Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ruben (and Isabel!) Toledo

Just to make up for a missing post, I’ll write about Ruben Toledo, my favorite fashion illustrator.

He’s married to his childhood friend, Isabel Toledo, who is a fashion designer, and also is originally from Cuba. The two met in middle school, while in New Jersey, and began dating after high school graduation. Ruben went on to the School of Visual Arts while Isabel went to Parsons.

Together, the couple inspires each other- Ruben sketches ideas for his clients, including Nordstrom, The New Yorker, Harper’s while Isabel designs and sews her own fashion collections. Ruben got his start, after marrying Isabel in 1984, as a window display designer at Fiorucci, a fashion store in New York. Currently, he produces paintings and illustrations for a variety of mediums- from store installations (Barney’s) to perfume bottles (Estee Lauder) and book covers (Penguin) as well as illustrations for Nina Garcia’s fashion books. The couple tends to wear clothes exclusively designed by Isabel and their apartment is decorated with Ruben’s images, so for them, life and art blend together.

I was initially introduced to his style through ads that I saw in Vogue for Nordstrom and I was immediately captivated by his highly stylized images of women wearing designer clothing. Typically, a store would run photographs of their collections, but instead, Ruben’s incredibly detailed depictions of fashion create interest in the product. In fact, I’m much more drawn to his art than the actual purse or dress because he gives it a personality that just isn’t captured in a photograph. Ruben has also dabbled in caricatures, with incredible gestural lines and the bold colors that are featured in most of his work.

I think that Ruben Toledo is a prime example of an artist who doesn’t limit himself- he explores all facets of the fashion world and creates art that is easy to interact with, with some help from Isabel.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

So this week i came up with a pretty awesome illlustration of some well known actors, including: Will Arnett, Steve Buscemi, and Michael Chikitis. I was flipping through a GQ magazine and surprisingly this publication works with many illustrators, as there were drawings almost on every couple pages which i had no idea about. The illustration work inside consisted mostly of journalistic / editorial illustration along with a lot of pop culture drawings on famous people and what not. One thing i did find really interesting was the publications interest towards caricatures. Almost every famous person illustration inside GQ and a lot of other major magazines seems to lean towards caricature or exaggerated illustration for most their style illustration. Why this is, I'm not completely sure, for some reason i would think their interest would be towards something more accurate or realistic. On the other hand my personal taste goes in the opposite direction, as i believe caricatures have a way more dynamic look and feel to them were expression is captured on a greater level than a more accurate representation. Perhaps the caricature aesthetic just seems more appropriate to these publications to embody the essence or real mood of that person or thing the magazine is trying to illustrate or convey about them. The artist in this case is Andy Freidman, and upon doing a little research on the artist, this style seems to be his specialty. You can find more of Freidman's work throughout other major magazines such as GQ and Men's Health, along with many others, He also does a lot of collaborative illustration with John Cuneo which is another popular cartoonist. For a little about this illustration in particular, i think it would fall under caricature as style, but he has a unique trick and twist to his drawings that make them stand out from the classic caricature we are all familiar with. Freidman stands out as an illustrator in my opinion for his unique ability to draw these caricatures in an exaggerated, yet very accurate manner, in which expression and persona is captured masterfully through his delicate and controlled use of lines. HE seems to only work in black and white compositions, but you can see he is very familiar with design techniques as he treats his negative spaces confidently with black shapes. He seems to be playing with the whole composition of the image to make it more visually appealing and stimulating moving your eye from one corner to another. Great stuff, enjoy.

Conan the Adventurer

Last week I was watching a documentary called “Frazetta: Painting with Fire”. The movie is about the artist Frank Frazetta. I can’t tell you what artist made me want to make art, but Frank Frazetta has definitely had the most influence on me since I found out about him. To me, his work is magic, and I am not the only one that thinks so.

As a kid he was great at art. He was on his way to study in Europe before his teacher pasted away and everything fell apart. By 15, Frank started working on comics. His peers said that anything Frank touched became gold. He could have made a living alone on making comics, but he was just getting started in his career. He then worked for Hollywood for a bit making movie posters. After that he began to make covers for adventure books.

His cover for “Conan: the Adventurer” is the artwork that I picked for this week’s post. With this one work he redefined a whole genre of work. The fantasy world would never be the same after Frazetta. Books with his covers became collectables just for the cover. Some give him credit for selling more than most of the artists of the genre.

His version of Conan was much different than previous ones. Frazetta gave his a rough and scarred look compared to a clean muscle man. He gave life to his paintings. I think the composition of this work in particular is great. The pyramid form draws me from the pile of bones up the blood that is wrapping around the sword to this beaten champion that stands victorious starring you down. For the genre of sword and sorcery, this work is the Holy Grail.


Created by Jamie Hewlett and Damon Albarn, Gorillaz is a band consisting of four illustrated members. The two came up with the idea for a completely fabricated band in 1998, after watching too much MTV and deciding they wanted to comment on how fake pop music was at the time. The band consists of 2-D, Noodle, Murdoc, and Russel. They’ve won many awards for their music, and their second album went five time platinum in the U.K. Hewlett also won the Design Museum’s Designer of the year award in 2006. Some of Hewlett’s other work includes Tank Girl, and album art for Mindless Self Indulgence.

There’s somethin
g very distinctive about Hewlett’s art. You can see it in the posture, the jawlines, and the faces of his characters, with wide mouths, and slanted eyes and a somewhat... lanky feel to their bodies. His images have plenty of personality, and tend to be very colorful, with clean black outlines. I think the idea of creating a band and having the member’s be cartoons is genius. It takes the idea of album artwork above and beyond, illustrating the band itself, music videos, photos, etc. I find the colorful characters much more appealing and a better face for the music that you’re average musician.

