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Carl Wiens
Postcards from the Road
posted:
Here are the numbers:
21 Days - July 5 to 25
10,072 km (6,258 miles)
115 hours of driving
1,036 L of Gas (281 Gallons)
2 parents, 2 kids, 2 bikes, one car
They are just numbers. Like looking at a map. If you want to understand something, you have to immerse yourself in it. If you want to understand the country or the continent where you live, you should drive it. You can see pretty mountains from an airplane, but if you climb one or drive through a mountain pass, then you know what they really are. So allow me to share some experiences along the way.
Windsor/Detroit border, supercells in DesMoines, cornfields in Iowa, a long & lonesome road east of Omaha

I've been planning an epic road trip for a couple of years now, but was hampered by a bad back that required surgery and the day-to-day realities of working. This spring I booked my attendance at ICON in Portland and started to dream again. I thought about driving out to the the venue, pulled out maps and started looking at possible routes: Salt Lake City, Yellowstone Park, Mt. Rushmore popped up and I connected the dots. We all dream of the open road, an empty highway with and endless horizon: freedom. Being self-employed implies that you should have that choice. To pick up and go, and not be tied down. My sons are growing up to be young men, and I know the window for spending time together as a complete family is shrinking. So we decided to bring everyone along for the adventure, Griswold style.

Hey, hey, easy kids. Everybody in the car. Boat leaves in two minutes... or perhaps you don't want to see the second largest ball of twine on the face of the earth, which is only four short hours away?

 - Clark Griswold


The first leg of the trip I drove solo. I managed to arrive in Salt Lake City after three days. I was dodging tornadoes in DesMoines, Iowa (no joking) and decided there was no need to stop in Nebraska for any reasons other than food & fuel. After an 18 hour marathon driving session I landed in Utah. I was super road-weary, but Leo Espinosa was kind enough open his house and let me relax for a couple of days. Leo has an ultra-cool house, studio and a fantastic set of cycles. We even went mountain biking and hiking. Man, what a beautiful city and setting. Totally going back there, it's the best, if you are looking to be active.
Mountain biking with Leo, all vertical, hiking the canyon and the fabulous Espinosa studio.

Life is short and the world is wide'
       -Simon Raven
Leo and I drove from Utah to Oregon. We took two days to get to Portland, driving across the endless horizons of Idaho. Everything disappears, everything falls away. It's incredible to watch mountains and valleys rising and falling as the road unfolds over hours & days. It was a joy & relief to roll into the green Columbia River Valley and Portland.

What can I say about ICON? It's incredibly immersive and inspirational, and you always meet one or more of your 'heroes' in the business. Ellen Weinstein had a great recap of this year's conference. I logged my travels for the ICON website, and used the hashtag #PECtoPortland (Prince Edward County to Portland) to document the experience on Instagram.
Brian Rea's tape mural project, Jason Holley's stage sets, picnic on the lawn, Portland Art Musem

My family flew to Portland on the Sunday after the conference. We took in the food carts, gardens, restaurants and shopping. I could live in this city, the arts community is fantastic! We also took a trip to the Columbia River falls - if you are in the area you have to see this. The weather was hot and sunny, great to be out walking, cycling and exploring. And eating. Lots and lots of eating.
A stop at the Land Gallery, Bridal Veil Falls, enjoying the food cart cornucopia, Columbia River Gorge.

The trip from Portland to Jackson Hole is like travelling through two or three different countries. The landscape keeps changing and there was lots of oohs and aahs strung together with long desolate stretches. I like to see everything open up to the infinite. But the mountains are the best. When we got to Wyoming we were truly rewarded. My son Jacob suggested the Museum of the Mountain Man, in Pinedale, so we took a detour. The drive up there alone was worth it - Pronghorn antelope everywhere and an encounter with a large mule deer buck. The next day we took the tram to the top of the mountain when we got to Jackson Hole. Snow on a hot sunny day. I used my panoramic feature to capture the vista.


Yellowstone Park is something you have to experience to believe. We loved everything, although the altitude can get to you. We had sunny, clear, beautiful weather. The roads were not as crowded as we expected but the popular spots - Old Faithful and the Prismatic spring, were pretty crazy. See it!!! We drove on the melted road that caused a buzz - happy to report it was a tiny section of road that was quickly repaired. The park is not melting. The bison have not left. We had a standoff with a huge hulking beast walking down the middle of the road. We survived. The kids survived. We made it home. Did I mention we moved three days after we got home? It's been that kind of summer.
Crowds waiting for Old Faithful, Prismatic pond at dusk, the 'hoodoos' and Mammoth Hot Springs.

