Friday, January 30, 2009

From The Vault: Ed Wood - 1994

This was my tribute to the late, great Ed Wood. I had been aware of his work before the bio-pic starring Johnny Depp came out that year, but afterwards I had a greater appreciation for the man and his films (classics like Glen or Glenda, Bride of the Monster, and his opus, Plan 9 From Outer Space).

I knew I had wanted some grungy, cheap-looking element to add to the portrait, so I found some shots of his films from a video catalog, and then copied them on a Xerox machine, so they'd come out all blotchy and ragged--I figured what better way to honor the man?

This was one of the first pieces I ever did where I "pulled back" and made the very style of the piece part of the piece--people asked me why the collage elements look so cruddy, and of course that was the whole point.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Time Out New York: Jack McBrayer

This week's "Hot Seat" subject for Time Out New York is Jack McBrayer, who plays Kenneth the NBC Page on the brilliant 30 Rock.

I absolutely love that show, and McBrayer is one of the funniest things on it, which is saying something. This piece was unusual in that I was supposed to focus on McBrayer's character, not the actor behind it, so this is really a portrait of Kenneth the NBC Page--hence the thumbs up, manic smile, and NBC peacock.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Lift Magazine Portraits

These are three portraits I did for Lift, a quarterly-published house magazine for the alumni of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

I was tapped do the a set of three portraits for the magazine by its publisher (McMurry, Inc., based in Arizona), little did I know that I'd still be doing them over four years later, never missing an issue.

McMurry is a fine client to deal with--they always give me lots of of time to work on these, never ask for any changes, and since I've been doing them for so long, there's a comfortable informality between us, since they know I'm reliable and I know they're always a pleasure to deal with.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Jelly of the Month: Two-Face

I belong to an online art blog called Jelly of the Month, where the admins of the blog pick a theme, and every artist involved submits a piece related to that theme. I've been doing it about a year now, and it's a lot of fun, since there's really no pressure.

This month's theme is "Favorite Villain" and for a few weeks I mulled illustrating one of my favorite bad guys (Black Manta, Ming the Merciless, Dick Cheney) but finally decided to go with someone that has always inspired me visually--Batman bad-guy Two-Face.

When working on this, I liked the idea of putting the scarred side of former Gotham City D.A. Harvey Dent almost entirely in shadow, and I think it came out kinda cool. The portrait isn't based on either actor to portray the character (first, Tommy Lee Jones, then last year Aaron Eckhart)--I didn't want it tied to a particular famous face.

And yes, fellow comic nerds, I am aware that I put the scarred part on the wrong side of Dent's face. Fifty lashes with a copy of Batman #400 for me!

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Girl From Sunrise

I just finished the second phase (of three) of this big project I'm working on, and about to start on another big project, so I wanted to work on something simple and stress-free in the meantime, which meant another faux-paperback book cover.

Based on the model I was using, I knew I wanted the book to be fun and upbeat, so I made up my own title, tag line, and author (a combo of actor Simon Pegg and director Edgar Wright, whose TV series Spaced I was watching while working on this), and decided to tie it in visually and thematically with my very first paperback book cover, The Girl From Midnight.

After adding the outline to the girl and the circle, I thought it started looking like a label you'd see on food or something, which kicked off imagination, and I imagined this book was about a free-thinking, free-loving woman who entrances men and leaves a bunch of broken hearts in her wake, all set in sunny Florida (and maybe her father is an orange juice magnate, or something).

Friday, January 23, 2009

From The Vault: Red Bolt - 2004

This was just a jazzy little piece I put together, with no real idea of where it was going when I started it.

Sometimes I like working on something that has no "point" at all, and is just a nice visual. This looks very hip and cool (as cool as I can ever get), like something you'd see as a spot illustration in fashion magazine.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Time Out New York: Brandon Flowers

This week's "Hot Seat" subject for Time Out New York is Brandon Flowers, member of the band The Killers.

I'm not sure why I got the idea to add a collage element to the piece, by taking Flowers' jacket, messing with it a bit, and adding it to the illustrated portrait, but I thought it looked cool so I went with it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

There Is Something Happening in America

As a concept, this poster's message is long past outdated--the line is from a speech Obama gave I think right after winning South Carolina, and we all know now what that "something" was--it was 66 + million people wanting to try something different.

But the line always appealed to me, so while I had a few days in between the second and third phases of this big project I've been working on, I put this together--the general design and color was what I saw in my head, and as usual I just tried to get it down as faithfully to that original vision as possible.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day


Monday, January 19, 2009

From The Vault: Speed Your Trip - 2004

Around the time I made this poster, I had just finished an assignment for The American Prospect where I had to come up with six WPA-styled poster designs.