Eric Tan

For those who are not in Richards Monday night studio class we are currently working on a WPA style poster. While browsing the Internet for examples of WPA posters I stumbled upon Eric Tan. Eric is a designer from San Diego that creates interesting retro inspired posters and also dabbles in designer toy making. The majority of his work on his website is his fun and unique movie poster remakes from Disney Pixar. His design style can be explained as a modern interruption of art deco. I personally believe that his artwork is so enjoyable because of its simplicity. The objects being illustrated are very bare boned WPA style with very little detail. Tan’s color schemes are very strong because of his choice in fundamentally proven primary, monochromatic, and analogous colors. I could not actually find if he had the permission from the companies/copy right holders to recreate and sell his posters. I find myself wishing to see his posters printed by using screen printing and removing it from the digital realm. So my question to all of you is what is your opinion about and if you think it is right to use copyrighted/ trademarked objects in your artwork with out the permission of the company/artist? And if his posters were done by hand using retro printing processes instead of digital would it still be successful as his digital originals?

check out his blog at: http://erictanart.blogspot.com/

Typophile Film Festival

This week I wanted to cross into two foggy areas of illustration at the same time: typography and motion. There are many instances of incredible motion graphic work, which use type to dynamically illustrate a given idea. Often, these are wonderful examples of the many uses of Adobe After Effects, but not so here. This entire piece was created without any digital effects of any kind.

Created for the 5th annual Typophile Film Festival as part of the opening ceremony, this incredible work was created by BYU design students and faculty. View the full credits here. It was well recieved and has gained a lot of attention outside of its original screening from many design and typography publications.

The entire piece is meant to illustrate each of the five senses in dynamic and powerful ways. It utterly succeeds at this goal, with each section utilizing interesting materials and movement to create a visceral effect. They used a large variety of materials including, plexiglass, wood, aluminum, ham, squash, potatoes, jell-o, clay, and incense (around 150 cones).

Though some might lump this into a separate category like design, I can see the places where this piece overlaps disciplines. Each frame could easily be used as a spot illustration for an article on something related to the senses, and as a whole I have never seen a more dynamic representation of the given themes. In fact, because this piece utilizes the best of design principles, available technology, and particular attention to aesthetics, I think that this piece communicates to a greater extent than any drawn single illustration could accomplish.

The Font Feed has a wonderful write up about everything which went into this project, along with additional stills here.

Ruby Blue

Ruby Blue album art

I’ve been on a bit of a Róisín Murphy kick lately, and it only recently dawned on me that the album art for Ruby Blue is, in fact, a painting. Ramalama (Bang Bang) is inspiring me this week in more ways than one.

According to Wiki, Murphy met Simon Henwood at a bar. He thought she’d make a good subject for painting, so they had sequin-themed photo shoots with Murphy’s own wardrobe. Murphy took on abstract stances, and viola, dynamic paintings happened over the course of a year. Henwood described Murphy’s character as a “disco electro pop diva with a 1940’s look”. The paintings were on display at The Hospital in London and have since been purchased by Murphy (ostensibly so her children can someday see what she used to look like).

Simon Henwood is known for his simplified paintings of teens. They end up looking posterized and vivid, but he still leaves plenty of texture and expression within planes. His style is quite evident in the portraits of Murphy. I don’t know what their first conversations would have sounded like, but I’d guess that once she knew what Henwood’s work looked like, Murphy commissioned the portraits specifically for her album art because she felt it would fit with the sounds she was putting forth on Ruby Blue. Because it was seemingly commissioned expressly for album art, I’d consider this illustration, rather than only fine art.

I rather enjoy how dynamic and eye-catching this painting is, especially in terms of Murphy’s pose and the way her expression seems to be beckoning towards the camera/audience. There’s just something phenomenal going on with the lighting and color as well. Redheads <3 Her outfit was probably the first thing that grabbed my attention. It’s kind of interesting how the only way you can tell it’s not a photo is from her skin, and even then it could’ve been manipulated. Nope. It’s gouache on paper, according to Henwood’s site.

Lisa Frank- Hunter

My terrible secret- this is the artist who basically inspired me to draw when I was a kid. I can't even tell you how many stickers, stationary sets, stuffed animals, and all kinds of random crap I owned from this artist. This here is a sticker sheet of Hunter, one of her characters. It's inside a journal that is also a pop-up book, and like all of her products it's marketed for preteen girls. Lisa Frank really marketed her art well to kids- it's extremely vibrant, cartoonish, and she puts an emphasis on making characters, not just always pretty pictures. There's no cartoon show or anything to go along with the merchandise, but kids still got a sense for who these characters were just by a little blurb on the back of the packaging, or like in this image you see many different poses to describe the way the character might move if it were animated, giving it a sense of personality.

Lisa Frank is a pop artist, and she started her company in the late 70's. According to her girlified website, she creates the basic ideas for different designs and characters, at which point a team of illustrators takes over and draws them in marker. Then there's market research (talking to kids), and plenty of tweaking and redrawing, and then it goes to the computer where the computer painting "takes a long long time." So every part of this process is planned and engineered and calculated specifically to be consistent with the brand, and also to be desirable to kids. When I was growing up, it was pretty much mandatory to have several products of hers in your school supplies. Stickers and school supplies are meant to be used, and therefore disposable, and so you'll need to replace your Lisa Frank stationary set with another one after a while. So on those terms I think their illustrations and the whole corporate art factory is extremely successful. The company still seems to be going strong, so these illustrations still seem to be successful, though I don't know if Lisa Frank stuff is as "necessary" to kids as it once was.

for the sake of sake of.

This week I realized, I don’t have too many artist whos work I like enough to feature.
As I was going through my sites i am a member of looking through my saved artist I came across Lasean Thomas. I had
totally forgotten about him because I had slightly moved past the phase I was in when I was into him heavily, but today I re-realized Lasean is a monster.

