Over the years I have done a series of Professional Wrestling hatch themed posters. It started out as a fun exercise project in one of my favorite design disciplines which then morphed into assignments for various fan blogs of the sport. I am talking about this because recently on of my favorite performers had passed away. It made me realize how much that genre has been a part of my life. I know it’s scripted, I know many consider it to be low brow entertainment. However, the athleticism, the pageantry, the storytelling makes it the greatest soap opera of all time. Like the creative process, we tell stories. Here are some of my favorite pieces.
With the recent death of artist and creator Mort Walker of the serial comic strip Beetle Bailey, I felt a sort of lump in my throat. His passing made me think about when I was a child, how much I used to love reading the Sunday Funnies of the New York Daily News. It was a great form of escapism for me as for many other people I imagine. The great characters, much bigger drawings, bold colors that seemed to really work on that type of newsprint paper made for a great visual and tactile experience. It felt like a treat at the end of a week that always satisfied in different ways.
If I have to pick some of my favorite strips, they would be, The Far Side, Bloom County, Garfield, Hagar The Horrible, Blondie, Dondie, Spider-Man, Family Circus (Yes Family Circus, please do not judge!) and many others (including Beetle Bailey).
I forgot how much that the newspaper comic strip genre influenced me. I wish I had this awareness long ago. It actually explains so much to how I approach things and my zest for humor. So, to the millions, or 2-3 people who read this blog, go online and visit these strips. They are fun and a great representation of what people did to be entertained before the coming of internet and mobile devices. You will be entertained.
So recently, I started doing some concept art work for a very small indie comic book house. The focus of what they do is fan fiction. In short, it is labor of love to capture the work that they desire. After they found my work on art station.com, I was asked to help develop some concepts for some of their projects.
This project is called “GOTHAM’S KNIGHT”. The setting takes place in a not so distant future of Gotham City in where the aging protector Batman disappears without a trace. It will be up to his partner “Robin” (Tim Drake) who is now older to hold the line as Gothams sole protector and to recruit assistants to help unravel the mystery of his mentors disappearance.
I was asked to create concept work that would display the overall mood of Gotham and Tim Drake. I did two pieces. One is of Tim Drake as Robin patrolling Gotham City on a cold snowy evening, and one in where he is in the Batcave training. I was going for cold, dreary and depressing. I wanted a sense of isolation for the character that would display heroism, focus and an inevitable doom that would eventually fall on Gotham if and when once they fail. This was a lot of fun for me. Getting to play with these characters at the concept level is really great. I am looking forward to seeing in how this translates to their overall direction once the project is complete.
2018 was a creative growth experience for me. With making time for various projects and making great strides in getting to understand and educate myself in the latest software and techniques of Digital Illustration and design, I was able to complete a massive body of work that I m quite proud of. So, getting with the theme of TOP 9 via social media, here are my top 9 pieces of the year. The decision was based off impact, likes on fb, art station and instagram and personal preferences. Wishing all a prosperous 2019 and thanks for visiting my blog.
As my Digital Illustration portfolio continues to grow, I wanted to do some more self-promotion that did not include Facebook and instagram. They are fine for sharing with loved ones and friends but it is an echo chamber that does not serve very well for expansion. After digging around, I came across a site called artstation.com. It’s like facebook but totally geared towards digital illustrators who are professionals or just hobbyists. It tends to favor the the gaming community but that is fine. The work that I have been seeing has been amazing. It feels like a great safe space to share and exchange ideas and tricks of the trade. Growth. Don’t stop.
Cape May that is! My wife and I enjoyed weekend getaway in in there a few weeks back. A lovely little town located in South Jersey, it proved to be both a fantastic cultural and dining experience. With artist district shopping, homemade fudge shops and restaurants that were just divine, of course it would make for a lovely visit. What I enjoyed most though was the environment. With old victorian houses and their restored architecture, it made for amazing day walking. You can walk for hours and not get tired of the interesting visuals that you come across.
Another thing I enjoyed about Cape May was the Halloween decorations. The towns people painstakingly placed their decorations to not so much create fright or entertainment but mood. It was well done. I took some photos on these images. Played with filters then imported them into my I-Pad. I then used them as a base to create several successful digital illustrations. It made for a nice little series.
It’s a funny thing. How one can draw strong inspiration from something as simple as visiting a town that is a few hours away. So. Moral of this is… Just go on a a weekend getaway. No matter where, just go. You will always be surprised of what you bring back with you. My Anthony Bourdain rant is done!
Sixteen drawings in! I now have many Goths following me on Instagram. Lots of fun! Here are some samples.
