Most of my friends and people in this area already know, but I have been selected to complete a mural in downtown Charleston, WV. As I stated in the proposal for my design, creating a permanent piece of art in the neighborhood where I grew up doodling on construction paper is an amazing honor. I've been planing and designing for months now; you wouldn't believe how much work goes into something like this before you ever even touch a paint brush to a wall.
So today the actual physical work finally began! Luckily I have people who know what they're doing to help me do things like build scaffolding and pressure wash the wall. Take for example Kyle, seen working hard in the photo above. Even though the final design has already been revealed in a local newspaper article, I think I'm going to post the progress online rather than revealing the digital version right away.
We're close to hitting record temerature highs here in town so we have one incredibly hot work day down and several more to go. I really still can't believe I was chosen for this and that I'm going to be able to leave such a huge artistc mark on my home town. Stay tuned for more progress!
Consider this a bonus companion piece to the turtles drawing I posted yesterday. Even though that one took quite a while to finish, once I was done I still had the urge to simplify some of the characters even further. I figured I could throw all the drawings together somehow, and an April pinup turned out to be the answer. Plus even my girlfriend suggested this as an idea for my original piece, so who am I to argue?
Well, here it is! My piece for the Shell Shock TMNT tribute show next week. You'd better believe this was a lot of work! Please click on it for a larger view.
Of course I had to pay homage to the 1989 cartoon, as that was the version I and millions of others were obsessed with in our youth. I tried to include as many key characters and iconic visuals as I could, and threw in some stuff that I remember particularly fondly like the arcade game. (Speaking of which, the title of the piece is "Big Apple, 3 a.m." Some will get it!)
What can you say about the Ninja Turtles that does any justice to how much they took over our lives? It was THE show and had THE toys, everything else was secondary. I really wanted to dig out some of my old turtle drawings from when I was a kid to post along side this, just as a cool reminder of how far I've come with my drawing and yet how little my choice of subject matter has changed. I haven't had a chance to search them out though because they're rumored to be in a remote corner of my parent's attic. However, on my way home from picking up this print I came across a turtle in the middle of my street, so I stopped the car and moved him to save him from becoming road pizza. I suppose that's fitting enough.
On Friday, June 3rd you're invited to attend Shell Shock! a Ninja Turtles art show tribute. All the info is there on the poster so click it for a bigger version!
I was really excited when Chogrin invited me to collaborate on the poster. I was asked to draw Donatello, coincidentally my favorite turtle. The idea was to use the original comics for inspiration, so this is a rare instance where I completed a drawing using only black and white. I've never considered this one of my strong points, but I'm getting better at using solid black areas for shading. The final product is a collaboration between myself, Bobby O'Herlihy, Edwin Vazquez, and Chogrin Munoz.
I'm currently putting the finishing touches on my work for the show.
For the last three months I've been attending something called Dr. Sketchy's anti art school. It's a social art event that's half figure drawing class and half burlesque show. What's not to like, right? It's held once a month and is open to everybody: professional artists, amateurs, and spectators alike. Every session the models dress (or undress) according to a theme, and strike poses that range from one minute to twenty minutes. There are also contests held throughout the night that include things like drawing with your non dominate hand, switching the model's clothes, or adding in extra theme-appropriate characters.
There are Dr. Sketchy's branches all over the country, and I love the fact that we now have one here in Charleston, WV. Our arts community is very active but relatively small, so it's quite a treat to have something here that you'd normally have to go to a larger city to experience. I urge anyone in the area who has yet to attend to stop by sometime. Remember, you're not allowed to complain that there's "nothing to do around here" if you don't support cool stuff like this!
These are just some of my random sketches from the events. I've always liked figure drawing, but it's funny how it seemed like "work" when I was in college and now I go out and do it for fun.
I also want to acknowledge Chase Henderson who is responsible for bringing Dr. Sketchy's to Charleston. I'm sure it has to be a lot of planning and work to organize a monthly event, especially starting it from scratch, so good job! You can check out Charleston's page on the official Dr. Sketchy's site to see photos and get more info about when and where these are happening.
I should preface this post by saying that it doesn't feature any of my artwork, just a cool bit of news. Harvey Pekar's latest book was released and it's all about his time in the city I call home. Titled Huntington, West Virginia: On The Fly, it's my understanding that this may also be his last book since Harvey passed away last year.
For those of you unfamiliar with Huntington, you can watch a movie called We Are Marshallabout a famous 1970s plane crash that killed our college's entire football team (the filming of which interrupted quite a few of my classes) or you can watch the first season of chef Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution where he tries to make our city not quite so fat. If those aren't you're thing then you've probably already enjoyed the work of Brad Dourif, Huntington native and voice of the possessed children's doll Chucky, and at one point you may have been up early enough to catch a glimpse of Matt Lauer, who got his start as a news anchor here.
