Friday, January 29, 2010

From The Vault: Akim Tamiroff - 1993

One of the first dozen portraits I tried in my then-new style, this is character actor Akim Tamiroff, who I knew from his various appearances in Orson Welles' films, like A Touch of Evil and Mr. Arkadin (though he also was in a lot of other great movies).

At the time, I was working at a video store and devouring all the Welles movies I could get my hands on, and Welles had a penchant for lighting Tamiroff in the creepiest, most dramatic way possible, which is what inspired this portrait, I'm sure.

While this piece--like all of them from this time--is pretty ragged, it does have a certain loose quality that I think some of my all-digital stuff lacks. I really like the "open" face, as it bleeds into the background. I still think that looks cool...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Time Out New York: Rosie O'Donnell

This week's "Hot Seat" portrait for Time Out New York is Rosie O'Donnell!

Pretty much from the get-go, I knew how I wanted to approach this one--black and white, with a very bright, flat background, going for a brash, almost fashion-y look, and this piece came together very quickly and easily.

Once I had the portrait, I tried some different colors, but the bright magenta worked best (and that was the first color I saw in my head), and it all fell into place. Thanks Rosie!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Curse of Frankenstein

I'm not sure what got me interested in doing a poster for Hammer's The Curse of Frankenstein, but one day a few weeks ago I just started working on it and before too long I got really into it, determined to come up with a finished piece.

I knew I wanted a slightly more scrappy, rough look than I've used for my Universal Monster posters, and to that end I went with half-tone, tinted photographs of co-stars Peter Cushing and Hazel Court, instead of doing illustrated portraits of them. I thought they worked as a nice contrast to the very stark, flat image of Christopher Lee as The Monster.

I dabbled with splashes of other colors on this, but in the end I liked the monochromatic look better than any of the multi-colored versions. I was really happy with it, and who knows? Maybe I'll try my hand at another one of the Hammer classics...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Capital Thinking - Winter 2009

One of my regular assignments that most people never get to see are portraits I do for Capital Thinking, a magazine produced exclusively for Patton Boggs LLC.

Each issue features a Q&A segment, and I do the portrait for the subject in question. In each case, the art director I work with on these lays in the type around my portrait, a nice effect!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Monster PSA: Caroline Munro

Okay, at this point I think we can safely say these posters have come completely unmoored from the "Monster" designation. What can I say? This was a piece I really wanted to do.

Caroline Munro appeared in a bunch of sci-fi/fantasy/action movies during my childhood, like The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, The Spy Who Loved Me, and The Abominable Dr. Phibes.

While she didn't always have large parts, her stunning looks helped usher many a young boy into puberty, and that's what I'm channeling here. While I was too young to really...appreciate what Caroline Munro added to some of the movies I saw at the time, she was like a timebomb, waiting to go off in my head a few years down the line.

You can learn all about Ms. Munro on her official site!

Friday, January 22, 2010

From The Vault: Howard Hughes - 1997

This portrait of Howard Hughes is a piece I did during a time when I was cranking them out at a prodigious rate--only a handful of them were worth anything, but I got faster and learned a lot, so in the end it was worth it.

This piece was one of the first that I added something to once the cut-and-paste part of it was done--I went in with a pencil and added little squiggly outlines to the grey tones. I thought that look worked for Howard Hughes, known to many people more for his mental problems than his accomplishments (at the time--this was long before the Scorsese/DiCaprio movie).

Unfortunately, at some point over the years many of my originals got thrown out, and so the cheap color copy of the piece is the only record I have. In trying to scan it in, the light grey tones kind of disappeared, so in an attempt to make them more visible I fiddled with the piece, until it looked like this.

I actually kind of like it more now, it better gets at the look I was going for at the time!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Time Out New York: Will Arnett

The first "Hot Seat" portrait for Time Out New York for 2010 is actor Will Arnett!

I'm a big fan of Will Arnett's, first having seen him as the oblivious, stupid, yet confident Gob Bluth on Arrested Development. He's been in a number of TV shows and movies since, and he is consistently funny.