I was so in love with that project that I kept on trying posters like that, and this was one of my attempts at a sort of PSA-style announcement.

I like the design, the colors, the sentiment...the only weakness I think it has is the figure is a little too muddy, a little too indistinct. I think that's what kept me from adding this to my permanent online portfolio, but looking back on it it still retains a certain charm for me.

Friday, January 16, 2009

From The Vault: Dems - 2004

Back in 2004, I was engaged as never before in politics, like a lot of people wakened from a general political slumber by the first term of George W. Bush.

So, in an effort to feel involved (and, truth be told, to hopefully score some work in political magazines) I decided to do a series of portraits of Bush's potential Democratic Party challengers.

I started with Howard Dean, which came out okay (the likeness is off a bit), and then I moved on to General Wesley Clark, which I thought came out pretty well.

And then...I stopped. My...lack of enthusiasm let's say over the 2004 crop of candidates must have crept from the back of my mind to the front, since I could never muster the requisite gusto to do portraits of Kerry, Edwards, etc., which I think was a microcosm for how most of the country felt.

I realized I needed a candidate I could get excited about to be artistically inspired. And guess what happened?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Time Out New York: Jorge Garcia

This week's "Hot Seat" subject for Time Out New York is Lost's Jorge Garcia.

Having never seen even a single frame of the show, I couldn't make any specific Lost references. So I went for a fairly generic background, but one that I still thought had some visual interest.

I had considered getting cute and putting the background in a "Wish You Were Here"-type postcard (scalloped edges and all), but without the ability to add text, I figured that probably wouldn't have worked all that well.

But in the end I'm glad I went this way--I like the contrast of the foreground and the background, and I thought this turned out to be one of my better TONY portraits of late.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

From The Vault: Jumping - 2004

I'm hip-deep in the project I mentioned earlier, so I haven't had time to work on anything else but that. new stuff for the next week, at least, but I didn't want to not post something, so here's another piece From The Vault!

I was--am--a big fan of the work of artist Paul Pope, whose work bursts off the page with energy and movement. One of the problems I've always had with my own work is, because its obviously so heavily photo-based, it can be a little stiff sometimes. So I wanted to try and inject a little of that Pope-ish energy into one of my pieces, and this was the first result.

Overall, its okay, and while it does look a little different than my usual style, it still feels a little too stiff for me. But I like the very contrasting colors, the angle, so its certainly not a total loss.

I tried another one in this same vein, but this was the best of the two. Eventually I gave up on it and moved on to other things. Seeing this makes me want to try all over again...


Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Another fashion-y piece, this piece left me feeling a little frustrated because, try as I might, and as nice a piece as it is, I still feel like it looks like something from in my wheel house--that is, something that's very recognizable as my style.

I find myself almost always working within the borders of the "paper", and with this one I wanted to go for a more fluid, open shape (kind of like this piece), but every time I tried that approach I didn't like it--it just didn't look right.

That said, what is here does look nice I think, and I like the contrast of the flat black outfit and the crazy pattern on the left.

Monday, January 12, 2009

WPA: Fashion Exhibition

Another faux-WPA poster, inspired partially by my association with the Design For Social Impact and all their WPA-related projects in the Fall.

I admit up front, this design is partly ripped off from one of my all-time favorite movie posters, the Bette Davis film Bordertown. I've never seen the movie, nor do I have any great desire to, but the poster is so exquisitely beautiful that I've always wanted to incorporate the basic design scheme into something of my own (maybe someday I'll do a post here of my top 10 favorite movie posters, based on design criteria only).

I had the toughest time leaving that big white space there, and I think the time I took trying different things in there (different colors, wiggly lines, arrows, etc.) was equal to the time it took me to do the whole rest of the poster. Finally, I realized I just afraid of the Big White Space, and since I'm a grown man, I told myself I shouldn't be afraid and called it a day.

Friday, January 9, 2009

From The Vault: Batman - 2001

This was the final result of doing three separate portraits (if Adam West as Batman, Burt Ward as Robin, and Yvonne Craig as Batgirl) with the intention of doing something with them all together afterwards.

I was just getting into doing my portraiture entirely digitally at this point, and I was really enjoying the freedom this new way of doing them afforded me. The colors are a little too saturated for me, when I look back on this now, but it sort of works with Pop Art aesthetic that was such a huge part of the Batman TV series.

And on a personal level, since the show is (still!) unavailable on DVD, I'd love to see some network get the rights to Batman and start running them again. I loved that show.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Time Out New York: Flight of the Conchords

This week's "Hot Seat" subject for Time Out New York were Flight of the Conchords, the two-man-band from the HBO show of the same name.

