Big props to LA Weekly art director Darrick Rainey for giving me one of the most fun jobs I’ve had in a long time—a tribute cover for the 15th anniversary of cult classic movie The Big Lebowski. The job initially just called for a straight portrait, but I thought the Dude would most definitely raise a toast to this occasion, with his signature White Russian. The Dude abides.
Been a while since I’ve done a full process post, so here’s one for a fun recent job: a cover for the Scottsdale Times on the subject of fanboys and fandom. They were very open to my ideas for this one, and just wanted a cover that would somehow summarize the fervent love that fans have for key cult subjects like Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and comic books.
Being a fanboy myself, this was an easy topic to tackle. I sent these two sketches:
I tend to do my rough sketches on my Cintiq these days, so that I can work directly on a supplied cover template from the client, to take into account the logo box and other text concerns. While I liked the second sketch a lot, replicating all those comics and toys was going to be a challenge given the tight time frame (art was due on Christmas Eve morning). So, it was a bit of a relief that they liked the iconic superhero pose of the first sketch.
Now it was time to shoot some reference. One quick trip down to Old Navy for a Superman shirt, and then I was ready to pose, with my wife manning the camera:
I borrowed a toy stormtrooper from a friend’s kid to shoot some helmet reference:
With that reference in hand, I created my tight final sketch, using Prismacolor pencils on vellum tracing paper:
And then it was time to start painting. I scan my tight sketch, set it to Multiply and lower the opacity, and begin by flatting the image using the lasso tool and flat, opaque color:
Once the flats are in, I start rendering:
On the above screenshot, you can see I was both playing around with type, and the possibility of incorporating some kind of spatter effect. This is unusual for me, but the client asked if I would create the headline text. As the deadline was approaching, I still had a ways to go on the figure, and so I turned to a former student of mine, Zak Erving, to see if he’d be interested in collaborating on this one. As I had hoped, Zak took my rough text placement idea and turned it up to 11. Thanks, Zak!
Very happy to have received a phone call from Kate Feirtag at the Society of Illustrators, notifying me that my fall arts cover illustration for Seattle Weekly was chosen for their 55th annual competition. It’s a privilege to be included in the upcoming annual. Thanks again to art director Jane Sherman for both the assignment and her wise direction!
A reality for every illustrator is that some jobs get killed and don’t get to see the light of day. I spent some time earlier this summer working on just such a job, a series of portraits for the esteemed Hollywood insider website deadline.com. This is a portrait of one of their lead writers, Nellie Andreeva. While I was assured that the illustration was well-received, they ultimately decided against their original plan of running portraits of the writers as part of their byline. Such is life, but the good news is that payment was received in full and I had fun working on the paintings, so this will be the one public showing this particular piece gets.
Another piece for Mighty Mike Kooiman over at City Pages. This was a fun one: an international film festival is running this week in Minneapolis, and apparently many of the Middle Eastern films recall the feeling of 60′s American cinema. So, the brief was to try and create an Arabic version of James Dean/Natalie Wood riding on a motorcycle, with a bright optimistic vibe to it.
Mike requested a fair amount of bleed on this one, so he could have some flexibility with the typography. I love how the final cover turned out, but also thought I could use my blog to show the entire artwork, to justify the effort that went into painting that motorcycle.
Here are a few pieces I did this past month.
Poster for Westmont Repertory Theatre, for a punk-rock musical version of Animal Farm.
Another cover for Mighty Mike Kooiman at City Pages, this one using a parody/homage of the Land O Lakes butter packaging to address some malfeasance on the part of the dairy industry.
And one more homage commission, this one referencing Norman Rockwell’s iconic “Runaway” painting. Thanks to AD Jane Sherman for my first Seattle Weekly gig.
Happy Halloween, everyone!
This is an image I painted as a promo piece, to show clients that I can do political caricature. And given the time of year, it seemed logical to go with a Halloween theme for the image, so put politics + Halloween together and in my head, at least, you get Michelle Bachmann as the Wicked Witch of the West.
Mike Kooiman over at Minnesota City Pages was nice enough to want to publish this piece, so it’s in the issue on stands now, as well as on this fun post on their blotter.
A grim illustration for a grim topic: the drug epidemic of so-called bath salts, which are legally sold in head shops as a bath product but in reality are ingested by drug addicts for a particularly lethal kind of high. While the addicts aren’t likely to be taking baths while high on the drug, it seemed the appropriate visual metaphor for representing the damage it does. Thanks to Christina Fuoco-Karasinski for the job.