Hes a perfect example on the other extreme of my argument that my beef with more modern art from 1900 onward I guess is that art is such a “oh we have to keep doing the totally opposite than the last guys” thing. So much so that it all begins to just feel forced.. like that group who had an incredible first album, whos second album sucked because “all real artist make total 100% different sounds between every album because thats how you know they are true artist” bullshit.

We have the fortune to be alive after so many great artist in ALL fields to draw inspiration and learn from that we don’t have to completely deny their existence for the sake of sake of...

Lasean proves my point in the face that his style is obviously more cartoony (specificially because he does story boarding for Ben 10 and boondocks).
What I love about his style is the dynamism his images creates, he sat down for years and learned his anatomy and honed his technical skill, and knew all along is was for the improvement of his cartooning.

Laseans work reminds me of Disney in the sense that like an old Tom and Jerry cartoon his characters animations are pushed to the exaggerated breaking point to really make them truly dynamic

Bunny Man

I am really frustrated right now because of this cover. I have spent hours searching for more information about it and have come up with a lot about the artist’s other work, but nothing regarding this specific painting. I wanted so badly to talk about it, but much of the context is lost without hard facts. So I decided to supply educated guesses with some of the actual information I found about this piece.

This is a book cover for a set of short stories by Etgar Keret, an Israeli author I discovered because of his storytelling on the podcast “This American Life”. I just got this book and loved the cover. The artist who illustrated it is Scott Musgrove. Musgrove is a contemporary artist who had previously done comic book illustration, most notably a comic called “Fat Dog Mendoza”- which eventually turned into a Cartoon Network Europe television show. His new paintings can be classified as figural surrealism. They are mostly of fantastical creatures that look like they are extinct species. Musgrove claims he is allergic to most animals but is fascinated by them, which is why it is easier to just make his creatures up.

The illustration is on the book “The Nimrod Flip Out”. I think the publisher (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux) commissioned it, and I think that because it is unlike the other work the artist has done. I mean it is not completely dissimilar, but the subject is definitely not his usual fantastical animal painting. It is of a man in a bunny suit, who looks as though he just shot a few duck/fish things (yes, that was my best description of what those look like to me). The colors are of Musgrove’s usual palate, and he still uses oil paint (I think). The cover is successful in my eyes because the short stories in the book are surreal and have a male protagonist most of the time. I also think the man in the bunny outfit looks similar to the author. I think it doesn’t give too much away, which is what keeps me looking at it.

non toxic oil pastels

I found this lying in my room faaaar inside a cupboard. I don't know how i even still have this! This was given to me probably 19 or so years ago, before i even moved to America. Its a case for oil pastels. Its obviously an asian brand. My first impression was Japanese but....i dunno, im not too good with my asian languages but, the writing looks Korean to me. Which i only just noticed..haha. Anyway it obviously looks like it was created for childern,( specifically girls?) just by the content, colors, and drawing style, and possibly is based of a cartoon or comic at the time. Im willing to steak its work from the early 90's. I think it's a fun little crayon box and i think the design works, it looks pretty girly to me but i enjoyed it as a kid. I even used to try drawing the cover using the crayons included. Now that I have found this, im really interested to find out the whole story behind it, unfortunately the only english writing on the whole case is non toxic oil pastels. Oh and THE MORE CO.LTD but i tried looking it up and couldn't find anything. Must not exist anymore. Anyone read Korean?

52 anual grammy awards

Shepard Fairey, as most people know is one of the most well recognized street artist of our time. The general public who may very loosely follow know him for his work on the the Obama "hope" poster, run-ins with the law and the obey the giant campaign. but what followers who may not be familiar should know that he is an accomplished D.J, husband, and father of two.
His work follows a strike color pallet using mostly red, black and gold.
He was selected and commission to make the cover art for the 2010 nominations. where you can really see his design style coming though the art work. the iconic color scheme, line patterns and repetion are all apart of his signature look. even the circle, square and rectangle shapes that define certain areas of the piece have intricate patterns and repetition that even more reenforces his style. i do not however like the two black arrows at the near bottom that are pointing towards the center. It feels like some other design element could have gone there because as it stands now it gets boring for me when i look at that part. maybe he could have tried a skyline or repetition of grammy awards across that part to keep it interesting. but may he decided to use the arrows to indicate direction or contrast as aposed to having little patterns there.

Forever Stamps

My family has been mailing a great many letters over the past few weeks, and the only stamps we really use for that purpose anymore are Forever Stamps. These stamps were introduced by the post office in 2007 to help consumers through the transition stage of postage rate increases. The forever stamp is immune to change in postage rates. Even if the rate were to increase exponentially in the next few years, the forever stamp is still valid for use in mailing any standard 1 ounce letter without the addition of extra postage.

There is only one forever stamp, and that is the one depicting the Liberty Bell. The illustration of the Liberty Bell is done by artist Tom Engeman, who is also behind several other stamps and postcards that have been put into production by the US postal service. An interview with him by the Frederick News Post mentions that he is now 73 and retired, but still does work for the post service, and volunteers his services for non-profit organizations.

Apparently, the postal service has a bank of many different illustrations that have been done for potential post cards and stamps that they simply refer to when they choose to put out a new set. When asked about applications of illustration, I would think of postcards, but stamps were not necessarily something that entered my mind until I was sticking a whole book of them to a stack of envelopes. These illustrations must function both at large and small scales, depending upon whether they are printed on the stamps themselves, or promotional posters for them.

Stamps actually receive far more attention than we give them credit for, and have more affect on us than we would imagine. I'd guarantee that at some point, each of us has received a letter from a friend or family member, and we have looked at the stamp first and even commented on it. I remember a time when my father became perturbed when he had to mail some letters to his friends, and we only had irises and roses on out stamps. Hardly a manly stamp to be sending on letters to friend. I remember receiving birthday cards with cake or snoopy-in-a-birthday-hat stamps and getting excited, as I knew there was some kind of birthday oriented card (or $10) inside. There is certainly a lot more to stamps than I have been giving them credit for until now.

