Postcard Progress

A couple snippets of new Gilmore Girls postcards that are in the works. Feel free to guess the quotes :)


As always, you can find sketches of projects that are in-progress on my sketchbook Tumblr here.


The Boyfriend App: Free Wallpaper Pattern

The Boyfriend App: A Free Pattern by She Can Lift a Horse

In preparation for the release of her debut YA title, The Boyfriend App (out from HarperCollins at the end of this month), I’ve been helping author Katie Sise spruce up her social media outlets with some Boyfriend App inspired art. One such project included designing a pattern that could be used on her Twitter page, and doubles as a free download; a techy tie-in for readers to decorate their own social media, phones, desktops, and tablets with.

The pattern is composed of illustrations that represent key characters: hunter green Converse for shy, sweet Aidan, the Brad Pitt of computer nerds; designer flats for fashion blogger Lindsay; main protagonist Audrey’s lucky rabbit’s foot; the white glove of Nigit Gurung, coke-bottle-glasses-wearing dork turned Michael Jackson fashion plate. Fun to read, fun to draw.

The Boyfriend App: A Free Pattern by She Can Lift a Horse

Grab a wallpaper for yourself. The tile is available in three sizes; small, medium, and large. To use it on your desktop: right click, select “use image as desktop picture”. (if the image doesn’t tile by default, select “tile” from system preferences). Phone and tablet sizes are also listed. Enjoy! :)


Tiles: small | medium | large
iPad / iPad Mini
iPad Retina
iPhone 5 | iPhone 4 | iPhone

Madeline at Ten

I’ve been playing around with new portfolio and web hosting options, looking for something that will make updating less time consuming. In the meantime, updates to have hit the breaks, which means I haven’t shared much of the custom portraiture work I’ve been doing –which is actually the bulk of the work I do. So without further ado, here’s summa dat:

This portrait was drawn as a gift for a girl named Madeline on the occasion of her 10th birthday. Madeline I actually know (she’s my sister’s niece) so it was easier than usual to think of fun scenarios to draw and personal details to add (I’m told the first thing she noticed when she saw the print were the tiny panda bear earrings, which makes me so happy.) She loves animals and drawing and dark, creepy things. The shift in the color schemes from bubble gum pink to bold red and black is just another example of my tendency to draw in shades of pink regardless of the subject. She may be the ten year old girl, but that’s truly a reflection of me.

Here’s the completed 10″x10″ print, followed by my sketches.

Thanks to parents Sarah and Gabe for such a fun commission. I hope it’s something Maddy enjoys for years to come, potentially feels mortified by for only a brief period as a teenager, then finally comes to enjoy again. :)

Madeline | custom portrait by Nicole J. Wroblewski / She Can Lift a Horse

Madeline | custom portrait by Nicole J. Wroblewski / She Can Lift a Horse

Madeline | custom portrait by Nicole J. Wroblewski / She Can Lift a Horse

Madeline | custom portrait by Nicole J. Wroblewski / She Can Lift a Horse

Madeline | custom portrait sketches by Nicole J. Wroblewski / She Can Lift a Horse

Madeline | custom portrait sketches by Nicole J. Wroblewski / She Can Lift a Horse

The Tenth of May: Michelle + Kevin’s Vintage Movie Poster Inspired Wedding Invitation

Wedding season is nigh, so I’ve had a few wedding, save-the-date, and bridal shower designs on my plate in the last fews months. My sister Michelle and her fiancé Kevin are only about two months away from their Brooklyn nuptials and as all invites have been signed, sealed and delivered by yours truly already, I figure I can safely share them here now.

Kevin is a film-maker (his most recent short film, Every Word Handwritten made in collaboration with the Gaslight Anthem, recently premiered in NYC and on and Michelle and he share a love of all things old-timey, so we went with a vintage movie poster inspired design, with a reference to the food trucks that will be serving dinner at their reception (which does include a waffle truck. Mmmmm.)

I made a Pinterest board for movie poster inspiration. Casablanca was the strongest influence on the final layout and the image of Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine on a poster for The Apartment very clearly served as a point of reference for a small portrait of Michelle and Kevin at the center of the invitation and on the RSVP card. The NYC photograph with the Chrysler Building at the center was used with kind permission from Tom Fletcher. The couples portraits of Michelle and Kevin were all culled straight from Facebook and my own iPhoto gallery. Initially, I was just looking for photo references to draw from, but when I realized just how many shots they’ve taken with their heads pressed together since the beginning of their courtship four years ago, I thought it might be sweet to make a collage.

The Tenth of May: Wedding Invitations for Kevin + Michelle by She Can Lift a Horse

Below are sketches I sent them. Option D will see some action when it’s reformatted as a menu for their reception.

The Tenth of May: sketches for Michelle + Kevin's wedding invitations by She Can Lift a Horse

The silhouette, hearts, and text on the back and front of the invitation were printed with spot gloss over a matte finish to give them a bit of sheen, which isn’t super common for wedding invitations, but fits nicely with the movie poster theme.

The Tenth of May: Kevin + Michelle's wedding invitations by She Can Lift a Horse

In just ten days the wedding festivities kick off here in Michigan, with a bachelorette party and shower for Michelle and I will get to give my sister a hug for the first time since I last saw her at my own wedding, almost a year and a half ago. Eeeeee!

