Friday, December 7, 2012

SVA's MFA Visual Narrative

A while back I was asked by the great Nathan Fox to participate in the new graduate program that he would be chairing at the School of Visual Arts. The name of the program is MFA Visual Narrative, and I'll be teaching the web and digital media section 1 class starting in the summer of 2013.  The program will be host to an amazing faculty including Nathan, Jessica Abel, Matt Madden, Jennifer Daniel, Edward Hemingway, Ross McDonald, Leonard Marcus, Dan Nadel, and will include a host of amazing  guest lecturers and mentors comprised of the top professionals from all corners of the visual narrative arts field.  For more info on the program Check out the department website. Above are a couple department logo's I created for possible future promotion, the first I see as a cross between Borges and Cy Twombly, and the bottom is a combination of....I don't know, Dale Chihuly and and ink spill.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Magic Show

This piece will be in a show curated by Jess Worby called Magic Show at Launchpad Gallery in Crown Heights, opening Friday, November 30. The show will likely be accompanied by animation screenings, performances and a bake sale.  This is a new piece from a larger series that I've been working on for a while (and mostly keeping under wraps 'till February and I'll share more about the rest of the work soon).  It's called Golden Dawn, inspired by the late 19th century magic occult society who's members included many famous writers artists and intellectuals, including the famous Aleister Crowley. Larger version Here

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Late Quartet

Last Year I had the honor of contributing some production work to the film A Late Quartet,  which is now out in theaters. The movie stars Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christopher Walken, Cathrine Keener, and many other very talented people, It's directed by Yaron Zilberman, and was shot by the great Fred Elmes (the legendary art house photographer who shot Blue Velvet, Earaserhead, Night on Earth, Broken Flowers, etc...) The story follows a world famous string quartet the Whose leader played by Walken is diagnosed with Parkinson's. This revelation causes the quartet, which is structured as a family unit, to collapses in on itself and struggles to redefine their identity in the face of tragedy. Needless to say it was an exciting project regardless of how minute my contribution and I had the good fortune of sitting in on a test shoot and watching Yaron and Fed in action (no celebrities present). back when I was working on these storyboards the cast was not yet what it would be (starred Ethan Hawke at the time) So the characters in the drawings above are not representative of the final cast, for instance the man at the bar would become Hoffman, the couple in the car was Hoffman and Keener, and the elder man toasting would later be cast as Walken. But in the final cut of the movies, these scenes above are still discernible (thought I'm certain Elmes would have done just fine without these) Still, a great honor to work around such talent, and amazingly this is Zilbermans' first non documentary feature film (his first project was the acclaimed documentary Watermarks) It was wonderful working with him.
You can see the rest of my story boards here

More info on the movie here:

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Eye Candy

Here is my piece for the Eye Candy show, a pop up Exhibit, part of Illustration week in NY. There are a ton of great illustrators in this show, here is the info:
Eye Candy presents 24 young illustrators who have pulled back the shades to reveal their secret guilty pleasures of life in NYC. With common threads of industry and age, each artist is making waves in the illustration community. Their commissioned work ranges from editorial to poster design to comics and more, and their futures in the field seem bigger than the city they live in. Out of their comfort zones and on display, the illustrators have created a personal narrative of a single lowbrow for your viewin
g pleasure.

EXHIBITING ARTISTS: Wesley Allsbrook, Elizabeth Baddeley, Jonathan Bartlett, Chi Birmingham, Sam Wolfe Connelly, Exit Deer, Johnny Dombrowski, Jensine Eckwall, Jeremy Enecio, Jared Fiorino, Daniel Fishel, Nick Iluzada, Tara Jacoby, John Malta, Keith Negley, Robyn Ng, Tae Querney, Matt Rota, Ross Schaner, Dadu Shin, Kim Sielbeck, Kyle Stecker, Skip Sterling, and Katie Turner.

Eye Candy is part of NYC's Illustration Week 2012 and sponsored by the Society of Illustrators.

OPENING RECEPTION: Saturday, Nov. 10th from 7-10pm.

