Feb 23, 2018

Ch-ch-ch-ch Changes

So after 15 years (!) in this spot of the internet, I'm getting ready to make a couple changes. I'll be keeping the same domain and email, but I'm migrating over to a different host. And with that, there's lots I'm excited about. My portfolio and blog will get a shiny new makeover and things will be far more accessible and look a whole ton spiffier.

Also, I'll be selling illustrated goods in a new shop that'll be integrated into the site, which I'm really happy about. I started out selling on Etsy back in 2005, while I was finishing up my design degree. Back then I was selling crocheted necklaces and felted brooches! I'm incredibly grateful for everything I learned over on Etsy and the community the site provided. But I'm looking forward to shifting directions and being able to offer goods independently. And I'll still be keeping my Society6 shop for prints, etc.

I set my first site up back in 2003 using FrontPage to build my portfolio and Blogger to publish my random (and frequently cringe-worthy) musings. And the way I had things cobbled together worked pretty well until it didn't. Basically the way to describe my site now is, "Hey, 2008 called and it wants its internet back."

I'm still trying to work out the whole RSS thing, so if you're reading this on a feed reader, there'll probably be an update to that within the next week or so. And I'll update my mailing list when everything goes live (the link is on the sidebar). Speaking of the mailing list, I've been woefully remiss at keeping that updated and am planning to make that a more regular thing now.

See you on the flip side!

Feb 16, 2018


The latest issue of Taproot Magazine is out, including my cover illustration! There's some terrific articles in this issue and I'm itching to knit the included shawl pattern. Random asides, I have a braided rug like the one pictured (made by my grandmother), own a plaid winter jacket as shown (albeit grey), but have regrettably never lived anywhere with a fireplace (life goals). 

And here's a list of stores where you can find Taproot. Personally, I've bought mine in the past at FOLK in Kittery, Maine, because then I have an excuse to go to Lil's Cafe.

Feb 14, 2018

Be Mine

Happy Valentine's Day!

Here's a free Valentine printable:

Free for personal, classroom and library use only, please. Abigail Halpin, © 2018

Jan 22, 2018

Begin at the Beginning

I've decided winter 2018 is going to be slow. I usually jump into the new year with guns blazing and a million ideas at hand. But this year I'm shifting gears. I decided January would be about completing old projects, finishing what I start and settling into a quieter, less frenetic time of year.

So in keeping with that, I've pulled out this quilt. I've been working on it since high school and this is the year it'll get done, fingers crossed. I'm only a few rows away from having it large enough for a twin size quilt and I figure if I add at least one rosette a week, it'll be done by the time 2019 comes knocking.

Aside from that?

* I watched Fanny's Journey the other week and loved it. Based on the true story of a group of children fleeing Nazi persecution, it's cinematically beautiful, acted superbly and full of heart. It's on Netflix and here's a link to the trailer.

* I'm on a Sidney Bechet kick as of late. I think he's the perfect antidote to January's greyness. I could listen to his cover of "The Blue Room" on continuous repeat all day.

*And I'm over the moon to be illustrating Taproot Magazine's 2018 covers. I've been a huge fan of the magazine for ages and it's a dream project, for sure.

Jan 3, 2018

Twenty Eighteen

Christmas was splendid and New Year's was lovely. I ate an inappropriate amount of cookies and wore pajamas until noon, so basically the holidays were a home run in my book. But it's back to work this week, although I did sneak in this sketch of Alice White as a warmup today. I burned through Granite Flats over the holidays and basically now all I want to draw are cold war spies and technicolor dresses.

I went back this week to look at previous year's posts, resolutions from the past. Some I managed, others I gave up on. But hope springs eternal (or something along those lines), so here's what's up in the months ahead for me:

* I'm working on a couple new projects that are a change of pace for me and that I'm over the moon about. One, I can share about this month (stay tuned) and the other sometime this spring.

* Mama's Belly by Kate Hosford comes out in April.

* And Anne Arrives by Kallie George (an adaptation of Anne of Green Gables) will be here in the autumn!

Aside from that, I'm planning to finish the Queens of England project I started last year (I'm up to the Stuarts), work on some new embroidery pieces, start a book dummy I've been thinking about forever and restock my shop. Nothing earth shattering, just plenty of staying the course.

Other than illustration?

* Last year's resolution to read less (but longer) books was worthwhile and I found I wasn't just burning through things for the sake of an arbitrary number. So I'm planning to read twelve books this year and anything beyond that is gravy.

* I'm going to keep going with previous years' resolutions to sew more of my own clothes. My wardrobe has a lot of staples that I've sewn over time, and I'd like to continue to keep that trend going.

* And I'm headed to Ireland! The motherland! Finally! Any recommendations for the Galway area? Pubs? Fabric shops? What have you? Please and thank you.

Dec 22, 2017

All Wrapped Up

Happy holidays! Below is a link to some gift tags I made, inspired by the Snow Maiden folktale.

You'll need a PDF reader to open these. Before printing, I recommend adjusting your printer settings so that it's at its highest output quality (especially if you choose to run these on card stock). Feel free to print as many as you like for personal or educational use. Enjoy!

And a belated Happy Hanukkah, a very Merry Christmas and a season of peace and joy to you and yours! It's snowing like mad outside and I've got some gingerbread to bake, so I'm off to go revel in the season.

Nov 27, 2017


Something I picked back up this month, to work on during Open Studios. Speaking of which, the weekend turned out splendidly and it was wonderful to connect with so many delightful visitors. If you came out, many thanks!

