Recent Posts

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Soldier Disconnect

Veterans must learn to connect with civilians.   Work for today's Washington Post.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Scientific American's Skeptic column

Scientific American has a great skeptic column, usually dedicated to the various ways the human brain can malfunction and create one effect or another. There are great illustrations that go along with each article, and the subject matter is an illustrator's dream. Juicy stuff like why our brains deny/distort clear evidence, or how the brain creates consciousness.

I was lucky enough to be tasked with illustrating the recent issue. The column was skeptical of a brain surgeon's assertion that, during a near death experience, he'd had a glimpse of heaven. Seemed a sensitive issue for my normally irreverent approach to drawing.

Pretty much two approaches to the same idea. The 2nd beat of the image would show you that the brain is the culprit. 
Playing off the evidence and hallucination ideas, I thought it would be fun to draw pink elephants. I found out later they are pretty  much exclusively related to alcohol induced hallucination. Oops.

I knew going in that this was my strongest idea. It wasn't as goofy as the others and the relationship between brain and vision of heaven was more subtle. Using color to tie the elements together is somewhat new for me and I'm glad it worked out as well as it did. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Questionable Common Core

Howdy folks! Here's another series of images for Education Week. I must say that dealing with the same subject matter on a semi-regular basis is tough, but it really pushes me to find new imagery and concepts to communicate the subject's themes.

For this article, I was asked to do a main back-page as well as spots to be used inside for other commentaries. The theme of the entire issue was the implementation of new standards of learning known as the "Common Core." Basically, the articles state that while implementing the new standards is great idea in theory, its is unlikely that they will be effective with the current groups of kids in school.

Such comments on the new standards include:
 -how shorter days for Kindergarten would limit learning/ lesson retention
-Core's new lesson plans are ineffective without teachers collaborating
-the Common Core isn't widely supported and may not be implemented in all schools
-and asking for higher standards of learning isn't making sense when kids can't satisfy current standards set before them.

Sketches: (click to enlarge)

Final artwork: (click to enlarge)

Shorter days for Kindergarten

Teachers working together

Standards limiting student progress

Asking too much of students who haven't yet developed skills

Thanks to Vanessa for another great assignment, and thanks for reading!

Enjoy the Day,

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Personal Work, or "Life is Short"

Two more new pieces from this past week's personal work - "The Blind Wizard's Counsel" and "To War With The Giants."  A few months ago I had a health scare where, over the course of the last few months, I had to confront the fact that my life might be considerably shorter than I thought it would be.  Thankfully, it now appears that won't be the case.  That brief period of fear and uncertainty stripped away almost everything from my mind, and brought a new, clean perspective that I hope sticks with me.  I don't have all the time in the world, but I will find the time to do the work that I want to do, that means something to me, and that I have to get out of me.  No more periods of just killing time between jobs, between teaching classes, etc.  Time to work.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Working Towards a Dream

Two pieces from this week's work towards my science-fiction/fantasy portfolio - "The Witch's Hair" and "A Prayer Before Battle."  When I was apprenticed to Sterling Hundley he used to constantly tell me to think of myself as a designer - he said that was my strong point.  But I didn't want to be a designer - I wanted to be a painter, a mark-maker, an illustrator!  I just couldn't see what he was saying.  With this period of sustained effort on a body of work I feel that I'm really beginning to understand what he was trying to teach me.  The "how" of the piece, the completion of it, the mark-making, are secondary to the composition, the design of it.  They are this year's clothes hanging on the bones and flesh.  Next year, maybe even next week, the manner in which I make the piece may change, but the design, the flesh and bones, will always mark it as mine.

I've also tried with this body of work to open myself up to my dreams and daydreams (and occasionally nightmares) to mine for the substance of the pieces.  My education as a fiction writer (I have a degree in English: Creative Writing, and dropped out of art school) is informing a lot of my process here.  Each piece is a visual short story, and I'm enjoying trying to figure out what I can leave out versus what needs to be left in, trying to find that blurry edge between too concrete and too mysterious.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Tomb Raider


I was commissioned to do a limited edition poster (along with some other excellent artists, including Illostop's own Victo Ngai) for the new Tomb Raider game that was released this week.  I've been working mostly as an editorial illustrator for the past year and a half, but have started to promote myself to the science-fiction/fantasy market, which is my true love, and this was a wonderful first assignment in that genre.  Marc Scheff was a great AD to work with - he wanted my interpretation of the source material - it didn't even have to include Lara Croft! Throw in some samurai, an oni (demon), some arrows, and a mysterious island and I'm in heaven.

Thank you to Chris and the rest of the Illostop crew for inviting me on board - I'm honored to be a part of this great group.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Mortgage Observer: 50 Important People

This is my first post here, so I'd be remiss if I didn't start by thanking Chris and the rest of the gang at Illostop for the invitation. Thank you for having me, I'm excited to be here.

The March issue of The Mortgage Observer highlights the 50 Most Important People in Commercial Real Estate Financing. While I did not make the list, I had the good fortune of creating the cover. Art director Ed Johnson asked for something with a big 50 and skyscrapers. I was more than happy to oblige. What can I say, I like drawing buildings. That may or may not be related to the countless hours I wasted in my younger days playing Sim City 2000.

Below an alternate version with a bigger 50 and smaller city.

I also made some attempts at giving this a little more of a conceptual twist.

In the end, we went ahead with a pretty straight forward solution, which for a cover makes the most sense.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Discussion: Promoting Your Work Online

Topic: Online promotion

After scumming around on the internet last night, I realized there a few examples of art directors despising email promos from photographers. I am starting to assume this is true for illustrators as well?

Please feel free to share your thoughts on promoting your business through the internet. What is ideal? Are email promotions rude? Do they do more harm than good? Have emails from online services truly "opted-in" to receiving email? Is receiving email worse/better than a print promo?

How about Twitter or Facebook? Is it rude to follow/interact with other creatives who you have never worked with/met?

Please share your thoughts openly (or anonymously) for what can hopefully be a discussion that benefits everyone.

Thanks, and I hope this can lead to more discussions on this site.

Enjoy the Day,

Sunday, March 3, 2013

first post

Hello! My first post on here, hopefully many more contributions to come.
This piece is for today's NY Times about working from home.