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Monday, February 23, 2015

A Step Toward Falling Book Cover

A Step Toward Falling Cammie McGovern Book Cover

I'm so excited to share the reveal for the latest book cover I illustrated for HarperCollins! Cammie McGovern's beautiful new book A Step Toward Falling comes out October 15, and if you love YA, you should definitely put it on your reading list.

It's such an honor and pleasure to work on these covers with the team at HarperCollins; many thanks to ADs Alison Donalty and Sarah Creech.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Happy Chinese New Year!

happy new year of the goat

Happy Chinese New Year! I squeezed in this illustration of a baby goat just in time for the new lunar year, since it's the beginning of the year and baby goats are just adorable. On a side note, I had no idea that the goat, sheep, and ram were all symbols of the same sign.

Check out your Chinese year horoscope here on Refinery29.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Shine Bright Like A Diamond

katy perry grammys 2015
Feels so good to start tackling my pile of personal illustration projects to prep for shows and shop releases this year. First up this week is my favorite look from the Grammy's – Katy Perry in Zuhair Murad. She's just dripping in gems, and I love it. I always love her style, and it's great to witness her evolution.

I'm still working out my daily workflow, and I'm prioritizing time to work on personal projects every day. Haven't quite perfected my schedule, but I'm learning a lot about what works best for me – and of course, I'm asking every one of my freelance/entrepreneurial friends what their daily routines are. Daily rituals are so fascinating to me, and I'm reading a great book about it right now. There are so many articles about how the most successful people are early birds, or that night owls are the most creative; what do you think? What works for you? If you work for yourself, what's your daily routine? My nosy self would love to know!

Friday, January 30, 2015

FANCY FREE: Hustle Baby!

Happy Friday, friends! If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen my January project #AnnsDailyLetters. I've been lettering a motivational mantra a day, and today I wanted to share one of my favorites as a iPhone wallpaper.

Inspired by some stickers at my favorite party house, I thought you could use a pocket reminder to keep your hustle game strong.

Also, I've decided to start this new section, Fancy Free, for free download-ables like iPhone, iPad, and desktop wallpapers and calendars. Woohoo!

Download the iPhone wallpaper here!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

What I Read: January

January Reading List

This year I'm determined to hit my annual reading goal (the same number of books as my age), and I made great headway in January. Here's what I've been reading:

1. Yes Please, Amy Poehler
It was a treat getting to read Amy Poehler's first book – it's really more in the territory of autobiography than humor. I expected it to be funnier, honestly, and it didn't deliver on that front but it did deliver in a lot of no bs advice. My favorite chapter was "Treat Your Career Like a Bad Boyfriend". You really just have to read it; it's the best career advice I've ever read.

2. Beautiful Ruins: A Novel, Jess Walter
Finally finished this novel after jumping in and out of it for the better part of last year. The first half was hard to get into since it switches between different character's narratives and time, but the last half really wraps it up nicely.

3.Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, J.K. Rowling
Rereading the entire book series at once; I just admire all the details, thought, and craftsmanship in this series now that I've read the entire story and am not just avidly awaiting the next one to devour in one sitting.

4. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, J.K. Rowling
Ditto above.

5. Princess of the Midnight Ball, Jessica Day George
A friend in publishing lent me this book six months ago and I finally got around to reading it this month. It's a silly YA novel, not a groundbreaking one, but one of the kinds that I like – a novelization of a fairy tale. This one is about The Twelve Dancing Princesses, a fairy tale I'm not too familiar with, so it was a quick, fun read. It's also inspiring new work for me!

6. The E-Myth Revisited, Michael E. Gerber
This business book came highly recommended, and could not come at a better time for me. It's really great if you're starting your own business, and trying to figure out why you feel frustrated or overwhelmed or anxious and what to do about it. It's definitely one of my top favorite business books now too. I've been recommending it to all my fellow entrepreneurial friends!

Tell me, what have you been reading & what do you recommend for me next month?

Monday, January 26, 2015

She Wore Starlight

ann shen fashion illustration
So many ball gowns to illustrate, so little time...

Friday, January 23, 2015

Netflix Recs for your weekend

netflix recommendations

On weekends, I've been diving deep into the Netflix abyss to find new things to watch instead of watching the same favorites over and over (which by the way, is a sign of creativity as a child – not sure if this applies to adults). Here are two documentaries that we've recently seen that I'd highly recommend:

1. Advanced Style – Born from this chic blog, the documentary chronicles the life, spirit, and most importantly fashion, of the over-60 set. These vivacious women are truly inspirations in proving that life can still be fun and chic in your later years.

2. Mind of a Chef – This actually is a PBS series, and we actually binge-watched Season 1 in a weekend. There are sixteen 22-minute episodes, and each season follows one or two chefs. The first was David Chang of Momofuku fame, and it was fascinating to follow him through gastronomical adventures from ramen to rotten food. He eats with his other renowned food-friends & you get inside the renowned kitchens throughout the world, along with giving some cooking lessons along the way.

Check them out this weekend and let me know if you have any recs for me!

Monday, January 19, 2015


Hi friends! I get a lot of emails asking for commission work, which I often can't do because of timing or have to charge at a premium rate because of my workload, so I wanted to set up something special for all of you who are so kind to want my artwork to be a part of your lives!

Today, I'm launching a special flash sale Valentine Shop that will be offering a limited number of commissions for a special rate! A 5x7" original painting OR ink drawing of your sweetheart (or yourself, or your favorite fictional character!) would be the perfect gift for Valentine's Day, am I right?