Wild Hearts and the Art of Making What I Make

I think I change my blog’s theme almost as frequently as I update with a post… which is my way of saying, I have a new layout. The old one was great for posting larger images, but the margins were never justified and it was starting to make me hate looking at my own blog. So here we go! Clean lines! I’m sure I’m kidding myself when I suggest a new look will make me a better, more regular blogger (like when you justify buying new clothes or notebooks or organizational supplies or even cleaning products that you don’t actually need to get a task done, wanting to believe that owning the right stuff will make accomplishing something easier)… but here I am, bloggin’ atcha. IT’S WORKING ALREADY.

More realistically, the thing that keeps from blogging is that I just don’t know what my internet voice is anymore. The days of carefree teenage LiveJournaling are well behind me, I haven’t mastered the art of the hilarious 140 character Tweet, most social media is more about hitting “like” than actually saying anything, and I worry that I’m a big mean jerk burning potential bridges whenever I post a negative book review on Good Reads. I just don’t feel comfortable. Am I supposed to only say something when I can say it happily or confidently? I want to be professional and attract peers and future clients, but I also want to talk about my art crushes, my art insecurities, kid lit and the latest episode of Bunheads.

So I’m going to tell you about this print I made and see how that feels. Behind-the-scenes process posts or confessionals are what I most appreciate from the blogs I follow, anyway.


So I recently added a new print to my shop. It’s called Wild Hearts, 1923 and it’s a bit larger (9×12 on 11×14 paper) and a bit shinier than the rest of my prints, and I’m really happy with it. The subject — Sonora Webster of high diving horse fame, introduced to me and many an 80’s child in the form of the Disney biopic Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken — is such a source of happy nostalgia and inspiration for me that I can’t help but be really pleased with it.

Wild Hearts, 1923 by Nicole J. Wroblewski | She Can Lift a Horse

At the very end of every month I (and usually mid-month as well), I take a break (usually at Java Hutt in downtown Ferndale, and usually a skim caramel latte) to check my progress against both my short annual list of bullet-pointed resolutions and a lengthier list of monthly to-do tasks and project ideas, and write a new one for the coming month. After I finish either patting myself on the back for all of my good work or, alternately, silently berating myself for a distinct lack of check marks on the pages before me, I get to brainstorming new ideas and making real quick, real crappy sketches. This is some of my best sketching, I think. For whatever reason, it’s when I feel most unfettered by self-awareness. I can draw real crap without worrying.

Here’s the crap that lead to the Wild Hearts final art, as Instagrammed:
Wild Hearts sketch

And here’s what it looked like while in progress:
Wild Hearts, work in progress

I struggled a bit to figure out how to present the image in a worthwhile way without adding a lot of other sideshow type details that would detract from my intended focus: the connection between Sonora and the little girl watching her. When I started looking at vintage circus posters for inspiration, the design came together.

One of the most important, maybe the most important thing I’ve learned over the course of my young freelancing career is this: I can only make things the way I make them. I’ve spent too much energy wishing I could be this artist or that, and feeling frustrated when my hands don’t make exactly what my head first pictured. Realizing that I can be inspired by something, but I can’t be that thing was a really positive, freeing thing. It means that I can embrace the (hopefully) unique way my brain is going to tackle a particular idea, and do my best take on it. In this case, it meant that I wasn’t going to make an authentic 1920’s Atlantic City travel poster, but I was going to make something that called one to mind in my own clean imagery and simple palette. Taking that approach let me take on a framing device and text art, design elements I normally write off as “not my forte”, and come up with something that both pleased me and looked like me.

Prints (and more) are available through me directly on Etsy, as well as on Society6.

Now how ’bout that Bunheads season finale, huh?

“I Love You, You Idiot” and Other Sweet Nothings

Fellow Gilmore Girls nerds (I know you are many), my illustrated Luke, Lorelai, and Rory postcards are now available in the print shop, with plenty of time for filling the backsides with drippy sweet nothings and mailing them to the loves/coffee-suppliers of your lives.

Non-fans, you can either skip to the bottom of this post or jump on board and educate yourself by watching the Rory-Dean make-up scene on YouTube. The choice is yours.

Gilmore Girls postcards by She Can Lift a Horse

The front side of both designs has spot gloss, which means the figures and text are shiny, and stand out from the solid background. Which makes it look FAN-cy.

"You're the Luke to My Lorelai" postcard by She Can Lift a Horse

Gilmore Girls postcards by She Can Lift a Horse

And in other Amy Sherman-Palladino-related news: I loved the winter premiere of Bunheads. I laughed, I got a bit misty-eyed, I puzzled at the strangely obvious plot holes that the writing team fails to notice in every single episode (who didn’t notice that TJ was packing up his magic act five seconds after announcing they had another show in an hour?)… This piece by Willa Paskin knows how I feel about this completely entertaining but perpetually flawed show better than I do.


AND OH YEAH, free shipping is available in my Society6 shop through midnight Sunday (01/13/13), by using this link. I’m actually digging the new throw pillow printing option, though I thought it would be lame initially. I guess home ownership does that to a gal. Gets her excited about throw pillows…

illustrated pillow covers by She Can Lift a Horse available at

90’s Revival Girl and It Girls throw pillow designs

Gee my lollipop is great

I’m excited to be celebrating my beautiful niece’s first birthday this afternoon. Here’s the party invitation I designed for her lollipop-themed shindig, with lyrics from one of my longest-loved songs, Lollipop, written by Ronald & Ruby… though I know and love the Chordettes version best. I remember singing it to myself as a kid.

4 x 6 glossy postcard

Thinking about submitting this as a Threadless kid’s tee or onesie… Yes, I’ve gone Threadless crazy, but why not?

FUN FACT: Heidi and I share a September 14th birthday. Happy birthday (again), Heidi Genevieve :)