I’s always an adventure for me to go through older work and remember my thought processes at the time of making an image. Over all the faces are fairly consistent. The older some of them get the less familiar I am with the me that made it, but it’s usually familiar.
Very busy this summer! I’ve been working on a second book for National Geographic for Kids. In addition, I’ve been creating 13 new paintings for a gallery show at Last Rites Gallery here in NYC. Tricky thing those gallery shows. It isn’t just about creating them, then you have to photograph the large ones (in this case all of them) and then you have to get them all framed some how. With an illustration all I need to do is get it done, scan, and send. This framing thing is a full time job!
This illustration subject was about the Ebola virus hitting America and all the hype or just being safe. This is suppose to represent “average” America. I had to design a bio hazzard suit for a dog. The jokes that went around in the cover meeting were great!
The editors at The Week thought flipping the image would fit the format of the cover better so the gun barrel wouldn’t interfere with the type. Also it was important for to them that the flags all read correctly. My original drawing was already down and the first layer of paint already going when they decided they wanted the changes so I only changed the flags to read correctly when I would eventually flip the image on the computer. Also my signature is digital in the final.
This was a challenge. I sent in a few sketches to the art director, David. He showed it to whoever he has to run things by.
I liked this idea but I knew it just wasn’t resolved enough to be clear. It was so close! (for me) but David came back properly inspired as I’d hoped the sketch would at least do. Simple, just do what one of the most significant figures in art history did… That’s all. Salvador Dali had made an image of a grid of spheres in perspective that each had a portion of a woman’s face on them. Very complicated. They didn’t want spheres thankfully. They wanted cubes.
A friend of mine, CJ Henderson, died of lymphoma last night. I think the last 5 to ten years he had been in pain from just normal getting older. He had been in a lot of pain from the last year of battling. So at least there is that. He had a wonderful loving wife and daughter. And of course extended family. I didn’t see him very often the past few years.
I’ve known CJ since I met him in the lobby at DC comics just after having the worst 7 or 8 months of my short comic book career. (all my books got cancelled within two months of each other) I was looking for work, CJ was looking for work. He’d been writing comics for years by this moment. We sat down across from each other on the couches in the waiting room and awkwardly smiled as we acknowledged each other’s existence. I wasn’t in a social mood having no income to speak of for the previous few months.
CJ spoke first with the obvious question, “So… What do you do?” We exchanged resume’s and next thing I knew I was showing him my portfolio. He spent way more time sifting through my work and talking to me than the insulting arrogant bastich editor I was to eventually see would.
I think CJ called me later that night or the next day and said “Hey! Remember me from the DC lobby?…” The next day I was eating dinner at his house and he gave me a dramatic reading of the script we would eventually do for Big Entertainment. Lady Justice was the title. I think I did some of my best work on this one penciling and inking. My career was saved. CJ showed up when I was on my last leg. And that leg had a Charlie Horse, and even that horse was pulling up lame.
I’m going to miss my friend.
Less caricature, more realism. I guess it reflects the times we are in. The trends I casually watch out of the corner of my eye in the illustration business seem less fantastical and more literal these days. Over the years the editorial staff has made more comments on the art as I make it to not exaggerate this or tone down that. The more photographic I make the image the more they seem to like it. It’s not just The Week, it seems to be everywhere. see covers and spot illustrations that are very photograph looking. I’ve even seen images that are so close to copy right infringement in some cases I wonder how the artist isn’t out of business. I only notice this because there are only so many examples of a person’s face and have probably used that photo as ref myself, but I redraw it, exaggerate it and change a lot of things based on other similar photos I find. I try not to use one photo all by itself. That is the easiest thing to do, but I try not to do what everyone else is going to do.
So the US is going back to Iraq. I guess it’s a mistake to ruin a country’s infrastructure and leave without fixing it. Duh.
Did this cover for The Week Magazine last week. The Veteran’s scandal. I’ve drawn and spoke to soldiers fresh from Afghanistan. Twenty year old men I would normally have called a kid, a boy… I was in the Veteran’s hospital in Bethesda, MD just outside of Washington DC. I was there on my own dime along with some fellow artists from the Society of Illustrators. There were four of us in the room of a twenty year old soldier as he ate a bowl of Fruit Loops watching some kind of news show on his television. He was still on a lot of pain killers so he wasn’t very awake. He described the feeling of what it felt like the moment after he had been blown up and had lost his leg in a booby trap. “… it felt like the Hulk was pinching my leg”. That stuck with me. The way he described how it felt being blown up put in comic book terms just drove home the tragedy that we were sending so many young men in to a situation like Afghanistan. I’m still processing all the soldiers I’ve drawn and why they are there. Ordinary young men and women sent to do…? And now the scandal. As much as America can do some great things, we can really be a bunch of shits.
I first heard about this story a few years ago. The Bloomberg administration, ie. Bloomberg, wanted to give lucrative deals to his fellow wealthy friends in the form of changing laws and restrictions for public parks so they could have high end expensive restaurants in the parks. His technique to do this was to force out the artists trying to sell their work in the park as much as he could. Restrict the farmer’s markets and the street performers more than ever. They needed to go because they might ruin business for the people the nice restaurants wanted to attract. It was a form of class warfare initiated by the mayor. And what the critics were predicting has come true. There are exclusive restaurants in the parks. The critics were also predicting condos etc being put in the public spaces. We’ll see if that happens.
The tricky side is that the revenue from these restaurants goes toward the upkeep of the parks…. at least that’s what I heard. Anyway, this is my first fully digital illustration. I’m still feeling my way through it. I see a lot of possibilities for it. Unfortunately there is no original to sell. Most of my originals are available but there isn’t a a big call for them. It is original art, so it isn’t that cheap. I don’t charge Picasso prices for originals… come to think of it, I don’t charge that much for my originals if you look at the total art market. So buy my originals you cheapskates!
Had a great experience at the book expo at the Javits Center this past weekend. The occasion was to promote the George Washington’s “Rules and Manners” book that National Geographic for Kids put out. Kate is an editor at NG and really helped keep me focused as we went through our pitch to book buyers. It was called speed dating, we had 3 minutes at each table full of people to show how awesome our book was. There were 18 tables all together. It was my first one, so it seemed to go well. No one threw any tomatoes (or books) at us. It was also nice to put faces to the names.