Leo Espinosa
on work
Nuts and Bolts
As I mentioned in my previous post, last month was bananas between driving out west to our new home and the amount of work that fell on me. One of the most complex but VERY fulfilling projects was the design and art direction of a TV spot that just aired on national television in Colombia over the weekend.
My good friend, (director) Mauricio Pardo, asked me if I was interested in designing the overall look and characters for a commercial commemorating 60 years of Colombia's biggest oil company. The challenge was to show how much the client cares about education, progress and the environment using some sort of loose mechainism the Ad Agency had in mind. Timing was tight, but I thought that my use of color, simple shapes and character design could really work well with their concept and agreed to it. What I didn't anticipate was  that the same look needed to be carried over to the print campaing and that I would need to illustrate the ads in record time.

Long story short, two weeks of solid work, many cups of coffee, a few all-nighters and all the graphics were done. Then came the collaboration with the director, the creative team, the animation studio and the sound designers. They all did their magic (with a lot more coffee consumption I must guess) and the campaing was finished up and delivered to the public!

One of the main constrains for the TV ad, was fitting in all the ideas that came from the agency, animated at a reasonable pace. All my drawings were already done but not all of them made it to the final cut. Like the frame you see above, which was meant to be the closing of the spot
This was one of the illustrations done for print. The look needed to be as close as possible to the TV spot but with a little bit more detail, texture and volume

These are some background and characters, both from print and TV, that will be featured in a 60" version of the commecial. I had a kick designing the little critters!
The short 35 sec. version of the ad!
PRODUCTION HOUSE: Colombo Films DIRECTOR: Mauricio Pardo ART DIRECTOR AND DESIGNER: Leo Espinosa POST PRODUCTION: Dr. Pepe ANIMATORS Dr. Pepe: Catalina Noriega PRODUCTION Dr. Pepe : Camila Robayo EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Nathalie Burnside ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Andres Cortes SOUND DESIGNER : Sonica AGENCY: Sancho/BBDO CREATIVE TEAM: Sandra Murillo, Dario Rodriguez CREATIVE DIRECTORS : Juan Gomez, Andres Maranta R&TV: Maria Mercedes Medina

I know it's been a while since my last post, but a lot has happened in the past couple of months that have kept me away from Drawger.
After years of living in the North East, la familia Espinosa decided to move out west and start a new life. We chose Salt Lake City because of many reasons but two of them stand out: One is family (cute little cousins for our kids included) and the other one is the easy access to the great outdoors all year round, mainly in the winter time, when skiing (which we all love) can easily replace TV and video games (which the two young members of our clan seem to love).

Back in May, we bought a swell mid century house that needed some work, planned to drive cross country and started "remote remodeling" while still living in Providence, hoping that our new home would be ready by the time we would land in Salt Lake. The trip felt really long at times due to the heat wave that was heading in the opposite direction, but at the same time it was very special in many levels and made us appreciate this vast and beautiful country much more.

Because of the strange ways the universe behaves, a few illustration projects I had on hold got the green light as we started our journey from lovely Cape Cod forcing me to work at night at every single motel we stayed in. Even after we arrived I kept burning the midnight oil and pulling a few all-nighters to complete all the assignments on time, including an animated TV spot, an ad campaign, a CD jacket, a couple of book covers, character and type design and my regular editorial jobs. It was truly insane!

But because the universe is not that inconsiderate, work finally slowed down and we have been able to explore and relax a bit too. We have hiked up to places where there's still snow, rode our bikes up and down these canyons, swim in the afternoons, enjoyed awesome concerts and met great people like fellow Drawgeroid, Robert Neubecker and his family.

As time permits I'll be posting the projects I've mentioned above, some of which I'm extremely proud of. Needless to say, after a month of being here, construction is still going on at our place and we still have a few more trips to IKEA. Alas, it all feels right, fresh and exciting.
A Song for Japan
A Song for Japan is a postcard book featuring the work of 30 Colombian artists, put together by PechaKucha Night Bogotá & estudio ph3 to collect funds for the reconstruction of Japan through Architecture for Humanity.
Many thanks to Nobara Hayakawa and Jorge Restrepo for selecting my contribution to be the cover and the title of such a thoughtful project.

