I see things with a new lens.

Last time I was in this habit, I spent my five minute drive to and from the office with music off and just saying what I was thankful for.

Now I meditate for 10 minutes. Either in complete stillness, just focusing on my breath. Or I time it for five minutes of gratitude and five minute of dreaming. That’s it! Only a few minutes! I also have a journal dedicated to writing down 10 things I’m thankful for, as well as 10 new ideas every day. I’ve been doing it more and more when I drive (not the journal part, the one before that) because wherever I am, it’s the happiest I can be.

Check out this short video on the Happiness Project. I watched it five days ago and I still think about it every day.

I hope you have a jolly day, full of hugs, smiles and good laughs. I’m glad you’re here.

follow on Twitter Instagram

On showing your work


When I start to overthink sharing sketches, I remember Austin Kleon’s words: show your work. 

So here it is. A naked sketchbook page. I was about to upload this post with a 30% prettier version, but realized that was kind of lame. It’s like the college girl who does her makeup, straightens her hair and chooses hoop earrings, only to put on Pink sweats, Uggs and a messy bun. Are you dressed up or are you not? It’s non-committal and it’s confusing.

That’s why I’d rather eat raw broccoli than look at some of my previous drawings. At least broccoli knows what it’s about.

Now I’m getting dramatic.

I think first drafts are good and worth sharing. If we let our guards down a tiny bit, we will see that the greats weren’t so great and the journey to the the final is a product of its own. We produce more if we don’t have to save it for perfection.

Let’s show our work.

Our process.

This is a safe place.

Either way it’s not a big deal, so just do whatever.

*Words from Common Prayer

follow on Twitter Instagram



Another drawing from Saturday’s Daft Punk Craft-a-thon.

This is the end of the Saturday Daft Punk Craft-a-thon series.

follow on Twitter Instagram

Portfolio is up!


My portfolio is finally up! Check out www.beckycmurphy.com

grate cheese


Again, baby steps

chipperthings-426These are some faces I drew in my sketchbook. Must. Draw. More.

One post at a time.

Baby steps.

Pirate Pierre’s Papa’s Proverb

pirate-pierreSaturday morning doodad.

Follow on Twitter & Instagram

Okay, Now I Can Sleep At Night (Productivity FTW)

work-first-gawk-laterI’m about a month into freelancing full-time. Learning a lot. I suppose the main thing is time management, as I’ve been warned is the worst.

The first few weeks were frustrating, because I was “working hard” but not necessarily on client projects. I’ve found how easy it is to be busy, but not productive. Nobody is paying me to check emails and organize my business; they are paying me to work on brochures, logos and illustrations.

I’m a natural psychoanalyzer, so it’s no surprise that I dissect every day to see how I can improve for the next. I’m quite satisfied with today’s system. Some rules I set for myself:

1. Schedule 30 minutes of ‘etc. work’ after every hour of client work. It break up the day so I have something to look forward to when my hour is up. This is when I can blog, return emails, check twitter, take out the trash and organize future business.

2. Before I take my 30 minutes,  I write down exactly what to do first when I return to the project. (“place file into illustrator & add logo”) None of this “getting started is the hardest part so I guess I’ll just take my time because it’s hard, ya know?” any longer.

3. I’m using e.ggtimer.com to alert me when my hour /30 minute mark is up. That way I have no excuse to be checking Harvest compulsively (or ever).

4. I turned off my phone during work hours.

5. Not allowed to check Twitter.

6. During work-work hours, I take notes of all the little things to do, instead of doing them on the spot. I can hassle my friend about project details, look up high-waisted swimsuits, email editor, DM internet crush, etc. LATER. 

