August 16, 2013

East meets Wess

I have always had an affection for the groovy boomerang design element on the counter tops in the cafes of yore. It mesmerized me as a child. The wackier, the better, it seemed. It has made an appearance in a piece or two through the years, most often as part of a period appropriate theme, i.e. 1950s/ 1960s.

Other imagery that defines that era for me (note: I was born in the 70s) are martinis, cigarettes and astronauts. Those are the biggies, anyways. So, when I decided to use a boomerang/ amoebic shape as the backdrop for a piece, my mind quickly mashed the era into a single image. After all, AMOEBA = ASTRONAUT + CIGARETTE + MARTINI.

Clicking will enlarge, not enrage

I drew the bloated boomerang freehand on a piece of 1/2" mdf. Then I cut it out with a jigsaw. it was in need of a little fine-tuning, which I took care of with some hand sanding. I sealed the board with some acrylic spray, they scuffed it lightly before painting the spaceman with his vices. And that is how it stayed for some time... a few months, I believe. For the longest time I could not imagine how to finish the piece. Finally, I hit upon the idea of collaboration

I am a huge proponent of artistic collaboration. I have been for years. I think it allows each artist to take a different approach to creating, knowing that the 'weight' of the piece does not rest on his or her shoulders alone. It can certainly expose an artist to new techniques and new approaches to creation. Most of all, I think collaboration is incredibly fun. That said, I can not explain why I had never been a participant in a collaborative effort before! ...Just stupid, I guess.

So, I needed this piece to be worked on by someone else. The first person I had in mind was my friend Mr. Wes Smith, an airbrush master who I had worked alongside during my time on the lot of Stu Segal Studios. As luck would have it, Wes took the job without hesitation. I think I gave him a couple vague ideas I had considered as backgrounds, but ultimately left it up to him. It was to be collaboration, after all. Not simply production.

The resulting cosmic creation is exactly what was needed. The balance is superb. Brilliantly painted, while maintaining a necessary subtlety, it gives the viewer an excellent idea of the amount of skill and experience Wes has to draw from. He has painted insane, mind-blowing automobile collages to rival the best out there. Here, we see how he projects 'subdued' with the same level of honest-to-goodness artistry.

Please click over to Wes Smith's homepage at and get a feel for the entire spectrum of his work. The 'bio' page features an article from Airbrush Technique Magazine that further offers a glimpse into the history of one of the finest airbrush artists around.

June 16, 2013

Chief Cornelius Gritts

Another chapter in the Chasing Norman project has been completed: the poster! The band has already left for the 3-week tour of the Philippines, so its up to me and Rand to decide whether the poster I have designed is acceptable. Surely, using the art from the CD is a logical choice. What is not a 'given' is the 'flying baboon' I created. I even went so far as to grant him the honorable name of 'Chief Cornelius Gritts'. I do not think such a being exists.

(click for mucho bigedness)

I may have taken too many liberties with this one. I mean, it does seem to say something about the band and their 'style'. Is it the image they want to portray? I sure hope so. I like it a lot. I think it is catchy and the message is simple. Expect to see some wheat-pasted on a structure near you.

May 7, 2013

Chasing Norman/ Chief Gritts

Folks, I can not apologize enough for the extended absence. So, I will not even try.

For my first post back from the real world, I present to you the cover art for Chasing Norman's first CD, Chief Gritts.  The band had come to me for help with the art on their freshman album. They had seen an image on TV that caught their eye and decided they had to have it on the front of the CD. Other than a screen capture of the image, the best version they could find was the following:

"The advent of the first human baby is celebrated by an admiring congregation of apes,
who are holding a lamp to Darwin's book, "The Descent of Man" (1871)."

As much as they dug the image, the preference was to have a cleaner, drawn version of it, rather than a murky, aged photo of the original. That is where yours truly came into the picture.

I created an inked drawing based on the original picture. It really brought me back to the time I spent as an editorial cartoonist. It was a lot of fun to work on, to be sure.

The trouble with the image is that it is horizontal, while an album cover is square. This meant some clever cropping needed to be done to make an image that fit a square, but remained true to the overall 'feeling' of the original. After scanning the drawing in, I used Photoshop to complete the task (taking the chance to add some shading while I was at it.)

Recently, when I saw my brother, he astutely noted that my ink work showed my familiarity with the work of Gilbert Shelton, creator of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers. Judge for yourself, dear readers. I guarantee my style has more than a touch of Fat Freddy in it.