Well one of my oldest illustration clients are doing a big move. Rothman’s Men’s Clothing, which has anchored the northeast corner of Manhattan’s Union Square for 25 years, is moving to a larger space a block away on Park Avenue and 18th Street. The new space, at 222 Park Avenue South. Rothman’s was founded in 1926 by Harry Rothman. Ken and Jim Giddon, his grandchildren, took over in 1986. Rothman’s also operates a location in Scarsdale, NY. I've been working with Ken Giddon at Rothmans for roughly fifteen years.
Recently I was considered for a boxing assignment. It was after Smokin' Joe Frazier passed away. The possible assignment had me looking through my files. On a secondary note; over my lifetime it's been a common thing to see my last name misspelt as Frazier. It's a backhanded compliment. Boxing, it's one of the sports subjects that I've dealt with quite a few times. Some of my illustrations I've punched out honouring the Pugilist.
Label artwork for RedCar Winery.1 - Oils on panel
Label artwork for RedCar Winery.2 - Oils on panel
Label artwork for RedCar Winery.3
- Oils on panel
Label artwork for RedCar Winery.4 - Oils on panel
In 2007, I was approached by Ogilvy & Mather Chicago to work on the illustrations for the World Boxing Championships. Interesting assignment, and the design & creative team were great to work with. The assignment included vector art for ceratin applications, and traditional oil painted work. A 3D piece was developed from my sketches. Tickets, programs, posters, bus, busstop, and venue applications were employed.
World Boxing Championships - Chicago 2007 - Early Thumbs
World Boxing Championships - Chicago 2007 - Early Sketch.
World Boxing Championships - Chicago 2007 - 1 - Oils on paper w. digital color
World Boxing Championships - Chicago 2007 - 2 - Oils on paper w. digital color
World Boxing Championships - Chicago 2007 - 3 - Oils on paper w. digital color
World Boxing Championships - Chicago 2007 - 4 - Oils on paper w. digital color
Must be the season as I'm seeing another Oklahoma poster. I worked on one as well back in March. It was for the Arena Stage in Washington, DC advertising this fall's production of Oklahoma. The assignment was with SpotCo in New York. I know another Drawger who has done quite a bit of great work for the Arena Stage is Jody Hewgill, plus Paul Rogers has also done great looking work with SpotCo. It was interesting for me because, Nicky Lindeman, the art director chose my more traditional/older approach of working. That is my older work using a more traditional painting approach in oils. My first assignments when starting out in my career were all oils(oils with an alkyd based drier) on strathmore. It's not very often these days I illustrate entirely in oils. Most assignments for me are digital based, or with brush work scanned in for development. Nicky asked for a regionalist flavour, and a lot of area for type. The emphasis for the art was the land, and a somewhat grittier tone from the traditional Oklahoma imagery. The Arena Stage production of Oklahoma opens October 22nd, through to December 26th in DC.
ABSOLUT VANCOUVER launched November 10th! Tah-dah, a special edition limited run city themed bottle, ABSOLUT Vancouver. The graphic brand of ABSOLUT is a big one, and includes quite a body of work. So when I received the invitation to create a city themed, and one of a few special city themed labels, this one for the city of Vancouver, I was very excited. As a west coast resident(British Columbia) it's was great to pay homage to one of the most vibrant west coast cities on the planet. Vancouver has a very contemporary skyline set against gorgeous snow capped mountains. With classic float planes coming and going, connecting the city centre to communities on the neighboring islands, and up the coast. There are bridges that link the city centre as well to the greater area of the more suburban communities. The city has a great blend of natural beauty with a strong urban character based on access to some of the most spectacular scenery around, plus being the gateway city on Canada's west.
I developed a couple of approaches, but always wanted at least one of those Canadian classic de havilland beaveresque float planes in the image. I developed thumbnails, thought about the quality of life I've experienced in Vancouver. Looking at the typography that Absolut has established. The bottle and it's clean lines with the clear glass canvas had me deciding that a clean vector would marry well with the surface, and look contemporary. The pop-heraldic chevron shape "V" really stuck in my mind. It was on old Vancouver Canucks hockey jerseys. From finding a direction it was about reducing the elements to their primary shapes, and composing the positive & negative shapes inside the "V". The blue and gold tie into the Swedish heritage of the company, and the provincial colours of British Columbia. Nature, urban, sun from provincial flag, downtown linked to the surrounding communities by bridges, The trees and running trails are there under the bridge, The Classic float plane connects the urban to the mountains, the "V" shape(chevron shape like two raised up arms) , all inside the area of a bottle label. Also I wanted to see the final art screen printed onto the bottle. The more tonal blending, or loose an image was, the more it would be necessary to develop a sticker label which is not what I wanted. ABSOLUT asked me to sign my work, and it would be printed on the bottle with the label. They showed a great interest in respecting me, and my process. The people I want to thank a lot are Kelly Kretz at Corby's, Craig Bond at B Street, and Stan Olthuis at Sharpshooter. Without them it would not have happened. The bottle is a limited run, and will be done probably by the holidays.
A dollar from the sale of every bottle goes to a $120,000.00 donation to a local arts project. There is a list of five possible receipts for the $120,000.00 donation on the ABSOLUT website; http://www.absolutdrinks.com
the label as it printed
The neck tag was developed through B Street. Many thanks.