I’ve been really inspired by conversations, blogs, friends and events I’ve recently been exposed to. I’m excited to delve into FU Weekend and notes from Josh Long. Something to look forward to!

a. I would have made above image an animated gif, BUT I only have a few minutes and I have to follow the rules.
b. This makes me sound so intense and so easily distracted. Sometimes I’m neither and sometimes I’m both. I get lost in some projects, and some I don’t, as I’m sure you can relate. Enthusiasm can vary, but I can’t let my pride or integrity fall prey to my fickle human nature.

“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” —St. Francis of Assisi

t: @beckycmurphy  |   i: @beckz_

The Merton Prayer


Let-It-Happen-1Julie read us this prayer from Thomas Merton a few weeks ago. I like it a lot, so I wanted to archive it.

MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

—Thomas Merton, “Thoughts in Solitude”

Illustrations by Justin Hopkins (RareBit). Justin is based out of Los Angeles. Images found via But Does it Float.


girl talk


Mermaid Banter

mermaid-banterA little doodad I doodled the other night. Not sold on the texture, but since it’s just for the blog and not the president’s seal, I says to me, “JUST POST IT.”

t: @beckycmurphy  |   i: @beckz_


Yes, and… [+ life updates]

yes-and-2Hey guys.

It’s been a while. Over a month! Lots happening here but I’m not going to give you the option of reading a long post about my January. If we have that kind of time, we should close our browsers and read a good book, or call our mothers.

Quick rundown: I quit my job a few weeks ago, moved to Austin last Thursday and now I’m freelancing full time. I’m learning a lot and I love where things are going. I haven’t had time to work on my portfolio, redesign this blog, or even blog at all for that matter (good problem). Always looking for cool projects! Illustration, branding, web, etc.

I’m probably going to handle this blog a bit differently from the past. I want it to be more of a creative outlet and/or share other people’s work I just can’t help but share. It started out that way, but I got caught up in wanting numbers and I thought the only way was to be consistent, even if the posts sucked (like  this → old one.)

I’ll be updating with my lessons learned from working independently, illustration warm ups, IRBS book reports and all sorts of shenanigans I get myself into (Mardi Gras this weekend, for example).

If this blog doesn’t bring me life, I can’t make time for it. I’m letting go of expectations and I’m letting go of numbers defining success.*

*trying to let go of expectations and trying to let go of numbers defining success.

I’ll keep you posted. (BLOG PUN)

t: @beckycmurphy 

p.s. “Yes, and…” drawing inspired by improv show I went to in Dallas a few weeks ago.

Freelance + Austin…here I come

becky-doodlesIf you’ve been around me lately, you may already know the news.

I’m leaving my job at the end of January to pursue my dream of freelance! It is most definitely a huge leap of faith, and I have a lot of work ahead of me this month. Also big: I’m moving to Austin!

It’s going to be really hard to leave my Waco pals, but I’m grateful to already have a community in Austin. Most cliché move, right? I’m so excited! I’m so excited! I’m so…scared. Just kidding. I really just wanted to link to that Saved by the Bell clip. Yes, I’m apprehensive, as I have abandoned security and routine. But I have to at least try.

I have a lot of great things to say about Hole in the Roof and Waco, but I will give that a post of its own. For now I just want to give you this save the date because I need your help.

I am going to need clients. I’m still working on my portfolio, but I’ll be sure to post it as soon as she’s ready. I’m available for hire in February. Print, web, illustration, etc.

Also, If you are an Austinite, freelancer, high fiver, pie maker, creative cat, illustrator, fun-times-welcomer, totally not creative, but loves bloody marys, etc, let’s be friends!

Thanks for all your support along the way. I’ve gotten more than my share of positive happenings this year, and it’s because of those that I am brave enough to take the plunge. Exciting times ahead for us all!

*above pic is my work on my tumblr.

t: @beckycmurphy  |   i: @beckz_

A moment I don’t want to forget

Right now I’m listening to “Some Nights” real loud because 2012 is all about FUN.

I’m filling out my book logs. Before submitting to Penguin, you have to copy and paste all of the captions and write descriptions for what goes with what. Not bad, just busy work.

