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Brian Stauffer
Recent Work
A New View Book
posted:
I'm a big fan of print self-promotions, but in this day and age it makes sense to increase your exposure anyway possible so long as it's cost effective and presents your work in a thoughtful way. For those of you who have not yet explored the potential of issuu.com, I strongly urge you to.  It's a totally free site that allows you to upload an unlimited number of documents as pdfs which are then converted into digital books and magazines. 
Below is the current version of my viewbook that I have been sending out to clients, showcasing works from the past year or so (there's a couple of older favs in there too).  Response from my existing clients has been very positive.  In a number of instances AD's downloaded the pdf to include as part of client presentations.  We're currently working with an online publisher to make the book available in a print version one book at a time.
Did I say it was free?  They also make it simple to share and publish the documents by allowing you to customize and embed the player into your personal and social networking sites.  You are able to track the number of views and viewers can bookmark and sign-up for additional documents you may publish in the future. 
As I'm also working on a series of children's books, I'm imagining that this would make an excellent method for pitching  ideas to publishers.  Through settings on issuu.com, you can make your documents public or private so you can keep your unpublished ideas between you and your clients.
I'm still a bit green at the whole issue.com experience but I'm happy to answer any questions folks might have when exploring what can be done.

Issuu.com
Today's NYT OP-ED
posted:
One of the things I love about this field is the opportunity to contribute to the works and thoughts of historical figures.  Such was the case when Leanne Shapton at The new York Times called with an Op-Ed assignment for an editorial written by Nobel Prize recipient Archbishop Desmond Tutu. (article here)
He writes about the reluctance of Africa's various leader's to cooperate with prosecuting Sudanese leaders with war crimes for the genocide happening there.  Archbishop Tutu's assertion is that the only way to lasting peace in the region is through justice for the millions of victims.
Thanks so much Leanne for letting me rub virtual elbows with a man of his voice. (about Tutu)
Alternate sketch1
Alternate sketch2
Alternate sketch3
Sketch which was initially approved
After getting an approval on this sketch we decided to make it a bit more dramatic by extending the arm.
Skin Deep
posted:
Cosmetic companies have figured out that sufferers of Eczema will pay just about anything for even a glimmer of hope that they can cure or manage their skin disease.  Unfortunately the creams that cost 6 to 10 times more than existing treatments produce the same results. That was the topic for this illustration that ran in yesterday's New York Times 'Style' section.
Thanks to NYT AD Barbara Richer for being such a pleasure to work with.
 
 
detail
After my John Grisham portrait ran in the NY Times a few weeks back, I received a number of calls requesting portraits, not my typical fare. So I decided to do a couple experimental images to continue working on this very tough form of illustration.  Hats off to those who have mastered it.
This is supposed to be Kate Winslet.
Hazarous Topic
posted:
Many communities don't know what cargo rides the rails through their train yards and over their rivers and lakes until a catastrophic derailment spills those contents all over hell and back.  Illustrating the dangers to the public health when hazardous materials are transported by rail was the assignment from Roy Comiskey at Security Management Magazine.  He was a great guy to work with as always.
I really enjoyed the line work in this one.
Appraising Lies In Home Lending, For BusinessWeek
posted:
What does a governing body do when it finds a systemic practice of home appraisers and lenders colluding to inflate values of homes? They make a law requiring a licensed middleman to ensure accuracy.  Unfortunately, the appraisers who were doing the bogus assessments simply changed the names of their businesses and began offering their services as the watchdogs.  (article here)
This was the subject of a juicy assignment from Ronald Plyman and Steven Taylor at BusinessWeek.  Below are a few sketches and details images along with a screen grab of the final in the spread.
This is another image in a recent series that reveals a bit of an evolution of my work.  I'm still tapping into found objects and textures, but more and more adding the element of line drawing.  It's a bit different from previous years work but still me, I hope.
Toxins,Toys, and Blood Spatters, Oh Boy!!
posted:
A while back I was asked by Los Angeles Magazine AD Steven Banks to do an image about the lingering issue of lead paint-tainted toys from China.  The inspiration for this solution came from my own house as I watched my two 6 and 7 year old boys clutching their favorite toys as they slept.  The idea that something so treasured yet toxic really struck a nerve. Although there are many different types of toys affected, dolls seemed particularly poignant to me since the lead in these paints is transfered by touch, rubbing off and staying in a child's system forever
I had done a version earlier the day before that was a bit more sensational and graphic, showing the manufacture (think toxic doll factory) which was approved, but it just didn't think it would hit a nerve with readers.  Thanks to Joe Kimberling and Steven Banks at the publication for handing me this one and for keeping open minds to change.
A short while later I received another assignment for the same magazine from Deputy AD Lisa Lewis for a tricky book review.  They were reviewing two books on completely different subjects but wanted the art to address both.  The common thread was the LA Noir style both books were written in.  One book was about a crime scene clean-up technician, the other was about a restaurant critic. 
I thought this image made for a fun, albeit unlikely,  combination.
And lastly, Greg Klee from the Boston Globe is a fairly regular source of rich topics.  An assignment for two images discussing a theory called "Toxic Life" proved rich with possibilities.  The idea behind the theory goes contrary to the idea that if left alone, nature will right itself, being that it's a balanced system.  The writer states that if one considers that there was in fact a time in the planet's history when oxygen was a gas toxic to organisms that thrived on methane and sulphur, eventually killing them off.  He described many examples of where, when left to it's own devices, the Earth would literally kill itself and many of its' inhabitance.
2nd piece for Toxic Life article
Detail
Fat Assignment
posted:
"Thinking with your stomach"
What goes on in the brain of those who wrestle with obesity?  This series accompanied an article in Neurology Now Magazine that delves into  the thought processes and lifestyle habits  that lead to obesity, as well as, the unhealthy effects on one's ability to get recuperative sleep.

