Not a huge story behind this one, no piles of thumbnails to wade though. Minh called with a great idea.
They've tapped Thomas Staggs as the next CEO, or "Heir of the Disney throne", so a throne made of Disney characters (and related acquisitions) would be a perfect fit.
I did a quick little comp and started painting. We were all pretty happy to see it in the paper yesterday... Much thanks to Minh Uong and the folks at the Times for sending this one my way.
I just did this really fun project with Mother Jones's art director Carolyn Perot. She had seen an earlier piece I had done for Yankee Magazine on the Green Eyed Flies and one of my alternates was the original inspiration for this illustration.
I wanted to create a kind of bigger than life, War-of-the-Worlds kind of invasion of the beetles.... I did a few thumbanils but decided to comp up the two directions I felt strongly about... Thumbnails # 1 and #2.
I knew this was certainly overkill for a sketch but wanted to push this in a direction I wanted.
Liking both directions was not a bad place to be.
Carolyn did this Killer design, flopping my original design. I love this layout so much. A little sorry some of the creepy fog was getting lost, but the layout is so strong I really don't mind. Brilliant Carolyn!
Much thanks to Mother Jones and Carolyn Perot for such a fun project...
I recently met Torrece Gregoire through my sister Sue. She goes by the nickname T. Maybe because I I kept massacring her name... Maybe it's just easier.
She's a contestant on the upcoming season of Hell's Kitchen. Such a dynamic personality, I just couldn't resist when she asked me to help out with some poster and T-shirt designs. Certainly sometimes working with clients directly can fall into uncharted waters but this was really a great experience. and the results kind of glowed with that. "Weeded" is her upcoming venture into chefs apparel. I think Weeded is going much, much farther. She's got a kickstarter; if you're so inclined, check it out and donate! Weeded
We did the design based on a Max Award poster I did earlier in 2008 . T liked the way the lines overlayed each other. I loved this direction too. Limited color would work well for poster and especially T-shirt application.
Forest thought the first set of thumbs were a bit too aggressive so I did a few more a little closer to the Max Awards stuff she had seen before.
Like always I started with the normal 24 thumbnails but this time I decided not to show all of them. I picked my favorites and comped them up tighter. I showed T four and She picked my favorites.
When we got to the Tshirt application the poster design just wasn't working so we reworked the design and droped the background. I think it was working Much better this way. Two variations of each ,one for a white shirt ,one for black. The colors had to be swapped around a bit but worked much better without the background. The heavy blacks on the "Kitchen Robot" had to be dropped. They worked great on the white shirt but too heavy in white ink on the black shirt
I love this little piece I did recently for SooJin at PlanSponsor. Such a strange little concept. The article was about the complicated restrictions in regulations in plans around mergers and aquisitions and the importance of retirement plan conciderations. The final direction SooJin picked was the circulatory illustration. Strange yes, but I think an appropriate solution. I was trying to do a kind of a strange old medical chart-like image but the old type was just pushing it off in another direction that didn't seem like it helped the concept. It was so much fun working on it, was hard to stop even after the project was delivered.
They always start the same way, had some great directions in the thumbnails sketches, couldn't wait to get the feedback from SooJin and see which direction she would pick... I love this part of the job , thumbnailing is so much fun. I have been trying to stop sending so many, and even stop doing so many, but I just can't seem to stop myself. The ideas just flow out kind of like a stream of consciousness.
Miraculously, she finds something that seems to make sense out of these little scribbles.
Paint a few color thumbnails trying to work out how to handle the final. My initial idea was to do an old vintage medical poster... but the type was too distracting...
When I painted it I loved the body inside, hidden and more obscure. To me, it was the way I view mergers. More as one devouring or absorbing the other. When I showed it to Forest and Lee they felt the head of the figure was too hard to read. I blew them off, continued working on textures and trying options with type. When i sent it to SooJin she said it was beautiful, but she needed to see the figure in the center faster for it to read as a "merger"...
Damn, I hate it when Lee is right. But I eliminate some of the veins around the figure and change the head to be more obvious. Still works. I throw away most of the type and just use some watercolor paper with torn edges... It works.
I had finished the art on Friday and let it sit over the weekend. When I came in Monday I looked at the color comps and tried to see what it would look like in another color direction.... I sent them off to show SooJin. I think maybe it was too late to look at any alternates. Time was gone. I sent two versions the original and the blue one. I am guessing I will find out in a month or so which one she used. My bet is the original. Forest says I am worrying about it too much. The original looked good. Me, I just always want it to be better. Thank God for deadlines or nothing would ever get shipped!
I thought these options were interesting in that the feeling they give the viewer is somehow very diferent. Color can add an emotional element to an illustration that sometimes can change the feeling subtly, sometimes dramatically. I guess I was just enjoying working on this so much, I just didn't want it to end.
Always the highlight of my year to do another FrogFolio illustration for JIm Burke. Thanks JImmy, for keeping alive... Keep those frogs from Croakin'... This year I was a little busy, so last minute effort. I chose the Tattooed frog, getting a a few more empty spots filled... Deadline Friday the 13th, and it's a Honey Moon.... Super lucky Bull Frog covered in Bug tatts... Much fun!
When I started this Illustration I had a couple ideas, but not much time to decide. So I did a dozen thumbnails... Carney Clown and Day of The Dead were top runners up, but Tattooed Frog gets the nod and we're off and running.
I had sketched off the tattoos in my sketchbook but left it on the coffee table at home. so I started this bug version but scrapped it at first because to me it seemed like it needed more traditional, old-style tattoos.
Change my mind again when the traditional tattoos were not reading fast enough as "Bugs". so back to this version.... Had I had a little more time I am sure I would redo them to some hybrid version but deadline is tight. Added details like stains on the tent, a few patches...a little more trash on the ground...and SHIP IT!
It is such an honor to be included in such a prestigious melee of talented illustrators, Carl Wiens fabulous robotic frog... so nice...(Chris Payne- Your pieces showed up on FB before I started mine ... lot of pressure, dude !), Victor Junaz, Wesley Albrook, John Dykes, Melanie Reim...so many great artists.
I have been thinking a lot lately about how many thumbnails to share with clients. In fact, Rick Anwyl and I were having a conversation about this very thing. He cited two examples of photographers he had worked with in the past. Both of them really top-of-their-game shooters who had very different approaches. They both worked with Rick, for a couple of weeks flying all over shooting hundred of photos. When they delivered, each of their final shots came in very different.
The first, Jay Maisel, sent a heavily edited selection of maybe a dozen shots. When Rick called him to ask where the rest of the shots were. Jay cut him off by saying, "I know what you're calling about, You want to know where all of the other shots are. You'll never see them." When he loaded the film in to review every shot was a beautifully designed. The quality of each shot was so definitive.
The second example was different. The photographer sent over pretty much everything he had shot... All good work but it took Rick a lot of time to sort through and edit them down to what he actually needed.
Is it better to show a few ideas or send the whole kitchen sink? I had always in the past shared everything with the art directors I work with but is that really the best way to present your ideas. As I told Rick, sometimes I wonder if providing so many examples for them to choose from is somehow cheapening the really good ideas. After all, they would be just as happy to get five really strong ideas to pick from as thirty. Or would they?
When I started this project with Rick, the assignment was to create some visual, supportive illustrations for Streamline, to help illustrate the application of analytical software in healthcare systems. Really dry stuff, but a perfect place to try some abstract ideas. Part of the direction was to try to incorporate a visual looking glass into the visuals that would show how using the software would help to reveal information not readily visible and give the user an advantage toward making the care they provide better for the consumer. Looking Glass reveals new information, new knowlege- It reveals what you would otherwise would not have seen.
Now the search was on for the perfect metaphor to magically capture this idea...
The first round of thumbanils seemed a little off target to Rick. They did not really show the reveal aspect so back to the drawing board. I think part of my problem is i enjoy these little ideas so much I just keep going and going. I did a few more that night in a sketchbook; sent them all off to get feedback .
Rick and Courtney picked thier favorites. I know sometimes it's difficult for people to get the ideas clearly from just a little thumbnail so i did some little color gouache studies to help explain where I saw the finals heading. I had some good ideas I thought were working in these. Some strong contenders in this little group of color studies. I think they already had the more direct "looking glass" in mind, so not surprising it came to the top as a favorite. they picked two, but wanted to blend the ideas together. I wanted to stay away from the obvious; data, zeros and ones; and use a blend of digital elements and colors to imply the information.
these are the little gouache thumbnails for the first illustration. I do love the roughness and spontaneity of the color studies.
The second Illustration was supposed to be about enhanced patient care. So Rick liked the umbrella but wanted to make it more direct by putting our "everyman" in a hospital gown... Not a great color to work around. He also liked the idea of the hand. I tried a couple of variations, different poses in a tight thumbnail. I felt like the illustration idea worked with the man dressed normally and made it more versatile but they felt it needed that connection to the healthcare industry.
The third concept was really about risk management. Rick and Courtney liked the aerialist, as well as the one with the everyman stepping on stones. They picked the version showing the cliff and the aerialist because it seemed to read as "riskier" faster..
The final three illustrations went through a bit of changes and editing, but overall I was, and I think the client as well, very happy with the results. Some of the changes were in the overall mood of the illustrations. Something that would not be a problem in edtitorial illustration, but can be a little different in advertising work for a client. Sometimes they identify with the illustration; or maybe don't want the tone to be moody or dark. I can show both of these illustrations to show the changes. The first being the original coloring, the second lightened up.
Big thanks to Rick Anwyl and Courtney Garvin at Son & Son's and The client Streamline for giving me the opertunity to do these little illustrations.
Instead of the typical; data, ones, and zeros; we settled on pixellation and shapes to echo the logo. This seemed to work perfectly. Here are some of the rough layouts for the covers Courtney was designing. Simple and elegant design. beautiful job Courtney.
Self edit thumbnails or show them all?
I have asked several art directors I have been working with, and they all said they would rather see all of the sketches. They understand about showing so many... One said, "I like seeing all of the ideas...I totally get it. It's like going into a meeting with 10+ page designs for a single feature article... I only show maybe two, but I still like seeing all of the Ideas."
Maybe the better idea is to only show "good" ideas....
This article was about how large funds don't have the same risks as small funds. I started out all over the place with ideas, not sure where they were all going. Sent them off but before I heard back I had already thought the concept was so obvious. An image where the prey seemed unconcerned about the predator. I was really thinking a wolf-vs-rabbit kind of thing. The hunter and hunted was a second thought, I liked the small defenceless prey but SooJIn said she just couldn't see representing these large companies as some mouse or bunny. She said "How about a lion." I guess I was still stuck on the small defenceless thing so I persisted with a tighter sketch of a quail vs hunter.... She didn't respond..... I sent the sketch of the lion. She said "Thank you." SooJin always knows best, she's just so damn intuative...
Sketches of the "Prey" idea...Rabbit vs Wolf...Cat vs Mouse....
Quail vs Hunter. SooJin said make the hunter much smaller....
The final was more difficult than I had thought it would be. Just couldn't seem to make it work the way I wanted. Maybe it was the shape of the lion. I guess I had been stuck on a simple shape like an Elephant or even the Quail or Turkey... The shape was just a little awkward to me. I made the hunters small but stuck them on the back of elephants. I know they don't hunt Lions on the backs of Elephants... Lee and I went around and around about this. They probably run around in a Range Rover, and probably shoot while sipping tea in the back seat... I still liked it that way. I was being stubborn again.
I got it to a point where it seemed like it was working and shot a screen capture off to SooJin to get feed back. She liked it, didn't have any suggestions. I added some trees under the lion and a few birds in the distance. I think they helped a bit.
Details of the hunter on the back of an Elephant
Detail of the trees I added after the screen shot I sent SooJin.
Big thanks to SooJin Buzelli and Asset International for trusting me again and not giving up on me, Always a joy working with you.
Alway a treat to work with Minh. The Dealbook cover was a collection of articles about innovation in finance. Some good, some bad. a generic illustration kind of made sense.
The ideas are flying all over the place as usual. Hoping somthing will land close to the mark. I don't hear back so I keep drawing.. Tried a second batch of abstract concepts.... Finally he responds. He likes 9, 10, 13. I think the machine-like robot was hitting close for Minh. He stressed he wanted to find a way to make the machine/robot in a way where something was being put in and money was coming out. I tried a bunch of variations of this, trying to figure how to make it work. I mean, without showing his internal digestive system. I liked the idea of people walking in with briefcases and walking out with money but noone else does so I stay on the robot thingy...
