Sunday, September 30, 2007

Jeff Jones Exhibit at World Fantasy

This is very, very cool news.

Robert Wiener, publisher of Donald Grant Books, has organized an exhibit of Jeff Jones paintings for this year’s World Fantasy Convention. Nearly forty paintings gathered from a number of collectors
will be on display.

John Picacio had an idea to do some kind of appreciation of Jeff Jones at the convention. I offered to help and then immediately dropped the ball, I’m really glad Robert Wiener didn’t. This will surely be a highlight of the convention.

I tried to pull a quote out of Spectrum’s Grand Master essay on Jeff Jones but it’s really best read in its entirety, it is a loving tribute to a great artist with a tragically complicated personal history. If you have a copy of Spectrum 13, check it out.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Thomas Allen, Uncovered

I quickly mentioned photographer Thomas Allen a while back, here and here. Via American Illustration, I see that Allen will be talking about his upcoming book, Uncovered, with Chip Kidd. The best part, it’s just down the block from me!

Thomas Allen
Tuesday, October 16, 6:30 pm

Using the covers of pulp fiction books, Thomas Allen constructs wildly imaginative scenes, reinterpreting the books' lead characters. Allen will be in conversation with Chip Kidd, the internationally renowned graphic designer and author of the foreword to Uncovered.

Aperture Gallery
547 West 27th St., 4th Fl, New York, NY

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Frank Frazetta: Rough Work

I've mentioned how much I love seeing sketches and process work...Rough Work is a collection of just that from Frank Frazetta -- brought to us by the good folks of Spectrum and due out in stores any day now.

"This book gives fans an intimate glimpse of Frazetta's creative process by showcasing not only black-and-white and full-color drawings from his sketchbooks, but concept art as well, showing the artist's raw imagination and problem-solving skills. Printed on deluxe art paper and featuring personal and previously unpublished material, these “rough works” offer a fascinating look at how a modern master creates."

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Red Nose Studios: The Look Book

Red Nose is one of my favorite contemporary artists, so, I was very excited to get an email this morning alerting me to the release of The Look Book.

The Look Book is a charming peek into the lives of Ann and Ian, two siblings who leave the house one afternoon and see the world in unusual ways. The book combines stunning photographs of miniature scenes with dark wit and clever turns of phrase to create a delightful package.”

Chris Sickels, AKA Red Nose Studio, has more info on his blog, including sketches, here and here.

Society of Illustrators Deadline

A quick reminder: The SI annual deadline is this Monday.

...And I haven't done a thing about it yet. Time to start sifting through the cover-flats files.

Update: The deadline has been extended to Friday, October 19th.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Thumbnails: Glen Orbik

Thumbnails: 30 Second Interviews

I first saw
Glen Orbik's work in Spectrum and have always enjoyed spotting his paintings since, particularly the great work he is doing for Hard Case Crime. His classical training and obvious admiration for the magazine artists of the 50s and 60s has given him solid narrative and painting skills and a great facility for figure work.

Favorite painting you did in the past year?
Oz/Wonderland Chronicles #3. (seen above) As much fun to paint as it was to research.

Dream assignment?
Other than the Hard Case Crime covers, which I already get to do, I'd say the John Carter of Mars books by E.R. Burroughs. The ones illustrated by Frazetta were a huge favorite of mine.

Do you have to like the book to be excited about the project?
It helps, but we generally try to think more about the themes or mythology we believe the author is shooting for and have fun aiming for that target.

What painting do you wish you'd painted?
Sorry to have missed the era of full and double page spread story illustrations in the big magazines of the the 30's - 50's.

A career highlight?

An art director I'd not worked with in a few years called and asked me to send in some new samples of my current work - I thought it was just to update their files. I few weeks later, she called back and said, "Congratulations, you've got the job." "Great" I said, "what job would that be?". "Oh, Ray Bradbury really loves your work. He's doing a new book."

How do you balance family/personal time with work?
They're supposed to balance?....

Biggest influences?

