Monday, December 31, 2007


Last bit of Christmas -- I promise -- but I ran to the American Museum of Natural History today and their origami tree was too delightful not to remark. A giant tree wrapped with the thick bands of a dragon while five hundred smaller creatures prance about. Very, very cool.

And now it's on to the new year!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas Week

The Art Department is not happy with how quickly this week is flying by. Not. One. Bit.

Fresh Paint: Chris Rahn

Back to my series of mini interviews with illustrators fresh(ish) out of school.

Chris Rahn

I forget if it was Donato Giancola or Jon Foster who first emailed me and said I should keep my eye on a student named Chris Rahn. (Maybe it was both.) Four or five months later Chuck Pyle emailed me to say that a Chris Rahn would be in the Society of Illustrators’ student show and I should watch out for him. A few days ago Todd Lockwood emailed and said there was a real nice guy with some good chops coming up through the ranks named Chris Rahn....Honestly, I would have listened to any one of these guys,
and for good reason.

Where did you go to school and how do you feel they prepared you for your career, both artistically and in business?

I attended the Academy of Art in San Francisco and graduated last spring with a BA in Illustration. Aside from the usual jitters about striking out into the 'real world' I felt very prepared by everyone at the Academy. It's a big school and while you have to work hard to stand out, there are a lot of talented working artists teaching there and many of them were kind enough to take me under their wing.

What has been your biggest challenge post graduation?

I'd say it's learning to deal with the lack of structure that comes along with being a freelancer. It's a world without weekends so I'm learning to pace myself and to take the free time when it comes.

Do you feel as though you've had your first break yet?

Actually yes, last month I did my first piece for Wizards of the Coast. I've wanted to do work for them since I was like ten years old so it was really wonderful and surreal to finally be able to.

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

The first to come to mind as a breakthrough painting is one of my older paintings called 'DragonFlower'. It was the first illustration I did that really tapped into the mood that I was looking for in my art.

Favorite painting that you have done in the last year?

I think my favorite is this little portrait study I did recently called 'Disciple'. [Top painting shown] It's definitely not my most finished painting of the year or the most well planned out but I touched on something there that I want to explore further. Plus, there's just something about a monster with a mustache...

A favorite painting by another artist?

One of my favorites is a painting by Jon Foster called 'Shamer's Daughter'. I'm a huge, I repeat huge fan of all of his work- but the colors, paint application and mood in that piece are especially staggering to me.

Do you have a five year plan?

In five years I'd love to be getting into book covers, aside from that I'm really just enjoying painting for a living.

Any advice to younger artists still in school?

Figure out what you want to do and get as good at it as you possibly can. I've seen a lot of talented young artists fade away either because they can't decide what they want to do or because they can't focus enough to achieve their goals. If you can get that stuff figured out you're most of the way there, the next thing you know you might just be doing an interview on Irene Gallo's blog!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Three Deer

Si Scott Studios - Check out his website for jaw dropping typographic illustration.

Jack Unruh - One of my favorite animal painters. (Although he is equally known for stylized portraiture.) Anyone in New York - The Bronx Zoo's Congo Land singage features a series of gorilla paintings that I just adore.

Anita Kunz - I love lots of her work, but it's the human/animal hybrids that are always my favorites.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Herzog and the Monsters

[Via Cartoon Brew]

Animation for book lovers...or least, for Penguin Classic lovers.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas Time!

Tor is now closed until 08. Yay. I've got a few half finished posts sitting around so I'll update occasionally. I think. Depending on how cold it is outside and how much sitting by the fire wins over walking in the fields and woods.

Have a great solstice holiday of your choosing!

One Hundred Million Pennies

Penny Harvest

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Dave and Elmo

Those that have little ones to use as an excuse, and those secure enough not to need an excuse, should check out Elmo’s Christmas Countdown this Sunday at 7:00 on ABC.

My brother, David, was the production designer. He must have been extra charming since they made a Dave muppet. Honestly, does it get any cooler than having your own muppet?

KGB Readings: Chris Barzak an Naomi Novik

Fantastic Readings at KGB hosted Christopher Barzak and Naomi Novik. Chris' reading of One for Sorrowsent me straight back to pick up a copy of the book. Naomi read a selection from the fifth, as of yet unpublished, Temeraire novel.


