Sunday, September 25, 2011

Christmas on Coney Island

Last year was my first Christmas in New York. I wanted to have a card that varied from my usual style and that was fun and silly.  What better place for all that than Coney Island? My first visit to Coney was totally memorable.  As we watched the sideshow performers do crazy and terrible things to their bodies, I was called from the audience to pull the sword from the sword-swallower's throat.  It was terrifying and awesome and completely real.

I always liked these performers ever since the litany of Hissa the Snake Boy from the Frederick County Fair repeated itself about a million times as we stood in line for some ride or another, I think either the Zipper or the Ferris Wheel.  "Hissa! The Snake Boy! Alive, alive, crawling all over his body!"  One time I told my class about Hissa as we were looking at some circus imagery and I completely lost my composure by laughing.  It was the kind of I-couldn't-stop-this-laugh-even-if-you-put-a-gun-to-my-head laugh that leaves one speechless for a minute or two.  I vowed to never mention Hissa again in class, lest I risk all respectability as a professor.

My mom used to tell me about how my Grandpa, who passed away six years ago, used to go to Coney and ride the Cyclone.  I knew then how my card should look.

Have yourself a silly little Christmas! My plans for this year are even more bizarre.

"A Coney Island Christmas" Ink Drawing by Jessica Boehman, Digital Color by Meghan Boehman

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Pink Tomato Paperie and Me

Just over two years ago, I was living in Wooster, Ohio for a visiting professor position at the College of Wooster.  I was living downtown in a gorgeous studio over the local steakhouse.  On Saturday mornings, Amish farmers on their way to market would wake me with their horses on Market Street.  The college was a fine place to work and I truly enjoyed every day I spent there.  It was a relaxing, healing sojourn after the brutality of grad school.  It felt like a balm on my soul.   I explored the town a tiny bit at a time so it could continue to unfold for me during my short time there.

About a month or so before I moved there, I became engaged to my longtime beau, Mike, who is now my husband.  One afternoon, as I was exploring, I finally went into the Pink Tomato, a paperie and invitation shop (with its own Aroma Lab!).  I was looking for a stamp to use on wedding envelopes.  What I found was inspiration for my future.

That day before I left, I had ditched my plans to buy wedding invitations online and had designed my invitations with the professional help of Christy Hoffman, who was very pregnant with her handsome son Dane, who was born a few weeks later.  The invitations were just gorgeous. Before I left Wooster, they had also designed my save-the-dates, my table numbers, and my wedding programs, and had even printed my annual Christmas cards.

Wedding Program and Invite. (Photo by Love Me Do Photography)

My wedding invitation (Photo by Jessica Marie Boehman)

I remember when Christy saw my Christmas card, she said, partially in jest (I think!) that I should sell my stuff at her store.  I didn't really think so much about it until a few days later, when, during grading final exams, I decided to go and show them a portfolio.  I felt frantic with excitement for the next few days.  I had come to Wooster to teach art history and I had loved every second of it.  How could I be so lucky that this little town could give me the two things I loved the best?  It was a town full of blessings and it was the best place for me to be at that junction in my life.   Over the following months, I made a few designs for the Pink Tomato to use exclusively on wedding invites and other print cards.   About a year later, we would find a working relationship that suited us both better, and it came organically as I designed tattoos for Christy and her husband.

After I moved to New York, I was feeling restless and a bit out of myself. I hadn't yet started my jobs.  It was early summer and I teach college, so I had a few months.  I started conceiving the idea of an online shop.  I didn't know that NYC would provide the inspiration for me.  After we moved into our new apartment and I saw the Delacorte Clock at the Central Park Zoo, I knew which way I wanted to take the shop.  But it was during the rigor and exhaustion of teaching at three schools that I became desperate to find myself again.  That semester, my shop was born on the Staten Island Ferry.  It came to fruition in January 2011.

It pleases me so much that the beautiful ladies who sparked my imagination now play such an important part in my shop.  They print my beautiful cards and even sell them in their new shop on 221 Beall Avenue in Wooster.  Though I have left Wooster behind, my art is still there, and that makes me so happy.  Thanks for everything, Christy and Jodi!  I hope now you understand how you've changed my life.

My cards at the Pink Tomato Paperie in Wooster, Ohio

My Halloween Cards at the Pink Tomato Paperie in Wooster, Ohio

Penguin with Drum and the Brementown Musicians at the Pink Tomato Paperie in Wooster, Ohio

The Pink Tomato Paperie in Wooster, Ohio

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Today I just placed a large order for my holiday cards. I'll be printing them on a tree-free letterpress stock, so the new items will be more eco-friendly and even more luxurious. The Christmas cards will be large and will be paired with gold envelopes and liners, while the Halloween line will have orange envelopes and liners.

You can see these in person at Crafts in Chelsea on Oct. 15.  Hope for good weather as it is outside!

If I am quiet for a few weeks, please be patient. I am in the middle of moving and the semester.  More drawings are percolating in my brain.

Monday, September 12, 2011

On the Third Day of Christmas

My true love gave to me three french hens, two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree.

Unfortunately due to a moving snafu and the start of teaching, I won't be able to complete the fourth day in time for Christmas (and my fall art sale in Chelsea) this year, especially if I hope to complete an envelope liner. But I am very happy with the three plump hens.  They came to fruition on September 11, ten years after such a sad day.  Living in NYC this year, it was more potent than I expected. I was glad to have something for my hands to do.  Do you recognize the same border from the partridge? I think it looks much different with its new French inhabitants. 

"The Third Day of Christmas" Pencil. Copyright 2011 Jessica Boehman

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Teeny Tiny Bat

Has anyone seen that cheesy, wonderfully weird movie from 1979 called "The Halloween that Almost Wasn't"?  We watched it all the time as kids. It starred Judd Hirsch as Dracula, who works to try to convince the Halloween monsters: the mummy, Frankenstein, the werewolf, and the witch, that Halloween should not end.  It even ends with disco dancing and leisure suits. What's not to like?  In a ridiculous scene where Dracula has to get through a locked door, he shrinks into a tiny bat to squeeze under the door. You can even see the string pulling him through. It's awesome (look at 8:40), as Dracula repeats "Teeny Tiny Bat" to grow smaller:

This one's for you, Dracula!

"Teeny Tiny Bat" Pencil Copyright 2011 Jessica Boehman

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Here she comes to save the day

I made this pet portrait from an image that a photographer friend supplied to me. The dog, a handsome rescue named Pepper, was dramatically lit and seemed so heroic and earnest.  There was only one thing to do.  This one's for you, Lonnie! I hope you like it.

"Pepper Heeds the Call of Justice (after a photo by Lonnie Kishiyama)" Pencil. Copyright 2011 Jessica Boehman