I had the honor to illustrate for The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 29th Annual Induction Ceremony. Every year an illustrator is commissioned to illustrate the portraits for that year's inductees. This year there were 24 individual inductees: Nirvana, Hall and Oates, KISS, Peter Gabriel, Linda Ronstadt, Cat Stevens, The E Street Band, Andrew Oldham (manager/producer of The Rolling Stones) and Brian Epstein (manager of the Beatles).
I can't thank Steven Charny enough for his art direction and guidance on this project. As well as Jann Wenner, co-founder and host of The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Thank you both for creating a venue for many illustrators and fulfilling one of my dream jobs.
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame/33"x24"/oil on board
Concepts: 1.Beast made of portraits 2.Cabinet of Curiosities 3.Inside a music box
Underpainting process. Tape was necessary!
Putting on the final oil touches. David Grohl's portrait was extra stressful since I'd heard he was part of the approval process.
The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony program beautifully art directed and designed by Steven Charny.
And to top it all off, I got 2 tickets to the Ceremony that was held last night at The Barclays Center. It was incredible and difficult to sum up! But here are some pics of the night. Nirvana was the highlight for me. They closed the night with 4 different female vocalists (Joan Jett, Kim Gordon, Lorde and St. Vincent) to cover for Kurt Cobain. My ears are still ringing!
lft to rt
Bruce Springteen givng best speech of the night / David Grohl / We hung with BabaBooey!!!
Nirvana / Dave Clark (nicest guy) / Steven Charny, Amanda Charny, SooJin Buzelli and me
Cat Stevens performing / Tribute cover to Linda Ronstadt
Peter Gabriel performing / The E Street Band
I finally got a chance to sit down and post about my project in France. It took some time to edit and unpack the whole experience.
Last year I was asked to judge the 2013 Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival and they also commissioned me to work on the festival’s poster for 2014 festival. Why an illustrator judge for a film competition? For the past 29 years, Antoine Lopez, co-founder of the festival, created the wonderful tradition of asking an artist/designer/illustrator to jury and create the poster for the following year’s festival. I was proud to be one of the few Americans to have been chosen and to join past poster artists: Brad Holland, Dave McKean, Lorenzo Mattotti and many other international artists.
Brad Hollands’ 1999 poster above left was one of my favorites from the past festivals.
To my surprise this festival is the second largest film festival in France, after Cannes, with over 100,000 annual attendees. Clermont-Ferrand is a cool little city in the middle of the Auvergne region of France about 250 miles south of Paris. It is filled with medieval dark grey buildings and cathedrals made out of volcanic rocks from the ancient volcanoes that still surround the city, and, of course, incredible food. I overdosed on galettes (similar to crepes but made with buckwheat flour) and unpasteurized cheese from the local market!
Local delicious farm cheese at the market (above bottom left). Enjoying galettes (bottom center). My favorite meal escargot ravioli from Les Arcandiers in Rue a Bientot (bottom right).
During the week-long festival in 2013, I watched over 90 short films in the “Maison de la Culture” theatre, met some incredible film-makers from around the world and learned about a whole new art form—short films. I’m greatful to the jury of film directors who kindly accepted me as one of their peers. Thankfully the discussions about the films had many correlations to my experience judging illustration contests. And at the end of the festival there was a grand Oscar like ceremony where I had the honor of announcing some of the winners.
2014 film festival closing ceremony (above left). Announcing some of the winners at last year’s closing festival (above right).
So after returning from 2013 trip, I started to work on the poster. The initial inspiration for the poster was based on the Mexican short film that won the top Grand Prix called “Para Armar un Helicoptero.” This film directed by Izabel Acevedo was an entrancing live action film set in an apocalyptic Mexico City. It was about a boy and his bike and his struggle for electricity and hope. There was something about this boy’s ingenuity and creativity of keeping the lights going that directly related to the idea of a filmmaker and their filmmaking journey. Flies were also a recurring element in her movie and it just stuck with me.
Thank you to Antoine Lopez for the perfect amount of art direction and freedom for this project.
After turning in the final art, they asked if I wanted to attend next year’s film fest and offered me a solo gallery show hosted by the regional government - le Conseil General du Puy-de-Dome.
Fast forward to 2014. SooJin and I landed in Paris for a few days and took a train down to the filmfest in Clermont-Ferrand (SooJin on train pictured right). I was excited to revisit the city, but also a little worried. I had read on few blogs and social media sites that the locals were a bit miffed about this “fly” representing their city and the filmfest. And there was lengthy discussions about it in french of which I’m sure it got mangled in Google translate.
But when we arrived in town, we soon noticed that my poster was everywhere. It was on billboards, shop/cafe windows, local wine labels, bags and the town even made official “fly” postage stamps. I tried to grab a ‘fly’ hat but they were sold out. It was really good to see it all come together.