Michael O'connor, Bandanas

My posts for this week are referring to specific types of mediums you can use while illustrating and getting creative. The Artist I am profiling this week is Michael O'Connor. He is an artist from the Chicagoland area and his works are done in anything from pencil to acrylics to even ceramics. The pieces of artwork that I am showing in this blog post are from of his works he has done on bandanas. He has a wide collection of work in which he uses this medium with a variety of different subject matters and techniques. He works very delicately while working with these and it shows when you get up close to them. I believe he really captures the emotion of his art quite well, especially while working on something like clothing. He also has some amazing oil paintings of landscapes and also does ceramics ( Jars, Planters, lamps etc.) He has a wide range of skills and styles as an artist and I think that is very important to any artist today. I believe you need to develop as many skills as you can so you can evolve as an artist and keep current with trends. I am beginning to do this myself instead of mainly working on the computer. It is also important to pick the right medium for individual pieces that you come across because sometimes the materials you use can make or break a piece of art.
This artist does not have a webpage yet but has a facebook page -

Michael O'connor
(his photo is Bob Marley and his current city is Canton, IL)

If you like his work you can send him a message in his inbox and through that, he can start creating some artwork for you.

Casey Burns Gig Posters

The gig posters for Spoon were designed by award winning illustrator, Casey Burns from Portland, Oregon. Casey is not only an illustrator, but a fine artist, graphic designers, printmaker (which all seem to go hand in hand as I study up on artist bios each week), art director, branding strategist, and musician. Casey is very involved in the publicizing aspect of the music industry, and having a background in music, I think adds an extra punch to his work. He is also a creator in advertising, film, comic books, magazines, newspapers, greeting cards, apparel, and toy design. Some of his clients in music include Modest Mouse, Spoon, and Sonic Youth. Others outside this industry are Nike Snowboarding, The New York Times, Dr. Martens, and more.

Casey is involved in so many aspects of communication, and makes perfect sense after reading about his educational history. From 1993 to 1998, he went to school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and received a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication. At school, he entered the indie rock music scene as both a musician, and poster artist, working as an in-house artist for the Cat’s Cradle music venue in Carrboro. Casey played bass with The Nein,The Rosebuds, Gold Chainz, and Soundtrack. A few years later, he moved to Portland Oregon and continued his poster art. In October 2006, The Southern Folklife Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill added the Casey Burns Collection containing posters he designed and printed. This collection, paired with the Ron Liberti Collection, forms an important document of Chapel Hill/Carrboro’s vibrant independent music scene at the turn of the 21st century. Here’s a link to a collection that contains his poster art. Obviously most of these posters are for rock concerts in Chapel Hill, N. C., for venues including not only Cat’s Cradle, but also Local 506, and Go!, if you’re interested in researching more about these. Musician groups featured on the posters that I recognize include Breeders, Built to Spill, Super Furry Animals, and Dashboard Confessional. Others that i do not recognize (but you may) are Tift Merrit, Bettie Serveert, Richard Buckner, Southern Culture on the Skids, Mogwai, Gang of Four, Joan Baez, Crooked Fingers, and Lucinda Williams.

If you want to check out some books these posters are featured in, some include The Art of Modern Rock, Gig Posters: Rock Art of the 21st Century, Rock Paper Show, 1000 Indie Posters, and Simple Screenprinting. Also, if you would like to see some of his comic book style work, check out Pratt's Eisner’s series Wolverine: Netsuke, published by Marvel Comics in 2002, which he assisted on.

In addition, you can follow his blog on this site here.

Casey has a very consistent style in his illustrations for gig posters. Here’s a link to more of them he has created. I enjoy the way he places text of information for the shows on secondary objects in the images, sometimes background or foreground, including walls, tables, floors, blinds, beer bottles, etc. The typography is perfect, like it was just scribbled with ink or scratched out from the picture. It’s less sophisticated than official typefaces, and brings out the indie rock in the poster. Hate to go off on a typography tangent, but he does you a pretty effective hierarchy of type to communicate different pieces of information you would need to know about the show. Subjects he includes are not necessarily directly related to the musician/group, but are very catchy and interesting. Subjects are mainly men and women doing regular activities, like sitting at a bar or walking down the sidewalk. Sometimes he includes nature settings, like the Delorean poster with a snowcapped mountain. He uses a very minimal number of colors, but nevertheless, they are attention grabbing. No need to make the poster so busy with color when he emphasizes more on the detailing in the blacks and whites of the rest of the scene. Details are in the highlights of the hair, folds of the clothes, wood grain, etc. He uses dots, lines, and smudges. Shadows in the backgrounds are very flat, so there is definitely more focus on the detail of the subjects and others things in the settings.

Although the subjects in Casey's illustrations for these gig posters do no have direct relationships to the musicians or the shows, the information in the text communicate information. To me, the style of the posters communicate the type of music that is played. I think the style draws in the right crowd. What do you think?

The Acme Novelty Library

So we've already had some exposure to Chris Ware in this class, but I wanted to write a bit about one of my favorite works of his, which is his ongoing series called The Acme Novelty Library. Anyone who owns or has seen one of these books knows what treasures they are. Each volume is intricately detailed in a different style, using different printing techniques and various types of embellishments. From a purely aesthetic standpoint, they are some of the most beautiful books I've ever seen.

I first came across the series while searching through a comic store in East Lansing, Michigan. I was immediately drawn to Ware's signature style. Clean and crisp line work, lots of symmetrical forms and geometric shapes used. I began reading issues 16 and 17 (shown above) and was hooked. The stories and characters are very depressing, and from what I know of Ware, laden with personal experience. The first one was originally printed in 1993, telling the first tale of Jimmy Corrigan, one of Ware's most famous characters. My favorite character is Rusty Brown, a chubby little red head boy with a big imagination, but for whom things never go right. In addition to the intertwining tales of the recurring characters, Ware throws in these lovely little short stories at various points in the series.