This was another in a long string of assignments from Anthony Kosner, AD for Neurology Now.  A number of our collaborations have found their way into the annuals, in no small part due to his appetite for doing things thoughtfully.
 
Alternative sketch
"Obesity leads to uncomfortable sleep"
Alternative Sketch
"TV consumption leads to increased food consumption"
My Contribution To the Drummer Show
posted:
A few months back I got a call from fellow Drawger Scott Bakal about being included in the Cut To The Drummer exhibit.  Sandra Dionisi at The Bipo + Mimi Project suggested that I do a portrait of Darrin Pfeiffer of the band, GoldFinger. 
Below is the base drawing/sketch that I incorporated into the final along with a few collaged textures and even a bit of watercolor.  I also wanted to try an unusual composition, somehting new to me.  The figure was drawn absed on pics i took of myself and with drumkit layout schematic diagrams. 
Thanks to Sandra for creating such a showcase for illustration when it's needed most, and a big thanks to Scott for sharing the opportunity.
Two heads...
posted:
Here are a couple pieces of mine from the past couple months that illustrate how motifs, elements, and composition often reappear for totally different topics in my work . I used to shy away from this until I realized that we all have our re-occurring cast of characters, favorite colors, and unique mindset.
These pieces also show more of the line drawing that has been creeping into my work (to the horror of those who can actually draw).  I'm enjoying the process and intend to bring collage and drawing together even more seamlessly in future works.

The first of these was completed a few weeks after we lost our dear 4 legged friend Chip (see previous post but bring kleenex).  Cameron Woo, the publisher of Bark Magazine, contacted me by way of Susan Scandrett to do apiece for a story about the foundations of the Humane Treatment For Animals Movement in the late 1800's.  It turns-out that the movement initially was focused on livestock before expanding to include dogs and cats.  The key element here was that the movement was founded on the notion of empathy, seeing through the eyes of the animals.
Detail of doggy drawing
Detail 2
The second piece is the cover for Emory Law Magazine.  This is the second consecutive cover I've done with AD Winnie Hulme for the publication in what has so far been a wonderful work experience.  This piece was about a student who travels to India, discovering a land rich with a bizarre mix of natural beauty, pollution, overpopulation, and human rights abuses.  Through the experience she becomes a more mature woman with a greater understanding of the world we often ignore.
Detail 2
India detail1
John Grisham, for The New York Times
posted:
I rarely get called for portraits it seems, so I was surprised and a bit nervous when the call came from Arts section AD Corinne Myller to do a pretty straightforward image of the author for the review of his new book, "The Associate".
It was odd for me to not have a conceptual element in the image so I at least snuck in a little noir into the background, hinting at the shadow world of law and corporate culture that Grisham's novels inhabit.
It seems like almost all of my figures in previous works needed to be made generic enough that they represent no single person so it was a bit scary to think about achieveing a likeness. When I have gotten calls in the past it's mostly been requesting that I work with an existing image, manipulating it etc, but still always working with the original photo.  I've always resisted that, with a few rare exceptions.  The final below is comprised of line drawing, my cadre of textures, and a bit of watercolor thrown in for good measure.  The figure in the back has a collaged shirt made from an old underwear ad from the 70's.  It was a fun challenge that I hope to do more of as I find my way
 
detail 1
Detail 2
See Ya!
posted:
I'm not in the habit of showing sketches that get rejected, but I was quite fond of this one for The New Yorker.  It reminded me of how irrelevant Bush became in the months since the election - like a chair no one ever sits in.
Cover For Election Issue Of The New Yorker!
posted:
 
Mixed in with the still raw realization of what a historic moment this is for the nation and the world, is the surreal experience of finding my work on the cover of such hallowed ground during this historic event.
A Little over a week ago an idea for a possible New Yorker cover came to mind that I felt I really wanted to pursue.  Due in no small part to the encouragement of postings by fellow drawgers, Barry Blitt and Bob Staake, I comp'd it up and submitted it to the famously elusive Francoise Mouly.   An enthusiastic response started a 2-week roller coaster which culminated in the arrival of box of issues on my doorstep yesterday.  The resulting cover has gotten much attention, including a treasured compliment from Esquire legend, George Lois (oh and my mom too!).
Thanks again to all who helped and encouraged.  And I'd especially like to thanks the folks at The New Yorker - Francoise Mouly, David Remnick, and Leigh Stein, for what I'm sure will remain a highlight of a lifetime.
Death Wish
posted:
A recent New Times 2-part cover assignment is another chapter in the bizarre dramas that are happening in the homes all around us. 
For example, A devout Mormon wife who's husband is having an affair  believes she is summoned by God to die attempts to kill herself by jumping from a cliff.  Her clothing snags on a tree branch and she is saved.  And although her husband ends the affair, the wife writes a long series of letters including on to the her husbands former lover, explaining that the woman needs to take care of her family after she joins the Lord.
The woman is eventually found dead her bathtub.  The evidence points to suicide but the husband is charged with murder.
This image appears as the 2nd cover of the 2 cover series. It's my favorite of the 2.
This is the 1st cover of the series. Unfortunately they decided to run the art with the figure facing upward. They warned me that they wanted to, but I argued against it, feeling that it was a much less compelling image facing up.
The bath image sketch.
The jump sketch.
I don;t always do this, but in this case I only did one sketch for each of these covers.  The ideas came quick and felt right. 
And Now For Something Completely Different
posted:
Anyone who's seen my svelte, 6'6" 250lb profile knows that I'm ALL about fashion. 
Ok, so I may not be the most delicate flower in the bouquet but I've been interested for quite a while in expanding my appeal by doing work that is a bit more lifestyle oriented.  By lifestyle I mean upbeat day-in-the-life, not day-in-the-life of the Manson family.
I guess I resisted this type of work because it's seemed more style driven than concept driven and I've never felt that style has been my strong suit.  Anyhow, I enjoyed doing these and am planning on venturing into music related imagery as well I'm excited to potentially find myself scewering a Presidential candidate one moment and then exploring a lighter topic the next.  I need some balance.
These three pieces are from a recent series of mailings.  So far, the response has been great.
When the issues turn against you, attack the character
posted:
I'm disgusted with the Republican Party leaders.  They claim to be the party of values and morality while spewing fiction as fact in the same breath.  They've lowered the bar of validity to the election process by irresponsibly nominating a candidate who's major victory is that she didn't fall apart under pressure during the last debate.
But rather than address why they are losing on the issues, they've sent out their newest footsoldier to reach out and distract Joe sixpack with claims that Obama is a friend of terrorism.
Numerous mainstream news agencies including The New York Times, Washington Post, Time, and now CNN have revealed this latest salvo as a baseless hatchet job. I've been so impressed with how the Obama camp has used the Internet to directly and quickly go after these swift boat tactics.  I just wanted to do my part in getting the facts straight.
Send this article to a Republican who claims the high moral ground
"Gotcha" Illustration?
posted:
Nevermind "Putin rearing his head", according to the recent Republican response to widespread criticisms of Palin's performance in interviews, the real enemy is The Media. 
If basic questions asked to challenge and, dare I say, seek a more detailed picture of a candidates' knowledge and philosophy on world issues are considered "Gotcha Journalism", then this is the single most blatant attempt to lower the bar in modern history. 
For the past 8 years the Republican party has fed America a steady diet of fear mongering fueled by a sympathetic and sleepy and brow beaten press core.  Now that a series of transparent poltical manipulations have awakened the mighty microphone, the repubs are returning to a clinton-era old standard, the attacks of the Liberal Media.  If there's one great lesson for them here, it's that in today's world of information, hiding is only slightly better for your candidate than facing tough "gotcha" questions like, "What publications do you read?"
 