And because I'm feeling the love, you'll also get free priority shipping & a hi-res digital file for your personal use (new social media icon, yay!).

Here are a couple examples of an ink sketch and a gouache painting (along with the one above!):

The shop will only be open for a week, or until the spots run out – whichever comes first! And once these spots are sold out, the rates are no longer valid either, so hop to it!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Golden Globes 2015

I love the beginning of award season! It's the best part of the winter – to get us through these sweater slogged days, some glamour every couple weekends. My favorite gown from last night's Golden Globes awards was on Miss Golden Globe herself - a Lorena Sarbu design, worn by Greer Grammer.

My favorite speech last night was by Jane The Virgin star Gina Rodriguez. It's so great to see a wider range of diversity being represented in Hollywood. Once people start seeing it on their screens, maybe they can start seeing it in their own lives.

My father used to tell me to say every morning, ‘Today’s going to be a great day. I can and I will.’ Well, Dad, today’s going to be a great day. I can and I did.” – Gina Rodriguez.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Year In Review

I've been doing these Year In Review posts for the past few years because I love taking a moment to connect the dots backwards. It also makes me feel less like, where did this year go? and more, wow look at all the things we did!

January: The year gets off to a great start, setting the scene for lots of baking and memorable meals with good friends. I made a lot of art, and good progress on my 100 Pin-Up project. Ryan and I celebrate our 8 year anniversary, and he gave me this beautiful bouquet from my favorite floral shop, Clementine.

February: I tabled at L.A. Zine Fest for the first time, and the show blew my mind. Highlights were meeting my now dear friend Emi of Pygmy Hippo Shoppe and Matt Groening, who bought my zines and complimented my artwork. February also marked the first time I saw my illustration work (for a ban.do phone case) at Nordstrom!

March: March is always kind of a historically dead month for me; this year it was really nose-to-the-grindstone of working in-house, working freelance, and taking occasional breaks for Disneyland and cake club. This photo of the first inaugural cake club is a lie: it actually happened in February.

April: Ryan and I exhibit at our first ever WonderCon! It's the biggest show we've ever done, and it was a great experience – we can't wait to do it again next year. We also took a trip up to San Francisco to see the Mary Blair exhibit at the Walt Disney Family museum. It was incredible - my eyes were huge as saucers the entire time, soaking in the over 100 original paintings by one of my favorite artists. We celebrate Ryan's birthday by meeting some of his family at San Juan Capistrano to see the mission.

May: Another nose-to-the-grindstone month; we took a hot minute to visit the Mark Ryden exhibit at the Kohn Gallery. It was super inspiring.

June: My first book cover with HarperCollins comes out! We went to go see it in store at Barnes & Noble the day it came out. Definitely a major career highlight so far.

July: We took a road trip down the coast of California, marveling at Big Sur for the first time (at least, that I can remember). Definitely planning a trip back there next year. We also explored the fairytale town of Carmel - and visited the Eyvind Earle gallery, which was magical. I just want to rent a cabin in Carmel for a week and paint. I also visit the Alameda Flea Market for the first time, which was awesome. Wish I had a bigger car to lug back all the great big things I found. (I'm still mourning this beautiful hutch.) We also made our annual trek down to San Diego ComicCon for fun and food!

August: After years of wanting to attend, I finally get to go to the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators conference. It was an inspiring learning experience. We also go to Cabo San Lucas to celebrate our first wedding anniversary! It was delicious, though insanely hot.

September: Another month of nose-to-the-grindstone work with working in-house and freelance work. I develop my city love series after a suggestion from my friend Marlo, which has been great fun.

October: I get my aura photographed. It tells me that I'm passionate, creative, and pragmatic. We also table at Long Beach Comic Con. And most notably: I take the leap to quit my day job and go full time freelance!

November: A lifelong dream achieved! Around 25, I decided to celebrate my 30th birthday in Paris no matter what else was going on in my life. I made it a reality, and it was the most incredible trip I've ever taken. Everything was magic. It was my third time in Paris, but Ryan's first time – so there was something really special about sharing my favorite city with my love. I went all out and even had a photo session with Lindsey of PictoursParis. We got back and went straight to do DesignerCon, which thankfully was an amazing show.

Photo by Lindsey Kent

December: The last month of the year was an insane flurry of freelance work, show prep, and holiday activities. We had the best show ever at Renegade Craft Fair this December - I was so happy to meet so many of you in person! Thank you so much for supporting me at these shows. We also took a road trip to Arizona to spend Christmas with Ryan's mom; while in Arizona, we visited the Time Travel Miniature Museum.

2014 was a great year of growth for me personally and professionally. I worked harder and more hours than I've ever had before, and learned so much - the greatest of which was learning to trust my gut and myself. I took a great leap of faith going full-time freelance this year, and through the grace of all my friends and peers, it has been better than I ever dreamed it could be. We did more shows than we've ever done before (seven!) and I was so happy to meet so many wonderful new people.

I'm so grateful for the new friendships I made this year; people who really inspire and supported me through the challenges I experienced, and who are helping me live the life I dreamed – surrounded by positive, kind people. I welcome a lot more of that in 2015! And finally but definitely not least, I am so thankful for my incredible husband Ryan – for without him, nothing I do would be possible.

Cheers to you, 2014! And cheers especially to you, dear reader!
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