Overall, Chris Ware cuts no corners in his Acme Novelty Library series. The illustrations are amazing enough to look at hundreds of times over, and the writing can bring you to tears. I strongly recommend tracking down one of these treasures.

Android Jones

Andrew (Android) Jones is an artist who has worked with character design for video games, live event art (creating art that is projected on a screen during a fashion show, in a club, etc while an event is going on in real time), and various other areas of illustration. He has a very distinct methodology of using various shapes to create a composition with chaos. As his illustration progresses, he uses the same technique with greater selectiveness to create an image that is visually interesting, and “unbelievably believable,” as Jones put it himself.

Jones utilizes several digital programs to achieve the look and feel of his images. He choses the shapes to incorporate based on how they fit the intentions of the piece. When watching the artist at work, at face level it looks like he’s just throwing down shapes and colors, but he’s really thinking and analyzing what he’s doing in relation to the mood that is being created and the story being told. With the Dragonforce cover, he was creating an image that gives the impression of a woman holding a guitar in an abstract space that is reminiscent of a conglomeration of video games. His methods have worked well here to create a believable futuristic armor and guitar. He uses complimentary colors to create the color space; green and magenta, orange and violet.

His process is just as important as the final piece in some of his live event work. It needs to be interesting enough so that it’s not distracting to what is going on around it. Jones methodology lends itself to experimentation and change. He sifts through geometric shapes, layering and adding to them until his intentions are met. One thing I really enjoy about his work is that the final product doesn’t try to mask itself as a traditional media piece, but rather is distinctly digital.

For more on Andrew (Android) Jones:
website: http://www.androidjones.com/
videos his process are available for purchase at: http://media.massiveblack.com/

Joe Koch

Surfing Samurai Robots


This is ridiculous. That’s what I absolutely love about this piece. It has a comical retro kitsch to it. I was sifting through a mass of science-fiction paperbacks in an old bookstore when I came across this masterpiece of ridiculous.
I looked up the basic premise of the book. Apparently these competing surfing robots (whom are impervious to rust) are being kidnapped and destroyed days before big mecha-surfing competition. The
This sci-fi novel, circa 1988, was illustrated by Dave Dorman, whom is actually a very notable illustrator. He is best known for his Star Wars illustrations but has also done a lot of work with batman, Indiana Jones, and other well-known comics and publications. After looking up his other work this illustration kind of shocked me that it was his. I don’t think it is a particularly bad illustration but it certainly has some flaws. The most bothersome of which, to me, is the woman’s hip. She appears to be the victim of a steamroller accident around the midsection.
I think the technique he used to color it is a reflection of the fads in illustration going on at that point. I’m guessing it’s a combination of watercolor and colored pencils. Most illustrations from that period had the same execution to them and I think that’s part of what plays up the nostalgia for me.
Those things really aren’t what attracted me to this book though. It is the sheer outlandishness of everything that is going on in this cover. From the albino dressed as a 80s swinger Joe Camel to the obviously and confusingly horny robot sporting the tight yellow Speedo checking out the reclined lady, all of this together just makes me laugh. I’m a fan.
(I would also quickly like to point out that robots can’t feel love, especially when stressing about a big surfing competition and a mechanical genocide)

Feathered Friends

In my bookshelf at home, I have a large box filled with zines. You know, independent, xeroxed, self-indulgent little publications. On the whole, only about 20% of the zines that I have read in my life have been any good. This one falls into that 20%.

"Feathered Friends" is an independent comic by Sasha Mihajlowich. I am unable to find much about him or her online. It is a pretty strange comic but I just really want to talk about the cover for now.

The piece is very dark and odd. It was definitely done exclusively with pen and maybe a sharpie for the large black space, followed by a trip to Kinkos. I really enjoy th

The Gashlycrumb Tinies

“The Gashlycrumb Tinies” is an illustrated book by Edward Gorey. The story is about 26 children who each represent the letters of the alphabet and through rhyming simple lines explains their untimely deaths.

The illustrations are simple and crafted in black and white. Each picture perfectly depicts the words below it. Through short strokes Gorey creates extremely active and intricate pictures. He uses almost no outline in his illustrations, just creating shape through gradient and hatch marks.

Gorey's illustrations seem to work well within the context of what he is trying to portray; a book about unfortunate children who meet their ends in interesting ways, while teaching children the alphabet.

I really enjoy the drawings and how whimsically macabre they are. The demises the children reach I find humorous and the illustrations really make this book.

To see the entire series larger here is a link.

Fairytale Fantasies-J Scott Campbell

Lately I've been walking around the city and noticing all of the Halloween costume shops that keep popping up. Given that Halloween is right around the corner I felt like going into one to shop around. While every costume was either "trashy" or humorous noticed a pattern. When I was little I was the Ariel from "The Little Mermaid", Jasmine from "Aladin", and Cinderella. Shopping for a Disney character costume is rather hard these days if you want the entire outfit. This reminded me of a the illustrator Jeff Scott Campbell and his interpretation of Disney characters.

Mr. Campbell is a very notable person. Working everywhere from Wildstorm Comics to Marvel Comics. He cr
eated "Danger Girl" and did the illustrations for the comic "Gen13". But that's just scratching the surface of his achievements.

