January 6, 2011

Meet "My Friend Ronnie"

(c) My Friend Ronnie

I recently caught up with my friend Ronnie. No, really!!! “My Friend Ronnie,” Illustrator and Designer of all kinds of products, including figurines, greeting cards, giftware and other assorted products. Ronnie Walter is really a friend of mine. So, I asked her to do an interview for Creative Chicks Cafe, and she graciously accepted. I thought that her experience and insight would be inspiring and beneficial to women artists of all ages. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed talking with Ronnie.

Kate: Tell me a little about your background. 

Ronnie: I was one of those “creative kids” blessed to be born into a family who supported and enjoyed creative pursuits. I am one of seven sisters and a lot of our leisure time was spent drawing and making things. Also, we were all big readers and I think that contributed to my love for writing. And we were funny.

Kate: Where do you live?
Ronnie: I live in Cape Coral Florida with my husband Jim Marcotte and our big mutt, Eddie.

Kate: What type of artwork do you do?

(c) My Friend Ronnie
Ronnie: I am an illustrator and over the course of my career I’ve designed all kinds of products including greeting cards, gift bags, figurines, tabletop and giftware. I am the creator of My Friend Ronnie®, a humor collection aimed at women who are living in the “thick of it”. My drawing and writing reflect the daily life with kids, spouses, work, beauty and women’s friendships---in ways that that help us laugh at the crazy life modern women lead. So far, My Friend Ronnie ® has been licensed for greeting cards, figurines, magnets, and wine and martini glasses. We also had a collection of plaques in 250 Macy’s stores for Christmas 2010. A wall and appointment calendar will be introduced in 2012 and we have lots more products in the works.

Kate: Describe your artist style.

Ronnie: I am basically a cartoonist and writer. I work in gouache (as an transparent medium) with ink and overlay.All my type is hand drawn although we just recently had a font made of my handwriting.  We then scan the original writing and from there we design products for presentations for a variety of manufacturers. 

Kate: When did you first discover the artist in you?

Ronnie: I always wanted to be an artist---from the time I could pick up a crayon I knew the magic that could happen. I loved to draw them and I still love to draw every day.

Kate: Where did you study?

(c) My Friend Ronnie
Ronnie: I was fortunate to have great art teachers in Jr. High and High school who recognized my talents and nurtured them. I attended the Columbus College of Art and Design for 2 years where I majored in Illustration. I received my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from St. Cloud State University in Minnesota.

Kate: Where do you get your inspiration?

Ronnie: Well, since I am a professional artist, deriving all my income from my artwork, I don’t have the luxury of sitting back and waiting for inspiration to hit. Inspiration for me happens by observing the world around me, keeping up with popular culture and interpreting what’s going on “out there” in a humorous way that makes sense on products.

Kate: How do you come up with your ideas?

(c) My Friend Ronnie
Ronnie: I read an interview with the writer Mary Higgins Clark and when asked this question, she said she subscribed to the A.I.C principle---Ass in Chair! In other words, Ideas happen when you work on ideas! Actually, I’m pretty formulaic when it comes to generating ideas. I usually start with a concept, something like friendship, motherhood, a life event or holiday. Then I start to brainstorm what that would look like with my voice and my art style. Usually I start with the writing first and then start sketching the visuals. Often other ideas come to me while I’m working so I jot those down and keep a file for future projects. I’m a tiny bit obsessive so idea generation has never been a problem for me!

Kate: What skills have you found to be successful?

Ronnie: Organization—I’ve always been a list maker, so I usually follow through pretty well on getting things done.
Communication—it’s very important to be able to express yourself clearly to others.
Staying on top of the industry---know who’s who, networking, manufacturing innovations, product design and keeping up with design trends.

Kate: How often do you work?

Ronnie: Ummm...All the time really! Although I’m not a workaholic, I’m always keenly aware of interesting visuals and finding the funny in daily life. Sometimes it’s hard to turn it off! Generally I spend time in the studio each day because I have ongoing projects that need my attention and well, I like spending my time this way! I also often sketch while I’m watching TV.

Kate: Where do you show your work?
Ronnie: Since all of my work is licensed onto a variety of products, I either show at or attend several trade shows each year. Jim and I attend the Atlanta Gift show twice a year to meet with current and potential clients. We exhibit at the Licensing Expo in Las Vegas and Surtex in New York. You can catch us on our  website (http://www.myfriendronnie.com/) where potential clients can see my work. I also have a blog to announce new partners and products. And of course, My Friend Ronnie has a fan page on Facebook! 

We are also very excited to have recently signed with a branding agency (Lisa Marks and Associates) to promote My Friend Ronnie ® in publishing, media, apparel and other categories.

(c) My Friend Ronnie
Ronnie believes in the power of women supporting each other, and the power that results in women getting together. It is through Ronnie’s creative spirit that our world is brighter place. . .

“Life should be enjoyed and a belly laugh is better than a tummy tuck any day!” (Well, most days, anyway…) ----Ronnie Walter

All images within this interview are protected under copyright laws and cannot be downloaded, copied or used for any purpose without permission from Ronnie Walter or Two Town Studios, Inc.

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