Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Robert's Snow

Sorry, this is a repeat post. It seems that I somehow deleted the original post without meaning to, so, again, quickly:

Robert’s Snow
is an annual fundraiser to fight cancer. A slew of children’s book illustrators paint snowflakes that will be auctioned off. Good art for a good cause.

Auction 1: November 19 - 23

Auction 2: November 26 - 30
Auction 3: December 3 – 7

The Wish List: Jonathan Twingley

"The Wish List" will be an occasional series of posts highlighting artists that I would love to work with but just haven’t found the right project to do so yet.

First up, for no reason other than I was poking around his website yesterday, Jonathan Twingley. Cool, smart, and funny. (Three things I am rarely accused of, myself.)

Alternate site, including works in context, here.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

John Harris and A War of Gifts

I saw a few copies of Orson Scott Card's A War of Gifts floating around the office today. Funny, I work on these things so early that by the time they are actually books, (with pages and everything!) I'm surprised to see them "still" hanging around. But I digress. Here is the art, sans cover design. It’s an Ender's Christmas story so I asked John Harris to make the space station look like a Christmas ornament.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Long Island Sunday

I suppose it really is Autumn. I had been enjoying our unnaturally warm weather...but it's gone now.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Brandywine River Musuem

A week ago today, I was at the Brandywine River Museum. (Aka, the Wyeth Museum.) I knew the day would be a good one when, early on, we saw a bald eagle fly over the Jersey Turnpike. I know eagles are occasionaly seen in the area but I never thought I’d actually spot one. Once at the museum, we met up with a group of friends -- it was the always lovely Julie Bell’s birthday and she made a great picnic for us, including ultra yummy cupcakes.

Currently the Brandywine is hosting an exhibit called Flights into Fantasy. A children's book show that includes Arthur Rackham, Elizabeth Shippen Green, Kay Nielsen,and many other giants. The show is stunning. If you enjoy the work of contemporary illustrators such as Charles Vess, Tony DeTerillizzi, Tom Canty, and others of their ilk, you should check it out. It will be on display until November 18th and then moves up to the Eric Carle Museum in Amherst.

And then, of course, there are the 3 Wyeths...

I first visited the Brandywine a number of years ago. I was basically going to see N.C.’s work, which truly is wonderful, but after going through the Andrew galleries.....honestly, I have never since hesitated for a second when asked who my favorite artist is. I don’t think I’ve ever been as affected by a painter as by Andrew Wyeth’s work. The guy has basically painted his backyard for 80 years. At first blush the work appears formal and tightly rendered and yet once you get on top of it, and especially when you are confronted with a body of work, it becomes strange and loose and deeply personal. It appears to be full of secret iconography. It does not matter if I don’t understand the symbols, the fact that some inner language is being spoken directly at me is enough to give me entre, or at east a glimpse, into a starkly beautiful, if at times slightly unsettling, world.

And Jamie Weyth can be cool too.

We toped off the day by seeing Tony Palumbo’s exihibit at a gallery in Philadelphia -- a young man painting far better than his years should allow.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

World Fantasy + Manchess, Payne, and Zwerger

I will be at World Fantasy next week. I have one panel, which I only just noticed I am moderating. Dang. Now I have some homework to do. (No doubt, John Picacio will both save the day and make the rest of us look bad by coming prepared. ;-)

How a Book Cover is Chosen. Art directors and artists discuss what makes a cover work.
FRIDAY, 2 PM. City Center A
Lou Anders, Irene Gallo (m), Tom Kidd, John Picacio, Jacob Weisman

(Hmmm, I think the word “chosen” is unfortunate. It's more like some kind of difficult birthing process that is rewarding (hopefully) in hindsight.)

Anyway, I’m very much looking forward to the weekend. I am, however, sad that it means I will miss a children's book illustration exhibit with Chris Payne, Greg Manchess, and Lisbeth Zwerger opening in Santa Barbara. What's killing me
in particular is missing the opportunity to see Lisbeth Zwerger’s watercolors in person. I’ve loved her work for ages but I’ve never actually seen the originals.
Storytellers: Children's Book Illustrators
Nov 3 -- Dec 13
Westmont College
Santa Barbara, CA

Friday, October 26, 2007

More Interesting Cover Talk

Holy Schmoley. Lou Anders points out that I have a lot of reading to do tonight.

Today's Mail

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Covers to Get Your Halloween On

Peter Lutjen's design for Inferno. (Due out this Winter.) Peter also designed the beautiful Ellen Datlow collection, The Dark.

And, Jamie Stafford-Hill's repackage of Vampire Tapestries, due out late Summer 08.

Continuing my unrequited love affair with animation...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Fresh Paint: Jaime Jones

Scott Fischer turned me on to Jaime Jones' website. My reaction basically boiled down to, "whoa" and "wow!"

