While not a grand supporter of the fervent and ceaseless quest for self-improvement (and the chronicling of such efforts) that our modern world so enthusiastically foists upon us, I’m also a sucker for reflection and nostalgia, and annual reviews get me a little of both. Without further bloviation, an examination of what I’ve done, what I’m proud of, and what I could have done better.
There’s No One There
While actually artwork created in 2011, I was really pleased with what happened with this long running kernal of an idea long ago. After a few false starts, 2012 saw the idea kick into high gear with a collaboration with Scott Geiger and the Ninth Letter literary journal.
Some good first internet press got the attention of the Telfair Museum in Savannah, GA, where I ended up having my first museum show, which I’m totally thrilled about. A month later, they were back in New York for my first New York solo show of my work, hosted by Scott at Studio-X, where both the show and the event surrounding the release of the Ninth Letter supplement went off really well (but not before, 2 hours before show open, one of the piece crashed to the ground, shattering the glass; the work was mostly unharmed, but it result in a frantic last minute race around the city to get it reframed.)
On the art show front, I’m not sure I could have had a better year.
Mad Props: Geoff Manaugh, Nicola Twilley, Scott Geiger, Jodie Stanley, Greg Nanney, Harry Delorme
I was so flattered that Josh Glenn of HiLoBrow, Significant Objects, Taking Things Seriously, and many other awesome projects asked me to do four double-spread comics for his new activity-and-culture book for kids, UNBORED. I’ve always thought my work was right in the wheelhouse of pre-teen kids (I draw so much inspiration from the genre!), and it was especially awesome to work with Josh and the brilliant art director Tony Leone, who gave me guidence but for the most part were completely hands off and let me do whatever the hell I wanted to do. If only all clients were like that. Go buy a copy, the book in total is just outta sight.
Mad Props: Josh Glenn, Elizabeth Foy Larsen, Tony Leone
Melville Dewey, Time Traveller
The ever-amazing Matthew Battles and his colleague Jeffrey Schnapp asked me to do a comic about a time-travelling steampunk Mevil Dewey for Harvard’s metaLab. Need I say more?
Mad Props: Matthew Battles, Jeffrey Schnapp
Crusading hero Astra Taylor asked me to do a poster for her project, The Rolling Jubilee, which ended up getting a ton of great press, raising an incredible amount of money for the brilliant Strike Debt project, and, as a side benefit, also got my art in The Village Voice. Sweet!
Mad Props: Astra Taylor, Nick Pinto
Finally, I think I can finally announce that I am officially the new Mobile Design Director for Pinch/Zoom, a mobile consultancy here in Seattle, and have been so for the past 4 months or so. I had been initially cagey to talk about it all, because, like a rogueish cad who loves ‘em and leaves ‘em, I had been an unattached bachelor in the working world for nearly 10 years, with small gaps here and there. And like any player who’s made good and settled down, I’m still a bit stunned by how much I enjoy it and my new way of life.
For some very brief background, the main principle of Pinch/Zoom, Brian Fling, is a guy I have know for a really long time; in fact, he gave me one of my first for-real illustration gigs in Seattle, after I had moved from LA, fleeing the animation world. He approached me with the opportunity after I had sought him out to kibbitz about all things creative. I think he saw in me a place where he had been: creatively exhausted, professionally tapped out, and looked for a new way to make stuff.
I am very grateful for the opportunity presented to me, not because it speaks volumes to the trust that Brian puts in me – we are a small shop, and so each action carries a lot of weight – but also that I can be in a place where I don’t have to pretend to be anything more than someone who is learning a new industry, occasionally new skills, and a new approach to the work I love to do. So. Thanks, Brian!
Mad props: Brian Fling, Mathew Wendell, Catleah Cunanan, Dave Gerton
Let me just say this: I love New York. I. Fucking. Love. New. York. But this is kinda awesome, too:
Mad props: The little lady and the papoose.
