Edel Rodriguez
September 2009
"Carteles" magazine, published in Havana 1919-1960
Cubacartel is a new spot on Facebook that my friend Carlos Zamora set up to communicate between designers in Cuba and those that have emigrated out of the island and are scattered around the globe.  Facebook has become one of the best places to stay in touch with people within Cuba, since there are sometimes problems with phone and e-mail communication.  Carlos left Cuba a few years ago and now lives in St. Louis.  He uses Cubacartel to teach some of his students at Washington University as well.  He asked me to add my own work to the page and now I've started to contribute some other work that I like, vintage and contemporary, such as the wonderful set of covers for "Carteles" magazine above.  "Cartel" means poster in spanish.  "Carteles" is one of the many lifestyle periodicals that were published in Cuba before the revolution—it was published between 1919 and 1960.   Everyone is welcomed over at Cubacartel.  If you're on Facebook, join the group to get regular updates here.  If you're not on Facebook, you can bookmark it and come back periodically.  Below are some other posters and designs on the site, from various time periods.

Geoffrey Grahn, RIP
Geoffrey Grahn, Thom Yorke of Radiohead for Entertainment Weekly, 1997. John Korpics and Joe Kimberling, art directors. A beautiful piece, selected for American Illustration #17.
Very sad news from theispot: "This past summer marked the loss of a young, talented artist, Geoffrey Grahn, 47.  Geoffrey was an extremely quiet man, but his work was eloquent, and his laughter was heard loud and clear in the wonderful pictures he made.  He was most proud of a children’s book he created for and dedicated to his young twin sons,  Everett and Joseph.  Geoffrey Grahn's illustrations appeared on doughnut boxes, Hot Wheels, television commercials, video games, posters, cd's, book covers, t-shirts, stickers, patches, magazines and the soles of tennis shoes. In addition to his sons, he leaves behind his beautiful wife, Pat.  He will be missed by the illustration community, where his witty, intelligent work was celebrated with numerous awards throughout his career."

Geoffrey Grahn, spread from "WHY" book, Picture Mechanics.
When I was an art director, I worked with Geoffrey on a number of projects and he was always a pleasure.  Geoffrey was also a fellow member of Picture Mechanics.  A few years back, Picture Mechanics put together a book of images and words entitled "WHY". Above is one of Geoffrey's pieces in the book, and these were the words that accompanied it:

Geoffrey Grahn: "The reason for "WHY" I became an illustrator is not unique.  Most of us enjoyed drawing as children.  I know my career decision was self-decided before the age of five.  Today, I have two young sons who enjoy taking baths in the kitchen sink, spending "bath time" staring out of the window in front of them.  Recently, I began thinking about words of wisdom that I might in the future give for their career choices.  This process made me realize how easy it is to be pessimistic during these challenging times.  I guess, when robots take over society, people will place a higher value on handmade things."

Spread from "WHY" book.
Geoffrey Grahn, Men's Health magazine, 2000, Michael Jones, AD, American Illustration Annual #20
Cartoon panel animation
Geoffrey Grahn, Cover for American Illustration Annual
from "WHY" book, Picture Mechanics
Geoffrey Grahn, One from the series "The Poorhouse", a brief history of the poorhouse in America, 2007. Monte Beauchamp, Art Director, Publication: BLAB!
Geoffrey Grahn, Super fan, for TV Land campaign, American Illustration 21
Los Angeles Magazine, 2002, Joe Kimberling, AD. American Illustration 21
LA Weekly, 2003, Dana Collins, AD. American Illustration 22
College drinking, Westword magazine, American Illustration 21
Geoffrey's latest picture book, "What's Going on in There".  More info about the book here on Amazon.

Lunatic fringe
This is an illustration for Liberty Magazine about how the Christian Right has overstepped Constitutional boundaries in its opposition to gay rights in the past.  The article discusses the right and wrong ways to display one's personal beliefs, and gets into the details of a number of legal cases.  Bryan Gray is the magazine's art director.

Some rough sketches
Magazine layout
Little Moments

I was at Barnes & Noble and came across this.  A display of a recent book cover I did for “Things Fall Apart” with the classic books “Catcher in the Rye” and “Fahrenheit 451” on either side.  It kind of knocked me over, had to stop for a while and stare.

