Studio Scenes: A Tour of the Amy Zhang Creative Studio

I love working from home — I set my own schedule, I can drink coffee from my favorite mug, and more often than not, I get to have Netflix or podcasts playing  in the background. One of the biggest challenges, though, is staying focused and motivated when you’re in the same space where you relax and live your personal life. I’ve found that creating a dedicated workspace for myself has been extremely helpful for my productivity — now that I finally have things set up, I thought it was time to share my new studio space!

amy zhang creative | artist studio tour | meet the maker

In our last apartment, I basically turned our living room into my studio — and while that was great for space, I also never truly put it together the way I wanted. When we moved into our new place last month, my main priority was to turn our dining area into an organized and inspiring workspace. For me, that meant having a separate desk for painting, a dedicated space for packaging orders, and plenty of organizational bins and boxes so I can do my best to keep my work surfaces clear and uncluttered.

amy zhang creative | artist studio tour | workspace decor inspiration

 

It’s amazing how many gadgets and tools (not to mention brushes and pens) I’ve collected over the course of owning my own business — I’ve also discovered that they pile up on my desk very quickly unless I have a dedicated spot for each tool. These cubby shelves were the perfect solution — some of them hold my papers and sketchbooks, while others have boxes and baskets that hold smaller odds and ends. Plus, now they’re pulling double-duty as the base for my painting table. Another necessity has been my slotted paper organizer, which holds a small quantity of my packaging supplies for easy access when I’m packaging an order. See below for a few more of my office essentials!

 

amy zhang creative | artist studio tour | workspace decor inspiration

 

And of course, I couldn’t have an inspiring workspace without some pretty decor! I have a mix of my own and others’ work, as well as a bulletin board where I collect inspiring images — a physical moodboard of sorts. My plan is to add a floating shelf on the wall above my computer/packaging desk, and then I can display a rotating selection of framed prints!

 

amy zhang creative | artist studio tour | workspace decor inspiration
 


 

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Studio Scenes: How to Create an Illustrated Map

If you follow our Instagram, you might have read about our partnership with Rocky Mountain Bride — their latest four issues (Idaho, New Mexico, Wyoming, and Montana) each feature an illustrated map by yours truly! You can also find a few extra illustrations in the Idaho and New Mexico issues, but today I wanted to share a bit more about the design process for creating an illustrated city map. I’ll be sharing specifics based on the map I created featuring Jackson Hole, Wyoming, but the process is typically the same for any location. Read on to see how everything comes together!

amy zhang creative | jackson wyoming map illustration | how to create an illustrated map

I always start by brainstorming a list of places from around the city to feature — museums, parks, restaurants, etc. At this stage, I’m focused on building a list, so I don’t worry too much about curating. Then, I create a map in Google so I can see how each place is distributed throughout the city and get a better sense of the overall layout. This is when I start cutting places, or searching for places to add in specific neighborhoods so that the final composition will feel balanced. Since we’re not going for an exact map (I’ll leave that to Google), I do give myself a little leeway in terms of spacing and placement.

Once I finalize the locations and layout figured out, it’s on to the fun part! I’ll pull reference images of buildings, landmarks, and any other specific icons I’ll be using, and then it’s time to start painting! I like to illustrate each element separately — meaning I create the map outline with the streets, the buildings, the trees, the location text, etc. as standalone pieces. That way, I have more control over placement, scale, and details on the final print. Plus, it’s much easier to update the map if if I ever want to change any of the featured locations.

The final step — and also the most fun, in my opinion — is to put everything together! I love this part, because I finally get to see the individual pieces come together and see my vision come to life. It’s also exciting, of course, because it means the illustration is ready to share with the rest of the world.

And there you have it! Honestly, illustrated maps are a long and complicated process, but they really are one of my very favorite things to create. So far, I’ve created several maps from the Rocky Mountain region, but I’ve got plans for many more! What cities are you most interested in seeing??


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Monthly Mood: What We're Loving This October

I don’t know about you, but I can’t get enough of yummy baked goods this time of year — ‘tis the season for pumpkin everything! Besides eating all the pumpkin scones in sight, I’ve got big plans this month to take advantage of my favorites season, like visiting a pumpkin patch, adding some fall accents to our home decor, and adding a few cool-weather staples into my wardrobe. Read on to see what I’m loving for October — and be sure to sign up for the mailing list for more illustrated goodies!

 



 
amy zhang creative | october color palette

CURRENTLY CRUSHING ON —

More warm and cozy hues! I think our October colors celebrate fall even more than last month’s — I especially love how much they remind of the colors we’re seeing with the leaves starting to change. Throw in a cloudy, stormy blue for some drama, and you’ve got a perfect fall palette!