I try some variations of the Robot thing... I liked the pulps-like brain, little skinny arms. I try some variations and combinations. The final robot seem like he will work. I liked the idea of him free standing... Tried to see if that variation would pan out.
I try some variations of the Robot thing... I liked the pulps like brain, little skinny arms. I ty some variations and combinations. The final robot seem like he wil work.
Two small variations, boiler like robot on the left and the towering huge standing one on the right.
I was trying to give Minh an alternative to the one putting things in its head with kind of a Frankenstein version. Lightning making it light up. I think this was not obvious enough for him, but I liked the lightning so kept that in also.
Minh doesn't like the wreckage going into his head. Wants light bulbs and lightning bolts. wants to add two inches to each side. I am thinking this is so much extra work... We write him to try to get an exact size so we can minimize the extra area around the illustration.
Much thanks to Minh at the Times for calling me with this fun project. Always such a blast working on these. A collaboration is always a little giving and taking, tryiing to find the right image that will get the idea across. I thought this one worked pretty well.
Last minute change, Minh wants to put the headline on the bottom of the art so we ditch the lake and most of the trees to simplify. I don't think they're really necessary, and the piece still works. Big thanks to Minh at the New York Times for making me look so good. Always a treat working with you.
Treasure Hunters of The Financial Crisis; New York Times
Minh called me Monday with another little rush job. I am guessing because all of you were partying at AI . Oh, wish I hadn't procastinated, that is always such a good party and great seeing all of our friends in New York. But lucky for me you are all busy so I get to do another piece for the Times. Minh joked "we'll have to start calling it the Bill Mayer Times."
Most of the time, my first idea is the strongest, but I always feel it's important to give art directors alternative ideas. Just in case I stumble on to something better. Sometimes it's just fun exploring. Minh gets back to me, he wants to know if we can add the element of having fear. The other investors running away, maybe a long vertical with a storm, and boats fleeing the area. I am totally puzzled on how to make this come off. I thought of having the little boats on the suface might get the idea across without it getting too complicated. I did a few more thumbnails and sent them off.
I thought about trying to sell this idea a little harder, so I put together a little comp to show how it might work. Some time ago I had done a little piece on Hurricane Sandy, so I took and adapted it quickly by turning off the main part of the visual.
The addition of the buildings rather than ships on the bottom really made the concept work a lot better so I decided to keep them in; seemed to make more sense. Minh liked this idea but wanted to change the buildings to "Wall Street." I liked the idea of the narrow, cavern-like streets of lower New York.
Minh sold the idea. They made one more request; he asked if i thought it would work to put the guy in a suit, He said we could get rid of all of the other elements, if I could put him in a suit. He thought it was a good trade-off. My original dive bell comp was round so my first sketch of the guy was big and round. Mihn thought it seemed like we were making fun of the guy, wanted it to be less humorous. My second take on the guy was still bulky, but now more "Super Hero Like." This really was a collaboration with Minh. He is a really smart art director, and I think his suggestions made this piece work that much better.
Ny first sketch of the fat bulbous diver in a suit... Okay I get it...looks like "Wimpy" scuba diving....And the treasure chest.
the two revised options "super Hero" like guy . We all like the a version.
The final piece turned out pretty cool, I sent off a screen capture to run it by Minh. He suggests lightening it up a bit so it won't go too dark in the paper. Pulled back on some of the darkness.
It always feels great to get a thank you note back from a client. Minh sent me a couple of notes.
"Our executive editor... She thought your art for SundayBiz was "conceptually smart".
Thanks Bill, for making me look "smart".
Actually Minh, I should thank you for making me look so smart . You are a genius. Thanks again to Minh Uong and The folks at the Times.
These little articles for Mother Jones are always such a blast. This time, the art director Tim Luddy had a strong idea what he was looking for so I mostly concentrated on the two ideas he gave me. 1) an alligator and a crawfish at the front of a cartoon-style image (almost reminiscent of old Conde Nast cartoons, or old New Yorkers?)with the caption below "Who farted?" The two animals are looking accusatively at one another while maybe three large figures in the background, representing the oil companies, are trying to look innocent; whistling, looking up and away, whatever. All the standard tropes for this situation would work; nothing would be too corny!
2) A slightly more general idea: since this is about messing with the Earth, poking holes into the subsoil with dire consequences, maybe something like 'Waking the Swamp Thing', or stirring up this angry swamp-monster, would work. Kind of a B-Movie illustration look.
I'm not sure if the "B-movie look " really came off but this was till a total blast working on.
We started with the normal, thumbnails.. These seemed pretty repetitive... It's diferent when you're just working on two ideas and trying to make them work. The "Fart" idea seemed a little compllicated to make it all come off. I am assuming the editors pretty much decided that too. The call comes back that they want the swamp thing... the one from the first set of thumbnails, in your face with a contruction hat; no logos. My reference sheet when I started was of some swamp roots and a crayfish face, Now when I look at it it's all I see...
Tim asked for a little twist on the first round of thumbs, a not-so-angry Swamp Thing... and a little clearer on the Gator/Crayfish idea, larger people in the background. I threw in a couple alternative ideas, a couple Ideas that I thought might work. The three witches stirring the stinky pot was one I thought had something going for it ...
They took almost three days out of a tight schedule trying to decide where to go with this one.
it's Friday afternoon, It's due Tuesday so I need to do a little weekend work just to make sure I am ahead of the schedule. Once I started painting the roots I wished I hadn't started. they seemed to take forever... But you know I am up early and really only a couple mornings covered in "roots" and I had enough to make sure it would be done.
Monday I touched up the painting and scanned it in. I seemed to need a little something in the background so I added some faint silhouettes of oil refineries in the fog. I had thought about adding red glowing eyes to him, but something really kind of eerie about the black holes in his face...
Big thanks to Tim Luddy for giving a little freedom to twist this illlustration. I loved the way it turned out... And to Carolyn Perot who took over when Tim split for vacation.... You guys are the best.
Wall Street Journal, It's been a year since my last illustration for Orlie. A fun little Illo for the business section, this one seemed to have a pretty straight forward direction from the start. It was an article about how to protect your portfolio from unforseen dangers out there in the marketplace. "Storms on the horizon" all those metaphors just seemed to jump out.
"You can take steps to shield your portfolio from the risks that worry you the most Funds for Volatile Markets Experts recommend funds for volatile markets to The Wall Street Journal’s Michael A. Pollock. You can’t hedge against every conceivable catastrophe. But certain mutual-fund and ETF strategies might cushion the impact while keeping you in the game if the rally continues."
I jotted down a dozen or so thumbnails and fired them off to Orlie Kraus. Such a smart lady so easy to work with. I had a little music program to go to for the seven year old grandbaby, Zak, so we decided to let them digest till the morning. In the morning I got an email from her with her three choices. all of them worked in different ways. The Editors liked the "Dragon" and "The Storm." I could see both of those working with the article in different ways but my money was on the one they didn't pick, "The Stairs."
I fired off a very rough idea on how the number two Illo would work for each of those directions. " I think any one of these would be easy to come up with an idea how to end the story..." I joked with the guys in the studio that that was the one she would pick . "It's just human nature to pick the one they didn't. Okay probably had nothing to do with any of that but she picks the stairs.
These are the rough layouts she put together with my thumbnails to try to help the editors decide.
I tried to keep it very much graphic, chinese perspective. I don't want it to have to be a realistic perspective, just graphic. I stretched the figure out and a long shadow to give the stairs some deapth. I sent the sketch off with a note about the alternate figure. Orlie likes it. She's off for the weekend and we're off to the beach the next weekend so I wanted to make sure she has the art in plenty of time.
We had nice Memorial Day weekend... I worked all day, the kids came over Monday night for the normal fried chicken, Vidalia onions, Strawberry short cake, Bocce Ball, Blanket throws, Wii dance craze. But the work was plenty far enough along. Tuesday I finalize the look and start on the second spot. I build the pyramids and paint the sky, adding textures. They are looking good. I am way ahead of the deadline. We take a little break and head for the Comfy Plate. My intern Diego needs to have some pure southern heaven. I send off the low rez after lunch.
Sketch of the stairs.
The stairs I wanted to feel old and timeless like an ancient pyramid. I liked the subtle implication that it would draw to the pyramid on the dollar. But a subtle hint I am sure would escape most of the readers.
Every year for as long as I can remember.... the first thing I do on January 1st is to write Jim Burke and see if I can again talk my way onto the line up for Dellas Graphics Calendar. Always (so far) he has reluctantly conceded. This year we had been in the city for the shows at SI and were walking around looking for those great little shops only New York has, when I stumbled on a window that had a huge statue of Chan Chu. Chan Chu, or Jin Chan was the wife of a little known demigod, who stole the "Peaches of Imortality." As punishment for her offense she was turned into a three legged toad. She is always depicted on a pile of Chinese coins. Rumor has it this mythical creature is said to appear during the full moon, near houses or businesses that will soon receive good news (most of the time, the nature of this good news is to be wealth-related). This seemed a perfect visual for the calendar. It was Lee's Idea to make it into kind of a crazy firecracker package... So perfect.
I let Chan Chu sit around for a couple of months and knew it was getting close to the deadline so I emailed Jim to see when the art needed to be there. I had gotten busy on commissioned work and just sort of forgot. He emailed back we had a couple of days. I was caught up waiting for approval so I sat down and thumbnailed off another idea. Okay it's a bit silly, yes but a frog fly fishing seemed to scream out for a stinger of flies. Nice fat ones! juicy delectable morsels. I did a sketch and jumped into final. This one turned out just as well I think. Well, completely different. Thanks so much Jim Burke. It's always such a joy creating these little guys with you. You are a true rock star of an art director.
Always a joy working on these illustrations for SooJin. This one had so much potential from the start. Exploration of directions included lots of ideas that I thought would work. SooJin likes the flat earth, No.11. I was drawn to the safe harbor, No. 10, or the unknown dangers awaiting in No.9. But 11 maybe shows navagating through troubled waters, and went with the original title/concept; Finding A Way- Danger everywhere Lacking a safe harbor, if you work/look hard enough, you'll find a way.
When I started on this little painting I wanted to give it a decorative border. The border was really time consuming, Took a long time and certainly gobs of coffee to stay focused and get through it. When I got to the Sea Monsters I was painting them in bright colors and sort of screwed them up. Just wasn't working, so I painted over them black and added detail back into them. I would have started over, but that border...ugh! didn't want to do that again.
So I keep working at it hoping to salvage the painting. I almost scrapped this one several times and just completely start on another painting. I finally get it where I am liking it and scan it in and start tweaking in Photoshop. I give the ship a kind of a mystical glow like St. Elmo's Fire to draw more attention to it and a subtle compass rose to reinforce the nautical theme. I think it turned out pretty well. Seemed a bit dark at first but when I saw it in the magazine, I liked the darkness. Big thanks to SooJin. Always a pleasure working with her.
I love how this piece turned out. SooJin, always such a pleasure to work with. Her insights and trust make it hard not to try to do something you can be proud of. This drawing I think is no exception. The article is about searching for socially responsable investments. Description from editor—How to get exposure to ESG/SRI (environmental, social and governance / socially responsible investing) principles through ETFs. Topic: ESG/SRI: Various ways to get exposure to ESG/SRI. A new way to look at ETFs? Also, mutual funds, direct investment, collective trusts. If you want to integrate socially responsible investing in your portfolio, the best vehicle for your particular plan. (This is making my head hurt.)
An obvious direction was to explore something to do with nature and an interaction with a human figure. this one we ended up taking to final was the first one, But there were some other images that I really liked as well. I am gussing just keep those in the back of my head for the future.
I know they're just thumbnails but to me I can see them so vividly in my head...The one in between 10 and 30 didn't get numbered; let's call him "11." (a little storybook Hansel and Gretel factory in the middle of a forest. Maybe flowers or butterflies coming out of the chimney?). 13 or 31 (most of the birds/fish would be dull and rusty but one brilliantly colorful). number 12 (divided; one side all factories and the other a pastoral scene...) SooJin picks One, Two, and Five... Five is just too problematic and I can't really figure out how to make it work...Two and One both work great. I am thinking she picked one because it is less obvious. Something I really like about this choice too. I get to work on a sketch but the figure is so awkward, I decide to completely change the pose.
I like the kind of Deco styalization on the figure so I decided to do the landscape in a hard stylized, kind of two demensional way. This works great. The trees work well... The large trees I pushed to the background. Added some wieght with a dark, still lake and a couple grazing deer. Just seemed like it was necessary. I was pretty happy overall with the way this one looked. Thank you SooJin, aways such a treat working with you.
