Thursday, May 31, 2007

BEA Bound

Me to Adam Rex: "Today at lunch I slipped on a banana peal. Swear to god."
Adam Rex to me:
"What a coincidence. I took a pie in the face yesterday. Fortunately
that guy with the seltzer happened by."

(Except in my case, it really did happen, I really did slip on a banana peal. Had I my camera with me, you'd all be looking at one brown and squishied up piece of banana road kill.)

But the point is....T
his weekend is Book Expo America. and I am very much looking forward to saying "hi" to Adam and seeing him tout his first novel, The True Meaning of Smekday.

BEA is fun for me. For some reason Tor gives me a ticket and yet I have no official dealings while I am there. So, I get to run around, hang out with people, and look at lots of cool books.

Besides Adam, other BEA events I’m looking forward to:

  • Going out to dinner with Arnie Fenner, co-creator and editor of Spectrum
  • Catching up with awesome designer Howard Grossman of 12E Design.
  • Listening to Brian Slattery, author of my favorite Tor book, Spaceman Blues, speak on the “NYC Visions: Fresh Authors and Portrayals.” panel. (Unfortunately it overlaps with a bunch of our editors speaking on the “Changing Face of SF” panel. I may have to bring my running shoes.)
  • Visiting Lou Anders of Pyr.
  • Checking out the Mark Murphy Design booth. (I hear they have some new Jeff Soto stuff coming out this summer.)
And the rest will be just looking at what's new.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Wheel of Time Calendar Competition

Robert Jordan and Tor are running a charity Wheel of Time art competition. Artists are invited to create a painting or drawing based on anything from his popular Wheel of Time series. (The Dragonmount website link kindly lists ideas for those not as steeped in the Wheel of Time universe as others are.) Twelve winners will be chosen by Jordan and be included in a 2009 calendar that Tor will publish. All proceeds will go to benefit Amyloidosis Research at the Mayo Clinic.

Deadline: August 15

Images must be 12 x 12, 300 dpi.
All media and styles are welcome.
All work must be submitted via this website.

Make the judging difficult! Enter early and enter often.

Frazetta Museum

The Society hosted a road trip to the Frazetta Museum. Unfortunately I had to work (I am surrounded by freelancers and they just don’t get the difference between weekends and weekdays) but Mark Korsak reports that an amazing time was had by all. Certainly the highlight for everyone was being able to meet Frank Frazetta.

Rumor has it that the Society is thinking of another road trip to one of my favorite places on earth -- The Brandywine Museum. If that happens, I just might have to *cough cough* take a sick day.

Monday, May 28, 2007

One of my bestest friends, Jonathan Schmidt, is in town for the week. Yay! He was Tor's young adult editor for a number of years and started our Starscape line. Spending a long night catching up reminded me of just how much fun it was to work together and launch Starscape. We had a year's worth of titles picked out ahead of time and no one really looking over our shoulders. It was a new market to me, I had a blast exploring different artists and a broader range of styles than we often get away with in the adult market. I also remember being surprised to realize that most of the books were shelved in the YA fiction section, not necessarily SF/F sections - which seemed to be reserved for series. So, perhaps a more fluid sense of what is or isn't an acceptable package for the genre shouldn't be surprising.

Cover art by Red Nose Studio.

Saturday, May 26, 2007


Almost by accident I set up a MySpace page this week. (I swear, I just tripped into it!) And since I was already there I thought I'd poke around a little. I've discovered that a number of illustrators are better about keeping their MySpace galleries updated than their official website. I wont mention names but, shame on them! Of course the upside is that I now get to claim hanging out at MySpace during work hours as, well, "work."

Friday, May 25, 2007

I went to an opening tonight and should have all sorts of artyness to report but, really, when a guy is walking around with your name tattooed to his arm, whet else is there to talk about.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Thumbnails: Julie Bell

Thumbnails: 30 Second Interviews

I doubt anyone reading this does not already know about Julie Bell’s mastery in figure painting. (Although I equally love her loose and suggestive backgrounds.) What you may not know is how much she is a delight to work with. She brings such a high level of excitement and professionalism to each and every project that I never worry when I have a cover in her hands. There are many books and calendars on Julie's work, the most recent of which is Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell: The Ultimate Collection.

Favorite painting you did in the past year?

The movie poster for the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie that I did in tandem with Boris. Also the cover for Firebird that I just did for Tor. And one of my wolf paintings. And a couple of others.

Do you remember the first time you knew you wanted to be an artist?

When I was in fifth grade, I got a huge lecture from my teacher because I didn't have a goal in life. So, since I really loved to draw and make comic books and "tattoos" for my friends, I said I would be an artist.

What painting do you wish you painted?

Anything by Waterhouse or Dulac.

A career highlight?