CURRENTLY CRAVING —

All the pie! I’m not a big dessert person in general (aside from my undying love for donuts), but I do love a good slice of apple pie this time year. I’m constantly on the hunt for the perfect recipe, so if you’ve got a good one, please feel free to send it my way!

 

amy zhang creative | apple pie illustration

CURRENTLY SHOPPING FOR —

The perfect pair of ankle boots. I’m a creature of habit and pretty much live in my ankle boots year-round, which means I usually need to invest in a new pair by the time fall rolls around. I’m loving this pair from Target — the chunky heel and laser cut details are so cute!

 

CURRENTLY READING —

Have you read WorkParty yet? I’m officially obsessed with this book, which is by the founder of Create & Cultivate, Jaclyn Johnson. It’s filled with inspiration from successful boss ladies, practical advice for building a business, and empowering messages for women in the workplace. 

 

amy zhang creative | san diego travel illustration

CURRENTLY PLANNING —

Our trip to San Diego! We’ll be there next weekend, so I’m officially in full research mode. Old Town San Diego, Balboa Park, and the San Diego Museum of Man are already on the list, but I’m still working on my list of the yummiest tacos, cutest coffee shops, and best local shops. We’ll be trying to fit some beach time in as well, of course!

 

What are you most excited for this month?

*Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which allow me to earn a small commission by linking to certain products. I only share products that I truly love and believe in — participation in affiliate programs does not influence my decision to share products with you.



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Girl About Town: 3 Things to See at the Denver Botanic Gardens

Welcome to our third and final (for now!) blog series, Girl About Town, which will highlight a place (museum, restaurant, shop, etc.) that we’ve been loving each month. It’s in the same spirit as The Art of Travel, but will be a more regular feature that dives deeper into specific sites. We’re starting off local with places around Denver, but will likely expand to other locations in the future!

This month is all about the Denver Botanic Gardens, which I FINALLY visited after living here for over two years. I’ll be a part of the Botanic Garden’s annual Winter Gift Market this year, so I figured that a visit to the gardens was long overdue. I expected  it would be beautiful, but the gardens really are breathtaking — and with 23 acres of plants, flowers, and sculptures, there’s definitely no shortage of inspiration to be found. Today, I’m sharing a few of my favorite spots and species from my visit, although I’m already planning another trip so I can be sure not to miss anything!

amy zhang creative | denver botanic gardens illustration | things to do in denver
 
amy zhang creative | denver botanic gardens | woodland mosaic | things to do in denver

WOODLAND MOSAIC —

Stepping into the Woodland Mosaic feels like entering into a secret garden — this charming, woodsy area is just the right amount of quiet and secluded. It also features my favorite structure in at Denver Botanic, the historic solarium, which also happens to be a beautiful and unique venue for a small wedding.  

TROPICAL CONSERVATORY —

I love pretty much everything about the Tropical Conservatory. It’s filled with hundreds of tropical plants, most of which are hugely impressive in both size and appearance. A few of my favorites — banana trees, giant philodendrons, and the coffee and cocoa plants! Plus, the architecture makes the entire experience even better.

MONET POOL —

Monet is one of my very favorite artists, and I love this reference to some of his most iconic work. The water garden is full of lovely aquatic plants, including cattails, cannas, and water lilies, of course. There’s so much inspiration to be found here — I going back soon so I can spend an afternoon by the pool with my sketchbook!

I’ve been doing tons of painting after our visit to Denver Botanic Gardens and will be adding some prints to the shop soon — check back soon, or sign up for the mailing list below so you can stay in the know!



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Studio Scenes: You'll Love These 8 New Cards for Fall!

The transition from summer to fall is one of my favorite times of year — the weather is spectacular (especially now that we’re finally over the worst of the heat here in Denver!), the farmers markets are still going strong, AND fall favorites (pumpkin spice treats and cozy sweaters!) are gradually making their way back into our lives. Our fall collection officially launched back in August, but I thought I’d take a moment to share some details about the new collection — read on to learn more!

Going into the design process, I felt particularly inspired to create collection that reflected love in all shapes and forms. As a result, our fall cards range from wedding congratulations cards, to cards showing support, to those cards that you send just because. Although it’s hard to pick a favorite, I will say that I’m particularly fond of the Favorite Plant Lady and Tying the Knot cards... And also the Bravocado card... And the Aging to Perfection card. I guess I really can’t choose — but you can see for yourself! Browse the full collection below, and stay tuned for our holiday launch, which is coming soon!



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