Rescue Sirens ♥ Merbella Studios, Inc. June 20, 2017 18:05

From Jess: 

I've mentioned before how important it is to me to support people and small businesses that I believe in, whether that's by purchasing their products, sharing information about their business, or both! Today, I wanted to shine a spotlight on a company that means a great deal to me: Merbella Studios, Inc.

Merbella Studios is the husband-and-wife tail-making team of Tyler and Raven Sutter. Together, they bring Raven's gorgeous mermaid tail designs to life in performance-grade silicone, and their exceptional work has been seen in the annual "Weeki Wachee Mermaids" wall calendar, live shows, music videos, and the upcoming feature length film from Conglomerate Media and Kingsway Productions, "The Little Mermaid." Raven and Tyler provide mermaid tails to a select few individuals each year, and I was fortunate enough to have them bring Nim's tail to life for me in 2016.

Photos? But of course!

Not only do they do phenomenal work, but Raven and Tyler are just plain wonderful people, too. I've talked before about how kind, creative, enthusiastic, and brilliant they are, and I'm proud to call them friends. When they announced that they'd be opening an apparel and accessories store online,, I was one of the first to sign up! I wanted to show my support, of course, but, independently of that, I also knew Merbella would be selling awesome mermaid merchandise that I'd want to own. I placed my first order as soon as humanly possible.

I'm thrilled to report that I LOVE everything I ordered and I can recommend it without hesitation. The printing (or, in the case of the baseball cap, the embroidery) is crisp, the shirt materials are soft and fit true to size, and the high-waisted yoga pants are unbelievably comfy (and this is coming from a girl with a lot of yoga pants and leggings). Raven has teased a new leggings design -- an abalone-inspired print -- and I'm already planning on adding it to my Merbella apparel collection.

Quick side story: my Merbella yoga pants literally (no, not figuratively!) saved my butt. I was retrieving some packing material from our outside closet, and I realized that my rear end was rubbing against the inside of the scratchy closet door. Not wanting to ruin my new Merbella leggings, I quickly stepped away from the door... and looked back to see a fat black widow spider resting on the door right below where my butt had been! I'd just remarked to Chris about how the haphazardly-spun spiderweb inside the closet looked like a black widow's web -- and, if I hadn't been concerned about my beloved new pants, I might've gotten a little too up close and personal with one of California's most common venomous arachnids!

In addition to tops and bottom-saving pants, Merbella also offers accessories like tote bags (purchased, but not pictured) and silicone scale cuffs (like the one I'm wearing in the above photos). Everything a modern mermaid needs! To bring a little bit of mermaid magic to your land-based existence, visit

Congratulations to... May 31, 2017 16:50

From Jess: 

We've drawn a name out of a (virtual) hat, bringing our second Mer-May giveaway to a close! Without further ado (okay, maybe a little further ado), the lucky recipient of our "Rescue Sirens" fan art contest prize is... drumroll...

Our sincere congratulations, @katekennedyart! We'll be mailing out your original inked drawing of chibi-style Rescue Siren Nim by Chris Sanders within the next two weeks.

I know that Chris already touched on this in his Instagram post, but I want to take a moment, myself, to express my awe of and gratitude to each and every artist who shared their "Rescue Sirens" fan art this Mer-May. The sheer amount of creativity, hard work, and passion on display has been incredibly impressive, and we're frankly a bit overwhelmed by the response. (I'm not crying; you're crying.)

(Very special thanks, too, to artist Tom Bancroft for getting everyone on Instagram to draw mermaids for a month straight during his second annual #MerMay art challenge!)

Seeing each artist's interpretations of our lifeguard mermaids -- the different drawing styles, the imaginative stories your drawings tell, the way you captured each Rescue Siren's personality so perfectly -- has been a true delight, and humbling in the best way. I want to thank you all for taking the time to create something fun and beautiful, and for sharing your talent with us. We also love that this contest introduced us to so many new artists!

The hardest part about contests and giveaways is that everyone can't win. I wish you all could have received Chris's drawing! Since that isn't physically possible (well, unless we tore it into very small pieces, and I don't think anyone wants that), the next best thing I could think of as a way to show you how much we appreciate you is this: for a limited time, we're offering the eBook edition of "Rescue Sirens: The Search for the Atavist" as a free download over on Amazon, so you can read the book on your favorite electronic device. Because I didn't realize that you had to schedule a free download in advance, the giveaway is planned to begin tomorrow, June 1st, and it should run for twenty-four hours.

