Friday, July 30, 2010

Back to the Future Spread for Front Magazine

This is the special "Summer" issue of Front, which is number 144 and falls between the July and August issues. It has my favorite assignment that I've done for them so far, the Back to the Future illustration!

As you may remember from when I first posted about this piece, I did a ton of research for it and spent much more time on the background than I do on most drawings. As usual, it looks great at full size in the magazine. There's just something about seeing you work printed that's really cool.

I bought this a few days ago and the Mrs. and I flipped through it at a kid-filled McDonalds at 10:30 at night, despite the fact that every issue of Front is chock full of nakedness.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Mars Coloring book

The Autumn Society was asked to collectively create a coloring book for NASA and the Mars Society to get kids excited about one day exploring (or even living on) Mars. This was my contribution.

Honestly this one was hard for me to get a handle on. I tend to enjoy drawing things that are goofy or cartoony, and while we weren't strictly prohibited from that, we were asked to not do anything that would give kids an unrealistic idea of what mars would be like, such as adding space aliens.

At first I had a grandpa sleeping in the back seat of the mars vehicle because that seemed like a funny but not unrealistic joke: an old man falling asleep on a car trip despite the fact that he's exploring a new planet. The Mars Society didn't like that, however, and asked that I replace him with a dog. This is when I really started to doubt myself. A dog in a spacesuit? That seems much more out-there and whimsical than I thought I was allowed to be. So what else could I have gotten away with?

But alas, the deadline was upon me and I had to stick with what I had. Not that I'm disappointed; I am excited beyond belief to add NASA to my resume, I just wish I could have put more of myself into the artwork since it's such an amazing assignment.

At any rate, feel free to color this page!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

When you Wish Upon a Star

I have had this one done for quite a while, and now is the time to reveal it!

This is the art for the wedding invitations of my friends Dave and Carrie, who are getting married in just a little over a week. As you may have guessed, they are having a Disney themed wedding, and with good cause. Out of all my friends, Dave is probably the guy who I share the most in common with. We both have a passion for the history of animation, Nintendo, ad mascots, and 80s and 90s pop culture in general. (Not to mention we have far more toys and collectibles than any adults probably should.) Anybody can be nostalgic, but we study this stuff like historians, and Disney is just one of Dave's many areas of expertise. Dave and Carrie have been great friends to me for a long time, and some of the best supporters I could hope for as I try to make something of myself with these goofy drawings I do.

Not too long ago the two of them were talking about getting rid of some of their Sega Genesis games, because when they began to move in together they noticed that they both had some of the same ones. This, I told Dave, is how you know you're marrying the right person.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Artists in a Half Shell

Here's a new shirt design where I finally put some of my art history classes to use. This was actually an idea from the lovely Hillary. Vote on it here!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Japanese Pop Culture Show, Piece #2

Again, a piece for the the Autumn Society's Turning Japanese show. These were characters that I wanted to draw but couldn't really think of how to include them in the previous piece. You have Domo Kun who should be familiar to most by now, Haruko from the anime FLCL, and Wart from Super Mario Bros 2, originally known as Doki Doki Panic in Japan.

There really isn't much rhyme or reason to this piece aside from the fact that Haruko is known to whack people on the head with her guitar causing large lumps. Just chalk it up to wanting to express more Japanese weirdness, and not coming up with a better way to fit these characters together.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Japanese Pop Culture Show, Piece #1

My first piece for the Autumn Society's Japanese pop culture show. It's Colonel Sanders in a Tanooki suit.

Ahem. But why? I struggled quite a bit with all the things I wanted to reference for this show, so I combined a few of my favorites into one piece. It's a bit unusual, but I think here in the west our perception of Japanese pop culture is that it's full of bizarre stuff, so I figured it fit the bill pretty well.

So why the Tanooki suit?
Everybody is familiar with the Tanooki suit from Mario 3, probably one of the most highly regaurded and iconic power-ups in the history of the series. Most people think that it's just another example of Mario randomness, (such as mushrooms that make you grow, etc,) but it actually has meaning in Japanese culture. The tanuki is a not really a racoon but a separate species best translated as "raccoon dog." They have been featured in Japanese folklore and proverbs for centuries. They are said to be masters of disguise, and many Japanese temples and businesses feature tanuki statues out front, hence why Mario can inexplicably (or so you thought) turn into a statue when wearing the suit.

In the folklore they wear a sort of bonnet-like hat, which is why I added one in the drawing. They are also typically depicted with enourmous testicles. I didn't add those.

