Happy Halloween!

Halloween costumes are a big deal at our house. Each year the kids come up with an idea and then together we figure out how to make it happen. It’s a creative challenge I always look forward to and it almost always involves papier mache, a visit to Goodwill and at least one trip to Home Depot roaming the aisles for things we can re-purpose for parts of the costumes. This year my daughter was a mailbox! It was a lot of fun to put together (who knew Home Depot sells replacement mailbox flags for just $3.49!) Since she wore it all day at school we had to hinge the post so she could sit down.

This was the first year my son didn’t trick-or-treat (ah, they grow up too fast) so there was just one costume to make this time. But here are some photos from past years.

Mailbox Costume

This year’s costume – the Mailbox. It’s amazing what you can do with some cardboard and silver spray paint!

Star Wars Sand People Costume - My son had so much fun wearing this costume. (What's not to love when you look scary and get to carry a big weapon!) It took a lot of scrounging through plumbing and electrical parts at Home Depot to make the mask and the weapon.

Star Wars Sand People Costume – My son had so much fun wearing this costume. (What’s not to love when you get to look scary AND carry a big weapon!)

The Mona Lisa

The Mona Lisa – This might be my all-time favorite. The frame was made from corrugated cardboard and hinged to the  background at the top like a sandwich board. The background had elastic straps built in so she could wear it like a backpack.


Book Worm Costume

Book Worm Costume – My daughter came up with this idea and even sketched it out for me. The green fabric had a previous life as a jersey knit bed sheet before I spied it on the clearance shelf at Target. It was funny watching her try to run from house to house in this costume!

Summer Inspiration

Summers in Minnesota are short so I spend as much time outdoors as possible. I draw inspiration from wildflowers and plants growing along a nearby trail that winds along a creek through meadows and woods. My new Orange Grove art was inspired by one of those walks. Of course we don’t actually grow oranges in Minnesota but my branches needed a pop of color so they evolved into an orange tree! I guess that’s the great thing about inspiration, you can never be sure where it will lead you!

Travel always inspires me and a trip to Washington D.C. and Philadelphia this summer was a visual feast of monumental architecture, amazing museums and superb people-watching. I love discovering patterns in unexpected places when I travel, like a beautifully sculpted medieval coat of armor I spied in the National Gallery of Art that inspired some new geometric prints.

Clockwise from top left: Wildflowers along my favorite walking trail; new Orange Grove art; new geometric prints: Benday Stripes and Surf; Sculpture in the National Gallery of Arts; Visiting the Lincoln Memorial in D.C.

Clockwise from top left: Wildflowers along my favorite walking trail; new Orange Grove art; new geometric prints: Benday Stripes and Surf; Sculpture in the National Gallery of Arts; Visiting the Lincoln Memorial in D.C.

A La Carte Napkins for PPD

Summers in Minnesota go by soooo quickly! How could it already be September?! This summer seemed to go by even faster than usual. I guess it’s probably because, in addition to the usual vacations, trips to the cabin, sending kids off to camp and skydiving weekends at the dropzone, I was busy doing follow-ups after the Surtex show in May. Some good things came out of that show that I can’t wait to share with you, but it’s still a little too early to announce.

In the mean time, I’m pleased to show off my new A La Carte napkins for PPD (Paper Products Design). I think they’ll be great for entertaining this fall. There will also be matching porcelain mugs that’ll be packaged in decorative gift boxes. I’ll be sure to post photos of them as soon as I get samples.

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Surtex 2015 Recap

What a wonderful experience my first Surtex was! After months of preparation everything went so smoothly. I met lots of great people, had fruitful discussions with manufacturers and enjoyed every minute of being in New York. Surtex is a very big investment, but all in all I was glad I did it and will probably do so again next year.

I walked the show in 2013 and 2014 so it was a huge relief not to feel like a stranger in a strange land when I walked through the doors of the enormous Javits center. I was also grateful for all the experienced exhibitors who have generously blogged in great detail about their Surtex experiences. I definitely stood on their shoulders. (Special thanks to Josephine Kimberling for recommending Uprinting.com for banners in one of her blog posts. I was so pleased when I unrolled my banners to find bright, beautiful, accurate colors. And their prices were hundreds of dollars less than other printing companies.)