Fowler Arts Collective
67 West Street, Unit 216, Brooklyn, NY 11222.
**Fowler is located in the historic Greenpoint Terminal building on the East River waterfront in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The closest subway is the Greenpoint Ave. G train stop.
Thank You Tara Jacoby andKatie Blocher!

Monday, November 5, 2012

New York Times Opinionator

This is a new piece for the NY Times about a young midwestern woman who moved to Bedstuy Brooklyn to pursue a writing career and develops a complicated friendship with an aspiring young rapper. When He is arrested for theft, she struggles to define the nature of their friendship, and the degree to which she is willing to become involved with him and his family. Meanwhile Hurricane Sandy bears down on New York as her focus and concern shifts to the city's responsibility to those incarcerated on Rikers Island. Do the criminals there need to be locked up and prevented from breaking out in the event of a catastrophe even in spite of their own safety, or are they people that need the same protection as the rest of society? It's a wonderfully short and complicated piece where the narrators struggle to comprehend her connection to her neighbor is mirrored in the city's relationship with it's incarcerated.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Film Series: Straight Jacket

The latest installment of my ongoing film project is from the movie Straight Jacket, starring Joan Crawford. It is a famous example of the little remembered Psycho-Biddy film genre of the 1960s which  revolves around older, often menacing women in psychological of physical peril (or the women are the perpetrators of said terror) other examples are Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, and Sunset Blvd. (an earlier example as it is from 1950) In the film Joans character Lucy Harbin finds her husband in bed with another women and hacks them both to pieces (described in gruesome silhouettes). She spends twenty years in an asylum.  When she gets out Lucy reunites with her daughter, but soon the two find themselves in an intergenerational sexual rivalry, and soon the bodies start to pile up.
The film uses the exaggerated language of film noir and German expressionism to build up the visual psychology, which sets the film apart from other in the same genre and puts it ahead of its time aesthetically (ironically). It has the feeling of a film that Tarentino has stolen from more than once.
The idea for the illustration was simple, take the iconic image of Joan and her axe, and somehow turn it on its head solely through the use of the medium. I cycled through several variations, which I talk more about in the previous post. What I settled on was the idea of inversion.  giving the image the effect of a negative, blue for the skin, dark flowers on a light wall, light hair instead of black. This is not a true negative, I thought that would be to simple and explicit. Instead I favored suggesting the negative, as a way of implying the inversion of Joans character from a loving mother and wife, into a psychopathic monster.

Finding the right solutions.

       Over the past several months I've been working on a series of personal illustrations based on classic Hollywood movies. The idea behind starting such a series, what I hoped to get out of the experience was a chance to explore new media and push my exploration of various mediums.  The nature of classic movies is that they are iconic, often familiar.  Drawing from stories and images that have a cultural familiarity allows a great deal of freedom in pushing both the concept and the medium, because the reference point is established.  I hope that this process would not only provide me with a platform to explore new techniques, but also strip down, or simplify the images themselves, finding the essence of the story.  The most recent illustration is from the movie Straight Jacket, starring the great and terrible Joan Crawford.  The film has one or two iconic shots that they use over and over, which is mainly the shot of Joan wielding an axe, or a shot of her stark shadow wielding the axe.  So that left my options for this illustration limited (part of the reason I chose the film).  This forced me not to consider the best image to illustrate the story, but how to treat the image to get the maximum effect,  giving me a great opportunity to explore a variety of mediums.  All in all I drew about four or five versions of Joan wielding her axe, one in pencil, one in ink, another in flat shapes, and a series that mixed all of these elements to varying degrees.  I wanted to see if more detail or less, line or shape, clean or rough, would better express the nature of the movie.  In each version I found elements that worked and didn't, line in the face but not on the hands, bold color on the arms, but grey on the dress and hair and so on. The final is a combination of what I felt were the most successful elements in each version.  What I came to realize about this process was not that there is a best solution, or even a right solution, each had their own merits and had I brought any to finish, each would have represented a different take on the film (even thought the composition was more or less the same in each) The one that made it to final simply represents the angle I felt best represented the thing I wanted to say about the film.  These are examples of some of the variations I was exploring at different stages of completion.
This one is a series of flat shapes drawn in brush and black ink, and then layered in Photoshop.

Here I took several of the hand drawn layers and scanned them simultaniously (they are drawn on vellum) So no digital here.

