Dog Days of Summer

Updated: Feb 19, 2019

Did you know that August 26 is National Dog Day? In celebration, we dedicate this post to it and your favorite furry friend -- and encourage you to make a donation to your local animal shelter or pup rescue league today. (Our favorite is Lost Dog Rescue, the non-profit who fostered our second pup until she found her forever home with our family). 

Today, I am thrilled to introduce you to a fellow artist who shares my love of dogs: Emily Dere.

Emily and I first met via Amy Rutherford, owner of Red Barn Mercantile (and soon to open! new stationery store, Penny Post). Amy is one of those great individuals and connectors who reminds me of the Malcolm Gladwell book, "The Tipping Point". She loves sparking new ideas and helping creative people connect. Thank you, Amy!!

Upon meeting Emily, I learned more about her work - primarily black pen and ink illustrations - and started following her on Instagram. One day, I caught an Insta post of her dog drawings - and had an idea: how fun would it be to see Emily's pup drawings in color, on fabric?! I reached out to Emily and we began talking about ways to collaborate. The result? Our new collection of Pup textile designs.


Illustrations by Emily Dere


Recently, I asked Emily to share more on her work. I am thrilled to "introduce" you to her virtually and via this blog post (the fourth in my Collaboration series):

(And p.s. If you're in the MD/DC/VA area, keep an eye out for Emily and her products at Penny Post and Red Barn Mercantile where she works part-time, when she's not illustrating) 

Introduction: Tell us where you're from; your art background and when you started illustrating?

I’m from Alexandria VA; born & raised. I’ve been an artsy type my whole life and can’t remember a time when I wasn’t drawing or painting something. Always have been with a crayon or pen in hand from the very start. I’ve put it to use in different fields  - did my Bachelor's in theatre design and worked for several years in costumes & sets, took a minor swipe at interior design, and have more recently been to London to study illustration -- and have been focusing on that primarily, ever since.


Tell us a bit about your craft ... where and how do you typically make your art? Always black ink? Preferred type of paper? Is there a favorite place or space that really sparks your creativity?

I’m a pen & ink person. An art teacher early on took away all the erasers in class announcing “There are no mistakes in ART!” and I kind of rolled with that and took to the more permanent medium [of ink]. I second guess myself with pencil. With ink, you put it down, and there’s little room to say “well, let’s erase that bit”.  Gets rid of some of my hesitant tendencies. So, I like pens, and ink washes with brushes. Or watercolors - I love the effects you can get with translucent layers.  I love color, but I do find I primarily work in grey scale. As for paper, I lean towards cheap.  There are occasions for a nice cold press watercolor paper to really soak up the ink, but I like doodling on typing paper or bristol board. I find it helps my process if I’m not being precious with my materials.  


As for favorite places, I feel like I have my best creative spark moments in places that are most inconvenient for drawing - driving in the car, or in the shower, or that moment riiiiiiiight before I fall asleep.

Close ups of Emily's pen and ink drawings


Do you have a favorite subject to draw?

I’ve been really enjoying drawing spots in Old Town. I did a line of doors around Old Town, and tried to branch out and drew a little collection of Del Ray spots. I like trying to see new things in the places I’m used to driving or walking by without a second thought.


Do you have a favorite pup illustration?

Hands down, the little ugly pug that is sitting looking straight ahead. I was a dogwalker for ages, and she is my hilarious little buddy Ella. And the pugs are just so sweet with all of Kate’s playful motifs.


Pugs! from our new Pup collection, now available on pillows, wallpaper and more. 


Recently you've created some super cool totes with your illustrations ... do you have a favorite product you like to make?

Well thanks! I’m gonna stick with the teatowels! I always collect teatowels whenever I travel somewhere, so I like having created a line of them for folks to do the same. Practicality speaks to me :-)  But the pup designs are a great opportunity to see my work in a more colorful playful light.


Old Town Alexandria Tea Towels by Emily Dere


Tea Towels from our collaboration and new Pup Collection


What's been surprising / fun about the collaboration with Mira Jean on the new pup textile designs?

Creating the pup line has been a great chance to see my work transformed into something more colorful & playful, since most of my other projects lean towards simple black linework. It has also been a good opportunity to collaborate with and observe the working processes of a fellow local artist (something I should be doing more of!) as well as the opportunity to create a range, rather than a single solo illustration.


Do you have a pup of your own?

I don’t! I did dogwalk for ages, so I have had lots of favorite little (and bigger) buddies - some of whom I still get to see around town. I dote on my parents' beagle mix Toby - a trouble maker with the best butt wiggle when his tail wags him. I also live with an old lady Great Dane named Bella whose imposing size I tend to forget until she trods on my bare feet. Oof!


What would you love to see someone do with the fabrics?

I think they’d be a lot of fun as dogbeds or poufs for humans to lounge on, but I also think they could be a lot of fun in kids’ rooms whether as window treatments or bedding. Upholstered headboard anyone?

© 2020 by Mira Jean Designs. Proudly created by TeamVirtuosa.com. 

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