When I get together with Boris and my kids and our friends and we all paint together, I get so happy I almost can't stand it! [See Retreat.]

What are you working on now?

I've decided to do some wildlife art that makes use of my fantasy-style backgrounds with realistic animals. It's so much fun! It all started when I did some covers for Tor that featured wolves and, needing reference material, I went to shoot pictures at a wolf sanctuary. I completely fell in love with the wolves!

Your biggest influences?
Boris and my sons, Anthony and David Palumbo.

Did you attend a formal art school?

I went to a bunch of different colleges and universities, always majoring in art, because I was always moving to different locations in the country. Some of my best art teachers were from community colleges! I believe a formal art school is ideal and it's got to be a blast to be in that environment, but it's not necessarily the only way to go. It all depends on how much you put yourself into it. Also I should mention that a great deal of what I learned to bring myself up to the professional level was done many years after I was out of school.

Micro Eric

Eric Fortune has been spending a few weeks in New York and working much too hard while he's here. So, dropping off his MicroVisions painting was a good excuse to take a break and go to lunch. (It’s going to take a lot of willpower not to “lose” this one before the auction.)

Up soon on Eric's dance card is the cover for Tor's upcoming reissue of The Red Magician. I read the book a few years ago and enjoyed it quite a bit. I am very excited to see what Eric will do with it.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Micro Bruce

How cute is this?
Extraordinarily so, is the answer.

Bruce Jensen has been working digitally for years now but he consented to paint -- with actual pigment and brushes! -- this little guy for our MicroVisions auction. (Confessing that painting at 5x7 required the stacking of reading glasses.) I'm outing him here as a "Painter with Pigment" so that he feels compelled to make more of these for himself.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Bragging Rights

My brother, David Gallo, has been nominated for a Tony Award for "Best Scenic Design of a Play". The show is August Wilson’s last play, Radio Golf. (Seen here is my blurry snapshot taken opening night.) Last year David won the Tony for designing the musical Drowsy Chaperone.

Good luck, Dave!

(Wow - this makes me realize that The Art Department is coming up on being a year old. That just can't be.)

Monday, May 14, 2007

Facelifts vol.4

Our latest repacking of an older book. (Although this is its first life as a Tor book.) This Harry Harrison book inspired the movie "Soylent Green." Unlike the movie, the book is more concerned with population problems than with cannibalism. These were designed by Jamie Stafford-Hill. We are going with the Manhattan version, but I really wish we could print two or three of these.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Society Student Scholarship Exhibit

Last Friday was the Society of Illustrators’ annual student scholarship exhibition. By the numbers, this is harder to get into than any of the professional illustration shows -- 100 works are selected from 5,000 -- and the quality of work shows it. This exhibit is fantastic each year. I went in looking to say hi to three artists in particular. I was eventually able to hunt them down by their names tags. All turned out to be extremely personable, smart, and excited to be there. As one said, "I'm hanging in the same gallery as Norman Rockwell!" If past shows are to judge, then many of these students will go on to prominent careers. It's great to watch the conversation continue.


Kyle Phillips, recipient of the Spectrum Award

Chris Rahn, winner of the Illustration Academy Award

Lots of people, lots and lots of people.
Eric Spray, recipient of the Art Out loud and MicroVisions Award

Alex Kanevsky

I snuck out at lunch time to see the Alex Kanevsky exhibit in Chelsea. This guy is an amazing painter. Many of the pieces are painted on mylar. The paint skims the surfaces giving everything an ethereal, impermanent quality – almost like a reflection of an image rather than the image itself.

Alex Kanevsky

May 3 – June 4

J. Cacciola Gallery

531 West 25th Street, NY NY

Along with lots of wonderful paintings, his website features step-by-step progressions of two paintings. Well worth spending some time digging around.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


Donato Giancola used the completion of his “Agincourt” painting to host a great party over the weekend. The painting started off two years ago as the cover for Tor’s Crippled Angel. Right away, Donato wanted to create a larger work for himself and so he painted the right hand side for us and kept the other half unfinished -- waiting for some free time. Eventually a collector contacted Donato and the piece became a triptych.

The party was a who’s who of illustrators from the tri-state area. I had a great time talking and eating way too much food -- and I learned that the correct pronunciation of Gouda is “houda” so now I can be a real cheese snob. I was excited to see that Donato had the cover painting for The Golden Rose, sequel to The Serpent and the Rose, up on his easel...and looking great! And, for which he kept dead fish under hot lights in order to study the color and gills for the mermen.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

We Love Octopi!

In honor of the loads-of-fun octopus pulp page (discovered, as many good things are, via SF Signal) I'll show off Tor's bit to advance the cause of cephalopods on book covers. Here is the cover to Rudy Rucker's latest, Postsingular, due out in October.

