I thought I would dive in and take the Yuko Shimizu challenge. Unlike the others I'm going to limit my selections to specifically collage influences. To include painters and drawers and music and movies and radio and cartoonists and comics and caricaturists and animators and people I've met along the way would be an impossibility. There are just too many in each category and sub-category ad infinitum. As John Lennon famously said, "you see we're influenced by whatever's going." I probably first encountered that quote as a pre-teen or thereabouts in Alan Aldridge's The Beatles Illustrated Lyrics and it's stuck with me ever since.
Breaking my own rule at the start, the biggest influence on my life and work is New York City. I grew up in rural Pennsylvania, the sticks. To give you an idea there was a sign in Orefield, my old home town, that read "Hickville 5 Miles." It made me painfully aware that I didn't even live in Hickville. I lived five miles OUTSIDE of Hicksville. My mother told my wife some years ago that I'd been talking about living in New York City since I was six years old. I would chalk that up to the influence of television. In particular the Dick Van Dyke Show which I would watch in reruns every day at noon and even, as a boy, made up my own comic adventures with the characters from that show. I remember my Dad proudly showing off one of my Dick Van Dyke comics at the local Barber Shop one day. Made me proud too. That may have been the true start of my illustration career. Anyway, I'm not disparaging Orefield. It was a lovely place to grow up in, surrounded by great people, cornfields, wheatfields and covered bridges but in the end it wasn't for me.
1960s arcade card that I've saved all these years. I probably got this at Dorney Park in Allentown Pa.
COLLAGE AND PHOTOMONTAGE
George Grosz I first encountered his work at MoMA in the late seventies. It completely spun my head around. I'd recently dropped out of art school and was under the sway of Albrecht Durer. I'd spend hours upon hours excessivly cross-hatching when Grosz showed me the light and a different way. With few exceptions, illustration in the seventies was about overwhelming technique. Content was buried under dazzling motor corordination. Seeing Grosz was a revelation. He stripped away all that and put content front and center. This appealed to me greatly at the time. Still does.
Henri Matisse "Paper cut-outs enable me to draw directly on colour...Instead of drawing an outline and filling in with colour...I draw directly into colour." Sounds simple but it was revolutionary. Drawing with scissors and no longer being wedded to the content of photographs or reproductions when considering collage.
one of her paintings from a collage "sketch"
Hannah Hoch How big an influence? One of our daughters is named after her. It's been a point of pride that when I had a one-person exhibit at MoMA the curator, Christopher Mount, wrote of my work, "They share with Hoch's collages a chaotic use of scale and an extreme sense of frgmentation: large heads are placed on small bodies, and individual faces are composed from varied sources, often both male and female. Like Hoch, Kroninger displays an adeptness at mixing discordant features to create anonymous, often menacing, visages." Hoch originally made collages and would then use them as a "sketch" for a painting. She'd project the collage image to canvas, trace and then paint it. Eventually she dropped the painting and exhibited the collages as her original art.
Not only was his work an influence on my thinking but also this story about the art for the Sex Pistols single Pretty Vacant .
"I've forgotten the ins and outs but Malcolm (McLaren) put me in the shit inasmuch as he told Virgin the night before artwork was expected that we wanted to go with "Vacant"; literally, late at nght. Typical Malcolm, he told me on the morning that I had to go in with the artwork. I had the buses from Suburban Press but I didn't think they were good enough for the front cover. So I was on my way to Virgin with half a sleeve. Just on the corner of Portobello Road where Virgin had their offices there is a little art shop and in the window, by chance, there was a small gold picture frame. I smashed it as I was walking down Portobello Road, got the logo and lettering from the 100 Club poster which I had in the bag with me and put them in the frame; ten minutes later I delivered it to the art department. It was necessity being the mother of invention again. I was incredibly lucky: the frame was almost exactly 7 inches by 7 inches, in the right scale for a single sleeve. We didn't have to scale it down at all." (The incomplete works of Jamie Reid, pg. 68)
This sleeve hangs on a wall in my studio.
LINKS Jamie Reid
Winston Smith The first montages I saw by Winston Smith were on a giant poster/lyric sheet included in the Dead Kennedys album "Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables." He was sort of their house artist.I was instantly drawn to his incisive sense of humor matched with a healthy distrust of politicians, the people who own them and the status quo. In his own words he "kidnaps innocent images from vintage magazines and diabolically glues them into compromising or politically revealing positions." Although best known for his work with Punk bands and political causes, he's even made some forays into the mainstream over the years as witnessed by this cover for the New Yorker.
DIY Punk fliers. I used to love seeing these wheatpasted on the walls of NYC when I first moved here. I liked the the bulk of them were not designed by aspiring artists or designers but were simply slapped together by bandmembers in a quick, inexpensive way to advertise an upcoming gig. I also liked when they were partially torn from the wall and/or discolored by the elements, their images with fusing the slicker professional ads and movies posters of the day that they shared wallspace with. To me they were giant works of art, to most, I guess, they were unsightly trash not unlike the grafitti that adorned the subway cars at the time. There were others who appreciated them though. Many of the original fliers been collected in books and on websites for the ages.
Max Ernst. caption to the third image: The Voice of the Reverend Dulac Dessale: "Hey, little ones, where were you tomorrow?" Marceline and Marie (with one voice): "We are twenty centuries old today and a little more." (from "A Little Girl Dreams Of Taking The Veil," 1930) This book was given to me in 1982 by George Delmerico, art director of the Village Voice. Life hasn't been the same since.
Herbert Bayer "The Lonley Metropolitan" a favorite of mine.
I reserve the word "surreal" for the "surrealists." (See also Max Ernst above.) It's a pet-peeve of mine. I wince everytime I hear someone use the word "surreal" when they mean "unreal." To my mind, Luis Bunuel provides the best definition of surrealism. After André Breton André Breton wrote in the Second Manifesto, "The simplest surrealist act is walking into a crowd with a loaded gun and firing at random," Bunuel said "no, the ultimate surrealist act is thinking it."
In this image by Bayer, by juxtaposing the eyes onto the palms the thumbs become ears, the fingers hair. The edge of a window in the background becomes the nose and part of the facade becomes lips and it does indeed depict the lonley metropolitan. Genius, pure, incredibly pure, and simple. Also Surreal.
John Heartfield.On the topic of pure and simple. The bottom image is a personal favorite, although, truth be told just about every piece by Heartfield is a personal favorite. The montage is three photos: the man, the money and Hitler. It's entitled "Millions Stand Behind Me." Simple and speaks volumes. Obviously I was greatly influenced by Heartfield's use of actual photographs for the heads of his subjects. It turns the individual depicted into a caricature of themsleves. No need for exagerration or comic effect. The subjects provide that for themselves. Collage is an ideal medium for visual political commentary. The artist takes an endless glut of images dissemitated by the media, removes them from their original context and turns them back on themselves.
Romare Bearden. A giant. Bearden used collage to depict scenes from his life. Another brilliant innovation. In a sense his compositions were more painterly and again not particularly wedded to his photographic source materials. My favorite work, The Block, hangs in the 20th Century wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Because of its size, it's three large panels wide, it is usually absurdly reduced to fit onto a single page. The best reproductions that I've found are in this children's book published by the Met. Lots of full page, details of this masterwork. All this and Langston Hughes!
Much has been written about the work of George Lois. A lot of it by Mr. Lois himself. Little needs to be said by me. Suffice it to say that his covers for Esquire in the sixties are a Golden Age of illustration all by themselves. A lot of these images aren't collage strictly speaking but the sensibility is similar.
Gilliam starts at 1:13. You may want to skip all that stuff that comes before.
Terry Gilliam. Monty Python's Flying Circus first aired in the U.S. on PBS when I was in high school. It was all the rage. I have a special fondness for stuff that was able to infiltrate Orefield and get into my head. Gilliam's cut-out animations are high on that list. The dvd pictured is here is close to an hour of wall to wall Gilliams work for that show. Pure bliss. I first met Gilliam on assignment for the New York Observer when he was in town promoting "Twelve Monlkeys." When he walked in the door I mentioned Harvey Kurtzman and you should have seen the love on his face as he related stories about his time working with him. For a taste of what I experienced that afternoon---The Telegraph: My MAD mentor: Terry Gilliam on Harvey Kurtzman
In the early nineties, filmmaker Lewis Klahr introduced me to the work of Harry Smith. Lewis made special mention of the relationship of the images with that amazing soundtrack. I'll be forever in his debt for that.
And this recording by Grandmaster Flash which had an enormous influence on my thinking regarding collage. It was released in 1981. I used to play it to death while working in my studio many years ago. I'll still give it a listen whenever I need a solid jolt of inspiration.
tracklist in the mix:
Chic - Good Times
Blondie - Rapture
Queen - Another One Bites the Dust
Sugarhill Gang - 8th Wonder
The Furious Five - Birthday Party
Spoonie Gee - Monster Jam
Incredible Bongo Band - Apache
Grandmaster Flash & Furious Five - Freedom
Sugarhill Gang - Rapper's Delight
The Hellers - Life Story
But now I fear I'm slipping off into film and music and it took me long enough to assemble this post as is. If I go in that direction I'll be at this for years.
