Arena Stage in Washington D.C. just announced its 2016/17 Season and I designed one of the posters for The Lillian Hellman Festival. Arena has a strong history of illustrated posters and it's always an honor to add to the series. Watch on the Rhine is a play set at the beginning of World War II in a big suburban house with a plot that includes family tension, a mysterious visitor, three kids, Nazis and a briefcase full of cash. Warner Bros. made a version in 1943 with Bette Davis. Marsha Mason will star and Arena requested that she be featured in the poster design.
The wonderful Nicky Lindeman was the Art Director, and she asked for a design that would have a strong period feeling. I thought that the war posters of Abram Games and Edward McKnight Kauffer would be a good starting point. Nicky managed to shepherd this one through with a minimum of revisions.
It’s an honor to have designed the poster for the 2016 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. I’ve been traveling down to New Orleans for JazzFest since 1989 and it’s the best music festival in the world. So much great music has come out of The Crescent City over the years and there are so many fantastic musicians living there now, that it’s possible to hear wonderful live music every night of the year, and at JazzFest the choices are overwhelming.
The poster series is one of the most collected series in the world and many great artists have created designs for it since 1975. These are limited edition serigraphs, (this year’s is nineteen colors) and there’s an edition that is signed by the artist and also the featured performer. I did the poster in 2002 that featured Wynton Marsalis, and the 2016 poster features the legendary Ellis Marsalis Jr. and his four musician sons, Branford, Wynton, Delfeayo and Jason. Over the years I’ve become friends with the publisher, Bud Brimberg, and every year we talk about his plans for the poster, the artists he’s working with, and possible subjects. Every year I say the same thing, “When are you going to feature Ellis Marsalis?” This year when he suggested we make a portrait of the family, I jumped at the chance to make a companion piece to the 2002 poster.
There’s a reception on Wednesday, April 20th at Royal House Gallery, 813 Royal Street, New Orleans from 4:00 – 7:00 pm, for me and the Congo Square poster artist, the great George Hunt. I’ll be showing some sketches for the poster and a few ink-on-paper drawings of New Orleans musicians and nightclubs. If you’re in town, come by.
Posters by: Sharon Dinkins & Thorn Grafton, Maria Laredo, Stephen St. Germain, Richard Thomas,
Francis Pavy, George Rodrigue, James Michalopoulos, Bill Hemmerling, Doug Bourgeois, Tony Bennett (yep), and Terrance Osborne.
This year's Congo Square poster is a tribute to the late B.B. King by George Hunt.
I started off trying to pack the musicians into a pose that echoed a group shot of Louis Armstrong and King Oliver's band. I was also thinking about the mural in the Sazerac Bar at
The Roosevelt Hotel
Sazerac Bar murals by Paul Ninas
Color sketch that we eventually abandoned.
First sketches of the House of Swing idea
I got to spend some valuable time with Ellis Marsalis Jr, last week when he came in to sign the edition. He told some great stories and said he's thinking of writing a memoir.
TBT: Wynton and me signing the 2002 edition.
A picked up a book called New Orleans Jazz, A Family Album in a used bookshop and started making these drawing from the photos inside. These will be at Royal House Gallery.
I’ve been working for a few years with LA Metro making illustrations that can be used in a variety of formats, a project that has grown from a series of three posters to over 100 images. These pieces are used in advertising, commuter information, and online as part of LA Metro’s expanding program to bring mass transit to Los Angeles.
It’s been a real pleasure working with Creative Director Michael Lejeune and Melissa Rosen, Art Director at Metro Design Studio. My job is easy on some pieces, “give us a cool look at an existing light rail line, or new bus,” and more difficult on others “we don’t know exactly what this should be but we need an image that ties light rail to Metrolink, but without showing a specific train.”
When we started, one of the things Michael and I talked about was the great original Disneyland attraction posters by Bjorn Aronson. We both liked that modernist poster style for showing complex images in a clean, clear way. There’s a lot of people involved on these, engineers looking for accuracy in the structures and graphic designers making sure I get the correct font on the sides of the trains.
Last week Nicholas Blechman called requesting an illustration for an article about squash, the sport, not the vegtable, written by Tad Friend in The New Yorker.
The article is about Mr. Friend's relationship to the sport and also the mental side of the game as an antidote to midlife malaise. The editor sent along a note about the Hourglass Analogy, an idea that in middle-age a weaker player may occasionally beat a much better player. Sketch 1 is in color, because I wasn't sure the pencil sketch would communicate my thinking clearly.
Sketch 2 was chosen and I sent over two color options. In re-reading the article I also realized that Mr. Friend is left-handed.
They went with the red one. It's always great to see a piece printed, surrounded by that distinctive New Yorker typography.