Christopher Barzak, Naomi Novik

Their books.

Ellen Datlow and Scott Westerfeld.
Charles Ardai and Greg Manchess.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

David Bowers, Progression

David Bowers has graciously given me the OK share this progression. I've had this sitting in my email since 2005! It makes me happy to finally send these pixels out into the world.

I say this all the time, but I really do love seeing progressions and sketches as much as final paintings.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

David Bowers

David Bowers sent me a copy of his book, David M. Bowers: Evolution of an Artist, and, holy cow, is it beautiful. (And I'm not just saying that because he had a nice word to say about me in the intro. Thanks, David!) His work is a fascinating amalgamation of renaissance, contemporary, surreal sensibilities.

David has done a number of my favorite Tor covers. I always loved working with him -- besides being a total sweetheart, his dedication to the pure act of painting is clear in every picture. He has focused on his gallery career the past few years career and seeing this body of work collected in one place is very impressive.

The production values of the book, itself, are in line with his own impeccable craftsmanship -- incredible printing, sturdy pages, beautiful die-cut jacket, and all the paintings are presented with lots of clean white space around them. Between the art and the presentation, no one can step into my office without picking it up and a “Wow!”

Sweeny Todd Credits

[Via Cartoon Brew]

The opening credits for Sweeny Todd are animated and viewable on BroadwayWorld.

Kinda cool...and I’ll admit that Alan Rickman is usually worth a $10.00 ticket all on his own. Still, on Fresh Air today, producer Richard Zannuck admitted that Johnny was hired without anyone hearing him sing -- under the impression that he wouldn't want to make a fool of himself so he must be able to handle it. Oy.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Uh-oh. This could get me into a lot of financial trouble...

From the people that bring us Illoz and Drawger, a site for buying original illustration. Not much up at the moment but hopefully it will grow quickly.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

And Another Hobbit

In the comments section of the previous post, Charles Vess turned me onto Tove Jansson's take on The Hobbit -- and it is charming and fantastic. She also has an Alice in Wonderland that I am just loving. I'm looking forward to learning more about Tove Jansson.

Charles - You need to start some kind of "Artist of the Day/Week/Month" blog. 'Cause, like, you have tons of free time, right?

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Hobbit That Might Have Been

[Via Drawn]

It seems that Maurice Sendak did a few sketches for The Hobbit. Unfortunately the project was canceled after Sendak suffered a heart attack. Such a shame, it would have been awesome to see. (Sendak's Hobbit, that is, not the heart attack.)

Slate has a slideshow of children’s book artwork that is featured in a new publication, Drawn to EnchantOriginal Children's Book Art in the Betsy Beinecke Shirley Collection.

Yale University website has more images and a podcast with the author.
According to the podcast, Sendak went to England to meet Tolkien and propose the book to him.

Friday, December 07, 2007

I hope I’m wrong, but

...this looks awful.

Johnny Depp is great but he’s no Mr. Todd. And while Tim Burton can make a movie look pretty, he can’t tell a story.

And yet, I saw the show when I was in High School and I saw last year’s brilliant John Doyle production, so I think I’m doomed to see this in two week's time.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Conan the Phenomenon

I can't claim to be well versed in all things Conan but this visiual history of said Cimmerian is chock full of cool fantasy art.

Conan the Phenomenon

More Eating

Rebecca Guay is in town – yay! So, of course, dinner. Minutes before this photo was taken there was an amazing dark chocolate fondue on the table. Rebecca is in town for a number for reasons, a Magic tournament is among them. I envy the artists that Magic sends them all over the world to attend these tournaments. I may try to stop by and check it out in the next few days, although someone warned me that unless you are playing, it’s “a bit like watching a chess game, only geeky.”

PHOTO: Dan Dos Santos, Dave and Tony Palumbo, Donato Goancola, Julie Bell, Rebecca Guay, and Boris Vallejo.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Random Stuff

My boss, Tom Doherty (who is awesome,) has posted a quick essay on our parent company’s blog on the importance of mass market paperback books in developing new readers. In-house we know this as part of Tom’s “Horseradish and Ketchup” speech. (The idea being, if all anyone is offered is ketchup than ketchup will be the bestseller, but that doesn’t mean plenty of people wouldn’t prefer horseradish if given the opportunity.) I’m not being snarky when I say it never gets old. It’s impossible to sit next to Tom for any length of time and not learn something.