A painfully incomplete list would be: Robert McGinnis, Robert Maguire, Norman Rockwell, Bernini, Gil Elvgren, the best from the Pyle-Harvey Dunn school, Coby Whitmore, John Buscema, & Fred Fixler.

Advice to a young illustrator?
Two things actually:

1) Only put the kind of work in your portfolio which you'd like to be called for. Variety can be a great asset but don't advertise things which you don't want to be called for.

2) Focu
s on telling the story well. Even with the most generous of deadlines, you will probably miss something or think of a better solution later. Make sure it's nothing important enough to regret later.There are a million ways to interpret or render a sleeve or whatever. Concern yourself with the best way to get the big impact-story across - especially if the art is going to be reduced to the size of a postage stamp. Everything from the elements included in the art to the way it's rendered is part of the storytelling. To paraphrase Norman Rockwell, "Anything that doesn't help the story, it hurts it."

(Oh, and don't babble on and on like this when someone asks you for advice to a young illustrator.....)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Introducing Morgan

Welcome Morgan, the newest member of the family.

He was adopted from Grateful Greyhounds -- an organization that rescues racing dogs that would otherwise be euthanized when the tracks are done with them. Contrary to what you might think, greyhounds are super mellow and laid back animals. They’re fascinating to watch -- very elegant. Their long skinny legs make them seem as if they are barley touching the ground when they walk, almost deer like.

And did you know that greyhounds can accelerate to 45 miles an hour in just three strides, bested only by cheetahs? True...Although they say our Morgan was dead-last in just about every race he ran so I don’t think we’ll be seeing any 45 mph from him. Just as well, his slow-pokeyness seems to have gotten him off the track and into our home pretty quick.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Goodbye Summer

I am so going to miss the warm weather.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

KGB Readings

Fantastic Fiction Readings at KGB Bar, 4th Street, NYC, hosted by Ellen Datlow and Gavin Grant. Every third Wednesday of the month.

Good Times. I really should go to more of these.

In Honor of National Talk Like a Pirate Day

David Grove's super awesome drawings for Gene Wolfe’s Pirate Freedom, due out next month.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Yuko Shimizu is Super Phat

I just got back from this opening in Chelsea:

September 12-29, 2007

601 W 26st. 15th floor, NYC 10001

It’s an exhibit of Japanese alumni of SVA. Mainly I went to see Yuko Shimizu’s two large scale drawings. She does amazing work — smart, sexy, simultaneously funny and disturbing, like a hipster version of the racier side of Dr. Seuss. This was the first I have been able to see something other than a digital print...well worth the trip to the way west side.

Two New Covers from John Harris

Sketch, final art, cover.

I recently mentioned how much I love seeing sketches --
I particularly love John Harris'.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Free book!

Normally I don’t keep track of who’s releasing what and where, outside of the books I am responsible for, but I met Karl Schroeder at Boskone last winter and had great time talking to him — now I see that he has released a free electronic version of his first novel, Ventus. I can’t speak about his writing personally but I know that all the cool kids consider it to be the bees knees. So, go take advantage of him and snag a free book.

And just to keep things art-centric: 1)
For guy that writes for a living , Karl created a pretty cool piece of cover art for the e-version of Ventus, and 2) I can point you to this step-by-step of Stephan Martiniere’s cover for Karl’s upcoming Pirate Sun.

Robert Jordan (Jim Rigney), 1948-2007

I've never had a professional life without Robert Jordan in it...It’s sad to start now.

Dragonmount announcement and tribute thread.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Thumbnails: Daniel Dociu

Thumbnails: 30 Second Interviews

Daniel Dociu is an art director and concept artist for the video game company NCSoft. I am attempting to lure him into the high paying and glamorous lifestyle of a book cover artist. He’s done a few covers for Tor this past year, hopefully the first of many. Like John Berkey and Stephan Martiniere, his painterly, expressive style is perfect for giving the viewer a glimpse of a world without spelling it out, letting us feel that if we could just squint a bit and step a little closer, we might be able to fall into that world -- that kind of engagement with the audience is priceless.

Here is a CGSociety profile on Daniel.