Many moons ago when I made the switch from design to illustration, I only did the minimum sketches necessary for any given assignment but rarely drew for fun. I don't think I even had a sketchbook for years. Luckily, that changed with time and I embraced drawing as a daily ritual.
I started teaching this semester to a mixed group of illustrators and designer and drawing has become the perfect common ground from where we start every single project. I keep remind them about the importance of drawing constantly. Drawing without thinking and drawing with a lot of thinking. Drawing uninspired and drawing with a muse. Drawing fast thumbnails but also complete concepts. Drawing to spark strong ideas instead of spending hours and hours clicking the mouse around waiting for ideas to happen. Here's a few recent editorial jobs and some of the doodles I do (for fun) in between assignments.
Pictured above, a piece about young hackers and their mighty power for Wired magazine
An illo on how bad 3D video games are for little children for Baby and Toddler magazine (left) and a fast sketch inspired by a cool kid I spotted at the airport in Atlanta (right)
This one was for The Atlantic, for an article about robots that have been programed to answer people's tweets... hah, and you thought someone was actually interested in how special your cat is!

Doodles on scrap paper
A piece about retirement and dangerous investments for Plansponsor magazine
And last but not least, some small details from a couple of commissioned pieces that started as personal work from my sketchbook.
Megafono #3

Megafono is a terrific publication about illustration, design, photography (and music too, track 2 is amazing!) put together in Barranquilla, Colombia.
I'm very happy to see the magazine has made it to its third issue, and more than that, honored to be featured in it along with such a talented group of artist and friends.

Many thanks to Luis Hernandez (the ink), for his kind invitation and endless patience.

I love packaging design and it's always a treat when I get to put on my designer hat for this kind of projects. In the past few years I've illustrated several game boxes for Hasbro, but last year I got a call from them to work on their classic Twister box (insert happy face). After the first round of sketches, I was surprised to hear that the AD, Joe Dzialo, liked the one where I didn't fill all the characters with color and I was expecting that if going in that direction -which I really liked for its simplicity- I was going to be asked to give everything a solid color. Joe replied that keeping those outlined areas made the whole composition more dynamic. Well.. his decision made my day!

It took a while but the game is finally out, and -I've heard- looks quite sharp on the shelves (Insert winking face!)
Warm and Fuzzy
It's not a surprise that the first signs of the warm and fuzzy feelings of the Holiday Season are showing up earlier each year. To me that means that by late October I'm wearing a wool hat and sipping coffee while working extra long hours, often until I see the sunrise peeking through my studio window. One of the projects I've done in the past weeks is this illustration for Nicolukas Bakery; The design studio gave me total freedom and the only request was that I had to emulate the atmosphere of Santa's workshop but using my original characters. It was quite tricky to fit all the details I had initially created and sadly I had to leave a few out, but at the end I was very happy with how it came out. Many thanks to my dear friend Zina Saunders for her invaluable help with all my Photoshop questions (I couldn't have finished on time without it) and to Lucho Correa for such a fun assignment.

Happy Holidays everyone!
Visitations / JWT Mural
These are some images of a mural commissioned by J Walter Thompson and from the show Visitaciones (Visitations), my most recent collaboration with Jim Pluk. Both projects were created during my last trip to Colombia and although both involved time constrains and painting on large formats, the approach was very different for each; The first one was much more thought out and visually quite clear in my head before I started and the second one spontaneous and shaped by our two styles and way of working mixed together.

Top Photo: Alberto Morales

Bicentennial Pop
The XIX century meant freedom for Latin America and today many of its countries are celebrating the Bicentennial of their liberation from Spain with cultural events and art festivals. I was recently asked by El Malpensante, my favorite literary magazine from Colombia, to do a piece for a show/publication titled Bicentennial Pop, in which 20 illustrators were commissioned to re-interpret portraits of famous patriot heroes.

Undoubtably the best part of the assignment was that I got the chance to recreate a miniature painting done by José María Espinosa, an ancestor of mine who besides documenting with his work many battles of the independent war, also fought with the patriots and became a national figure.

Pictured below, José María Espinosa's miniature painting over ivory of General Nariño and my interpretation of the same piece. Espinosa taught himself the miniature technique by studying the work of European artists from the XVI century and became a master at it.

I added little happy faces all over the General's uniforme as a tribute to Espinosa's cartoons he did of local characters. I have a decent collection of those and I'm in the process of scanning them and cleaning them up for a most deserved second post about the artist.
Thanks to Mario Jursich for the invitation. This one was a treat!

A great compilation of Japanese inspired kawaii art has been put together by my talented friend Charuca in the recently published book, I♥KAWAII.
The term Kawaii (Japanese for cute) represents a whole movement of popular culture that started in the seventies in Japan and has become one of the most iconic and recognizable graphic phenomena in the world today.
To me, the most beautiful thing about this book is that through a vast array if styles, one can see how the movement has been visually translated into different cultures that have assimilated its essence without doing a mere copy of it.

