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Interview with Randy Lotowycz

Randall Lotowycz is an obsessive author who read his first DC comic—Superman #75—at age 11, has seen every DC movie on opening day, and had to build a custom bed frame to fit his dozens of crates of comic books. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

You can enter to win the Darts 2013 Wall Calendar autographed by Randy Lotowycz in our 30 Days of Giveaways contest! We have several other great prizes to give away in November as well.

How did you come up with the concept for a dartboard calendar?
Funny story, actually. At the time, I worked in the editorial department and it was part of my job to come up with new calendar ideas, which we’d have to present during weekly editorial meetings on Wednesdays. I prepared as I usually did, coming up with ideas at the last minute while riding the subway to work. I wanted to do something interactive, because I really hadn’t seen much of that with wall calendars, and the idea of darts jumped out. So when I was in the meeting, I started with a clever/obnoxious play on words, saying “I’ve got a wall calendar idea. I’m just going to throw it out there. If it sticks, it sticks…” and presented the calendar. The pitch was well-received, but the group then asked, “How do the magnetic darts stick?” I replied by saying we’d include a metal sheet in calendar. No one thought we’d be able to do it with manufacturing costs, but somehow our fantastic production department made it work.

Which month is your favorite board from the 2013 calendar?
I’d say Pinball in January (that’s not to say the boards go downhill after that). I work with a wonderful designer, John Passineau, whose designs have made the calendar what it is. He’s indispensible to the calendar. Pinball is one of those times where I’ve come up with a crazy idea but he makes it work.

Other than playing darts, how do you like to spend your free time?
Reading comics, watching horror movies, running in Prospect Park, volunteering at a local creative writing and tutoring center. I try to keep busy.

You are also known for the DC Comics Super Heroes and Villains Fandex. Who is you favorite hero/villain?
Superman, of course! I’ve even got a pretty ridiculous and large tattoo of Superman and Lois Lane on my arm, which was done to celebrate finishing the Fandex.

What characters, preferably from different comics, would you like to see fight one another? Who would win?
I’ll resist the urge to be snotty and ask “why do they have to fight? Can’t they just once team-up and try to make the world a better place?”
I’d like to see Superman and Archie fight. Perhaps Archie was infected by some sort of alien virus that drove him crazy and gave him super strength, or maybe Archie was being too
much of a jerk to Betty and Veronica, and Superman had to step in. But I’d still like to see them settle their dispute over a game of chess and a few cups of hot chocolate. Either way, Superman would win, because he’s Superman.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
I’m going with invisibility, and not just for its seedier perks. Observation is powerful tool for an author, but as soon as you’re present to observe, your presence is already affecting the moment. To be invisible, to take yourself out of a moment, you can experience things you never would otherwise.

If you had said superpower for one day, how would you spend that day?
I’d watch people. And, I swear, I’m not trying to be creepy. I’d simply like to observe people in their everyday lives, like 1000s of personal and mostly likely mundane documentaries.

What is your next big goal for your life?
Getting my novel published.

If you had to do anything else, what would it be?
Had to? Like an earnest desire to do something? Or being held at gunpoint? Either way, I guess I’d want to start or work for a non-profit organization involved with literacy and children’s education.

What one calendar, other than yours, could you not get through the year without?
Probably Pocket Pigs, because it features adorable and tiny pigs! The only way it could be better is if the pigs were wearing proper evening wear. Hmmm…  now I need to attend another editorial meeting.

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Interview with Jennifer Holland

Jennifer Holland is a senior writer for National Geographic magazine, specializing in science and natural history. She lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, with her husband, two dogs, and dozens of snakes and geckos; none of whom, to her dismay, have crossed the species barrier to befriend the others.

You can enter to win the 2013 Unlikely Friendships Wall Calendar autographed by Jennifer Holland in our 30 Days of Giveaways contest! We have several other great prizes to give away in November as well.

What is your definition of friendship?
Friendship is a relationship in which you can be yourself—sing off key, cry openly, watch bad reality television, compare intimate notes. A friend is allowed to tell you that you’re being a jerk and expected to tell you that you have spinach in your teeth.

Where did you get your inspiration for this project?
My love for animals is in my DNA; my mother was a huge fan of every little critter (minus roaches) and I’m now carrying that torch. This particular project just made sense: sweet animal stories and adorable photos make people happy. People pass animal pictures and videos on the Web probably more than anything else. It’s a hard world out there…we all need a little reprieve.

What is you unlikeliest friendship?
Wow, hard question!!  I guess I’d have to say the one with my Mom. She passed away about 7 years ago but our friendship has continued in a certain way…I “talk” to her in my head all the time, asking her for advice or expressing my worries and frustrations. I’m not religious or anything, but it’s comforting to pretend she’s listening.