THE ACTS OF GOD THEME PARK
All of us have been stunned by the frequency and ferocity of the recent storms and catastrophes that seem to be plaguing our fragile planet. A few days ago I did a piece about Sandy and to me it was more than just that. It was like a metaphor for all of the serious problems facing our world today. I sent that piece around to a few art directors to try and find a home for it and while it didn't find a place yet, it did generate a few new jobs like this one from The New York Times. This is really Mihn’s idea, to have the planet coming apart at the seams... "
THE DISASTERS, (EARTH QUAKE, TORNADO, HURRICANE, TSUNAMI, SNOW BLIZZARD, THUNDER STORM, FLOOD, VOLCANO ERUPTING, ETC.) TRY TO VARY THEM IN SIZES. SOME CAN BE CLOSER AND LARGER IN THE FOREGROUND. OTHERS ARE HAPPENING IN FORE GROUND AND BACKGROUND. . Literally everything you could think of thrown at our little fragile world. This was Wednesday late after noon and the art is due Friday 5:00 no later so I tried to steer him to a more conceptual direction. Just because of the short time. I showed him a few ideas maybe a frightened face or a skull superimposed, but he was insistent on the planet with the storms and stuff larger than life. I told him I thought it would have to be scary to keep from looking like an “Acts of God Theme Park” and we laughed. Maybe there is one of those near Dayton, Tennessee ( home of the Scopes Monkey Trial) just off the “William Jennings Bryan Memorial Highway." (And incidentally close to some of the best fodder you will ever find at “Waycrazy's Bar-B-Que" in Soddy Daisy, Tenn.) I am thinking as I write this I definitely should have included the Plague of Locusts and the Zombie Apocalypse…But what the Hell… There can always be a sequel.
So rules? Cold Calls Work… I emailed three folks and, got two jobs and a “been meaning to use you, be back in touch later in the year…” And there’s always a good Bar-B-Que Restaurant just a little drive up the highway….
Uh, let’s see things I was thinking of when I did this Illustration. John Hendrix/King of Disaster could probably do it better…Those Disney books on the early life on our planet Earth…. When the Death Star blew up….and How am I going to make this funny? I guess nothing funny about this problem.... Big Thanks to Mihn Uong, always fun working with you, again...
Here's the way I did it originally, with a faint little spider web in the white areas. I thought it added something conceptual because of the nature of the article and subject matter, profiteering. Mihn had me take that out because he felt it made the world look smaller.
A great little drawing for Mother Jones... Art director Carolyn Perot had seen some of the new stuff on Drawger and thought it was a great direction for a Frankencorn illustration about the pending legislation in California, Proposition 37.
"The Politization of GMO's"
"Wondering if you have time to illustrate the opening story to our Outfront section on genetically modified foods? Story focuses on the politicization of GMO's (vote for me the scary mutant corn thing!) Also saw your latest stuff on Drawger and LOVE it. Could be perfect for this."
Have time? I can always make time....how much fun could this be. Only one hiccup putting a long vertical thing like corn in a horizontal spot, but, He's a mutant so that would help solve that.
" If you’re wondering whether your cereal, can of soup, or muffin was made with genetically modified ingredients, you’re out of luck—at least for now. Unlike the European Union, the US government doesn’t require food manufacturers to proclaim use of GMOs on packaging. But that may be about to change—first for Californians, and then, potentially, for people across the country. That’s because of a little-noticed California ballot initiative called Proposition 37, to be decided this November, which would require the labeling of all food containing genetically modified ingredients. It’s almost impossible to avoid GMOs, since they lurk in 70 percent of non-organic processed food in the US. Upwards of 80 percent of all US corn and soy is genetically modified. Sweets are almost guaranteed to contain these ingredients, either in the form of corn syrup or beet sugar. Canola and cottonseed oils, too, commonly come from GM crops. Californians appear ready to train a flashlight on this stealthy GMO."
I sent Forest out to buy some corn at the local farmers market, I thought this was better than searching the internet for Google images. This was a great idea and certainly helped with some of the subtleties of color and texture. I did a bunch of little thumbnails, she liked #2 and the eyes from #1. So, I jumped into a sketch version, Frankensteined appropriately into a mutant "Frankencorn."
My thinking was to do the sleazy southern politico, like in "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" Rural Searsucker-suited pig-shaped mugwump. But, of course, mutant. In the end she wanted more corn than politician. I miss the little shirt and suspenders, but I think It still worked pretty well... Probably could have made the corn do a little more stomping around on the crowd, but, all in all I am thinking it worked out pretty cool. Thank you Carolyn for letting me have so much fun with this one.
It's Carnival time again, the cottage is put away for the winter and there's something in the air. The chill of the wind and the houses all decorated for Halloween. Carny stuff always brings back those great memories. This years poster I wanted to keep some of that creepiness from last year but since we didn't use the huge clown head last year I thought that was a good pace to start.
Only one thumbnails this time, one sketch. I had a pretty clear idea where this one was going. So let's put the energy into the final not so much wasted time on preliminary stuff. I liked the idea. It's modeled after a little match holder and a clown egg cup from the kitchen. Makes me laugh when I see it.
I was having so much fun with "The Demented Little Beasties" (posted in early July) I thought I would just continue the look into a few other projects. Anyway, much fun. still a combination of traditional and digital but the airbrush seems to add a textural element that the digital stuff was missing.
In a working version I had rides and more scary stuff but it was just getting a bit too crowded so left them out and I think the balance worked well.
We had so many type changes last year, so I decided early that I would keep the type virtually the same and only change the font up a bit to make it fit the art better. And the final poster looked like this...
I got an email from Minh while we were out on the country... A little piece for The New York Times. My first stab at the thumbnails, I was trying to force it into another little beastie direction but he just wasn't buying it. so back to the drawing board; Actually, even before he had contacted me. We were in Candada closing up the cottage for the winter. So the second bunch I did on the plane home, Scanned them in the next morning and waited for feedback.
probably did way too many thumbnails but seemed like a few ideas with the ups and downs in the market. Minh picked a rather simple direction; a little floating guy looking apprehensive. Can't be too high, "It's only a Quarterly report." So did a quick sketch and some adjustments to fit the layout and we're off.
It was Mihn's Idea to fade the drawing out at the top. I think this worked pretty well. Again the personal little pieces (Beasties) have influenced the look of the final but I think it gave the whole illustration a nice neutral pallet.
Here is the layout showing how nice the fade works ito the desisg of the page .Great job Mihn.
So happy to have my little stamp drawings included in the new CA Illustration Annual . So many fabulous and talented artists there. Thank you to the judges and editors at CA , it is a great honor to be included. These little drawings' ultimate use was for a recruitment brochure for an old Boston financial advisor, Cabot and Moore. It was such a pleasure to work with long time friend and great designer, Rick Anwyl at Son & Sons on this project, and this recognition has made it even a little sweeter . This certainly seemed a perfect match of intelligent application and clever design.
This is a horrifying little story about the problems with the quality of food supply in China for both the Chinese market and for the countries to which it exports food products, like the U.S. Food scandals have made consumers here and in China nervous, and they’ve also gotten the attention of multinational companies that operate there. Many of these companies have opted to manage their own foosupplies by policing and auditing them. Some pretty shocking examples that would make you literally sick. Crazy stuff. Morris Stubbs , my Art Director,wants a cover illustration with a 'dark tone' that goes with the story. ”Something a little shocking”. It’s like 'The Rotten Earth' that I did last year, a little gouache sketch of a blue face with soulless eyes bleeding a slimy black pitch… "The U.S. Government had sufficient concerns that it opened an FDA office in China the first one ever established overseas. Progress has been made. But there are still huge concerns. One of the main sources for this story a lawyer who lives and works in Shanghai says that just about all the food he eats there is imported."
I talked it over with Morris and got started on thumbnails. I've always loved dark and slightly evil directions, like he usually wants. I did a dozen great little ideas and shot them off. They have a direction now, anyway.
- "Bill when you get this email give me a call, we like #8 "peas" but I'd like to work the China flag into the pod but softly and remove the faces and just have very disturbed looking peas…”
I did a sketch of the peas with out the faces. It was so bland. It just seemed like there was no concept anymore so I called Morris and tried to sell him on putting the sculls back in… He said they still felt that it made it too personal, like it was the Chinese people doing this and not the powers in charge. He advised to just make the peas look nasty and deformed.
After he let me know he could give me a few more day, I started thinking about how I was going to salvage this. At least I had a bit more time to procrastinate. Instead of a the Friday deadline I had til' Wednesday…
I half-heartedly made a stab at painting the illustration early Friday, But it sucked (seriously), so I opted for a nice walk and some climbing with my friend Goñi…
It’s spring here in Atlanta and it’s truly one of the most beautiful places on earth… Meanwhile, I was still trying to think of a visual way to salvage this illustration.
One night over the weekend I was drawing in my sketchbook and I came up with a kindof alien version of the pea pod. I figured this might be what it needs. It was more or less the “Invasion Of The Pod People” in my head…I was eager to get into the studio and paint this. I woke up early and headed in around 6:00 am I have the painting done by noon and started scanning it in. Another few hours of editing and tweaking digitally and it’s working pretty well.
Goñi dropped by the studio to see what I was up to and I showed him the thumbnails. He liked the oriental face down in the lower right corner. He said I should do that one too! According to him, it would only 'take fifteen minutes'. I still had til' Wednesday so I figured what the Hell. I got right in on Tuesday and started on two more versions, including one I wanted to do a brush drawing on a red background.
I figured this could be a really strong cover and worth the extra effort to see what it will look like. It ended up taking all morning. Then after lunch I jumped on starting the face. It took about two hours…
I just put a spot in the middle of the eyes with the stars from Chinese flag.
Wednesday morning I sent everything off for Morris to approve. He never responded on the other two concepts, just the original. He like it but the editors felt its was too scary and that I should get rid of some of the tentacles. While doing that I ended up getting rid of some of the strange alien sex parts my wife Lee pointed out, in the process . It ended up working pretty well so I send it off!
After one final round of slight adjustments, trying to make sure it read with the type well. I Really happy with the way the final one was working,it's still my favorite, but started wondering how the art director felt about the final result. I wasn't sure if he did or didn’t like it because I tried so many other directions did that give him the impression that I was not satisfied with it? But really that was not the reason. I always wonder how one of the other ideas will turn out.
Later on I replaced the spot on the oriental face with a nasty fly. I liked the fly so much I ended up going ahead and scattering them all over the face. It certainly worked better conceptually. Another fun little illustration. I comped them up to see what the other two would look like as covers too. Well, I definitely still like the original, but I don’t know now …”The Flies” just kind of work….
Asset International: Interest Rates Rising. Sink or Swim. Another illustration for SooJin, this one about surviving the impending European economic fall-out. I thought I would post this one as a simple tutorial on building an illustration in Photoshop. The thumbnails are all pretty straightforward. With a few of them I was trying to figure out a way to bring something in that would identify with Europe, but SooJin didn't think that it was important. She picks no.18, but says it's only showing the sinking scenario, and to have in the distance a boat that's survived the "interest storm." Adjust for the wider layout and shoot a sketch off and wait for approval.
She gets back to me quickly and i transfer this sketch down to a board and airbrush the ship and man on the bow...The next step is to sort of get a handle on the pallet. the last one I did for SooJin was in a neutral color pallet, and looking at the subject matter, thought this one worked leaning that way as well.
Let's start with grey...Block in flat colors to set the tone and mood of the piece.
add some gradients
Add the islands and simple reflections. Keeping it fairly simple...
Adding some clouds and starting on some reflections in the water.I darkened the edges to make it a bit moodier.
More detail. ropes and more layers of clouds...and a reflection of the boat..these are real simple just copy the layer and flop them over in transform adjust the transparency and mask them so it's not too even.
Then a few final tweaks... Not trying to make this too simple...
Done then shoot off a low rez for approval and upload the high rez and you're done....And there you have it, and there it this....Not trying to over simplify the illustration but building a neutral color pallet off a grey back ground is just one way of working with the color. Certainly there are a host of others. The neutrals seemed to work well with this one because of the "after the storm" concept...But you get the Idea...
Wall Street Journal...Stocks Are Riskier Than You Think
Were do I start ....Here's a chance to do a really high exposure Wall Street Journal cover and I really wanted to do a kick ass job for Orlie. I have been a fan for a long time and couldn't wait to get started. I probably sent just too many ideas (way too many to show all of them...) , I just could not seem to fall on the perfect one. So like normal, I over compensated with a lot of ideas and a few that made sense. She targeted a few that she thought had potential and I tightened them up a bit, added a few of my Favorites . It was hard to get the editors to sign off before getting on a plane to New York, so pack it back up . So let's pick it back up when I am in New York. Hanging out with the family. Seeing old friends in NYC and I get an email From Orllie they are going in a totally different direction. Now you might think this is a problem, no sketch, no approvals and the same deadline , but I am delighted to ditch the problematic first go round and start fresh.