I'm honored to be included in this fantastic group of artists and friends, including Aranzi Aronzo, Bubi Au Yeung, Catalina Estrada, Charuca, Devil Robots, FriendsWithYou, Laura Osorno, Mari-Chan, Meomi, Mizuka, Peskimo, Superdeux, Tado and many more!

I♥KAWAII is available online HERE and worldwide in the next couple of months.
If you are interested in getting a signed copy + a super cute pack of postcards by Charuca, you can contact her directly.
Thank you, Charuca + Monsa!
cover illustration © Charuca
Play like a girl!
The symptoms of World Cup fever are starting to mess up my concentration at work, but luckily I got this great assignment to design different characters based on best female soccer player in the world, Marta Vieria da Silva. Reading about her and watching a ton of videos for reference, I discovered that besides being talented with the ball (and really cute), Marta is a sweet and charismatic woman who's inspiring a whole new generation of Fútbol girls.
My daughter Sofía is one of them. She's a lot of fun to watch because in the field she turns into this little machine determined to carry the ball to the other side, usually for somebody else to score. These sketches and pics of her during practice are not recent but I love looking at them when I need a little motivation.

Oh, oh... I feel the fever coming back again, I better go and ask my little tornado if she's up for a friendly match. I promise to post close-ups of my illos of Marta as soon as my client's website goes life.
I work for Scott Brown
Before you get any crazy ideas, let me clarify that I'm talking about the other Scott Brown; Yes, the witty writer that every month delivers a terrific article for Wired magazine. I've had the privilege to illustrate Mr. Brown's page for over a year now and I believe this has been one of the coolest editorial gigs I've done. The freedom I get from the AD, Margaret Swart, allows me to move away from working in just one particular style, which helps keeping the section (and my vision) fresh.

Here's a few of the pieces I've done, Including the one above (Geek at Night) for an article on friday nights' geeky TV series.
Nanocomedy: Stand up comedy going places.
This one was about companies that take care of our digital remains when we are gone :(
Screen Grab, The Facebook movie.... oh, Hollywood!
Outsourcing Scott Brown was about today's abundance of writers' services through the internet.
Previously blogged, this one was about the Transformers movie and the direct involvement of the Army and GM with the film.
Dr Who... who, according to the amount of e-mails I received because of the illustration, is much more popular in America than I thought :)
Neurocinema: This one was about studies that show the behavor of the brain during a film.
One on the remake of 80's movies (like Wall Street), with the obvious dated technology.
And last but not least, The Shadow Knows, a very funny piece on a "script critic" from Hollywood who's opinion is surprisingly powerful in the movie industry.
What's In My Head

My multitalented friend, Ernesto Ramirez, is the head behind What's In My Head, a terrific magazine published in Madrid, created in collaboration with writers and artists from Spain and Latin America.
For its third issue I contributed with an illustration about obituary writers.

Don't forget to download the free font (La Cabeza) at the bottom of the home page.

New Tapestry

KesselsKramer's New Tapestry is an updated version of the Bayeux Tapestry, a huge medieval work of art showing the current affairs of its time. Where the Bayeux Tapestry told the news stories of 1066, New Tapestry tells the news events of 2009. It's 30 meters long and illustrated by 44 international artists.

New Tapestry was created by Christian Bunyan, Keefe Cordeiro and KesselsKramer.

My contribution to the projects focused on the tension between Venezuela and Colombia during the past years. Most specifically on the personal conflict between their presidents, Hugo Chavez and Alvaro Uribe, and how such a destructive relationship is affecting the region.

New tapestry will be on view between the 28th January 2010 - 2nd February 2010.
Opening Hours: 1300h -1730h
Steendrukkerij Amsterdam
Lauriergracht 80
1016 RM

see the New Tapestry online

The Horse
Ah, the joy of drawing horses! (And angry mobs in this case).
I recently finished this piece for the one and only, SooJin Buzelli, and as I rendered the horse (twice, actually), I remembered how much I loved to draw them and decided to do this little post.

As a kid I was bananas about them and spent hours trying to figure out their anatomy and movement. Zorro and The Lone Ranger were my favorite things to draw but I also spent weekends horseback riding at my cousins farm. These are some Zorro doodles I did last year thinking about a graphic novel idea.
Also last year I did a series of sketches based on painted war indian horses. In a way, The goal was to make almost transparent animals and being able to see the kindness and strength of their spirits.

