Lisa Schreiber from the Washington Post called with a job that caught our interest. She asked us to illustrate and letter the cover and section openers for their Holiday Weekend section. Gina and I liked the idea of lettering so many related images, but the thought of balancing the variety and unity within the bunch was daunting. We dove in and in the middle of all the work, it really put me in the holiday state of mind. I finished up and put up our christmas tree early this year. Juniper totally digs it. I used to bemoan the stretching of the Holiday season, but with a kid around, it just spreads out the fun.
A little while ago I was feeling bummed about a painting G and I were working on. Illustrators have to find exciting angles into subjects that might not normally interest them. That much I get, but this was our personal work, and I still couldn't find a way in. Meanwhile, I've been trying to find time to cook more. Since we had our daughter, it's been tough to find time to read or follow cook books as much as I'd like. Even still, I think alot about cooking and eating, so why not bring that into our paintings? Some sort of bouquet / exploded recipe felt like the right thing to do. It didn't even occur to me until later that recipe paintings might be sort of a shallow idea for some. For me, I've always seen our paintings from more of an emotional viewpoint. Sometimes I get tripped up thinking of them in a strictly cerebral language. The idea still felt right, even if it was more of a feeling than an idea. We prepare, sit together and eat these meals as a family everyday, what could be more close to our lives than that?
Anyway, before starting, I pored over my cookbooks to find something to paint. Pretty quickly, I figured out some of my most classic cookbooks had too many ingredients to think about painting. Then I dropped my pretensions and went to the most used books on my shelf, Alice Waters' Chez Panisse Fruit and Chez Panisse Vegetables. I love these books because the chapters are organized by the main fruit or vegetable component. They let me go to the market, pick what's good, and then come home to cook it. The painting above is Roasted Fig and Quail Salad. We have great fig trees in our neighborhood, so I knew this one would be fun. Below are the figs I picked, the salad we enjoyed, and some details of the painting.
Gina and I are going to be presenting portfolios at Surtex this year. This is a new move for us, but something we've thought about for some time. Thanks to the support of our rep, Frank Sturges, we're finally giving it a go. He'll be there presenting books for several of the artists in our group. What's more, we'll be joined by Chrystal and the wonderful artists over at Magnet Reps.
Our two groups have been working together to put out the Artalog booklet for a few years. This will be an extension of that collaboration, and I've really been enjoying the company.
This post has been a long time coming. This is a detail of a painting we did for our friends Jim and Tina of James Restaurant. When Gina and I first moved into our house in South Philly, Jim and Tina were just moving into their restauant space. Their kitchen door is right across from our house, so we got to know each other as we fixed up our places.
They picked up a painting from us for their dining room, and came back with an interesting request. Tina is a master decorator. Their bar is a place that's perfectly laid out, and always puts me at ease. When she asked for a painting to go on a long wall connecting the bar and lounge, we were pretty honored. Their place is such an expression of themselves, Gina and I were touched they would ask us to be a part of it. Then we had to figure out how to make it happen.
We decided it should be a 1 foot by 10 foot canvas, and I was presented with my first hurdle. Back in school I would make some crazy canvasses, but this one was still pretty tough. A lot of supports and heavy weight canvas later, I had a very long canvas with absolutely no bend. It was a happy start. I then went in with some sanded textures and a few Motherwell and Kline quotes.
Gina did a drawing of their front door design and I burned a screen of the drawing. I printed this in a few spots as we began to get a feel for how we'd compose something with such unusual proportions.
Then we decided on our focal points. Tina always has great flowers in the place, and one night by the bar some tiger lillies gave us inspiration.
Gina added some wind and foliage and things were on their way.
We needed something to further guide the left to right movement. We decided on Bluejays partly because of their color. We also love that they seem so striking, but if you keep your eyes out, they're not too hard to spot around here.
Then Jim and I hung it up. It's been there ever since today when I decided to test the limits of Photomerge.
the left half
the right half
the whole thing
I've always been interested in food, but getting to know Jim and Tina has taught me so many things. They've wrapped their lives around their art in much the same way as we have. Their schedule is the only one more crazy than ours. Their hours, outlook and passion give them the same disconnect from the straight world as we often feel. They do it all as a couple, which is the only way I know how to do things.
Gina and I finally got around to our Frogfolio Illustration. I know some folks have already posted theirs. In case anyone forgot, here's the scoop on the project. It's a calendar run by a really nice guy named Jim Burke for Dellas Graphics. The only direction is it has to have a frog, their mascot, in it. It's been a while since we've had time to do something as open ended as this. We sat down to talk concepts and quickly came to the realization we'd rather just start and let each other react to what the other contributes. This is how we'd handle our gallery work when we were focusing on that, and different from most of our illustration work where the sketches are tightly pre-concepted and composed. In this case, themes arose when they needed to, and I'm pretty happy with the result.