Saturday we arrive back home 4;30 just in time for our niece Linz's Birthday dinner at 5:00 with a huge group of family and friends at a local restaurant . Sunday is just too damn pretty and I go hiking with my sister Sue. A nice long Hike and we link up with one of my other sisters , Mel and her husband RO...I am exhausted from the week. I think I am coming down with a cold. Monday I hit the studio early and get a sketch to Orlie before noon. We talk about direction ,whether to do a airbrush or she also liked the rougher stuff. I tell her maybe I can do both. They are fairly simple... I do the airbrush drawing scan it in and start building the crevasse. I am starting to feel pretty lousy by now and about 4:00 I head for home and bury myself in the blankets with the chills. I am done ... The art is still due Wednesday at the latest but I Tuesday morning I pull myself out of bed and head for the studio armed with Tylenol cold meds. I scan in and build the matrix of ticker numbers I was hoping to finds in one large piece.
I grabbed a WSJ and went to the financial section but the charts are too pretty and easy to read . Not at all what I had remembered or wanted. I wrote Orlie looking for options but decided just to blow the small parts up larger and try to patch them all together. The larger numbers worked just fine.
I am feeling pretty much done at this point but the illustration is looking pretty good I shoot a low rez off to the art director, Orlie, and she does some quick layouts. They look really nice ,she says she will tweak later when she has a bit more time to focus. I upload the large files and head for the sofa...The cold meds are wearing off and I am done...UGH! tomorrow another cover for Paiui....I need a good nights rest...
Here's little illustration for Fast Company."For breeding a natural alternative to harmful agricultural pesticides." So thrilled to be back on their radar. Used to do a lot for Fast Company... this one was a blast. When Ted Keller called me about this article it just seemed like such a perfect match. These wasps were the good guys; Bio-warfare against destructive larva, but instead of using pesticides they spray the fields of crops with wasps. Like an invading army, they devoured the larva... What a brilliant idea. "Killer wasps! Fear not--this isn’t the movies. These predatory insects are the good guys, programmed to target only their natural enemy (which is not your scrawny behind). Bug Agentes Biológicos mass-produces wasps to combat larvae and stinkbugs that threaten sugarcane and soybean plants, two of Brazil’s largest cash crops. This past year, Bug perfected a way to spray its wasps onto soy fields, just as pesticides are spread via airplane. "We can liberate the insects in the right dose, at the right speed, and with the right protection so they can be effective," says Francisco Jardim, a Brazilian VC who has invested in Bug and sits on its board. Wasps, for example, need to be protected until their wings grow big enough for flight, or else ants present a threat. (Isn’t nature grand?)"
Started on thumbnails, seems to take a dozen or so to get the ideas across. I liked the huge friendly wasp face, huge and right in your face, but Ted liked the wasp airforce, maybe some brazillian color or insignias. He likes this one also because it gives the impression of a lot of wasps without doing something really crowded. We're off and running.
I do a sketch of the wasps, add some weapons hanging on the underside....I would do the main three wasps and photoshop the rest, distorting them and fading them off in distance to give the impression there are a lot more .The airbrush drawing goes pretty fast. I do the wings in photoshop so I can adjust the transparency and shift them in perpective as the wasps recede into the background.
I wanted to use some sort of genome or DNA markers to add that little nod to the biological side, but just started getting way too complicated, so I scrapped this for the oval patterns interlaced with layers of light motion lines. I loved the color being somewhat all in one warm pallet, but as an afterthought, tried it with a dark-to-red background... This is interesting, but all of us like the bleed to white...
Ted's design is brilliant, Love this type....the online version is just as clean and fresh. This one was a total blast, can't wait to work with these guys again...just too much fun.
Once in while you have a illustration you just can't seem to wrap you head araound . This one just hit me in the head like a hammer. None of the ideas were working, the odd long horizontal was something I don't do much but i just kept throwing the pen at it. None of them made any sence at all...Nothing was working at all...."Surprisingly flexible—cash balance plans are more flexible than people perceive."Finally SooJin sets me on the right track "I think we need an idea where there's an obstacle. And somehow the character's flexibility is making them overcome the obstacle.," and we're off and things are working. these thumbnails had atleast some real potential. Part of the concept was to show some obstical in the way but something going around it to still acoplish the task. Now this made it easy. A new set of thumnails and this time I used the odd shape to push the concept.
I blew up the thumbnail and started drawing.Lee thought it might look better if the obstacle was something natural...Worth a try.... WTF I think I have forgotten how to draw too. Scrap this one and Back to the very simple thumbnail. Keep it simple. I liked this one much better and SooJin agrees.
I wanted to keep a very neutral pallet some simple water and blurring the fish under the water, nothing complicated.simple execution too.I flopped in some texture on the pilings and I almost forgot about the reflection of the bird. Goñi Montes pointed that out when I showed it to him. A little subtle touch but needed to be there. I sent a low rez off to SooJin, she liked it too...."Thank you very much!I like the reflection and added texture.Will run with this version. sJ" I like it too.
This year the group that I was lucky enough to get into, Society of Illustrators-54 was a diverse selection of pieces. Some surprises, some disappointments but all in all thrilled to have a few pieces in the show. Disappointments on some of my favorite pieces that didn't even make the cut. Surprises in some of ones that did and especially the one that had a medal. Always a shock when something falls this way. Having judged several times I know how truly lucky it is when someone champions one of you pieces and you end up with some nice shiny piece of medal to show off to your mom. My mom will be thrilled. The Creative Carnival won a Silver medal in the Advertising category. I know there will be a bunch more deserving pieces I will see in the show. I know what a fluke it is whenever I seem to get one. So happy to get to plan another trip to New York. Hang out at Domo Sushi, go to a few galleries. Breathe the air, stand on the carpet, check out all the beautiful work...Always humbling...
Si-50 SILVER MEDAL SI WEST-50 BRONZE
"Creative Carnival" Sometimes something just lands in your lap with so much potential. When you have a client that is open for you to do anything you want, and an audience of your peers that will surely thumb their nose at anything sub-standard, you can't help but panic a little at first; right? This little poster was just so much fun from the very beginning, it was hard to see it all come to an end. Much thanks to all of the folks at Workbook for giving me the freedom to take this wherever it ended up falling.
SI-54 AWARD OF MERIT SI-WEST-50 HONORABLE MENTION
"Under Pressure" It’s always nice to ease back into work with one of SooJin’s illustrations. We had a great break on holiday at the cottage in Canada. Great to unplug a bit, turn down a few illustrations jobs and just get lost. Now that we’re back, Jumping right into the thumbnails is a great way to get back in gear. This article was about the squeeze Euro companies are feeling on their benefits and retirement plans. Sometimes the most obvious directions work the best. SooJin had said that the article had been put on hold for some reason. Rarely do you get a chance to look at something again after you finished. I opened up the file the other morning and played around with darkening up the backgrounds. I like the feeling this gave the illustration and thought it might work better with the type as well so I sent off to SooJin to get her take on it. Altogether I think it made for a stronger cover design.
SI-WEST 50 PATRICK NAGEL AWARD SI-54 AWARD OF MERIT
"Jazzoo" Part of the direction was that the poster had to be of a giraffe. I really didn't think about it much before I started, but that long neck became quite a problem. Tried everything I could think of to work my way around it; hooking it around, over the top, or just cutting it off. I think that is why, when it came to the little folk art versions, I decided to just " Picasso" it and ignore the long neck and move the mouth down and make it into a little face. This worked out better than I had hoped. They loved this direction and their only comment was to make the drawing more colorful. So I took the little thumbnail and comped up a version with the colors close to the way I thought it would work. Then printed it out and painted over it on the light box.
AWARD OF MERIT SI-54 AWARD OF MERIT SI-WEST-50
" How Safe is Too Safe" The article was about too many regulations and safe guards that get in the way of productivity. I was thinking how silly it would look to have a huge guy with all kinds of floaties on afraid to go in the water. Sometimes it seems the most absurd ideas just fit.
AWARD OF MERIT SI-54
" Resurrection " This drawing started off as an idea to take something disturbing and try to cover it up with something beautiful. Sort of a masking of the harsh reality of death but also became a symbol of resurrection as well. I thought this might make for a little series of its own. Taking evil or disturbing images and covering them with flowers.
AWARD OF MERIT 3X3 PICKED FOR THE ANNUAL COVER AND AWARD OF MERIT SI-54
"O Brasil é aqui" The art Director Maria Cecelia Marr wanted a shocking emotional cover for a story about the terrible rains and flooding in Brazil. Some people are dying inside their cars in Sao Paulo's usual traffic jams and here in Rio due to mudslides. The worst is that heavy summer rains are natural, not a surprise. But the cities are growing too much and too fast and either people construct in places that are dangerous or just construct too much leaving insufficient garden areas to absorb the water a very sad situation.
SI-54 AWARD OF MERIT SI-WEST-50 AWARD OF MERIT,3X3 AWARD OF MERIT
"Street Walker" I really like the way that the strong Back and line work together. I wanted to try some limited color treatment not to over power the line and yet give it a bit more atmosphere. I typed in to Goggle Translate a bunch of little things like "Frog Town Disco" and " All You Can Eat Flies" ...But I really have no idea what the type actually says. I just hope it's what Goggle said it was. I did think it turned out kind of cool. After letting it sitting around, I am thinking I like the Black line as much without the color.
SI-WEST-50 SILVER AWARD/ SI-54 AWARD OF MERIT
"The Jester Dies" The Art Director Jim Burke really liked the idea of having the jester in the foreground, so I was determined to at least give it a try. I darkened the figure in the foreground and put several layers in between, lighting the background and creating some visual distance in between the two. Added a little reflected light also to cool down the foreground figure. Boy this was starting to get really complicated... Hey Jim When is this thing due?
AI-30 ONE OF THE CHOSEN. SI-WEST-50 AWARD OF MERIT
"Death Of The Mouse" This little drawing started out as a little thumbnail, well they all do. But I just loved the satisfied look on the cats face and it reminded me of Our friends cat that used to bring home little presents and leave them laying around for them to find. He would eat the main parts but leave the crust. The nose tail and little feet laying there in perfect position. When I started putting in the mouse it just seemed like a perfect fit to have a famous mouse take the victims place. When Oz-cetera magazine called me about an image for their cover I pitched a few of these new little drawings I was playing around with. This one they picked for the very first online cover.
3X3 AWARD OF MERIT/ 2010 SI-WEST-49 PATRICK NAGEL AWARD
“Death of Frog 2” Unfortunately, we had a long time until the final art was due so that leaves a lot of time to rethink what your doing. Jim suggested if I had time his second favorite was the Heron with the frog on his nose... I had an Idea to do some really loose painting a limited palette of colors. Not another airbrush Photo-shopped piece. So I played around with doing these really loose brush drawings. The paper was not getting me anywhere so I tried painting on a glass. A really nice experiment with some great surprises..
3X3 AWARD OF MERIT/ SI-WEST-49 AWARD OF MERIT
“Words To Impress and Seduce-1” It was Maria’s Idea to do a play off of the Correggio's Jupiter and Io, I love this direction but thought I would try something more graphic with the words caressing the woman. Like Magical realism… The writer tells that he made a note of the best words and used it to impress and seduce. Do you know Correggio's Jupiter and Io? Your drawings of women are SO beautiful, if you like the idea, perhaps a cloud of words could envelop a woman... In this case use only:passatempo: desenfado, espairecimento, entretém, solaz, recreio, filistriamonopólio: açambarcamento, exclusividade, hegemonia, senhorio, império
3X3 AWARD OF MERIT/ SI-WEST-49 AWARD OF MERIT
“Words To Impress and Seduce-2” Another variation of the same Idea having the words make up the “Mons Pubis” or the Mound of Venus” didn’t really dawn on me that no one has pubic hair any more ,especially the Brazilians. So I think this idea was totally lost.
SI-WEST-50 AWARD OF MERIT
“The Disappearing Act” I got an email from Minh at New York Times about a little spot illustration for a story he said he would love for me to do. I can remember reading it, thinking, "Edel must be on vacation…" Anyway, a great little story about how “we seem to be losing the digital right to be forgotten or deleted." In Europe, there are legislations for consumers (if they wish) to have their personal information be deleted from company data banks. In the US, there’s no such thing. These companies need to keep your info so they can sell you stuff and trade it w/ others. Seemed pretty straightforward.