NY Times and Boston Globe
posted:
A few months back Alina I grew tired of the battle with our New York Times "delivery boy" and cancelled our subscription in disgust.  I spent a couple hours yesterday driving around this literary desert trying to find a copy to no avail, kicking myself for the decision.  Tim O'Brien pulled-out the huge dose of brotherly love and scanned the beast for me in three pieces.
A big thanks to Aviva Michaelov for the last minute (barely exaggerating) assignment on friday for the cover of The Week In Review.  And what a week it was.  Stunts and posturing in order to appear Presidential while still just a candidate, sprinkled with a few extremely awkward Palin interview clips (ironically trying to ALSO look presidential).
Thanks Aviva, for the great opportunity and to own such a huge swath of NY real-estate.
My semi-regular relationship with Susan Levin at the Boston Globe also continued this week.  I find her to be one of the best thinkers in her field.  SHe almost always goes for the poetic, rather than the literal.
The text was a review of a historical book about witch hunts and the dynamics that fuel them (see not so subtle fingers pointing in the flames).  We went back and forth about whether the background added or subtracted from the piece.  In the end they went with the version without.
Thanks again Susan and Aviva.
 
For TIME
posted:
This is my contribution to Michael Kinsley's column in TIME which discusses the ponzi scheme-like nature of America's economy being based on housing prices. 
Kinsley's full text often comes in long after the art is due, so the brief basically distilled this tough topic down for me.  "Housing as an unstable foundation for our Nation."
Story Here
 
Serial Illustrator
posted:
I admit it.  I can't help myself.  I must be stopped.  I apparently am now magnetically attracting assignments about serial killers.
Just outside Seattle a crooning guitar-playing cowboy finally reached the end of his string of killings and rapes.  Known for his snake skin boats, a favorite cocktail named the "snake bite", and a penchant for strangling his victims with his bare hands, Michael Braae (known as Cowboy Mike) was a slick character who serenaded his victims before doing them in.  Story here
Inside art
For the past 13 years, a mysterious lone killer that the cops have nicknamed "The Grim Sleeper" has been preying on young black prostitutes.  What is additionally disturbing, beyond the 13 known victims, is that the task force assigned to the case AND the existence of the killer were kept secret from the public.  One doubts that the string of killings would have been kept a secret if it was young college-age white women.  Story here
And for the cover of The Village Voice, this last image doesn't involve a serial killing, but it does reveal the US Military's apparent serialized method of hiding the true circumstances of accidental deaths of its' soldiers.  No, I'm not talking about Pat Tillman, this is the story of PVT  Michael Fremer  who was accidentally crushed between two vehicles during a training exercise in the U.S.
The story opens with a full-brass military burial service with a 21 gun salute.  The soldiers father describes it all as an elaborate smoke screen put on to distract them from the reality that the military would not release any official word on his son's cause of death.  Story here
 