It's that time of year again. INKTOBER! And this time I will be participating for the whole month. What is Inktober you ask? I shall repeat myself from a last years blog. It's a time when artists all over the world take on the Inktober drawing challenge by doing one ink drawing a day for the entire month of October. For every time a drawing is done, you post it on social media and hash tag. #inktober2018 (or what ever year it is). The concept was created by artist Jake Parker and it is something that has taken off over the years. What I do love most? How top professionals in the industry part take in this event and interact with other professionals or just hobbyists. It is really neat.
Though themes are assigned each day, most do what ever they want. I tried a “horror” theme a few years ago but with very little success in finishing. This time I am all in. It will be done digitally but who cares! I will be posting on my blog every few days to show my updates. This will be fun. Let it begin!
I recently was selected as one of several winners in a contest held by Aquent and Vitamin T for a Digital Illustration that I did. To be honest, it felt good. Really f%^&*( good. It made me think about winning. Not the “life” wins that we accomplish (love, marriage, children etc). I am talking about winning straight up competitions. It bought me back to a time in college in where every contest that I entered into, I would almost always be one of the winners or at the very least, placing very high. It came to a point where it was no big deal. I gotten quite use to it. Then suddenly, it stopped. College was over and competitions were no longer a concern.
After years of working in the creative industry, as much as I enjoy it, it is a ferocious and highly competitive field. At times, it does wear you down in spirit. Right before, I learned that I was selected in the contest, I was having one of those periods. Thinking about my next steps and how to navigate in this ever evolving profession and asking myself if I am still any good at it. After hearing the news, it lit a spark in me that I have not felt in a very long while. I felt young again, confident, and happy. I was 10 ft tall and could not be brought down. Maybe I am being overly dramatic and overly intellectualizing this event. Who cares. I am going to continue chasing that feeling. Winning isn’t everything, but it does feel good. Really f%^&*( good.
This is the piece that was selected. It is a Digital Illustration of a landscape in Sparta, Greece. Hope you like it.
Someone recently commented about my Digital Illustration work. As much as this person enjoyed what they saw, I was asked "Why heroes?" My answer was simple. They are awesome. They are fun. They are compelling. Most importantly they inspire. Not just in the positive message and morals that they may normally profess but in a a creative way. The costume, dramatic composition and intensity makes for amazing illustration layouts and solutions.
Years back, I was inspired by the Star wars Galaxy Cards in where the industries top illustrators each participated in creating pieces of their own interpretations of the various characters and scenes from the movies. The same was immediately done for DC and Marvel Comics. This was a big deal at the time. With no internet, seeing the top artists creating elevated work in a manner that was accessible and affordable was a big f#$%^ deal. For me anyway. I always wanted to do a body of work that was similar in nature (For both Star Wars and Superheroes). However, procrastination, other projects and life always seemed to get in the way. Fortunately, after becoming ferociously fast at this style of digital illustration, I decided to dive right in. Am I glad I did. I am really happy with the overall results. Very soon, I will be moving on to different personal projects, but this is a great representation of what I enjoy doing.
Here is a sampling of my favorite pieces.
As I blogged about this before, using the mac pencil with the procreate app on my ipad has been such a thrill for me. I feel like a part of me has been unleashed and does not want to go back. Okay, I am being overly dramatic. But I am having fun. Here are some of the better pieces that I did in the past month. Hope you enjoy it!.
Or the sound of not having your I-Pod while traveling because it broke again. Was I bummed? Of course, but I am a big boy and I have others to replace it. However, this was different. It stopped working as I was away on holiday. How was I going to get through a 3 hour train ride? How was I going to work out? How was I going to meditate? The answer... quite easily! I focused harder on my meditation to clear my mind in a way I have not been able to before. My work out was quite focused and deliberate. I got so much more out of it. As for the train ride? Actually spending that time to converse with my wife and watch the beautiful scenery outside the window. A wonderful surprise.
This works the same way with being a creative. Having music blasting or the TV on creates a sense of distraction and/or a sense of white noise just to make the day/project/things go faster. Though it may feel like it does, it actually does not. This is not to say I will never listen to music as I create (or travel for that matter) again. Of course I will. However, the natural sound of your environment sometimes forces you to focus and confront your ability to be comfortable with yourself and what you are doing. So. Be quiet. Listen. Though you may not hear anything, I assure you it will be anything but silent.
