Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Katy Perry #2

Like I mentioned yesterday, I was so inspired when working on my first portrait of Katy Perry to do a second one.

Halfway through I decided to use the same exact patterns I used on the first one, except here I flipped them. I think I like it just as much this way! Ms. Perry is so photogenic its kinda hard to go wrong.

I still haven't heard much Katy Perry music (though "California Girls" is undeniably catchy), but that doesn't matter--after that charming video I saw of her, I don't even really care about the music. I'm a Katy Perry fan.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Katy Perry

I've never had an opinion one way or the other on Katy Perry, and before last week it had never occurred to me to try a portrait of her.

But one night while mindlessly surfing around teh internets, I came across this video of Ms. Perry (and her adorable kitty Crusty) which is a message for a little girl named Faith, stricken with brain cancer. I guess she's a big fan of Katy Perry, and somehow this got to her, so Katy arranged a beauty salon session for Faith with her personal stylist.

I was so utterly touched by the gesture that I was instantly inspired to do a portrait of Katy Perry, the results of which you see above. She's undoubtedly a beautiful woman, and she has a sweet, old-timey sexiness that appeals to me, so I added some old-fashioned patterns, to her dress and the background.

I was so inspired that I did a second portrait of her, which will show up here tomorrow!

Monday, June 28, 2010


Special Bonus Post!

After doing my portrait of Diesel, one of the beautiful dogs that's currently residing at the Baldwin Park, CA dog shelter, I got the chance to talk to some of the wonderful, caring people who are trying to find homes for these dogs.

I told them I wanted to help out in some additional way, and since my Diesel portrait bopped its way around Facebook, I thought I'd try again to use my art skillz to get garner some more attention for another dog who needs a home. In this, case, a sweet little MinPin named Julie (who you can learn more about here).

I'm happy to report many of the dogs residing at the Baldwin Park shelter found homes over the weekend, but of course there are still more who didn't. So I'm gonna keep going, doing what I can...

I Like It Rough

This was one of those faux-vintage paperbacks that, if I must be honest, doesn't look very vintage: no way would you see a book cover like this in the 50s and 60s, which is the period I mostly draw from.

But this was the image and design I saw in my head, and it came together with a bare minimum of fuss. Once I started putting the elements together, it fell into place very quickly. Sometimes when you have something this minimal there's a temptation to add stuff to it, but I didn't really go through that this time.

When searching for a title and tagline, I found it in a book called Dope Menace, which is a collection of sex-and-drugs-themed paperbacks. The book title is kinda rough, so I thought the only way to make it palatable (for lack of a better word) would be to pair it with the image of a dominatrix--that way its the woman who is clearly, unquestionably, in charge of the situation (details of which are better left to the imagination).

The tagline from the book, "Sweet as sin and twice as dangerous" (I added the "!") doesn't make a whole lot of sense when you think about it, but of course you weren't supposed to.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Special Saturday Post!

Diesel is one of the beautiful dogs that needs a good home, currently residing at the Baldwin Park, CA dog shelter.

My good pal Laura Menck posted his pic on her Facebook page, and his handsome, smiling face really spoke to me. So I worked up this little portrait, conveying the friendly attitude that clearly resides on his face. I only wish I could do more.

If you are in the position to open your home to a new dog, you can find more info about Diesel and many other deserving animals here.

Friday, June 25, 2010

From The Vault: Tom Waits - 2007

I was putting together a mix CD for Darlin' Tracy of Tom Waits songs (he's her favorite), and I always make up a little label for them so she can easily refer to it to see what's on the disc. Normally I'd just find some picture on Google but I must have been feeling ambitious, doing an all-new portrait for it.

Nothing terribly exciting here; but I think it looks good, and the likeness is right. Pretty good for something like a half-hour's work!

Thursday, June 24, 2010


I've always wanted to do a portrait of singer Rihanna--there's something about her features that I find, well, completely captivating. Not only is she simply gorgeous, I find there's a delicate quality to her face, like she's made of porcelain or something.

Anyway, I wanted to try and convey that here (I didn't care whether she has/had any new project out this week) with the thin dark outline and perfectly-spherical earrings, with the whole round-shape motif repeated in the background.

I really had fun working on this one, and I thought it came out great.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

12 Minutes To Murder

I'm not sure why I go through these waves of ideas for faux-vintage paperback book covers. I hadn't done any for months, and now I can't crank them out fast enough.

Case in point, this one, whose title and image just popped into my head while I was jogging, almost completely formed. Most of the elements are from things I've seen in books, but in any case they usually don't form themselves into something so finished.

I got home and later in the day I tried to put this together, getting it as close as what I saw in my head. Its more of a design piece, but that's what I was going for. I like it because, to me, it looks actually vintage, more than other ones in this series, at least.