A helpful horse bringing bread to the panadería I did a looooong time ago in kindergarden :)

This is a forever unfinished sketch I did a few years back based on a picture I found in The New York Times takend during a bloody mess in Israel. The photograph was unbelievable in many levels but I wanted to concentrate on the horse, always being dragged into human conflict, used pretty much as a weapon and against its true nature.
Here, my first attempt with pencils and charcoal for SooJin's assignment and last but not least, one of my favorites, the illustration of Zorro I did for Thomas Fuchs' birthday book.
There you have it folks, my humble tribute to the horse.
Back from Macondo
My body got back from Colombia about a week ago. My spirit, however, seems to still be flying somewhere like yellow garcia-marquezesque butterflies.
One can call procrastinating what I've being doing during these "re-entry" days, uploading pics and videos from the trip and creating images like the one above, but to be honest, there was so much I saw and experienced that I needed some quiet time to digest it all.
Colombia is booming creatively like many other developing countries that have found in the web a great platform to connect, absorb and broadcast their work. Video artists, musicians, designers, illustrators, and plastic artists to name a few, are working on superb and out of the ordinary projects, some of which I had the chance to see.

Note: The diplomatic chest ribbon didn't exactly come from El Presidente but from a fun, fun restaurant one evening of music and rum!

The main reason of my visit was to give a couple of lectures and lead a workshop on Design and Illustration at the Universidad Autonoma in the caribbean city of Barranquilla.
The students, faculty and the other speakers (including animators, new media brains and street artists) made the event incredibly interesting, challenging and inspiring.
Pictured above some of the attendants to the workshop, the speakers at lunch and a colorful poster from the students' show.

It was a lot of work but since clocks move so very slowly in Latin America, there was plenty of time to go to exhibits, enjoy long lunches, play with old friends and meet new ones. Clockwise from the top, Puro Morbo from the Visual Gore exhibit by Manifesto79; A studio session feeling quite rusty on drums after so many years; A logo I did for ZS Recording Studio (turned into a cool lamp); And a beautiful and thoughtful present from a new illustrator friend, Diana Moreno.

The diet included good coffee of course, sketching sessions with other illustrators (Jim Plukart and López served a feast) and yummy breads and treats that not only calmed the appetite but provided creative material.
To top it off, the day I arrived in Colombia two great things happened:
One, the Design Annual 50 of Communication Arts came out featuring the CD packaging for Pombo Musical, which I illustrated and designed last year in Bogotá, together with the talented Lucho Correa, And two, the same project won the Latin Grammy for Best Childrens' album of 2009! Weeeeheeeee!

Now, as I slowly come down from the clouds of such a great trip and set myself in real time, I'm already itching to start so many projects I already have lined up for next year, including a show in Buenos Aires in May and my first attempt with Furniture Design for Kids. Hopefully all as fulfilling and meaningful as the ones I got the chance to do this year.

La Guaka
La Guaka is the second project I've worked on this year, initiated by young artists and designers from Colombia who are committed to help out poor children through art. Many fantastic illustrators and friends, including fellow Drawgeroid Catalina Estrada, Dr. Alderete, Tatiana Arocha, Marcela Restrepo, Laura Osorno and Jim Plukart, as well as designers and photographers have donated their work to this great project. I'm honored to be a part of it, mostly knowing that my work could make a difference for the little ones of my beloved country.

One of the pieces I donated, titled The Poet, evolved from the sketches I had for another project that sadly I wasn't able to finish.
La Guaka was created by Juan Marín and works in collaboration with the Museum of Modern Art of Medellín to collect funds and do art programs with children from poor areas of the city.

Good Wood
AND... a little too late to announce the Bidding for Good Wood exhibit it just took place in Philly this weekend but not to late to show this skateboard deck I painted for the event. The third on a series of shows, Bidding for Good Wood silent auction benefits the organization Stay True.

The artistic challenge for me was to convey the same kind of mood I've been achieving in my sketches (pencil plus digital) while working with acrylics and a limited pallet.
Many thanks to Andrew Davis for inviting me to participate :4)

Sorry all for the pics. Not the best quality, I know.

Natural Resources
Humans Are Yummy and Have Great Taste (In Hats) is my collaboration for Natural Resources, a traveling custom toy show that will kick off in Cleveland next month. This is the second time I've been invited to customize Mike Burnett's beautiful wooden toys and I'm really happy with the way it came out. I improvised a lot this time and allowed the figure to pretty much tell me what it wanted me to turn it into.
I made changes to the original Joe Schmoe platform I received (pictured on the upper right) by doing some basic wood cutting sans-power tools :)  A lot of sanding and playing with cut out paper to decide on the final expression made the process very quiet and almost zen like. ommm....