And finally, a recent string of child pornography busts in St. Louis provided this cover opportunity for the River Front Times.  This one was too icky to talk about, but let me just suggest that if you have children, as I do, go hold them tight and give them a protective hug and a kiss.
For The Times
posted:
The New York Times continues to be a source of challenging and thoughtful assignments. I'm sure fellow drawgers will confirm that NYT AD's consistently push the artists to bring their best work to fruition.  Since my days as an AD for a Weekly, many moons ago, I've been addicted to newsprint.  I love it for it's touch, it's smell and especially it's immediacy. Below are a few recent fixes for my newsprint habit.
Shortly before hopping on a plane to NYC for the SOI Politics 08 opening last week, I got a call from Veronica Ferre in the Science Section.  She had one of those topics that's just too rich to turn down.  We streamlined the process and knocked it out a few hours later.  It was about a patient in a demetia ward that specialized in hospice care for Alzheimer's patients.  The patient, named Pat, used to love to look out on the lush garden surrounding the grounds but had become completely catatonic and unresponsive.  One day a regular visitor came to her and spoke of the garden.  Pat spoke, for the first time in months, only one word as she was propped upright in her wheelchair.  "Beautiful".  She then slipped back into her failing mind.   Story here
Not long ago, Nicholas Blechman called from the Book Review with an assignment for the book,  'Palace Council,' by Stephen L. Carter.  It's a fiction work that portrays the world of a "clandestine fraternity of powerful white men who are bent on undermining democracy by deploying an armed black group called the "Jewel Agony".  Story here
We're all too familiar with the scene of a student violently lashing-out at student bodies, but what happens when it's the individual student that feels that the school is out to get them.  For many teens with behavioral disorders, this fear is a reality.  For the article entitled, "Calm Down or Else " Jennifer Pelzek assigned a section cover that she had hoped would convey the sense of isolation and violence these students face.   Story here
Impaled and Palin
posted:
Leave it to Alina and me to pick 9/11 as the day to fly up to NYC for the Politics 08 show at The Society of Illustrators.  A big thanks to Tim and Edel for including a handful of my pieces for TIME and The New York Times in the show.  Being among this roster of artists is truely humbling.
Above, is one of the images that will be included.  It was for a Michael Kinsley column in TIME in which he discussed the utter futility and selfishness of former Hillary supporters who claim they will vote for McCain as a form of protest.  Kinsley pointed out that the real benefactors of this selfish act are the jobless, hardworking, uninsured, and forclosed families who need them the most.
I hope all who can will come to show and hoist a few with friends.  I'm sure the conversation will be lively. opening info here
The second piece was done earlier this week for TIME, again for a Michael Kinsley column.  It will not be included in the show but I thought it was appropriate to share. He discussed Governor Palin's quest for big pork.  There's some great facts in this one in case you get stuck next to a Palin supporter at your next dinner party.  story here
See you in the city!
Better Off Dead
posted:
In this week's TIME, columnist Peter Beinert suggested that the worst thing that could happen to the Repubs is to actually win with a candidate so mis-aligned with the mainstream party views. I'm wondering if the selection of Sarah Palin as a running mate might have compensated for this discrepancy.

Anyhow, here's the piece I did for the column which can be read here.

It's been a fun political season and I'm honroed to be included in the Politics 08 show at The Society of Illustrators.  My thanks to all the fine folks there.  And a special shout-out to Edel Rodriguez and Tim O'Brien for their curating of the exhibit. I hope to see you all on Sept 12 for the opening (pending hurricane IKE).  here's the info again

also

I've been buried under since my return from the month-long stay in San Francisco but am going to be putting together a couple posts in the coming days to show some work and photos from that time.  It was a transformative experience that I hope to share.
Late Bloomers
posted:


A rare genetic trait that results in a unique dwarf-like condition, called Bloom's Syndrome, was the topic for this weeks cover of The Riverfront Times.  This syndrome almost exclusively affects descendants of Jewish heritage, hence the Star of David icons as flowers in "Bloom".

This one was delicate for a couple reasons.  First and foremost, I didn't want to portray the subjects in a way that would exploit their physical differences.  Instead, I wanted to nod to the life of someone who is always looking up at the world.  The woman in the feature is a proud and defiant person who's stature is measured in optimism. 

The other has to to do with how this condition has been twisted as some sort of proof of inferior genetic heritage by white supremacists and hate groups.  I didn't want to give them any imagery that could be twisted for their own use (I've had this happen with Pro-Choce illustrations in the past).  I found this out when I did the customary google search on Blooms Syndrome.  The first few links were to these hate groups, rather than to the support and social networks that "Bloomies" rely on to cope with everyday life.

A big nod goes out to Riverfront Times AD Tom Carlson, and Editor and old pal Tom Finkel.  These guys are amazing to work with.  Tom and I built an extremely fruitful AD/Editor relationship during my 4 years as the art director for New Times in Miami.
Good Medicine
posted:

More and more doctors are being faced with patients who consider religious beliefs to be an important part of their healing.  Some doctors are offering prayer, even prayer not of their denomination.  A recent study has shown that it's working for many.

This was the topic of my first, and hopefully not last, assignment from former TIME AD Janet Michaud who has made a soft landing at The Washington Post.  Janet is one of those great AD's - an open mind with high expectations.

This was another chance for me to work some of my drawing "skills" into the final.
Reconciliation
posted:
I consistently get rich topics from the folks at Pentagram Design.  On this occasion, DJ Stout and Daniella Boebel assigned a full page for an article about the process of reconciliation between warring factions in African conflicts.

The first thing that came to mind was the weapon of choice, the inexpensive and plentiful AK-47.  Every kid should have one.  In fact, in Africa many do.

The sketch and a detail of the final are also included below as an example of how I'm continuing to bring more of my sketching into the final pieces.
About today
posted:
This image was a personal piece that I submitted to the Nation back in 2006.  They ended-up running it as the cover art for their issue commemorating the 3rd anniversary of the war. I posted it a long while back but thought it was a good one for the day.

Today was a great opportunity for me to get my kids thinking about the holiday and what it means.  I told them the story about how back in 1966 when my parents were searching for a name for their new baby boy, my dad chose to honor his best pal, Brian Medford, who was serving in Vietnam at the time.  Brian was shot 8 times in the stomach and legs by a 10 year-old Vietnamese boy with a machine gun.  Members of his platoon shot and killed the boy.  Brian survived his injuries and returned home, needing to learn to walk again.  I vivdly remember meeting him in 1973.  He wore cowboy boots and walked with the aid of a cane.  My father lost track of him a number of years ago.  I think about him every Memorial Day.  I hope I get to meet him again some day.