Wow, I earned $1.67 from the bookstore! (Ham sandwich, here I come.) Thank you, whoever you are.
Honestly, I didn’t expect any sales. I, myself, am extremely lazy when it comes to buying on line, for some reason walking to the bookstore seems easy whereas filling out forms is a huge headache. And I’m impatient. But I was hoping that it could build into a place that is fun to browse and waste time with.
I’m actually rather surprised how good Amazon’s suggestion program is working on it. I’ve been having fun seeing what it comes up with. (At work, I’m looking up so many random titles for the job that its suggestions become meaningless.)


Seen here is Dan Dos Santos. He stopped in today to hand in the artwork for Brandon Sanderson’s Warbreaker. This is the piece that Dan’s tutorial video is on -- more on that when it becomes available.

Monday, December 03, 2007

The view out my office window right now.

Ross MacDonald

It’s been a good few days for unusual commissions.

I saw a lecture by letterpress artist Ross MacDonald a bunch of years ago. (God, I think it was 2003.) Here was another situation where I loved his work but thought I’d never have the right project come along for it. Happily, the new Brain Francis Slattery book seems to be a perfect fit.

Brian’s book will be out next fall and I can’t wait. Those reading this blog for a while know that I was absolutely nuts about his first novel, Spaceman Blues. I’m excited to see what Ross comes up with for the new book.

If you are checking out Ross’ website, be sure to click on the movie prop work he has done. Lots of fun.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Illustration House Auction, Part Two: Or, Anyone With Tens of Thousands of Dollars to Spare?

The second half of the Illustration House auction is also great fun to see and has a lot for the SFnaly inclined to drool over: John Berkey, Frank Frazetta, Jeff Jones, Howard Pyle, Edward Gorey.

All lots are shown on the Illustration House website.

Shown here: Gustaf Tenggren, John A. Haelen, Dr. Sues, John Berkey.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Illustration House Auction, Part One: Cream of Wheat

This season’s Illustration House auction up and anyone in the area should run an see the preview before richer and luckier people than I take these paintings away forever. The auction is divided in two, the usually general illustration auction plus a special “Cream of Wheat” auction.

Cream of Wheat’s Uncle Rastus was one of the first advertising icons ever created. Nabisco maintained a collection of original art work that is a “who's who” of early twentieth century illustration. Nabisco sold the product and now the collection is being deaccessed. Many paintings have gone to private owners and museums, this exhibit at Illustration House is the last showing of these works as a collection.

Shown: Edward V. Brewer.

All lots cane be seen on the
Illustration House website.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Little Brother

In May we will be publishing Cory Doctorow’s young adult novel, Little Brother.

This was a fun, if a little scary, cover for us. We always smile when to comes to Cory but this book, in particular, really caught everyone’s fancy. The whole company just fell in love with it and there was a lot of pressure to do right by it.

Peter Lutjen came up with a bunch of different designs that eventually evolved into the final. The penultimate version used a photo-realistic illustration that everyone almost loved. One last tweak of the design was to have the imagery re-drawn in a freer more organic style by Yuko Shimizu -- that seemed to unify everything to everyone’s liking.

Big thanks to Peter for staying enthused by the project through a number of iterations. I asked him if he had any thoughts on the process:

"This was a case where having an opportunity to read the manuscript was a huge help. My initial comps were based on a synopsis and some catalog copy and focused on elements of surveillance and captivity. After quite a few of these didn’t work out, I made time to read the book (which was terrific) and set off in a completely different direction. The editor came by my office to speak to me about playing up the resistance aspects of the story at the same moment that I was working on an image of kids kicking out towards the viewer. He liked it the idea immediately, and it came together pretty quickly from there."
-- Peter Lutjen

PHOTO: Editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden, author Cory Doctorow, designer Peter Lutjen..

UPDATE: Kudos from Cory on BoingBoing.