Rob Dunlavey
May 2008
Interesting News
"Bratz Birthday Yasmin" $6.00 at
I came across two Boston Globe articles this week that seem pertinent to what we do as commercial artists. I wonder what you think.

"Rival stole Bratz, Mattel claims (link to article)  At trial, toymaker says it owns doll concept, not MGA"
The first is about the Bratz line of "urban" dolls manufactured by MGA. Mattel is suing MGA for stealing the design it says was created by a staff designer as a sketch. The designer later left Mattel and joined MGA at some point where the design was developed further and found a home. The designer, Carter Bryant claims that he was inspired by caricatures he saw and designed the doll idea in-between two separate stints at Mattel. Mattel has reached a private settlement with Bryant but is suing MGA for copyright infringement that could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

So, creative people, just what is "employment?" Where do ideas come from? Think you're just a cog in the works? Think again. The wheels of commerce can't run without your intellectual property.
source: Virgin Media 2007
The second item is an interview by Joan Anderman with Jack White that ran this morning.
"White changes Stripes with creative focus on the Raconteurs" (link to article)
This Q & A caught my attention:
"Anderman: The Raconteurs recorded the new album in a state-of-the-art studio rather than the makeshift analog playroom you typically hunker down in. Did that change the music or the experience of making music for you? White: We did "Icky Thump" in the same studio and yes, it does change things. It's not my favorite place to be. I feed off limitations in a lot of ways. I structure myself a lot, and in my little world and in my own head I'm telling myself what not to do. It's hard to have all those knobs and buzzers and toys. I'm not good with that. Opportunity kills creativity for me. What most people think is liberating, for me it isn't, so it was a big thing for me to see if I could do it. We still recorded analog on 16 tracks in a soulful way, but there are a lot of traps in that world."
Anderman: The music business is in tatters. Does that affect you much?
White: It doesn't affect me, but I don't envy younger musicians. It's changed so much in the 10 years since I started. The new generation bases their idea of success on totally different ideals, about how many friends or comments you have on MySpace. I look out into a crowd and see hundreds of people holding gadgets in the air. The experience now is about filming the band and putting it on your Web page. People have stopped caring about creativity.

I agree with White that limitations are extremely valuable. And I feel that it is the key to creating mature art that seeks to affect people. It's also interesting to hear his impatience with the current emphasis on technology and MySpace piggybacking. Have people "stopped caring about creativity"?
Memorial Day
Sketches - Finals 3
Jumping through hoops. It's what we do!
Some of you may know Tim Davin, the art director at Canadian Business Magazine in Toronto. We hadn't  worked together for a long time so it was a pleasant surprise to get his call a few weeks ago for a new assignment. The job involved about ten icons, several spots,  five or six 1/2 page illustrations and a full page image. I had to cram most of the job into a brief flurry of activity before a family trip. The plan would be to tie up any loose ends when I returned.
The magazine publishes an annual stock market rating called the I500. Previous illustrators for this job include Federico Jordan, Philip Anderson and Keith Negely. Big shoes to fill!
These were sketches for the Small Cap illustration.
The job was fun and challenging for the usual reasons:
- how to interpret staid business graphics in a new way?
- I got to draw animals (cows mostly)
- the art direction was precise, demanding and subtle (while working under the conceptual constraints of business, money, finance, and possibly a "male" aesthetic of sorts)
At first, I tried a narrative approach to a series of illustrations for the sections about Small, Mid and Large Cap Fund rankings. After a few tries we decided that "businessmen dealing somehow with variously sized bulls" would have to be the strategy. This is the "male aesthetic" I alluded to. No cute picture book concepts here!
the final illustration
The Mid-Cap illustration. The bull is bigger and pretty well tamed.
The Large Cap image. All were done digitally.
The intro illustration
Here are a few of the icons
icon for Best Growth funds
Painting in Progress
A current effort. I was given this easel in high school and I've carted it around all this time. It's cheap but it makes it easier to keep multiple things going.
I imagine that there are many ways to go about a dedicated and disciplined painting regimen. For several years I desired and imagined getting back into painting. I had a show in 2005 and I treated it like a commission: I painted for the show. Tick-tock!
I'm doing a similar thing now in preparation for a show next December. It's a low-profile affair but it has given me the impetus to get off my rear end and move some of my sketchbook-centric art-making into more public and saleable formats.

I started out with all these odd plywood panels and a bunch of cans of left-over house paint. No sketching; just dive in and see what develops. So far, I've been pleased with the process: I've done about 25 paintings and the original set of graphic ideas is starting to branch out and get very nourishing.
This really horizontal canvas suggested a wolf or something, so there she is. I'm using some cut outs to figure out what's going on underneath. Maybe that's trash or broken glass. Lots of questions to ponder.
There are a ton of influences coming out as I finish them: Morris Graves, Jerome Snyder, Paul Klee, Bill Traylor… I'm sure you'll detect others. They started out just being geometric. Now there are animals and, probably, figures later on starting to get into situations in my compositions.
three early geometric ones
I think I've just completed this one. The forms, as they suggest themselves and are generated generally dictate what will happen next. In this case, the geometric kryptonite stuff was in place first. Will it be a mountain? A cave? Near the ocean? Even though it's very static, can I suggest movement? Maybe these fragile little birds can impede its progress long enough for it to come to a stop. I guess this is about sticking up for the little guy who's here one day and gone the next.

Stay tuned!
Sketches - Finals 2
left: the sketch - right: final
This full page illustration was done recently for a college law journal article about a steel industry merger that involved many players in many countries.
When I was first contacted by the art director she suggested some sort of a rampant monster or robot sucking everything in concept. She referred to her favorite works in my portfolio in an attempt to help guide my painting decisions.These initial sketches were done in Painter.
This one was my favorite from the first round.
pencil on blue colored paper. Shading added in Painter.
After seeing these ideas, the concept was changed slightly to more of a clash between equals rather than one monster getting out of control. So I did a few figure studies; basic comic book, wrestling or boxing compositions would be fun to do.
a more complete second round sketch with some color added to help clarify the scene.
The final was done in Freehand
April Vacation...
Recent Articles

2014 (19)

2013 (28)

Observations (133)

2012 (28)

2011 (26)

2010: Jan - July (51)

2010: Aug-Dec. (36)

2009: Feb - June (60)

2009: July - Dec. (40)

10/2008 - 01/2009 (56)

2008: Feb - May (31)

2008: June - Sept. (62)

11/2007 - 01/2008 (41)

2007: May - Oct. (32)

2007: March-April (22)

2007: Jan - Feb (15)

2006: Nov - Dec (29)

2006: June - Sept. (50)

08/2005 - 06/2006 (28)

Collage Sketches (32)

Iceland sketches (16)

Paintings (28)

Homerun Heroes (28)

Envelope paintings (172)

Geometric People (29)

My Little Monkey (37)

Computer Games (30)

Little People (80)

Jerome Snyder (CREATION #12) (17)
Links to Articles