Tuesday, May 31, 2011


This portrait of Aquaman's queen, Mera, is just me goofing around, really. I wanted to try the water effect--since that is her natural habitat--and I thought it came our pretty well.

I was tempted to add some design element to this, like I did for the other Mera portrait I did, but then realized I should leave well enough alone!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Idol Hands

Like Strip Til Dead, this cover isn't a faux-paperback book cover, its an actual book cover!

Not too long after I posted STD, I was contacted by author Jared Prophet to do a cover for his sci-fi novel Idol Hands. Since I had such a good experience working for a self-published author before, I thought why not try again? Maybe I can corner the market...

Jared gave me an idea of what he wanted for a cover, and even provided some photo ref of the space explorer babe in question. Other than that, Jared left it up to me to come up with the rest.

Like Strip Til Dead, Idol Hands was a lot of fun to work on. I don't get the chance to do much sci-fi, so I wanted to come up with a look that was similarly old school pulpy, but also recognizably sci-fi.

Jared liked what I did, asking for only a few small tweaks, which ended up making the final piece even better. It now adorns the book, which is for sale at Amazon.

I'm now working on a second cover for Jared (he is nothing if not prolific), and I hope it comes out just as well as this one!

Friday, May 27, 2011

From The Vault: FMOFU Logos Pt.2 - 2010

This was another set of logo designs I worked up for Famous Monsters of Filmland: Underground magazine.

I really loved this font, and desperately wanted to use it for the logo. In many ways, I think the second one, with the FMOF "paste-up" over Underground, was my favorite of all the logos I put together: there was a simplicity to it that really worked for me.

But, as any artist/graphic designer will tell you, your favorite idea is never the one that gets picked...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Dolly For President

Last year, to celebrate the birthday of the wonderful pup Dolly (who belongs to my pals Laura and Ric Menck), I worked up a poster for as-yet-unrealized movie starring Dolly, all about her work as an ambassador for Animal Rights, a cause near and dear to my heart.

It was called Dolly Goes To Washington, and I envisioned it as one of those muckracking-type movies, filled with lots of Big Time Movie Star cameos, all of them interacting with Dolly as she heads to the nation's capital to deliver a message about the rights of all animals.

So this year, I decided a sequel was in order: after Dolly went to Washington, the groundswell of support was such that she decided to run for President. Hence, Dolly For President!

The two main actors playing Laura and Ric, Cate Blanchett and James Cromwell, are back, but with a whole new cast of actors who are known for their support of the cause: Pierce Brosnan, Edie Falco, Lea Michele, Alicia Silverstone, Charlize Theron, and Forest Whitaker. The script for this movie was so good it even managed to get the legendary Doris Day, an impassioned animal advocate, out of retirement to play a sympathetic senator.

I had a hell of a time coming up with a design, and I had to let it simmer in my head for several days. Then I cracked it: I mimicked the design of, all of things, the poster to The Great Escape, with its comic book panel-esque structure explaining the movie's plot. That allowed me to have some fellow dogs (all pulled from my "Hello Doggie" series of real-life pups who needed homes) represented, an element I definitely wanted on there.

Happy Birthday Dolly!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Abbott & Costello Meet The Killer, Boris Karloff

Even though I generally consider this "Universal Monsters" poster series tapped out, every so often I get a hankering to work up another one, and I get really energized to do it if I can find a way to jazz it up a little.

Aside from being a big Abbott & Costello fan, I've always had a soft spot for this particular A&C film, because the title is so weird and ungainly--after all, how many films have one of the actors from the cast listed in the title?

Since this series is monster-centric, focusing on Karloff rocking a very serious look only made sense. Bud & Lou probably deserve a little more poster real estate, but I thought giving them a doubled-inset headshot helped work towards that.

I don't think this one ranks as one of the best of the Universal Monster posters I've done, but it was a lot of fun to work on and I always like adding to the series...

Monday, May 23, 2011

Keep Moving or You're Dead

This faux-paperback book cover took forever to get out of the starting gate--I had the figure and the title, but for whatever reason I just couldn't put together a design that worked at all. I got so frustrated and gave up on it, going off and doing some errands and working on other projects before trying again.

That must have done the trick, because after sitting down again I started adding those Russian "Constructivist"-esque bars of color and once I did that the whole thing fell into place: the plot, the tagline, the colors, etc. I even went and found a Russian-esque font just to make it a little more fun.