SI-WEST-50 AWARD OF MERIT.
"All Wrapped Up." It was about bundling services in your retirement plans. It's more about having all services from one place. Bundled service. Can you focus on bundled coming from this direction? Seemed like a fairly obvious idea once SooJi put me on the right track. I liked the the kind of surreal image of the man with the drawers in his body…
3X3 AWARD OF MERIT CHILDREN BOOK SHOW
“The Bad Egg” I woke up Tuesday morning with a little idea for a story, I had thought about exploring the Goldfish / Death of Frogs style a bit and what better way to do it than in a sweet little story. I came into the studio and painted a few illustration’s . When I stuck those on the scanner at 11:30 I started writing the little story down. I finished it and printed it out at 12:00 just in time to read it to Lee over lunch. She liked it so when I got back from lunch I did a few more, then went for a walk up the mountain. I walk everyday , it’s a great way to clear the head. When I got back I showed the story to my grandson Forest and he edited it, we had our editor artist meeting around 4:30 when he got home from school, He suggested adding a few more frames to flush it out a bit. Wednesday and Thursday morning I finished adding the new frames ,designed a cover title page and back cover. The last children’s book I did for Simon and Schuster took a year and a half of waiting drawing and revising this was a real treat to do the whole book in two and a half days. Thursday after noon I got some direction from the Harford Stage thumbnails I posted last may, you remember those? I barely did myself. But finally on to final sketches and hopefully finish. This little exorcize was pretty fun. Not sure if it would be a Caldecot winner but I hope you will enjoy it just the same.
Society of Illustrators West, thrilled to be in the winners circle again with anpther "Patrick Nagel Award" for "Jazzoo". A little gouache drawing for a poster and promotional for Jeff Stewart / Zoo Atlanta. A SIlver Awardl in the intitutional category for the Dellas Graphics / Jim Burk " The Jester Dies", a Bronz Award for WorkBook / Alison Cury" The Creative Carnival" and an Honrable mention for the "Under Pessure" illustration I did for SooJin. Somehow I think even though this show is much smaller it's just as much a thrill to see anything you've done get a little attention. With a total of nine pieces in the show, there will be a lot of great news to share with all of the great creative flks who really are ust as much resopsable for the ultimate survival and printing of these pices. Much thanks to all of them...SooJin Buzelli, Jim Burk,Jeff Stewart, Alison Cury, Mihn Uong, Marianne Serigy, Christina Wills, Thanks you all so much....You're the greatest....
I got a call from Marianne asking if I was working over the Holidays.Well, I had really been planning a little time with the family but Marianne is so sweet and it looked like a pretty simple little project, so sure why not. Five spots in a simple style should go pretty fast....Ideas always come pretty easy, I just sat down and did the thumbnails and sent them off for her to get back to me on what worked for her.
Then I had a second thought , what if i could use some unifying theme and tie them all together. So I did a second set of thumbnails with a circus theme .I could do the "Housing Crisis" as a clown getting out of a car or carrying a ladder and saw. Uncle Sam as a clown, China a a fat man, saw the world in half...or shoot it out of a cannon....this could work.. I loved the monkey in the top hat....I really liked this direction but Marianne decided on the ones she liked. I drew them out scanned them in and colored them. Then set them aside and off to Christmas and our annual hiking trip to Mount LeConte .
- Housing: Is it finally bottoming out?
- Europe: Can its leaders over come political sclerosis to avoid the worst?
- China: Can Chinese leaders engineer a soft landing for their economy
and amp up domestic consumption?
- Politics: Will the U.S. political system behave itself, avoiding
government shutdowns, threatened defaults, or divisive recount
- X-factor: Can we be lucky enough to avoid the random, destructive
things that held back growth in 2011--no more Japan earthquakes, no
spikes in oil prices due to Middle East turmoil, etc.?
But wait there's more.....When I got back I had thought of a diferent way to finish the spots in more of a kind of folk art , I don;t know maybe more contemporary way and I thought it would be easy enough to put them together and at least she'd have two options. Why do I want to do this? I don;t know, It's more work for me, A good chance she won;t like the newer direction.... Oh who cares it will only take a few hours to do, and the main reason is I like it.....So here's what they look like...
I am never afraid of taking a chance on trying something new....
- Housing: Is it finally bottoming out?
- Europe: Can its leaders over come political sclerosis to avoid the worst?
- China: Can Chinese leaders engineer a soft landing for their economy
and amp up domestic consumption?
- Politics: Will the U.S. political system behave itself, avoiding
government shutdowns, threatened defaults, or divisive recount
- X-factor: Can we be lucky enough to avoid the random, destructive
things that held back growth in 2011--no more Japan earthquakes, no
spikes in oil prices due to Middle East turmoil, etc.?
In the end she liked the the second direction a lot but decided to use the more traditional looking illustrations and drop the watercolor paper backgrounds and use them on stark white...I think her design worked better with this direction. but I still think these little gouache drawings have some potential somewhere....I am never afraid to try something a little different...
I have a long time friend and great designer, Rick Anwyl, and it was such a pleasure to work with him on this project. He has been familiar with my stamp drawings since I started doing them and always wanted to find a way to use them. This certainly seemed a perfect match of intelligent application and clever design. These little drawings' ultimate use was for a recruitment brochure for an old Boston financial advisor, Cabot and Moore. Each spot was to represent an atribute and spark a memorable piece that would set them apart from the norm. A big step for such an old prestigious firm. A step that takes a lot of trust with clients and design firm.
We started off doing samples of styles and settled on two diferent directions, One, the stamp drawing, and the second a playful use of the 40's New Yorker style I had been playing around with. But from the very beginning I think Rick wanted to use the stamps. Noone else has figured out how to make them work in a campaign or brochure or any application since Piauí picked up one of my sketchbook drawings and used it a year or so ago. It was a smart direction but we ran into snags trying to work out how to get the client on board.
I did a few tests of stamp drawings and one of the little spots of the 1940's New Yorker style...Seemed like they were not quite getting there conceptually, so we went back to the conceptual stage and did some little thumbnails and picked a direction... did a few more little tests to show the client. Rick put together a dummy of the booklet and ran both styles past them.
I did bunches of thumbnails... As you can imagine, I sorted the ones that were working out and sent them to Rick for his comments. He and whoever else was sitting in made their choices and I did a little thumbail version of the stamp drawings so I could try to keep from doing multiple versions of each concept and try also to keep some freshness to the final drawings.
Ricky gave me carte blanche with these, to do anything I thought I wanted to try but ultimately I tried to keep itsimple and not do anything that would interfere with the play of the stoic little stamps and the clever little line drawings and how they work together.
I almost redrew these little drawings... They were a little too tight for me but it was questionable if the looser drawings would be better or not. They seemed to work pretty nice the way they were.
Another fun little project with SooJin, I got a layout and a short note..."let me know if you can fit this in" ..."Year in Preview—Risk Parity (story unavailable) Image: Balanced approach to investing. Hedging risk. Compensating Risk."Clichés always work with these things, and with just a litle twist the thumbnails are flying.I hammered these out in short time but it was so much fun I just couldn't stop at three or four. So twenty five works. Sent them off for SooJin to review...Got another short note that said, "12 please." so blew up the sketch and sent it off and we're off and running.Pretty tight on the deadline so no time to waste. Well maybe a nice walk while I wait for her to respond.
I tried a lot of ideas , did some with the little guy balancing or juggling something dangerous. mainly because of the headline " Balanced approach to investing...hedging risk..." Still like the little guy balancing the knife on his nose. Reminds me of a game we used to play as kids. "Mumbly Peg" Sharp things always atracted me, but Lee says this scares her a bit so better to keep them in the sketchbooks and drawings. I like # 2 ,# 4,and number 23 too ,but these will have to sit it out for now. Number 12 is the winner.
I wanted the water to be dark and murky and the little guy a bit unsettled, so I made the composition tilted to the right almost like the sea was in a storm. I did the little guy and mines in airbrush, everything else digital.I finally got around to looking up mines on google to see what they looked like( wish I had done that sooner) and noticed that in one photo they had chains anchoring them.Of course they were anchored just had not thought of that. so I scanned in a watch chain and distorted it and attached it to the mines from the bottom. I used the tops of the mines and flopped them for the part underwater. darkened, blurred , and they almost look like they fit...
Here's another great little editorial piece for The Boston Globe. This little e-mail came in on a Saturday. Normally not in on the weekends but I was finishing up some illustrations for Matell and needed to tweak them out before Monday. So got this little note from Illoz, ( Thanks Zimm, it's working). Called to actually turn down the job because it was a little tight with the deadline, needed final by mid day Wednesday. and it's Turkey week. I am already covered up. But while I was waiting for Jane to answer I read that little blurb in the copy and the visual was right there and so intriguing. Here are my first thoughts on the thumbnails... they come mainly from the line in the copy that reads: "they are larks flying among powerful birds of prey." I'm thinking to somehow working words and/or text into the illustration, (ie. birds made of text..) Probably use some sort of spot color, to contrast with the black, and draw attention to the lark.
Jane said she would rather have a free-floating image. I had this image in my head from the very beginning but I always play around with thumbs to see if there is anything better. Turned out pretty much like I had seen it from the very beginning. I spent a moring on the final; just pulled some Rafter reference together and of course a Lark. I tried and certainly wasted several hours trying to fill the big birds with text but in the end decided to scrap it for a simpler version.
I love how these little brush drawing look blown up, Just hoping some of the detail holds up....
Unbearable Lightness of Being... Here's Jane's very cool design. Love how the birds hang at the edge of the type.
Social Media, By the Numbers 10 strategies, how well they work, how much they cost
From the very beginning when I got this email from Blake this project looked like it would be a ton of fun. We had to cancel our trip to Canada because of some horrific personal stuff, so what better way to distract yourself from the daily horror than to immerse yourself in work. Well, it’s just how I tried to deal with it. I mean, if you're working and thinking about work, you can sometimes escape the other stuff. Well not really, but worth a try...
Blake’s idea was to intersperse illustrations and photos throughout the article and to use different styles to add variety to the layout. For me, it was a blast to be working in several different techniques.
The article was about promoting the use of “Social Media” for your business... What works, what does not. Some really good stuff that all of you probably know and use all of the time. For the opener, he wanted airbrush. This illustration started off as a small spot and sort of grew like a virus all over the page. I loved the characters and layout but underestimated the amount of time it would take to get this puppy finished. SO, I procrastinated and of course put it off till the end. On to the thumbnails….
Damn. I like the birds, but the concepts worked as people as well. Blake agreed this was probably a better Idea.. He wanted a little comic illustration for one of them, kind of a limited-color thing like “Bebo.” My original idea was to do something with Facebook; every man silhouetted blue, but the comic was easy enough. Blake said "just make it about “Free Food" or something.” That works too. A little collage drawing for the “Paid Referrals” so a money collage thing made perfect sense. I did a few little thumbnail sketches and decided that the collage thing just needed to be put together to read right. I did two versions of this actually in the same file so I could share the little stamp heads .One with multiple hooks, one with one hook. I had thought of the multiple hook things on another little job and was looking for a home for it. Ultimately the single hook was simpler and I liked the bull’s eye of watercolor behind it. The crowd, well, a little different story. I came in Saturday morning to get a bit of a head start and my original idea was to do a copy-paste crowd, but when I started drawing I just loved the kind of retro feel of the crowd so before I knew it I had drawn them all out. I sent off the line sketch final for Blake to see but of course he’s not there on Saturday. I just started playing with a little color treatment and oops, that was finished, too. Oh well. Send the color off and hold my breath... I am thinking, I will either be way ahead of the deadline or I will be fucked. Either way I liked the drawing too much not to try to sell it. On to the forth spot, “the Lobster." This was Blake’s idea; he just wanted me to do one of my characters. Airbrush characters are time consuming, but this little guy I thought worked pretty well. Add some wallpaper in the background and off to the opener. EEEK! The opener I had been procrastinating on! Oh well, time to dig in…. I loved the sort of pop stylization of the characters. I've been doing these illus. long enough to know this is going to take time. They just do. Ultimately a few tweaks in the racial diversity dept. and we’re done. Looking back I think the comic could have been not so “goofy...” the lobster character could have been funnier. But all in all they worked pretty well.
My first round of thumbnails I was trying to use some unifying theme like a bird throughout the spots. I guess I was thinking that direction because of the “Twitter” thing but felt that really made the whole thing slanted toward Twitter so we scrapped that early and went off in another direction. Damn, I liked the birds, but the concepts worked as people as well.