This is a combination of elements from the first two, with some digital color added. The ink drawing of her in the later two is the same, but never made it to the final, which is made up of the remains of a pencil drawing, and some of the flat shapes found in the top image. i also played with scanning elements of the mixing pallet I used because the rawness of it seemed to fit, but I could not find a way to integrate it without it becoming too distracting. It also felt a little redundant, like it was expressing the thing that the figure itself should be, so in the final I tried to incorporate the rough feeling of the paint smears into the drawing of the figure. One day I want to be able to use the throw away scribbles from my margins in an illustration, but it has to work, and can't be there just as decoration, so maybe next time.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

NY Times Op Ed

This is a new piece for the New York Times about speculating on where the next great outbreak of plague/disease will come from, and how do we prepare ourselves for the inevitable.
For larger version click Here

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Drawing show at Space Junk Gallery

This is a drawing I did for the Pure Drawing Exhibition at Space Junk Art Center, in Bayonne France.  The exhibition will travel through four gallery locations throughout France from September to March of next year.  The piece is about watching and being watched.
The full size version has a lot of detail, check it out Here.
Check out the rest of the show here: spacejunk

Friday, September 14, 2012

NY Times letters piece

This piece was a reaction to the killing of Chris Stevens, the US ambassador to Libya during the assault on the US's embassy this past week. The letters spoke of him as an idealistic hard working proponent of peace in the region, and points out Governor Romney's  attempt to use Stevens death for His own political gain. Larger version Here

Friday, September 7, 2012

Sketches for solo show at Galerie L'oeil Du Prince, Paris

This coming February I'll be having a solo show at the Galerie L'oeil Prince, in Paris. I can't show any of the finished paintings yet, but here is a little preview from my sketches.  This should give  you the idea of the themes, the overall mood,  and where the final painting will be headed. The show opens the 15th.  Check the gallery and schedule here: Galerie L'oeil Du Prince

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Occupy Wall Street the playing cards

I was lucky to be invited by Marc Scheff to contribute to his project 52 Shades of Greed,a deck of 52 playing cards illustrating the ins' and outs' of of the financial crisis. My illustrations are of Stan O'Neal, the former CEO of Merrill Lynch; and of the controversial financial tool, credit default swaps.
Here is the official press release by Marc:

52 Shades of Greed is not your average deck of cards. It’s way hotter than that.

Brought to you by a team of professional illustrators and the Alt
Banking group at Occupy Wall Street, 52 Shades of Greed is a deck of
playing cards bearing illustrations of the people and financial
institutions whose lust for money took the rest of us for a steamy car
ride toward economic collapse. Ever seen Dick Fuld or the infamous
Kathryn Wylde at work? These cards hold nothing back, depicting even
those awkward financial instruments you can’t believe anyone invented.
Ever heard of a Collateralized Debt Obligation? Well...if you've never
ended up on the side of town where these are bought and sold, this
deck will provide a picture. An actual picture, drawn by a pro.

Everyone will be talking about the 52 Shades of Greed because we all
wanna know who screwed us and how they did it. And we want pictures.
The cards will direct the curious to a website to get the dirty
details on each Shade of Greed.

We believe that educating people is the first step towards turning
that steamy car ride around. We need to know what's going on before we
can stop it.

The money we raise will pay for the production of the cards, including
a stipend for each artist. Our plan is to print 1000 decks and
distribute them at S17, the anniversary of the September 17th Day of
Action. Everyone fueling the project with at least a $25 contribution
will get a deck. We would like to raise enough to enable us to stage
events related to art and financial education.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Foreign Policy Magazine

Here is a new piece I did for the new issue of Foreign Policy Magazine with art director Dennis Brack.
The story is about the people of Afghanistan, after suffering through decades of invasions and revolution and general war, being left in a state of post traumatic stress disorder. 
Thank you Dennis for inviting me to work on this with you.