An assortment of things:

* I finally have Sketches and Sundries available for purchase! It's been reformatted for paperback and can be found over here.

* I'm slowly adding prints, original artwork and what have you to my Etsy shop. I've just received a new batch of tea towel fabric, to replace what I sold at Open Studios. I'm working on sewing those up, and will put them in the shop as they're available. If you're looking for a print quickly, my Society6 shop is probably the speediest (and most economical) way to go.

That's that I think? November is fading away, but it's been a good month. Thanksgiving was lovely and quiet and I redeemed myself in the pie making department (after a slew of disastrous crusts). I'm just about done with Spies in the Family and the last episode of George Gently was a solid, well-written series send-off (warning: spoilers in the link). I've given up convincing myself I can get by with sweaters and stubbornness, resigned to the fact that it's winter coat season. And I'm chugging away at two exciting new projects, that I'm looking forward to sharing in the new year.

So that pretty much sums up the eleventh month. Now on to December!

Nov 9, 2017

Housekeeping (of the literal and metaphorical sort)

So here's what's what about prints, tea towels, books and what have you:

* If you're local, I'll be participating in the Artists of Salmon Falls Fall Open Studios next weekend, November 18-19. I'll have prints, original artwork, tea towels (the above design), embroideries, books and an assortment of other goods. The mills open studios are a terrific event and if that's not enough of a come on, Rollinsford is also home to the splendid Black Bean Cafe and North Country Hard Cider, or you can drive over the river to Thistle Pig in South Berwick. In short, you can make a day of it in these here parts.

* I'm sewing tea towels and will have those available online within the next couple of weeks. Want to make your own? I've made the fabric available in my Spoonflower shop. One fat quarter is all you'll need for a tea towel (or you can fit four per yard).

* I'm working on getting prints ready for my Etsy shop. I also sell prints, greeting cards, phone cases and other things over on Society6. Speaking of phone cases, I ordered this one from my shop and really, really love it. I feel like humming the Poirot theme every time I whisk it out (full disclosure: my ringtone is actually Doctor Who).

* I have Sketches and Sundries available for sale in hardcover over here. I'm also working on reformatting the book for softcover, for a more economical option. I'm just about finished with that and hoping to have the softcover version available next week (I'll post when that's ready). I've had a couple people ask about offering the book on Amazon, but there's an associated markup with that, so I decided to stick with Blurb.

And I think that's that (for now).

UPDATE: I'm waiting for a shipment of paper and ink that's due to arrive Monday, November 23, after which I'll be able to resume print sales in my Easy shop. Apologies for the inconvenience! 

Oct 31, 2017

Fort Building Time

I'm excited to share Fort Building Time is out!

Written by Megan Wagner Lloyd and published by the nice folks at Knopf Books for Young Readers, the story was a delight to illustrate. And many thanks to editor Julia Maguire and Nicole Gastonguay, for top notch art direction!

And to celebrate, I'm giving away a copy of Fort Building Time. Here's the details:

1. Leave on a comment on this post any time between now and 11:59 PM EST November 7 to be entered.

2. Open to residents of the United States and Canada, age 18 and over.

3. I'll choose the winning entry randomly, using this tool.

4. The winner will be announced on this post, November 8 and will be contacted via email as well.

8/11/17 *Congratulations Rebekah Plum! Email me at abigail@theodesign.com with your address and I'll send your copy of Fort Building Time right along.* Giveaway closed

Sep 13, 2017

Sketches and Sundries

Thank you Blurb Books for sponsoring this post!

It's no secret that I love sketchbooks. A lot. And as someone who's been keeping a regular sketchbook since high school, I have stacks of the things around. A few months back, I decided to put together a book of my sketchbooks, to have handy in one volume a smattering of all those drawings. So when Blurb recently offered me a chance to create my own book through them, I immediately jumped at the opportunity to make the sketchbook idea a reality. If you're not familiar with Blurb, they're a terrific company that allows you to create and print your own books, magazines and eBooks (as well as sell the end result in the Blurb Marketplace, Ingram, or on Amazon).

Sketches and Sundries is the book I made with Blurb, a hardcover volume full of sketchbook images from the past few years. I'm over the moon with the way the book turned out — Blurb's quality is top notch. The Premium photo paper I used for the interior pages is the stuff of dreams (speaking of which, the paper swatch kit is a big help in figuring out paper stock). And the colors! I'm blown away by the vibrancy of the images and my artwork reproduced beautifully.

To design the book, I used the Adobe InDesign plug-in available from Blurb. I've never worked with a plug-in before, but it turned out to be straightforward and well worth the time. The plug-in integrated with InDesign to set up my document to spec, so there was no guesswork on my settings or about output for print. If you've got a basic, working knowledge of InDesign, you should be good to go using the Blurb InDesign plug-in (and if you need some extra help, I'd recommend the help page and video tutorial). But if InDesign isn't your cup of tea, Blurb does offer BookWright, its own layout tool that's free and easy. 

And I'll have Sketchbooks and Sundries available for sale soon! So stay tuned on that...

I had a terrific time making this book with Blurb. Having the opportunity to go through my old sketchbooks gave me the chance to think about the illustrations I've made and the things I'd still like to draw. Invariably, there have been plenty of ideas I'd forgotten about in those sketchbook pages that I'm ready to bring to fruition. And among those ideas would definitely be more books like this. I've been mulling over the idea of making a book of portraits or even a one-off magazine. I’m excited by all the possibilities and plan on diving back into those sketchbook pages, to see what future projects are waiting inside.