I'd imagine that Walt Disney would love to have seen his precious princesses like this in a new light. They all have a very strong sex appeal to them. Disney does this whole "princess" theme with all of the princesses and it's all in a very innocent settin
g, which is how it should be, but all of these seem very adult like and I do like all of the details that he puts into the pictures. He not only does each girl, but does a very scenic background too. The Beauty and the Beast picture shows this by not only putting Bella in the middle of the portrait for the center focal point but also her surroundings. We have the big beast behind her, a dark palace is shown in the background and he's holding her red robe with that pink rose too. Obviously the facial structure looks nothing like Bella's face. It's more seductive and has a very serious/mean look to it. "Not-so-Disney" Bella is has a very pin-up girl look to her that just radiates sex.

I could see these girls drawn as pin-ups for something, be it a tattoo. But that is what these pictures remind me of when I look at them. Mr. Campbell actually is very active with the internet too. He has a facebook, a twitter, a blooger, his own website, and more and does a lot of social networking with his work it seems like. He does a calendar of these drawings he does and gives it the name "Fairytale Fantasies".

Dugald Stewart Walker

Recently I've taken an interest in old book illustrations in order to get a better taste of the history of this field and to inspire classical strategies in my decisions while creating. There is a blog that I follow called "Old Book Illustrations" which posts work by Illustrators, dates ranging from the 1800s to the early 1900s. The work covers all kinds of genres, including technical illustrations of machines or objects, while other illustrations are more concerned with conveying a story or idea, in either an abstract or realistic manner.
While surfing this blog, I took a liking to an storybook illustrator named Dugald Stewart Walker because of his inclination to create fairytale-like dreamscapes. Dugald is considered to be part of the Golden Age of Illustration, and I often see elements in his work that are attributed to the Art Nouveau period. The highly decorative compositions in the images posted above is a clear indicator of Art Nouveau. There is very little information out there about Dugald and no association with the Art Nouveau movement is mentioned. However, it makes sense to me that an artist who lived through the movement and then moved on to create illustrations in the 1920s would have strong influences of Art Nouveau appear in his work.

The two images above are from a book named "Dream Boats and Other Stories", written and illustrated by Dugald. The book is a collection of short stories/poems, written in a playful and dreamy language, which I believe is beautifully supplemented by the flowing and floral ladies he illustrates.

Also, just for fun, here is an example of some of the language Dugald uses in "Dream Boats":

Send the tinkle ringing around, and around,
all ye little flowers that bear as your bloom a
bell, unto the time of its echoing through the
daffy-down-dilly and thus awaken the dreaming
dragon fly.

O pollen-powdered clappers, strike your flower
bells, sending forth a resonance of sounds on
every wave of sweet odour that arises from your
silken throats!

Thinking Pink

It’s odd, that by chance I came across this artist. I was originally trying to find information on a different image I found online and stumbled upon this guy and just had to write about him (also the other image lead to a dead end). The artists name is Buff Monster ( real name said by him), he was born in Hawaii, and moved to LA in 1997 now currently living in Hollywood. Heavy metal is one of his inspirations, something he listens to when painting. Another thing that’s highly inspirational to him is in his style, as he embraces the Japanese culture and it’s more cute style in the culture. And apparently ice cream is yet another major influence, tasty. “To me, they are all the same: timeless, bold, unforgiving and awesome. I can't get enough.” Something that really stands out is his consistency of color, mostly pinks and grays but other bright colors do fall into the mix. I think it’s cool how he sees the color pink as a symbol that shows “confidence, individuality and happiness” something present in all of his work. His step into the art world started on the streets, from painting on old found spray cans to posters, paintings on walls, and so on. Today his heart is in fine art painting, painting on wood (as well as collectible toys and selected design projects.) His art has been published in a variety of magazines, websites, newspapers and books, etc. His art has been getting around fast and will continue to spread like wildfire I hope. Though I hate painting with all of my being, I must admit it is fun once in a blue moon to just get lost in what you are doing, but my heart will always be in digital work as his is in painting. What drew me into his art was this image above, this is how I found him. My mind at first couldn’t even comprehend that. Most of his current art is done on wood (but his art still travels onto other surfaces). With this painting above, I like how he did the background to look like marble, from a distance it looks like the real thing to me. I really like the control that he has with acrylics as well, and the style/life he gives his little characters. Looking at his other work, I just love how he does creepy things but still keeps them looking just as cute, a trend that has been showing up in my own art over the years never too scary but always too cute. I also like how he keeps the characters simple, really makes them pop against a detailed background. . Pink has been a color I’ve been slowly trying to fall back in love with and I feel that his art has boosted my love for the color. Over all, his work just makes me want to come up with more cute creators in the far future and maybe I’ll even embrace the pink side a little more. Oh, and on a sudden realization, now I know why ice cream is one of his inspirations, not just because he draws ice cream, but for his monsters too, I think that’s why some of his monsters have a dripping look to them. (could be wrong)
Found interview
Video like interview: part 1 part 2

You can call the spiral from within.

I remember the mention of spirals last week from class and how they tend to be mesmerizing in their own way because of their pattern. I immediately thought of what I wanted to post for this week. I heard about "Uzumaki" a few years back and was told it was a pretty cool Japanese movie. Whilst getting ready for my yearly October horror movie watching, my friend showed me that there was a comic that the movie was based off of. As soon as I saw this page in the first chapter, I quickly became obsessed and could only think:

"It's sick as hell."

Uzumaki is a horror manga by Junji Ito that was published in Shogakukan's weekly "Big Comic Spirits", a seinen manga magazine in 1998. (Seinen just means that it is targeted to a male audience between the ages of 18 and 30.) It revolves around a small town that gets drawn in to a spiral obsession. Many different spiral obsessions occur that lead to a gruesome death for the subject. This image particularly demonstrates the first spiral death that occurs in the town. It displays just how powerful the obsession can be and what you can do visually with just the pattern of a spiral. The eye naturally tends to follow the pattern of a spiral and with the body in this image; the eye can see how his shape contorted to fit the pattern. The artist's intent with this image is to horrify, disturb and maybe even satisfy his audience. (To each their own yes?) Style wise, I feel it fits the seinen genre, since they tend to be darker drawings with less emphasis on typical "anime" eyes and other features. In terms of what it was made for, I believe it succeeded very well. It's mature enough both in its story and visualization to appeal to young adults.