My original pass at this portrait was done in black and white with just a splash of red. I worked on the piece and got almost to the finish line when I stepped back, looked at it, and realized: it sucked. It didn't really look like Arnett, and the tone was all wrong.

So I scrapped that, and started all over, this time in full color and it became clear fairly quickly that was the way to go. The likeness was better and the tone felt more appropriate. I added a squiggly little outline to the figure--I don't know why, it just looked right--and another Hot Seat portrait was officially done.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wonder Girl

Sometimes I have some down time in between working on more involved projects, so I sort of "doodle" around on something like this.

The portrait was less important in my mind than the overall feel of the piece--with the font and background elements, I was going for the kind of look the Wonder Woman TV show credits had, with their 40s-esque graphics.

I don't think this piece is going on any "Best of" list, but it was a fun lark.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Charles Schwab On Investing Newsletter: November 2009

This was another piece I did for Charles Schwab On Investing, this time for an oversized "newsletter" they publish every month.

Even though it was a fairly simple illustration (I just had to draw the calendar) it took a couple of different roughs to get the exact right kind of calendar, placed in such a way that all the text that needed to be on there could fit.

I don't usually get to do illustrations of objects, and it was a nice change of pace!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Monster PSA: Albert Dekker

This is one of my most obscure "Monster PSA" posters, because most people--even people with a familiarity of old horror and sci-fi movies--don't know who Albert Dekker is.

He had a long career, appearing in such movies as The Killers, Gentlemen's Agreement, East of Eden, and The Wild Bunch; but I know him the odd 1940 film Dr. Cyclops, where he played a mad scientist who created a shrinking ray.

Dr. Cyclops, as a movie, is notable in many ways: it was directed by King Kong's Ernest Schoedsack, its in color, and has a comedic tone that is mixed in with the creepy performance by Dekker as Cyclops. Its not a classic by any means, but it has a certain something that really intrigues me.

The tagline refers to the rumors about how Dekker died: supposedly in a gruesome, sordid manner, his body found by police after he had been dead several days. I first heard about this many years ago, and have since come to learn that the story might not be true after all; and that it might have been someone's wild imagination that somehow became accepted fact.

So I thought if there was one lesson Mr. Dekker might want to impart, it would be not to necessarily believe everything you hear.

On a separate note, I notice I've added a bunch of new people on this blog's "Followers" list. I'm not sure where all you guys have come from, but I wanted to say thanks for following along, I really do appreciate it!

Friday, January 15, 2010

From The Vault: Drive-In Theater Sundays

I have almost no memory of what this piece was or who it was for: I think it was done for a friend that was putting together an informal program of genre films that would run every Sunday in an old movie theater (The Broadway in Pittman, NJ, if memory serves--and it might not).

The poster needed to have a big open space so the details of each week's movie could be dropped in, so I guess this thing was pretty near completion. I have no memory of what happened after that--too bad, I really dig the design, if I do say so myself!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Time Out New York: Mila Kunis

The first "Hot Seat" portrait for Time Out New York for 2010 is actress Mila Kunis!

Like the Penelope Cruz and Kristen Bell pieces I did previously, having to go on teh internets and look at pictures of Mila Kunis is not exactly what you'd call heavy lifting.

Ms. Kunis' eyes and hair are so striking that I knew I wanted to make them the most compelling part of the image. I originally had this as a black and white piece with the colored background, but in playing with it I realized it looked better--warmer--in full color, so I went with that.

I didn't see much of That 70s Show during its run, but I thought she was great in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and it was the warmth she showed in that movie that made me feel the less stark-look was more appropriate.

I added some little details (like the slight glow from behind), and the whole thing came together pretty quickly after that.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Charles Schwab On Investing: Winter 2009

Yet another piece I did for one of my favorite clients, Charles Schwab On Investing magazine!

I've said this before, but every illustration I've done for CSOI is always different from the previous one, and this is no exception: for a piece about credit cards, they asked me to illustrate a suitcase wrapped in what looks like packing tape, but is made up of recognizable credit card brands.