Thanks to Klim and Steve from Bigshot. You guys are doing some terrific toys lately!
Here's some more info about the show:

More than 40 artists have customized Mike Burnett's "Neighborwood" and brand-new  "Average Joe Schmoe" wooden DIY figures for a traveling exhibit that will open Friday, November 6th in the Shoparooni Annex Gallery in Cleveland, Ohio. The exhibit will run from November 6th, 2009, until December 5th, 2009.
The artist list includes: Jeremiah Ketner, Chris Ryniak, Brian Morris, Ryan Bubnis, Johnny Yanok, Amanda Spayd, Leo Espinosa, Steak Mountain, Brian Flynn (Super 7), Martin Ontiveros, Le Merde, Chris Gliebe, Sean Mahan, Jason Limon, MAD, Hydro74, 64 Colors, Mark Nagata, Paul Escolar, Ken Keirns, Mr. Shane Jessup, and many more!!!

The opening reception will be held Friday, November 6th from 7 pm until 11 pm. Some artists will be in attendance.

Flats and Falls

Flats are the Debbie Downer of biking but I loved the spin Bicycling magazine gave them in its last issue: The more you know how to solve them (or avoid them), the faster you'll be riding again.
This is the opener illustration I created for the article. It talked about fixing flats with such speed and elegance, you could make it look like a tango or a flamenco. Olé!

My sketch and the final line art I later color with Photoshop.
This part is never a linear process and I always improvised as I go.

This one was a small spot but I spent quite some time on it. Ah, the pleasure of drawing bikes!

A half page about telling epic stories about epic flats of course.
Pictures of the actual events where inserted later in the deflating balloons.

I like how this spots work in the layout.

The other Debbie Downer of my beloved sport are falls. My latest one happened last friday just BEFORE my afternoon ride. I tumbled down the stairs, messed up my back, all the muscles of my left shoulder and opened my elbow in T shape (Helvetica extra bold). Blood everywhere.
I guess I'll have to switch to running for a while.

For the children, from the children
Title: The fat guy is bugging us with all that jumping
Title: The book
Title: Pirate girl.
Title: A very stressful rutine
Title: Why?
These are five stories written by kids from a really poor area of Bogotá, Colombia, I was asked to illustrate for a book that would collect funds for Bella Flor, an organization that runs art programs to keep children off the streets (and serious danger). The stories are different, sometimes sarcastic, very clever and quite connected to these kids' reality. The last one is perhaps my favorite: it was only a single line that said "Why countries, if I don't have a Visa?"

Besides feeling really good about helping the children, these pieces have brought immense satisfaction and make me feel like I've grown as an illustrator while creating them.

Many thanks to fellow illustrator Francisco Villa and Diego Contreras for inviting me to participate.

CA Design Annual
Pombo Musical, one of the most rewarding projects of my career and one that I hold really close to my heart, has been selected to be in the Design Annual of Communication Arts and I cannot be happier!
It was a treat getting to illustrate the most cherished fables of my childhood and working together with Lucho Correa, a good friend and one of the best designers I've known.
Pombo Musical is also featured in Illustrators 51.

Read more about the project here.
Vector Victoria
I've been working with a few different techniques lately, letting the nature of the project determine the way I solve it. A lot of pencil drawn work seems to be the way to go with editorial projects, but the more design oriented usually call for vectorial solutions.
Pictured above are a bunch of sushi loving monsters created for WOK (my favorite Asian fusion restaurant back home in Bogotá). Originally thought out as very sketchy, textury looking creatures, I realized after the first round of pencils that they would look more dramatic and bold if done in Illustrator and fit better with the clean design of the restaurant.

Monster madness inside a take out box. Weeeeeee!

dance me to the end of love
Transformers and The Military
For the past few months I have been illustrating Scott Brown's section in WIRED magazine and the experience has been fantastic. It's not a surprise that the articles are incredibly interesting, witty and well written, but also the freedom I've been given, make the monthly gig a very enjoyable and challenging process.  

This piece was done for "How Transformers Are Keeping America Safe", an eye opener on how The Military and GM are distributing their propaganda to the masses though one of the best channels available: Hollywood.
Read the whole article here.

Kudos to Margaret Swart for the great art direction.
The Mighty Spot
It's not necessarily the big, the complex or the challenging projects what make me very happy to be an illustrator. Sometimes it's little spots like this one I did for Fitness magazine what brings the joy. The story was about the annoying guy at the gym that wants to throw all his pick up moves at a woman when she is on the treadmill. Both final and sketches where fun to do.

A Tweet for the Fans!
I'm a bicycle nut and love drawing bikes. So it's double the fun every time I get to do an assignment for Bicycling magazine. This spread was for a tongue in cheek quiz about professional bicyclists using Twitter for their fans to follow them. The close-ups highlight some of my favorite fans, including the always loyal Basque aficionado with his flag on the left (if you've watched the Tour de France, you've seen the Basques).
Happy Together

Drawger has been fun. It's being three years of great communication and feedback that surely have influenced the way I work and the way I think about illustration. I'm very thankful to Zimm for creating this playground and for keeping it constantly evolving, and to all the amazing people that make it interesting with their work and ideas. The illustration you see above is one of a few I've had the chance to create for SooJin Buzelli for an article titled "happy together".