On a side note, my 6 year-old asked me why they have so many "sales" on memorial day.  I have to admit, I was at a loss for a good answer.
In Memory Of
posted:
Personal piece, Memorial Day Weekend, 2008
On May 6th, a relatively little discussed hearing was taking place on Capital Hill to discuss the alarming rise in soldier suicide attempts and the VA's complete lack of response to the crisis.  With over 1000 vets attempting suicide each and every month, the militarys response was to relieve the doctors who completed the study. WHen pressed, they relented and admitted that more should be done.  read story here.

An acquaintance of mine who recently returned from Afganistan explained to me the often bottomless sense of loss and disconnect that soldiers feel when trying to reconcile the world they've experienced with the relativley superficial and petty existence of everyday life in the states.

As much as they want to rejoin "normal" society, their eyes have been opened to a level of life and suffering that most of us actively suppress in order to maintain our comfort zone.  This is not meant as a criticism of our everyday lives, but rather as a reminder that the casualties of war go far beyond life and limb.  I do suspect that this crisis is directly related to how much we as a society engage with the reality of the wars in Iraq and Afganistan. What is lost by many is a belief in the value of their very existence previous to their service in combat.  The worlds are so different, so how could they both represent reality.  For some, they cannot both be true.

When we look at the numbers, it seems that the chasm is widening and deepening.  For a growing number of those who have served our country in honor that gap is too far to bridge.  When pressed about what we can do, the simple answer was to reach-out to these vets and listen to their stories.  Close the gap by letting them know that on some level they are not alone in knowing what they now do about the wider world that we live in.  Often vets worry about protecting their friends and family from the harshness they've experienced but this is thought to be the first step towards isolation.

What will I do?  Remember them.  And then I'll go and hug my children. I'll try to keep my eyes open to the world and remember what I see in the hope that the collective knowing of the truth about these events will in some way make us less and less interested in sacrificing so much beauty, life, and innocence in the future.
Myanmar Op-Ed
posted:
In the Myanmar cyclone disaster, the difference between life and death was only a few feet in elevation.  The assignment, from Brian Rea at the New York Times, was  for an editorial that discussed the  tragedy within this recent tragedy -  that the need to heed early warnings, particularly in this low-laying region, is crucial as the storm surge submerged 2000 square miles.  The use of a topography map felt like a nice way to bring that across.

In recent weeks, I've been working some of drawn elements from my sketches into the final illustrations.  This Op-Ed as well as the piece below are the beginning of more and more line work being infused with my textures and scanned elements.
line drawing detail
the original sketch
For the Phoenix alt weekly, New Times, is an illustration for a story about a home for the mentally retarded.   It seems that a particularly slimey realestate developer has his eye on a prime piece of AZ property that just happens to be the site of a 70 year-old home for mentally retarded peoples.  The facility, which has received high marks for quality of life, has been the lifelong home (from infancy to senior adulthood) for it's inhabitants.  It the only home they know.  The developer has been accused of trying to have the facility closed due to poor care.

Both the bear and backhoe scooper are texture-filled line drawings from the original sketch.
Bear detail
Genetic Discrimination, For TIME
posted:
Congress passed legislation this week making it illegal for insurance companies and employers to use genetic data gathered during routine blood testing as a basis for choosing who to hire or cover.

In this week's TIME, Michael Kinsley explores this new law and the many questions it raises.  The issue is anything but clear-cut.

You can read the article onlline here, but you will notice that once again, and for reasons that defy reason, the online edition didn't run the art.  They used a corbis stock DNA strand-in-a-pill image that has no relation to the topic.  Way to go!
Adolf Who?
posted:
When asked, 1 in 4 of Bostons public schools teens didn't know the answer to "Who is Adolf Hitler"?

In response, the Boston School District is making a switch to a form of teaching history through empathy for those who lived through it's tumultuos chapters.  This illustration, which appeared in yesterday's Boston Globe Magazine, was my attempt to show this new method of making kids "walk in the steps of history".

Thanks again go out to Josue Evilla for fantastic topic and venue.
NYTimes and The Boston Globe
posted:
This past week brought a couple of those juicy topics I love to sink my teeth into, as well as an opportunity to collaborate with a couple fine AD's that I've not worked with in a while.

A big thanks to Nicholas Blechman at the New York Times Book Review for an assignment to illustrate the review for "The Finder".  The book opens with a deadly hit on two janitorial workers suspected of stealing corporate secrets by way of the office paper refuse.  It's been a few years since I did work for Nicholas when he was at the Op-Ed page.  It was good to reconnect on this one int Review.  article here

I enjoyed working some of my line work from the sketches into the finals - something I'm thinking of doing more of.

 Thanks guys for two stimulating assignments.
sketch1 for "The Finder"
This was the sketch which led me to the final solution. Nicholas gave the verbal thumbs up for the direction that became the final.
Greg Klee at the Boston Globe called with a fantastic assignment.  In "How To Defuse A Human Bomb" Drake Bennett explores the practice of de-radicalizing would-be terrorists and martyrs.  It's the cover of Sunday's (4/13) Ideas/Books section of the Globe.  article here
Greg recommended a switch to a figure that was more universally attired for the final. A good call I think. The vest drawing became a big part of the final.
On The Fence + Hillary
posted:
The issue of the Mexico/USA border fence may divide more than the Republicans had intended now that there is an initiative to force McCain's hand in the issue.  He is on record in opposition of a border fence, preferring better enforcement of existing laws and the introduction of guest worker programs.  Expect a battle royale within the Republican party as the staunch right tries to define the party with immigration fears as their rallying point.

Chrissy Dunleavy was the AD on this one and she was a pleasure to work with.


+++++++++++++++++++++

For the NYT Op-Ed,  Can Hillary Change?

Today's Op-Ed offers the opinion that it is not necessary for Hillary to get out of the race if she can morph herself into a more positive, more populist candidate. 