How do you select which images should be included and how do you come up with the stories?
I look for the stories everywhere—and ask friends and family to clue me in if they hear of something. I contact wildlife and rescue centers, zoos, any facility where unlikely friendships might occur.  I scour the Web, where so many stories make rounds. As for images, we simply look for the very best, sweetest, most intimate moments we can find.

What is your favorite story you have written for an image so far? Why?
Hard to pick a true favorite but I loved the story of the cat and the iguana. Iguanas aren’t really that nice. So to see one that liked having its face licked by a cat, that was hard to beat. I also loved the dog-cheetah story because of the conservation aspect. (Dogs are trained in Namibia to protect cheetahs from farmers by scaring the cats away. But in captivity here in the States, the same kinds of dogs help keep cheetahs calm.)

What is your favorite photograph from the 2013 Wall Calendar?
That cover photo, of the young chimp with the white tiger cub, is amazing. If ever animals looked to be smiling and full of joy, that’s the moment!

What is your favorite wild animal? Domestic animal?
I wouldn’t dare choose favorites and disappoint all the others! But I can say that I love octopi for their amazing smarts and behaviors. They’re certainly not cute and furry, but I think they’re loveable anyway. I also have a special place in my heart for wolves, dolphins, and underappreciated slow lorises (tiny primates). As for domestic animals, I’m definitely a dog person. I have three of them and my life is chaos as a result. Wouldn’t have it any other way (unless I had room for 4).

What is your next big goal for your life?
I’m working on 2 books and an article at the moment. If I can get all three projects done on deadline without imploding, that would be a big step forward.

If you had to do anything else, what would it be?
Not surprisingly, I might want to run a wildlife rescue center. Or travel the world in search of emerging artists. Or just spend my days antiquing in small towns.

What one calendar, other than yours, could you not get through the year without?
The one on my phone. I never know what day or date it is but my phone always knows.

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Interview with Cynthia Hart

Cynthia Hart is a renowned designer and artist.

Her designs have been licensed to fragrance, gift, stationery, and home furnishing companies. She is the author of several books, both for children and adults, and has served on the Board of Directors of The Ephemera Society of America. Hart is also the owner and curator of The Cynthia Hart Collection of Cherished Images, an archive of over 40,000 full color images and photographs.

You can enter to win the 2013 Victoriana Wall Calendar autographed by Cynthia Hart in our 30 Days of Giveaways contest! We have several other great prizes to give away in November as well.

When did you first know you wanted to be an artist?
Making art has been a part of my life since I was 4 or 5, but thinking like an artist started with photography when I was about 12 years old.

What were some of your first projects?
When I was in grade school I made an entire miniature circus out of clay. Professionally, one of the earlier things I designed were craft kits for Woman’s Day magazine to sell to their readers.

What is the strangest product your art has been used for?
The strangest product was probably woven cotton throws–because they could only be woven in a few colors and my work is normally over-the-top multi-colored.

Where do you find inspiration?
Usually the inspiration for a collage is one spectacular piece of antique paper ephemera.

Do you collect things you think you may use in your art someday, or do you seek out certain objects once you start a project?
I constantly collect items for my collages.

Has this always been your style or has it evolved through the years?
This is one style that I love to work in, but I have others.

What is your favorite month from the 2013 Victoriana Wall Calendar?
July and November are my very very most favorites, but 2013 is called the “Classic Edition” because it is made up entirely of my favorite images from past years. 

What is your next big goal for your life?
Simplify life and have more fun.

If you had to do anything else, what would it be?
Arrange flowers and write more books.

What one calendar, other than yours, could you not get through the year without?
I love David Schiller’s “Guitars” Calendar–it is beautiful and fabulous for giving as gifts.


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Patrick Kinkade Highlighting Process

Comment on this post for a chance to win an autographed paint palette from Patrick Kinkade!

After our interview with Patrick Kinkade, he took some time to highlight one of his brother Thomas’ paintings from the Disney Dreams Collection. He talks a little about the process of highlighting and the partnership with Disney. We have also pointed out a few details you might not be able to see in the video. Enjoy!




The foreground of the painting really tells the beginning of the story. The setting is London, and Wendy, John, and Michael Darling are flying off with Peter Pan to begin their adventure.







The story continues in the top left corner of the painting. You can see the enchanted island of Never Land and the Lost Boys, Peter Pan’s crew, take shape in the clouds.







The top right corner picks up with Captain Hook and Mr. Smee who cause problems for the Darling family and Peter Pan and his gang. You can also see the crocodile, always eager to get his teeth on Captain Hook’s other hand.