One more wonderful assignment from SooJin Buzzelli that allowed me to spread my wings and fly much higher with the concept. I'm finding myself following whatever the pencil wants to do, letting small accidents determine the color pallet and sometimes the composition. It is hard to go back and do any vector work these days because It feels very unnatural and overly technical. Now, I'm just exploring, trying to discover new things in every new project I get involved with. Simply drawing and loving it...
On Personal Work
I question the real purpose of illustration when the art created is purely personal. Yet again, personal work has been getting more recognition in our field due to the fact that illustration has been embraced again in other arenas like fine art galleries, the toy and fashion industry, and animation & film to name a few. I'm really glad to see that happening because I'm loving the creative process that emerges out of little sketches like the one you see above, soon to become a limited editon self promo print. Would you call it illustration?
Back on the Editorial Train

After doing this piece for SooJin Buzelli a couple of weeks ago, I got a series of cool magazine assignments included Wired and Bicycling. For the past three years I've been so focused on licensing that I was feeling a tad rusty driving the editorial engine again and have to admit that my initial sketches for this article about protecting your retirement savings from you know who, were not my best. Props go out to SooJin for pushing me to do my thing while staying away from predictable solutions.

A close up of the couple and their priceless possessions

Queens, NY

Can't stop drawing these days. I draw the news, the books I read, the articles, the movies, the songs... there's a sketchbook everywhere... . I guess it's a good thing...

One day left. Please Vote!
Hey kids,
I submitted a tee shirt design called Britpop Drummer Bunny to to be voted on and hopefully printed. Needless to say, If I get enough high scores the shirt will be printed and sold from the site!
Now there is only one question: Can this master of rhythm and style count with your vote?
Thank you, Citizens of The World!
Leo Carrots

Here's a small collaboration I just finished with Colombian artist+designer Plukart. This was fun, bro!

Fa Fa Fa Fashion

No story behind this one. It's only fashion

"The Dead is in love with your heart" for the Recollect-Dead Custom Vans Show
My very first Silver medal with The Society of Illustrators in the Institutional category and I've been dancing non stop since they called this morning!
Edel, get those mojitos ready, I'm coming over!!!
Radiohead With Guacamole
Recollect-Dead Print
2008 Studio Espinosa

The Dead dreams of you / The Dead sings to you / The Dead rocks you /
The Dead is in love with your heart

La Muerte te sueña / La Muerte te canta / la Muerte te arrulla /
La Muerte está enamorada de tu corazón

This is a print I just finished for the Recollect-Dead Custom Vans show, to go along with the sneakers.I wish I could come up to Detroit for the opening party. Hey, Mr Kilpatrick, if you are going please take a lot of pictures!

Sketchel Series 2, Now Open!

The second series of the one-of-a-kind Sketchel bags is now open.
Scroll down here to find, (or perhaps buy) my bag :*)
Many thanks to Jeremyville for the invitation to participate.

