I have a question to pose to fellow bloggers. Are you using your own imagery and photos for which you have obtained permission — or for which you have purchased rights — for illustrating your posts?

© Media General Inc./Mary Garner-Mitchell. Acrylic airbrush, Prisma colored pencils on paper

Quite a few of the interior design blogs in particular have me scratching my head in wonder today. What I’m seeing appears as though some bloggers are downloading photos from other sites or scanning images from shelter magazines, seldom with attribution accompanying the photo or within their post. While Facebook, Pinterest and the like have fostered chronic misuse of imagery, music and prose under the guise of “sharing,” this is truly nothing short of stealing. I’m an illustrator and married to a professional photographer, and neither of us would be exactly thrilled to see our images posted out of context from their original source, and without permission or some mutually agreed upon form of compensation. Coming from a former career in publication design, I understand “fair use.” But imagery that carries the blogger’s story line — for instance a collection of great ideas for a child’s room — is not fair use. What it is at best is cheating, as the unattributable images infer that the blogger is the author of the image and/or its content. This sort of blatant rip off of another’s creative’s work not only puts your blog in a bad light, it is an invitation to a lawsuit, particularly if you are soliciting and/or accepting advertising on your blog. Legitimate publications know better. Bloggers should, too.  And for goodness sake, when you have used another publication’s photo or some creative’s imagery, ask permission, pay if required, and by all means credit the source.

The courts haven’t caught up with online content relative to fair use and copyright (yet), but for those who want to do right by others, here is a simple primer on the unwritten rules of blogging see

Faking it

There’s an aspect to blogging that has me struggling today. Unlike journaling, the onus on the blogger is to write and post something entertaining for her followers, and not some narcissistic ramble — to be honest, humble and most of all offer up each post with a genuine sense of sharing. The secret to this medium, I believe, is finding the balance between expression and entertainment. My strength is certainly more weighted toward visuals,  so perhaps I need to focus on images and not fret so much with words.  Arguably, “A picture is worth a thousand” of them anyway,  so today’s post offers this “creature” from my 3-D (as in sculpture, not digital) archives. In time, I promise to supply more recent works, but as this blog is also another portfolio option, please indulge me as I upload the “business side” of my work from the past several years. I promise to mix it up over the course of the next few weeks with “current events!”

© Mary Garner-Mitchell

Applying a tan out of a bottle, while safer than sunbathing, is sorta like renting a Porsche for a few days, or borrowing a friend’s jewelry to go to a swank party. You eventually have to return to your old “pasty” self! To quote Kirk Cobain, “The worst crime is faking it.” Well, maybe the exception is tanning, but for most everything else, so true! © Mary Garner-Mitchell

” … a few of my favorite things “

Getting my hands dirty and making “things” …. namely growing flowers and creating dimensional art. The “brass butterfly,” photographed by John Hood, and styled by yours truly was created from embossing metal, Sculpey and wire. The fuzz on the body of the butterfly is shavings from a black pipe cleaner. A trip to the Flower Market in Richmond and “Voila!” — the visual for an antihystimine advertisement was born!

© Mary Garner-Mitchell / Photo by Jonathan Hood

“… In Hanover, it’s an art.”

Hanover County, Virginia is famous for its tomatoes. This year, if the weather keeps up, we’re expecting a bumper crop. The anticipation of these beauties coming in is almost more than I can bear at times, especially when my vines are just up and coming. Some hot days and warm nights will bring them along soon enough though. Then bring on the mayonnaise, bread and lettuce! (Bacon is optional … actually so is the mayo, lettuce and bread.)

“Botanically, it’s a berry. In Hanover, it’s an art.”

Blow-up Girl

No, it’s not an illustration of a lonely guy’s cheap date!  This piece came about after too many hours in my former attic office/studio at the house. It is unfinished in that various “darts” raining down were intended (assignments, clients, dial-up, dirty dishes, laundry, a husband who preferred I not work at all hours, etc.), threatening to send this girl spiraling into oblivion.  It basically expressed a nagging need to find real work space — one with high-speed internet no less — in town. Gosh, it’s been almost seven years ago that I moved (to 104 N. Railroad Avenue, Suite C, Ashland VA 23005).

© 2oo7 Mary Garner-Mitchell

(Rendered in Photoshop, with airbrush tool.)

New frontier …

© Mary Garner-Mitchell. “Girl” of the Robitussin family created for a trade publication advertisement in 1990s.

I remember back in 1985 when I was told I had to start using a Mac to create my newspaper layouts, I threw a fit! When I think back on that tiny screen, the machine’s limited memory, the fits and starts of embracing the new technology I was being force-fed, I have to laugh.  A LARGE lesson was learned and that being to embrace change. So, here I am, embracing yet another change in how I do my work … actually, how I “show” my work.  For almost three years I have neglected my website (, due to my being too busy to keep it current, and too busy keeping up with technology changes in print design to embrace, much less learn html.  As it turns out, technology has met me halfway in the blog-o-sphere!  So here I go.  Have patience while I teach this medium to myself… much the same way I learned most aspects of my profession.

But, this blog will not only be about “my work.”  I will be creating categories for both my graphic design projects and illustration for certain, but I will also be posting creative endeavors around the house and garden.  Stay tuned!