So then why Colonel Sanders?
KFC is in huge Japan. As in, really huge. They actually see KFC as a Japanese company, and much like the tanuki, there are statues of Colonel Sanders everywhere, often dressed in traditional Japanese garb. He is a pop culture icon over there (not to say that he isn't one over here, but in Japan he's approaching Mickey Mouse territory.) This has always fascinated me because I wonder what it is about a Kentucky Colonel the Japanese find so enthralling. Also, since the Japanese celebration of Christmas is quite different from ours, as I'm sure you can imagine, they weren't really familiar with the tradition of eating a cooked bird for the holidays. When KFC started franchising in Japan in the 70's, they remedied this by promoting the tradition with their fried chicken as opposed to the more typical home-cooked turkey, and to this day there are lines at every Japanese KFC on Christmas eve.

So that's your cultural lesson for today, meant to explain why I drew this piece for reasons other than it was just funny to me.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Tequila Print

I've gotten a few requests for these so I should have listed them sooner! Prints of my Tequila piece are for sale online at Gallery 1988, click here to buy one. The 11 x 14 prints are a signed and numbered limited edition of 50 at $45 each.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Front Magazine Scars Spread

The July issue of Front is finally out here in the states which features my illustration for the "scarred scoundrels" article. I have also completed two additional pieces for Front that will be in upcoming issues (possibly already on newsstands if you live in the UK!)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sam's Myth

So this is pretty cool, brought to my attention by Alexis Smith. Sam Smith, artist and current drummer for Ben folds, did a really nice writeup on his blog about my work. I can tell he's been all through my site because he singled out a few of my pieces that don't get much attention, such as the decals I designed for the Nintendo DS. Thanks, Sam! I also read that he'll be participating in some upcoming Gallery 1988 shows, which is sweet. You can check it out here.

And here's a photo stolen from of a fan in my Back to the Future shirt posing with Ernie Hudson! I've seen Ernie at conventions before, and I might have actually paid the cash to meet him if he had been wearing the Ghostbusters jumpsuit then.

A quick update: The guy in the picture is actually artist Ian Glaubinger, a fellow Autumn Society member who was also in the Carzy 4 Cult show, and who just introduced himself to me online earlier this week! Talk about coincidences! I seriously just grabbed this pic from Splitreason's fan section on whim. Small world!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Back from California

I have arrived back home from Hollywood and it's finally the time in my post-trip recovery where I update! In all seriousness, this was one of the best trips I've ever taken in my life. Around every corner was something amazing that I didn't expect.

This is me and Chogrin, founder of the Autumn Society who currently works on the series Adventure Time at Cartoon Network studios in Burbank. He told me a while ago that if I was ever in the area he would give me a tour of the studios. Back then I thought there was a good chance that would never happen, but things worked out and he made good on his promise!

I really can't thank him enough for how amazingly hospitable he was to us. He gave us a full tour, let us take pictures, showed us stuff the public doesn't get to see, and introduced me to a ton of great artists that work there. What really blew me away was that some of them already knew my work and who I was! Most likely though Chogrin bragging on me, which I should also thank him for. If any of you guys at the studio are reading this please chime in with a comment so we can keep in touch!

There is a stairwell at CN where all the artists who have worked there or passed through doodled something on the walls. Chogrin insisted I draw something, so I did a crude Choo Choo from Top Cat.

Lucking out seemed to be a theme on this trip, and one such instance was arriving at CN Studios on the day they were having a BBQ on the roof, so we got to have a free lunch with all the employees. We were standing in line right behind Genndy Tartakovsky, creator of Dexter's Lab and Samurai Jack. Kyle snuck this picture.

The day before the Crazy 4 Cult show at Gallery 1988, I stopped by the gallery to sign prints of my Pee-wee Herman piece that would be for sale during the reception. When I arrived they were putting the finishing touches on the show which looked amazing.

This was the line just to get into the show; only four or five new people were let in at a time. There was a bar and more hang-out room next door at Golden Apple comics.

As you can see it was shoulder to shoulder inside, but not hectic or uncomfortable. I talked to several of the artists who were all really nice folks. Some of them came from even further away than I did.

The work in this show was truly amazing; you really need to do yourself a favor and go here and here to check some of it out. If I posted photos of all the stuff I liked then this already too-long entry would double in size, hah.