Escape
posted:
I am about to escape the studio - taking the month of July off - I have an epic road trip coming up, driving across North America to Portland (and back) with stops in Salt Lake City and Yellowstone Park. First and foremost is ICON 8. Looking forward to connecting with some old pals in the biz and making some new friends! Then it's off to Yellowstone Park, camping with my family.
It's easy to get weighed down by assignments and paperwork. I have been lucky to have an incredible workspace and studio, in an old barn that I renovated. But after sixteen years, I am sorting through piles of books and old illustrations, filing boxes and recycling bins and getting ready to relocate. I will be moving right after I get home. I scouted out my new space and it looks promising. I will provide some pics once I get settled in. So, I am escaping from my current digs in more ways than one. As an artist change is a force that drives us, spurs creativity and opens up new opportunity. Plenty on the horizon to look forward to.
Here's the latest illustration for the New York Times. Gravity is the least understood of the universal forces, yet it controls us and threatens our well-being in so many ways. I have been working on this series and the writing is top-notch. Challenging and rewarding work. You can read the full article here: Still Exerting a Force on Science, by George Johnson.

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I might as well jump in and talk about an exciting project I recently completed. I was invited by art director Jim Burke to participate in this year's Frogfolio calendar project. Creative freedom and a fun subject. John Dykes posted his piece the other day & mentioned the eight medals have been awarded by the Society of Illustrators. It was a real honour to have been invited.
Earlier this spring I worked on a collage called Spring Peeper. Winter was so long this year and extreme, I love the sound of frogs in the swamp that come out after the thaw. You can hear them before things turn green, and it's always a chorus of hope for warmer weather, and an explosion of life and activity. I wanted to capture some of that energy in this image.

This year's calendar is available for purchase in September. Details to follow soon. A great lineup of artists including Bill Mayer, C.F. Payne, Victor Juhasz, Wesley Allsbrook, John Dykes, Melanie Reim and more!
I will be blogging photos from the road trip on the ICON instagram feed. See you in August! I am out of here.
A Fork in the Road
posted:
New directions, new assignments. Here's a healthy portion of recent assignment work. Calorie-free!

This past month has been incredibly busy. I would have liked to post more work but I haven't had time, so here's a few recent pieces.
The first illustration is for a monthly column for the New York Times called Raw Data. It's written by George Johnson and raises questions about statistical analysis and scientific data. Interesting topics and a potent mix of science, data and our common preconceptions. The latest challenges all of the warnings we have been given to eating red meat. Long-term studies refute the findings of earlier conclusions.
An Apple a Day, and Other Myths - the gap grows between food folklore and science on cancer. Art director Peter Morance is always great to work with.

Just finished this spot for Daniel Smith at the Wall Street Journal, about the FCC auctioning off low-frequency bandwidth to a pool of four wireless carriers.

A portrait of Enrico Fermi and the development of nuclear science. For a book review in the Christian Science Monitor.
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Did I mention I just sold my house and studio and will be moving this summer? And I am planning a trip to Portland for ICON8. Emerging from the wilds of Prince Edward County. Hope to see my illustrator friends and catch up.

Season Opener
posted:
I am excited to participate in this year's Season Opener, a group show at the Steamwhistle Brewery in Toronto, opening on Wednesday, April 2. The show features 30 bats customized by a diverse & talented group of illustrators and designers.

I reimagined one of the beautiful Garrison Creek handcrafted hardwood bats for the show. My piece is titled 'Moonshot'
In baseball, a moonshot is referred to as a home run that is hit a long distance at a high velocity and deep angle. Moonshots normally range in the 410–660 foot area. Home runs hit farther than that are considered moonshots, but none farther than that have been recorded (or estimated). The name "Moonshot" comes from Wally Moon. Whenever Moon would hit a home run, these home runs would be referenced in newspapers as "Moon Shots". His home runs mostly came at the L.A. Coliseum, but his home runs gained more recognition for being mostly opposite-field home runs, as he was a left-handed batter, and the fence in right field was 440 feet from home plate. (from Wikipedia)
I once saw Reggie Jackson hit the ball right out of Tiger Stadium. A Moon shot. I was also obsessed with the Apollo Missions growing up, and the shape of the bat reminded me of a rocket. So I based my design on the Saturn V rocket, the workhorse that carried the astronauts to the moon. I added stabilizing fins to the bottom of the bat and had some fun with the aesthetics.

Here's the final. I decided to screenprint the type onto the bat, I wanted to get the squarish NASA look just right. Glad it all came together.
So much hope this time of year, a new season underway and spring just around the corner. Looking forward to it all.

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