Friday, December 16, 2011

Happy Dysfunctional Holidays!

I received a call from Pete Hausler of The Wall Street Journal end of the day last Thursday, he needed 5 color spot illo.s by lunch the following Tuesday. The article was dealing with typical dysfuntional family situations that repeat themselves every holiday season. He wanted to know if I was interested? The short answer was Yes. He wanted the sketches done and approved by end of day Friday. Being that the turn around time was so short I submitted one sketch per situation, 4 of which were approved by the days end. The 5th sketch was approved Monday morning which gave me the weekend to work on the approved spots. Pete had seen a job I had done for Tyler Darden when he was at Virginia Living Magazine at my online portfolio and wanted these handled in a similar fashion.

Virginia Living

He thought the more graphic, chunky approach to the color would be a good fit for this article.

The 5 typical situations were, in no particular order;

Your son comes home from his first semester at college looking like an alien exhibiting a new and surprising fashion sense.

Mom and Dad fighting over the correct way to cook the gravy and pretty much everything else.

The Aunt who doesn't realize when she's had one glass of wine too many.

The negotiation of which set of parents you'll be spending the special day with.

And the calm and civil discussions that will take place between you r siblings as to who will get what heirlooms once the folks have left this mortal coil.

                                     Happy Holidays Everyone.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Unpublished Illo. Dept.

This illo. was done for a national newspaper and the story ended up being canceled due to the fact that one of the paper's major competitors did a story almost identical to this one a day or two before this was to see print. It's not the first time something like this has happened so it wasn't to surprising but still it was a bit of a let down.

The story had something to do with hospitals attempting to improve the customer-patient experience and improving it to the equivalent of a 5 star hotel. I got the call from the A.D. on a Friday afternoon and the finish needed to be done by 12:00 the following Monday. I didn't get the chance to read the manuscript because the writer hadn't finished it at that point. The A.D. knew what the gist of the story was so he discussed with me what he and the other editors thought would be an appropriate solution. I quickly did the sketch per our conversation, scanned it and email it to him. He promptly got back to me with an OK and I was good to go.

I worked on the illo. over the course of the weekend, did the the finishing touches Monday morning and sent it off. The A. D. seemed very happy with the end results and said that the publishing date had been bumped to the following week. I contacted him early the next week to check and see which day it'd see print and that's when I received the news of the story being killed. Oh well.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Pop Up Holiday Shop

popidiot will be selling t-shirts, post cards, stickers, etc. at the Pop Up Holiday boutique at Artisan Alley, 323 W. Broad St. tonight from 6:00 to 10:00ish. There will be lots of other artists and crafters selling their unique handmade local wares. The pop Up Shop will be open Sat. & Sun. as well and then every Fri. thur Sun. up til Xmas. If you're out for First Fri. Artwalk stop in and get an early jump on your xmas shopping.

Friday, October 14, 2011


 Here's something I've been working on the last week or so for myself. It's an image I've been thinking about and working on sporadically for a while now.

  Because this was for no one else other than myself I decided to load up the image with a lot of visual information, introducing elements that may appear to be only tangentially related to the main elements. I should mention that it was initially inspired by a piece by Ed Rushca.

  I've always been attracted to this images graphic simplicity having said that I wasn't at all interested in slavishly replicating it. This may seem odd being that the piece I've done is anything but simple, even the version where I did simplify it, there's still much more going on. I really just wanted to use it a spring board  for the piece I ultimately ended up with.

 Once I thought I was finished with it I showed it to a couple of friends who also happen to be an illustrator and animator. They both had very helpful if somewhat annoying suggestions.
At first I was a bit put off by them because I thought I was done with this piece and ready to move on. But once I got a bit of distance I could see what they meant and I had to address them.

One of my friends felt strongly that the rocket babies and the tentacle coming out of the bucket in the bakgound were unnecessary and only distracted from what he thought was the central idea of the drawing.

Photoshop is a blessing and a curse because it makes it fairly easy to make these types of changes and what can happen as a consequence of that is you can arrive at a point where you're not sure yourself if the piece is even finished. I suppose the upside of this is you can inadvertently end up with two similar yet very different pieces.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

New Work @ Pibby's Bicycle & Skate Friday Oct. 7th.

This Friday I'll be in a joint show with my good friend Bob Scott at Pibby's where we'll showing some of our recent illustration work and Bob will also have some of his brand new collages on hand. Below are some samples of you can expect to find at the show;

Bob Scott 2011 - Madonna of Hazzard

Kelly Alder 2011 - Dr. HedgeFund

Bob Scott 2011 - Shepard's Copy-rite

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

New Work For Agent 207


 I Recently completed this illustration for a gentleman here in RVA for his fledgling film production company. He asked me to create a retro Buck Rogers - Flash Gordon character in conjunction with a logo. He thought it would look good if the character were holding a camera of some kind. I thought that  combining the camera with aspects of a retro space gun would be fun and would tie the camera more readily to the character. In the initial talks with the client we touched on potential elements that he would like to have incorporated into the illustration, if possible. Things like high collars, capes, reels of film, fins, gloves, boots, lighting bolts and the aforementioned camera and laser. Being a kid who grew up on all things pulp this seemed like a potentially fun job.

                                                The initial sketch.

 Every job takes it's own path and you never know how many sketches it'll take to arrive at a point where both you and the client will be satisfied. This was one of those jobs where one sketch was all it took. In my experience this is a rather rare occurrence. I have had jobs where I've done 10 to 15 sketches only to have the client decide that perhaps I wasn't the right choice for the job. These things happen.

                                              The inked drawing.