The knock on collage had often been that "anyone can do it" and somehow it's cheating, cutting up photographs as opposed to burning the midnight oil with a pencil, paintbrush, pen nib or a camera. It was also believed, and may still be in some unenlighted quarters, that artists collage because the can't draw. Thirty years ago, a prominet art director proudly told me, "I don't like collage, I don't use collage." Being contrarian by nature this made collage all the more attractive to me. At the time there was a song by Elvis Costello with the lines, "while others just talk and talk sombodies watching where the others don't walk." Made sense to me. As a footnote that same prominent art director has since published many of my collages.
Interestingly, collage, through its descendants photoshop and cgi, has arguably become the peredominant mode of artistic expression in the early twenty-first century. Recently, I went to see Ang Lee's LIFE OF PI. I was struck by the fact that I was watching a brilliantly executed collage movie.
There are many more collagists worthy of your attention but Yuko has ordained that we limit ourselves to fifteen. Off the top of my head---Joseph Cornell, Ray Johnson, Barbara Nessim, Tomi Ungerer, Kurt Schwitters, Raoul Hausmann, Katherine Streeter, Robert Rauschenberg, M. Sasek, Frank Mouris, Mieczyslaw Berman, Eddie Guy, Peter Kennard, Mimmo Rotello, Peter Beard, Richard Hamilton, Lou Beach, Gustav Klucis, Cathy Hull, Richard Prince, Eric Carle, Herbert Matter. Ralph Steadman, Alfred Gescheidt, Pablo Picasso, Alexander Zhitomirsky, Peter Blake, Sam Weber, Ellen Weinstein, Jonathan Hernandez, Jeff Koons, Robert Motherwell, Russian Constructivism, Cas Oorthuys, Nicolas de Lecuona... Some were a big influence on me, others on the world at large. You'll need to do your own searches for these and more, plenty more.
A received a phone from Rudy Hoglund some months ago asking if I'd be interested in doing a bi-monthly illustration for the Encounter colums by Peter Carlson in AMERICAN HISTORY magazine. Although I would have jumped at the chance to work with Mr. Hoglund again the deal was sealed when hen he told me that the first story was about Groucho Marx and T. S. Eliot. As a huge Marx Brothers fan and particulary a Groucho fan since I was a kid so was already familiar with this story. I first read Eliot in junior high school because Marx mentioned this meeting in one of the many Marx books I'd read at the time. Anyway, I thought there was a bit of serendipity in this being this first story I was to create an image for.
The second one concerned a meeting between Mark Twain and Helen Keller. I thought the best image came from this paragraph, "When they reached his billiard room, he told her that Rogers had given him the pool table. And he offered to teach her to play 'Oh, Mr. Clemen,' she said, 'it takes sight to play billiards.' Not the way Rogers plays, he said. 'The blind couldn't play worse' "but the editors did not agree. They felt it was a bit too harsh or disrespecful. My thinking was if the story passed down through history I figured Helen Keller found Twain's joke as funny as I did. Anyway, I didn't have the last word and had to rethink the image. What we came up with took a bunch of tries.
I next chose this passage, "With her fingers, Keller inspected Twain's face, and his famous thatch of white hair....The instant I clasped his hand in mine, I knew that he was my friend," She later wrote, "I shall never forget how tender he was."
My first attempt was considered to look too much like an actual photo. No argument there. It did.
The second one suffered from the same maladay as the first, too much like a tinted photo.
I then tried making them as complete cut-out caricatures but Mr. Hoglund wanted to keep historical photos for the heads.
In the final piece I combined both approaches using disparate photos to add texture to the historical heads.
The third piece is a meeting between King George III and John Adams. Adams felt like a fish out of water and that the eyes of the entire British empire were scrutinizing his every move. The sketch included lots of eyes that didn't make it into the final piece. I thought they made the image too busy so I dropped them.
The fourth featured Nikita Kruchev and Marilyn Monroe. Above is the sketch.
Another change from sketch to finish, as Mr. Carlson tells the story Monroe was unimpressed with the Soviet premier so I altered her squeezed balloon fingered hand to this disdainful wet fish handshake.
This piece is Hermann Goering and Charles Lindbergh. From the text, "After lunch, Goering led his guests on a tour of his mansion, pointing out the paintings, statues and tapestries he’d “borrowed” from museums. Then he took them to a porch, where he displayed the piece d’ resistance—“Augie,” a lion cub from the Berlin zoo.
“I want you to see how nice my Augie is,” Goering said, plopping down on a sofa. “Come here, Augie.”
Augie, three feet tall and four feet long, leaped into Goering’s lap and began licking the general’s face. Somebody laughed, and apparently the noise frightened Augie.
“The startled lion let loose a flood of yellow urine all over the snow white uniform!” ... Goering shoved the lion off his lap and jumped up, “his face red with anger, his blue eyes blazing.”
The most recent piece is about Jackie Robinson's historic meeting with Branch Rickey, the owner of the Brookly Dodgers. As Rickey hurled all types of insults at Robinson to see if he would lose his a cool, a cool he would need as the first African-American player in the National Leagues. At one point Rickey even threw a punch at Robinson narrowly, but purposely, missing his head. I chose to illustrate that image. Robinson is in the Kansas City Monarchs uniform he wore as a player in the Negro Leagues.
Also I beg forgiveness from Dodger fans. In the doodle I mislabled Branch Rickey as Giants owner Walter O'Malley. I'm not sure what short-circuited in my brain at the time to make that error.
It's a wonderful magazine and I'm happy to be associated with it.
I started this piece a few years ago and had been working on it on and off ever since. I decided to create a piece based on Grand Central Station shortly after completing a piece on Washington Square Park. A friend warned me that GCS was a very different space than the park but I shrugged him off. "Of course it's a different space." I didn't fully grasp what he meant until I began working. Washington Square Park is a destination. Grand Central Station is more of a space people pass through on their way to their destination. I would spend afternoons leisurely sketching people in the park as they remained in one place for a long time soaking in the day. People in GCS were often in flight, I had to get down as much as I could in the short span between the time they came into and then disappeared from view.
This is part of a New York City series I've been working on for the past number of years. It measures 32 x 40 inches.
I worked from character sketches done on site. This was the first person I translated form sketch to collage.
It became clear to me early on that it would be a near impossible task to make this look like one day in Grand Central Station so I broadened the idea by sketching over the seasons. If you look carefully you'll see people are dressed for winter, spring, summer and fall, rainy days, sunny days and snowy days. This reinforced the idea of Grand Central Station as primarily a place that people pass through.
What follows are some character sketches followed by their corresponding image in the finished collage. It was important that each person depicted express a distinct personality.
I also wanted to retain the looseness of the line in the drawings as best I could in the collages.
When this was a work in progress someone asked "Where did you find that Duane Reade bag." I made it.
This was a challenge to myself. I wanted to see if I could recreate an actual cover og the New York Post. It's as close as I'll ever get to watchmaking.
My original concept was to a scene of Grand Central Station depicting windows, the clock, ticket booth etc but in the end I decided to focus on the people. The clock was all that remained. I also though long and hard about what time would be on the clock and I satisfied that issue by dispensing with the hands altogether. The sketches and the final only tell a part of the story. There's a lot of adding,subtracting and rethinking the work as it goes along.
This woman was drawn on the last day I was up at Grand Central. I'd been trying to figure out hoe to fill the space below the clock for a long time. I was leaning towards making it a group of people scurrying in all directions but then this woman made that decision moot. She was perfect with her little camera taking a photo for the family and friends back home perhaps.
Here are a few character sketches of some of the people who didn't make it into the final piece.
and closing with some details of the finished work
Me drawing in Grand Central Station this past summer. Photo by Zach Gross.
The collage can be viewed presently at the Museum of American Illustration at the Society of Illustrators through March 2nd as part of their Illustrators 55 exhibit. It's been awarded a Gold Medal.
The first thing I made was the stool, then I worked my way up the body.
Being a puppet i decided to follow the natural disparate parts to make the head.
Here I realized that what makes a ventriloquis dummy's face unique were the lines separating the chin and lower lip piece from the rest of the head. In the earlier version above it looked more like a doll's head. I recut and extended the black.
The whites of the eyes were cut out first and glued to a black piece of paper. I then cut around those to make the "mascara" look.
Here I decided to lose the stool. I was thinking the ventriloquist could be holding up the dummy up in the air. I still hadn't quite figured out the positioning of the ventriloquist or how I was going to add him.
The answer for the ventriloquist was photoshop. Once that became clear the stool came back and I scanned the finished dummy into a file.
Logos for the various news agencies were added as buttons in photoshop.
Stephen Colbert and John Stewart for THE BAFFLER, art directed by Patrick Flynn. I've been working with Patrick since the beginning of time and it's always been a great pleasure. Patrick was among the first art directors to publish one of my collages and for that I am forever grateful. He's also been a great friend over the years, not only to myself but to the vast network of artists he's worked with, supported, encouraged and published over the years. The list of those is a veritable Hall of Fame of contemporary illustration in itself and it just keeps on growing. Many of those got their start with him.