Sometimes I’m asked about the difference between fine art and illustration and these little moments are the difference.  Usually paintings stay in a gallery or a collector’s home.  I like how one’s illustrations go out into the world and I’m always interested to see how they’re used and where they end up.  I first got excited about illustration when I saw this precise cover for “Catcher in the Rye” while reading the book in my English class when I was a teenager.  I just kept staring at the drawing of the horse, the great linework, and the simplicity of the whole cover.  It’s one of the vivid memories I have of school at that time.  “Catcher in the Rye” became one of my favorite books, a window into a kids’ life that was so different from mine.  It’s nice to make a living illustrating, but the things that get me really excited about working as an illustrator are little moments like this one.  They’re pretty insignificant, but personally very fulfilling.

Standing there looking at these books made me wonder what may happen if digital media like the Kindle or other delivery devices for books, newspapers and magazines take off.  Will I be as interested in making work that will end up in a digital “delivery device”?  A device that, unlike books, has no individual character?  A device that doesn’t have the permanence of books?  Part of the fun of shopping for books or magazines is browsing, leafing through them, seeing a book or magazine cover that strikes you and bringing it home.  There are some that think these tech devices might replace books.   I don’t think they will, and I hope they don’t.  I think books will keep on attracting people that want to experience them.  In the end, books might become more interesting.  Designers might end up doing things that will make them more special, collectible, and set them apart from the digital book version, we shall see.

I’m just not sure anyone wants to go to the beach, sit back to read a story, and pull out a Kindle, ya know?

Controlled Chaos...
It's never been this bad...While I work on projects, things get crazy in my studio.  When things wind down, I clean up, and the process repeats itself over and over.  This summer was very busy with a number of big projects and there was no time to organize.  A couple of weeks ago I finally cleaned up all of this.  I didn't want everyone to think that Gina and Matt's or Adam's orgazined studios are the norm :),  so here you go...
(I cleaned up thoroughly once for Linzie's onmydesk blog, you can go there if you want to compare and contrast)

Working on some paintings, shows in L.A. and Dallas in the Spring
you know, that stuff old people used to make pictures with...paint.
Line drawings for some posters
Framed art from past shows in a corner
a painting and some drawings.
Always important to stay hydrated.
The balcony where I work sometimes...when it's not raining.
Gotta prioritize.
Some works on paper.
Other drawings
Digital controlled chaos, I know where everything is.
The view from the studio. Organized, clean and clear. I try to work out there as much as possible in the Summer.
These are some of my recent photos.  Some of the ideas that I find while taking pictures eventually work themselves into my drawings somehow.  These are quick moments I notice which are better documented with a camera than a sketchbook.  I also added some older photos at the bottom, I like this wider image format and wanted to put some of those up.  Some galleries of past photos here and here.

Princeton Book Festival
Some photos from last year's festival. Gregory Christie's 'Bad News for Outlaws', Peter Brown's 'The Curious Garden', and Sergio.
This Saturday, September 12, I'll be at the Princeton Children's Book Festival, 11am to 4pm, meeting kids and signing books.  There will be 50 authors and illustrators there, including Gregory Christie and Peter Brown.  Music, books, readings, and lots of kid fun, please drop on by.  Princeton Public Library, 65 Witherspoon Street, Princeton, NJ  08542.  More info here.  Full list of authors and illustrators in attendance here.

Princeton University is across the street from the Book Festival, I've been there a number of times, close to where I live.   Great architecture on campus, plus The Princeton University Art Museum has a great collection.

Albert Einstein taught at Princeton. I went on an excellent architecture tour this past year through Princeton, this is the house where Einstein lived from 1935-1955
Nassau Hall is the central building at Princeton. I learned that the U.S. Capitol was moved here for a short time in 1783. Yep, I'm a history geek.
Newsweek Cover
This is my cover for this week's Newsweek International cover, "Learning to Love the Bomb, How nuclear weapons may make the world a safer place".  I wanted the cover to have a direct and graphic feel.  I worked on a number of sketches in that direction, and this one seemed to communicate the point across in a clear manner with a little bit of levity .  I might work some of the other ideas below into posters as well.  I worked with Adolfo Valle at Newsweek on this assignment and he was great throughout.  The cover story is online here. Some excerpts below:

"A growing and compelling body of research suggests that nuclear weapons may not, in fact, make the world more dangerous, as Obama and most people assume. The bomb may actually make us safer............The argument that nuclear weapons can be agents of peace as well as destruction rests on two deceptively simple observations. First, nuclear weapons have not been used since 1945. Second, there's never been a nuclear, or even a nonnuclear, war between two states that possess them. Just stop for a second and think about that: it's hard to overstate how remarkable it is, especially given the singular viciousness of the 20th century. As Kenneth Waltz, the leading "nuclear optimist" and a professor emeritus of political science at UC Berkeley puts it, "We now have 64 years of experience since Hiroshima. It's striking and against all historical precedent that for that substantial period, there has not been any war among nuclear states."
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