Since I'm generally an old-timey guy (visually, at least), I drew an old-time suitcase wrapped in the cards, and while it was a fairly simple piece I really liked how it came out.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Monster PSA: John Carradine

The only difficulty I had with this one was the tag line: try as I might to lengthen it so it would take up two lines (like all the other PSAs), it never worked for me as anything other than the simple, direct "Go big or go home", which, most people would agree, fit Mr. Carradine's acting style, in horror movies at least.

So while visually this one feels a to me (there's just something about the reduced bottom text box that bothers me) I decided it was better to get past that than weaken the tag line with superfluous words.

I love the colors on this one: they don't seem to match Dracula--any Dracula--at all, and yet that's exactly what I like about it!

Friday, January 8, 2010

From The Vault: Count Dracula - 1997

One of my favorite "from the vault" pieces, I did this portrait of Christopher Lee as Dracula during a really hard time in my life, when I was working a really rotten job and wondering if my life was ever going to get better than this.

For a long time, I didn't work on many new pieces because I was so demoralized, but eventually I started trying again. Seeing how well this piece came out really gave me a shot in the arm, confidence-wise, and fairly soon after this I started getting back into the swing of things.

I really like the hard red lighting on the one side, an effect I haven't replicated all that much, but should try again (gee, how many times do I write that?).

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Monster PSA: Fredric March

Since we're still catching up on the "Hot Seat" portraits for Time Out New York, I thought I'd slot in one more Monster PSA poster for today (as you might have guessed, I cranked out a lot of these during the last months of 2009!).

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is the one horror icon that Universal never got around to doing during their hot streak of the 30s and 40s, which was too bad--the mind reels at the idea of what Universal's take on this material might have been.

Maybe the reason they never did it is because the 1932 version, starring Fredric March (in an Oscar-winning performance), was a huge hit, critically and financially, and even though there was a 1941 remake (with Spencer Tracy, no less), it's March's version that remains the most famous.

I've always liked Fredric March, and even though he's not as remembered in the same way as Tracy, Bogart, Cooper, and other contemporaries of his, he has a remarkable filmography, and he kept going, giving great performances, all the way into the 1970s.

The tag line comes from an interview I once read with actor Sam Neill, who simply said that he thought that if he kept doing good work, the "career" part would take care of itself. That's a sentiment I thought Fredric March would wholeheartedly endorse.

Note: Some of you have been nice enough to purchase some items from my Zazzle store that feature these Monster PSA images.

Unfortunately, someone at Zazzle got concerned that I was selling t-shirts and mugs featuring famous, unlicensed faces (as if the family of Myrna Loy gives a damn about someone out there selling a mug with her face on it, from a movie she did over 70 years ago), and asked me to take all that material down.

So while I don't plan to stop creating new Monster PSA posters, sadly this will now be the only place you'll be able to see them.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Monster PSA: Vincent Price

If Boris Karloff is the #1 horror movie star of all time, you'd have to say Vincent Price is #2--I can't think of anyone as associated the macabre than he, an image he managed to maintain all the way into the 1990s.

Like Karloff, Vincent Price had a reputation outside of his films as a kind, gentle, highly thoughtful man, which made watching him do all these horrible things in movies such a wonderful study in contrast.

To that end, this tag line seemed obvious, and it was just a matter of matching it with an appropriately suspicious-looking shot of Price--not something too hard to find!

Vincent Price T-Shirt
Vincent Price Mug

Friday, January 1, 2010

From The Vault: Monster PSAs

I'm going to do something a little different for this week's "From The Vault" installment, in that I'm going to take a look back at all my Monster PSA posters.

Of all the work I did this year, it was the Monster PSAs that really seemed to strike a chord with people, and they quickly became one of my most fun projects. When I did the first couple, I had no idea I'd find the inspiration to keep going with them, months later.

But in some weird way, this PSA format allows me to occasionally "say" something, relay some sort of message (even if its a silly one), and I find that very satisfying. So here we are:
*Whew*! And more to come!