Friday, February 27, 2009

From The Vault: Peter Lorre - 1997

This started out as a portrait of actor Peter Lorre, but as I worked on it I realized it worked well on its own as just a particularly creepy image.

I'm not sure what it is that Lorre was holding there, but after I took out some details and just left the black hook end of it, it looks like a really horrible appliance that a mad dentist would use. *shudder*

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Time Out New York: Lauren Graham

This week's "Hot Seat" subject for Time Out New York was actress Lauren Graham (Lorelai from The Gilmore Girls), who is appearing in a NY production of Guys and Dolls.

Tracy and I used to watch GG regularly, and I always thought Graham's portrayal of Lorelai was top-notch: she was smart and funny, and was a solid anchor for the rest of the show to pivot around.

And what can I say? Getting to stare at Lauren Graham for a couple of days while getting paid for it...I love this job!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Wanted: Selina Kyle

Like a lot of artists who also love comics, I can't help but try my hand at real life-style shots of various superhero characters. Most of the time they don't come out that well, so once I finish them they pretty much disappear.

But occasionally I get something like this, a portrait of Catwoman I did based on a woman walking the NY Comic Con a few weeks ago. When I saw her, I was stunned at the attention to detail of the costume, and the fact that a living, breathing human woman could fit herself into such a tiny, form-fitting suit (you can see one picture I took of her on the floor of the con here).

I really liked the strident, proud pose she took, which exactly fits the personality of Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman. So as I was trying to think of a background to go with the portrait, I hit upon the idea of Selina posing in front of a wanted poster of herself, striking the same exact pose. It seemed like a very Catwoman-ish thing to do.

(You can't really see them because they're obscured by her, but the list of charges the GCPD says Catwoman is wanted for are: Robbery, Breaking and Entering, Trafficking in Stolen Goods, Possession of Stolen Goods, Impersonating a Police Officer, Carrying A Concealed Weapon (Grappling Hook), Tieing Up A Police Officer, plus 16 Other Charges)

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Dream and The Deal

A friend of mine, who is also interested in all things WPA, recently gave me a book, called The Dream and The Deal: The Federal Writer's Project 1935-1943, by Jerry Mangione, figuring I'd be interested in reading it.

Of course I was, since there are (still!) relatively few books on the subject of the WPA, and it was interesting reading a book by someone who was there at the time.

The book was first published in 1972, the edition my friend gave me was from 1982. The only problem with the book was the cover--text only, with a dull-as-dishwater color scheme (navy blue and tan), made it look like a really boring textbook.

So, as I am wont to do, I worked up my own cover for it, which you see above. It felt like my way to do a tribute to the book, and of course I'm always up for WPA-style graphics.

My original conception for the piece was for me to illustrate one person, sitting a 1930s-era typewriter, with the text around them. But soon after starting, I realized it would work better if we saw lots of people working at typewriters--the whole idea behind the Writer's Project, after all--and I thought it would ultimately work better just with photos from the period.

So while this isn't an illustration piece, I'm still proud of it, and I still think it would make a great cover for, say, a new edition of the book!

Friday, February 20, 2009

From The Vault: Doorway - 1994

This is another one of those pieces that, as I look back on it, I wonder why I didn't follow up with more illustrations similar in approach--I really like the all-black features and white shirt, sort of reversing the usual color scheme I was using at the time. Its moody and cool, and I also like the tilted angle.

It's not a portrait of anyone, it doesn't have a point, per se--its just a nice illustration. Jeez, I should try this again sometime!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Time Out New York: Kathy Griffin

This week's "Hot Seat" subject for Time Out New York was comedienne Kathy Griffin, who was doing some shows in the city.

I had originally wanted to do a portrait of Kathy in the style of this Liza Minnelli album cover, which I always thought was visually striking, plus it had the virtue of being very diva-ish, something I thought Kathy would appreciate (diva-ish behavior is something she mentions in her act fairly regularly).

So I tried a portrait in that same manner, but all in blue. After doing the whole piece that way, I stepped back, looked at it...and it didn't work. I can't say why it didn't work, exactly, but it didn't. It looked harsh and weird and, worst of all, it really didn't look recognizable. I sighed, created a new file, and started all over again. (Someday I'll figure out what I did wrong)

In the end, I went with this version, which is a lot more straightforward. I liked the addition of the glowing lights, giving you the feel that Kathy is on stage, basking in the attention.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Jelly of the Month: Jack White

Since there's no inherent limit to the number of submissions you can send in for Jelly of the Month, I thought I'd try another ten minute exercise, this time tackling a genuine portrait.