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The Start of Thomas Kinkade

Comment on this post for a chance to win an autographed paint palette from Patrick Kinkade!

Thomas Kinkade was born on January 19, 1958 in the foothills of the Sierra Mountains in Placerville, California. At the age of five, Kinkade’s parents divorced, and he recalls being one of the only single-parent families in his small town.  He grew up living modestly, incapable of affording some of the simple pleasures that other families in town were accustomed to.

Kinkade began drawing at the tender age of four, and his talent for the arts was noticed early on. His mother always had copies of The Saturday Evening Post lying around, and he credits Norman Rockwell as one of his primary inspirations. At 16, he took on an apprenticeship under the instruction of artist Glen Wessels where he worked exclusively with oil paintings. Kinkade attended the University of California at Berkeley and Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California to further his study of art.

After graduation, Kinkade and James Gurney, a friend and fellow artist from college, embarked on a cross-country boxcar trip from California to New York. Along the way, the two artists created several sketches of expanses of the American landscape they witnessed on their journey. Once they arrived in New York, Kinkade and Gurney took their sketches to Norman Rockwell’s publisher Wapton Guptill, who hired them on the spot to create a book for artists about sketching.  Two years later in 1982, Guptill published “The Artist’s Guide to Sketching.”

The success of the book secured both Thomas Kinkade and James Gurney a job with Ralph Bakshi Studios producing background art for “Fire and Ice”, an animated feature film. Kinkade credits this work experience with having an invaluable effect on the way he incorporates light into his paintings.

Who influenced you when you were young?


Sources: Wikipedia, Art by Thomas Kinkade

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Patrick Kinkade Interview

Patrick took some time to sit down and talk with us about his brother Thomas and how his art lives on.

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Honey Badger Grand Prize Giveaway Winner!

Our Grand Prize winner is Amy Lineburg with her correct answer of Charlie Sheen!

Enjoy the rest of our interview with Randall, the voice of the Honey Badger, as he talks about his experiences with real Honey Badgers and what animal he would be!

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Susan Winget

Susan Winget graduated from UNC at Chapel Hill with a fine arts degree and got a job painting watercolors for furniture stores, galleries, and gift shops. After having children, Winget began selling her artwork from home. In 1982 alone, she sold and shipped 9,000 watercolor paintings! Since she first began licensing her artwork in 1987, her business has grown substantially. Winget’s artwork now appears on a variety of products, including calendars, stationery, fabric, dinnerware, and other home décor and giftware items produced by Lang and a variety of other manufacturers.

Since 1987, Susan Winget’s heart-warming artwork has filled many homes with love, joy, and nature through her partnership with Lang Graphics, which has made the award-winning watercolorist’s work accessible to everyone through their high quality calendars.

Winget’s passion for country life, nature, and traditional values in rural America is evident in her work. Her versatile subjects and themes include beautifully captured wildlife, vibrant florals, rich wine themes, and simple scenes of classic symbols of America. Constantly surrounded by nature on her North Carolina farm, Winget never fails to find the inspiration to create artwork that is fresh and accessible while maintaining her signature style.

Check out the selection of Susan Winget Calendars!

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In Memory of Thomas Kinkade

Thomas Kinkade died suddenly late Friday night at his home in California at age 54. Family spokesman David Satterfield said the death was unexpected, but appeared to be of natural causes.

The Painter of Light was a devout Christian and wanted to make people happy with his work. His paintings of churches, lighthouses, cottages, and gardens can be found in an estimated 1 of every 20 homes in America.

Kinkade’s paintings have been reproduced on everything from posters, cards, and calendars to plates and carousels. He truly brought light to others with his works and will be missed.

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What do you love about Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell’s art? Tell Us and Win an autographed 2012 Calendar!

Tell Us! It can be anything from liking the colors they use to appreciating their ability to capture the human form in different Fantasy or Futuristic settings. It’s up to you! Each week starting 1-27-12 and ending 3-9-12 we’ll select a winner who will receive their very own autographed Boris Vallejo & Julie Bell’s Fantasy 2012 Wall Calendar!

How do I enter?

1. Leave a comment on this blog post starting today.


2. Write a review of the Boris Vallejo & Julie Bell’s Fantasy 2012 Wall Calendar and share! If you share a photo and/or video with your review you’ll earn additional entries into the contest! – Go to product page to post your review now: (Maximum of 3 entries per review)


3. Tell others about this giveaway by tweeting this: Win an autographed Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell Calendar from #BVJB2012

That’s it! (Contest ends Friday March 9, 2012)

On Monday of each week we will select a winner at random and notify you by email. It’s just that easy, so post here, review the calendar, and tweet about this contest!

Contest Rules a.k.a. “the fine print” -> Click here to read

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