Favorite painting you did in the past year?
I don’t have one. I always have mixed feelings about my recent work. It’s a mix of excitement for the aspects I feel I handled well and disappointment for missed opportunities. It takes a long time for my feelings about a piece to cool off before I can label it as acceptable or a failure.

Do you have to like the book to be excited about the project?

It sure helps, but it’s not indispensable. If the book is less than inspiring it just takes extra mental effort to extrapolate the missing layers of depth.

How do you balance personal time with work?
Quite poorly.

What are you working on now?
I’m splitting my time between concept art and art direction for the next big title from Arenanet and overseeing the visual quality for all of the NCsoft’s North American development studios.

Advice to a young illustrator?
Take on all the work you can get your hands on and approach every assignment as a portfolio piece, even if you feel underpaid or downright ripped off. Over-deliver for your own good and don’t rearrange your standards according to the price you’ve been forced to accept.

Dream assignment?
“How about traveling around the world on your motorcycle along with a good writer equally crazy about riding, and illustrating the story of your journey? All expenses paid, of course. And then some.”

The Before

The Tor lobby painted twenty-two colors of crazy.

We are remodeling and losing our vitamin-enhanced pee green wall. (Oddly, I kinda liked our green wall.) We are now, apparently, going for “tasteful”. But then, this is coming from the people that painted over my 100 year old copper window casings, so we’ll have to wait and see.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Twice Upon a Time, Again

Yes, I am obsessing over a movie I haven’t seen since I was 13.

A while ago I wrote a quick post about the animated feature Twice Upon a Time. Ward Jenkins was kind enough to alert me of an
article he posted on it. Interesting, if frustrating, read on trying to get this film back out on DVD. It includes many more stills than I’ve been able to find so far. Once again, it makes me really wish I could see this as an adult. Go check out the pretty pictures....And then scroll down a bit and see the awesome Coralline poster.

Bob Eggleton is showing some pictures from World Con on his blog, including a group painting demo with him, Michael Whelan, and Naoyuki Kato.

Greg Manchess, Pirate

For those in the Cincinnati area, the National Geographic sponsored exhibition "Real Pirates: The Untold Story of the Whydah From Slave Ship to Pirate Ship” features eleven murals by Gregory Manchess. The exhibit is held at the Cincinnati Museum Center through January 2, 2008, and then travels to Philadelphia, Phoenix, and fifteen other cities. An interesting Wall Street Journal article states, “the large and dramatic murals painted by Greg Manchess illustrating incidents from Bellamy's cruise, including the pirates swarming aboard a French merchantman off Cuba, provide just the right sort of Boys-Own-Adventure atmosphere à la Howard Pyle or N.C. Wyeth.”

From Greg:

"There's no fantasy here, this is the real stuff. We had to stay
as accurate to history as possible. Through eyewitness accounts
and trial transcripts we were able to capture many details of pirate
life: clothing, hair, weapons, lifestyle. Even the pirate flag in one
of the murals is from a description at trial.

Opening in Cincinnati was special for me since I'm from the area. The Museum Center is the old Union Terminal train station, a classic example of Art Deco architecture. It houses fine, large WPA tile murals by Winold Reiss. I thought how wonderful it would be to have murals in that building, and now, I virtually do."

Currently Greg is working on another set of paintings for National Geographic (the magazine this time) about the reign of the Nubian pharaoh Taharqa over Egypt.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Spectrum Unbound

Somehow I convinced Arnie Fenner that I needed to see the proofs of Spectrum 14 so that I could start working on the exhibit. (Woo-hoo!) The book looks amazing. More and more names that are new to me. More fabulous work from names I know. The newly added concept art category looks really hot. I’m looking forward to seeing the bound book and getting a better sense of the flow of imagery. I hear that they are printed and shipping, due in bookstores at the end of October.

Spaceman Blues Reading

Owen William Weber sent me a nice note, via Myspace, telling me how much he loved Spaceman Blues. Glad to hear my ravings sold at least one copy of the book. My good deed done, I feel two steps closer to heaven already. It also reminds me to say that there will be another reading tomorrow in Brooklyn. Sadly, I have to miss it and will be very jealous of everyone that does go:

Spaceman Blues: A Love Song
Reading and musical performance.