But now I’m at the end.

That means my book is basically done.

(Keep in mind that “Some Nights” is still playing and I feel like I’m in a movie.)

I want to cry.

*Photo from Ameile (Bande à Part – Dazed & Confused September 2010)

& start doing

via Martha Rich Art Projects, $35

Book: Progress Report

Howdy pals. I hope you’re getting reading to have a great Tuesday.

Some of you have been asking about how the book progress works. Do I give it to my editor in one lump at the end? No. Neither is my editor a man behind a glass desk smoking a cigar [setting: New York] putting me on speaker phone saying, “Don’t mess this up for me, darling. You know my career is riding on this book.” My editor is named Kate and my Agent is Laurie. They are both cool, funny and encouraging.

Here’s the process breakdown:

I found out I was getting published by Plume mid-July. Since then, I’ve waited for my editor to refine my original list of 100, then I edited it, then she did, then I did. Then I was able to start drawing. I submit 10 new illustrations to her and my agent each Monday. I submit changes a few rounds later in addition to the new batch. The whole thing is due November 1st.

When I did 15 drawings in April for the blog, that was surprisingly difficult. Now I’m adding 25 more each month. Yikes! I am making leaps and bounds each week by refining my methods, but I still have a long way to go. I always assume the drawings take significantly less time than they do — I get so absorbed that time flies. I have since found each takes about two hours. One drawing and one on the computer. I HAVE NO IDEA HOW. None of it seems strenuous or time consuming. I am hoping to cut that down to half the time by the time this project is over.

I’m more excited to write about my new habits and methods, but that is for another day. Trimming the fat is one of the greatest challenges to arise from this project.

Chipper Things will be there

I will be most delighted if you stop by to say hello. The wood burns are going to be sold by the order, and the illustrations are all postcard size. That means my booth is cheap-ish. I will also be giving away free smiles and hugs (if provoked). Austin Craft Riot, tomorrow, 11-7.  Look for the girl doing lunges and wearing gold pants; it’s not me, but she sounds like someone worth getting to know.

Marc Johns should be a household name

He’s still the man. I know I’ve posted about Marc Johns before, but COME ON. His stuff is the white chocolate macadamia nut Clif Bar of granola bars…what I’m trying to say is that HE’S AWESOME!!!!!! I have to assume (fingers crossed) that I’ve acquired a couple of new readers since I last went gaga, and maybe those people would like to peer into the souls of those who kind of want to be loved, but really just want some cheesecake. Bonus round: check out his “It is illegal to sell this man a v-neck t-shirt” illustration.

Just realized Tuesdays are the sophomores of the week (assuming the week is a super senior like most people are these days). Have a good one. Think of some good jokes. We really need to start sharing jokes on this blog. Yeah, send me your jokes and I’ll post them on Friday.

How and why I wrote the book

I finally get to talk about I’d Rather be Short. Openly! It’s not a yeah-but-don’t-tell-anyone-else-yet sort of thing. A lot has happened in the last three months. There has been scheming. Late nights. Too many emails. Twitter explosions. Contracts. And more claw hands than ever before. I’ll start at the beginning.

I had this idea to do a series on the perks of being short. A) I needed to tell myself that it is okay to be a LITTLE different. B) I wanted to empower others to do the same. C) Since I’m always the shortest friend, I am always the one to get the wonky NPR articles on shortness. I knew there wasn’t much out there because I would have gotten it as a link or gift, so I D) capitalized on it.

I had the idea a year and a half ago. I casually mentioned it to some friends (silly short perks plus illustrations). I put it off for the whole year because I didn’t know where to start.  I always wanted it to be a book in the back of my mind, but I was very careful not to say that out loud. Around New Years, I reflected on goals and what I wanted to make happen for 2012. I made fewer, but bigger goals: run half marathon, write and illustrate this book (published or not), paint a mural and stop biting nails.