She seems to have started a message shift from the "candidate of experience" to "putting the people first".  The writer doesn't see a continuing primary race as a negative unless the negative tactics (incorrectly or correctly) perceived to be the tool of choice by Hillary continue.


Brian Rea was wonderful to work with, as always.
Mother, Interrupted
posted:
Final selected cover image
An incorrect hunch by a pediatrician results in the court-ordered separation of a 3 year-old girl from her loving mother.  The mother originally brought her daughter in for an evaluation of the child's physical developmental issues.  The doctor felt that the mother was creating these conditions in her daughter via Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome (when a mother causes illness in her child in order to gain sympathy and attention for herself).  This was not a proven diagnosis, simply a hunch that she reported to officials.  There's only one problem.  The mother was in fact a devoted caregiver. 

By the time a contradictory second opinion was obtained, the damage was already done.  Now it was time for the agency to circle the wagons to save their own asses.  They dropped the original charge and replaced it with a newly conceived charge of "Excessive Care".  That's right, she was just caring too much for the special needs of her child. 

The New Times Phoenix AD, Peter Storch, and I went back and forth between whether the image should depict the moment before or after the "intervention" by the agency.  We also considered versions with and without the mother's hands.  In the end, with the headline , they were included.

Another tough topic but a great subject to work with.  Peter has only been at the New Times for a few weeks, but he's an AD to put on your mailing list.  peter.storch@newtimes.com
Alternate moment in conflict.
The selected sketch before the mother was cropped to maintain the focus on the child figure.
The image without the mother figure. I like this one more compositionally, but they were missing the mother element's pay-off of the headline.
I've updated this post with a couple samples of some of my raw materials. See below.
Scanned texture that bird tail, wings, and child's hair were made from.
Used this scanned texture to create the birds leg feathers and the red dress.
All Dolled-Up
posted:
What child doesn't enjoy a seaweed wrap, eyebrow plucking, or exfoliating rub?  This image accompanied the article, "All Dolled-Up" in the new issue of Phiadelphia Magazine  in which the writer reveals sickening rise in the number of mom's who are bringing their little girls in for spa treatments and cosmetics makeovers.

The irony of a mom turning her poor child into a doll for herself  jumped-out as the key to the image.  I don't often send only one sketch, but in this case I felt strongly that this was an image I wanted to do. 

I want to thank AD Andy Zahn for such an awesome topic to work with.
Detail
Spitzer OP-ED
posted:
Is prostitution a victimless crime?  After all the sordid details are revealed and picked-over, will we have forgotten who the real victims of Spitzer's senseless behavior are? 

Brian Rea, New York Times Op-Ed AD, called yesterday with a refreshing challenge to an already saturated media frenzy.  "Forget the sensationalism, focus on the small details that remind of us of how deliberate his actions were.  What were those consequences? Oh, and I need it in 3 hours."

Like many, I empathized with Spitzer's family.  They've done nothing to deserve this.  I imagined the number of moments, while in the process of arranging his many romps, when he had to deliberately and calculatingly discount the lives of his wife and 3 daughters - where polar opposites existed in direct conflict with respect.

Was there a family photo on his desk near the phone?  If so, I could see him turning it upside down to avoid the onlookers in the frame.  In the end I pictured the inevitable moment when he payed "Kristin" for her services.  As the hand clutches the wallet to pull-out the cash, his thumb obscures the happy-family photo underneath.
detail
Art Anxiety!
posted:
Apparently, some folks faint at the terrifying prospect of filling their white walls with artwork.  Snooty gallery personel, committement issues, resale values, and the fear of getting gouged make the world of art collecting a daunting task for some.  Ok, so it's not on par with more notable disorders like, say, Post Traumic Stress Disorder or Post partem Depression, but I guess it really bogs some folks down.  Anyhow, Joyce Wadler's piece in yesterday's (thurs 3/28) New York Times made for a good read and a terrific assignment as the cover for the Home and Garden section. Artcle here

It was a pleasure to work with Ken McFarlin on this one as he gave a concise suggestion at the start, "Think 'High Anxiety'".  The rest is (art)history.

Buck-up all you richies!  Buy art.
detail
sketch
As it ran.
The Oscars Have Landed
posted:
I didn't watch the ceremony last night but I was pleasantly surpirsed by the overseas invasion of all the "best acting" categories. 

It reminded me to post Last week's "DateBook" cover for the SF Chronicle - AD Matt Petty who was a pleasure to work with.

I've yet to see any of the winning pictures as I've written-off trying to see movies in Miami theaters.  It would seem that the socially imposed ban on cell phone use in theaters has fallen to the wayside.  The last time I went a theater here I looked down our single row to see 4 people chatting away at the same time.  crazy
Attack Iran! With Words.
posted:
Thanks to Brian Rea and Guillermo Nagore for this gem of an Op-Ed assignment which appears in today's New York Times.

The text, which is entitled "Attack Iran, With Words", addresses the urgent need to choose diplomatic dialog over preemptive bombings to curb Iran's march toward nuclear armament.

I was initially more interested in the "Bush-Ahmadinejad "  mushroom cloud sketch, but the wiser folks at NYT wanted to go in the direction that  emphasized the dialog aspect of the article (jet dropping speech bubbles sketch).  I wasn't loving the dialog ovals though and suggested the possibility of using words or individual letters.
 
In the layout with dummy copy
7-UP vs. Coke
posted:
The Art Director had me at "cocaine-addicted heir to the 7-Up fortune."

