Carl Wiens
December 2008
This just in...
One of my favorite projects from the past year is sharing the spotlight with such elite products as Wasabi Gumballs and the Pole Dancer Alarm Clock. Yes, it's true, the Men's Underwear Repair Kit has made the Top Ten Stupid Gifts of 2008.
According to the folks at, finding a truly stupid gift is an art form. Something to put on my resume.
Happy Holidays, folks!
TVbot from the brilliant mind of Mark Fisher
Harry and Mark suggested starting a show of Robot drawings in a recent post. So fire up them up and let them go to work!
Let's see your interpretations - good benign, and evil. Contraptions, automatons, gadgets, apparati & visual creations of all shapes sizes are welcome.
You can submit your creations here
Widgets! Get your Widgets!
Is there anything better than drawing robots?

I dabble in robot doodles, but my sketches pitched for clients end up being just that- they never seem to make it to final art. This assignment for the New York Times proved to be the perfect fit.The illustrations are for the launch page of a new service called TimesWidgets.
When I took on this project, a widget factory was suggested by the client. So I jumped in and started drawing out a low-tech version of a high-tech app. Tiny robots cutting up large volumes of articles and reassembling information into tiny, perfect, colorful widgets.
If you want a great new widget, go over to New York Times and build your own. I worked with Heena Ko on this one closely. There was a lot of back and forth to get things right.
Here is the evolution of the main drawing, from sketches to finish.
This needed some simplification - too much going on overhead. We also needed to balance the composition.
Approved sketch
This one had a background tone that was dropped. My initial color palette was a bit too rusty. We decided on more vibrant tones.
Central Scrutinizer
I recently received an assignment from Ronn Campisi. I've heard a lot of good things about him, especially from Adam McCauley. So I jumped at the chance. The subject matter was, to say the least, droll. I've always liked science-related subject matter. This article was about Dataspace. If you are working in research, the answer you seek may be out there -- but how do you go about finding it? There is a mountain of data to be sorted through. The challenge is making such valuable information accessible - and the Dataspace program promises to make that possible.
I set out with a batch of sketches. Here are a few. I needed to work with Ronn to get something that stated the message more clearly. After several attempts the answer wasn't quite there yet.
This was closing in - but needed a bit more wrestling. It's always interesting how a solution presents itself when you work with something long enough. It was literally drawn out.
staying up in a down cycle
Bears? Bottomless pits? What kind of image can capture the times we live in?
With all of the institutions teetering on the brink and the bounces in the stock market it's a bit hard to get a handle on things. How about a bi-polar bear? (Sorry - I just had to slip that in) Even better -  a bi-polar bear at the helm of a locomotive hurtling into the abyss?
With all of the fear and panic it's a bit of a balancing act coming up with a metaphor that won't induce apoplexy or at least a minor case of the vapors and make it to print.
I don't want to appear insensitive to all the real pain and anguish out there - I know we are in for a very bumpy ride. It's not my job to despair, I guess I'm wrestling with the right way to respond.
It took numerous iterations to get the image up above. Sometimes it takes a fair amount of trial and error to strike the right balance. Here are a couple of the sketches along the way.
It's been a crazy ride so far. I am staying hopeful that the new team Obama is putting together will pull us through. I am also grateful that things haven't slowed down too much yet.
So where am I going with this? Here is one more image. The spot of the empty vault at the top of this post was not published. I received a call from the art director at the last minute to add cash. Lots of cash. There. Doesn't that feel better?
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