And the thrill of the show for me, Seth Green bought my piece! From what I can gather the gallery isn't allowed to tell you who bought your work, so if I hadn't approached him I never would have known. I was already nervous about going up and introducing myself to him, but when he told me he bought it (which I misunderstood at first as him wanting to buy it) I just melted into a fanboy puddle and probably embarrassed myself royally. But, I guess there are worse circumstances under which to make a fool of yourself, right?

The rest of our trip consisted of doing the touristy Hollywood stuff and going to Disneyland on a whim. That stuff was fun but I'm sure the last thing I should subject people to is vacation photos, so I'll keep to the art-related stuff as usual. I want to thank Kyle, Hillary, Chogrin, the artists at CN and in the Crazy 4 Cult show, Seth Green, the Gallery 1988 staff, all my friends who have sent me good wishes, and what had to be nicest hotel concierge that ever lived.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Crazy 4 Cult

Here is the official invite for the Crazy 4 Cult show. I won't be posting much for the rest of the week because I'm off to LA for the opening reception. It's very surreal to see my name on this card!

As you may have seen, my piece is based on Pee-wee's Big Adventure, and Pee Wee actually posted about my piece on his Facebook page! Just knowing that he has seen my work blows me away.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Festivall Logo and Ebay

Probably should have posted this sooner, but here is the finished logo for Festivall with all the artist designed letters, including my L in the lower right. You can see how well they all turned out.

Also, you can buy my letter as well as several others on Ebay! If you have already collected most of a giant wooden alphabet and are missing just a rare consonant or two, now's your chance!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Badges for Front Magazine Festival Article

Here are the badges I designed for the Front Magazine article "King of the Festivals," paired with the concept sketch I was given as guidance. As I mentioned in the last post, these represent different achievements that must be acquired to become the festival king. It's been a while since I've made something so graphic and icon-like.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Front Magazine Festival Spreads

I just finished the last big project in a very loooog line of projects I've been busy with for the last month or so. It's a group of three two-page spreads for Front Magazine and a set of 15 "badge" graphics to go along with the story. This was an interesting assignment and I wanted to write about it in a little more detail than usual.

The article is a guide to becoming the "king of the festivals," and follows a young guy from the meager start of his festival journey to becoming a crazed maniac by the end. It lists different achievements you must acquire to become the festival king, such as impressing girls, destruction of property, etc, which is what I had to design the badges for.

Below are the sketches I was sent by Front Magazine paired with my final artwork for the spreads. They don't have any actual text or content yet; that will be added later by the magazine:

Fresh-faced at the beginning

Getting into some trouble

Manical king of the festivals

The reason I posted the sketches is because I want to point out my favorite thing about working with Front: they actually tell you what they want. If you want to make a graphic designer's every dream come true, just explain to him in as much detail as possible what you want him to draw for you. Front is always great about this and I can't thank them enough for it. Many times I get requests for logos, album covers, etc, and when I ask people what they want I get the usual reply of "I don't know, do whatever you want." This is probably the worst direction a graphic designer can be given. The reason is that the client always has a picture in their head of what they want, but they figure that you're the designer so you should have to figure it out rather than them wasting their time and explaining it to you. If you are wondering why this is such a bad way to deal with designers, let's take the same logic and apply it to an every-day situation:

You walk into a McDonalds and the employee asks what you'd like to eat. You tell them exactly what you want: "Double cheeseburger, no mustard, fries and a Dr. Pepper."

Now, think about if you were to say this when asked for your order: "Oh, I don't know. I mean there's really only one thing I'll be happy with, but why don't you just bring me out different variations of items until you get it right so I don't have to actually think about it."

Which do you think will go smoother and take less time?

This is a lose/lose situation, because not only is it hard on the designer since they are trying to guess what you want out of an infinite number of graphic possibilities, but the client gets frustrated too because they don't understand why the back and forth takes so long. I get quite a few short term requests, and I just can't get some people to understand why it will take much, much longer to get the final piece to them if they don't tell me what they want.

There isn't any kind of specific recent instance that brought this on or anything, it's just coming from years of doing this kind of work, and from being so appreciative when someone is willing to cooperate for the good of both parties!

As far as these pieces go, they were a lot more fun to do than I had previously anticipated. I was cramming them into an already airtight schedule, so at first I was focused more on the work aspect than the fun and creative aspect. I really liked being able to tell the story of this guy, especially using color as narrative tool. I also enjoyed coming up with a new character of sorts. The whole festival scene isn't really my thing, and honestly I think you'd have to be kind of a jerk to become "king" of the festivals, so I drew him to look like your average out-of-control college guy. Interesting how different personalities have specific physical traits, isn't it?

I'll post the badges tomorrow!