November 2006- My First Cover
The original photo on the right.

My name is Dawn Emerson and I was brought into the Bears&Buds Webzine world quite unexpectedly in October of 2006.

Valerie Rogers and Neysa Phillipi were conceiving of a new look for the Bears&Buds pages; turning it from a regular web site into the concept of being more like an online magazine.

In order to do that, they wanted the opening page to look like a printed magazine cover.

Right around the time they were conceptualizing the changes, Valerie produced a teddy bear show in Louisville and I decided to take some pictures of Jacquie Pollitt's (of Threadbears, Professional Artist Member of Bears&Buds) bears, as she was scheduled to be the featured artist of the upcoming month.

I found that in taking the pictures, I could conceptualize for myself how I would want the cover to look. In the future, I would not have the liberty of taking this step myself.

I was relatively new to working with the digital art software I would use to make the cover, but I was very pleased with the original overall look of creating the cover. So were Valerie and Neysa. They just had one little suggestion. Could I use the software to make another picture showing the magazine laying  flat on a table? I looked at them like they were crazy and proclaimed, "That's nuts!"  Didn't they know that I really didn't know how to use this software?

I spent hours working with the features of the software and low and behold, I could do it. Surprisingly to me, the finished picture looked like the magazine was actually sitting on the coffee table with other magazines, no less.

The following month, our friend Jan Cuming (of Jinglebears, Professional Artist Member of Bears&Buds) was in town and we decided to feature her for the December 2006 issue. I took literally hundreds of pictures of her bears and gollies in order to find the perfect combination for the vision I had. I wanted to somehow put the creations into a snow globe. I looked high and low for a piece of snow globe clip art but I couldn't find one. Finally I went to the store and managed to find a real snow globe in which I could add my own pictures to. It probably would have been easier for me just to take one of the many pictures I’d already taken and insert it into the actual snow globe, photographed it and be done with it, but that didn't seem very challenging and probably wouldn't give me the look I envisioned.

So using the software, I created layer upon layer of images in order try to create the illusion of bears in a snow globe. Then I skewed text to make it seem like it was floating inside the snow globe. Of course, looking back on it, I would change and modify a million aspects, but for the time, and my very limited knowledge of graphic arts, I found myself pretty surprised with the outcome.

The following year, I would stretch my graphic wings, scour the internet for clip art and discover helpful digital brushes and software, even adding a pen tablet (replacing the mouse) which became my new best friend.

The most challenging part of creating the digital covers would be that I would have to wait until the artists submitted their creations before I would start. I was always hoping that we would receive pictures that would fit into the concept I had churning around in my mind for each month. Amazingly, we always seemed to receive a picture that would either seamlessly flow into that concept, or that would inspire a new concept.

Thankfully, software became available each month and I was able to take a concept and see it through to fruition. Most covers take about a week to fully create and tweak. I always consult with Valerie to be sure that it looks OK and see if any technical changes need to be made.

I quit consulting my family because they just generally look at the covers and say, "Oh, that's nice!" not knowing all the effort that went into creating it. They hardly ever saw the before and after in order to see all the changes that were made. Sometimes the changes to the original picture are subtle; like when we do a close-up face on the cover. It may not seem like too much was done, but perhaps the close-up didn't show the completion of a flower or the background wasn't big enough to shift the image around, so additional pieces were added to finish the piece and make it fit. 

I think my favorites are the covers that incorporated a totally new creative concept for me. Originally it started with Bears&Buds birthday issues in March 2007. In the beginning, I used balloons which had various bears digitally added to them, which was a lot of work, but turned out great for the time.

Then the April issue of 2009 I decorated eggs with teddy bears and designs and finally, this past December, I made the ornaments from all the 2009 issues. It was very time consuming and I doubt that anyone may even have given it a second thought, but it was a big source of pride for me to showcase all the previous issue covers.

Originally we placed the faux magazine into opening pages that later became moving pictures, or .gif's, but those took so much time and used a lot of web site storage that we later transitioned them out. Around the same time, we started working on concepts with the artist's banners; incorporating pictures of the artists themselves with their bears. These would sometimes be as complex as the covers and then the index page banners made a transition of their own as well.

I am so proud to be a part of Bears&Buds and nothing gives me more satisfaction than to know that the artist that I have created a cover for or a banner for their page, likes the concept and is pleased with the outcome.

Everyone likes their art to be appreciated, whether they create it digitally or bring to life fuzzy characters from their imagination with mohair and thread. There is a whole world of creativity within the pages of Bears&Buds and every part of it is created with love and the desire to show you how wonderful the world of Teddy Bears truly is.

I hope that you'll find the fun and imagination within the pages of Bears&Buds and know that it is only here if you come out to play, whether you are the artist creating the masterpieces or the collector who gives a loving home to these masterpieces. Come join us on our journey into this magnificent world of fun, fur and fantasy. We've got a lot to share and there isn't anyone we'd rather share it with than with you!



This graphic brought a lot of emails from collectors wanting the paper printed copies of Bears&Buds which is only an online monthly publication.

Snow globe with Jan's bears inside.

Balloons fill with submitted photos used
in the What's New Section.

Digitally painted Easter eggs.

Ornaments decorated with each cover


In each of the examples shown, you'll find the original photo on the right with the completed cover on the left.

Random samples of the covers. See all the covers by clicking on the links below.
In the October 2007 issue I created this collage GIF which includes all the runners-up in
the 2007 URSA Major Awards Competition, as if they are waiting for the awards announcement!
"The artistic mind knows no boundaries." Author Unknown

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