It's just a small way to say thanks for making this Mer-May so fin-omenal! We're already making plans for next year. (Mwahaha.) Right now, though... bring on summer and San Diego Comic-Con!

"Rescue Sirens" fan art contest deadline extension May 27, 2017 02:20

From Jess: 

Wow, everyone, we're so thrilled to see all the entries rolling in for our "Rescue Sirens" fan art contest on Instagram! We've had multiple requests for a deadline extension, so we've added two more days for you to work on your drawings: you now have until 12 PM PDT on Wednesday, May 31st to post your fan art! We'll select a winner at random and announce it later that day as the perfect way to bid farewell to Mer-May 2017.

In the meantime, Chris colored his chibi-style drawing of Nim using Procreate on his iPad Pro, and I added some music to the timelapse to make a short video for you to enjoy: 

Nim's tail turned out looking a tiiiiny bit greener than we thought it was when it was on the iPad (her tail is more of an aqua blue), but it's so fun to watch her colored in as if by magic!

Inking Rescue Siren Nim -- Chibi-Style! May 25, 2017 06:00

From Jess: 

Chris did a fin-omenal job on the cutie-patootie little chibi-style Nim drawing that we're offering as our #rescuesirensfanart contest prize, and he even set up one of his GoPros while he inked so he could film the process! I then took that footage and cut it into a short (very sped-up) video:

Fun, right? Someone as talented as Chris makes inking with a brush look positively cinchy, but he's practiced for many years to get that smooooth.

If you haven't entered our "Rescue Sirens" fan art contest over on Instagram, you still have a couple of days to do so; we're planning on announcing the winner sometime on Monday, May 29th. Maybe it'll be you, and then you can own this rare piece of official "Rescue Sirens" artwork!

Mer-May #rescuesirensfanart Contest May 22, 2017 00:00

From Chris: 

My wife and "Rescue Sirens" co-author Jessica Steele-Sanders and I first heard the term "Mer-May" back in 2015. I loved the idea of a whole month devoted to all things mermaid -- but we couldn't celebrate or participate in it that year because "Rescue Sirens: The Search for the Atavist" was still being finalized, and we didn't want to let the cat(fish) out of the bag just yet.

Then, in 2016, fellow Disney artist Tom Bancroft debuted his swell #MerMay drawing challenge on Instagram. There's nothing more fun than drawing mermaids, and it's been great seeing mermaid artwork all over the place last year and this year. Inevitably I'm swamped with other assignments and don't usually have the time to participate in the mermaid fun, but this year I did scrounge up a few hours to draw and ink something! So to celebrate getting an actual mermaid drawing done in Mer-May, I'm offering up something VERY rare this month: the original inked drawing, depicting one of our "Rescue Sirens" characters. I almost never part with my drawings, so if you've ever wanted one, this is your chance!

How do you go about acquiring such a thing? Well, Jess and I are running a "Rescue Sirens" fan art contest, with this 11"x14" chibi-style drawing of Rescue Siren Nim as the prize.

Here are the rules to enter:

    1. Follow our @rescuesirens Instagram account.
    2. Draw one (or more!) of our five main "Rescue Sirens" lifeguard mermaid characters.
    3. Include the words "Rescue Sirens" somewhere in the image (drawn into the illustration, superimposed digitally, written on a separate piece of paper placed atop your drawing if you photograph it -- however you prefer).
    4. Post to your PUBLIC Instagram account with the hashtag #rescuesirensfanart so we can find your entry!
    5. Tag/mention @rescuesirens in your post.
That's it! A winner will be announced next Monday, May 29th Wednesday, May 31st. (We extended the deadline.)

Have you already shared "Rescue Sirens" fan art on Instagram in the past? You don't have to draw something new if you don't want to: just go back and add the hashtag #rescuesirensfanart to your original post so we know that you want to be counted amongst the contest entrants.

Best of luck, everyone, and happy drawing!

(Obligatory disclaimer: this contest is in no way affiliated with or endorsed by Instagram.)