Monday, January 31, 2011

Peep Show

I've been wanting to do this sort of regimented, Mondrian-ish approach for one of my faux-vintage paperbacks, so it was just a matter of finding the right subject--both in model and book.

I normally don't have any sort of explicit nudity on these things, but it seemed appropriate for this cover, and when rendered in the extreme blacks and whites it felt more artsy than cheaply titillating--although that's the whole point of these, isn't it?

Friday, January 28, 2011

From The Vault: Bruce Hornsby - 2001

I don't remember the particulars of this piece, other than musician Bruce Hornsby was running a contest for artists to design his next tour t-shirt (I think) and the winning entry would get free tix to a concert and some other freebies, not to mention the chance for their work to be seen all over the country, if not the world.

I designed this piece, very soon after I started doing all my work digitally. Looking back over it now, it seems like a pretty weak illustration--not enough detail, and I don't know what the hell I was thinking not coloring his left sleeve, that just looks weird--but at the time it was where I was at. So I was happy with it, and sent it in.

A few weeks later, I was told that I didn't win the contest, but Bruce Hornsby was so impressed with it that I was sent an unscheduled, unplanned "second prize" award, which was free tickets to a show. To say I was thrilled was an understatement!

I never ended up claiming the tickets, because I never was that huge a Hornsby fan (I saw him once live, and while it was a fine show--he even whipped out a Dylan cover--it didn't inspire me to go see him again). But that vote of confidence (Bruce Hornsby made the extra effort to say how much he liked what I did!) really helped me keep going during that dark time in my career when I wasn't landing any work, and wondered if I ever would.

Thanks, Bruce!

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Mystery of the Violet-Eyed Girl

The inspiration for this faux-vintage paperback book cover was a photo of woman named Tallest Silver, who is an expert cosplayer (the photo was taken by a friend of mine, and another master cosplayer, named Roxanna Meta).

There was something about the look on her face--half-scared, half-WTF?--combined with the cleavage that made for a wonderfully scary yet sexy image, and would be the perfect subject for a mystery novel cover.

I wanted this one to be a lot older in feel, like one of those spooky drawing room mysteries of the 1920s. There are elements on here that don't really line up with that, but I don't let that kind of thing stop me anymore: I just go ahead and make the thing!

Friday, January 21, 2011

From The Vault: Hey Mister - 2002

Okay, this one probably needs a little explanation.

Back in 2002, I was single and desperately unhappy about it. A recent relationship had imploded and I was in a really bad place in my life. I was also feeling the pain a lot of single guys know--seeing women around that were really cool and yet were with guys that didn't seem worthy of them.

I was feeling that exquisite pain over a woman who I was just completely smitten with, but had a boyfriend who I thought was a slimy, cheesy worm. I couldn't understand how this quirky angel was involved with a guy like this. So every time I saw them, I went home feeling frustrated and angry, bewildered at what kind of man the women I was attracted to in turn found attractive: it sure as hell wasn't me.

So one night, in a fit of pique, I did this piece, one of the few (only?) times I've ever used any sort of profanity in an illustration. I imagined this amazing woman dumping said worm and finally seeing the truth--that I was worth her time. Not only worth her time, but the kind of man that would drive a woman into a sexual frenzy, so much so she would say something as porn novel-ish as what you see above.

Color and design-wise, this is a much more punk-y piece than anything I've generally done before or since, and I think that must have to do with the fractured state of mind I was in that night.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Burnt Rubber

This is a rarity among my faux-vintage paperback series, in that its a sequel to a previous faux-vintage paperback cover, Hot Rod.

I used a lot of the same design elements, and even the same model as the main character. Its probably a little too reminiscent of the original to really stand up as its own piece, but it was fun to do nonetheless.

Friday, January 14, 2011

From The Vault: Sci-Fi and Fantasy Titles - 1999

This was my proudest achievement during my year Koen Book Distributors, the Sci-Fi and Fantasy Titles catalog.

I had been given a list of all the catalogs I would be designing shortly after I started at Koen, so I knew when the Sci-Fi one was coming and I had always planned to make it really special. I would work on it in bits and pieces in between other duties.

I wanted the cover to be a, homage to my favorite movie poster of all time, The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms. I even grabbed a piece off of that poster, and used it as the crowd running amok in the foreground. I took the monster from some old comic book ad, and then dropped all the Koen-specific text on top.

I wanted some sort of graphic theme to run through the whole thing, so I had clumps of little flying saucers streaking through the text, as well as brief intro about the wonders of science fiction on the inside cover. The final page even featured the classic "The End...or is it?" gag.

When I look back on this now, of course I think I could do better, but at the time this was fairly ambitious of me to put this much thought and effort into the design, and I was really, really proud of it. We got some positive word back from some customers saying how much they liked it, and that meant a lot to me. It remains the highlight of my time and work while I was at Koen.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Bride Wore Red

Another faux-vintage paperback, and as you can see from this and last week's, I'm kind of in a more graphic, more abstract sort of zone.

One of the things that's continually bugged me about my own style is sometimes I find the final result to be too stiff, too clean. Trying to be messy and unruly sort of goes against all my internal rules I have in my head when it comes to illustration and graphic design, so its a constant fight to let myself go and let things look messy and unruly.

So while I had a bit of that last week, I really tried to push it further this time around, stripping it almost entirely of niceties and detail, and just going for big slabs o' color.

Friday, January 7, 2011

From The Vault: Civil War Titles - 1999

This was another catalog I did for Koen Book Distributors, since it was such a narrow field of books the catalog itself was only about 16 pages; leaving not a whole lot of room, time, or motivation to get too fancy with the design.

The thing for me that really brought this off was the paper--I mentioned the feel I was going for to the outside printer we used (a delightful man, always a blast to have around, full of great stories), and he suggested a sort of parchment paper they had in stock that wasn't too expensive.

My boss ran the numbers, okayed it, and so the whole catalog ran on the type of paper you might have seen during that era (though not as fragile, of course). I was thrilled with the result and even though the graphic design by itself is nothing spectacular, it all came together perfectly.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

24 Nudes A Second

Another faux-vintage paperback, this piece started out as just an artsy, messy shot of the woman, very hand-drawn looking...but of course there is no illustration I can't slap text on top, behind, or next to.

The "plot" came together rather easily, given the somewhat shamed pose; this girl came to the Big City, got caught up with the wrong people, needed some money, was know the rest.

I think 24 Nudes A Second is one of my better made-up titles, if I do say so myself.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Black Box Club

Thrilled I finally get to show this baby off!

This was a poster I did for The Black Box Club, an online horror radio show that just went live on January 1st! The BBC has seen my horror stuff and thought I'd be perfect to create some sort of poster art for them, and of course I agreed knowing how fun it would be to work on.

I originally had a whole other design and portrait in mind, and I worked up another shot of Christopher Lee as Dracula which I thought came out well. But there was something about the whole thing when finished that left me unsatisfied, so as a lark I worked up a second version, using a portrait of Lee-as-Dracula I had done years ago but never really did anything with.

For whatever reason, this second version really came alive for me very quickly, and I decided then and there to drop the previous work and use this. I tweaked it a bit,. sent it in to the fine folks at the Black Box Club (who wrote the tag line), and they really liked it, using it as part of their online advertising push to announce the unveiling of the site!