Where did you go to school and how do you feel they prepared you for your career, both artistically and in business?
I spent two years at Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington DC. They didn't have an illustration program, but I benefited from classes in drawing and art theory. Corcoran is basically an art gallery with a school in its basement, so I was able to go upstairs and see original work from some of the greatest artists ever. I had some pretty good instructors, but I learned more from looking at original John Singer Sargent drawings than by anything they could teach. By the end of my second year I had the offer from Arenanet, and I was becoming frustrated with the conceptual art bent of Corcoran's fine art program. I decided I was ready to work.

What do you feel is your biggest hurdle in getting commissions?

My skill level. If doors are closed to me its a reminder that I need to keep practicing.

Do you feel as though you've had your first break yet?
I think getting this job at Arenanet was my first break. I've never been surrounded by people with so much talent and knowledge. All the work I did before this was handled over the Internet, and I was just another name in an e-mail list. To be working in a room with a bunch of other artists has made me feel very connected to the industry.

Any advice to younger artists?

Get inspired. Everyone knows they need to work hard, and we all intend to do so, but I don't think very many people actually do. If you find something that inspires you to practice and improve, working hard becomes an extension of your interests instead of a means to an end. In my case, I've found that I love old paintings. I read art books and study the lives of painters I admire. Looking at their work gives me ideas for new th
ings to try in my own paintings. Other people I know gather inspiration for writing, science, history and so on.

Can you share with us a favorite painting that you have done in the last year?

I like what I did in this painting of giant frogs prowling a swamp for Guild Wars: [Top image shown.] I think it does what I intended from a storytelling perspective. It provides a mood, a setting, and some characters, then leaves the details of the action up to the viewer's imagination. Plus I like frogs.

Do you think you have a breakthrough painting in which you made a leap in your abilities?

Sophomore year of high school I painted this muscular white-haired guy with a glowing mechanical eye and a vile of green goo in his hand. It was one of my first digital paintings, I probably spent 40 hours on it. I remember inventing ne
w muscles just so I'd have more surface to render highlights. It wasn't good (it was horrible), but I've never learned so much at once and I came out of it ready to outdo myself with the next painting.

Can you share with us a favorite painting by another artist?

Lately I've been coming back to this one by Isaac Levitan.
I don't think anyone has painted moods like Levitan did. If I could just get half of that kind of feeling in my work...

Tony DiTerlizzi at the Eric Carle Museum

Anyone in the Northeast should check this out. Tony's work is amazing in person.

Spiderwick: From Page to Screen

September 22, 2007 - January 27, 2008

Eric Carle Museum, Amherst, Mass.

From Tony's site:
I personally helped curate the show with Jim Bissell who was the production designer for the film. It contains over 30 images of my art from the books, plus another 30-plus artifacts from the film including maquettes, sketches and props. It truly is an awesome representation of the books and film.

There are a number of presentations scheduled throughout the run of the show, including:

Drawing the Fantastical with Tony DiTerlizzi

November 4, 2007

9:00 am - 12:00 pm

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Getty

While in LA for the October Shadows party, we had one afternoon to explore. We headed out to the Getty museum and thought that would be good for an hour or two...we ended up spending nearly 4 hours there.The collection was great and the presentation is amazing. It’s a series of smaller buildings and gardens that you wander in and out of. It helps cut down on the museum fatigue tremendously when you can walk outside every forty minutes, let your eyes rest, play on various fountains, lay on the grass (or whatever strange mossy substance that passed for grass), and then go into the next building refreshed.

Besides their regular collection they had a large exhibit of Edward Weston photos. Funny, I never seek of photography but when I run into it, I often really enjoy it.

The museum was our only set plan but we got the idea o have a late lunch in Santa Monica...until the Pacific ocean proved too tempting so, instead, we dipped our toes in the water, grabbed some pizza, and headed out to the party.

I’m going to be lazy and not attribute any of these photos.

Interesting Cover Talk

...from Lou Anders and George Mann.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Charles Santore

This has been a week of meeting idols. Charles Santore is huge on my list of favorite artists. Two years ago I bought a sketch from his Wizard of Oz book at an auction -– I had been sweating it the entire evening fearing someone would scoop me. I’ve seen him at any number of events but have always been too shy to say Hello, but at last night’s Society of Illustrators children’s book opening (which I sandwiched around seeing Wolves) I had the great pleasure of talking to him for quite a while. It seems that the sketch I bought is the only thing from his Oz series that he has let out into the world. He’s is currently working on a Frank Baum Christmas story, which has me very excited. I love Christmas...except for the shopping. I so hate the shopping.

Facelifts vol.5

Trade paperback reissues of these two Scott Westerfeld books, due out next summer.

Art: Stephan Martiniere
Design: Jamie Stafford-Hill

The Wolves in the Wall

The stage production of Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean’s The Wolves in the Walls is loads of cute and creepy fun. They did a great job of bringing Mckean’s artwork to life -- lots of layering projections, animations, puppets, forced perspective. Very cool.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Thomas Allen Lecture

Last night I saw Thomas Allen give a presentation of his work leading up to his newly released book, Uncovered, designed by Chip Kidd, at the Aperture Gallery.