Dream Project
I've been very fortunate to do a few very fulfilling dream projects during my career but the one I did over the summer exceeded my expectations for many reasons: One, I was asked to illustrate characters from the classic fables of Rafael Pombo, one of Colombia's most famous poets and authors, but more important than that, those where the fables many generations, including mine, grew up reading and I always, always wanted to recreate them in my own style. Two, The illustrations were done for an amazing music project put together by Grammy Award winner, Carlos Vives, with the idea of bringing back Pombo's legacy, but this time, seasoned with all sorts of music rhythms so new generations would enjoy them as well . Three, I went back to live and work in Bogota for almost a month! That might not sound like a big thing to you but I had not been there for so long since I left for New York something close to sixteen years ago. I could keep going but I better stop at my fourth reason: The CD, titled Pombo Musical, was released in early August and in a matter of days turned Platinum! I finally got my own copy yesterday (gracias, Valeria), so here's a little mix of pics, sketches and final art of this dream project I will always hold really close to my heart.
Creating the characters was the biggest challenge since I wanted a contemporary but at the same time classic look to evoke my childhood Pombo books.
The music aspect of the project was perhaps the biggest influence when creating these characters. Every song is interpreted by a different artist and has a different rhythm. Because of Colombia's topography the difference of cultures and music is very rich and diverse. This was my everyday uniform for insporation: a "Vueltiao" sombrero from the Caribean coast.
Sketches and more sketches. I did many versions of each character focusing on the importance of making them my own, trying to forget about trends and visual influences.
Here's a detail of the CD sleeve. One side was printed with the lyrics/fables and the other was done as a big poster with tons of characters.
Another detail: Playing with type and a simple palet made the project really enjoyable and less stressful. The designer and I were working against the clock! (Keep in mind people always have to make room for very long lunches down there :-)
Macario, from the fable "El robanidos" (the nest snatcher) was perhaps one of my favorites. Because of how dynamic his pose came out, I had to go back and redesign some other characters that look too stiff in comparison. That added a couple of allnighters but it was totally worth it.
All those bright colors can make you very hungry. Fortunately there was always good food around. Pictured here, an Argentinean alfajor (my favorite dessert).
Et voilà! The unfolded CD sleeve doubling as a poster! I'm hoping kids would spend time exploring all the details I put in there and using these drawings as a reference to create their own.
Icons needed to be created to decorate the lyrics and to use with collateral material. I usually hate doing these little thingies, but I trully enjoyed creating this set. The little bird is from a song about the soul (which has no wings but it can fly) but I'm not even goint to attempt a translation. Pombo's words are too precious for me to mess up with them.
Besides the illustrations that were part of the CD cover, which I created in pencil and markers and colored in Photoshop, I also did vector versions that are going to be used for merchandising.
One more vector character I was really please with: Her name is "Tía Pasitrote" and she is that crazy aunt that's always in a rush going somewhere.
And finally the creative team behind Pombo Musical: My good friend and design director Lucho Correa, who taught me a lot while creating this project, Me, the doodle director and Carlitos Vives, the music mastermind. Not pictured here but a key ingredient of the whole enchilada, Claudia Vasquez.
Did I mention that that's a cardboard sombrero?
Obama T-Shirt Take 2

Last night we had a big fundraising event at the New England Gallery of Latin American Arts to support Barack Obama. I donated a tee shirt design but I'm also going to do some volunteer work too because there's NO WAY we're going to miss this opportunity! Next week we'll be knocking door to door in New Hampshire just to be sure people are registered and voting for the right candidate.
Latinos for Obama, baby!

Raul Gonzalez and Leo Espinosa say "SI" to change!
Actually, that particular face expression means "SI, SI, SI, SI!" south of the border :+)

People from the Obama campaign were there to support the event
(and to enjoy the sangria and the empanadas)

Pencils from Limbo
Dos damas capitalinas / Two ladies from the Capital (sold)
 It has taken me a few days to post about the opening of Limbo (my first solo show) because besides some serious sleep I needed to catch up with, I had to devote some time to reflect and process the whole experience. One of the most satisfying things I created for the show was a series of color pencils that were placed in a very small room adjacent to the main gallery. Since they had a different feel and texture from the rest of the pieces, I was very curious to hear people's feedback and what I heard was quite inspiring, thoughtful and supportive. Here's the whole series of drawings and a new gallery with some pics of the Making of, The Opening and The Afterparty of Limbo.
Las cosas que me traen de vuelta / The things that bring me back (sold)
A veces / Sometimes
Imposible de cambiar / Impossible to change (sold)
Subsueo / Subdream (sold)
Distancia / Distance
El Super
Unas cuantas palabras / A few words
Meu leozinho / My litte lion
Back (pack) to school

Today Ben rolled out to school with his new Kiko backpack, and man was I happy!? I'm making a one of a kind with markers and acrylics for Sofia because sadly there's not a girl version of Kiko bags out yet. I will post pics soon.
Save the Date

Hola kids! I'm having my first solo show in September here in Boston and I really hope many of you can make it, if not to the opening on September 12th, at least to the exhibit, which will be up until November 30th. I've received confirmation that the great Hanoch Piven will be coming from Barcelona and I'm thrilled!
I'm also very happy that  The New England Gallery of Latin Arts is located in the heart of East Boston (the barrio latino of Beantown) because that creates perfect synergy with the content and meaning of the show.
I hope to see you there.

About LIMBO:

Through a variety of mediums, including prints, paintings and sculpture, I am considering the concept of Limbo as a state of mind affected by social and geographical events.  These works focus on change and all that it encompasses: new directions, waiting, feelings of being uprooted and in limbo between two worlds, the passage of time, and a sequence of coincidences that I experienced and am still experiencing.  As an immigrant from Latin America who has lived in a different society and culture for many years now, I have come to accept this state of mind as a new country; one without a physical form but a psychological, more complex one; one that provides identity.  Limbo is a place that is not really a place; it is an intermediate idea that is at once temporary and permanent, a transitional and imaginary moment.

