Bill Mayer
March 2011
Here is the final poster with the type I decided to just put on the bottom. the poster was so busy i didn't see how to add it into the face of the 24"x36"poster. © Bill Mayer 2011

If it's not apparent, JAZZOO is a fundraising event for the Atlanta Zoo. When I got a call to do this poster, it was pretty much an open canvas. Jeff Stewart, the art director, had gone through my fickr site and pulled off some old samples of "Blind Boys" and other samples of some of the more folk-art styles I had done a few years back. He sent them to me as a possible direction. I did the normal "bunches of thumbnails" exploration. They were having a lot of trouble understanding the thumbnails so I took a few and added color to make them easier to understand. As an after thought I did a second bunch of fun little folk art versions. Lee liked the folk art ones, but said "they'll never go in that direction..." It's great when clients act unexpectedly, and occasionally, it can make for some fun outcomes.

colored a few thumbnails to make them easier to understand.

My after thought on thumbnails. We all loved this direction but were convinced that the client would not go this way..© Bill Mayer 2011

Part of the direction was that the poster had to be of a giraffe. I really didn't think about it much before I started, but that long neck became quite a problem. Tried everything I could think of to work my way around it; hooking it around, over the top, or just cutting it off. I think that is why, when it came to the little folk art versions, I decided to just " Picasso" it and ignore the long neck and move the mouth down and make it into a little face. This worked out better than I had hoped.  They loved this direction and their only comment was to make the drawing more colorful. So I took the little thumbnail and comped up a version with the colors close to the way I thought it would work. then printed it out and painted over it on the light box. worked pretty well.
This is the little comp I did, pulling all of the elements from the thumbnails together and organizing them to get a clearer idea of how the drawing would work. Some of the final editing came through after the painting was done to make it read better .We opened up the distance inbetween the characters and the type. I had initially thought about hand doing the other type until they sent me final copy. too much to squeeze into the illustration , Which seemed crowded already so I put the Type at the bottom.This will make it easy to edit as I am sure the copy will change several times before we go to print.

When I posted this on Facebook last week a couple of people mentioned a nod to the modernist. I really wasn't trying for that but when it was all finalized and put together it did remind me of one of those great cubist circus posters they used to do back in the 1960's. I can definately see some Flora infulence. Some of their wacked out cubist drawings are just so inspiring. My grandson Forest said, "Oh, retro Bill Mayer!..." I guess he's remembering those old scatchboard drawings I did of the birds ......the skeleton and The Blind Boys of Alabama....

Dellas Graphics Frogfolio Part Two
© Bill Mayer 2011

I had a little more time, so went back to a technique I stumbled on last year. These little brush drawings were a lot of fun. There was another thumbnail of a snake and a frog so, rather than doing another airbrush or line version I thought I would go back to the brush style. Although these turned out well, for me, they lacked the same excitement that happened last year when I discovered this little technique. In fact, they just seemed a bit too close to last years Death of Frogs Two....But still, alway a joy so why not share some of these as well.
© Bill Mayer 2011

© Bill Mayer 2011

© Bill Mayer 2011

© Bill Mayer 2011

I did a half dozen of these  brush drawings.Tried adding color and textures. Some worked better than others. I loved the cropping on this heron and the deep blue color. Tried some diferent colors and backgrounds.I think the one at the top was my favorite. I loved the really quick fresh brush stroke.
Dellas Graphics Frogfolio Part One
Here is the final illustration with everything put together....This illustration was so complicated I didn't see how the silhouetted figure in the foreground was going to work..... © Bill Mayer 2011

Always the highlight of my year, I can count on Jim Burke to come through with another opportunity for a new frog. This year, like last, it was just too hard to stop drawing new candidates for the calendar. Some in expected directions, some in the line style I have been experimenting with, and some revisiting things I stumbled onto last year. Truth be told, it's just an excuse to do some frog drawings just for fun.

Started out with the normal thumbnail exhaustion.... Jim picked the king. I was not really falling in love with it, so another batch of ___ more thumbnails and we had one that seemed to work. Jim suggested putting a little jester in front, so I added that in the sketch. He clarified that he meant to put one in the front, standing. I tried this in a bunch of thumbnail directions... It seemed too complicated but I understod the Idea and ended up sketching them up and rendering them to try to make it work. In the final, though, it ultimately was like I expected. Just too distracting from the great charater study of the King Frog.
I started with the sketch transferred to a board and airbrushed the Main part. Scanned the illustration in and cut paths and retouched.

I start building the backgrounds in Photoshop.First with flat colors ,later adding shadows and detail....

Ugh to many stripes so I pulled in some textures for the backgrounds and rug on the floor. I used transform warp to pull the textures to fit my original sketch which I pull into the file and register. Adjust the colors in Hue....

Started adding more detail and decided to add some little flies hovering around his head.....more shadows to give the drawing some depth...Added some quick battle axes, done in Phototshop.

