I got an e mail yesterday from the great and powerful Zimm inviting entries for teh 2015 Drawger annual. Hopefully got mine in under the wire. As I was trying to recall my password it occured to me that I joined Drawger back in 2006, or I was invited rather. I can say without any exageration that I've met more than a few of my illustrator friends through Drawger-or at least was more in touch with them and what they were doing. So-it's been too long. Here are a few recent pieces.
Recent piece for the New Yorker. We struggled with this one a bit-they asked that I make the hand into more of a reaching posture. I wanted the hand to be almost dead and calm-new life just budding within. We then tried it on white for a less death like vibe-looked okay but black was clearly realized to be the way to go.
A few sketches for that assignment. This was to accompany a review of a book entitled The Death of Cancer. I wanted this to be personal, as quiet and simple as possible. So may misconceptions surrounding cancer and cancer diagnosis, just the word is fully loaded with pre conceived ideas for the reader.
I put this in because it's also for the New Yorker-but is maybe an approach or a subject that I am know to do. On the idea of the cloud and how we now use it as a way to describe something that is really a bunch of machines-but we like the cloud image because it's nice and soft. There were references to a childs view in the article.
This image was done for the New York Times op ed page. Jimmy Carter wrote the piece. For me to be able to have that kind of proximity to such an intelligent and enlightened human-is worth more than any award.
These two were also done for the NYT Op ed. The piece was on Europe after the Paris attacks, pondering what to do. The dove wasn't selected but my idea was simply that peace is dead.
These were my sketches for that piece.
This was done for Scientific American. Neuroplasticity. A very technical piece but talks of how the brain adapts but also how most everything we are is developed in early childhood. It's just a rubber band ball.
Back in January I was approached by SooJin to do a piece, a full page, direction was "crowded" or "ready to burst", something like that. I love that kind of direction, eliminates so much clutter and yet presents a challenge to try and convey that simple message-maybe simply, maybe more complex.
I had two roughs among several, one was fish and one was birds. SooJin told me to go ahead-I thought she said "fish"-maybe because I wanted to do the fish. I worked and obsessed and drew and obsessed for days over the swirling ball of carp. The night before it was due I decided to check back on the approval e-mail-it was birds not fish. So with one night to finish I cobbled together the bird composition, not the one you see here, I felt terrible.
Let me back track. I had seen SooJin at an SI event and we were chatting, I was as I often do, talking about being burnt out or uninspired, needing time off. SooJin's response-"So are you open for work?". You have to be an illustrator or artist, someone who struggles with inspiration, self doubt, questions of whether we are being our best, answering some sort of calling, or simply working hard enough to understand what a response like that means. It's a timed challenge, a recognition and understanding of our craft that few art directors get. -Feeling buent out? Need a challenge? Here you go. So when I set out on this assignment you can see where my head was at-do good stuff-different-challenging-thus the agonizing over the fish. I felt terrible about handing over my half assed bird composition-which will not be shown.
A month or so later I again see SooJin at SI-she says the bird piece is being held for a month-so I come clean and tell her that I thought the fish was the final and that I rushed through the birds. I said I'd like to do them again. She of course said my previous birds were great, maybe they were okay, not to me.
So I re drew the birds-my way-and I was pretty happy with the challenge. The fish were shelved but came up in a round of roughs for another project for SooJin, a cover and interior. When I was agonizing over the fish earlier-I felt they needed to be contained-in a bowl-a pot-something-and so came the trophy solution.
So thank you to SooJin for getting me to reach a bit deeper-not sure anything is a finish-it's process-I like the idea of doing more organic stuff. And as fate would have it I got a call from Kevin Fisher at Audubon asking if I'd like to do one of the reimagined Audubon pieces-YES! I would very much like that. So using lessons learned on the bird cage I just finished that piece-and will show a full version at a later date.
A few glimpses of my somewhat crude pencil drawings that I use in this approach. I'm so comfortable with drawing in vector that I don't need to follow my drawn lines exactly-not what I want-but I do try to resolve issues at that point. For Audubon I admit to following his bird silhouettes rather closely and improvised the rest.
Circuit boards, wires,structure and angles, precision and seemingly isometric. A lot of my work is that, mecahnical, technical, but I have also made small forays into more organic work, trying to feel out what feels right. I often use hands in my work, lots and lots of hands, simple my way of adding a human element to a composition, someone is doing something. It aslo may be because I like hands, I like working with my hands, just think about hands for a minute, expression, mood, articulation, pinkies and thumbs, simple expressions of the hand. Faces and figures on teh other hand can send so many messages with expression and gesture, that's a lot to put in an illustration-at least for me. I have some god awful attempst at figurative work out there, usually the result of a stubborn editor demanding it, like put some old people in there, ethnic diversity etc. It always feels wrong- weird. Sometimes I do these blocky lego like people, seems right for vector line, other times I do what I really want to do and that's a full expression of real figures.
Zimm was kind enough to ask me to contribute a poster for the 2014 Drawger Annual. I dredged my files and found this unfinished drawing of a woman. This was play-and I was happy to finish it off. Clearly heavily influenced by Aubrey Beardsley and a few others. I love stark contrast, clean line and solid blacks. I have a lot to learn and hopefully a couple more decades to explore these things. I imagine a whole book of these mysterious characters, a story perhaps.
No model was used in either piece and that probably explains the possibly bizarre proportions-as in the earlier female figure below-done about four years ago. I really should begin going to the MICA life drawing sessions, something I haven't done in so long. Just drawing figures in space.
To follow up on Leo's post. Here in the states the Ebola outbreak is simply a media sensation-if you take a look at some of the pictures and read some of the reports from Africa-it's quite real, terrifying, and difficult for us to comprehend such misery. Thanks to fellow illustrator Otto Steininger for putting this together- Art Against Ebola
This is a campaign to raise funds for Last Mile Health, a frontline health organization in Liberia that trains local health workers in rural areas where medical coverage is scant. Liberia is among the countries most gravely affected by the Ebola virus, which is killing thousands of people and devastating fragile health systems and economies in its wake.The UN Security Council declared Ebola a "threat to peace and security". If it isn't contained quickly it will spread exponentially and turn into a global health crisis.
HOW IT WORKS: You buy a print and the money goes to fighting this crap where it's really a terrifying reality, and I mean terrifying. Please visit artagainstebola.org
This is the image you will receive if buying my print. I do not have a printer that is capable of doing a really nice print. But if you pay enough I'll be happy to get fine Giclee prints on bamboo paper-maybe we can make that happen for a $100 donation. I'll have to check with Otto to see how this works. I will of course sign it.
My process-we were asked to illustrate a snake head that would be cut off of a larger snake. I didn't want to just do a snake head as I thought they would all begin to look the same, so I ditched the eyes and scales, made it a bit more decorative, possibly implying virus, creeping sickness.