A while back Gina and I decided to shift our work a little away from editorial and toward other formats. Actually, it was one of the reasons we started calling our paintings illustrations. We thought we could use them to mix up the editorial work Gina had been mostly getting up to that time. The plan worked and Gina's work went the same way too. We're generally happy with the shift, but there is one big part we miss about a steady diet of editorial. Instant (ish) satisfaction. The ad projects we've worked on in the last year have taken for ev er to come out. For now, I thought I'd share what I can. Above is a series of illustrations we did for a really big company that you've heard of. Next is a series of drawings Gina's been working on for well over a year. They are also for a really big company, and it's the type of job we always imagined her work to be perfect for. I think they look great!
Lately, this has spread into our other areas and we have some products and books that I'm dying to share, but I won't blow all these lovely pictures on one post.
This one was my favorite. If memory serves, they liked it too, hence the second round of detail & shading they had me add.
I thought I'd share the sketches from the poster I put up earlier. I edited a few out, and this was just for the lettering. Sketches for the rest of the composition followed.
The initial art direction suggested maybe something with sticks or leaves forming the letters. The piece had to be lush and engaging in keeping with the nature of the flower show. I felt like some references to ornate architectural details would fit the bill, so I threw in some ideas along those lines as well.
...the sticks they asked for, with some vine/flower flourishes to keep them lively.
...leaves, also as per request.
...threw in the 'ol ribbons with bouquet. Seemed appropriate.
After a bit, they asked me to reprise an ornate frame theme from a piece in my portfolio.
Then they asked us to look at the type of dimensional lettering you see on old vacation postcards.
After a few rounds of those, we got direction to combine some of these themes with a more organic version of the frame image.
We did this in the Fall as a part of a campaign for Macy's. The show's opening soon, so I finally get to go public with it!
If you're in New York, maybe drop by Herald Square and let me know how it looks.
Does anyone know of colleges in Europe that have illustration-specific programs? A little looking has lead me to believe that maybe they are folded into the Graphic Design departments. Their illustration community certainly does churn out some consistently great art, but I'm wondering if it is from folks that perhaps studied drawing or design in school. Anyway, this is on my mind because I was hoping some of my illustration students might someday look into study abroad opportunities. I'd really appreciate if anyone has any insight. Thanks in advance!
G and I are going to break down and get a new scanner. We've been piecing spreads, posters, and full wrap jackets for years and are tired of it. To tell the truth, we've been using the Epson GT 15000 (epson's old model)and Expression 10000XL (epson's new model) over at UArts and their 18" x 24"-ish scan beds have spoiled us. These scanners are a little pricey, so before plunging into one of them, I figured I'd see what you all are using for larger format input.
Also, a while back I remember hearing about a scanner that uses two scan heads in order to catch less glare. If anyone has any thoughts or experience with this, I'd love to hear that as well.
Thanks in advance!
I did a piece for the Safire column in the Times Magazine a few weeks back. If you're not familiar with it, Safire ruminates on a word or phrase and the social or political implications of it's usage. The word was, "articulable". This means to make clear, but ironically has been used in several recent government documents as a vague word that can be manipulated to mean whatever a judge wants it to mean. The most notable usage had to do with privacy issues and the Patriot act.
So here are my sketches and the notes I sent to the A.D., Leo Jung.
Here I've used letters fit into the tops of a series of Necker Cubes. I'm playing on the idea of something being confusing, with the perspective of the cube being impossible to follow.
Also, I like the idea of something both imposing and intricate, as if meant to put off or repel. I thought this ties in with government documents, acts, bills, etc. These would be shaded as three dimensional forms.
This one plays on the idea of something being tangible and intangible at the same time. To articulate something is to make it more clear and understandable. Yet, this word's usage is causing confusion, which could be called a lack of clarity and understanding. I thought clouds played up this idea of something being both defined and undefined, there and not.
I wanted to reference the use of the word in the Patriot Act. I cut the letters from a simplified US Flag/pennant. The idea is the letters are actually negative space, tying in to the dual impacts I referenced in the clouds.
...and the final
After the job, I thought it might be fun to see what some of my Juniors at UArts did with the piece. Wouldn't you know, they came up with some winners.
...a take on the foggy nature of it's usage. (Kyung Wook Min)
...the combative and hurtful use of the word as used in privacy issues. (Traci Dibble)
...the way the word sounds fabricated. (Heidi Ochsenreither)
..another take on the fabricated sound of the word. (Millie Landis)
I was reviewing this article last week for an upcoming lecture. It's a few months old now, but it occured to me that it passed without comment on Drawger.
Funny thing is, I think things are pretty darn rosy in our profession right now, but who knows?