Thursday, Sept. 13th at 8pm

Barbès in Park Slope, Brooklyn

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Thumbnails: Adam Rex...errr, I mean, the Boov

Thumbnails: 30 Second Interviews

Adam Rex is one of the most versatile and talented people I know. Besides being an awesome painter, his childrens’ books, which he writes as well as illustrates, are hilarious. Last year I made a post about his Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich and thinking back on that book still makes me crack up.

Adam’s first novel, The True Meaning of Smekday, recounting the Boov alien invasion of Earth will be available in October. It’s meant for ages 9 and up but, if it’s at all like Sandwich, then adults are sure to love it. I’ve seen bits and pieces of it over the past year, mostly the picturey bits, and I'm very anxious to finally read the full book.

Smekday Website, including an excerpt and a puppet show. You can also check out Adam's blog, EditpusRex, for sketches, alternate covers, and other goodies.

I tried to get Adam to answer a few questions but J.lo the Boov seemed to have hijacked his computer.

Favorite painting you did in the past year?

What? I am more of a wallpaper person.

What are you working on now?
An escalator to the moon. For day trips. And a new kind of gelatin for wearing.

Dream assignment?

No, thank you. I was offered an assignment forwith the Dream
Division and I said "no." It is nothing but naked peoples and math tests, all the time.

What painting do you wish you painted?

This one is nice:

Most embarrassing illustration related moment?

A funny story! I had not noticed my illustration was undone and
everyones could see my poomp. Very embarrassing.

Advice to a young illustrator?

Hm. A hard question. It is no kind of business, to be an
illustrator and be paid only to cover people's poomps all day long. I would needs to know more things about this young illustrator of which you are talking. Does he have a very bad smell? In his early development did he grow too many legs, or not enough? His things could all be reasons one is forced to illustrate. I say to you, young illustrator: "Keep your head down and cover those poomps and one day then you may be promoted to Legtaster, or Stickyfellow."

Any other statement you'd like to make?

I have now a MySpace page! For netsworking!

Tor Podcasting

The Tor World Con podcasts are now complete. Our web producer, Larry Hewitt, has cleaned them up a bit since the initial posting. My favorites are the single author interviews - they are an articulate bunch. And thanks to Jay Lake for giving out kudos to the art department and Stephan Martiniere.

There is talk of making podcasts a weekly feature. If that happens I’ll be sure to get some of the artists involved.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Donato Ginacola on Sketching

I think the most enjoyable part of working with artists is seeing the sketches. Although technically raw, the looseness and freedom in sketches add a lot of grace to the imagery -- the ideas are fresh and immediate, implied without being spelled out. A heavy trick in illustration is making the final surpass the promise of the sketch. Not an easy task when everyone will imagine what the final will be in their own way.

I asked Donato Giancola about his sketching process:

Sketches are the beginning explorations of image making. By concentrating on formal qualities of composition and design and leave myself open to wonderful accidents and developments which arise through the process towards a final detailed painting. I cannot draw figures out of head very well thus I have no choice but to leave such elements raw and underdeveloped.

With that in mind, my preferred choice of media is toned paper worked with pencil and chalk. This allows me to place light and dark masses on a middle tone to explore lighting issues at a very early stage. The vagueness imparted through these structures insures that I can easily modify any details at the next stage.

Once I am able to ‘see’ my real models and actors play their parts, the intimate gestures and details which characterize my work suddenly blossom in the preliminary drawing.
Sara Douglass’s The Crippled Angel, from Tor
Saron Lee and Steve Miller’s Balance of Trade, from Ace
Age of Empires game.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell, Imaginistix

Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell gave me an early copy of their new art book, Imaginistix, due out October 1st. It’s a great collection of publishing, film, advertising, and calendar work. Like all good art books, it’s chock full of nice full page images. It also features sketches, which I always love seeing, as well as final covers that nicely puts the art into context. Least worth mentioning, it has a wee introduction by me!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Society of Illustrators Call for Entries

The Society of Illustrators' Call for Entries is out. Deadline is October 1, as it is every year. Cool artwork by Carlos Nine.