In my opinion if you're into this type of stuff, it's great visual inspiration and a pretty quick read. You can find it easily online. I'd also say to check out the movie as well.
Here is one place to read it that I found to have the least annoying pop-ups and such: link

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Maurice Sendak "Where The Wild Things Are"

Maurice Sendak is an Illustrator from Brooklyn, New York. He is best known his 1963 Children's book "Where The Wild Things Are." Recently It was made into a full length movie which is really impressive considering the book is only like ten pages long. There is also a website with a bunch of artwork inspired by this book called terribleyelloweyes.com and it is really worth checking out.
This book is one of the main reasons why I wanted to become a illustrator. It would be great to make illustrations for children's books after this Columbia College thing. All the drawings are pencil and watercolor and I'm pretty sure that he hand-lettered the entire font. You can really get a feel for his style which is loose and relies heavily on line work and cross-hatching. What's great about his style of illustration is that it can be appreciated by all age groups. All the monsters are grotesque and kind of nightmarish. They are actually in fact caricatures based on Aunts and Uncles of Sendak who would come to weekly dinners at his house when he was a child. Most of his family were Polish-Jewish immigrants and because of their broken english and mannerisms they were the basis for the characters. He originally wanted the book to feature horses instead of monsters, but the only problem was he could not draw horses (I could not imagine what the story would have been like with horses.) When the book first released it was subject to some controversy and was even banned from a few libraries at first. It is really unlike any children's book. He plays on the darker, more mischievous side of a child's imagination.

Lovers Surprised by Death

I came across this image while doing research for a project last year. I like the narrative behind this story: two lovers suddenly taken by death. While death (the skeleton) tears at the man’s face, he also clutches the woman’s dress in his mouth. I enjoy the way this artist represented his subject: it is literally death surprising a couple. Although it is quite literal, this is an interesting solution for representing the story. The other thing that appealed to me about this piece is that it is really beautiful and detailed. 
This image is a woodcut print, and when I researched it further I found that it is actually one of the first chiaroscuro woodcuts, which means that it used more than one color. There would have been three different woodcuts for this image, in three different colors that were layered on top of each other: one in pink, another in light grey and another in darker grey. This technique gives the piece beauty and depth.
This image was created in 1510, and death was a common subject in this time period in late medieval art. Hans Burgkmair was known for book illustrations; however, chiaroscuro prints were mostly created for prints rather than book illustrations. I think this is a very effective illustration of the subject because it is both beautiful and interesting, and even without knowing the title, it is quite an effective way of representing death. It was probably meant to frighten the viewer into realizing that death can come at any time.

Chris LaPorte

Chris LaPorte is the most recent 1st place winner at the ever growing art competition called "Art Prize". It is located in Grand Rapids, Michigan and occurred this year from September 22 through October 10. There is nearly 550 K in prizes including 250 K to the first place winner. As an artist you may submit one piece and have it shown by a "host" of a venue in the city. These venues choose their artists. Anyone who attends during the competition can vote and the winners are ultimately determined by these public votes. This is the nearest city to where I grew up in Michigan. This has brought so much attention to Grand Rapids and will surely be pushing art in all the right directions with every year it continues.

Chris LaPorte was a standout to me even before he won. My mother attended Aquinas College where she was taught by Chris. So I heard about his entry as soon as she did. His entry is titled "Calvary, American Officers, 1921". It is a 2D piece 30 feet wide and totaling 300 square feet. This thing is huge. It is done in all graphite, 2H pencil on paper. I unfortunately never saw the piece in person. Im sure it is a completely different experience. LaPorte runs a caricature and portrait business and has supported himself drawing over 85,000 people along the way.
I have to insert his description because me paraphrasing just doesn't seem right. He states, "E PLURIBUS UNUM. Of many one. Many marks make up the drawing. Many men make up the regiment. Many lines make up the face. Many wrinkles make up the shirt. Many characters make up the story. Many experiences make up the event. Many minutes make up the hour, day, year. This drawing is both a representation of the people, their legacy and the countless organization of pencil marks that make up a composition. It is about the process of drawing, and also a portrait of these men who must have survived horrific events to preserve what we experience today. The drawing is an exploration of character and an exploration of mark-making to reveal that character. It is also a tribute to lasting legacy. I wanted these men to be life size, so that their impact may be immediate and tangible. They are here and now but also way back when".
`To me his work here is truly telling a story. A story of these men, life size to the viewer. And a story of his work, extensive and explorational. Illustration? Id say hell yes. There is a ton of info on the competition, anyone can submit, I would suggest checking it out. And my apologies if the format of this post is all jacked up.

Harold and the Purple Crayon

For this week’s post, I’ll do yet another children’s book. Harold and the Purple Crayon, by Crockett Johnson, was a favorite bedtime story of mine as a child. Johnson wrote and illustrated this series of stories about a boy who goes on adventures by creating an imaginary world through the use of a simple purple crayon.

I have a lot of respect for authors who write and illustrate their children’s books. I feel that because the same person creates both the words and pictures, their ideas are better preserved. Sure, some authors aren’t visual artists, but then by using an illustrator for the images, some of their original ideas of how the character should look or what the scene is, can be lost if they don’t communicate well with the illustrator.

In this case, the words and images are rather sparse, but the minimal amount of text helps the reader to focus on the strong, line driven pictures (not to mention the fact that the book is geared towards children learning to read!). Even though Harold and the Purple Crayon was first created in 1955, it has a timeless quality to it because the images are similar to doodles that kids first create when they’re drawing, so by pairing those simple drawings with easy to read words, kids can easily relate to Harold and comprehend the story better.