 Once the client approved the sketch I then had it printed out onto some good quality illustration board  in non-repro blue and inked it in with a brush. The reason for the non repro print out is that I then scan the line work into the computer as black and white art and that allows you to adjust the levels of the file and most of the dirt from the under drawing will fall away. The logo was all drawn in the computer except for the bit of film that is trailing off of the reel.

                             Inked drawing with subtle adjustments.

 The reason for the second posting of what looks like the same drawing as previous one is I made a few minor but important changes to the drawing. After I had finshed with the inking my wife took a look at it and asked me why he didn't have a waist and why his forearm was so long. It's always good to have a fresh pair of eyes take a look at what you've been working on. I knew something wasn't working but I couldn't put my finger on it. Luckily it's very easy to address these issues in the computer.

                                               Finished illustration.

After the drawing is finished then it's just a matter of laying in the colors which is all done in photoshop. But even after I thought I was done with the drawing one of my sons took a look at it and the first thing he asked me was why didn't he have a second arm? At first I tried to justify why he didn't have one but ultimately I realized it was just because I was too lazy to put it in. The more I looked at it the more it bothered me so I added a silouhette of his other arm.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

2nd Animation for the RoomStore

Here's the second animated spot I worked on with Mark Lambert of the Park Group for the RoomStore.

In this spot the we were  going for more of a Jetsons feel. By that I mean a more stylized approach to the design of the characters,


and a more graphic application of the colors.

This was another fun and challenging job to be involved in and everyone at Park has been great to work with.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Upcoming Show in D.C.

I'm going to have work in a show up in D.C. Jeffery Everett of El Jefe Design invited myself, fellow Richmonder and all round great guy Bob Scott,

 to be in a show with him and Sean Hennessey .

which is opening this Friday June 3rd at Bella Cafe and Bar. If you happen to be in the neighborhood stop in, check out the work, enjoy the generous bar, karaoke and who knows what else.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Animation for the RoomStore...

I recently had the pleasure of working with Mark Lambert from The Park Group on a couple of commercials for the RoomStore. Mark has a very impressive resume. He's worked on such films as Narnia; the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - Polar Express - Hollowman - Stuart Little - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, just to name a few.

Now on first blush you might think yeah, big deal, a commercial for a furniture store. And yes I understand but this was the first time in something like 25 years since I've had the opportunity to work in animation.
The last time was back in the early eighties when I worked on an animated music video for The Alan Parson's Project for a song called Don't Answer Me. The studio that it was done through was Broadcast Arts, at the time they were located in D.C.

 Shortly after the completion of the video the studio moved to NYC and made the first season of Pee Wee's Playhouse. While working on the music video I had the supreme pleasure of working with Michael W. Kaluta, a comic book and fantasy artist of the highest caliber and huge hero of mine.

So yes, I was excited to be working in animation again however limited the animation had to be due to time and budget constraints. Luckily I was working with someone who's knowledge of the history and different techniques of animation is very deep. Mark wanted to create a visual sensibility that was somewhat along the lines of early Warner Brother's cartoons and being a big fan those old cartoons I was more than happy to oblige. Having said that we're well aware of the fact that the animation is very limited but again we did what we could given the time and budget restraints.

 I'm very happy with the end result and had a blast working with Mark and everyone else at
  The Park Group.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Obama's College Days

This was done for a book that will be coming out either this fall or next spring. I can't really say too much about it at this point other than the book isn't entirely about Obama. My understanding is there will only be one chapter that focuses on him. Oddly enough they had me do 2 illustrations for the chapter. One that deals with him as a child and this one that depicts him during his college years. What the client was after was a rather literal depiction of Obama living a rather austere, ascetic lifestyle, focusing intently on his studies.

                                               Sketch 1

In speaking with the writer he wanted to include as many of the books and historical figures as possible that contributed to forming Obama's views. He also wanted to have Obama's father somehow represented, a neglected distressed basketball hoop out of his window to represent him leaving behind his childhood and something to represent his Grandparents. The list was a bit unrealistic in it's length and had to be shortened considerably. As a consequence I wasn't very hopeful for a successful outcome for this piece. With everything that I had to shoe horn into this, it seemed to me there was no way this was going to be anything other than a clunky, awkward illustration.

                                               Sketch 2

Surprisingly enough we didn't have to go through too many revisions and compositionaly things worked out better than I expected.

                                     Finished inks

                                         Completed illustration

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Chicken Run @ The Virginia Historical Society

This is the last of the 4 stories we did for the Virginia Historical Society's new exhibit, "An American Turning point:The Civil War in Virginia". This story has a decidely lighter and slightly humorous tone. One of the things I really enjoyed about this job was the variety of tone each story contained. One deals mostly with interpersonal conflicts, one with espionage, one with the brutality of war and this one shows a moment that could be seen as funny although it does involve the theft of some of "Grandma's poultry".

                                              rough pencils, page 2

Initially Bruce and I discussed approaching the story with a very obvious cartoon sensibility, along the lines of the old Warner Bros., M.G.M. and Hanna Barbera cartoons.  We especially applied this to the soldiers running with their feet not touching the ground and the use of big animated sound effects. At one point I mentioned how I couldn't believe the museum was letting us handle this in such an exaggerated fashion. To which Bruce replied something along the lines of "we'll see, it hasn't been approved just yet."

                                                tight pencils, page 2

As you can see in the revised pencils we did have to reign things in a little. This was for the Virginia Historical Society after all. Having said that they did allow us to keep the soldiers running through the fence with the planks exploding in a completely impossible manner.

                                     finishes, last panel, page 2

On this story I once again had the pleasure of working with Noah Hornstein. He assisted me with the initial application of the colors. He also was kind enough to point out a few glaring mistakes in the drawings and I'm grateful to him for keeping me from embarrassing myself, thanks Noah.

                                     finish, panel one, page one

                          Here is the story in it's finished form, enjoy.