I used some of the ideas I liked from the first thumbanils. I think they worked even better using some of the cliche's from the birds and converting them to people. I think all of these concepts were just too all over the place but we narrowed in on a few, made some changes, and picked ones that were working and forged on.
He wanted a little comic illustration for one of them, kind of a limited color thing like “Bebo.” My original idea was to do something with the Facebook"every man" silhouetted in blue, but the comic idea was easy enough to pull off. Blake said, "Just make it about Free Food or something,” so I figured, hey that works too.
On to the forth spot: The Lobster, which was Blake’s idea. He just wanted me to do one of my characters. Airbrush characters are time consuming, though this little guy I thought worked pretty well. Add some wall paper in the background and off to the opener.
I loved the stylized kind of 1940's characters... I had been playing a lot with those, lately, and this seemed like a great place to put them to use. Certainly a bit more work than the copy paste thing I thought about first, but they just felt right.
My forties looking crowd was rejected because it needed to better reflect a more random and diverse group of twitter followers.I still like them.
I am fucked. Blake likes the collage but thinks the crowd is not diverse enough to show Twitter followers, and a really random section of crowd, that is what is important, so back to the drawing board. I just used the same basic crowd and drew the new group over them. It went realy fast and I tried the same color treatment. and tried a limited color version, I think this will work just as well.
Collage work for me has always been really spontaneous and done just in sketchbooks, not for cients, so I have been trying to figure out how to make this work. Seems like there is not a sketch that would adequately show how it works, so I opted to just put a few together and see what worked the best.
Of all of the little collages this was my favorite by far. I guess I could have made that call and just sent one. but I really wanted Blake to decide which one worked best with his layout. After all, it's supposed to be a collaborative effort, right?
It’s always nice to ease back into work with one of SooJin’s illustrations. We had a great break on holiday at the cottage in Canada. Great to unplug a bit, turn down a few illustrations jobs and just get lost. Now that we’re back, Jumping right into the thumbnails is a great way to get back in gear. This article was about the squeeze Euro companies are feeling on their benefits and retirement plans. The first round of thumbs really dealt more with variations centered around retirees having the earth eroded out from under them ( 27). I set it aside for lunch and when I came back to it I liked these directions much better. Sometimes the most obvious directions work the best (28).
I tried several background variations before settling on this grey. It seemed to set the mood better than a blue sky. I likes the way it worked as a neutral pallet. The color gave the piece a bit more of a somber feel and attitude to such a silly concept.
Desk top copies of work in progress showing simple steps adding background...trees, hillside...
After transferring the image to illustration board I do the airbrush part of the illustration . In the past I would have done the sky and background as well, but now that they have to be delivered digitally I do a lot of the backgrounds a finishing in Photoshop. Tried a blue to yellow transition in the sky ,just was not working...I liked keeping the pallet warm but it just felt like it needed to bit moody... so I added a little dark grey to somber it up a bit.... added a little hill...trying to keep it very simple....Added some shading on the hill...feels like it needs a little depth and dark areas in the bottom... Shadow is helping...I used the path for the original outline and just transform / distort / warped it to fall along the hill top... added a few more hills to give it some depth.... and some simple trees to help add some dark areas along the bottom... a little noise in the background to match to texture of the airbrush.... I always leave a ton of bleed just in case need more room for type....Added some highlights and tweaking to the eyes so they showed up better... Pretty much done now just a few little tweaks....Just need to send it off and get some feed back from Soojin...
I played around with a little side lighting but seemed to be getting a bit confusing and made the figure look blurry, so i deleted it....
Much clearer, added a shadow to set the face back a bit and take the focus off of him...
Pretty much done now just a few little tweaks....Just need to send it off and get some feed back from Soojin...
SooJin had said that the article had been put on hold for some reason . Rarely do you get a chance to look at something again after you finished. I opened up the file the other morning and played around with darkening up the backgrounds. I like the feelling this gave the illustration and thought it might work better with the type as well so I sent off to SooJin to get her take on it. Altogether I think it made for a stronger cover design.
This article was put on hold a delayed. So after it sat around for a week or so I decided to take another look at the background...
The inside spread , nice clean design. SooJin always comes through with such great design and direction . It’s always such a joy to work on these projects.
The inside spread , nice clean design. SooJin always comes through with such great design and direction . It’s always such a joy to work on these projects.
Here's a copy of the cover I snagged off the internet version of Plansponsor. I really lover the way the type is interwoven with the illustration. NIce and clear...It held up prettwell even on the webversion on my IPhone.Although I would certainly prefer leafing through the magazine leasurely...
Sometimes something just lands in your lap with so much potential. When you have a client that is open for you to do anything you want, and an audience of your peers that will surely thumb their nose at anything sub-standard, you can't help but panic a little at first; right? This little poster was just so much fun from the very beginning, it was hard to see it all come to an end. Much thanks to all of the folks at Workbook for giving me the freedom to take this wherever it ended up falling. For me, I am much more used to heavy-handed art direction, so this "Do-whatever-you-want" theme I have been getting lately is just such a joy. But also hard to settle down in any one direction. No art director, no writer... Just do whatever you like.... How much fun this would be....
I did the normal thumbnail blast of overthinking directions and came up with four ideas that I thought worked pretty well. So, I comped those up and shared them with Alison. She warned me not to show so many ideas; that although they will enjoy seeing the process, they will not understand them and probably take me off in a direction I really don't want to go in. So we talked about them, and she said, "Do what ever you want...." This is still so hard for me, making decisions on what or where to go with a project so I decided to keep working on them and flush them out and sooner or later one would immerge as the right direction. I took the candidates and ran them by my normal group of internal critics and they like three, which I took a little farther toward the final poster. I wrote some copy and put together some type to give it that Carny feel...finally the two that were working both worked so well I figured either one would make a great poster so Sent them off to the "Reply all" group for feedback. They were split on wich one to go with but now offered some input (yes, of course, never too late for changes) on copy. Adding the performers and free drinks and victuals...( I had to look up victuals...)
Here are the first set of thumbnails i did trying to get some handle on style a direction
I always loved Carney's, the dark, sort-of seedy side of those traveling freak shows and circuses that we were exposed to early in life. We had a travelling fair that would come through our town every year. I remember those so vividly. There was a great little movie version of a Ray Bradbary story, taken from a line in Shakespeare..."Something Wicked This Way Comes" This was a pefect visual inspiration for the feeling of those old Carneys that I remembered. When we were in art school at Ringling, there were lots of old circus performers that lived in the Sarasota area. It was not uncommon to pass them sitting on the porch of an old boarding house... a dwarf and a fat lady, just sitting, enjoying the day.
This stuff has so much great texture. Lee and I collected victorian taxidermy animal freaks for a while . You know Chickens being ridden by squirrels with a little whip... Vampire mice with little capes, animated birds.... There is a great little shop, I think it was called Shoefer's on 31st between 6th and 7th Avenue in New York where we found a standing goat who's penis flies out when you pull his tail. Yeah I know silly stuff to lay around the house, but fits right in with our gypsy junk. Shoefer's is a glass eye sales and taxidermy rentals, bizarre little place that we frequented to buy strange and mostly damaged dead things out of the basement.
second set of thumbs, tied a few little color studies, Liked number 44....33, love this little character on 29...gotta think of a way to use him...
took some of the four directions and did a little tighter thumbnail and added type. these little guys are about an inch and a half tall...
Just trying to get some direction from the client as to where they want to go...unfortunately I liked them all... I did my usual poll of friends to see which ones they liked and decided to keep working on three of them.
I don't know seemed like just too much color. I liked this version better in the thumbnail...
I really loved the Black and white drawings, and tried leaving it that way. added subtle colors and distressed the drawing... actually, I still like the limited color..
Here is the final poster I sent for approval...I wrote some copy to give it a "Carny" feel. Seemed like it needed a second color. Red and black always work...
Beagle Boy to replace the Black faced clown...
So I didn't have an art director on this project until the very end and then seemed like everyone had something to say about it. Less type might be better.(Like I designed it originally, before you added all of the type?) Okay, let's bounce it off a few art director friends i know.mThey all say more type is better so the type stays... I am off on other projects. Honestly, I killed myself on this one by doing multiple versions of the same poster. Live and learn... and finally, the black faced clown had to go.... I loved that silly black face so it was hard to let go of this... But I had already been warned by both Lee and Alison that this would be a problem. The black face I never saw as a black person, but a way to bring some solid weight into the top of the illustration... But Black-faced Clown has to go. Finding a replacement I liked as much took a few tries. Seemed like Beagle Boy would do the trick....and he did work just fine.... Still awaiting a decision on which direction they will go with, but I like both of them, so either way I will be happy.
Projects like this are always so fun, it's hard to settle down and just do one version. They don't really come around that often and somehow you just really don't want them to end. Thank God for deadlines to help them out the door and help folks make final selections. Big thanks to Alison and the folks at WorkBook.
I got an email from Minh at New York Times about a little spot illustration for a story he said he would love for me to do. I can remember reading it, thinking, "Edel must be on vacation…" Anyway, a great little story about how “we seem to be losing the digital right to be forgotten or deleted." In Europe, there are legislations for consumers (if they wish) to have their personal information be deleted from company data banks. In the US, there’s no such thing. These companies need to keep your info so they can sell you stuff and trade it w/ others. Seemed pretty straightforward, so I shot him an email back and we chatted. He told me I could work in any style I wanted. We decided to let the thumbnails lead us in a direction for style.
I started off with a few random thumbnails of a man erasing himself and variations on other disappearing acts and these seemed like they were going no where. Then I stumbled on the idea of having the words coming out of the figure. This series of thumbnails are all loosely based in that same direction. A pretty good bunch of thoughts and some great little drawings in there so I sent them off to Minh to get his response.
One last little thumbnail, the article started off talking about going to the dentist and all of the information they would collect. It ended up on the same subject. So I thought they might want the spot to tie into the copy a little stronger. This little image popped up. A toothbrush with the words dripping from it... I wasn't really sure the right way to convey the personal data, as words or zeros and ones. I talked this over with Mihn and we decided on the zeros and ones, keep it simple and not get caught up in the details about the information being stored." Are you overdue for a dental cleaning? Want to recommend your dentist to a friend, write a review of his services, or try the Invisalign brand of clear braces?..."
A little side note, I always ask my wife Lee to pick her favorite. Without fail, she will always pick the same as Mihn. Number 3. He liked the simplicity of #3 and how it got the idea across without adding any other comments into the illustration. Simple is good… We talked about style and decided that the airbrush style was not right for this one. He had seen some of the little three-color line things I had been playing around with. After all this great direction we’re off and running.
After lunch I started drawing the idea. It was so simple, and i was having a great deal of trouble keeping it that way. I started trying to add more character into the drawing and I stumbled on a couple of great character studies, one of a kind-of heavy guy that I fell in love with and desperately wanted to make work. But rather than sending a sketch, I put it together in color and sent it off to show Minh.
I had already started working on alternatives when I got Minh’s call. He said he had real problems with this direction. Although he liked the character, he thought it complicated the concept. I mean, who is this funny fat guy? Why is he peeing all over himself and why are you making this so hard on yourself? These little thumbnails are so nice and simple… Okay, Okay. I get it… simple is good…
Simple is good… But still, it just seemed too easy to just do the thumbnail. So, again, I drew and rescanned the figure in and put together little roughs to see which one would work the best. I loved the stark black figure on white and no matter how many textures and backgrounds I tried I still kept coming back to that solid black on white with limited color....Simple is good, yes....
I put together four of the little drawings into the concept to see how they worked. Two were working pretty well. This was pretty easy to do because I already had all of the numbers in a folder so with a little tweaking I could pull them around and get a basic sense of how this was going to work...
I had two contenders in the end that I felt strongly enough about to offer them up for consideration. I think they both had things that worked really well so I would not be unhappy with either direction.
Minh called me and said he and the writer had gone over both of them. It’s funny how drawing can sometimes have a feeling that may seem to add something intended or not. Ultimately he said he felt the one with the face had more empathy. The dark figure looked too evil. I guess it was those glowing eyes.
This drawing started off as an idea to take something disturbing and try to cover it up with something beautiful. Sort of a masking of the harsh reality of death but also became a symbol of resurrection as well. I thought this might make for a little series of its own. taking evil or disturbing images and covering them with flowers.
The art director a Oz asked me for some ideas on how to handle the type on the cover .One obvious direction seemed to be to play down the logo and title of the book so there would be a sharp contrast with the color on the image. I played around with adding some of the old collage flowers into the logo and title.Subtle seemed like a better approach.