It's easy to look at pulp covers as kitsch and yet Allen clearly shows a love for the art and the story-telling abilities of illustration. His work is witty without mocking the artwork as he cuts and folds them into new stories and experiences.

Between Allen’s work, Red Nose, and others like them, I have come to realize that I really like to see the seams. In an era where I assume everything is digitally enhanced, it's nice to see the faint outlines and tiny nicks from Allen’s knife. And all of the creases and frayed edges of the actual books is a great contrast to his meticulous lighting and sparse compositions.

While there I ran into Charles Ardai, publisher of Hard Case Crime, which made perfect sense given the great homage to pulp art that their covers are.

And if you wanna see something really cool, check out this Francis Ford Coppola sponsored magazine, Zoetrope All-Story, guest designed by Chip Kidd. At the lecture Kidd explained that he was asked to do the project pro bono and decided to use only Allen’s work throughout without asking him to create new work, since there was no budget and little time. The result looks stunning.


Allen and Kidd
, "Fathom", spread from Zoetrope All-Story

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

October Shadows

When I was about 14 I liked watching Jane Goodall documentaries, horror movies, and playing with clay. Add those things together and you get Rick Baker, the special effects make-up artist that created the chimps for Greystoke and later the apes for Mighty Joe Young and Planet of the Apes. At that point I wanted to be Rick Baker when I grew up. In high school, I sculpted the near life-size chimp head you see here. (No laughing, please.) I still have my old copy of In the Shadow of Man that I read and used for reference covered in clay finger prints.

Fast forward twenty+ years and I had long ago let a fascination for painting and design take over paying attention to the movie industry...So imagine my delight to suddenly find myself hanging out in Rick Baker’s studio at a Halloween party and art exhibit.

Freakin’ awesome!

I was there with Greg Manchess who had been asked by curator Taylor White to be part of the exhibit , October Shadows -- everything and anything Halloween themed. Paintings, masks, automated sculpture, concept art, children’s books, even a haunted doll house that looked like it was a total blast to put together. The work was great... it had to be to hold its own in the studio. The ground floor had been cleared out and decked out with graveyards, skeletons, ghosts, giant bats, you name it. The architecture of the studio, itself, has an extremely cool flying-monkey theme.

Up the stairs, people were given tours through Baker’s private museum of movie characters. No photographs were allowed, unfortunately. The first thing I saw was a humongous “life size” Mighty Joe Young. Two of them, in fact. Various aliens from Men in Black, apes from Planet of the Apes, the Grinch, and others. Most exciting for me, since I loved the movie as a kid, was two of the werewolf transformations from American Werewolf in London.

Again, I say, freakin’ awesome!

I didn't know many people there but I had a great time talking with Jeff Preston, who graciously introduced us around a bit. It was also nice to catch up with William Stout -- we had judged Spectrum together years ago. He’s finishing up a series of dinosaur murals at the San Diego Natural History Museum.

Greg's exhibited "Something Wicked" painting.

My high school chimp sculpture. (Remember, no laughing.)

Greg Manchess at the party

Jeff Preston, William Stout, and me.
Bill Nelson's "Trick or Treat", random ghost.

Inside and outside the party.

One of many Flying Monkey architectural details, Jon Foster's Trick or Treat.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Three Wolves

Raquel Aparicio

Sam Weber

Jon Foster

Sorry - I should have explained this more.

A while ago I noticed these three wolf images and thought, “My, that’s a lot cool wolf imagery coming to my attention all at once.” It gave me the idea for the occasional lazy post of stumbling onto three interpretations of the same thing and posting them together.

So, these are not Tor covers. The first is, of course, a Little Red Riding Hood image but I’m not sure if it’s in print. The second looks like an editorial piece, but I didn’t go back and check. The third is for a Cherie Priest book, The Dreadful Skin. I’m not sure who published this one but I wish it was ours -- it’s one of my favorites from Jon.

Look Book and Smekday

This evening, on my train ride from Astor Place to the upper east side, I read The Look Book. (I knew the St. Mark's Bookshop wouldn't let me down.) It's just as good as I thought it would be. Of course it had to look great, it's Red Nose, but it’s also very sweet, creepy, clever, funny, and at times poignant.

I also picked up Adam Rex's The True Meaning of Smekday , just out, and laughed three times on the first page. I'm off to LA tomorrow night and it will be a fight as to whether I'm reading this or Brian Slattery's new manuscript....Actually, who am I kidding, I'll be asleep within minutes of take off. I can never stay awake in moving vehicles.

Earlier post on The Look Book.

Earlier post on Smekday.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Raymond Swanland and the Black Company

I always look forward to sketch day when working with Raymond Swanland. For one thing, it usually comes on time, for another, his work always has so much energy it’s impossible not to get jazzed about the project.

Here are a few sketches, plus the final cover, of a Glen Cook “Black Company” omnibus coming up next summer. Howling wolves, battle armored horse -- it was a tough call.

UPDATE: I should have mentioned that Chronicles of the Black Company, the first of our Black Company omibuses? omnbi?, will be out next month -- also with a nifty cover by Raymond.