Village Voice Media: Internet Piracy

August was great month because that was when Boo Davis at Seattle Weekly contacted me for a huge Village Voice Media project. Working with LAWeekly's Darrick Rainey, she was putting together a universal feature to be used in several of Village Voice's papers.

The subject was about a band of lawyers basically blackmailing those who illegally download movies; the sample cited often is Person-X downloads a movie he/she may not be proud of watching (something adult-oriented), and these lawyers track them down and mail them a letter saying "Pay us X-dollars or we will take you to court and make you Asian schoolgirl fetish public knowledge." Although frowned upon by many courts, it it really a sad situation as people typically just pay the money to stay out of court where the case would most likely be dropped as was the case in many examples in the article.

In the sketch phase, I tried to hit all the various angles of the story to give the art directors lots of options.

In the end, they decided to work the piracy angle, and I was quite excited to take their selections to final. One suggestion was to add the "digital element' to the images by having the images feature pixellation. So I made the skull look like it falling apart (to some, being shot) and the waves of the ship image feature cresting/droplets of pixels. The spots use pixels as waves crashing against the ship and as the gun's spark:

Spot images in context. Thanks to the awesome Andrew Nilsen for supplying these! He used them almost exactly as I had initially pictured them in layouts while sketching.

As you may notice, the gun changed quite a bit from sketch to final; this happened while I was working and I realized "Hey doofus, this should be a flintlock in order to complete the theme in all the images. So basically, I worked up and submitted two finals of the gun: one modern 9mm (not shown) and one flintlock pistol. Yes, I did more work than I needed to on a pretty tight deadline, but don't you think it looks much better as a set?

So that's a great project that was a blast to work on, and it resulted in images I am really happy to have in the portfolio. Thanks again to Boo and Darrick for the assignment, and thanks to the following papers for running the article and art: Seattle Weekly, LA Weekly, SF Weekly, Riverfront Times, Miami New Times, and New Times Broward.

To read the article, visit any of the above papers websites. Thanks for reading!

Enjoy the Day,

Sports Illustrated: Soccer Dream Team

I recently completed a monster project for Sports Illustrated for a "Best Lineup" article; the folks at SI put together their soccer dream team, and they needed an image involving all of them (including the coach!) After some discussion over the phone we settled on the idea of the "team" running onto the field, and I added some dust and ambiance for mood :)

Sketch (took about 20 hours including shooting ref):
The final art took around 55-60 hours as I'm pretty slow when it comes to digitally nailing a likeness; I find it hard to translate the sketch into shapes when it has to look like a specific person (generic faces out of my head are so much easier to light). So I sit there for hours per head: 
Tweak this. Tweak that.
Raise this. Lower that.
Stretch this. Squash that. 
(Repeat 1,256,489,364,497.7325 times.)
A helpful hint in likenesses is to nail down the triangle formed by their pupils and tip of the nose; I read this somewhere and it really does help; I suppose its because that is the area we look at the most on a person's face, and it is subconsciously filed away in our minds (face-recognition technology: in your brain).

The bodies go much quicker, although with this particular group, everyone needed VERY specific uniform patches, logos, etc. In the initial final art, everyone was wearing a generic Puma shoe based off of my own pair. Well, that is a big no-no, ladies and gentlemen. I had to revise all the shoes so that SI wouldn't have the players' sponsors calling them up with complaints! ( It had happened to the Craig, the AD, before!)

Spread-layout (close-ups of players are below):

As a bonus (literally), they decided to run the art on the cover!

And finally, here is a diagram I also did for the same issue. Not shown here, each player was featured on a page with bio/photo, etc; included on each page was this little diagram (about 2x2) with that player in color and the rest silhouetted. Here you get to see them all in one tiny image.

A very generic sketch (since it was to be so small, we weren't worrying about details at this point):

Thanks to Craig for hanging in there on this beast of an assignment! While it was a ton of work, it was a great project to take part in, and I look forward to future collaborations with a magazine I worshipped as a kid. In elementary school, a friend and I would spend time after school in the library where we would re-shelf books! Afterward, the librarian would let us pick through old magazines for a job well done, and I always tried to snag SI or SI for kids! 

Enjoy the Day,

Steve Jobs: 1955-2011

I recently had a Steve Jobs portrait commission. As part of a multiple-portrait assignment, I only had time for two sketches per person. The AD selected the first sketch, and the job was killed after I finished the final art, but then revived after his death.  Sketches:

As lame as it sounds, I am very grateful for what Mr. Jobs brought to the world through his vision. I've heard that Apple has had some labor issues, and I can't speak on that without more research. I only know that this man's vision has created products that beautiful and that I appreciate (although I always have to wait for price drops).

Thank you, sir.

And thank YOU for reading!

Enjoy the Day,

Major League Baseball: All-Star Game Program

Here is a synopsis of a piece I did for July's MLB All-Star Game. I was super-excited to do this assignment after creating the images for 2010's World Series program. This article was a "who's who" of pitchers and their stats, and the AD wanted to work in a manner that was metaphoric of all of the league's pitchers. After some discussion, we decided to use the pitching hand to represent all of the athletes.


