illustration

I’ve Been Thinking…

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The difference between being humble and being humble (despite sounding the same) strikes me as a distinction of considerable substance.

Yet how can one be certain perception is in sync with reality? To illustrate – is this a plane that is humble who’s shadow none the less betrays its true qualities or is it simply a humble plane that wishes it were something more?

Illustrator James Jean Revealed

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Diego Rivera did some wonderful frescoes but I didn’t truly fall in love with his work until I had the opportunity to see a show of his amazing sketches at the San Francisco Art Institute (where he happens to have left one of his frescoes). There is something about a raw look at an artist’s creative process – before all the filtering for an audience happens – that is really marvelous to behold.

So it is with illustrator James Jean. Flipping through his online portfolio is like attending an extravagant concert listening to highly produced love songs. It’s breath taking work. Yet there is something about shuffling through his “SKETCH” section that is somehow more satisfying. Like sitting up close in a small acoustic setting where you can see the musician sweat and see that the heartache in the song is real.

Each of James’ sketch books is dated and described simply by its color or a letter. Immersion begins (as it should) with a handsome photo of the actual book showing the patina it acquired during its tenure. The experience proceeds with subject matter that is often less fanciful than his formal portfolio. Figure studies, people on the bus, writings… but I love the lose, gestural quality of the work and the thought. I imagine when he did these sketches he wasn’t thinking about me (in the abstract) at all. He was focused on the moment and how to represent it.

I am left to wonder why designers (so far as they differ from artists) are conditioned away from showing process in this way – favoring instead the polished end result. Limiting ourselves to a small number of samples even within that criteria. Shying away even from polished work that wasn’t actually produced. Not only do I have piles of sketch books but endless folders and files full of work that was never published, printed or launched. By keeping all this work hidden away we deny everyone the chance to be an archaeologist of our creative legacy. Even more troubling is the idea that perhaps we miss the opportunity to let others fall in love with our work.

Onward and Upward

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Click for enlargement

Thank you for your fun comment on the Re-bookmark-able post Ella. It sounds like you and Tim are having a great time drawing together. The bookmark collection sounds fantastic too. As a thank you and to celebrate Tim’s birthday I’ve sent you each this bookmark you inspired me to make. The sky is full of star signs and Tim can help you find them all. To get you started Cignus the swan is just above the turtle’s nose. Reading and drawing, two great life-long adventures. Keep it up.

Industrial Divinities

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Junji Okubo has shared some beautifully simple yet quite detailed technical illustrations of robots on the website Izmo Juki. There’s something about it being subtitled Industrial Divinities that I find surprisingly charming. It’s worth taking a look (use the tiny numbers at the bottom left of the last image on each page to get to subsequent pages). You’ll feel like your looking at the contents of one of those Jawa Transports from the first Star Wars movie – except these are all clean. After you take a look come back and comment on our tendancy to anthropomorphize.

Re-bookmark-able

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Check out these great, whimsical bookmarks and book plates by Tim and Ella Wong. The uncle-niece team collaborate in California’s Bay Area but have started to share some of their work on flickr. Two things make these illustrations remarkable beyond how fun they are. First, Ella is only eleven. And, second I can remember drawing with Tim in social studies class in junior high school when we weren’t much older than eleven ourselves! Before anymore time flies by print out some of these great bookmarks and stick them in your favorite book. Each time you sit down to read you’ll start out with a smile.

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I Married a Monster (fan)

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Sometimes it’s nice to have an excuse to get off the computer and simply make something by hand. My wedding (a very informal and fun celebration with home made beer and games rather than champagne and fancy tableware) gave me just such an excuse and here is the result. Four bean bags adorned with slightly sheepish looking monsters – who despite all the teeth are really quite friendly. They are eagerly awaiting August 1st when they will be flung through the air at the corn toss boards I made to go with them. I was originally going to illustrate an alien abduction scene in four panels but my fiancĂ©e steered me in a different direction and as usual she was right.

The only question is, what to make next?

Putting the “I” in iTunes

V CD on iTunes

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Hey I’ve got an album cover on iTunes! Of course Victor Johnson aka “V” deserves the credit for making the music but it’s still fun to see my illustration/design in such a high profile virtual location. The story on the cover of a new born bird learning to fly while the gaping jaws of a wolf eagerly await the bird’s failure plays out further on the liner notes inside. Check out CD Baby if you want a hard copy of the CD so you can find out how that goes.

Victor is back in the recording studio and a new EP should be out around the end of the year which means I’m back in the design studio to create a new cover – which will be on iTunes – which I’ll blog about… it’s an endless cycle.

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