And since I knew I had (very) limited time, I thought The White Stripes' Jack White would be a good candidate, since the color palate would be so obvious!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Popular Science - March 2009

I've done a lot of work for the magazine Popular Science in the past--at one point doing the illustrations for a regular column--but after that feature was ended my work for them has been sporadic.

But one feature I've found myself the sort-of regular artist for is their How 2.0 column. What the feature calls is for a hybrid of photography and my style: the piece of high-tech equipment that the article is about needs to remain, but all the surrounding elements are rendered by me, making for an unusual but ultimately cool-looking effect. This piece, about printer cartridges, appears in the current issue on the stands, cover-dated March 2009.

I enjoy Popular Science as a magazine, and had read it ever before I did work for it, so its always a nice treat to have something of mine inside!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Charles Schwab On Investing - Winter 2008

I do a lot of work for the magazine Charles Schwab On Investing, and one of the nice things about their assignments is that they're always different.

If you take a look, you can see all the jobs I've done for them, and this most recent one was just as different--they wanted me to illustrate three people--one wearing glasses, one holding a magnifying glass, the third a monocle--which would then be converted into % signs to accompany an article about being "Tax-Smart."

Originally, they thought I should do the portraits full-color, but after showing them what one of them looked like, we both decided that the % signs were more noticeable if the people were in black and white, and they would drop in corresponding color backgrounds (but not the same color as the sign in that particular picture).

I'm working on another job for On Investing right now, and, true to form, its something very different than all the other jobs I've done for them previously. As always, they are a fine bunch of folks to work with!

Friday, February 13, 2009

From The Vault: Tonight - 2001

Since tomorrow is Valentine's Day, I thought I'd post one of my gushy-gushy romantic piece that I've put together over the years.

I've found going with silhouettes makes a piece like this really work for me, since the two people become generic and it becomes more about the space between, the connection.

The words are from Bob Dylan's "Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You", one of my all-time favorite Dylan songs and (to me) one of the most romantic songs ever recorded.

Instead using a font, I used my own handwriting and scanned it in, giving the piece the right amount of intimacy that I felt it needed.

Looking back, I wish I had beefed up the window frame a but (no window frame is that skinny!) and I wish I had put some detail on the moon, so it less abstract. Oh well, maybe next time...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Time Out New York: Danny McBride

This week's "Hot Seat" subject for Time Out New York is comedic actor Danny McBride, who has been in Pineapple Express, The Foot-Fist Way, and was promoting a new HBO series called Eastbound & Down.

I didn't know much about McBride, or the show, so for background colors I just used the same ones used for the series' promotional items--a light blue, white, and tan.

Guys will lots of stubble always present a challenge, because sometimes it come off looking way too dark, or way too light, but I think I nailed it fairly well here, and it isn't too distracting.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Capital G Ad Campaign, Part 3

Here's a third print ad featuring my illustrations for the banking firm Capital G.

I provided the agency Concept Farm with layered files so they could drop in any color they wanted to behind the portrait. Had I known the Capital G standard orange was going to be used, I might have gone with a slightly darker set of skin tones, so there would've been more of a contrast, but that's show biz.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Capital G Ad Campaign, Part 2

Here's another print ad featuring my illustrations for the banking firm Capital G.

I ended up doing a full body portrait of this woman, but only the top third is visible here. It started out being fairly tedious, having to get in to such detail (down to the buckles on her shoes, her pendant, etc.) but in the end it became a sort of cool challenge, to get as precise and detailed as possible. You get some sense of that here.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Capital G Ad Campaign, Part 1

One of the big projects that's been taking up so much of my time is working with the ad agency Concept Farm, for a print campaign for the banking firm Capital G.

I was asked to produce an initial batch of nineteen portraits--using Cap G's colors of pink, purple, and green--of some of the firm's customers testifying to Cap G's qualities as a bank.

Each portrait had to be highly detailed, and most of the portraits were of the people from the waist up, which we'll see examples of tomorrow. This ad lumps them all together, and seeing them all in one spot like this makes me relive just how much work went into all these--whew!

The print ads are running in Bermuda, where Cap G is located, so I won't get to see them around here. Thankfully Concept Farm--who were great to work with--provided me with some examples so I could see the final product.