So. We are down to one last Blockbuster in the United States. After having 9,000 stores nationwide which ruled the late 80’s and 90’s, we have one left in Bend Oregon. Their branding as a wholesome family enterprise was one that resonated and proved to be quite powerful. It created a safe space for parents to bring their young children with out being exposed to unwanted content such as porn or other such seediness. In addition, with a massive collection of movies and bright colors and catchy TV jingles, it made for a circus like atmosphere for the brand. It actually became an event to visit the store itself. Go out to dinner, get a movie and go home with loved ones to enjoy the evening. I know this all to well because I was an employee of the 1st Blockbuster Video in Brooklyn, New York.
I was a Customer Service Representative (CSR) at Blockbuster during my time in College. It was a fun time in my life which to this day I cherish. After reading about the last existing store, I did some self reflecting on why it still means so much for me. Besides being younger and wide eyed about life and the normal predictable reasons, I have to say it was because of the people. My co-workers, the customers, managers were all insane, fun, sinister, interesting, bland yet sexy, stereotypical yet complex characters. I can go on about them but I would be here all night typing and I still would not do the stories justice.
I think this is also the reason why I enjoy the creative industry. Yes, it’s difficult, ever-changing, ferocious and nutty over all. However, with all the cast of characters I have met at every place I have been employed with has given me so many stories and entertainment. Whether it be Art Directors, Designers, Account Reps, Clients etc, many of them have left unbelievably, for better or worse, strong impressions on me. It makes for richer life if you ask me. It makes me smile.
So. to the last Blockbuster in Bend, Oregon. Stay tough. Rock on and enjoy it all as much as you can. When you look back, you will say ... WOW!
Awesome! That is a given. However, I am not talking about David Bowie, but the David Bowie Art retrospective that was at the Brooklyn Museum. My wife and I were able to catch the the last viewing of the the show and it was quite striking. The show included over 400 artifacts (art, video, outfits, poems etc) from the “David Bowie Archive”. Overall, it was a fantastic visual reminder of the contributions he made not to just the music industry but to the world of art as well. His passion to fuse music, with photography, theatre, fashion and blur the lines of gender transcended in a fluid and natural way. In addition, the curation of the event was well paced and technologically thoughtful. It was very inspiring. I hope another one is done in the near future... FYI... I would so rock the green suit!
Why do I call it a craze? Because I am crazy about my new Pencil by Apple! That being said, I am also crazy about my new IPAD as well! Years back I received an Intuos Pen for Christmas. As excited I was to receive such a wonderful gift, I did not feel that the tool was user friendly and was overall disappointed in how little I was able to utilize it. The Apple Pencil is a far better and different experience. When I draw with this tool, I do not feel as inhibited. There is very little in the way between you and the actual piece of art that you are creating. Attached are some WWI inspired sketches that I did. I am really having so much fun. It's only the beginning!
I am not a photographer. I have dabbled in it over the years, I have taken classes but I have never labeled myself as one. Recently, I went on vacation to Santorini, Greece. Besides it being an amazing trip, it was also amazing for photo ops. Let us be serious, the island is so beautiful, it is hard not to take a good picture. The colors and vibrancy is stunning. As I was going through my files editing to be posted on Social Media, I decided that I would make some of the images B&W just to break the monotony of the series. I was pleasantly surprised on how well they worked out and thrilled in how well they were received. There is just something about B&W photography that make something a little more special, a little more emotional, a little more somber, a little more powerful. That is something I will be exploring as I take pictures from here on end.
In anticipation and excitement for my upcoming trip to Greece, I did a series of Digital Illustrations of the Greek Gods of Olympus. I referenced famous ancient statues because they have the impactful celestial stature which I come to expect of such beings of higher power. I was really excited in how they came out. I hope to continue this when I come back.
Chad Knight, a 3D Designer I recently discovered is doing things that are absolutely mind blowing. Composing his work with Cinema 4D, he is creating vibrant and gorgeous pieces of Digital Art that moves. This type of work is both elegant and imaginative and feels quite personal. I am enjoying his journey.
Paul Rigby was and internationally renowned illustrator who focussed on political satire. A talented artist, Rigby made so many laugh during his time. Especially serving as a cartoonist for The New York news papers (NY Post and Daily News). His work had me in tears. To keep up this quality of humor and artistry 5 days a week for that long of a time takes sheer natural ability and passion. He made it even more fun by hiding a little cartoon of himself in every piece of oh his work. After my blog about Jim Carreys political cartoons, I thought Mr. Rigby should be mentioned as well.
Not only actor/comedian Jim Carrey candraw, but he can draw really well. He recently shared to the public some of his political cartoons that he has been working on in recent days. Regardless of ones political views and beliefs, they are bold, thought provoking, capturing the gestures of the characters and most importantly... funny! I like it when artists (regardless of craft) go out of their comfort zones and try something different. It shows growth and creates surprise.