My “fly” had taken over the city and the best part was that the city seemed to embrace it. I heard from the heads at the festival that it was one of the most popular posters and they had sold out many of the items. Many locals and festival attendees wanted to know “pourquoi la mouche?” (“Why the fly?”) I asked what they thought instead and I got back so many interesting answers. For me, the boy on the bike represented the film-maker and the fly their unique creation/flim that they were bringing to the festival in Clermont-Ferrand.
The festival usually gives many of the nominated film-makers a stipend of money to spend in town during their stay. This year they decided to print the money with my fly image on it. I was paying for dinners with my own money! Crazy! (above bottom left)
They were selling the “fly” hats, bags, local wines, beers, bags, and even post stamps (can use within Euro countries).
The solo show took place in a beautiful round glass building in the middle of the city. Because of certain restrictions I decided against shipping original work and instead made oversized prints. During the week, I did some lectures and signings at the show. I met many of the locals and school kids. I couldn’t have done it without my handlers, Xavier and Calmin. And special thanks to sweet Isabell who set up all the class visits and talks during the show. And to the many translators (especially to Thibaud) who made me sound much more eloquent in French.
Left picture of me and Alex: Thank you Alex (a.k.a. Shout) and Camilla for coming all the way from Milan to hang out with us.
Right picture: Local attendees who stopped by the show with Isabelle (second from right) who orgazined all the school visits.
I met a lot of french students who came to see my show and talk. The young ones wanted me to re-assure them that Krampus wasn't real! I signed posters, arms, wallets and hats.
I thought the opening show was just going to be me and a few attendees from the festival. But it turned out to be a much larger event than I could have imagined. The caterers had designed the food around Americana theme serving mini burgers, mini hot dogs, mini apple pies, popcorn and donuts. On top of that they even had a five-piece band playing American songs all night. It all seems like a distant dream right now but it was an incredible night to remember.
So thrilled to meet Blexbolex who was part of this year’s jury and is working on next year’s poster (above bottom left).
Most of you know that we have a red miniature pinscher named Sota (not pictured here). Coincidentally, my handler Xavier has a red minpin name Zu (with broken leg pictured above left) and Anotoine, co-founder for the filmfest also has a red minpin named Vayou (pictured above right). And it makes me happy to know that Antoine now owns the original painting.
Thank you to In Efecto for animating my poster. I'm glad I got a chance to meet them at the festival and tell them how much I appreciated it.
I really felt like a rock-star for a week in the middle of France and I can’t thank them all enough for this experience. Especially to my good friend Antoine Lopez and his family.
I’ve been very fortunate to have some of my illustration projects turn into incredible experiences and this definitely was one of them.
I grew up to my Uncle Mike's stories of his travels to the Amazon. I'm not sure how much is true but his stories were fascinating to me as a child and still to this day. His trip started in the Amazon rainforest. The stories were full of piranhas, hanging out with a native tribe, eating ants (that would bite your tongue unless you chewed really fast), magical drinks/drugs, and a dramatic escape on a sea plane.
I was asked to illustrate the special Latin America cover for The Travel section of The New York Times. They gave me a collection of articles about different locations including Cuba, Rio de Janeiro, San Blas Islands in Panama and the Peruvian Amazon. They were lush with wonderful exotic details but I was drawn to the Peruvian Amazon article with it's hidden town of Iquitos and pink river dolphins.
Luckily, Corinne Myller at the Times could decipher my very loose thumbnails and chose the sketch of a boat riding up the Amazon river. Some of my favorite art is by early explorers discovering a new location or animal for the first time and depicting it in their own way—a mix of past memories and a fleeting glimpse of the present. I wanted to capture a bit of that.
It's a rare occasion to illustrate the entire front cover of a section in The New York Times and I couldn't be more proud and honored. I actually didn't want to get too excited until I saw it in print. Thank you to AD Corinne Myller and The New York Times.
I also wanted to include this illustration from another piece in The New York Times Travel section a few weeks ago. The article "Would a Gay Man Be Welcomed Home in Montana" was a personal story about a man and his partner going back to his hometown of Montana and discovering that the homophobic town that he had grown up in had changed. Thanks again to Corinne Myller and her fantastic art direction and to the author, Brooks Barnes.
I also included a few color experiments that were done digitally.
It was a pleasure illustrating Margaret Atwood's book, "Maddaddam" for The New York Times Book Review. The apocalyptic novel is the final in her very popular trilogy that follows "Oryx and Crake" and "The Year of the Flood". This novel is a final showdown and a battle for the future of humanity in a garden full of bioengineered child-like creatures, green glowing rabbits, vultures and half-lion half-lamb called liobambs. Thanks to the AD Rex Bonomelli for thinking of me for this project and for giving me my first piece in the NYTimes Book Review.