It's back to the future for me on several illustrations for a client known as Digital Realty Trust. DRT builds data centers, we're talking massive secure places that are built to hold large amounts of data for corporations, and industry. The art director, Benji Vega, wanted a strong powerful industrialization-of-America look. Here are the first two of three illustrations highlighting DRT's logo in the art. The first illustration is from the factory. A worker throws a lever in the foreground with the cubes rolling out for distribution. In the second the cubes are leaving the factory and being shipped out on a trains heading in all directions. I went for a 30's era streamlined look to tie with mural theme. Hugh Ferriss meets Buck Rogers. It's subject matter I've dealt with before. That era of murals, and dreams seems to symbolize the feeling of a better world through technology. Here some pencils and the first two illustrations.
First rough.That's DRT's logo cube coming out of a press machine. Also I don't usually do color roughs.
After some revisions the under drawing for final art was approved.
First Illustration - Worker & Factory
One of two rough sketches for the second illustration.
Second rough sketch.
The art director wanted some kind of smoke stacks added. Plus a sunset.
I designed smoke stacks, and kept them heavily filtered. No smoke.
The second illustration with sunset. Number three was just finished, but not published yet.
Back on Labor day, September first, the National Labor Federation released it's 2009 calender. I was asked to paint an image for the month of June. The subject is migrant workers in the agribusiness workplace, and the beginning of summer employment. I wanted my illustration to be bright, optimistic, and respectful of these workers. The calender project is to draw attention and support for some of the lowest paying jobs being done. It does seem like a never ending struggle for the dignity of workers. Workers who travel farm to farm during the growing seasons, and harvest. Also included is a past painting done for the National Labor Federation.
Art for the month June 2009
Art for "Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win in the New Millennium" National Labor Federation 2000
I did a FORD canada assignment a couple of months back, that just now is being seen. I think it was the art I had done for Pep boys that drew attention to my working on the project. The original call came in last November, and hoped it would be fun. The project involved assigning a model in the FORD line-up to a different artist. The Mustang was the model I was assigned. I was quite excited as it was a car dreamt of at an earlier age. Just before starting sketches, FORD and the design firm decided to DROP the car, and have the artists painting a backdrop to have a photo of the car stripped in. The fun assignment seem to loose it's drive for me. I received a sample of the color the now none existent Mustang was to be as a guide for my illustration. The color was a silver gray, which is to say "gray". I tried to develop a feel in the image that described the Mustang. The painting was done in black & white with the color sample used for the foreground of the image. I used two other colors for the rest of the image. Color added digitally.
Was away for a couple weeks. An assignment I did back in December is now coming out in some magazines. Over the holidays I was busy on an assignment for Honda motorcycles. Motorcycles have been an interest for me for many years. I got on my first motorcycle at thirteen. It's was a Honda CB100. So when I get a chance to do some illustration work with a motorcycle it's a pretty good deal. I've done work for motorcycle magazines over the years, but the advertising work usually is photo based these days. The last advertising work I did was back in 1993 for Suzuki. This assignment was to be "friendly" as Honda wanted an inclusive message, not just one tribal group as in outlaw biker, or racer bad boys. Attached are the development sketches. Earlier on the direction was to include a dragon theme which came from the venue in Tennessee. The area in Tennessee has twisty roads that are fun to ride on a motorcycle, named the Dragon's Tail. I've added the old Suzuki illustrations for comparison. The Suzuki pieces are fifteen years old now. I was really inspired by the work of Stuart Davis then. I wanted the Honda image to have more of an americana regionalist feel. So here's what follows;
It's winter here, damn! January in the northern hemisphere, but down south, or the other up, it's summer. The Australian Open is underway, and the final rounds are closing in. Being from Canada, and married to a tennis addict, I've watched more than my fair share of matches. One of the big assignments in the world of sports I've had is the honor of working on the art for US Open in New York. Watching the power of the contemporary players, it becomes apparent that tennis today has definitely left it's genteel roots. For a while American players really changed the game especially in the women's division. It was back in 2001 that I was approached to do sketches along with others for the potential of working on the US Open. I was not awarded the assignment. Then a year later the opportunity presented itself again. On reflection I felt that I had let the opportunity intimidate me somewhat the first time round. So I focused on the power element that I felt was so much a part of the American game. I presented my sketches, and was picked for the final. The resulting odyssey from my sketches to the finish was episodic, akin to struggling with a multi-headed hydra. Needless to say that in the world of professional tennis egos are large, and the US Open is not a small affair. I was educated in the game of power.
Sketches from the first round in 2001
Second round of sketches for the 2002 US Open
After chasing my tail, I was told that actually my old sketches from the first round held more promise. I was directed to develop a new direction based on the passed over group from a year early. Yeesh, at this point I was not feeling the joy. Still you dig down deep and give your best. Second serve is never as strong as the first.
One of the uses for the final was the cover of the program guide. Also huge banners were printed up, T-Shirts, and many other usages. It was exciting and frustrating to have had such an honor. At the moment down under Serena, Venus, Roddick, and Blake are out maybe a symbol of the present American game. Federer resides as a god, he makes it look so easy. It's summer somewhere out there.
Back in late 1996 the masculine tone of my work was thought to be fun and appropriate by art director Andrew Dalsass. He wanted to create a theme for a local Manhattan clothing store targeted at the male white-collar work force of New York. I was sent fabric samples and told verbally the direction and theme. The upper negative space of this image was often for type, which spelled out the Rothman’s Man’s many abilities as well as his fondness for power tools, and other adventures. The campaign has been well received and continues today. The image is a hybrid of socialist propaganda and comic book. The owner of the store, Ken Giddon, has become much more of an influence on the more recent images in the series. What follows are a few of the illustrations that span the last eleven to twelve years. Pant widths, and chunky soles have changed, but the idea of the branding has been maintained. Ken Giddon has been a loyal client.