Adding this little frog was completely an after thought, so I swiped some bits and pieces and made him out of several other frogs. The body from the jester at the bottom, and the hands from the King Frogs feet. Just transformed to make them fit better....Some buggy eyes and he's good to go.
The King Frog, Dellas Graphics, © Bill Mayer 2011

Jim Burke really liked the idea of having the jester in the foreground, so I was determined to at least give it a try. I darkened the figure in the foreground and put several layers in between, lighting the background and creating some visual distance in between the two. Added a little reflected light also to cool down the foregound figure. Boy this was starting to get really complicated..... Maybe blurring the background image would help...Still not sure which direction to go with. So much fun, not sure when it's due either, but i'm sure we'll be doing changes until we ship it out. Hey Jim When is this thing due?
I think this is Jim's final pick © Bill Mayer 2011

Dellas Graphics Frog Part Three
"Le Bal de Moth" © Bill Mayer 2011

Okay I know , but I just could leave this little thumbnail unfinished. I had originally thought of this as a bunch of street walking harlet frogs but I know they like to keep the calendar on the PG rating and just incase it turned out better than the king Frog .I decided to make it in to kind of a night time clubby thing. Like some Hong Kong disotequue. I had been playing with some line illustrations in December and I thought that would be a great style to explore a little more. Kind of pushed the concept in that direction.
I really liked the stark Black line and heavy back areas.I was pretty happy with the way this one turned out. © Bill Mayer 2011

this was the first little comp I did on adding color. © Bill Mayer 2011

tried flushing it out ading some subtle textures in the background. © Bill Mayer 2011

tried it in Yellow...© Bill Mayer 2011

tried it in orange... Just seams like it worked in any color that I tried. Bu tI still keeo going back to the Black line .... © Bill Mayer 2011

I really like the way that the strong Back and line work work together. I wanted to try some limited color treatment not to over power  the line and yet give it a bit more atmosphere. I typed in to Google Tranlate a bunch of little things like "Frog Town Disco" and " All You Can Eat Flies" ...But I really have no idea what the type actually says. Just hope it's what Google said it was..... A coupleof friends now have said Aubrey Beardslye when I showed it to them, I just don't see it But I guess they're talking about the negative black areas and the detail ...Okay I gues I can see that.Well not really, But I did think it turned out Kind of cool. After letting it sitting around, I am thing I like the Black line as much without the color. That's the problem letting these things sit around too long. Starting on another direction....Oh no to many frogs ,time for something else....
Oz Resurrection
Naturally, © Bill Mayer 2011

Oz Magazine - OzCetera is being resurrected and the owner and friend had called me about doing a cover. We talked about the aspects of the audience they were trying to reach; a lot of the film crews and production people around Atlanta. Kind of a lifestyle magazine for out-of-towner’s on where to go and best places to get a tattoo or a Double Bypass Cheese Burger. I had been working on some new Line and collage drawings and I put them together as a pitch for how I saw the cover of the magazine.  Something like a hip cool New Yorker, witty and entertaining, using a playful way of incorporating the logo into the art. They were discussing the placement of the Oz logo for OzCetera Covers (bi-monthly digital magazine), and we decided to just focus on the actual artwork. The Oz logo will be embedded on the side of the page, more than likely. So we were completely on the same page with how I saw using the art.
here are my little cover comps I put together......Naturally, All Images © Bill Mayer 2011

They loved all of the designs and had trouble making up their minds. They used the tattoo lady on their blog… I guess a sort of pre-launch image teaser. Finally, they did make up their minds and got around to designing their own cover as well and they’re off and running… Here is a detail of how I designed the logos to be a playful part of the art. In this case, the logos as rather naughty pasties.
Naturally, © Bill Mayer 2011
It aint over till the fat lady chokes on the cheeseburger.... Also got picked up and used on the blog/digital magazine OzCetera. I love this little character. Well, full sized charater. What was it they said in Spinal Tap "The bigger the cushion, the better the pushin'....." Incidentally that little pup is Glen Bendrick's vicious pile of fluff. Tries to attack and eat me everytime we meet....
Naturally, © Bill Mayer 2011
Cover For Oz Magazine illustration © Bill Mayer 2011

SILA 49-Dellas Graphics "The Death of Frogs 2" wins Patrick Nagel award for excellence
Dellas Graphics "The Death of Frogs 2" wins Patrick Nagel award for excellence

No resting on the laurals but sometimes its nice to sit back and look at a selection of pieces that get into a show. This was such a diverse group, I just thought it would be good to post as a sort of review of my work over the past year. I have been enjoying experimenting with different styles.. with some limited success as far as medals, but personally very rewarding.
I was surprised and delighted today to open up the box from SI West and find, along with all of the certificates a couple of nice awards. A Bronze medal for the Illustration of the little guy with the hammer (Wrong Headed) I did for SooJin Buzelli.. and the Patrick Nagel award for excellence for the Dellas Graphics, (Death of Frogs 2) I did for Jim Burke...
Plan Sponsor, © Bill Mayer 2010