A new little illustration for a great Art Director, Greg Klee, at the Boston Globe that ran last Sunday. We thought it was one of the funniest things we had read lately. The writer, Chris Wright, gives a blow by blow account of how you too can write your own "Psychological Thriller."
Here are the first and second sets of thumbnails we did while we were trying to decide between one panel or multi panel versions. The copy was so long Greg decided to wrap the illustrations around the copy. so much funny stuff, it was hard to narrow down. I kept the illustrations more graphic rather than literal with what was going on, since there was good chance that the copy could change. Greg's only comment was no nudity; that he personally liked it but the newspaper would have a problem with it.
Earlier this month the Grand Hyatt New York hosted ThrillerFest, a four-day celebration of a literary genre that has produced such modern-day classics as “Attack of the Fiend” and all 72,000 novels by James Patterson. A highlight of the festival was the awards ceremony for the nation’s top first-time thriller writers, a set of people whose incomes can soon expect five or six new zeroes.
Could this be you? Writing a psychological thriller might sound hard, but the fact is that anyone who has dreamt of peeling the skin off the skull of a neighbor with the rusty blade of the lawnmower he insists on dragging across the yard every Sunday morning could do it. Follow these simple instructions, and you will concoct a stew of fetid viscera that will leave readers feverishly turning the pages until the final horrifying showdown (see "What you will need," below).
What you will need:
· A laptop
· A quiet nook
· A blurb from Stephen King
The most reliable benchmark of good thriller writing is the speed with which you excite your reader’s gag reflex.. So get to your maniac quickly, in the midst of an unthinkable act- stuffing a chicken into a duck, the duck into a cheerleader, then popping the lot into a pre-heated oven. The perpetrator- we’ll call him Cheerducken- should be wearing nothing but a sheen of acrid sweat.
2. The Hero
Introduce Tom Hardhart: loner, divorcee, Detective. He will arrive at the crime scene with a hangover. The carnage makes him remember a case from five years ago, in which his partner died. A CSI technician tweezes something from the rear end of the chicken: a kitten. Looks are exchanged.
3. The Love Interest
Also at the scene is Sarah Lovell, an investigator for the Medical Examiner's office. Short but shapely, Lovell will be assigned to work with Hart on the case. His resentment will give way to physical attraction, and then respect. She knows Tai Kwon Do.
The crimes should escalate in frequency and depravity. A boy scout stuffed inside a nun stuffed inside a racehorse, etc. Hart stays up night after night trying to discern a pattern. The killer is intelligent and organized; he doesn't play by the rules. He sends Hart a gift: The Mammoth Book of Sudoku.
A Mayor who wants answers and wants them now; an unscrupulous reporter who tries to contact the Maniac and gets a spike in the eye for his troubles; an unctuous but darkly handsome neurosurgeon who has started courting the Love Interest; Hart's five-year-old niece, who will utter the line, "What you doing, mister?"
6. The Raison
Provide occasional, italicized insights into the Maniac's tortured psyche. As he looms over a victim in a dank urban basement, he will recall an incident from his childhood: Thanksgiving... Such a lovely day... Tra-la-la... Then walking into the kitchen... Seeing his mother with her hand inside... Inside the bird!
7. Crisis of Confidence
Hart visits a dingy tavern, where he brawls with a local loudmouth. He staggers out into the rain, falls to his knees. "Why!" Then it hits him. Dickle, the Neurosurgeon: Something's been bothering him, something about the man's eyes. He calls Lovell but her phone is switched off.
8. The Horrifying Showdown
A doorbell rings. Lovell answers. It's Dickle, a crazed look on his face. "What do you want?" Dickle falls forward, dead. A noise from the basement. Lovell creeps down the stairs. Click. No light. The Maniac moves in, a baster and Barney doll in hand. Lovell is knocked unconscious. Hart arrives. A scuffle. Gunfire. Silence.
Flash forward five years. Hart is in the den watching football. Lovell is in the kitchen, putting a lobster into a steaming pot. A boy stands in the doorway, looking into the lobster's bottomless black eyes.
Well certainly less controversial than my last post...... I got my results from the 3x3 Show and was thrilled to see that I had gotten six pieces in the show....Don't think I will dare to mention what I was paid to do them. Sometimes we do work for less than our normal rates; sometimes we do it for the love of being able to create some new exciting creative work that will ultimately bring in some more profitable assignment work. Sometimes we do it because we get a chance to do some more personal work that will be rewarding in and expand us as artists. I wonder what the annuals would look like if they included the fees paid along side the art? An interesting idea....only hypothetically of course....
Here is one of those stories where no good deed goes unpunished. Or is it "Every good deed goes unpublished......" Not to add insult to injury, we all strive to do the best we can, and sometimes........, sometimes they just take a nose dive off a cliff, yelling “Yaw’ll watch this!…” Reportedly the last words heard from a young Alabamian, diving off a 165 foot cliff….. As rescue workers strive to pull him from the water unconscious ,revive him and transfer him to a local hospital to be held for Psychiatric observation, the EMS drivers started wearing Tee shirts that say “We interfere with natural selection.” Sometimes things just take a dive off the cliff into muddied waters.
I had this great cover for Philadelphia Weekly for Beer Week. What could possibly be better…well a budget ( They pay $300. I know the horror) , but besides that. I mean, you got Beer and a great art director that says just “Looking for something light and funny.”
I started with the normal forty thumbnails and She picked the most obvious direction. But keeping simple was really a good idea. I swung by the house to pick up some bottles of Beer to shoot for reference, for Foam, for color…. wanted to do this rather than searching Google, So Forest and I set up a little impromptu photo shoot that took about ten minutes. Now we are left with open bottles of beer at 9:03 in the morning. I have not drank a beer at 9:30 in the morning since spring break, Daytona Beach when I was 16 years old…. So, painfully, we poured the beer down the drain… yes, I know. The horror. You’ll get over it.
BEER reference for color and detail
I did this great little airbrush drawing of a dancing bottle of beer…. Tried it on black like I had originally envisioned but the white was so clean… I decided to leave it on white. Ioana wanted me to fill up the cover a little more so I distorted the beer and added a little spiral behind the mug he was holding. We added the Beer festival logo on the top Mug the beer was holding. Then we are off to Canada, the land of Beer. Where Rogers network makes it impossible to use your USA iPhone without racking up a $500 weekend phone bill. I went to the library in Brighton to check in Monday (Memorial Day) and found a letter from the Art Director about changes… Now they want to put the logo (Huge) on the main bottle. Shook Forest out of Holiday fun to take care of this pretty simple change and sent it off by early Tuesday. On reentering the U.S. Wednesday, and getting a cell signal again, rather than international roaming, I get another email apologizing for the additional changes to the design. “The client is convinced that the beer is drunk…”
The Beer is drunk? Wait a minute, the Beer is Drunk? Yes the beer bottle looks drunk. and the client wants it straight on the page. Actually, Ioana did a great job redesigning the cover based on what she was handed. But THE BEER WAS DRUNK? Here is her note: “Dear Bill, I'm really sorry, but the cover ended being a disaster. The final decision was made by Beer Week, a huge advertisement client of Philadelphia Weekly. they insisted the bottle looked 'drunk' and wanted to have it straight. I didn't have much of a saying in this one, so I had to comply with their demands. The cover doesn't make any sense in the end and your work was totally destroyed. You will, of course get paid, but I wanted to apologize. It never happened before and hope will never happen again.”
The beer is drunk, I told Forest about this he said, “I thought that was the concept, right? A drunk, stumbling beer…”
Funny… I never saw it that way at all.
Deer trail becomes Indian trail becomes county road. General Orders No. 9 provides a history of the state of Georgia, but not in any normal textbook fashion Instead it takes an impressionistic and poetic approach to span the time when Europeans first discovered the land that was then inhabited by Indians to the present day. It's an almost spiritual history shaped by landscape and geography, but as man began to impart his will onto the land, a conflict develops from the scars of war to the development of interstates, which gave rise to the city, which is presented as an abberation, an oppressive machine that works to isolate instead of unifying with a sense of belonging and place. General Orders No. 9 is one last trip down the rabbit hole before it gets paved over. A deep geography. What is above and what is below. What came before and what will come after. Agrarian fantasies, sacrificial rites, and excavations. A story told with maps, dreams, and prayers.
Icons for a Lost Civilization.
New Rose Window
Director Bob Persons
Illustrator Bill Mayer
And here's some details for the upcoming Brooklyn screening: (jealous!) "The film will open at Brooklyn’s reRun Gastropub Theater on June 24th, with expansion to major markets to follow. Select screenings will include a live musical performance of the score. In addition, an art exhibit featuring the director’s collection of artifacts and antique maps, as well as new art made for the film, will tour with the film to select markets."
Adaptation of the lamb and willow for New Rose Window's logo in the film.
This synopsis of No. 9 makes things make so much more sense:
"One last trip down the rabbit hole before it gets paved over. A deep geography. What is above and what is below. What came before and what will come after. Agrarian fantasies, sacrificial rites, and excavations. A story told with maps, dreams, and prayers. A map lesson in three parts. A history of the State of Georgia - or Anywhere. Deer trail becomes Indian trail becomes county road."
Sept illustration for SooJin Buzelli at PlanSponsor.. This article's title was "All Wrapped Up." It was about bundling services in your retirement plans. The initial thumbnail direction went with the bundling idea, but they were all in the wrong direction as far as the concept. She said "Sorry I wasn't clear about the "bundled" concept. It's more about having all services from one place. Bundled service. Can you focus on bundled coming from this direction? Having everything included. All service from one place." SooJin put me on the right track and this is actually the the second round of thumbnails . Much better direction and this round had a few that I thought could work. SooJin asked me which one I liked, and being all wishy washy I put it back on her. She picked the three directions she liked and I tightened them up a bit so we could decide. She asked me again which one I wanted to finish and again I couldn't make up my mind, so used to having someone tell me what to do. Lee never asks me what I want for dinner, she just puts it down in front of me. I mean, making up your mind is hard when there are so many good choices. Finally, tired of waiting for me to assert myself, she picked the man with the drawers.
Now I have to forget about the others and hurry finishing this little drawing. I did a final sketch, asked if she needed to see it and she said she didn't. So on to the final. This little spot went really quick. I did the figure in airbrush and the rest in Photoshop.It just felt right to put it on a dark background. Made it a bit more moody. Being done early can be a problem so I tried some different backgrounds, Let it sit around for a day or so. This is not a luxury I am used to having. Most of the time deadlines are looming and help curb the indicision. Anyway, I was thrilled to be back on one of SooJin's little post-its. All and all i think the little spot turned out pretty cool but there are a couple more of those ideas I still want to bring to finish....
If it's not apparent, JAZZOO is a fundraising event for the Atlanta Zoo. When I got a call to do this poster, it was pretty much an open canvas. Jeff Stewart, the art director, had gone through my fickr site and pulled off some old samples of "Blind Boys" and other samples of some of the more folk-art styles I had done a few years back. He sent them to me as a possible direction. I did the normal "bunches of thumbnails" exploration. They were having a lot of trouble understanding the thumbnails so I took a few and added color to make them easier to understand. As an after thought I did a second bunch of fun little folk art versions. Lee liked the folk art ones, but said "they'll never go in that direction..." It's great when clients act unexpectedly, and occasionally, it can make for some fun outcomes.
colored a few thumbnails to make them easier to understand.
Part of the direction was that the poster had to be of a giraffe. I really didn't think about it much before I started, but that long neck became quite a problem. Tried everything I could think of to work my way around it; hooking it around, over the top, or just cutting it off. I think that is why, when it came to the little folk art versions, I decided to just " Picasso" it and ignore the long neck and move the mouth down and make it into a little face. This worked out better than I had hoped. They loved this direction and their only comment was to make the drawing more colorful. So I took the little thumbnail and comped up a version with the colors close to the way I thought it would work. then printed it out and painted over it on the light box. worked pretty well.
This is the little comp I did, pulling all of the elements from the thumbnails together and organizing them to get a clearer idea of how the drawing would work. Some of the final editing came through after the painting was done to make it read better .We opened up the distance inbetween the characters and the type. I had initially thought about hand doing the other type until they sent me final copy. too much to squeeze into the illustration , Which seemed crowded already so I put the Type at the bottom.This will make it easy to edit as I am sure the copy will change several times before we go to print.
When I posted this on Facebook last week a couple of people mentioned a nod to the modernist. I really wasn't trying for that but when it was all finalized and put together it did remind me of one of those great cubist circus posters they used to do back in the 1960's. I can definately see some Flora infulence. Some of their wacked out cubist drawings are just so inspiring. My grandson Forest said, "Oh, retro Bill Mayer!..." I guess he's remembering those old scatchboard drawings I did of the birds ......the skeleton and The Blind Boys of Alabama....
