Monday, August 31, 2009

Monster PSAs: Lon Chaney, Jr.

My third attempt in the "Monster PSA" series, this one screamed out at me when I saw a still of Lon Chaney, Jr., in his breakout role as Larry Talbot, aka The Wolf Man, with his hand on a doorknob.

To me he looked like he was checking the door for heat, the way you're supposed to do when you think there's a fire. Voila!

I'm having a lot of fun with these, so I've been trying to come up with more of them in between working on other projects. We'll see how long I can keep 'em going...

Friday, August 28, 2009

From The Vault: Back Light - 2004

I have no memory of the hows and whys of this piece--I was probably bored and just wanted to mess around with something and see what happened.

That heavy white outline is the one unusual element--its a nice effect, but one that for whatever reason I haven't used again.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Time Out New York: Andre Leon Talley

This week's "Hot Seat" portrait for Time Out New York is Vogue editor Andre Leon Talley.

Like last week's subject, Nina Garcia, Talley is a figure from the world of fashion, of which I know nothing about (watching What Not To Wear every week is as close I get).

So I was at a bit of a loss as to how to approach this, and since I had very little time to turn the piece around, I went with something cool and dignified and relatively simple (although I did add the dot pattern on his tie because I thought it looked cool).

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Animal Care for Artists Initiative Logo

Last month, I was contacted by Laura Menck, one of the board of directors of The Animal Care for Artists Initiative, a new non-profit dedicated to providing health insurance for pets of those in the arts.

Laura couldn't have known it, but she couldn't have found a cause I'm more passionate about if she tried. Being self-employed for over half a decade now, I'm all too familiar with the delicate balance that it sometimes takes to make sure you have adequate health insurance for not just yourself, but for your pets.

Laura and the ACAI was a dream client to work for--all they asked was for it to include their mascot Dolly (the dog on the left--so cute!) and it to have a sort of old-timey, WPA-ish feel to it. Of course, that's music to my ears, and I was so excited to work on this I ended up putting some other work aside to get to this.

It all came together quite quickly, and even the one element usually the most hard to pin down--the right font--fell into place. I sent it off to Laura and the ACAI, and they loved it, and its now on their website.

I hope that the ACAI is a huge success, and helps creative people like me the chance to provide for their pets--they deserve it.

Woof! Woof!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Monster PSAs: Glenn Strange

I can never resist a series!

After finishing last week's Bela Lugosi PSA-type poster, I of course let my mind wander, trying to come up with some other, public service-type messages that some of the other Universal Monsters could deliver.

Once I finished the Glenn Strange portrait, I worked on crafting a gentle, reassuring message, since, from what I've read of the man, he was an exceedingly sweet guy. After all, who wouldn't want Glenn (as Frankenstein) telling you he's sure you're going to be okay? I know I would!

I actually like this one better than that Bela poster--this portrait especially has that simple, kinda cruddy look that a lot of the Frankenstein/Universal Monsters merch had from the 60s and 70s, before stock art guides took over.

Friday, August 21, 2009

From The Vault: Eric Clapton - 1994

Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. How else to portray Eric Clapton, then draped in the blues?

Maybe the likeness could be a little sharper, but overall this piece still works for me.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Time Out New York: Nina Garcia

This week's "Hot Seat" portrait for Time Out New York is fashion stylista Nina Garcia, former editor of Elle and currently a judge on Project Runway.

Most of the time on this piece was spent on the hair! I wish TONY would interview more bald guys...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Charles Schwab On Investing - Summer 2009

This is the most recent piece I've done for Charles Schwab On Investing magazine, for their Summer 2009 issue.

As I've stated before, I really enjoy these assignments from CSOI because they're all so different--each piece I've done for them (you can see previous ones here) is about a different subject and has a different look, and they're always a fun challenge.

I also enjoy seeing text laid over my work--since most of my printed work are portraits, they tend to stand apart from the text, but with CSOI the article is frequently integrated with my illustration, like it is here. I think it gives articles like this more flow and make them more visually appealing.

And I'm happy to report, I'm working on another piece for CSOI right now!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Monster PSAs: Bela Lugosi

I have no idea how I came up with this idea--the image, colors and all, simply popped into my head one day and I tried to getting it down as best as I could.

If I wanted to analyze this (and why not?), I'd say I've always been interested in the idea that the classic Universal Monsters--so terrifying in their day--are now mostly considered warm, friendly icons, suitable for kids. How things change.

Running with that, I liked the idea of using the monsters in sort of PSA-style announcements. And since Bela Lugosi was so bedeviled with financial problems in his life, I think he would be concerned with the average American citizen's staggering amount of credit card debt.

I also wanted to it be a very quick, almost sloppy-looking piece--like those underground "street art" illustrations Shepard Fairey was famous for before he did that Obama piece (hey, I'd like some of my stuff to be in the National Gallery, too--although I doubt this'll be the piece that gets me in there).

Maybe I've put too much thought into this?

