Monica Garwood is an illustrator, designer, letterer, painter etc. born and raised in the Bay Area. She graduated from California College of the Arts with a BFA in Illustration and a minor in Visual Studies. She currently lives and works in San Francisco.
I’m an illustrator, painter, and designer from San Francisco, California. I mainly work in watercolor, and my paintings are all different sizes, from 2×3 inches to 24×36 inches, so I can never really look at them or show them at the same time. I get asked all the time to make a collection of my paintings and sell it; I think my followers want to view my art in a more tangible way and at a bigger size than a smartphone screen. So when Blurb asked me to create and self-publish a book of my art, it seemed like the perfect opportunity and I couldn’t be more excited.
Like with most new artistic projects, once I prepared to actually begin, the excitement briefly turned to momentary panic. To design a whole book is surely a big task, and even though I knew I could use pre-made layouts that Blurb provides for free, I like to have control over every aspect, so I chose to use Adobe InDesign. I was dreading creating all the templates in InDesign (it’s always tedious measuring out and setting up page size, bleed size, trim size, safe area guides, gutter, etc.). Luckily, once I got to the Blurb website, I saw that there is a Blurb plugin for InDesign with pre-made templates that have all the guides already set up! Which meant I all I had to do was the fun stuff: font choice, laying out artwork, and ordering pages for a good flow. The whole design took less than a day, and the plugin lets you export and publish right from InDesign.
I knew right away I didn’t just want to make a printed version of my Instagram; I wanted to provide viewers with something extra. So some pages, I created new designs or collages of previously unpublished work. I included behind the scene and process shots, and super macro up-close detail of some paintings, which shows all the little imperfections (happy accidents) and textures you can’t see on a screen. I also included an interview in the back and shared all my favorite materials and brands for those who want to geek out on art supplies.
I loved how many options I had for this book, so I could truly personalize it. I had a choice of softcover, hardcover + dust jacket, or hardcover ImageWrap. I chose hardcover ImageWrap because I love the durability of hardcover and I often lose dust jackets. I received samples of the different paper options and loved the soft texture, slight sheen, and substantial thickness of the Premium Lustre. Lastly, I chose size: I went with standard portrait size at 8×10 inches.
When the book arrived, my first impression was how unbelievably professional looking it is. I couldn’t believe this was something I made and could have bought from a bookstore. The ImageWrap cover is super thick, seamlessly crafted, and makes the whole book look high-end. I opened the book up and was so happy with how much these reproductions looked like my original art. The printing quality is so high; every color looks super saturated and rich. My paintings look so crisp, and every little detail can be seen. It’s difficult to find a printer that can successfully reproduce the texture, gradients, and softness of watercolor, but it’s all here.
I loved the process of curating my own little gallery into a book. It’s the perfect thing to bring when I give talks to students, to conventions, when I’m meeting with an art director, and for my followers who want to see my work more in-depth. Being face-to-face with a high-quality, true-to-color, printed book that captures every texture and detail of my paintings is truly satisfying, and I can’t wait to share it with the world.