I had a little more time, so went back to a technique I stumbled on last year. These little brush drawings were a lot of fun. There was another thumbnail of a snake and a frog so, rather than doing another airbrush or line version I thought I would go back to the brush style. Although these turned out well, for me, they lacked the same excitement that happened last year when I discovered this little technique. In fact, they just seemed a bit too close to last years Death of Frogs Two....But still, alway a joy so why not share some of these as well.
I did a half dozen of these brush drawings.Tried adding color and textures. Some worked better than others. I loved the cropping on this heron and the deep blue color. Tried some diferent colors and backgrounds.I think the one at the top was my favorite. I loved the really quick fresh brush stroke.
Always the highlight of my year, I can count on Jim Burke to come through with another opportunity for a new frog. This year, like last, it was just too hard to stop drawing new candidates for the calendar. Some in expected directions, some in the line style I have been experimenting with, and some revisiting things I stumbled onto last year. Truth be told, it's just an excuse to do some frog drawings just for fun.
Started out with the normal thumbnail exhaustion.... Jim picked the king. I was not really falling in love with it, so another batch of ___ more thumbnails and we had one that seemed to work. Jim suggested putting a little jester in front, so I added that in the sketch. He clarified that he meant to put one in the front, standing. I tried this in a bunch of thumbnail directions... It seemed too complicated but I understod the Idea and ended up sketching them up and rendering them to try to make it work. In the final, though, it ultimately was like I expected. Just too distracting from the great charater study of the King Frog.
I started with the sketch transferred to a board and airbrushed the Main part. Scanned the illustration in and cut paths and retouched.
I start building the backgrounds in Photoshop.First with flat colors ,later adding shadows and detail....
Ugh to many stripes so I pulled in some textures for the backgrounds and rug on the floor. I used transform warp to pull the textures to fit my original sketch which I pull into the file and register. Adjust the colors in Hue....
Started adding more detail and decided to add some little flies hovering around his head.....more shadows to give the drawing some depth...Added some quick battle axes, done in Phototshop.
Adding this little frog was completely an after thought, so I swiped some bits and pieces and made him out of several other frogs. The body from the jester at the bottom, and the hands from the King Frogs feet. Just transformed to make them fit better....Some buggy eyes and he's good to go.
Jim Burke really liked the idea of having the jester in the foreground, so I was determined to at least give it a try. I darkened the figure in the foreground and put several layers in between, lighting the background and creating some visual distance in between the two. Added a little reflected light also to cool down the foregound figure. Boy this was starting to get really complicated..... Maybe blurring the background image would help...Still not sure which direction to go with. So much fun, not sure when it's due either, but i'm sure we'll be doing changes until we ship it out. Hey Jim When is this thing due?
Okay I know , but I just could leave this little thumbnail unfinished. I had originally thought of this as a bunch of street walking harlet frogs but I know they like to keep the calendar on the PG rating and just incase it turned out better than the king Frog .I decided to make it in to kind of a night time clubby thing. Like some Hong Kong disotequue. I had been playing with some line illustrations in December and I thought that would be a great style to explore a little more. Kind of pushed the concept in that direction.
I really like the way that the strong Back and line work work together. I wanted to try some limited color treatment not to over power the line and yet give it a bit more atmosphere. I typed in to Google Tranlate a bunch of little things like "Frog Town Disco" and " All You Can Eat Flies" ...But I really have no idea what the type actually says. Just hope it's what Google said it was..... A coupleof friends now have said Aubrey Beardslye when I showed it to them, I just don't see it But I guess they're talking about the negative black areas and the detail ...Okay I gues I can see that.Well not really, But I did think it turned out Kind of cool. After letting it sitting around, I am thing I like the Black line as much without the color. That's the problem letting these things sit around too long. Starting on another direction....Oh no to many frogs ,time for something else....
Oz Magazine - OzCetera is being resurrected and the owner and friend had called me about doing a cover. We talked about the aspects of the audience they were trying to reach; a lot of the film crews and production people around Atlanta. Kind of a lifestyle magazine for out-of-towner’s on where to go and best places to get a tattoo or a Double Bypass Cheese Burger. I had been working on some new Line and collage drawings and I put them together as a pitch for how I saw the cover of the magazine. Something like a hip cool New Yorker, witty and entertaining, using a playful way of incorporating the logo into the art. They were discussing the placement of the Oz logo for OzCetera Covers (bi-monthly digital magazine), and we decided to just focus on the actual artwork. The Oz logo will be embedded on the side of the page, more than likely. So we were completely on the same page with how I saw using the art.
I talked with Cecila about this problem... It's because of the developement and little regulation of hardscape and water runoff. There are people getting caught in their car just commuting to work. Over 600 hundred people have drowned in the floods. This is what she wrote me...
"I fell in love with one of your works because it just expresses our collective feeling when we hear the news with all those deaths from floods, rain, landslides. And also that the rains will not stop any time soon... I would like to suggest it the editor as our february cover, We are really terrified with the summer rains. Some people are dying inside their cars in S Paulo's usual traffic jams and here in Rio due to mud slides. The worst is that heavy summer rains are natural, not a surprise. But the cities are growing too much and too fast and either people construct in places that are dangerous or just construct too much leaving insufficient garden areas to absorb the water... It is a sad situation because people will die again next year." Maria Cecliia Marr
From BBC: "Rio de Janeiro Governor Sergio Cabral blamed local governments for allowing poor building and illegal occupations." read more on the story...
"The Monster That Did my Math" was picked by "Georgia Center for the Book" as one of the 25 books all young Geogians should read. This was the first list created by the group in hopes that it will serve as an instigator and stimulus to connect readers to the writers of these books, One of the illustrations was a past Gold Medal Winner in Society of illustrators 2008. It's a great little story about a little boy that makes a deal with a monster only to realize that everything comes with a price.
Danny Schnitzlein’s wonderful book was so filled with great imagery, that I can’t really take all of the credit for these little illustrations. He is really quite a genius. He made it easy for me to come up with these crazy illustrations. The globe-like head and sharp pointy teeth, even down to the number line tail, are all in the story. The large open cape was designed originally to hold all of the text that accompanied the illustration. ”Boo hoo,“ growled the monster, ”I’m feeling your pain. This awful arithmetic is draining your brain.”
The Other day we were rummaging through some old files and ran across these thumbnails. Even though this was a couple years old, I thought you guys would enjoy this. "All Aboard" was a Picture book I did with Art Director Ann Bobco. A puzzling alphabet book; where all of the letters would be hidden in the illustrations. Certainly some more than others. When I started the book I wanted the overall feel to be reminiscent of those great travel posters from the 1920's and 1930's. Bold and graphic images that would stand on thier own, as well as make a great collection in a folio. See all of the images from the book in theGALLERY
Sometimes when you sit down to work on Ideas , you just get too many great ideas. Sometimes even the Art Director can't choose and you end up doing two . That's what happened with these little bed bug illustrations. I get ichy all over just looking at them . Here is also a case of photo shop allowing me to do a concept I would have proabably stayed away from. But with being able to clone the bugs , I could just do one or two bugs and clone them into a mighty army of mutants. Ready and willing to suck your very life, if not the blood, and leave your lifeless body a hollow shell for your kids to find in the morning when they come in to wake you. I guess you can pick up on the ones they picked; #2 and #9. Ended up with the large area for the Village Voice mast head at the top. on the inside full page for the bug army. God I love these bug jobs. Just can't get enough of them.
Sometimes you come up with great ideas ,sometimes it's your grand kids that come up with the ideas and you just steal them and put them down on paper. this idea came from my grandson Forest who has been helping me around the studio for a couple of years now. I still had to put down a few of my own, the normal 40+ thumbnails...Katie Burk at NPR was the art director, And ultimately gave me more freedom than I am used to having on jobs.
This was a fun little illustration for David Sather; “Buzzing with Creativity.” I know this Illustration is a year old, but we were thrilled to find out it just won a gold medal at Society of Illustrators West, Editorial Category! So, I thought it would be a good entry to my blog. Hope you enjoy!
This little illustration was an article for IBM’s series magazine. It seemed pretty obvious when you’re using bee hives as an analogy for the work place, then why not put the bees in a honeycomb cubicle? I added some little high tech jet trails to give it a little motion and connection to technology.
Thumbnail sketches for ideas..
#8 ended up being the one they chose.
Cecilia, from piauí magazine again and I have an enquiry. Here's the thing:
On our next issue we'll have a short piece by one of our great composers and dramatists, Chico Buarque de Holanda, where he tells, with delicious humor, about an old and out of print copy of a synonyms dictionary that he inherited from his father (a well respected academic). He loved and used the book so much that it finally started to disintegrate in his hands. He then decides to buy all the editions he could find of the said dictionary, just in case.
Recently he learned that the book is being relaunched and he feels a bit betrayed, as if something very private was being scattered in the wind for all to see. After each important word he lists the it's synonyms - for fun and emphasis.
I don't want to use a book to illustrate the piece, I am looking something very graphic, like an illustration made with type but not with words - our magazine is in Portuguese. Browsing your site I found a work (layout attached bellow) that is almost there. Almost... It then occurred to me that perhaps you have similar works not released on your site. Who knows... perhaps you have just THE illustration for that text. Do you think you have something that could fit (loosely) better than the one I found?
Please let me know.
Thank you very much,
Here are a few more images you can look through...
I can do one, we could scan in some parts of old dictionary pages, something that would in a simple way represent dictionary.... I will grab one, but I don't have a Portuguese dictionary.... do the same funny thing with them. when do you need this? b
just occurred to me that you may need words to make the tree. From the text:
He also tells that he made a note of the best words and used it to impress and seduce. Do you know Correggio's Jupiter and Io? Your drawings of women are SO beautiful, if you like the idea, perhaps a cloud of words could envelop a woman... In this case use only:
I like that Idea...Okay a few more ideas for you to ponder. I was not familiar with Correggio's Jupiter and Io, I love this....
I may have skipped that art history class, but I am very intrigued with that direction. Here are a few more
to wade through. Get back to me as quickly as you can.
Hard to choose... I like that but I also like the "v" a lot. Since all are so good it will be safe to show all to the magazine's editor and let him pick one - and he will love that so much. I'll let you know! Right now he is busy on a meeting so I think we will only know on Monday... sorry about it. But I'll let you know as soon as possible. Thanks!
and the winner is......
Well ... we even delayed sending the page because we still cant' decide! Picture 1-3 is so much fun, so colorful (all your fonts together) I think it may be the winner. But I'll let you know. Sorry about it. We are not that undecisive usually ... but you gave us too many good choices.
(sorry it took us such a LONG time to decide)The page looks wonderful with it, fun, the art will attract the readers to the text. So, what shall we do next (payment, byline etc etc)? Raquel usually takes care of those things, I'll tell her to contact you.
Queen of Swords.
I 'm not really sure if there is a rational explanation behind this silly little drawing, I used to paste these stamps in my sketchbooks and draw over the top of them. I loved the contrast of the beautiful craftsmanship and stoic nature of the stamp and the playful, graffiti like gesture of absurdity. It makes me smile.
You know that call from you came at a time when I was going through a lot of hand holding with art directors and way too many revised sketches. And it was a perfect thing to bring me back off the edge of the building. Thank you.
Some of the dozens of thumbnails I did trying to work out the perfect line weight and composition. Trying many diferent combinationns of heads of state to find that perfect selection.Okay no thumbnails but much thanks to Maria Cecilia Marra , the art director who used it in the fabulous Brazilian magazine Revista Piaui....
Okay here's a little job we finished a couple of weeks ago.These little guys are for a print campaign for Enfagrow, a chocolate formlula for toddlers.This article will show a typical character development and some edited steps to get to the final process. The client ran into legal hold half way through but luckily they liked the direction and ended up finishing these after some small delay. Saatchi and Saatchi / Joseph Pompeo: Art Director Bill Mayer: Illustrator
They were used used in a variety of sizes so they needed to read fairly small, so we kept them on the simple side.
Some of the thumbnails I think the ones they chose were, # 11 for the kid and # 40 for the cow. A few modifications and we're off and running....
FINAL WORKING SKETCH FOR COW
FINAL SKETCHES ON KID
The client was trying to decide between black and white cow and a brown cow so I did a few little color studies....I thought the eyes showed up better in the brown cow, Joe and the client agreed.the horns ended up on the cutting room floor...
Hey Dude just got this in an e-mail from work book. Always liked this frog love seeing him get a little more exposure.Originally done for the infamouse Dellas Graphics Calendar in 2008, it was one of my favorites.