Having never seen the show and only having the barest idea of what they're about, I decided I wanted to go for the look of one of those show posters you see slapped on New York City streets, twenty at a time, all in a row.

Since I couldn't put text on the image (there's a general rule against that in this Hot Seat illustrations), the idea I had isn't that readily apparent when looking at this, but nevertheless I liked the rough, kind of low-rent look this has.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Capital Thinking Magazine - Winter 2008

I do a lot of magazine work that never really sees the light of day, and in that I mean work that doesn't appear in nationally-sold magazines, nor is the kind of work I tend to put up on, because there's nothing all that "exciting" about it.

But its important work nonetheless, so I figured I should occasionally point one of these pieces out for people to see. The portrait above is for Capital Thinking magazine, a specialty publication covering business, finance, politics, and the law.

I've been doing the illustrations for the "Q&A" feature for a couple of years now, and they're always a nice little assignment to work on. I just finished this one over the holiday, I thought it came out pretty well. I also like how its laid into the text, making the page look really nice over all.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Bikini Stripe

I'm in the middle of a big project right now, so many of my more ambitious side projects have had to be put on the back burner for the moment.

But I still like to dabble with stuff, and this cheery image popped into my head one day, and it pretty much came out how I first imagined it. I think it would make a marvelous little spot illustration for a fashion magazine or something.

While I love doing the big complex movie posters and paperback book covers, sometimes I can get just as much satisfaction from a little thing like this.

Monday, January 5, 2009


Over the past week or so, Tracy and I have been watching the DVDs of the British TV series Spaced, starring Simon Pegg (from Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz).

We rented Hot Fuzz, and enjoyed it so much I thought we might like the TV show they did (Pegg and director Edgar Wright), not knowing much about it. So we put the first disc in, and in about twenty minutes, we were hooked.

We ended up watching the entire series--14 episodes in all--over just a few days, even watching some of them more than once. Its hilarious, goofy, touching, smart, and a bunch of other things. My feeling watching them was "Where have I been, just getting to this show now?"

Anyway, while listening to the commentary tracks on the DVDs, I wanted to work on something to pay tribute to this fine show, and the result is what you see above.

I originally had the cast members done in my portrait style, but after one or two I realized I liked it better this way, with a more scrappy, fuzzy look. And while I don't think this is some great piece or anything, it was exactly what I wanted to work on at the moment.

"Tim, The Phantom Menace was eighteen months ago!"

"I know, but it still hurts!"

Friday, January 2, 2009

From The Vault: Lost Time Out Portraits

I thought I'd do something a little different this week for the "From The Vault" segment, so today I'm posting the (so far) four subjects of Time Out New York's "Hot Seat" column that, for one reason or another, ended up getting cancelled before they saw print. That meant, of course, that the artwork I did for them was also abandoned.

But for whatever reason, I kept them around, so here they are: up top is Brooke Shields, who was starring in Chicago on Broadway at the time, which is why I was going for the Cruella DeVille-look you see above.

Next is Dolly Parton:
This piece looks kinda grotesque because its not finished--Ms. Parton's giant mound of hair, sans detail I would've added, looks more like a giant pile of spaghetti. This was the only time that the interview got cancelled before I ever finished the piece.

Next is actor Patrick Wilson:
Wilson has been in movies like Little Children and Lakeview Terrace (and will be in Watchmen in March) but here he was promoting his role in a revival of the play All My Sons, which concerns itself about a man who sells faulty weapons to the U.S. government during World War II.

Last is the most "famous" of my lost pieces, actor Rob Lowe:
Lowe was promoting a Christmas-themed TV special he was starring in, and that week the magazine sent me two subjects--Lowe and actress Jennifer Hudson--because they didn't know which interview was going to pan out.

I did them both, and while the Hudson one turned out fine (you can see it about 2/3rds down on this page), for whatever reason this one really ended up something inspired.

I wanted to get in the Christmas angle, but didn't want anything with a tree, or Santa, or anything like that---so I went for something snowy and quiet, which felt Christmassy to me but not cheesy.

Of course, word came down from the magazine that the Lowe interview was off, Hudson was on. *sigh*

This ended up being one of my all-time favorite pieces I ever did for Time Out, and I put it on my website anyway, I was too proud of it to let it go to waste!


Thursday, January 1, 2009

Time Out New York: Brett Michaels

No better example of how different the "Hot Seat" subjects for Time Out New York can be than these last two weeks--last week was the legendary John Cleese, this week was former Poison frontman and current reality TV host Brett Michaels--two men about as different as can be.

He frequently wears bandannas and cowboy hats, and I knew from the beginning I wanted a black and white portrait with some sort of "rock star" design on the hat, and this ended up coming out pretty well, I think.