Calef Brown
Wake Up Alice!
This year marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of Alice In Wonderland. In honor of this The Portland Maine Public Library  is presenting an expansive exhibition of Wonderland art created by contemporary Illustrators. Wake Up Alice! will be held in the library's Lewis Gallery and run from Nov. 6th until Dec. 31st. The exhibition is sponsored by The Maine College of Art with generous support from The Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation. Here are two of my contributions. The Caterpillar, and The Cheshire Cat (in progress).
New Directions & Locations
Hello Drawger. It’s been five years since I’ve posted here, and I’m looking forward to doing so with much much more frequency. This post is kind of about feeling newly excited about my work, and therefore wanting to publish here more than once every half-decade. A lot has happened since my last writing, most importantly I had a second child – my daughter Matilda, born while myself and my family were spending 2011 living on a small island in Maine. We moved to Vancouver BC in 2012, where I taught at Emily Carr University for three years, then ,this summer, moved back to the states to take a teaching position in the fantastic illustration department at RISD. Just started my first semester here and loving it.
In terms of my work since the last post, these books happened:

I will do separate posts about a few of the more recent books, but wanted to get into other aspects of what I’ve been up to.
During the years in Vancouver I did a lot of experimenting with new materials, especially ink and watercolor with digital manipulation. I really wanted to try to re-train my drawing hand, explore new surfaces, and expand the range of my work – focusing more on line than shape, and working quickly and directly as opposed to the more time-consuming process of my painted work.
Lots and lots of time spent drawing in sketchbooks from 2012 to now, filling about twenty.  In thinking about new ways of drawing, I certainly didn’t want to leave behind the voice of my painted work, but see if I could push it into a few new places.
One of the first comissioned  jobs where I had the opportunity to channel some of this experimentation was a children’s book offered by the wonderful Norwegian illustrator/designer /art director/publisher Svein Storksen for his Magikon Forlag imprint. The wonderful story, written by Hege Siri ,is a poetic and honest exploration of pain and loneliness – and ultimately relief– about a small child who breaks her arm. I had complete freedom in terms of how to approach the art, so I decided to break from my usual book medium – acrylic paintings  – and create the art with black sumi ink and color it digitally– a process I had been playing with for myself, but hadn’t used for anything published. Here are some spreads and details:

Some other details of illustrations from the book, titled KNUST (Broken) by the way

Another project in which I decided to work in this way was for a one-off magazine called Wayward Arts, which had a theme of internet obsessions. Myself and a group of other illustrators and photographers were given snippets of strange text culled from chat rooms, and prompted to create work in response. I did an ink drawing, and again, colored and manipulated it digitally:

Some other commissioned work created out of this process;
T-shirt and merch design for the Corona Capital music festival in Mexico City.

Earlier version:

Another cat – Bag design for

Lettering and CD covers for the Italian music label Quiet Please:

Two lecture posters:

A drawing for Nobrow 9 – It’s Oh So Quiet:

A few of the sketchbook pieces have been selected for American Illustration and 3x3, here are three. It’s always nice to get validation for trying out new things.

I’m looking forward to continuing these directions, and bringing the energy of my personal drawings and sketchbooks to commissioned work and specific contexts.
If you feel  like scrolling/time wasting, below are a bunch of my favorite drawings from the sketchbooks, including some snails, bugs entranced by their phones, cats (cat-like and otherwise) ideas for promotional cards, and some just random pages. Thanks for reading, Any suggestions or feedback ( especially critical ) about this new stuff is most welcome. As I said, I’m not just interested in continued experimentation, but ways to take it to collaboration, problem solving, and illustration jobs. What say ye, art directors?

Thanks for your time.
Hallowilloween Hello
Hello Drawgers and Drawgologists. Wow, 2010 has flown by. My analog life has eclipsed my blogging routine, such as it is, in it's spottyness. My favorite season is now and I'm happy to have a seasonal book on the shelves. A frontflap introduction: Are you ready for Hallowilloween? With wolves, witches and everything in between? A human collage! A Shrunken head! An evil Vumpire– not quite dead. Don’t be surprised if the Poltergeyser materializes before your very eyes. Witness a scarecrow’s fiery demise. It’s all rather creepy, and about to get creepier when The Grim Reaper shows up for supper with his weird sense of humor. Is the Mummy unhappy? Is that just a rumor? Now on display– The Portrait of Gory Rene. And a tarantula buffet. Meanwhile, the Oompachupa Loompacabra is stalking it’s prey in a lonely valley. Two cats are about to battle in a dark alley. So don’t lose your way, or dilly dally. It’s a magic night, a silly, spooky scene. Welcome, one and all, to Hallowilloween!
The Exquisite Corpse of an Evil Clown
I've been working on a project with The Library of Congress and The National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance called The Exquisite Corpse Adventure.
As The Library of Congress site describes it:

Our "Exquisite Corpse Adventure" works this way: Jon Scieszka, the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, has written the first episode, which is "pieced together out of so many parts that it is not possible to describe them all here, so go ahead and just start reading!" He has passed it on to a cast of celebrated writers and illustrators, who must eventually bring the story to an end.
Every two weeks, there will be a new episode and a new illustration. The story will conclude a year from now.

The roster of writers is very impressive – and aside from Jon Scieszka also includes Daniel Handler aka Lemony Snicket, Gregory Maguire, M.T. Anderson, Nikki Grimes, and lots of others. My fellow illustrators are Chris van Dusen, Timothy Basil Ering, Steven Kellogg and James Ransome.
For chapter three I chose to depict the scene where Boppo the evil narcoleptic clown is threatening our heroes by juggling two meatballs and a bomb, until...

The National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance site describing the project is here.
The interactive book on the Library of Congress site is here.

And lastly, a poem about Clowns I wrote last year that fits well with my approach to the drawing:


Just for a moment,
suppose that clowns
were hilarious
instead of terrifying.
It’s hard to imagine,
but keep trying.
Suppose that clowns
were likable,
merry, and droll,
instead of striking fear
in your very soul.
Could their clowning skills
inspire polite chuckles
instead of cold chills
and white knuckles?
Would you laugh
at every clowny antic
instead of feeling frantic
and full of agitation?
Try to picture it.
Use your imagination.

© Calef Brown 2008

Finally, if we're talking about evil clowns, we can't forget the dude from that band Prodigy.

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