(P.S. I was watching 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea as I was working on this, so for the author of this fake book I took two of the film's stars and smashed their last names together, Kirk Douglas and James Mason)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Capital G Portrait

After a long break, I was commissioned by The Concept Farm agency to do another portrait for Capital G bank , my 29th such piece for them.

These are always a lot of fun to do, because at this point I've done so many of them there isn't a lot of discussion needed; I know what Cap G and Concept Farm are looking for, and they know what they're going to get from me.

I basically couldn't wait to work on this, so I got to it almost immediately and turned it in even sooner than Concept Farm expected. I was happy with it, they were happy with it, and I hope I get to work on portrait #30 soon!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Devil In A Blue Dress

I had originally wanted to this newest entry in my faux-vintage paperback series like I've done most of them: a real title, author, and tagline with new art. But when I working on the portrait, the slinky dress worn screamed out to be bright blue to me, and once I had decided that I couldn't think of a better, more iconic title.

So that meant I had to make up an author (which are always mash-ups of names found on various books or DVDs on my bookshelf) and a tagline. I have to say, I really like the tagline: it sets a real scene to me ("She sang in a two-bit club...just waiting for the right man to walk in!").

Friday, June 18, 2010

From The Vault: Bob Odenkirk - 2008

Back in 2008, I got contacted by someone who was putting together a book of interviews with, if memory serves, famous comedians and comedic actors. He wanted little portraits of each subject at the beginning of each piece, and asked me if I would be willing to work up a sample.

Now, for those of you who are not freelance illustrators, this probably sounds somewhat reasonable, but if you are an illustrator, this seems like a weird request--my website has literally hundreds of examples of my portrait work. As a professional, you wonder, can't this guy just look at all those and figure out what they'd look like?

He didn't have much to spend (another warning sign), but the book sounded so cool, and I so wanted to be involved in it, that I agreed and did this straightforward portrait of actor/comedian Bob Odenkirk (who I knew from Mr. Show, and can be seen now on Breaking Bad). Nothing spectacular here, but I thought it turned out pretty well--plus, it was done in the exact manner (proportions, color, level of detail) that was asked for by the prospective client.

I turned the piece in after just a few days, wanting to show I was capable of doing what could have been dozens of portraits in a very short period of time. Then...nothing. Months went by before I got any sort of feedback. Finally, I got some terse email telling me I wouldn't be needed for the project, and that was the end of that. I was disappointed but also a little relieved, since I got the feeling this project would not be as good as it first sounded. Ah, the life of a freelance artist...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Edward Norton

I'm still having fun doing these portraits of the week, so I'm continuing on, this time with actor Edward Norton.

Mr. Norton is in a new film called Leaves of Grass (not based on what you'd think), so I knew from the beginning I wanted a leafy green look and feel. As I usually do, I tried both color and black and white portraits, but decided it looked better monochromatically.

I must admit, even though Norton does have a new movie out, the main reason I did this was to make my friend Mara happy. She has had a huge, ongoing crush on Mr. Norton, and I kept joking with her that some week I'd get to do a portrait of him for Time Out New York. But, even after five years and multiple projects, the Hot Seat column and EN never crossed paths.

Now that I'm only doing the Hot Seats sporadically, the chances I'll ever get to a portrait of Ed seems slim to none, so I thought why not just go ahead and do one myself? You're welcome Mara!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What I Did Today To Save Energy

My Darlin' Tracy recently started her first Facebook page, What I Did Today To Save Energy, where she (and other people) post what tiny thing they did that day to save just a little bit of energy. Being the Queen of Statistics that she is, she also posts various little facts about how save energy; some obvious, some surprising.

I realized that she needed some sort of avatar for the page, and the idea of an energy-saver lightbulb above a piggy bank seemed so perfect that I couldn't wait to get working on it.

This pretty much looks exactly what I saw in my head, and I like it a lot because its different than the stuff I usually do. It now sits at the top left of Darlin' Tracy's page, and I couldn't be more proud!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Like a lot of people, the various animals affected by the Gulf Oil Spill have been on my mind lately, so I wanted to do a simple little portrait of one of them, in this case a seagull.

When doing animal portraits, I try and keep the extra bells and whistles to a minimum, and just do a straightforward portrait. The closest I get to any sort of design element is the sky/cloud effect, drifting from blue to white, as the seagull floats gently across the frame.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Monster PSA: Louis Jourdan

When I retired the Monster PSAs as an ongoing series back in March, I had every intention of bringing them back, but I decided to let authentic inspiration strike instead of contriving to come up with a new "message" every week.