The fanciful purple lines that make up Harold’s world have stuck with me. So much, in fact, that I plan on dressing up as a purple crayon for Halloween this year! It’s a sweet story that promotes creativity, both visually and verbally, at a level that anyone, young or old, can appreciate.

Check OASIS for next assignment

We have 1 blog entry left for the Scrapbook project. This blog entry is due today Wednesday, Oct. 20th (make sure to discuss CONTEXT this time, which also includes the INTENT of the illustration!).

UPDATE: This will be our LAST blog entry for the Scrapbook project.

The Scrapbook will be due on Nov. 3. We will attend the Tony Matelli A+D lecture that day, and then meet in our regular classroom afterward,hand in the Scrapbook,

IMPORTANT: We will then have a QUIZ (worth 6 points). The quiz will cover the blog, all lectures, and discussions. This will be on Nov. 3 after the Tony Matelli lecture.

No blog essay is due on the 27th, but keep working on your scrapbook and add 5 more pages (minimum)!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Don't Forget! Lev Manovich Lecture: Oct 20, 6:30 pm

Just a reminder, as discussed in class, that we will be meeting at the Ferguson for next week's class. That's on the first floor of the 600 S. Michigan Building. We'll attend the Lev Manovich lecture from 6:30 - 8:00 and then reconvene in our regular classroom at 8:15.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Chicago Artist: POSE.

So sticking with my last blog post this week’s is also on another local street artist, Pose. Pose is a world famous Chicago street artist. He started out just doing spray can graffiti. Later he gained a spray can sponsorship, which shot him and his work into the spot light. Now he does work for various companies like Lifted Research Group (LRG) and The Seventh Letter. I really envy his style of line work and the extremely good details that are in his work. The way I found out about his work is through his can sponsor Ironlak. At first when you see his graffiti work you wont believe it’s done by a spray can but done in Photoshop. His studio work is very similar to his street work. The thing I found really interesting is when he goes into the studio he struggles at first because he feels removed from the process… I too feel this. He enjoys the process more then the finished product. Pose’s illustrations are really cool he gets inspiration from old fashion 1920’s gang cards. With bold line work and his famous detail work Pose make amazing black and white illustrations. Then later he will take the black and white pieces and decide to add color or not. Here are some videos of him in a interview and then him spraying to show you his process.


After watching the cartoons in week five, I felt I needed to use “Rejected” as my post for this week. Many of you might already know about this work, or maybe none of you have heard of it before. Either way, it is a wonderful piece that makes me laugh every time I watch it.

“Rejected” is an animated short comedy film created by Don Hertzfeldt. Don released this fictional story of a failing animator at the San Diego Comic Con in 2000. Since then, “Rejected” has become a cult classis that has won 27 awards from film festivals around the world.

Before “Rejected”, Hertzfeldt was offered many commercial jobs by television companies. Don being the anti-corporation artist that he is, turned down all of the offers he received. According to Wikipedia, he would joke about making the worst cartoons he could for these companies, and seeing if the companies would air them. This became the bases for “Rejected”.

What attracts me at first is the humor. (Everything I have seen of his work has made me fall to the ground laughing.) I would be lying if I said his style did not play a part in my liking of his work. His use of pen and paper and shooting with a 35mm camera gives his work a more traditional animated look that just pulls me in. I find it interesting and awesome that Hertzfeldt can create such a striking piece by himself while companies like Pixar use hundreds of people to make their blockbusters.

In 2004, the Internet Movie Database ranked “Rejected” 3rd best short film of all time. When looking at the awards it has won, its cult following, and the many pop culture references it has had, I would say that “Rejected” has been a very success piece.

In an interview, Hertzfeldt said, “I don’t know why these things are always framed as a big dumb cage match: Hand-drawn versus computers, film versus digital. We have over 100 years now of amazing film technology to play with, I don't understand why any artists would want to throw any of their tools out of the box. Many people assume that because I shoot on film and animate on paper I must be doing things the hard way, when in fact my last four movies would have been visually impossible to produce digitally. The only thing that matters is what actually winds up on the big screen, not how you got it there. You could make a cartoon in crayons about a red square that falls in unrequited love with a blue circle, and there wouldn’t be a dry eye in the house if you know how to tell a story."

Do you agree? Does it matter how we get to our final work?

The Gift of the Magi

On a rather roundabout trek to research illustrated carry out boxes from the Cheesecake Factory, I stumbled across this visual gem in an artist’s inspirational blog. This seemed more pertinent.

At first glance, Lisbeth Zwerger might have been an English illustrator in the 1800s. Fooled you! Zwerger, who was born in Vienna in 1954 and studied at the Applied Arts Academy there, has been illustrating steadily since the late 1970’s. She works primarily on classic children’s literature, illustrating such works as The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, The Bible, The Night Before Christmas, and several stories by the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen. She was the winner of the 1990 Hans Christian Andersen Award.

The chosen illustration is from O. Henry’s 1982 edition of The Gift of the Magi. If you’re not familiar with the story, a poor husband and wife sell their most valued possessions to get a Christmas present for the other. They then find out that the presents complement the possessions sold and are hence pointless. Oh, classic irony. But of course, love conquers all. The thing that I like about this illustration is that you definitely get a sense of the sparseness that accompanies being poor. The wife’s hair is the focal point as well as her treasured possession. In that sense, this is a wonderfully successful illustration.

Although Zwerger began working in a limited palette of pen-and-ink and watercolor, she has since expanded her mediums to include gouache and colored papers. I believe that this might be something to be desired, being a traditional illustrator in the digital age. It might partially be because of her age, but it’s still cool. I also think that what she does with retelling classic stories is important (so we don’t have an entire market full of Twilight). Learn your literary history. Don’t repeat its mistakes. The same goes for art.

For a comprehensive look at her works, look here.