I like my own caricatures unadorned, sans visual props. In this case the Baffler wanted Stewart and Colbert to be depicted as circus clowns, to which I dutifully obliged, but my heart belongs to the pure caricature. There is no preconception as to how the final piece wil look, no sketches. I begin slicing up bits of magazines and repostioning the pieces, the shapes, until a likeness appears. Years ago I was working with Andrea Dunham, now an art director at PEOPLE, on caricatures of John Travolta and Uma Thurma from PULP FICTION (to let you know how long ago it was). While moving pieces around I couldn't decide if it was finished or not. Andrea looked over my shoulder and said, "you don't even know when you're good" meaning I was finished. Now whenever I ask myself if a piece is finished I hear Andrea's voice and those words in my head. It was no different with Colbert and Stewart. After completing the cut-outs the heads are then scanned into photoshop where the rest of the composition is completed.
These are the finished pieces as published.
The politics as circus metaphor has been around a long time. I would guess that's it's pretty unlikely that an election cycle goes by at any time anywhere in the world without someone employing it. Here's a favorite by Erich Schilling from a 1927 edition of Simplicissimus. Unfortunately, Schilling changed his views about Hitler after the Nazis gained power in the thirties. He became a fervent supporter of the new regime and continued to work for Simplicissimus after it became a National Socialist propaganda organ. Schilling committed suicide in his Munich studio when the Third Reich collapsed in 1945.
Grace Church is located at 802 Broadway. Over the past few years I've been working on a New York City series. This work rose out of walks with my daughters to their chorus rehearsals. My initial idea was to have a complete scene with cars and people but as I was working I felt it was more interesting to highlight the church itself and its surrounding grounds and buildings.
What follows are a series of pages from the sketchbooks I worked from in developing this piece.
iPhone grabs documenting various stages of the process. You can see in the first photo that I started off in an entirely different direction than what became the finish. One swipe of my hand and I began rethinking the piece.
It’s Not the Carriers, It’s the Kids by Michelle Higgins. This appeared in the Travel section of yesterday's NEW YORK TIMES. A follow-up piece to Are We There Yet? When Families Fly which was published a couple of weeks ago. The author selected readers e-mail responses to the previous article. It begins, "HORRIBLE. Annoying. Distasteful. Miserable. These are a few of the words used by readers to describe traveling with children — whether their own or someone else’s —"
Once again this was art directed by Corrine Myllar. It's always a pleasure working with her.
The sketch which was slightly altered while working. The children are no longer being put into the bin by passengers in the final. They're being shut in for takeoff by a flight attendant.
A second sketch for my benefit. I didn't adhere to this one either. For the finish I dropped one kid, moved another, added luggage and the aforementioned flight attendant. I also repositioned the adult passengers to their assigned seats.
This piece was done in photoshop. It's 147 layers.
The New York Times Travel section, art directed by Corinne Myller. Are We There Yet? When Families Fly.
The first two images deal with the difficulties of traveling with young children on domestic flights. The third is about all the goodies, care and attention those same aged children recieve on international flights.
I've worked with Corinne several times over the years and I can't say enough what a great pleasure it always is. She's just wonderful both as an art director and as, well, as who she is. We spend as much time talking about family and what's going on in our lives as we do on the project at hand. Which is not to say she isn't focuse on the work. She is. Completely. Did I mention what a great pleasure it is working with her?
This first sketch was a doodle for my reference. A first thought after reading through the article.
This second sketch is the one I sent to Corinne. As some of you know, I don't like to nail down every detail of a piece in a sketch. Collage is improvisational. I prefer making up the images and composition as I go along. Here the central characters (Mother and child) as well as the guy reading a book a book with his elbows exending past the armrests are the only three to appear.
The man with the headphones is based on my friend Tunde. His clothes are the ones he's wearing in the music video below. The tie came from a screen grab as did his glasses. I would have hated to have gotten those things wrong.
As a side note this depiction is also partly based on my own experience. When I fly I generally spend the entire trip listening through my Bose noise reduction headphones to the iPod I loaded up with old radio shows (Jack Benny, Groucho Marx, Mercury Theater, Studio One, Best Plays, CBS Radio Workshop, Bob and Ray, Jean Shepherd etc). For this section of the piece, however, I listened to TV on the Radio's Nine Types of Light several times.
A few more iPhone photos employed here including my wife's bag for her laptop and her iPhone. I have an older model iPhone. I didn't want the woman to appear out of date.
The sketch for the image above was merely an indication for my purposes. A note. I sent Corinne updates of the entire process as it went along so a more detailed sketch for this image wasn't needed.
Once again I'm honored to have a piece of mine included in Amber Lotus's POSTERS FOR PEACE AND JUSTICE calendars. I'm doubly pleased that my image was chosen for November since 2012 is an election year.
This work was originally commissioned by Patrick JB Flynn and published in The Progressive magazine.
From Saturday's print edition of the New York Post, an article about the current exhibit, Rolling Stone and the Art of the Record Review, at the Society of Illustrators by Gregory E. Miller. Below are screen shots which can currently be seen at the Post's website.
"It feels so empty without me." This is a piece I did for the Rolling Stone Record Review of The Eminem Show way back in 2002. It's currently on view as part of the Museum of American Illustration at the Society of Illustrators exhibit Rolling Stone and the Art of the Record Review. The show runs until October twenty-second and the opening is September ninth. See you all there.
I recall thoroughly enjoying creating this work. It took me back to third grade in 1966 when Batman was all the rage with us kids. Over that summer I didn't go anywhere without my shoebox filled with Topps Batman cards, many of them painted by the great Norman Saunders. In those pre-dvd and dv-r days I'm sure I spent more time obsessing over those cards than I did on the tv show itself.
The Eminem song and video are pure silliness which appealed to me as well. Both were a big hit. The Eminem Show went on to become the biggest selling cd of 2002. I don't believe he would have had the same success without me.
Thanks to the wonderful Gail Anderson at Rollng Stone for thinking of me for this piece. I'd also like to thank Anelle Miller, Kate Feirtag, Katie Blocher, Leslie Feilder, Johnny Dombrowski and all of the terrific staff and associates at the Society of Illustrators.
Rejection form letter, circa late seventies/early eighties.
CoverJunkie is a site dedicated to celebrating magazine covers. They recently began a new series entitled "great art directors about their favorite covers." It asks a prominent art director to name five favorite covers from their career as well as five favorite covers they "wish they'd designed themselves." Robert Newman is first up. I was thrilled to see that he selected a cover we'd done together back in '93 as his personal number one favorite. Bob has always been incredibly supportive of my work going back to my earliest days as an illustrator. The key to Bob is that he has complete faith in the illustrators and photographers he hires. He designs with an encouraging hand rather than an iron fist. He's also incredibly knowlegable about the history of magazine, book and newspaper design. The results speak for themselves. I know that I may have had a very different career had we never met.
Original Art: Rudy's mouth in this image is actually Whitney Houston's.
A couple of years ago I was asked by Mathew Dunteman at Nick Jr if I would be interested in working on a series of animations for songs by David Weinstone of Music for Aardvarks fame. I leapt at the chance. My daughters were among the first to take his Music for Aardvarks classes back when they were little little. Little little is a term parents understand.
In 2010, David asked if I'd create the art for a cd of his latest group of songs. It took forever to get David to tell me exactly what he was looking for. David's music is for children but with an urban edge. I decided I'd make the art to match. The result is a Ramones influenced kids garage band. In fact, I rewatched my copy of the Ramones documentary End of the Century to put myself in a suitable frame of mind. The design is by Jesse Reyes whom I've worked with many times over the years. I knew he understood the DIY aesthetic but also how to tame it for the pre-school set and their parents.
The official cd release date is today March 8, 2011. Captain Beefheart said, "If you got ears you got to listen." Today I'll amend that to "If you got kids you got to listen." ALL I WANT can be ordered here.
The guitars are based on David Weinstone's own. The strings were added in photoshop.
Here are few of the videos that originally brought us together and are currently airing on NickJr.
In going through piles of work for the exhibit of my 80s work at MIAD I came across these tearsheets from my days on the Op-Ed page of the New York Times. They brought back a flood of memories. Recently the Times has been celebrating the op-ed page but oddly neglected to include the Michael Valenti years. Michael was the art director I worked for on the page.
Michael knew my work from the Progressive magazine. He called me in for a job. I was pretty broke in those years. That day I had enough money to get me up to the Times and back with maybe a few dollars left over. Around the corner from the Times building, was a man selling vintage record albums. He had an original copy of The Velvet Underground and Nico with the Andy Warhol's "peel me and see" banana cover in perfect condition. I'd been looking for a copy of that for years. I mulled over my financial situation for half a second and then bought it. Now I had no money. I hurried up to Michael's office and handed him my work. He looked at it. It was done in a style that I thought was consistent with the New York Times Op-Ed style that was prevalent in the eighties. This was a new art director. He said, "No. I'd like you to do it like you do for the Progressive." Those words practically had me dancing on the ceiling. I had complete freedom at the Progressive. He needed the new piece that same day. As I headed for the door I remembered that I didn't have any money for the train. It took about a half an hour to walk home. A half an hour that I could have used for the piece. Sheepishly, I turned to Michael and explained about the Velvet Underground record and my present dilemma. Without skipping a beat, Michael said, "I understand" and handed me the fare for the train. I later learned that Michael was a huge fan of the Blanton-Webster Ellington band, a fandom we shared. He completely understood record collector mania.