Obviously, the situation in the Gulf has been on my mind--its on everyone's mind--and morphed into the phrase you see at the bottom of the poster. It didn't take too long to find a perfect subject to pair it up with--actor Louis Jourdan, who had an amazing film career long before I became familiar with him, as the mad Anton Arcane in the 1982's Swamp Thing (I also loved him as the bad guy in 1983's Octopussy).

In that film, Jourdan oozes arrogance as he tries to take control of the serum that turned Alec Holland into Swamp Thing, and of course it all goes horribly wrong, as it always does when one thinks they can bend nature to their will.

Friday, June 11, 2010

From The Vault: D For Delinquent - 2004

Another faux-vintage paperback cover; this one's a lot less reliant on a sexy image, going for something more cutesy (even though the title suggests something lurid and unsavory).

I think maybe the subject could use a little more detail, especially where her cheek meets her arm; maybe that's why I never put this one on the website at the time.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Time Out New York: Alexander Skarsgard

Sooner than I expected, I was asked to do another "Hot Seat" portrait for Time Out New York, this time actor Alexander Skarsgard, who is currently starring in True Blood.

I knew I wanted some splash of red on here, but not make it look like blood specifically. I like using the subject to bifurcate the frame and have two separate fields of color; it's a look I think almost always works, and I think it worked again here.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Swivel Chair

I have no idea what this portrait "means"--I had a really hard time getting the woman and the chair to looking like much of anything, and for a while I dabbled making this one of my faux-paperback book covers.

When I just couldn't make that work, I decided to cut my losses (there's a point where I feel like I should move on to something else if I just can't "crack" what I'm working on) and leave it as just a portrait.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Mistress of the Moor

This piece started out as one my usual faux-paperback book covers, which, graphically, always harken back to the 50s and 60s era of crime and/or sex books.

But as I toyed around with the portrait, I realized it worked best in black and white, and it had a more gothic romance feel, so I decided to just go with that and do a full-out gothic romance book cover.

My usual M.O. is to use the title, author, and tagline of an actual vintage paperback, but none of the books of paperbacks on my shelf were romances. So I turned to my friend Amy Bias' excellent blog, Women Running From Houses, which features all sorts of classic gothic romance covers.

I settled on Mistress of the Moor, whose title and tagline seemed to match what I had put together--the sad-looking girl amidst a dark, foreboding forest. I tried not to go crazy on the design, since it wouldn't really match the style. So once I found the appropriate font, I had finished my first faux-gothic romance!

Monday, June 7, 2010

George Romero

I had an incredibly hectic week, so I didn't have time to work on anything too ambitious, but I did make the time to do another Hot Seat-style portrait, this time of legendary director George Romero, whose new film, Survival of the Dead, comes out this month.

I originally did the portrait of Romero in full color, but when I added the zombie-ish shapes and the sickly green background, it worked better when he was in black and white so I changed it. The only hint of color I kept the reflected green highlights on his glasses.

I'm really happy with how this one came out, and doing these pseudo-Hot Seats are a lot of fun, even if I do an actual one, like I did this week (come back on Thursday!).

Friday, June 4, 2010

From The Vault: Possess Me Not - 2004

I really like the portrait here--the angle, the colors--and it works well within the design.

The only problem I do have here is the choice of color for the title--I'm sure I went with red to match the background, but since it (and the author's name) are on the woman's back, to me it looks a little too much like its a bloody brand, which gives it (to me) an unpleasant, if completely unintentional, feel. I should have gone with virtually any other color, if only to stay away from that look.

I think I still have the layered file of this piece; maybe I need to go back into it and fix such an obvious mistake, just to see if it works better.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Estee Lauder Storyboards #2

Here are a couple more of the storyboards I did for Estee Lauder via The Concept Farm agency.

I really like how these came out--they're obviously a lot looser than the stuff I normally do, but I feel like they're still recognizable as my style. I really enjoyed the process of doing these, I hope I get to do more!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Capital Thinking - Spring/Summer 2010

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!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Estee Lauder Storyboards

I had a new artistic experience this week, doing my first-ever set of storyboards for Estee Lauder.

These were done through the ad agency The Concept Farm, who I have done work for before. I've always enjoyed working with them, so when they asked if I was interested in doing some storyboards for them I jumped at the chance.

I was asked to provide nine illustrations representing key frames from a How To video using Estee Lauder products, with the agency providing me descriptions of what should be seen in each panel.

Since storyboards don't need to be finished illustrations, just a visual guide as to what the final product will look like, the nine pieces didn't have to look like my regular work. So while there is a generally "realistic" look here, they're obviously a lot rougher and looser than my usual style.

It was a lot of work in a very short period of time, but I really enjoyed the process and it was fun using my skills in a slightly different way. I hope these are not my last set of storyboards!