Fun Fact: The model you see here was the original illustration I created for the Strip Till Dead cover, but ended being discarded when author Mike Gerrard wanted to use the original model I dropped in for the STD cover rough. I never throw anything away.

Friday, May 20, 2011

From The Vault: FMOFU Logos - 2010

Last month I posted the logo I created for the new Famous Monsters of Filmland: Underground magazine. It was a fun project, even though I ended up creating a ton of other logos that were ultimately rejected.

These are the first three I whipped up--and since there were so many different ways to go about this, I decided to just use one font for the first three tries and work up variations on that.

Since Underground was supposed to have a looser, scrappier feel than its legendary parent, my first concept was to use the classic FMOF logo and apply it like it was a taped-down piece of paper, giving the logo the look of a paste-up, a relic of graphic design from the pre-dekstop publishing days. And maybe the blood spatter was from an errant xacto blade used during the paste-up!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Capital G Web Illustrations

Via the Concept Farm ad agency, last year I produced this series of illustrations for the banking firm Capital G to go on their new website.

I've done a number of illustrations for Cap G before, but they were strictly portraits; these images were a lot more complex, making them an enormous challenge, both artistically, technically, and mentally.

I say mentally because some of them, like the shot of the group sitting around a conference table, took a massive amount of concentration--just keeping all the details in mind was a lot of effort. But I had a huge feeling of pride when I completed them.

I've done a lot of work for Cap G, I hope I get to do more!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Find Becky Hanson

As some of you know, my old and trusty Mac sort died on me last week, so I was playing catch-up all week after getting an all-new set-up. Luckily, I'm usually a week or two ahead on all my blogs, so even when I was sans computer I didn't miss any of my self-imposed deadlines.

Now that my schedule is (mostly) back to normal, I had time to whip up this new faux-paperback book cover, the first piece of artwork I've done on a new computer in over a decade. I'm excited about having a Mac more in tune with the 21st century, and I think this fun cover reflects that. Find Becky Hanson!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Susie's Wild Night

This faux-paperback book cover really only works for me in terms of the title, in terms of font and design.

I couldn't really get the other elements to my satisfaction, but at a certain point I gave up, satisfied that I could re-use the title treatment for another project down the line. Its learning experiences like this one that I think help me get better as an artist.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Pine Magazine - Spring 2011

This is the cover to the Spring 2011 issue of Pine, the alumni magazine for Northern Arizona University. I was asked to a modern version of the iconic (and much-parodied) Norman Rockwell painting Thanksgiving, but instead using some professors and students from the university involved in a specific school program.

I can say with little doubt that this was probably the single most complex illustration I've ever had to create--I had to use the same basic set-up as Rockwell, but had to illustrate six specific people, two generic "seat fillers", plus all the accoutrements--table, drinking glasses, plates, books, silverware, diplomas, laptops, chairs, wall, floor, curtains, wallpaper, and window. I created each piece separately and then put it all together like a big puzzle, moving each piece around so every element could be seen properly.

To make things even more fun, the company that produces Pine didn't have much in the way of reference photos of everyone in the poses you see above. So I had to use the faces from the photos they did have and graft them onto other bodies that fit in the various poses vaguely approximating the ones in Thanksgiving. Not easy, I must admit.

Luckily, I had a decent amount of time to work on this and get it right, and in the end I was really proud of the piece. It was run on the inside as well, with less typography on top of it:

I also created some spot illustrations featuring some of table elements separated out that were used through the text of the article:

While I'll admit this assignment was more of a technical challenge than a creative one, I am nevertheless very proud of the final result. I take great pride in being a professional commercial artist; more a craftsman than an artiste, per say, and being able to produce something this complex and specific on time was a huge undertaking. I'm thrilled it all came together and to finally see it in use!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Death Be A Lady Tonight

This faux-paperback book cover came about in a very unusual--dress first!

My pal Laura Menck posted pics of a dress she found on Etsy on her Facebook page, the dress you see above--a vintage-y number with that cool Vegas Strip print on the blouse. As soon as I saw it, I realized it would make the perfect outfit for a character on one of my covers, so I went about "filling" the dress (there was no model wearing it in the Etsy pics) with a real, live femme fatale.

With that dress in place, the setting and the title all fell into place with little or no effort. I played with the colors a bit, but all in all this one came together it was like falling off a log. Personal note: of all the fake authors I've created for these things, "Morty Meyers" just might be my all-time favorite.

Special thanks to Darlin' Tracy for showing me the photos in the first place, this cover was a real team effort!