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Behind the Artwork: Comfortably Excluded Podcast

Some of the best ideas start with two friends chatting over a drink with no real intentions. That was the case for Montyy and I one night as she casually mentioned she was going to start a podcast. While she was telling me the concept I could see the passion and fire in her eyes, I knew I had to be involved! Thus the beautiful relationship we have now!

Title artwork in progress


The Comfortably Excluded podcast is hosted by Montyy and her different guest co-host. The podcast is a result of Montyy claiming her own density and making a voice for herself! It is meant to make people smile, think, and laugh. What really drew me to the project is Montyys definition of the title, Comfrotably Excluded. Though some may think that the phrase is referring to race (it is) but it is much bigger than that. It is applies to anyone who stands out from a crowd, be it in their industry, lifestyle, music or fashion; you have to own it and go through life with confidence no matter what. That describes me in multiple of aspects of my life and I know their are others out their that will connect with this message as well.


I met with Montyy multiple times before I started the artwork. I like to get a full idea of what a client's wants, needs and aesthetic preferences. After she gave me a full run down of what she was looking for, I pitched to her the ideas I had (with sketches). We bounced ideas back and forth till we came to a compromise in the style of design of the illustrations. It was a pretty easy preliminary stage because we have very similar taste and work together well. I collected my references by photographing Montyy while out in downtown Denver, which was a blast! It helps that I also love playing photographer!

Thumbnail sketchs


We decided on a series of illustrations focused on Montyy in popular/high-traffic places in downtown Denver. It was not very shocking that we found ourselves as the only black women in all of the areas we visited, which made the imagery of being comfortably excluded more apparent. The illustrations will show her in everyday scenes being still while everyone is going around her. My plan to make her stand out from the background is to use color, pose, and composition (her in relation to the subjects around her).

Thumbnail sketchs


I start every illustration with thumbnails in my sketchbook. Those are small rough drawing focusing on subject, composition etc. Sometimes I draw a ton, up to 50, or I only do a handful like in this case. Since I was working from photographs that I took of her on location, I didn’t really need to do a plethora of thumbnails.

Refined thumbnail of title image

Hand written font for the title

The title image focuses on her sitting alone in Union station. She was surrounded by travelers and locals hanging out and enjoying life. I have her centered in the middle with enough negative space around her that I would be able to fit the title above her. The title is hand drawn, separately, and was added afterwards by using Adobe Photoshop. I could have made this font in Adobe Illustrator but I just love the look of hand drawn, in my opinion, digital just is not the same. I have actually started the process of turning this lettering into a font. It will make producing the episode artwork faster since I will be using the same lettering for each title.

Ink drawing of coffee shop scene

Once I am pleased with the thumbnails I move on to final piece. Normally I would draw my image on large paper, trace it on to transfer paper, then transfer the drawing to the fancy watercolor paper. Taking these steps will ensure that you don’t ruin your watercolor paper with eraser marks. It also allows you to have “insurance” for your drawing just In case you need to start the painting over. I did not use that process for this project because I am working towards finding my own drawing style that is realistic but slightly stylized.

Ink drawing of 16th street mall scene


I am forcing myself to use my eraser less and be more confident with my drawing. I use a HB pencil for the under drawing, then I go over my faint pencil drawing with my Micron pens (.005 and .01) and then erase the pencil marks. I’m a big fan of the ink stage. It is really relaxing for me and sets the whole foundation for the illustration. I will then move on to the painting stage. I use Windsor and Newton watercolor paints and a array of brushes. Watercolor takes a lot of patience, I work in a lot of layers and i try not to overwork the painting. It is hard to know when to stop painting and declare an artwork finished but overtime you will learn when to put the brush down before you ruin it! While I paint I tend to listen to creative podcasts or listen to music I can loudly sing along to. I rarely watch tv/movies because it is distracting and slows down my productivity.

16th street mall in progress


The other two illustrated scenes feature Montyy on 16th st mall and sitting in a busy coffee shop. I kept the colors quite muted and cohesive among the three illustrations and kept the forms quite simple. Montyy will be able to use these illustrations on the website, print, and social media platforms!


The concept behind the episode artwork is simplicity. We wanted it to be a bold clean illustration to draw in the eye and engage browsers to click a find more. Each episode will be titled after a significant characteristic of the guest co-host. I am actually the guest co-host on this episode and it was SO MUCH FUN! Since the episode is about me, I illustrated a tattoo gun (you have to listen to find out the story behind it) with ink and watercolor. The title was drawn separately, then combined with the illustration in Adobe Photoshop!

The first episode of Comfortably Excluded podcast aired this past weekend (on all platforms that stream podcast). I have never been a guest on a podcast before and I was quite nervous because I am not a confident speaker but we had a good time and I think the end result is great! There are lots of laughs and some strong language so brace yourself! If you give it a listen please let me know what you think! We would love it if you left a comment or a rating to help the podcast gain more attention and make us feel good! (click the episode artwork below for a direct link to listen!)

Overall I am very pleased with the work I produced thus far for this podcast. I have never done anything like this before and I am glad I accepted the challenge! It has really been a pleasant experience working with Montyy and has brought me a lot of motivation to keep going! I want you to know that if you have an idea, go out and grab it! Find folks that are just as passionate and work together! Collaborative projects are an awesome way to spark creativity and build your portfolio!

As always thank you for reading


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