(Also fun fact, it's said that our famous football team plane crash was the inspiration for the deceased football team in Beetlejuice.)
This book details Pekar's trip to Huntington to speak at our book fair, which is where I met him. It also talks about his cameo in a local move called The Comic Book Lady, which is about the owner of Comic World, one of our local comic shops and a downtown Huntington fixture. In fact the owners of Comic World, Shayne and Kathleen, are a significant part of the story since Pekar befriended them and hung around with them quite a bit while he was here.
It was really cool to see my comic shop featured in the pages of a graphic novel, and to actually buy it from two of the book's main characters.
Several years ago when I saw Pekar give his speech at the book fair I had yet to really gain any footholds in the art world and I wasn't positive that I ever would. I knew I was going to keep drawing forever because I love it and I can't imagine not doing it, but all throughout art school I was lead to believe that my cartoony drawings wouldn't get me much of anywhere, and that I needed to focus on either pure graphic design (what my degree is in) or more traditional arts like landscapes, portraits, etc. That's why Harvey's speech was so inspirational to me because he sung the praises of comics and comic art. It's easy for a geek like to me to talk about why I love comics, but here was this guy who was never a big comic nerd, kinda seemed like he could be your grandpa, and yet he believed that you could tell meaningful stores of any type with comics. They didn't have to be all silly and superheroes (not that there's anythingwrong with that) but they can also tell stories just as important as any novel or non-fiction book. It really gave me hope that the kind of art I was interested in wasn't useless.
When you read the story you can tell that Harvey had some preconceived notions about West Virginia, as do most people who aren't familiar with our state, but you can also tell that he was really struck by the kindness shown to him by Shayne, Kathleen, and the other people he encountered here. Not to be insensitive, but to me this book is far cooler, and far more sincere, than any movie that wishes to exploit one of our city's biggest tragedies.
Huntington may pop up in the news from time to time, but usually not for stuff quite as awesome or as relevant to my interests as being included in a Harvey Pekar book, so I'm pretty honored to have the connection. You can pick up a copy of the book here.
Last night was the opening reception of the 3B Show at Gallery 1988, and the show is getting some good press from places like Fuel Your Illustration and /Film.
And tonight is the opening of the Cubeecraft exhibition at Brave New Worlds in Philly. I'm really proud to be in both of these shows and wish I could be in two (or three) places at once to attend them! Hopefully some pictures of these shows will surface soon and I'll share them here.
Now for a quick plug, my friend Justin has a sketchbook out that you can order here. For a few extra bucks he'll even include a sketch of a character of your choice. How many sketchbooks can boast that as an option?
I also intended to plug the Strange Kids Club anthology but I've just seen that it's sold out! I'm very happy for its success and I hope all who were interested were able to get their hands on one.
I received my copy of Strange Kids Club Anthology #1 in the mail this weekend. It's a collection of comics and pinups based on Strange Kid, the mascot for the website of the same name. The artwork inside is amazing and truly embodies the weirdness and nostalgia that Strange Kid is all about.
The vibe of this book really put me in the mind of those 90s MTV cartoons like Liquid Television and The Head. I love it and I'm really proud to have been a part of it!
I haven't posted any Cubees for a while, so a little background is in order: Cubees are paper toys that you print and assemble yourself, and unlike most other papercraft models they require no glue or tape. They are the creation of Christopher Beaumont who runs Cubeecraft.com, where you can download hundreds of them for free. I've designed a number of these guys over the last few years and even had my Ernie Cubee featured in papercraft art books. You can find the ones I've designed in the Cubee section of my online portfolio.
Chris has a Cubeecraft show coming up this Friday at Brave New Worlds in Philly, and he had asked me a while ago if I'd like to contribute a new model. So today I'm very excited to reveal these Cubees of my characters Oly and Ted!
The Cubees Chris uses for exhibitions are larger than normal, so the Oly cubee is oversized while the Ted is standard Cubee size, making them proper scale with each other.
The central idea I had was to create a Cubee that was in a different pose than the normal standing position, but I found that was much easier said than done! I've had experience modifying the Cubee template in the past but this was definitely a challenge because of the large scale and inherent difficulty of making a person constructed out of cubes look "natural" in a lying down position. I put quite a bit of work into this seemingly simple design and I am extremely happy with the results.
Standard Cubees are free over on Cubeecraft.com so I will likely make Ted available on my site, but the larger models are more specialized and a bit harder to produce with a typical home printer setup, so kits to make Oly will be on sale at the show this Friday (Ted is included in the kit as well.) Of course there will be plenty more Cubees and kits at the show by Chris and the other contributing artists, so if you live in the Philadelphia area be sure to check it out! You can find more info here.