Friday, August 14, 2009

From The Vault: Let's Go - 2005

This has always been one of my favorite pieces, because it captured the exact feeling I was going for. I had always assumed it had a permanent spot on my regular site, but after looking through the vault for something to post this week I see that isn't! Weird.

Simply put, I wanted something fun and cool, with a lot of energy--this woman is dancing the night away, the music is loud, everyone's having a good time!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Time Out New York: Vincent Kartheiser

This week's "Hot Seat" portrait for Time Out New York is actor Vincent Kartheiser, who plays the oily Pete Campbell on the superb series Mad Men.

Darlin' Tracy and I are both big fans of the show, and I was jazzed to get to do a portrait of someone from it. More than most of the cast, Kartheiser very different than he does on the series--with non-Brylcreemed-to-the-point-of-immobility hair, and the beard, I doubt most people--even die-hard Mad Men fans--would recognize him if they saw him on the street.

I initially thought about putting all sorts of vintage ads behind the portrait, but when that looked to junky to me I ditched that idea and went for something simple and clean.

Can't wait for Season 3 of Mad Men, which starts this weekend!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Chandu The Magician

Still in a poster-makin' mood, I whipped up this piece for the very fun, very crazy Bela Lugosi movie Chandu The Magician (you can probably guess who plays the "mad man" mentioned in the tag line).

This was another one of those cases where I immediately saw in my head a visual--Bela, as the mad Roxor (not Chandu--that's Edmund Lowe), looming over the movie's title in a curve--and simply tried to build the rest of the poster around it.

Bela even starred in the sequel--the sensibly-titled The Return of Chandu--but I don't think I'll get around to that one...

Friday, August 7, 2009

From The Vault: Vertigo - 2004

This was another one of my blind alleys, in that it was a approach I never continued with after trying this first piece.

This is based on a scene from the classic Hitchcock film Vertigo starring Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak; and the hazy, wavy effect put on top of the two actors' portraits was of course my fairly unsubtle way of referencing the feel and theme of the movie.

Looking back at this piece, I don't think it came out too bad; but for whatever reason I never tried this illustrative approach again.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Time Out New York: Ashton Kutcher

This week's "Hot Seat" portrait for Time Out New York was is actor/producer/former Kelso Ashton Kutcher!

Kucther was promoting a new movie he's in called Spread, but I wanted to do something not more portrait-y. I've been messing around with actual paint strokes a lot the last week or two, so I put together this very colorful, lively background.

Working back from that, I decided I wanted Kutcher in black and white so he would *pop* more off of that background. Once I finished the portrait part and put him on that background, it looked exactly like I hoped it would. Another Hot Seat portrait was ready to go!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Has Boobs, Reads Comics

One of the (too)many comics blogs I read is, written by the charming Jill Pantozzi. Her catchphrase is "Has Boobs, Reads Comics", because...well, she has and she does.

A couple of weeks before the San Diego Comic Con, she had a contest for someone to design a sign for her scooter (which she uses to get around because of her Muscular Dystrophy) that would work as a sign to tell people who she was and what her blog was.

Well, I'm a sucker for doing any sort of pure graphic design piece, so I whipped up the above little number, playing off her blog's logo (which also features various superheroines' bustlines) and even throwing in a cartoony version of Jill herself, speeding by.

I sent it in, and a few weeks later...I didn't win. Oh well, I thought, nice try.

But apparently Jill (and people who left comments) liked my design enough to want to turn it into a t-shirt, which she would wear to the SDCC! I thought that was great, and, sure enough, a few weeks later, there was Jill, rocking my design:
...I am filled with pride, seeing my design on a shirt like that. And this is certainly the prettiest thing my work has ever been put next to, on, or near! Thanks Jill!

Monday, August 3, 2009

I Walked With A Zombie

After finishing up my Curse of the Cat People poster a few weeks ago, I immediately started to think what movie should be next on my "to do" list. Since I'm such a big fan of the films of producer Val Lewton, I thought why not stay in his ballpark and try my hand at another one of his films?

I Walked With A Zombie is one of Lewton's best films--creepy, moody, and odd, nothing in it is quite what it seems. The most famous scene in the movie is when the main character (Frances Dee) literally walks "with" a woman in a zombie-like state, escorting her through a windy, eerily-quiet section of woods, where they encounter a real zombie, Carrefour (Darby Jones).

As soon as I decided to do a poster for this movie, it was that scene I wanted dramatize. And for whatever reason, the first and only design I saw in my head was a two-paneled approach, the first featuring the women walking, the second being what they're about to see.

I also wanted a rough look, much rougher than usual style, so I pulled out my old tubes of paint and slapped down some globs of it, spreading it across the paper and then adding them to the backgrounds. Once I dropped them in, it gave me the exact look I was going for. Hallelujah!

After deciding to use the same typeface I used for Curse of the Cat People, the rest of it fell into place.

I don't think I'm going to get bogged down into doing posters for the entire Lewton horror series (I just can't get that excited about, say, The Ghost Ship or Isle of the Dead), but there are some others--including my all-time favorite Lewton movie--I'd like to have a go at, eventually...