Illustrators, for a good time call Tom Carlson, AD of the River Front Times. (Tom.Carlson@riverfronttimes.com)
Cover image for the River Front Times. AD Tom Carlson.
As the art appeared on the cover. Notice that teeny tiny restrained type!
A detail to show some of the textures that combine for shading. The fingers were made out of legs from a 1960's lingerie ad from "Confidential" magazine. The nose was created from an old "How to cook swell turkey cookbook". It was the bone tip from a drumstick.
Warning To Dems
posted:

When I got the call this week from Cynthia Hoffman at TIME to do an illustration for Ramesh Ponnuru's column, I was cautious at first, given that he usually bangs the Republican drum pretty hard (I'm an Independent).  It turns-out that I couldn't agree more with the basic jist of what he had to say.

In his column entitled, "The Price of Overconfidence", he discusses the lessons to be learned from the hubris and over-reaching agenda which has sabotaged the once mighty elephant. 

This one had to be done fast, soup to nuts in a couple of hours.

Story here
His Way
posted:
An entrepreneur's 5 year journey to take his home-spun ginger beer brewing company public, HIS way, made for a fantastic assignment for the Feb issue of INC Magazine. Blake Taylor, INC's Creative Director, was an absolute pleasure to work with, balancing the needs of his editors with the need to have some fun. 

The story is a profile of Chris Reed, the ex-hippy entrepreneur who started Reed's Ginger Beer  out of his Venice Beach bathtub in 1987.  Five years ago he decided to generate much needed expansion capital by doing an IPO.  Unfortunately the hippy side of him told him that he could buck the system and do it on it own.  The story accounts the journey, his battles, and the result.

http://www.inc.com/magazine/20080201/his-way.html
Our here starts on what he sees as a simple path. Of course the underlying reality is far more complex.
As the spread appears in the FEB issue. Nice type treatment Blake!
A detail of the spread
Reality sets in.
Is all lost?
Our hero thinks he is at the end of the journey, but...
The above solutions as presented in sketch form.
Our Eyes
posted:
How do we see?  The age-old question of wondering whether green and red (my favorite two colors) look the same to you as they do to me, has been in my mind lately because of two recent but separate events.

The cosmic forces of irony were working overtime when Alina and I found out that both of our two sons, Andres and julian (6 and almost 5 years old) have been diagnosed as being color blind.  In the world we live in, which stretches the boundaries of the word "tragedy", I understand that this is a minor wrinkle.  And it was in that context that I initially took the stoic outlook, being thankful for their ten fingers and toes all where they should be.  But over the next few days I felt a small space of sadness open-up.  It struck me that with color being such an important part of my work, there would always be this distance between our different ways of seeing.  How will they ever know my true mind, and I theirs?

I stayed in this space for a couple of days until I got one of those perfectly timed surprise visits from the boys out in the studio.  I had just finished a book review piece for Susan Levin at The Boston Globe about transcendentalism and nature.  They both took a good long look at the image and then Andrés asked, What's this one about Daddy?"  With that single question he closed that distance by defining our connection as one based in the appreciation of ideas.  It's proof to me that although we all see with different eyes, if there is a desire to share our visions, we find a way.

Just about the time I figured all this settled down, I got an unexpected call from my father.  He had woke that morning with a massive blind-spot in his left eye.  An emergency visit to an optometrist revealed that a huge swath of his retina had detached from the lining of eye.  If left untreated for more than a day or two, he would likely lose the use of that eye.

So after a 4 hour drive from the remote norther CA town of Arcata where my dad was living an independent nomadic life, he had what now appears to be a totally successful (and quite bizarre) procedure to re-attach the retina to the eye wall.  The procedure inflated a bubble of air in side his eye, forcing the retina back into place.  The bubble naturally dissipates over a few days restoring the normal vision.

So what's the cosmos telling me?  That we all see differently?  That sight is fragile? I'm not totally sure. But the bittersweet take-away for me is that I think I'm seeing things that I hadn't before.  And for that, I'm thankful.

For more info on color blindness (did you know that 7-10 percent of the male U.S. population has some form of it?) check out this site.  http://www.eyecaresource.com/conditions/color-blindness/

And this site allows you to upload sample images to simulate the various forms of color blindness. http://www.vischeck.com
Original art as created for Boston Globe book review on transcendentalism and nature
A simulation of how the illustration would appear to someone with red/green color blindness.
A recent piece about China's hunger for Africa's natural rescources
The red/green color blind simulation
Gotta Love GITMO
posted:
"Growing Old At GITMO" AD: Angela Moore
This is a cover for the Santa Fe Reporter's piece about a 26 year old Muslim young man who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.  He was arrested, at the age of 21, in the company of "suspected" Al Qaeda recruits.  His lawyer won his release a couple years ago but the government has not complied.  The prisoner has been held at GITMO for 1/4 of his life.

The article is entitled "Growing Old At GITMO".  My intention was to use the growth of a beard on a young man's face as an indication of the time that has passed. 
I put the "Rough" in rough sketches!  Here's a couple sketches that led to the final illo.
An then the actual cover.
Luck book Completed!
posted:
A hellish 2 weeks has come to a close now that I'm all wrapped-up on 70 illustrations for a book entitled "The Field Guide To Luck".  It is the tenth in a series (my first) published by Quirk Books covering topics such as dreams, gestures, etc.   Quirk Books are the publishers of a lot of the funky pop culture books with irreverent titles such as: "The Stuntwoman’s Workout", "The Big Book of Porn", "The Baby Owner’s Manual", "How to Tell If Your Boyfriend Is the Antichrist, (And If He Is Should You Dump Him?)", and the very popular "Worst-case Senario" series.

They were pretty fun to work with, although I definitely wanted to add more commentary than they did so most are simple depictions of various lucky practices from various cultures.

The handful of images below are some of my favorites from the book which represent the following:

Princess Lakshmi, Black cat crossing your path, guardian angels, not seeing a bride before the wedding, getting the evil eye, pich of salt over the shoulder, lucky frog, wishbone, african birth doll, bedtime prayers, stepping into boat with right foot first, scarab, saying "bread and butter" when olding hands, ouija board, tarot reading, evil eye protection, blowing candles and "om".  whew.