Unnamed Time Travel Comic Project
If you’re lucky enough to be one of my friendly confidants or creative collaborators (or even worse, the editor of a lovely and extremely popular website whom I approached with this idea and was nothing but gracious and generous in her offer I’M SO SO SORRY), you know that I have been blathering on about this serial fiction gif-comic full of time travel and family drama FOR EVER. And I truly have absolutely nothing to show for it, besides like over 75 unusable pages, about 5 false starts, 10 discarded plot twists, and a seething ball of frustration.
I had hoped to get the first episode out the door by the start of 2013. That is obviously not going to happen. Frankly, I think I’d be proud if the first episode it out by 2014. I just feel so backed into a corner creatively on the project that I’m not sure what it will take to unstick it. In the meantime, I am going to focus on some other projects and do some light writing until it unsticks itself. It WILL get done, and out, I tell you. I just don’t know when.
Robots + Monsters
I’m calling this one like a half-fumble. Or, if the above was a butt-fumble, this was a fumble that one of my offensive linemen fell on at the last minute. To answer everyone’s question : YES, THE PROJECT CONTINUES. However, I’m not sure what form yet. As it stands, I have a new site designed and ready to go:
and for a while, it will function as a portfolio site for all the great work we’ve done, as well as a function merch store. Will it open back up for drawings? I dunno yet! But the functionality is being built into the new site, if that gives you any answer at all.
Then, there’s a bunch of stuff I either can’t talk about because it’s not done yet, or not pitched to the right people yet, or I’ve signed an NDA for it, or whatever. These includes an amazing animation project with Alix Lambert, a potential new comic with someone of note who have heard of before, threats of new game with Gabe Smedresman, and even an upcoming collaboration with my wife, which I have a feeling may end being the best thing I’ve ever done. So there’s exciting stuff brewing, to be sure.
Even since I was young, I heard the phrase, through my Dad, that he claims his father always said to him:
Your 20s are your yearning years, your 30s are your learning years, and your 40s are your earning years.
I think we can probably adjust that a little bit, considering our rapidly de-aging populace, but the intent remains the same. Boy, am I learning.
Happy 2013, folks.
I’m really, really proud of the comics I made for Josh Glenn and Elizabeth Foy Larsen, and their new book for kids, UNBORED. I just got my copy from Bloombury in the mail yestrerday. The book in general is amazing – so recommended for anyone who has a kid that wants actually explore the world and not just put on the Norm Uniform – and the reproductions of my comics look terrific. To wit:
Run, don’t walk, to go buy your copy on their site. (And heck, I helped make the website, too.)
I’m very, very proud to finally post about the album cover design I created for the fantastic band, A Breakthrough in Field Studies.
Being asked to create art for an album these days is a funny business. Time was, back when the masters were plying their craft, the creator of the artwork could be at least relatively assured that, if the band was sufficiently good at what they do, their artwork would be ogled, appreciated, pawed over, placed on a shelf and pulled out again, and occasionally used to help roll a joint. These days, a designer or illustrator making album artwork is lucky enough to have their stuff appear when the listener happens to have album view turned on in iTunes.
So the problem to be solved really wasn’t, ” Make an interesting cover.” The problem was, how do we re-engage a jaded audience to pay attention to the cover again? I came up with two options:
1. The 3-D Album
I loved Marvel’s brief experimentation with 3-D when I was a kid. In retrospect, the 3-D element was almost a secondary benefit. The big draw really was the glasses. There is something nearly totemistic about having to use a different item you wear in order to engage with a printed piece: it’s like real-life D&D, with your Glasses of Seeing, +3. I thought this would be neat to bring back.
2. The Diorama
I must admit, I loved school, especially elementary school. I loved the books and the classes and the library, and even most of my teachers. But the assignments in school I loved the most were the diorama assignments: I’ve always been a world building, but the physical manifestations of creating a tiny world were always too cool resist. This plays into that desire, a miniature sea-play the album buyer could recreate, with the band members as players in the drama.
I thought both ideas could work: the guys in the band fell in love with idea 1, and they didn’t look back.
I think it turned out pretty rad.