The AD deiced to go with option #1 (also my favorite), and a request was made for "revolutionary-style" colors. I was put in charge of also working the text into the image for a cohesive look and feel.

I added some stars in there since they're all stars in my eyes. Get it? "All stars?!?" I crack myself up.

Thanks for reading!

Enjoy the Day,

Sketchbook Excerpts Vol. 8

Sadly, the sketchbook has been neglected these past couple of months with work and social obligations (the holidays, ya know?). I'm hoping that getting back into the routine of blog posting will get me back into the swing:

Enjoy the Day,

The Washington Post: U.S. Military Budget Cuts

The Washington Post is a paper that I've unfortunately had to turn down for work on a few occasions due to a full schedule. It was always a bummer, and I always felt guilty doing so since I the topics were always of interest to me. So I was very happy when Kristin the AD called with a project just as I was wrapping up a few projects! The assignment was perfect for me as it was a great opportunity to draw some soldiers which I was hoping to do after recently watching the documentary Restrepo. I have mad respect for soldiers, and I always take great pride in creating artwork depicting these everyday heroes.

The subject of the article is about how the U.S. can remain a superpower while retaining a smaller wallet. With Congress looking to make drastic budget cuts, the article analyzes how military cuts would be beneficial to our economy as well as how the military could continue to operate at a high performance without unnecessary excess.


Kristin liked idea #1 with a sight revision of adding in an arm pulling the belt tight. And while not literally a heroic soldier, I like how that message comes through despite the limitation being imposed on the figure. So it was a win-win decision for both of us:

Final art:

Creating this piece was a great experience as I was able to work with an iconic hero-figure as well as to with colors outside my typical palettes; I also really tried to takes the concepts for this assignment to another level; this is a personal challenge I take on when I feel my work is getting stale or I feel I'm getting lazy :) It usually results in a piece that I really enjoy!

Enjoy the Day,

Borden's: Elsie the Cow logo treatment

I was very lucky to be selected for a Borden's logo update back in March. A design firm in Dallas was heading up the revamp for this big client; apparently, Broden's is in the top ten largest companies in America. Borden's has been around since its inception in 1857(!), and their logo has gone through several states over the years. The client decided they wanted to update the logo to "something the same yet contemporary." With the reference provided, I worked up a sketch with requested daisy in the background:

I tried to fix some anatomical discrepancies that I noticed in the most recent reference as a starting point. Nathan the AD liked the sketch, and he asked we go "less calf" and more "adult in the face. The number of daisies in the necklace had to be altered as well:

With approval on the sketches, we went to final with the request for several hair options:

After a proper hairstyle was selected, the AD asked for some exploration of the face:

And then Nathan took the options to the client who decided to keep their current logo. I was bummed, but that's advertising :) And so here was my personal favorite of the treatments for all your viewing glory:

Thanks for readin'!

Enjoy the Day,

Semper Fi Magazine: The Cyber Soldier

Recently, I was commissioned by Semper Fi magazine to create an image for an article outlining a new approach in the fight against terror: the cyber soldier. Apparently, hacking is a major national security threat, and the military is training soldiers as well as incorporating tech-savvy civilians into a cyber-defense task force. 

Here are the sketches. #1 is my take on a soldier at a CPU juxtaposed with his "cyber-self." #2 is a Matrix-type approach of a soldier being made of "code." #3 is a soldier in "cyber-gear" that is schematic/blueprint looking and glowing (Tron shown as example of glowing).

It was decided that #1 was the best visual, and I went to finish. I altered the figure at the desk as it was feeling a bit stiff. In dealing with color, I decided I like a cool feel to represent cyberspace; I also cooled down the camo of the uniform to reflect this. I would have loved to have worked more "tech"-style stuff into the image like the other two sketches, but it made sense to keep it a more realistic figure so that readers (soldiers and veterans) could easily relate and see themselves as this figure.

Bonus! After completing the art, the AD wanted to use the image for the cover as well!

Enjoy the Day,

Cincinnati Magazine: Kentucky River Monsters

From Megan the AD:
"I have an illustration job that I think you would be perfect for- an article about a new indoor football team - the Northern Kentucky River Monsters. The football team has a pretty distinct look to their jerseys and helmets. I think it would be nice to to an illustration that references the classic helmet in hand photos (see attached) and plays up the imagery associated with river monsters. I love the way you treated New Times Florida Warlords illustration and think that this one could be handled in a similar fashion."

After a phone discussion in which Megan and I nailed down a visual (time was short on this assignment), I worked up a layout, then a tight sketch:

Magan Ok'd the sketch, and I worked up a final in which I experimented a great deal with some new digital brushes. Fun stuff! I always enjoy the projects that let me try out new approaches!

Final image in context:

Enjoy the Day,