I had heard about the wonderful camaraderie among Surtex exhibitors and it was so true. My next door neighbor Joan Chamberlain was delightful as were my across-the-aisle neighbors Jenny Foster and Kate Nelligan and Nidhi and Namrata from Blue Fish Designs (who travelled all the way from India to exhibit!). We shared lots of laughs and traded business tips and shared stories about our adventures in art licensing. For me, since I work alone in my studio everyday, these interactions were priceless. Thanks, ladies!

The only downside to this year’s show was that traffic seemed slower than in previous years. I think that had something to do with the huge jump in admission cost for people to walk the show. It’s hard to say whether there were fewer manufacturers as well. Admission remains free for manufacturers but with far fewer artists exhibiting this year I worry that the show is in decline, as some have suggested. I guess only time will tell. With travel costs ever-increasing and art directors’ inboxes stuffed daily with pitches from increasing numbers of artists getting into licensing, Surtex may become obsolete. Maybe there’s less of a need to travel if the artwork is coming right to you via email.

I hope that doesn’t happen because there really isn’t any other opportunity like it to gather as an industry and connect face-to-face with peers and customers. The internet and email will never replace that kind of communication.

So here’s to Surtex 2016! Will you be in New York next May?

Here's the booth awaiting transformation

Before: the booth awaiting transformation

After: With the help of my sister Sue. What a difference a couple hours makes!

After: What a difference a couple hours makes! We’re ready to meet manufacturers. (That’s me with my sister Sue who came along to help. She was a godsend!)

The focal point of the booth was this display of bags and pillows I made to provide inspiration for manufacturers. I gave away three of the bags in a prize drawing.


The Sisterhood of Aisle 5! My neighbors and new friends. From left: Nidhi Wadhwa, Joan Chamberlain, Jenny Foster, Kate Nelligan and me.

The Sisterhood of Aisle 5! My neighbors and new friends. From left: Nidhi Wadhwa, Joan Chamberlain, Jenny Foster, Kate Nelligan and me.



Surtex 2015

I’m pleased to announce I’m exhibiting at Surtex this year, the largest art licensing trade show in the country. It will take place May 17-19 at the Javits Center in New York.

I am really looking forward to this event. I walked the show the last two years and it’s a mind-blowing collection of amazing talent. I can’t wait for the opportunity to meet some of the artists whose work I’ve come to admire in the last couple years and excited to show off my own wares to the art directors and manufacturers who’ll be attending the show. Right now I’m busy designing banners, postcards, press kits, etc for the show and will be producing a number of product samples (like hand bags and pillows) to serve as inspiration for manufacturers. These samples will be given away at the end of the show, so if you’re going to Surtex, make sure to stop by booth #550 to drop your business card into the box for a chance to win one of them!

If you're going to Surtex, stop by and say hello and get a chance to win a fabulous handbag or pillow!

If you’re going to Surtex, stop by and say hello and enter to win a fabulous Kris Ruff handbag or pillow!

Rug Samples Arrived!

I got my samples of the area rugs last week and they’re wonderful. The quality is really nice, very thick, 100% wool. It’s great to have a new rug for our dining room. I was a little worried about such a big print in a small room but I think it actually makes the room feel bigger, more expansive. I’m digging’ it.

Nova Rug for Loloi

Nova Rug for Loloi

Area Rugs

I just received this poster from the manufacturer of my new line of licensed area rugs! Yay! These rugs have been in the works for more than a year so I’m excited they’ll be in stores in a just a few more weeks.


New Mugs!

I’m pleased to introduce a new line of coffee and travel mugs designed for Housewares International’s Blue Harbor Collection. I love how these mugs turned out! I think you will too. There are eight sets in all with lots of wonderful colors for each set. You can find them at HomeGoods and TJ Maxx stores. (Post a photo if you see them in a store near you!)mugs_slider

Flowers in Abundance

I’ve had a number of requests for floral designs lately. Maybe it has do with the brutal winter we’re having — I know I’m ready to start thinking about spring. I haven’t done alot of florals in the past so this has been an interesting challenge. It’s not that I don’t like florals, on the contrary. But since florals are such a popular and enduring theme for artists and designers I just wasn’t sure what I could bring to the party. But once I got going I had a lot of fun working with flowers. Here’s a sampling of what I’ve been working on.

(All products shown are mock-ups. Artwork is available for licensing.)

Cutting Garden by Kris Ruff-blog

Wild Flowers by Kris Ruff-blogPoppies by Kris Ruff-blogLazy Daisy by Kris Ruff-Blog