As anyone whose worked for the Times knows, the final say for all art rests with the editor of the page. The editor of Op-Ed at that time was Leslie Gelb. I never met him but we had a fabulous relationship. I never did sketches. I'd read the column and go straight to finish. The next day I would go up to Michaels's office and hand Michael my work. He would always look at it, laugh and say, "They're never going to print this, wait here." He'd then take it to show Mr. Gelb for approval. I'd spend some nervous minutes cooling my heels until Michael returned. Back in the office Michael said the same thing, "Go home. He loves you." There was never the slightest change to my art the entire time Leslie Gelb was there. Things were to change, however. A new editor came in and my work was edited to the point of frustration. I decided it was time for me to move on from Op-Ed and Michael agreed. It was a great run for me and I thought an appreciation of Michael Valenti and Leslie Gelb was in order.
a native-American perspective on the "discovery" of America by Christopher Columbus.
The bags under the auctioneer's eyes are cold cuts.
Michael wanted to know where the cleft in the Senator's chin came from. He thought I was trying to sneak some porno into the Times. When I explained to him that it was Liza Minelli's cleavage from an ad that ran in the Times Sunday Magazine he had no problem letting it go through.
In his profile of my work in New York magazine, Chris Smith wrote, "His distended, freakish, and playful collages pop off the pages...lately Kroninger has been getting more space on the Times op-ed than William Safire ."
When SPY magazine did a sendup of the THE NEW YORK TIMES in '92 it was my work they lampooned for the illustration on their op-ed page.
Several of the works in this post were included in my one-man show at New York's Museum of Modern Art in 1992.
drawings from two of the five sketchbooks featured in the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design exhibit. The first set is from 1980. The second from '86. I've generally kept this sketchbook work to myself over the years. By the few who had seen them, I was asked over the years if I would make drawings for illustration assignments for various publications. Once I was asked if I'd be willing to draw for a magazine under an assumed name. I've always turned down the offer. My commitiment in print was to collage. I'm not sure why I've maintained such a purity of purpose all these years. I was born to sing the gospel but I don't believe singing an occasional blues will codemn me to the fires of hell. Even Mahalia Jackson was known to sing a show tune now and again. I guess I've always thought of my sketchbook drawings as a kind of warming up, a way to keep loose for my collages. I keep sketchbooks to this day and in future posts I'll share drawings from some of the more recent ones.
The influence of collage in my thinking is prevalent in the these drawings from 1986. The playing with scale, line and shapes often echo what I was doing with a pair of scissors.
Again, a special thank you to Patrick JB Flynn for conceiving of and organizing this exhibit as well as for documenting the work shown here.
art mock up used for character placement reference by the animators
I designed this short animation for Chris Rock about ten years ago. I also co-directed it with animator Howie Hoffman. Someone recently posted it to Youtube so I thought I'd post about it here. It originally aired on HBO's The Chris Rock Show.
DISCLAIMER: It's Chris Rock and it's called BAD PHONE SEX. You get the picture. If you are offended by explicit language I would recommend that you NOT press the play button. As they say on tv, "viewer discretion is advised."
Someone came to HBO and proposed creating an animation spot for the Chris Rock Show "in the style of Stephen Kroninger." A friend of mine was a producer on the show and at that meeting. She said, " I know Stephen Kroninger. Why don't we get him?" And so they did. We had two weeks and a crew of four to complete the piece. It's cut-outs, after effects and photoshop.The work was done at Broadway Video in the old Brill Building.
The original audio piece clocked in at 3:10. It was edited down to just under two minutes. Howard Hoffman then took a copy of the new script and outlined his directorial choices line by line.
The next step was transferring Howard's rough sketches to a storyboard (drawn by John Dilworth).
The three images above were presented to the producers in order to to give them a general sense of how the piece would look. The Chris Rock heads were snipped from magazines.
Two things I didn't want in this animation were (1) to work with magazine or publicity photos of Chris Rock and (2) to have the heads "talk" by cutting the face in two between the lips and having the heads bobbing up and down to simulate speech. Thankfully, Chris was open to the idea and we had a photo session with him. In the first part we showed him the storyboard frame by frame and he mimicked each expression in the drawings. Here are some of them.
Same with his hands. These hands remind me of a conversation I once had with Terry Gilliam. He was demonstrating to me his own various hand poses for the Monty Python animations. Seems obscure but it was quite a lesson from the master for me. I drew on that for our photo session on this project.
Each head pose was cut out and matched up to its corresponding frame on the storyboard.
In the second part of the photo session, for the lip-sync, Chris mouthed the standard animation letter configurations. The mouths were then cut-out digitally. It added some extra labor for the animators but I think it works beautifully.
Chris was extrememly generous with his time and great to work with. He was also very soft-spoken in contrast to his stage persona. He was also generous with his praise after we completed the project.
Next we shot the video for Chris's one line of live-action dialog. He's holding a phone I made. I created the animation frames for the cat that precedes this line in photoshop on my home computer.
elements were cut-out and assigned an envelope
envelopes were consigned to a folder corresponding to their shots.
a selection of cut-out elements.
body parts and towel
I came up with the exploding head for the ending during production. The original ending was sort of complicated and confusing (storyboard frames above). Chris was originally to turn into a Dick and Jane picture book painting, then turn into a doctor and then slam down the reciever. To me it seemed that would have stopped the momentum of the piece in its tracks. My thought was that as we watched Chris's tension and frustration accelerating there wasn't much left for him to do but explode. We kept the doctor line and image but moved it forward. We were going to take out the doctor bit altogether but the producers said, "No, no you have to keep it in. Chris gets a laugh every time he curses." I created the frames for the explosion in photoshop on my home computer.
BAD PHONE SEX is currently available as an extra on the Chris Rock standup performance dvd BRING THE PAIN.
Originally this was going to be a more elaborate street scene with cars and people but then I decided I liked it just the way it was.
This was done a while back. It's about 8 feet long and six feet high. I haven't seen it in a while. It hangs in an apartment in Williamsburg. Anyway, the above images seem related to these, at least in my head.
Here are two more from then. Photos courtesy of Patrick J B Flynn.
JOE KLEIN, TIME MAGAZINE: "But there’s a big difference here between the Democratic and Republican parties. In the Republican party, the base is the right wing. In the Democratic party, the base isn’t the left wing. The base is African-Americans, a lot of Hispanics, trade union people, and so on. You have a bunch of bloggers on the left, but I don’t think that they carry the same weight as the maniacs on the right do with the Republican party."
Here are some more from what I think of as my FACES series though they're not strictly faces. I do these for myself and stick them in a drawer. I haven't shown them much in the past but Drawger offers a nice opportunity to bring them out into the public. These were done over the past week.
The above piece was done (mostly) from a single issue of GOTHAM (below). Some times I like to make an image from a single magazine source and sometimes I don't. I guess the general idea for these is complete freedom. I'm not a believer in "personal work." All of my work, whether for publication, private commision or to be tossed in a drawer, is personal. It's all done by me personally.
The derby is from a different source. It had been on the floor under my table for some time. I don't remember which magazine it was cut from.
Some collages created over the weekend. I first began doing these types of faces back in the mid-eighties. They were done mainly for my own amusement. Back then I would shake the pieces off the paper before starting another one until someone suggested I should glue them down. Now I glue them down and put them in a drawer. Generally, I'm the only one who sees them. Here are a few from Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
For Deanna Lowe at FORTUNE. Deanna was great to work with and this was truly a collaboration.
In the beginning was the caricature. This is a cut-out----scissors, museum board and glue. The rest of the peice was done in photo-shop. I knew Obama was to be in love and the mouth wouldn't fly in the long run but at this point I just wanted to have the likeness approved. The mouth is from a photo of a woman lying on her side. The top "lip" is her arm, the lower "lip" her abdomen where her arm was resting. The middle part is the space in between. It's one piece.
An early take. The turnaround on this was quick. Deana felt the President should be showing more love than depicted here.
The follow-up piece that became the final. It took repeated listenings to "Tammy" to set the right mood.
Obama's Foreign Policy Needs A Domestic Boost: How can Obama deal with his mounting foreign policy problems? By succeeding at home
Images for Joe Klein's IN THE ARENA column in TIME magazine, art directed by Cynthia Hoffman and Chrissy Dunleavy. The photo head are researched by Diana Suryakusuma. The headlines are written by the editors.
Obama's Appeal: A Test of National Character: Obama's health-care speech was effective. What comes of it will say more about us than about him
The Irrational Attacks On Health-Care Reform Show What The GOP Has Become: A Party Of Nihilists
The Afghanistan Problem: Why Are We In Hemland? The military's summer campaign in Afghanistan has been misguided and needs to be fixed — now
Rookie Mistakes: Time For Obama To Lead: If he wants a successful presidency, Obama will need to start taking responsibility for tough decisions
Ahmadinejad: Iran's Man of Mystery: Iran's Ahmadinejad may be hiding something, but he and his nation can be contained
This is from the latest issue of Foreign Policy magazine. The art director is Bryan Erickson.
I meant to show sketches and the process and everything but my computer went kablooey a few weeks ago and i can't seem to locate the files on my new computer. They're here someplace. If only I could remember what I labeled them as. Anyway, this was a lot of fun, Bryan is great to work with.
I don't know much about poker, It's played with chips and cards is about the extent of my knowledge. I used the classic painting below as inspiration.
from the current issue of Japan's ILLUSTRATION magazine: "Once the news of Michael Jackson's death was announced, the illustrations show of him got started. It is like the guerilla exhibit of Michael spreading in a really fast pace. Stephen Kroninger is behind this Drawger show of Jackson illustation. Now there are more than 80 illustrators participating.
One of the participating artists Kyle T. Webster said, "If you are an illustrator, you must have drawn Michael Jackson at least once."
Michael is the king of illustration as well."
a very special thanks to Yuko Shimizu for scanning the page, sending me the page and for providing the english translation.
I originally thought the Michael Jackson Drawger Show would top out at about twenty images. The hundred and twentieth image was posted today.
"Obama: Getting Down to the Hard Choices: Why President Barack Obama needs to get tougher on his domestic agenda — and come clean on taxes"
These images accompany recent columns by Joe Klein in TIME Magazine. The art director is Cynthia Hoffman. The photo editor is Deirdre Read.
"Don't Worry So Much About Iran's Nukes: Obama should keep pressuring Tehran on its nuclear program. But he shouldn't obsess about it."
"Will Special Interests Stymie Health-Care Reform?: The debate over health reform is a case study of how special interests trump the common good."
This is the back page of the current edition of the New York Observer. The art director is Nancy Butkus.
From the Brian Wilson school of illustration, this was done in modules and then pieced together. The turnaround was quick. One day. Fortunately, Nancy trusted me to make it up. It's for a story on the ALL POINTS WEST FESTIVAL on Liberty Island.
The first image was Ian McCulloch of Echo and the Bunnymen.
THe second was Jay-Z. These are all cut-outs. I prefer doing caricatures as cut-outs and not in photo-shop.
The Lady in the Harbor.
Piece it together in photo-shop and just add water.
"AfPak's Odd Couple. Presidents Karzai and Zardari are working together. But let's not pretend they're perfect."
This was done to repeated listening's of Neil Hefti's score for "The Odd Couple." I've long been a great fan of the movie. To me, Matthau and Lemmon are THE Odd Couple.
The truly odd thing is that I'd just watched the movie again on the Friday before being assigned this piece the following Wednesday. Here's the sketch.
These are for Joe Klein's IN THE ARENA column for TIME, art directed by Cynthia Hoffman. The photo heads are researched by Diana Suryakusuma.
Obama's quest to reimagine health care. I suspect I was unconsciously influenced by a steady diet of Three Stooges shorts in my youth on this one. Paging Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, Dr. Howard.
"Terrorism on Trial: After eight years, we still haven’t found the right way to prosecute enemy combatants."
"Debates over abortion and affirmative action remain dominated by extremists. But sensible positions exist." The flag references Klein's line in the piece concerning "...an African-American President and a polychromatic society moving towards racial...equity..."
For the flag skin tone stripes I threw photos of random faces and body parts from my "flesh" files onto the scanner and then selected an isolated color from them. There were seven of these for the piece. Here are two of them
Two illustrations for a spread entitled "Why Obama Should Keep Talking To Israel and Start Talking To Hamas."
The above piece is for an essay by Joe Klein entitled, "A meeting in Damascus shows why the U.S. must be prepared to deal with all sides."
This was for the companion essay by Peter Beinart, "Getting tough on settlements is a necessary first step for mideast peace."
This is the seventh of seven short animations I recently designed for the commercial free Nickelodeon/Noggin Network. Song written by David Weinstone and performed by Toby Lightman. Produced for Nickelodeon/Noggin by Mary Jacobson, Jennifer Cast and Matthew Dunteman.
For this one the characters are all Nickelodeon/Noggin favorites. I put together the type, the newpaper and the icons.
I added the penciled in newsprint type that you see in the finished piece last.
This is the sixth of seven short animations I recently created for the commercial free Nickelodeon/Noggin Network. Song written and performed by David Weinstone. Produced for Nickelodeon/Noggin by Mary Jacobson, Jennifer Cast and Matthew Dunteman.
Quite the toe-tapper. For this one I kept thinking of the kids at our daughters' elementary school in their Ramones, AC/DC and Motorhead t-shirts.
Hippie kid as she appears in the animation
Hippie Kid (first pass)
Percussion Girl as she appears in the finished animation
Originally she was playing a rake but the rake was put away for safety reasons.
This electric guitar was created for the Weinstone caricature in this one.
This is the fifth of seven short animations I recently created for the commercial free Nickelodeon/Noggin Network.ONE MORE KISS written by David Weinstone, performed by Brandi Carliile. Produced for Nickelodeon/Noggin by Mary Jacobson, Jennifer Cast and Matthew Dunteman.
This is the fourth of seven short animations I recently created for the commercial free Nickelodeon/Noggin Network.Song written and performed by David Weinstone. Produced for Nickelodeon/Noggin by Mary Jacobson, Jennifer Cast and Matthew Dunteman.
This is the third of seven short animations I recently created for the commercial free Nickelodeon/Noggin Network. Song written and performed by David Weinstone. Produced for Nickelodeon/Noggin by Mary Jacobson, Jennifer Cast and Matthew Dunteman.
This is the second of seven short animations I recently created for the commercial free Nickelodeon/Noggin Network. Song written and performed by David Weinstone. Produced for Nickelodeon/Noggin by Mary Jacobson, Jennifer Cast and Matthew Dunteman.
This song has been stuck in my head ever since I began working on this project. When meeting people it takes all of my strength not to burst out singing it. I sing it to myself while shaving at the start of every day.
Through trial and error I discovered that my images pop best with a pure white background. For these I wanted to maintain that pop but also add in another dimension to the backgrounds. I decided to do simple pencil drawings.
This caricature of David Weinstone frames the animations. David says I made his ears too big. You be the judge.
This is the first of seven short animations I recently designed. They are currently running on the commercial free Nickelodeon/Noggin Network. Noggin caters to pre-schoolers. The songs are written and performed by David Weinstone. David created Music for Aardvarks and Other Mammals.
I was already familiar with David Weinstone's songs. My kids were big fans when they were little. In fact, they were among the first group of kids to attend David's Music for Aardvark's classes. Here's what Jon Stewart has to say about David's songs, "You will listen to David's music even when your kids aren't around, and unlike other children's music, it will not make you angry."
This was produced for Noggin by the great team of Mary Jacobson, Jennifer Cast and Matthew Dunteman. I'd worked with Matthew several times in the past, including on City Symphony, and he's always a treat. Mary and Jennifer are terrific as well.
The Mets logo was removed from the driver's cap for the final. The Mets just can't catch a break in this Yankees town.
8/14/98 is the date of our daughters' births.
Some people to populate the street.
I took a slew of photographs of Bleecker Street between sixth and seventh avenues as reference for the backgrounds.
Liza Minnelli---It's Italian, blame it on Poppa, what can I do? I often like to art to the sounds of the musician being depicted. This was done to Liza's recording of Cole Porter's "Looking At You" played over and over and over.
Full Disclosure: I attended a performance by Liza Minnelli at the Allentown Fairgrounds the night President Nixon announced his resignation. What good is sitting alone in your room?
David Byrne. I've been a huge fan of Byrne's work for many years. I have all of the Talking Heads albums, FEAR OF MUSIC being the my favorite but they've all gotten plenty of spins over the years. His collaboration with Brian Eno, MY LIFE IN THE BUSH OF GHOSTS was very influential in the development of my work. I'm also grateful to Byrne for taking a chance on me early in my career. He and Frank Olinsky of Manhattan Design selected me to illustrate PSYCHO KILLER for the book WHAT THE SONGS LOOK LIKE: CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS INTERPRET TALKING HEADS SONGS. The book included work by Robert Rauschenberg, Gary Panter, Sue Coe, Jim Nutt, Keith Haring, Jenny Holzer, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Roz Chast, Barbara Kruger, Tadanoori Yokoo, Edward Ruscha, Victor Moscoso, William Wegamn among many others. Pretty heady stuff for a green kid pretty much fresh from the sticks. I've also followed Byrne's post-heads career as well. He's created a fantastic and inspiring body of work. This piece was done to Byrne and Eno's latest collaboration EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS WILL HAPPEN TODAY.
Inspired by Scott Bakal's post on the SOI student exhibition and a lot of recent talk on Drawger offering tips and advice to students, I thought I'd post some of my college work here to show how what we do in school may not nescessarily be what we do once we're out in the world.
These are from long-forgotten class assignments.
Program cover for a school production.
A few caricatures for the school paper. This was for a review of Elvis Costello's ARMED FORCES.
Philip Glass. I went to a in Kutztown PA. Kutztown is about an hour and half form New York. One of the benifits of that was one of the professors would invite emerging artists to come and lecture and/or perform at the school. It was a pretty amazing arry of artists----Steve Reich, Molissa Fenley, Twyla Tharp, Lucinda Childs and Meridith Monk among many others (at least I think that list is correct, it's been a long time). This drawing was probably to promote an upcoming lecture by Glass that I and about ten or twenty other students attended. It was the first time I'd heard Glass' music and I was hooked for life. EINSTEIN ON THE BEACH had already played at the Met but the lps were yet to be released. I think they came out a year or so later. The girl I went with left in the middle of Glass playing the Einstein tape saying, "This music is giving me a headache." I stayed. Our romance never fully recovered.
I sent all of the above to the Art Director of the Village Voice and got this letter in return. It offered me enough encouragment to leave my happy home and school and make the leap to New York. And, yes, George was among the first art directors to publish my work. He was very generous with his time, support and talent. He also offered me a lot of advice and direction early on. He never published this kind of stuff from though. He did publish many of my early collages.
Anyway, there are plenty more drawings from back then but that’s enough. You get the idea. This work is nothing like what I was doing even a year or so after moving to New York. It took me about ten more years of drawing and looking and thinking and meeting other artists to find my voice.
Good luck all you art school grads as you step out into the world.
For Marc Kaufman at RUNNER'S WORLD. Marc is great to work wih as any of you who've had a chance to work with him already know. Smart and easy going. Marc also selected the running shoes. Even though I was twice all-state running champion of the Lehigh Valley back in my youth it's been been a long time since then and styles have changed. I made that last bit up. Still, a man can dream can't he?
I like to keep my sketches simple. The basic idea is there but the composition works itself out as material is selected and integrated into the work. Because of its placement on the page, Marc wanted this piece to have a background. We decided to have them running down a street in the 'burbs.
An early pass. The boys running together with Lincoln having hit the wall. The first house was eliminated. Marc wanted to see Washington running away from the pack and up a hill. It was the right decision. I kept seeing the figures in the final as being animated.
Tim O'Brien helped me pick out the running shoe for this image. As many of you know, he's a marathon runner and better versed in these matters. I wanted to use Tim's latest NYC marathon number on the guy but time ran out and I had to turn the piece in before he could get back to me on that.
Recent caricatures for the New York Observer Calendar. the art director is Nancy Butkus. Nancy genenrally sends me a few names and allows me to chose who I want to do for the week. These are cut-outs, meaning scissors, magazines and glue. Up top is the Easter Bunny.
I don't consider myself a natural caricaturist like Philip Burke, Steve Brodner, David Levine, Miguel Covarrubias etc. I have to work at it. Collage is the perfect medium for me. If a likeness doesn't come on the first pass I can keep cutting and moving things around until I get close. In that way, collage is something akin to painting in oils.
Recently I began creating weekly caricatures for the calendar section of the New York Observer with Art Director Nancy Butkus. Here are the latest.
Tinsley Mortimer: I have no idea who this woman is. From what I could gather in researching her photo, she's a rich girl who goes out and gets photographed a lot. I could be wrong and someone out there may have more info.
This is a recent private commission. For the past five years or so I’ve been making collages featuring scenes of people in New York City. My Wahington Square Park was published in The New Yorker. I look at this work as part of that series even though the other were created with sketches from contemporary NYC life and this one is from photographs.
In May 1979 I moved from the bucolic village of Orefield, Pennsylvania to Greenwich Village. In summer, Christopher Street was a non-stop street party from Seventh Avenue down to the river. My first apartment (compartment---it was an SRO—no kitchen, shared bathroom) was right around the corner at Tenth and Hudson. One of the fixtures of that Christopher Street scene, at least in my memory, was Rollerina. She would roller skate up and down the crowded sidewalks and tap people on the head with her wand and say some magic word that I’ve long since forgotten. As some of you may remember, roller skating and disco were all the rage back then. Rumor had it that Rollerina was a stockbroker by day. I don’t know if that was true or not. Maybe someone reading this has more, accurate information.
November 19, 1863 Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
The entire process took less than a week from start to finish. We got the job last Wednesday and had to to deliver this morning. It began airing tonight. I worked with the magnificent Gary Leib who always responds incredibly well to pressure. He worked his animation magic all over this. The spot was produced by Shelli Sweeney, Blair younger, Adam Wilson and Jim Fitzgerald over at VH1. It's always a great pleasure working with them.
I designed my own Holiday paper.
Chicken eyes. It was Gary's idea to take the Ed "Big Daddy" Roth approach. I like the way that man thinks.
Three Recent Caricatures for the New York Observer
These are for Nancy Butkus at the Observer for their calendar section. I get an e-mal on friday with a list of three or four names and the events they are associated with. The piece is due first thing Tuesday. Nancy gives me the option to select whoever it is I feel inspired to caricature for that week. I sometimes don't know exactly who I'm going to do until I sit down to work. Nancy's been great to work with.These are cut-outs as opposed to digital.
This was for Nancy Butkus for this week's New York Observer. The assignment was "Sexy Pumpkin." Although there were lots of directions to go with this I chose to follow a kind of demure Marilyn Monroe path. Also, to tag on to Carl Wiens Frank Zappa reference----WOTTA PUMPKIN!
And for those who don't get the reference---Zappa's CALL ANY VEGETABLE
My piece for this week's IN THE ARENA column by Joe Klein. Art directed by the wonderful Cynthia Hoffman who is always a real treat to work with. The photo heads are researched by Deirdre Read who has a knack for tracking down just the right image for what I'm seeing in my head. I always feel this piece is truly a collaboration between myself , Mr. Klein, Ms. Hoffman and Ms. Read.
This piece originally appeared in the Village Voice back in 1991, during
Desert Storm. It soon took on a life of its own, and a second life now with
When it was first published, Patrick Flynn asked if he could publish it as
poster and sell it through the magazine as a fund-raiser for the
Progressive. That was an easy yes. I also told Patrick to add a line
running across the bottom saying that the work was copyright free, so that
anyone who wanted to could reproduce it.
It was picked up and republished on op-ed pages all across the country as
well as in Canada and Europe. MTV ran a piece on war merchandise that was
mostly anti-Saddam and pro-war stuff. Saddam toilet paper, dart boards, that
sort of thing. The only anti-war item they showed was this poster with a
phone number at the Progressive for anyone who wanted to order a copy. They
sold tons of them and it went into several printings. The Village Voice gave
away a pile of them as a first-come first serve freebie. The Progressive
also printed up t-shirts, which also sold briskly.
As a news junkie, during the ’92 Presidential campaign I would see the
poster hanging on podiums and walls at various Democratic Party forums and
functions on C-SPAN. The original art and the poster hung in New York’s
Museum of Modern Art. It’s since been included in several museum posters
collections, published in several anthologies and textbooks including Steven
Heller’s Angry Graphics: Protest Posters of the Reagan/Bush Era, (With
Karrie Jacobs) Salt Lake City, Utah: Peregrine Smith Books, 1992.
Heller wrote: ““Illustrators whose ideas were otherwise too controversial
for, and squelched in mainstream publications could stretch their critical
wings. One such, Stephen Kroninger, created a photo-collage send-up of
“Uncle Sam Wants You” (originally published in the Villiage Voice ) showing
the first President George Bush hawking his Iraq war (the ransom note
lettering accompanying the image reads, “Uncle George wants you to forget
failing banks, education, drugs, AIDs, poor heath care, unemployment, crime,
racism, corruption. and have a good war.”). This art was made into a
Progressive poster, and because opponents were starved for alternative
graphic statements in this image-managed war, it also became one of the few
oppositional icons of the Desert Storm escapade.”
In the run-up to the latest war with Iraq I began getting e-mail requests
from around the country, asking permission to reprint the image for regional
protest marches. I offered to update it by changing the old Bush’s head for
the new Bush and altering the text to reflect contemporary issues, but
everyone who asked said it was perfect the way it was.
Its latest incarnation is as the November 2009 image for the Amber Lotus
“Posters for Peace and Justice” calendar, published by Amber Lotus
Publishing in conjunction with The Center for the Study of Political
Graphics. You may order the calendar here. And here’s what the
publishers wanted to evoke with this calendar:
“From the days of the Quaker broadsides against slavery to the current
conflict in the Middle East, people have used ink and paper to speak out for
peace and justice. Amber Lotus is proud to present Posters for Peace &
Justice 2009 wall calendar, a survey of modern political poster art.
Produced in partnership with Inkworks Press of Berkeley, California, and the
Center for the Study of Political Graphics in Los Angeles, this inspiring
calendar offers reprints of political action posters, many of them still
disturbingly relevant, combined with mission statements on the posters from
the original artists.
Since 1974, Inkworks Press, a worker owned and managed union shop, has
collaborated with many artists and activists in support of peace and
justice. With over 50,000 posters, the Center for the Study of Political
Graphics is the largest collection of post-World War II graphics in the
United States. CSPG is committed to collecting, preserving and exhibiting
this rich visual history of social change.”
The back of the Calendar showing all of the images inside.
This was with Peter Morance at the TImes' Sunday Styles. I've worked with Peter many times over the years. On this one Peter gave the assignment and Georgia Scott took over the project. I believe Peter went on vacation. Both are always a dream to work with and this was no exception. 118 Layers.
For Nancy Butkus at The New York Observer. These were for the Calendar section. Joan Rivers and Salvador Dali. I generally prefer to do caricatures as cut-outs and not digitally. It allows for more playfulness. Nancy's been great to work with.
The PS 41 PTA asked me to create a t-shirt design for the school. After much head scratching over what the image should be I decided it should be the kids. I began sketching in the playground after school. Later I brought a camera, A few of the kids, including my own, wanted to take the photos so I handed the camera over to them. Several of the photos used in the finish were taken by ten year old Lily Mantel. Her Father is a professional photographer. PS 41
Here are some of the photos I sifted through to create the shirt. The little girl riding her Razor, wearing a lavender dress and wearing cowboy boots seemed to speak to the essence of PS 41. She was the first person I made for the design and she set the tone.
A few of my more recent images for Joe Klein's IN THE ARENA column in TIME magazine. These were done with Art Directors Tom Miller, Cindy Hoffman and D. W. Pine. Special mention should also be made of TIME photo Editor Deirdre Read who always does a fantastic job researching the photo heads. Each week I send her an e-mail saying what type of expression(s) I'm looking for and she sends me contact sheets with a consistently great selection to chose from. She has a wonderful eye and we're always in sync.
The first is running this week for a column entitled "Above the Fray."
"The Patriotism Problem: Obama's candidacy is a tribute to what's right about America. He needs to start saying so."
"Silly Season: Both Democratic candidates are bloodied and losing altitude. That's why it might be time to bring back Al Gore"
"Obama's Challenge And Ours: His speech on race was a triumph. Now he has to keep telling hard truths."
"Patraeus Meets His Match: The general has made real progress in Iraq. But he doesn't have an answer for Barack Obama."
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED by Christopher Cerf and Victor S. Navasky
Simon & Schuster Art Director Michael Accordino asked me to create this cover featuring some of the great minds of our generation, He asked that Bush be represented in his flight suit and for him to be surrounded by a cast of characters. These characters were never set in stone and there was a lot of tweaking on the piece until the final lineup was in place. We worked on the bulk of it over the summer. It was completed in early February and sent out to bookstores last week.
Mission Accomplished! Or How We Won the War in Iraq: The Experts Speak
From the back cover: Mission Accomplished! Or How We Won the War in Iraq, the definitive, footnoted, hilarious but depressing compilation of experts who were in error about the Iraq War.
From MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!
"Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed."
-- President George W. Bush, May 2, 2003
"[Insurgents] pose no strategic threat to the United States or to the Coalition Forces."
-- L. Paul Bremer III, Administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, November 17, 2003
"Military action will not last more than a week."
-- Bill O'Reilly, The O'Reilly Factor, January 23, 2003
"I couldn't imagine somebody like Osama bin Laden understanding the joy of Hanukkah."
President George W. Bush, at a White House menorah lighting ceremony, December 10, 2001
In the beginning was the photograph. I was fortunate to have the Corbis files at my disposal and was able to search through hundreds of photographs to find the perfect ones. This Bush face sums up my take on the last eight years. It set the tone for the entire piece. I wasn’t sure that S&S would go for it. It’s so extreme that it’s practically a drawing in itself but Michael Accordino and I were in perfect sync with our shared vision for the jacket throughout the entire project.
This is what I sent too Michael as the first sketch. Fortunately Michael trusted me to figure out where to place the Bush Mob. At this point I had no idea where they were going to go.
I was given a list of names of the people who needed to appear on the cover. The challenge was to fit them all into an interesting and quickly readable composition. People were added and subtracted as we went along. In this early sketch I have Cheney sitting on Bush’s shoulder. In this update, Bush's flight suit is complete. The flight suit alone is 61 layers.
This is the first complete Bush mob. As you'll see, Wolfowitz didn't make it to the final piece, Rumsfeld and Powell would be repositioned.
A new flag to fit Michael's updated layout.
The flag was blurred for the finish to echo this famous photo. The handmade type in the first two sketch images was made by blowing up the type on this original banner, cutting it out and filling it in. It was extra work that I knew wouldn't see print but I needed it to balance the
image for myself.
This is the final image as it would appear on the cover. Wolfowitz out, Anne Coulter in. Also added is the whimpering pup pose for Rumsfeld.
The finished jacket is up top. The final is 132 layers.
Here’s an animation that I worked on a few months ago.
The animation features Isaiah Washington, reading Sarah “Dixie” Feldman’s “City Symphony” to “Story Time” cartoon hosts Moose and Zee.
Click Here To See CITY SYMPHONY
It was produced by the wonderful Matthew Dunteman for Nickelodeon’s commercial-free channel for pre-schoolers, Noggin, in partnership with First Book (a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide children from low-income families the opportunity to read and own their first new books.)
I’ve worked with Matthew several times over the years and it’s always been a treat. The piece has yet to run due to Washington’s self-inflicted off-screen troubles. It may yet air — Matthew recently told me that Noggin will be hiring a different actor to narrate the piece.
What made this project particularly special for me was my great love for New York City. Like the person in the poem, I often pause to listen to the sounds of the City as music. I also spend a lot of time observing, sketching and collaging its people, residents and visitors. For me, NYC is still the magical place I dreamed of as a kid growing up in bucolic Orefield, Pennsylvania.
Matthew attended my recent talk at MoMA. There, I went into the elaborate hinging I’d done in photo-shop in order to give the animators endless possibilities. Specifically, I talked about the bicycle rider who was hinged to look as if he was peddling the bike. In the final you’ll see that he just coasts by. Matthew said during the lecture’s Q & A that next time they’ll have to include me more in the animation process.
This was done with Peter Morance for The New York Times.
The job really began to take shape on Christmas Eve. The idea was to do a bunch of celebrity train wrecks as a year end round-up.This was the sketch I sent to Peter and that he approved.
I worked on this deep into Christmas Eve. While I was working the kids were watching "Mark Morris' The Hard Nut" on TV. I can't help but think the music was an influence. The piece seemed to be getting overwhelmed as a set piece, a backdrop.
When I woke up on Christmas morning I decided to simplify the concept by dropping all of the periferal stuff and just keeping the train. I felt that with all of the characters that needed to go into this the piece it was just going to become too heavy, too busy. I drew up this quick sketch and sent it with my concerns on to Peter. He agreed.
Update with track. I had Paris Hilton engineer the train since she went to the hoosegow on a DUI.
Further along, some more sketching but nearing the finish.
first sketch. Again, I like to work with very loose sketches in order to give myself breathing room when it comes to making the image. Collage is an improvisational medium.
This ran in last week's New York Times. The art director was Greg Ryan. the article was by Joanna Kaufman and dealt with teenagers who would rather stay in the city than hang out with their parents at the family's second home. I'm posting it here because I saved it at several stages in order to keep Greg abreast of its progress.
I added color to help Greg decipher my hieroglyphics.
The Father's head collaged in.
Here's more added. I moved the Manhattan window, the older son and the daughter in the sketch.
The kid brother was starting to look like Alfred E. Neuman here so I needed to rethink and rework him. A special thanks to A. Richard Allen who alerted me to the X-Box Controller.
This is the finish as published. It is 242 layers.
This was a promo that aired on VH1 for their just ended Thanksgiving Weekend Marathon. I was called by Shelli Sweeney to ask if I'd be interested in designing and putting together 30 seconds of animation and could I have it finished in a week. I called my good friend Gary Leib to see if he could animate the piece. Gary's a monster. Blair Younger provided us with a mix track and it was our job to put the images to it. The track here is from the scratch track and isn't the final mix. It's not even the final animation as aired but it's close. The VH1 people were great to work with. Anyway, click here to see it. BEST OF VH1 THANKSGIVING spot
This piece was about Mitt Romney crawling his way to the top of the Republican heap. (52 layers)
Earlier in the year I recieved a call from Tom Miller at TIME magazine asking if I would be interested in illustrating Joe Klein's column IN THE ARENA. The column runs 43 weeks in a year. Below are some of the images from that collaboration.
This is a sketch for the Romney piece. I like my sketches to be loose because the compositions get set into my head during the collage process. Collage is a wonderfully improvisational art form. Too tight of a sketch generally leads to too tight of a finished piece.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sketch
The main art director on these has been Edel Rodriguez. Edel is fantastic to work with. For starters he keeps late hours similar to mine. I generally start work at around 8 or 9 after the kids are in bed and go until 5 or 6 am. With Edel I can send him stuff at around two O'clock and he's still awake for feedback. We've worked out a great rapport and rhythm for these. I get the call on Tuesday afternoon, talk with Edel, send sketches and then have the finish in on Wednesday morning.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad being inflated by the media. I moved the point of insertion for the final. (48 layers)
General Petraeus on stage sketch
This General Petraeus (on Stage) was thought to look too much like a photograph. I generally try to cover my photo-shop tracks but this one got away from me. Tom Miller suggested I try it again pushing my cut-out collage approach to the fore.
General Paetraeus on stage final (50 layers)
John McCain's resurgent campaign (sketch)
For this piece I had Max Fleischer's Popeye Cartoons on DVD playing on my computer while I worked. Edel suggested we swap the tank in the sketch for the GOP logo on Popeye's tattoo. (46 layers)
This was an unpublished sketch for a column dealing with how the Dems were running away from the more centrist Democratic Leadership Counsel for the primaries but would return for the General election.
This is the final for the DLC column. (14 layers)
Like myself, Joe Klein is a big METS fan. The Mets had a monumental collapse at the end of this past baseball season and Klein wrote a great piece on what it means to be a METS fan. The above is an unpublished sketch.
Mr. Met crying sketch
Here again is where Edel's simple but absolutely perfect suggestions come in. This is the first pass on Mr. Met on a white background.
Edel suggested adding the orange to bring out the foreground and not lose the baseball in the white. Orange and blue are the Mets colors. (43 layers) Every broken hearted Mets fan should read Joe Klein's column "Oh, My Mets!" He's one of us.
General Petraeus report sketch
the first smile. Note the Lewis Carroll influence. Someday I'd love to illustrate Alice in Wonderland and Alice through the Looking Glass. Some day.
Country music star Merle Haggard throws his support behind Hillary Clinton. The collaged guitar is based on Merle's. I could have simply cut and pasted a photo of his guitar but I think it's important to retain as much of a hand made cut and paste look to the pieces as possible and not rely on complete photographs to deliver the image. (25 layers)
Joe Klein wrote a laudatory piece on Senator Clinton's health care proposal. First sketch.
Here again is Edel art directing at two in the morning. I had a ton of white space above the U.S. I was thinking very literally that this was a doctor's visit so I was wracking my brain of what to fill it with. Lights. cabinets etc. Edel suggested the I.V. which seems simple but was the perfect choice and one I hadn't though of since I associate I.V. with hospitals and not check ups. Above in black is Edel's late night sketch to my update and sketch. The dark marker is Edel, the light sketching is me. The I.V. in the finish is nine layers, meaning nine separate images went into the making of it.
Doctor Hillary final. (49 layers)
This is a sketch for a piece concerning U.S. military progress in Iraq undermined by the Bush administrations politics and priorities. The scene is a goat grab.
final. The men depicted are the men referenced in the column, Amar Al-Hakim and Sheik Ahmed [Abu Risha]. (42 layers)
This is this week's. On this I didn't have the column because it was to be written that Tuesday evening after the Democratic debate. Fortunately Obama compared his campaign to Rocky Balboa and handed us the image. Sketch.
Final. The final on this conforms perfectly to the sketch because the sketch was approved late wednesday morning and the final was due at two that same afternoon. (26 layers)
Here is Kim Jong Il in a piece that I did for the wonderful Cynthia Hoffman. It ran in TIME magazine. The head was cut out from disparate magazine pieces, assembled, glued and scanned into my computer. The rest of the piece is photo-shop. Here's the article: The Tony Soprano of North Korea
Wikki Wikki Wikki Wikki. Patrick Flynn called and asked me to create three break-dancers for “Rethinking Education.” I spent the last three days listening to lots of classic hip-hop-----Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Run-DMC, Afrika Bambaataa, Fat Boys, UTFO, Kurtis Blow, Newcleus, ESG, The Sugarhill Gang, the soundtrack to Wild Style etc. Good stuff. I realize through my eight-year-old daughters that break dancing is back in vogue but this will always be the music of breakdancing to me. Back in the early eighties I used to spend a lot of time at The Roxy watching the break dancers and listening to Afrika Islam, son of Bambaataa mixing the discs. There was also a late night AM radio show back then that invited DJs to come on and do what they did into the wee wee hours. Those hours were and are my favorite time to work. These pieces were completely improvisational, working to the music and letting instinct, memory and my scissors go where they may. I even did a little tape collage. A technique I developed directly out of listening to and thinking about hip-hop. Looking for the perfect beat. Patrick just reminded me that back then in the early eighties he said, “Kroninger, how can you listen to that crap?” I sent him a mix tape of favorites and, what do you know, he was hooked. Great music. Anyway, Patrick, thanks for the Madeleine.
I just finished this piece for an upcoming Gospel compilation by Anthony Heilbut. I don’t know when it’s slated for release. It’s going to be a fantastic two disc set with one brilliant performance after another. I already heard it so I know. Fans of the music will recognize everyone on the cover as a major star from Gospel’s Golden Age. Designer Jesse Reyes did the Type, color and texture.
Since others are posting them, here’s one of my “brushes with Show-biz” stories. The short version of how I got to work for and with the brilliant comedian Chris Rock.
An animation director went to HBO and offered his services to do a short segment for Rock’s show in ”collage style.” One of the producers asked, “You mean like SOUTH PARK?” The animation director said “No, like Stephen Kroninger.” Fortunately for me, someone I’d worked with on several other projects was also one of the producers in that meeting. She said “Stephen’s a friend of mine, why don’t we get him?” The rest is television history. We had three weeks from start to finish to bang out the animation. It’s called Bad Phone Sex. The bit is about Chris trying to get his completely disinterested and uncooperative girlfriend (Judy Gold) to talk dirty to him over the phone. Chris Rock was incredibly patient and a dream to work with. He posed for all of the head-shots, looking at the storyboards and then imitating the expressions in the drawings. He couldn’t have been nicer. At one point in editing the audio we decided to take out a line with a very popular four-letter word in it. Not because of the word, it’s used liberally throughout the piece, but because it was felt that it impeded the flow of the animation. A producer intervened and said ”You can’t take that line out because Chris always gets a big laugh whenever he says (popular four letter word).” It stayed in and big laugh he got. Lots of big laughs in fact. The program was recorded in front of a studio audience and aired on what turned out to be the very last episode of “The Chris Rock Show.” He soon departed for Hollywood. The two minute animation is included as an extra on Rock’s DVD “Bring The Pain.” It was also selected for Spike and Mike’s Twisted Festival of Animation.
Read the Beatles: Classic and New Writings on the Beatles, Their Legacy, and Why They Still Matter by Astrid Kirchherr (Foreword), June Skinner Sawyers (Editor)
Turns out the Beatles collage I did for my niece isn’t unpublished after all. Today a package arrived from Penguin that has it on the back cover of a new book. The great Jesse Reyes was the design director. He told me a while back that he selected one of my Beatles for the back cover but I assumed it was the one above.
David Cowles did the front cover (not pictured here). Speaking of David, Here’s a recently published, career-spanning collection of his work that anyone interested in top drawer contemporary caricature should own. http://www.lulu.com/content/320692
"Someone's gonna make you pay your fare." Vivian Stanshall of The Bonzo Dog Band. As they were in their day, Vivian and the Bonzos are somewhat obscure so I added the video below for context.
Canyons Of Your Mind (1969)
Groucho Marx and Thelma Todd from the Marx Brothers film "Horse Feathers.".
A private commision from a Hollywood movie director. He wanted a "classic comedian(s)" for his wall and left the rest up to me.
Everyone Says I Love You (Written by Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby)
Gerard Smith, Kyp Malone, Jaleel Bunton, Tunde Adebimpe and David Sitek
This is an unpublished collage of TV on the Radio. The lead singer is a friend of mine from way back. If you're interested, curious or already a fan, below are some performances.
Wolf Like Me
Staring at the Sun (music Video)
Dry Drunk Emperor (free unreleased mp3 download)
dieing under hot desert sun,
watch your colours run.
did you believe the lie they told you,
that christ would lead the way
and in a matter of days
hand us victory?
did you buy the bull they sold you,
that the bullets and the bombs
and all the strong arms
would bring home security?
all eyes upon
dry drunk emperor
gold cross cross jock skull and bones
standing naked for a while!
get him gone, get him gone, get him gone!!
and bring all the thieves to trial.
end their promise
end their dream
watch it turn to steam
rising to the nose of some cross legged god
gog of magog
end times sort of thing.
oh unmentionable disgrace
shield the childrens faces
as all the monied apes
display unimaginably poor taste
in a scramble for mastery.
atta' boy get em with your gun
till mr. mega ton
tells us when we've won
what we're gonna leave undone.
all eyes upon
dry drunk emperor
gold cross jock skull and bones
naked for a while.
get him gone, get him gone, get him gone!!!
and bring all his thieves to trial.
what if all the fathers and the sons
went marching with their guns
drawn on washington.
that would seal the deal,
show if it was real,
this supposed freedom.
what if all the bleeding hearts
took it on themselves
to make a brand new start.
organs pumpin on their sleeves,
paint murals on the white house
feed the leaders L.S.D
grab your fife and drum,
grab yor gold baton
and let's meet on the lawn,
shut down this hypocrisy.