I ran the half marathon in March and after the race I had some sort of post-running depression. Besides the fact that this race was over (it was a HUGE deal that I was able to run that, by the way), I also got to see far away friends, go to Mardi Gras, and SXSW in the month or two before. I felt like all of these monumental things were over at the same time and I didn’t know what to do with myself. I decided to do a marathon of drawings starting in April. In April I would do 30 IRBS illustrations. I only got 15 done, but I worked really hard on them. Though the first few really sucked, I knew it was better to start somewhere then than start somewhere later. At the end of the month I figured out the style that I liked. I didn’t reach the goal, but I got started.

When April was over, I knew I had enough material to submit to literary agents. This is mostly because of my friend Chad. He already knew about the business. I confided in him what I wanted to do and he got on board. We spent three hours writing a cover letter, bio and summary to send to agents (mostly agentquery.com). I spent a couple of weeks refining which drawings to send off, proofread work and research the agents that were the best fit for my project. Finally I submitted. I sent the email out and hoped I would hear back from somebody in a few weeks. Anybody.

The next morning I got an email from Laurie. She loved it. I told her that I needed a couple of weeks to think about it and send it to more agents before deciding on who I wanted to represent me. I talked to several in the next 10 days and had some offers. My problem was now “which agent do I choose??!!” (A champagne problem, if you will). I talked to Matt in Austin and he gave me lots of good advice. I started a Twitter account, @idratherbeshort.

I told Laurie that I wanted to work with her, and I haven’t looked back. We spent three weeks writing the proposal and sent it off to 12 publishers. A week later we had an offer. There were rejections but there was also interest. Last week (while in Chicago), the book went to auction and I had several bids. I went with Plume and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

What are the chances that I would get the wonderful news when I was with my family. I’m only seeing them twice this year, and I got to be with them on Navy Pier while I talked to Laurie and reported my decisions immediately after making them. I couldn’t release any information about the publisher until Tuesday morning, which is when I posted it on all my social media outlets. God has blessed me. He’s given me hands to draw with and people to tell me that I should keep going.

I was hoping to write this in two paragraphs. Ha! I will have so much more to say as I think of it now until November. Or Fall of next year. Or whenever I want to write more. I hope none of this sounds braggy. It has been a really amazing opportunity. I hope that this give you hope to pursue that nagging dream you tucked away.

Lesson summary:

1. Go! Don’t wait a second longer! Just start.

2. Be protective of your dreams. It’s necessary to share them with others, but don’t do it until you’re ready. We are all naturally self-indulgent. Don’t expect anyone to be over the moon for what you’ve been stewing over for weeks. Also, watch this three minute Ted Talk about why we shouldn’t be loose with sharing our goals.

3. Become a little delusional for a little while. In the back of my head I always knew this was going to turn out well. I don’t know what gave me that odd confidence, but for some reason, I would work until 2 or 3 AM. Just to do some silly IRBS blog post for like 100 readers. That is crazy, but crazy was necessary.

4. Run a really long race that you will probably hate. It gave me a renewed sense of “Yes I can!” It gave me structure and discipline, which was just what I needed to begin this new endeavor.

photo via Fred One Litch

I’d Rather be Short is getting published!

I can’t hold in the secret any longer: I’d Rather be Short is going to get published! When I was in Kindergarten, I told my teacher that I was going to write and illustrate books when I got older. It’s actually here. I can hardly believe it. My agent has been amazing and landed us several bids. I am thrilled to have Plume (imprint of Penguin) as my publisher. I have a few IRBS drawings posted, but there are many many more to go. I have learned a ton through this process and I can’t wait to write more about it in the next few days. Thank you for all your support with this series. I don’t want to take for granted all of the people who have helped me along the way. I am so blessed to get to do what I love so much.

The book will be released Fall of 2013, but I need to have it complete in the next few months. This is my official warning to the locals: you may not see me for a little while.