Charles Vess Lecture

Charles Vess' lecture at the Society of Illustrators last Wednesday was a great time. The house was packed with an interesting cross section of people -- as Charles said, an interstitial crowd. The lecture was a highly personalized art survey of fantasy painting from the 19th Century up to the present. He titled it "Part Seen, Part Unseen" because it focused on work that does not attempt to dictate every detail but, rather, lets the viewer participate in the picture. Much of the work featured soft edges and what Charles nicely termed "poetic space." He covered many obscure European artists and when he showed more popular artists, like Rackham and Dulac, he found atypical works from them. Clearly he spends a lot of time searching books stores for these examples -- I can't imagine what his library looks like. Every slide was stunning -- I was hearing sighs from the people around me with every image.

Towards the end Charles launched into some of his own work and talked a bit about his process. The way he described the layering of inks made me wonder if his process was closer to glazing in oil painting than it is to watercolor...except for the added pressure of not being able to make corrections. Michael Kaluta mentioned that Charles is a "triumph of doing exactly what he wanted to do" -- rather than bending to more marketable imagery he waited to build an audience for the paintings he wanted to do. (And perhaps skipping a few meals in the early days to do so.) You can see his love of magic and story telling from his work, his influences, and in the way he describes working -- always looking for stories within the picture and making up stories as he paints them.

Charles is also creating some sculpture -- most notably a nineteen foot high fountain for his local theater. He seemed to relish the idea of having artwork out in the open where people could touch and interact with it. He then closed the lecture with a trailer for the Stardust movie. (Charles attended a screening at the TriBeca Film Festival. You can read his report here.)

In closing, Charles thanked the Society for hosting the lecture and called the institution the "womb of illustration." (Later in the week Chuck Pyle would call it the Vatican of illustration.) The annual Student Scholarship exhibit was up -- more on that soon, but it I did get a kick out of overhearing Delia Sherman telling Charles something like, "I can no longer complain that kids aren't taught to draw any more."

Look out for Charles' art book, Drawing Down the Moon, in August from Dark Horse.

Earlier post with some images from the lecture here.

Michael Kaluta and Charles /
Charles talking / Audience / Dinner, at which I had just as much fun as the lecture. (I now have a very long "movies to watch" list.) Around the table: Charles, me, Suzanne Golden, Joel Goss, Michael Kaluta, and Donato Giancola.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Cathie Bleck

I was at Cathie Bleck's opening last Thursday. She's a fantastic illustrator that is turning toward more un-commissioned work lately -- very beautiful and sensual large scale scratchboard pieces. She mainly uses animal and plant forms and has created a very personalized mythology from it. Everything is swirling and intertwined and somehow becomes simultaneously chaotic and calm. Seeing the originals is a treat. Since the image is scraped out of the surface, and sometimes painted back on top, they take on a sculptural quality that just can't be fully appreciated in reproduction.

Cathie Bleck
"Elemental Stories"
April 25 – June 6
1133 Avenue of the Americas
(43rd and 44th street)

She also has an art book out, Open Spaces which is well worth picking up – a nice simple design that lets the work speak for itself. It also shows lots of sketches, something I always enjoy seeing.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

MicroVisions 2

We got the first two MicroVisions paintings in and I am getting very excited about this show!

John Harris
Red Nose Studio

These 5x7 mini works, and nine others, will be up for auction on eBAy in June. All proceeds will go to the Society of Illustrators Student Scholarship fund. I’ll post details as the time draws nearer.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


Via Making Light, to be filed under "extraordinarily cool":

Paleo-Future: A Look Into the Future that Never Was

School of Visual Arts

Donato Giancola invited me to speak to his School of Visual Arts class. As it happened, my friend Dan Dos Santos was also giving a lecture at SVA earlier in the day so we decided to grab a bite between engagements. The best thing about being friends with freelancers is that they use any excuse to get out of the house – even the lame excuse of hanging out with Dan and me — so we soon had a great group of artists at dinner and I had an entourage to go to class with.

I have to say, speaking to students with Boris Vallejo, a man that has been at the top of the field longer than I've been alive, is definitely a "what the hell am I doing up here" moment. Still, I don't think I did too badly. My lecture "style" is to dump a ton of materials onto a table and talk through the process as quickly as I can -- then try to get the kids to ask as many questions as possible. Usually the focus is on marketing themselves, networking, and various other things they are supposed to learn in a professional practices class, but never do. The class had very impressive work on the walls. I was shocked to hear they were just juniors. (I suspect Donato is a great motivator.) If they keep working as hard as they did in that class, they'll do well.

As we were leaving we saw a bunch of students busy hanging their senior exhibit, which opens tonight. I hadn’t planned on going, since I’m already going to a student exhibit on Friday, but seeing some of the work made me think I'll check it out. So, more SVA to come...