Friday, February 6, 2009

From The Vault: Mad Hatter - 1997

With the New York Comic Con this weekend, I wanted to find something comic book-y in the vaults, luckily I had a lot to choose from.

This, of course, is a portrait of actor David Wayne in his role as The Mad Hatter on the Batman TV series. This was one of the first portraits I tried in this full-color mode, and I was really happy how it came out. I added the tilted comic book-y panel border and orange background, which I thought made the thing *pop* all the more.

Normally, when a piece comes off this well, I try more in the same style, but I think that because, in the end, I didn't really add much to what was already there (the Batman TV show hardly needed to be colored any more vibrantly, after all) I decided to leave it alone and not try something so specifically tied to the reference again.

On an unrelated note, I think The Mad Hatter is probably the last great Batman villain not yet done in a live action Batman movie.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Time Out New York: Keith David

This week's "Hot Seat" subject for Time Out New York is actor and all around cool cat Keith David, who is currently providing a voice in the animated film Coraline.

I first saw David in the 1982 John Carpenter classic The Thing (in itself a remake of the classic original), and it was cool to get to do a portrait of him.

I wanted to do something cool in return, so I stuck with lots of blues and subdued tones (not even any white), and while the piece didn't quite come out as well as I hoped, overall I was happy with it, as was the TONY.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Jelly of the Month: Fist

Usually there's more time between my submissions for Jelly of the Month, but since I didn't get around to doing the January one (theme: Favorite Villains) until nearly the end of the month, it was only a few days before Jelly's admins announced the theme for February: Ten Minutes.

"Ten Minutes" meaning you only had ten minutes to work on whatever it was you were going to submit, whether it was finished or not. That way no one had an excuse not to submit something, since, hey, it would only take you ten minutes!

I thought that was an ingenious idea, and before I started in on another Time Out New York portrait, I set aside 10-15 minutes to work on this (I wasn't counting what I call "prep time" against my ten minute time budget).

My first oh-so-clever idea was to have a picture of an alarm clock, repeated over ten panels, each with the minute hand moving one minute forward per panel. When I realized that would break the ten minute rule, I abandoned it, since without the payoff it wouldn't look like much of anything.

So I had this other picture in my head, of a cartoony fist raised in anger (or solidarity, or revolution, or something), and its loosey-goosey feel would be perfect for only having ten minutes in which to execute it.

So, nine minutes and change later, I was done--I had stuck to the rules, and I had completed something I thought was cool looking. I titled it "Revolution in Ten Minutes."

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

You Make The Call!

Okay, I've come to a sort of crossroads here at the art blog, and I'm asking you, my faithful audience I know is out there (thank you, Google Analytics!) what I should do.

I started this blog with the idea of putting up my newest work while it was still fresh and on my mind, and I hoped it would inspire me to work on more new stuff, knowing I had a place to put it immediately upon completing it.

But over time, the three-new-pieces-a-week schedule I've tried to maintain (Thursdays being Time Out New York day, and Friday being "From The Vault" day) has sort of turned into the tail that wags the dog--I've been finding myself not having time to work on bigger, more ambitious pieces so I could get to smaller stuff, so I had something to post here when Monday came around.

Which is kind of crazy, because, in the end, it means the blog will start (if it hasn't already) reducing the overall quality of my work, just in attempt to have new content.

So...if you look to your right, you'll see a poll I put up, where I'm asking you--yes, you!--what you'd like to see here on the blog: only post on days I have something new to show, or fill those days with more stuff From The Vault.

I have over 1,400 pieces in my back catalog, only a few hundred of which are on permanent display on, so I have more than enough to fill the blog on days I don't have anything new to show off.

But I'm curious to see what all of you think, so please vote and let me know!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Frankenstein, Part I

I'm working on a project that involves producing new covers for a series of previously published Frankenstein books.

I've just started working on the first cover, so I thought as I go through the process, I'd post each stage along the way so you can get an idea of how I work...for this project at least.

So the first stage was going out and shooting my own photo reference, which I had done a week or so ago. I knew that for the cover I wanted Frankenstein making his way through a grim forest, no doubt being chased by a mob of torch-wielding townspeople, so I shot photos some nearby woods.

After going through the photos, I worked up this pencil sketch based on what I had, to see what the image would look like with just heavy lights and darks.

Part 2 coming soon!