Leo Espinosa
The one and only, Tour de France

Every year my kids get a kick out of watching me in front of the TV screaming like a madman to a group of masochist madmen in spandex who for not logical reason decide to battle against the most challenging test a sport can provide: It's called Tour de France. Sure, people can say whatever they want against professional bicycling because sadly, a bunch of cheaters have managed to stain the sport I passionately love, but no matter what, I could never stop the feeling I get watching those insane athletes going up and down the Alps or the Pyrenees or through the cobble stones of Paris.

Last night I pulled out Inside the Postal Bus, a book written by Michael Barry, one of the nicest guys in bicycling that I had the honor to illustrate the cover for a couple of years ago, and flipping through its pages I got the same chills I used to get when in the early 80s tons of kids in the patios of my school crowded around transistor radios listening to the Tour and cheering for our little colombian riders competing against the very professional and sleek europeans. Ah, those where the days!

Here's a detail of the cover with Armstong on the foreground, George Hincapie getting help from a mechanic and Barry descending from the Postal bus.

We also cheer for the Basque here at home because of family and friends

Benjamin in full Euskadi gear a couple of Tours ago. Aupa Euskaltel!

This was a very special present I recently got from Robert Hunt who was at the Tour in 1994 doing an illustration assignment. Lucky guy!

Tomorrow's stage from Cuneo (in Italy) to Jausiers promises to be a very intense one and I need to squeeze a few miles on the bike before starting with my aerobic routine in front of the tube so it's time to go to bed mes amis. Bonne nuit!
My Own Private Icon
I'm waaay too far from New York and ICON5 right now and it makes me a little sad to miss all the good friends I won't be able to see (and dance with) but the alternative is not bad at all: I'm down in Colombia doing an Illustration/Music project for kids that I'm itching to show you... but.... grrrr... I cannot yet.
I forgot how nice life is here. People work really hard but there's always time for friends and family. Moving around the city of Bogotá is kind of a challenge too and kind of an adventure in a way because so many areas and rules have changed since I left that I feel like re-discovering the place I grew up in.
Pictured above, Flash, The keynote speaker of My Own Private ICON. Who knew the guy was so knowledgeable in illustration
This is the Bookstore, which is conveniently placed at the bar. I found a copy of El Malpensante magazine with the cover I did. I snatched it right away.
The shops and boutiques around the area where the conference is taking place have everything:
From plush dolls to your favorite cigarettes and bubble gum.
Hands on during the road show... ¡Otra cerveza por favor!
One of the lectures with master designer Lucho Correa.
And the accommodations: Pencil fiesta, day and night.
¡Adiós chiquitines!
Beat stress. Get on your bike
A recent full page I did for Bicycling magazine reminded me that both my bike and my nervous system could use a good ride or three. This time of the year is quite hard for me since I have to chain myself to the desk to prepare all the material for the Licensing Show (which is next week in New York) and there's literally no time for a real ride. Little errands to get art supplies, a coffee break or taking the kids to school seem to be the only chances I get to ride. Can't wait to hit the road again; Hang in there, nerves!
I'm not Waxman and LOVE to get into all the detais when rendering a bicycle,
even knowing that it wasn't going to be printed very big.
El Malpensante

Here's a cover I just finished for El Malpensante, my favorite literary magazine from Colombia. It was inspired by this beautiful song by John Frusciante and by the madness of a couple of books I'm reading.
Friday Pencil Fiesta
All the entries from the First Pencil Fiesta have moved to it's own spankin' new venue. Next show will be held on May 30th. Until then!
The Splunk is officially out!

Last saturday we released the beastly Splunk into the wild... kids that couldn't wait any longer for him!
We did a little talk and then signed copies of Otis and Rae and the Grumbling Splunk at the Children's Picture Book Festival in Belmont.
Among the group of speakers was our friend James Kaczman who presented his latest Lucky Monkey Unlucky Monkey (a gorgeous book indeed!).

Thanks to the cool kids at Sandboxworld for the post about our first book and to Melissa Steward for doing such a great job with the festival. Get more kids into books, yeahhh!!!! Comics 4 kids, double yeahhhh!!!! Break away from TV, triple yeah, yeah, yeah!!!!

PS: Sorry for being MIA for so long, Drawgeroids, but I needed some serious time away from the computer.
Go get your bag, girl!
Here is a prototype Littlearth did with an early sketch and also the final Roller Dreamer illustration.

In my latest post from December I showed bits and pieces of four illustrations I developed for a handbag series produced by the Littlearth. The bags are now available through their website and I have to say that I'm thrilled with the way they all came out. Littlearth's quality and attention to detail is amazing, not to mention that they are environmentally conscious and terrific people to work with.
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