This is the big 50th. I believe it is the longest running illustration annual -- but someone should correct me on that if I am wrong. The Society is hard at work creating an artbook that celebrates each of those fifty books. More on that as it evolves.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Scott Fischer and Rebecca Guay at RISD

This took place back in May -- which I realize is, like, the Jurassic age in blog years -- but it was a good day and worth remarking...

The incomparable Jon Foster teaches at RISD. Last year he invited Greg Manchess, Dan Dos Santos, and I to give a lecture and demo to his class. A blast was had by all. So much so that when
Jon invited Rebecca Guay and Scott Fischer to do the lecture/demo thing this year, the rest of us insisted on crashing the party.

Both Rebecca and Scott gave a slide lecture tracing their careers thus far, then they did a simultaneous painting demo. Rebecca bravely came in with a blank board and let the students dictate what the image would be. Since Scott has a fluid digital/traditional working method, he incorporated a digital underpainting as part of his lecture and then continued the painting in oils at the demo.

Some points made:

  • They discussed the idea of exploration in their sketches -- being free and loose enough to allow randomness and accident bring life into the work. Stumbling onto new ideas and then learning how to exploit those ideas in more purposeful ways.

  • Using reference but trying to interpret it and rely on muscle memory of past drawing to ensure that the reference doesn’t stiffen up the painting. This, of course, assumes lots and lots of past drawing. As Rebecca said, "Inspiration is hard work."

  • They both stressed the importance of preparation and drawing. You can’t make a good painting from a bad drawing. (I hear this over and over again from artists. Students, you really can’t escape this one.)

  • They talked about hitting breakthroughs in their work and then slowly digesting that information months latter. (I hope the students took this in. One fatal flaw of many would-be illustrators is that they are unable to look at their own work critically. Even if they do not understand what their latest piece is doing, they need to keep reassessing their work to gain enough perspective to learn both the good and the bad aspects of it.)

  • They advised students to take ownership of each job, especially in their early years. Working beyond the minimum of the job requirement as a means to hone skills and to attract new work. It is too easy to get caught in the trap of churning out many low paying jobs. Slowing down and creating better works is a means of investing in your future.
I'm sure many other interesting points were made but that’s all that my notes include...Or, I should say, that’s all I can decipher from my atrocious handwriting. A belated thanks to Jon for hosting us and thanks to Scott and Rebecca for an awesome day.

Monday, September 03, 2007

The end of a fine holiday weekend.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Hugo and Chesley Awards

Congrats to all the Chesley and Hugo award winners!

Exciting that Tor got The Big One -- Best Novel, Vernor Vinge's Rainbows End. (Truthfully, it was the cool Martiniere cover, wasn't it.)

A special shout-out to Patrick Nielsen Hayden for Best Editor. Woo hoo! (Bring that thing into work, Patrick, it looks one of the coolest rockets in memory.)

And huge congrats to Donato Giancola for Best Professional Artist. I know Dan well and I know he continues to be concerned that the field's breadth of artists are honored. Without wishing for another dynasty of one or two winners, I believe Dan truly deserves this for all the same reasons he did last year.

And woo-hoos to all the Chesley Award winners! (Have I exceeded my daily quota of exclamation points yet?) The full results can be seen at SF Awards Watch. Too many friends on this list for individual Ups...except, John Jude Palencar for Artistic Achievement. He has a unique and dignified vision that befits this recognition. (The idea that he has not won a Hugo or World Fantasy award is beyond me.) Congrats, John!

I am very honored to have received the Best Art director Award -- particularly so since it is voted on by the artists that I admire so much. Working with them makes my job a joy. The competition was especially strong this year, with great work coming from Pyr, Night Shade, and others. I'd have been very happy to be congratulating them right now. (But damn you, guys, now I have to work harder to keep up.)