The Bad Egg © Bill Mayer 2010

Evenflo "Sad Cow" Saachi and Saachi © Bill Mayer 2011

Simon and Schuester. Hide and Sheep. © Bill Mayer 2010

Piaui Magazine, © Bill Mayer 2010

"The Rotten Earth" Unpublished © Bill Mayer 2010

Piauí Magazine © Bill Mayer 2010

"Death of Frogs #1" © Bill Mayer 2010

Hartford Stage, "A Christmas Carol" © Bill Mayer 2010

Hide and Sheep, Simon and Schuester © Bill Mayer 2010

Mother Jones © Bill Mayer 2010

Harper Collins © Bill Mayer 2010

staying sharp #7

Okay a great way to stay sharp, take an object from your studio and do ten sketches :10 min.... (insert some lame joke about unlocking the creative psyche) I like staying sharp, but Lee took all the sharp objects out of the studio... So a Google-Eye works..... If you want to see more "Staying Sharp," see Staying Sharp #5.

Right brain thinking....So it's a little exercise I started when I was in art school...Doesn't have to be brilliant, just a great way of staying fresh and keeping the ideas flowing. Honestly, this little set of drawings only took :10 but then another 20 minutes or so to scan them and figure out how to post them....but you get the idea.
Illustrators 53
Society of Illustrators advertising and Institution opens Friday. A couple of my favorite pieces were in this years show. I thought it would be a great time to revisit those illustrations. The Dellas graphics frogs always a highlight of my year turned out surprisingly fresh. The Sad caw still makes me smile. Overall I was thrilled to get five pieces in the show. A great honor any year just to be included with so many great illustrators it is truly inspiring. Presently at work on a couple new candidates for this years calendar. We’ll see how they shake out….

This year I did the usual 50+ thumbnails, and Art Director Jim Burke’s favorite turned out to be "The Death of Frogs.” I thought it would be funny to have the grim reaper appear as a skeleton of the animal he was coming to take to the other side. I played around with having him sitting at a table but I just did an IHOP frog recently. So we ended up with a simpler, more graphic illustration of the Reaper hanging over the innocent frog on his lily pad.
© Bill Mayer 2011

 Having a long deadline can be dangerous; as this job sat around I had some time and asked Jim what his next favorite thumbnail was. And he picked the one of a Heron with a frog sitting on his nose. I did a bunch of these little drawing. Then I tried a more unexpected version with the Heron coming down instead of the normal way, I added some dark rough spatters (spatters make anything better) around the edges. I knew as soon as I did it, this was my favorite one. And turns out it was Jim's favorite too. So this year as it turns out I may have two Dellas Graphics Frogs. This little experiment I think may have found another style to play around with and with some conceptual direction, may have some strong marketable potential.
© Bill Mayer 2011

The Rotten Earth
I have had this idea for a painting in my head for a while. Ever since I read Blood Meridian, a novel by Cormac McCarthy. It was his fifth book, but my first introduction to McCarthy. There was a description in the book of a bush the Kid comes across. The heads of native infants impaled on the limbs, their soulless eyes staring out. When the Fragile Planet project came along it seemed like a great fit. What I had in my head was the Earth as a fragile child crying black tears, pooling underneath. A sad and somber piece. I did some little thumbnails and this gouache sketch on corrugated board as a study for a painting, and then decided I liked the study as the final piece.

My intern Sojung told me how famous Soojin Bazelli was and I was so nervous trying to do a great job for her. The most obvious idea was the one we ended up finishing. The idea was like banging your head into the wall or hitting yourself with a hammer over and over. My first little thumbnail was just a head with lumps. Soojin asked for the hammer to make it more obvious. It’s like watching some ludicrous Three Stooges skit of Moe taking a pipe wrench to Larry’s nose. My kind of humor…
© Bill Mayer 2011

This was a fun little project that landed on my lap, and it was so painless creating this little character. The only snag was when we went ‘round and ‘round about whether cows have horns. In the end, no-horns won. The cow is sad because no one is buying milk anymore, they are drinking Evenflo chocolate formula. I know what’s next. Chocolate formula for kids?
© Bill Mayer 2011
staying Sharp #5
© Bill Mayer 2011

© Bill Mayer 2011

© Bill Mayer 2011

© Bill Mayer 2011

© Bill Mayer 2011

© Bill Mayer 2011

© Bill Mayer 2011

© Bill Mayer 2011

© Bill Mayer 2011

© Bill Mayer 2011

© Bill Mayer 2011

© Bill Mayer 2011

© Bill Mayer 2011

© Bill Mayer 2011

© Bill Mayer 2011

© Bill Mayer 2011

Okay a great way to stay sharp, take an object from your studio and do ten sketches :10 min.... (insert some lame joke about unlocking the creative psyche) I like staying sharp, but Lee took all the sharp objects out of the studio... So a Clock works..... If you want to see more "Staying Sharp," see Staying Sharp #4

Right brain thinking....So it's a little exercise I started when I was in art school...Doesn't have to be brilliant, just a great way of staying fresh and keeping the ideas flowing. Honestly, this little set of drawings only took :10 but then another 20 minutes or so to scan them and figure out how to post them....but you get the idea.
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