It was a tough haul, hence my absence from Drawger, but a fun project to work on.  The book should be out for the Holidays.
Iragi Refugee Crisis
posted:
This is a piece in this week's TIME assigned by drawger's very own Edel Rodriquez.  The commentary speaks of the much ignored issue of Iraqi refugees.  As the war takes on more and more characteristics of a civil conflict, ethnic purging and cleansing has exploded into a crisis for millions.  The US has predictably failed to respond, providing at times inadequate or no aide.

I attached the sketches because Mr. fancy pants Rodriguez has challenged my drawing abilities when it comes to sketches!  Ok, I guess they are a bit primitive.
From the Boston Globe
posted:
Two of my favorite AD's to work for are thankfully under the same roof, The Boston Globe.  Both Susan Levin and Josue Evilla are the kind of folks who really push and prod the best of my stuff out of me.  It also doesn't hurt when they bring great topics to the table, something that they almost always do.

The art below is a recent example.  The story describes the work of a lady who is a chaplain for the Maine Game Warden Service.  One of her most common responsibilities is to provide comfort and prayer to lake drowning vicitims and the victims of the many auto vs moose accidents in Maine.  It seems that due to the height of the average moose, it most always ends-up going thru the windshield of the car, killing the occupants.

On the occasion of this story, the chaplain was suprised to find the driver unharmed.  The moose, however, lay on the pavement, near death.  As the chaplain approached, the moose drew his last breath and she said a prayer for the animal,  "Dear Father, bless the beasts and singing birds, and guard with tenderness all things that have no words…
For This Week's TIME
posted:
This is a recent image done for a Michal Kinsley commentary in TIME.  The story discusses the plights of the housing market.

The second image was for a Businessweek article that discusses how happy day traders are with a volatile market. 
In response to Approval of Expanded Eavesdropping
posted:
In my humble opinion the Democratic Congress hit a new low with it's seeming spineless approval to expand a policy they were extremely critical of only a few short months ago.

This piece was a personal piece I did a while back in response to the original revelation of the  abuse of the eavesdropping without FISA authorization.  It felt relevant to me again.
Oil Company Going Green
posted:
This assignment was for an Angolan run and owned oil company that is reinvesting a substantial portion of each dollar into the development of wind turbine technology, as well as, other organically grown alternative fuels.
From the past week
posted:
When it comes to personal non-commissioned work, I'm always jealous of the folks I see on drawger who spend a generous amount of time working on it.  For the longest time I just didn't feel that urge outside of the world of assignments.  Last year I started to play around with a few large scale pieces that involved a combination of collaged bits and pieces of my illustrations combined with hand painted elements and silk screened shapes.  All of these elements were layed down in multiple layers of this casting resin poured over doors purchased at home depot.  Attached is a shot of one in progress.

I mentioned it because this week I drew on elements from that freedom and experimentation when working on what might seem like a really drab illustration assignment from Computer World.  Although it may seem obvious to those artists who devote time to fine art persuits, I'm excited and surprised about where these unrestricted explorations will take me.

There's also a few pieces here below from the rest of the week.  There was a particularly fun assignment from The New Scientist in London about the rising interest by space explorers to include listening devices on planetary and deep space probes.
For the article "Translate This" about automatic translation software. Computer World
My recent large format personal piece from which I drew upon for the Computer World illo shown above. This piece was done on a large door. Each of the color shapes were separated by a 1/8 inch layere of casting resin. The background gradation is a single Epson print.
For a story about a small town that was torn apart by a tragic accident at a highschool football game. A student's leg was nearly blown off during a ceremonial cannon firing. The subsequent finger pointing revealed an ugly side to this community.
For a story about the rising interest to listen to the sounds of planets and celestial bodies.
Alsofor the Listening to Space feature.
For the article "The Long Road to Securing Infrastructure".
A quick one
posted:
This was a fun one for The Dallas Morning News, AD Michael Hogue.  The author of the story was proclaiming that in order to be a good tourist you have to tap into your inner spy.
On a lighter note
posted:
I never thought I'd say this to an AD, but in response to an assignment  for PlanSponsor magazine about customized investment funds, I found myself telling the wonderfully open-minded art Director SooJin Buzelli that "I'd like to do a street-legal super-modified, fully- mobile all-terrain, upright-walking capable fish cycle."

Her response was, "great!"

She's a joy to work with and the rarest of breed who has wrangled some trust out of her editors.  In fact, she almost gave me too much freedom from the "literal".  Is that possible?  It sure had me scratching my head for a bit.

Anyhew the result is something a bit less heavy than my recent postings.  Of course I did just get an assignment for a feature about a teenager in Seattle who gets his leg blown-off at a football game by the opposing teams' salute cannon (seriously!).
How Depressing
posted:
Lead art for "Battling The Big Black Dog, Depression"
I never thought of my style as heavy or gloomy, but I sure do get a lot of assignments that involve folks with the blues.  Maybe it's my subconscious silent cries for help that draw so many assignments for depression related stories to me. I'm actually a pretty affable guy.  No, REALLY.

Anyhow, for whatever reasons, Anthony kosner, the AD for Neurology Now Magazine, who has been a great client to work with and for, called me up last week for a quick turnaround assignment.  The article was entitled "Battling The Big Black Dog".  Apparently,  although I'm a big fan of history, I didn't know that Churchill referred to his depression as a "big black dog", hence the title of the article.

Anthony is a great guy to work for and I recommend to all sending him promo . http://www.wingkosner.com/
This section of the story discussed the "double burden" of having a neurolgical disorder compounded by depression.
unselected sketch about identifying the signs of depression.
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