(This is why I said I was looking for help yesterday. Please feel free to contact me if you want to contribute to the blog — I’d love to feature essays, art, music videos, opinions, rants, raves, style collages, etc.)

Want more short love? Follow the twitter account @idratherbeshort

Organization Station

Practices I’m trying to implement:

1. Never leave a room without taking something with me.
(i.e. pile of letters on the kitchen table that need to filed.)

2. Tidy for the length of one song every morning. Preferably before I get ready and preferably to an awesome song.

3. Always remember my father’s words: everything has a place.

*Above poster-in-progress ironically sat on my living room floor for weeks before I found a place for it: under my bed. In a box. Someday I’ll come back. 

doodad from the archives

Just cleaned my desktop. Sweet victory. Found this. Posting it. Wasn’t going to write today. Okay fine. Writing.

Awesome tweet from @donaldmiller last night: “Our lives are just subplots. When we think we are the whole story, things go wrong. The stage is too big.”

Love that. I think I broke my phone. If you are my Facebook or Twitter pal, I’m sure you got the memo. It was already kind of broken and I just cut my nails. The only way I could turn the phone on since I last dropped it a month ago was by taking off the back and pressing the main button from the inside out that only my fingernail can reach.  Now my nails are too short (but they weren’t even long in the first place. Promise.) It’s good not to have access to social media at stop lights anyway. I’ll be fine.

But, if you want to send cutesy texts, don’t expect me to respond. BECAUSE I CAN’T.

*Note to reader: any text can be flirtatious if  you add a smiley face.
miss you :)
when are you getting lunch? :)
i never remember how to spell ‘avant-garde’ :)
my car almost ran out of gas again :)

**Another note to reader: it has been brought to my attention that I sound totally crazy saying my phone is out of commission because of short nails. I left out the very very important fact that it hasn’t worked since last night. Even when I take the battery out and put it back in, it only turns on 15% of the time. This is only interesting to you if you are part of the 1% (fact checkers).

He was the one who invented triangles and trendy diagonals

I never know what to title these posts. I try to make them interesting enough to double as a decent tweet. To be young and so ideal! Would you rather read, “Today I went to the gym” OR  “One of those days when you just need to fall off the treadmill“? Until someone pays me to do this, I just won’t have the time to troll my wit for great post headers. Good thing my mother didn’t say that about my name. Or did she…

Oh yeah — I did this doodad in Austin a couple weeks ago. Need to start doodling again. Tell me a better place on earth than an Austin coffee shop and I will tell you that that does sound great and you make an excellent counterpoint.

Friday thought: R. Kelly has always said, “It’s the freakin’ weekend baby about to have me some fun.” I say go for it. Happy weekend to you, R. Kelly. And happy weekend to you as well, ______.

Gemma Correll has got. it. goin. on.

Gemma Correll is one of my favorite illustrators. She inspires me to use the hands I have been given and just have fun already.

She even makes me want to get a pug. Not bad enough to actually get one…but almost. Kind of.

*It is worth noting that Gemma draws a lot of pugs.

I’d Rather be Short No. 13: small feet

kids shoes are cheaper

I hope everyone had a great weekend. I experienced my dream typical day on Saturday.

Now I have to tell you about it because I made you curious… 1) woke up before alarm 2) zumba 3) car detailed 4) drew at coffee shop 5) WacoFork birthday party 6) art show — woodburns featured 7) Dormer show at Common Grounds 8) Found out waterskiing squirrel is still up to his classic shenanigans.

I made some headway with my Short project. I’m not overly enthused about the recent work, but it is a learning process. I was prepared for that “what am I doing this is the worst I should just become really good at watching television” sort of feeling. I know I’m improving as I go. Lucky for you, faithful reader, you get to watch this labor of love go through labor then mature into a beautiful / really really long blog series. Consider this my Facebook baby.

%d bloggers like this: