Larry Summers, former Secretary of the Treasury and now the White House Director of The National Economic Council had in part, worked to easy Wall Street's regulation in the late nineties. Today, he's been brought in to help fix this economic disaster. Irony? With so many economic "Cooks in the Kitchen" will they be able to agree on how to move the economy forward?
This portrait for The New Republic was commissioned by Christine Carr last week and just came out.
Hopefully we are all excited(or at least I am) for the upcoming baseball season to start. Winter is on the way out, the grass is green again, the sunset is at 8:30 pm instead of 5pm and the Yanks, once again, have a good chance to be champs(or maybe not). But just on the horizon is the upcoming trial of the once great Barry Bonds. It's been pushed back twice now and you have to wonder why. Are there some cracks in Fed's case against Bonds? Well... maybe.
Playboy asked me to do a piece for an article they were publishing about the possible railroading, by the feds, of Barry Bonds and his perjury charges of steroid usage. The piece more or less blows up the Feds shaky case to get a conviction against Bonds. The prosecutor Mr. Novitzky seems to have it out for Bonds in this piece and is obsessed to get a conviction by any means. Although It's seems pretty clear to me from the enormous changes to his physique that Bonds benefited greatly from steroid usage and he's arguably the most vilified athlete to be associated with it's usage. But where's the likes of Mark McGwire in all this, the guy who originally rode the bandwagon to "Hero status" for breaking Maris's seemingly impossible record? The truth will come out one day and some are already admitting to their past usage (A-rod) but we still have some deniers out there(Clemens). Will they be pursued like Bonds. I'm no fan of Bonds and his home run record is bogus, in my eyes, but I wonder who will end up with egg on their face(Bonds or the Prosecution).We'll have to wait and see.
I've also added another piece I did soon after for ESPN the Magazine on the prosecutor in this case, Novitzky. A piece that took more or less the same point of view about the case against Bonds. However, it didn't publish because the story was sort of scooped by a piece that published on the internet. Novitzky is the focus on this piece.
I thought I'd put up some of my 2008 rejects. The naughty dark soul of Britney Spears for a Rolling Stone Cover that didn't make it. A little too bad girl and less beautiful girl probably doomed it. It was a heck of an opportunity either way and I put it up on my neighbors fireplace mantle piece for his big SuperBowl bash. She's a naughty one.
The other two were from a Fromm gourmet dog food campaign that never saw the light of day. I was originally asked to do this assignment when the dog food scandal broke. That was when chinese dog food exports, which was contaminated with melamine, poisoned a lot of dog. That's not good timing for this gig and sure enough it was put on hold till the scandal died out. Even though they gave me the go ahead to finish it early this year, it seemed doomed to never be published. Advertising assignments hard to come by for me and this was a lot of fun, even if it had the smell of doom. To this date it's still unpublished.
For all those AC/DC fans out there, and I'm one of them, there hasn't been any new material from them for 8 years. So on October 20 "Black Ice", new studio material from the Aussie's, was released. Steve Charney, at RollingStone, gave me an awesome opportunity to do the RS Review illo. I'm always at them about getting more Rock&Roll illo's so I'm glad to have had this assignment. While I was working on this painting I just happened to come across an AD/CD concert in HD called NO BULL. Wow did they put on a show!! It's hard not to like them live. Their energy level, especially Angus, is on par with no one. The leg kick, the uniform, the riffs and the simple yet classic sound and lyric combination makes them ageless. I can't say that about some other bands ( Aerosmith ).
Also an important note - RollingStone has retired their classic magazine format of 10 x 12 for good. Sad news for all of those(me included) who felt that size was a hallmark distinction on the magazine racks. They are now a regular magazine 8 x 10.75. A new era has begun folks!!
Carrie Fisher has had some real ups and downs in her life but no one could illustrate it with as much charm, wit and gut busting humor like she can. She has put together an incredible one woman show highlighting all of her "lowlights" like an Ivy league professor making a power point presentation. The play titled "Wishful Drinking" has had a run in the Bay Area, Los Angeles and is coming to DC to be performed as part of The Arena Stage Festival this fall.
Scott Mires of Mires Ball gave me a call and asked if I'd be interested in illustrating the poster art for "Wishful Drinking". I rarely get opportunities to do poster art so I was all too willing to take part in this project. I had a chance to read the script sent to me by publications director for Arena Stage, Cathleen Tefft. It was so brilliant and self deprecating I didn't want it to end. The image had to highlight what brought her to fame and not exactly prominence - Star Wars. I proposed the idea of her, Darth Vader , C3PO and R2D2 all having stiff drinks and a smoke in a booth at Sardi's. Is this how Luke learned "The Ways of the Force"? I'd like to think so.
When Richard Aquan, from Haper Collins called me last fall and asked me if I would do a cover for a book titled "Napoleon's Privates, 2500 Years of History Unzipped" I thought it was too good to be true. Tony Perrottet , historian/journalist wrote this very entertaining historical guide. It's everything you wanted to know about history but were too afraid to ask. I rarely get the opportunity to work on book covers so I'm hoping AD's in the Book publishing world will notice this one.
It's been a while since I've posted or commented on Drawger, I've become quite distracted with the new house and life by the water. It has a way of hypnotizing you. However, I'm committed to get back to posting more often.
Last week I got a call from the LA Times to do a cover Illustration for the NBA Finals supplement. The twist was to recreate the famous Bird/Magic photo from Andrew Bernstein. It was a classic photo from the Bird/Magic match up in the 1984 finals. Derek Simmons, the deputy Design Director asked me if I could recreate the spirt of the photo with Kobe Bryant and Paul Pierce. With a quick turnaround and an odd size I got right to work. I had a few issues to start with - the clothing the faces and how big do I make it. I had to go big (24x45) even though at times it can make the painting go faster( i like to work with bigger brushes) it's not the most practical size for me to photograph. I have to do it in a lot of pieces then put it together in photoshop.
I finished the painting in just under 3 days (with a sore neck) and managed to get a file of the painting out amid a tornado warning, a lightning storm and 60 mile an hour winds. I was on the edge in a matter of speaking. Power Outages are most unwelcome. I can still vividly remember the NY Blackout of 03. The Heat! The Heat!
I'm rooting for the Lakers even though I'm not a big fan of Kobe. I Just can't bring my Yankee DNA to route for anything Boston. I was glad to see last night that they got back into the series.
I've been working for the folks at the Bay Area Alternative Press in Berkeley, CA for some years now. All the painting time and final art are donated. Many great illustrators contribute, when asked, every year to create a calendar highlighting the struggles of migrant farm workers and their families. They along with The Academy of Art tried to fly me out to the Bay Area for long time and for what ever reasons (pneumonia) I've had to cancel my trip a couple of times. However, this past September I finally removed the hex over this trip and flew out to the Bay Area for the first time ever. I was blown away at how cool San Francisco is and what a gorgeous landscape it sits on.
Matt Marsh who was the director of the BAAP had arranged over that weekend for me and my now wife ,Sarah, to go with him one afternoon into Stockton(which was a little more than an hour east by car) and meet up with some folks at the National Farm Workers Association and then to the farm labor camps. They brought with them some donated clothes and food for the families of these farm workers. They were all so gracious and good people to the core. Not the kind of junk you hear from people who are out to scapegoat them politically. They were hard working families who were dedicated to there work and their work is hard. It's also unimaginably hot there!!!
I wanted to highlight this gentleman who was gather grapes off the vines. He had a great quality of light poking through that straw hat. These workers were the stewards of the this nation's salad bowl, not the profiteers, so I wanted to show a solidarity with the field and the worker, thus the solidarity fist of vines.
This is video my friend, Ken Smith, shot of Sarah and I in our first dance to Simply Red's "Holding Back the Years". Ken surprised me as we were dancing. I wasn't sure he had the camera on or if he was playing. Sure enough he did. Sarah and I both love this little glimpse into our Wedding Day so I thought I'd share it with everyone. Sarah and I have been through thick and thin together and were stronger then ever. It was only eight months after dating that I discovered I had Severe Aplastic Anemia and was heading down a irreversible path. We went through a long year of hardships so early on, but we both recognized our destiny. I would eventually be cured by a bone marrow transplant from an anonymous donor (Hector, who was also there with his wife) and we would finally be able to enjoy a happy and healthy life together. It's hard for me to believe that I've been this lucky in life but I am.
I rather you not see me with my shirt off -- it's not pretty.
We followed up our Wedding with a week on the beautiful Island of St Lucia.
Sometimes you have to be objective when working as an illustrator, even when it calls in to question your loyalties and fan-hood. I'm a true blue Yankee fan from the early days of my childhood. My first memories of baseball are at Yankee Stadium where I saw Thurman Munson, Reggie Jackson, Craig Nettles and Ron Guidry play in front of my little boy eyes. In those days baseball's greatest rivalry was Yankees/Red Sox and still is today. So much history! I remember coming home from school, in the 3rd grade, to watch Bucky Dent hit the legendary homer off of former Yankee, Mike Torres, to help them topple the Sox and get in to the ALCS and then win the series. A indelible memory for me and for every Yankee fan. Another big Yankee/Red Sox's memory for me came shortly after being diagnosed with Severe Aplastic Anemia in the fall of 03 and things were looking bleak and I was deteriorating by the day. The Yankees were in an incredibly tight American League Championship series with the Red Sox. It was game seven and they were tied in the 11th, 5-5 in an incredible nail biter. Tim Wakefield was pitching for the Sox's and the Yanks couldn't hit a lick off of him. Normally, I couldn't stay still in times like these but the illness had fatigued me so much that I feel asleep on my couch shortly before the moment of truth. I never saw Arron Boone hit the game winning walk off home run live, but my best friend in California, also a Yankee fan, called me on the phone, screaming and waking me up out of my stupor. He said "Did you see that man! Boone hit a homerun and won the game!!!" I was amazed, I couldn't believe it. A real moment of sunshine in otherwise scary time for me. I'll never forget it even though they didn't win the World Series that year. However, a year later I found myself getting chemo and radiation in preparations for my marrow transplant and the Yanks were facing the Sox's once again in the playoffs. The Yanks had won the first 3 games rather handily and I just happen to have a nurse who was a Red Sox fan. I couldn't help myself but give her hell about the Yankees doing a number on the Sox's. My hair was falling out, I was on a morphine drip and it was the only thing that felt normal to me... break chops on a Sox's fan. She took it all in stride and she gave as good as she got. Well, you know what they say "Pride precedes the fall" and man did I fall. The Yanks lost 4 straight and the Sox when on to break the "Bambino Curse" and eventually win the World Series that year. Fact is, I really didn't complain. I was cured of my disease and the Sox won the series that October. Things Change!!!!!
I still love the Yankee's but I'm happy for the Red Sox's that they broke their legendary curse and have made the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry once again the best thing in Sports.
This painting was commissioned by Boston Magazine's, Bob Parsons, a real gentleman every time I've worked for him. They were doing a story on The Red Sox "getting the groove back". Theo Epstein ( the GM) and Larry Lucchino ( the team president ) were the guy's who put together the Championship season of 2004, but had a falling out the next year and performed with lack luster results ever since. This season they are thinking big. They got this Japanese pitching phenomena they call "Dice K", Daisuke Matsuzaka, which some Drawgers have illustrated and posted already. They have made their team more competitive with other additions as well but he's the guy they have riding the PR machine. I thought Theo and Larry needed an attitude adjustment -- a really recognizable attitude adjustment, since they were "Getting Their Groove Back". So I thought I'd turn them into the Jake and Elwood Blues of baseball. To me, they looked the part and for Bob Parsons as well.
I've tried now 2 times to post my comments and unbeknownst to me my account timed out each time. I lost everything I had written and I'm frustrated. I've given up writing anything related to this piece other than it was for the LA Times, West Magzine.
I'm open to suggestions on how to deal with the problem of getting timed out when you are still writing. What could I be doing wrong? other than talking too much.
Alright, This time I'm posting the comments I had originally wanted for this piece, without incident. Thank you all for your advice.
This assignment was an emotional and controversial one for myself. Many already know how dangerously close to death my health had gotten some 3 1/2 years ago. Having overcome my illness with a bone marrow transplant from a anonymous donor in Sept. 2004, the subject of facing death is a sensitive one for me. I was lucky, but in this story the for the Los Angeles Times, West Magazine, facing eminent death was the harsh reality. The article is about California's "Death With Dignity Act" which was narrowly defeated last summer but will be up for a vote again this year. The piece subjects around these two men, one from Oregon and another from California who are "end of life patients" who are looking for a way to die comfortably and at the time of their choice. In Oregon, where the act was passed some years ago, the law works this way. The patient, not the doctor, must administer the doctor's prescribed lethal dose of pain medication, with the doctor present. The man in Oregon does this, at the time of his choosing, comfortably and peacefully at home with his family and physician present. The other man who lives in California has to testifies in front of the California Legislature that he's nearing the end of his brutal battle with cancer and would like to die at the time and place of his choosing and with all the comforts he feels would make it dignified and not criminal. He goes on to say that if this could not happen while he was still here he would take care of it himself... "with a 9mm injection to the head". A very powerful statement and one I could sympathize with.
I spent a good deal of time in the hospital getting to know very sick people as well as finding out that they have passed and even witnessing one pass before my eyes and ears. I remember thinking how unjust it was to die in a hospital you barely know surrounded sometimes by people you barely know.
I got a call two days after Christmas from the Art Director at Texas Monthly, TJ Tucker, at about 10:30 at night. I was kind of surprised that he called at that hour even if Austin is one hour behind. I guess it was a late night at the office for TJ. So a few glasses of red wine into my evening I noticed my cell ringing. TJ apologized for calling at that hour but he had something important to ask me. He said they were doing a important issue with a lot of great american historians writing about the legacy of George W. Bush. He said he had a pretty good concept for a cover and he thought I'd be able to handle this. It would be a portrait of W but in the style of Gilbert Stuart's unfinished Washington portrait. It wasn't so much a comparison of W with Washington but using the unfinished portrait as a metaphor for the unfished legacy of W. I thought it would be a great challenge as I love Gilbert Stuart's portraits and I wanted to give this painting some authenticity.
It wasn't easy. We both knew early on that this would be an evolution and not automatic. TJ also wanted to capture some of the antiquity to the canvas in the Stuart portrait in the W painting. I'm usually not in love with the idea of doing take off's on famous paintings but this one felt different to me. It was a painter that I admire.
I think after a few evolutions TJ was pleased with the final. At one point the portrait looked like it could have been on the Conan O Brien show segment "if they made it". When he picks two random celebrities and morphs the features of both on one face. I didn't quite have a W likness and I didn't quite have a Washington likeness. That's when the editors pulled us back from the cliff. Forget about Washington make sure it's W and let there be no doubt about it. After that the portrait came together for me. Then TJ called and asked me if I'd be up to painting the Texas Monthly logo. Whoa!! I'm not a typographer but I wanted to give it a shot anyway. In the end the editors overruled it but I'll include the type evolutions that weren't use.
the first Texas Monthly type painting which the editors interpreted as Ass Monthly
I have really enjoyed reading everyone's blog's and comments recently and I've decided that I'd love to join the conversation.
I have to thank Edel Rodriguez for sending me the invite to Illoz, which I've joined and love, and for making me aware of this great forum known as Drawger. I'd also like to thank Zimm for hooking me up with an account.
My first posting is a piece I did recently for Details Magazines, which is currently on the stands. It reunited me with one of my favorite Art Directors I've ever worked with, Rockwell Harwood. We go way back when he was giving me my first big assignments at Esquire Magazine about a decade ago. Rockwell is a brilliant AD and he really changed the way I thought of illustration.
When he emailed me that he had an assignment on K-Fed and Bobby Brown I couldn't resist.