Friday, August 10, 2012


This is one of the coolest Op-Ed's I've gotten to do because the art director and I were given the whole page to work with. This is basically a collaboration between art director Matt Dorfman and myself. The article is on the Free Syrian Army. You can check out a larger version Here

Thursday, August 2, 2012

McSweeny's 41

These will be featured in Mcsweeny's 41  alongside the short fiction The Wolf and the Wild by Jess Walter,  Robot Sex by Ryan Boudinot, and River Camp by Thomas McGuane.  Each image constitutes three full pages, so one full spread of the first two-thirds, and the last third as a full page in the following spread. I'm always thrilled to have work in McSweeny's, so it was an honor to have these three images in the new issue! The issue is out now.
Larger version of these here: 1 2 3

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Signs of the Apocalypse

This is my contribution to the Signs of the Apocalypse show at My Plastic Heart gallery, New York. The show is curated by Lou Pimentel. It opens friday august 3rd.

One Hundred Dollar Bill show

This is my contribution to the One Hundred Dollar Bill show
at the Littlefield Gallery in Brooklyn. The show is curated by Sergio Barrale and Andew Smenos.
It was written up at the Huffington Post too!
The piece was inspired by the film They Live.

3x3's Nuts and Bolts 2012

I had the pleasure this year of being asked to return to the 3x3 Nuts and Bolts conference and talk about marketing illustration online. Just as last year it was a great group of artists with a lot of great questions. Thank you Charles Hively and Sara Munt of 3x3 Magazine for putting on the event!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Film Series

The latest Illustration for my film series is from the movie The Misfits (1961) directed by John Huston, and starring Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, and Montgomery Clift, and written by famed play write Arthur Miller (Monroe's then husband) The plot revolves around Monroe's character moving to Reno the get a divorce, where she falls in with local cowboys, and struggles to accept the ugliness and brutality (the unromantic realism) of the world as she sees it. The film itself is fairly flawed, the writing is subtle and intelligent, but overstated and over dramatized by big Hollywood actors. 
As well, Houston was more suited for pulpy genre flicks like Key Largo, and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. That said the film looks great, with many stunningly shot scenes. What is more interesting about the film is the back-story. This would be the last film that Monroe or Gable would make, the both died within the year (Gables wife would go on to blame Monroe for Gables death due to the stress she brought to the set via her struggle with drug addiction at the time).  When Marilyn was a child, she would claim that Gable was her father. (She was and orphan.) One of the main themes of the plot is troubled marriage, Miller wrote this for Monroe specifically, and during production their own marriage was failing, they would be divorced before the films premier. In a final twist, years later on the night Clift suffered a heart attack and died, The Misfits was playing as a late night movie on television, which his secretary had earlier invited him to watch. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Film series

This is the new piece from my ongoing film series.  This image is for the1963 horror movie, The Haunting (not to be confused with it's
awful 1999 remake of the same name)  The plot is a basic haunted house story, but the tension is built around psychological drama, and the tension between the characters.  The ghost never makes a physical appearance, but reveals itself through sounds, and bizarre events that may or my not be an actual ghost. So, classical means like dramatic camera angles, deliberate pacing, and character development are at the heart of the tension, basically 
making an early blueprint for movies like the shinning, a film which also relies on indicating the supernatural as a way of enhancing the personal drama, rather than revealing it by means of dazzling special effects. In the illustration I focused on the mirrors, as the director put in almost every room large mirrors, and in many shots the action can be seen playing out between the characters, but also in the reflections of the mirrors, as if the house was reflecting their own anxieties back to them in the form of the supernatural.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Film series

This is the first image of a new series I'm working on, 
 interpreting classic films.  This one is from the 
Night Of The Hunter, a 1955 film, and the only one directed by
the famous actor Charles Laughton.  The movie is one of the
first American films to fully utilize a wide range of expressionistic
techniques found previously mostly in German expressionist films
such as The Cabinet of Dr Kaligari.  It was a flop on its release,
But became a huge influence on the films of Scosese, Jarmusch,
the Coen Bothers, Tarentino, and many other "expressionistic" 
film makers from the 70's, 80's and 90's.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Sketch archive

Sometimes when I get a job I want to turn all of the sketches to finals.
Below are a selection of unused sketches from various assignments 
including topics such as Pirates, Mexican mobsters, famine,
revolution, the end of the world, and the nature of good and evil.
Believe it or not, people actually pay me to do this.