Monday, December 31, 2007

Best wishes for 2008.

2007 was one raucous year for me. From traveling all over the States & Canada, I saw a lot and met a lot of people. I worked on some amazing projects, taught some pretty challenging classes, shared in plenty of laughs, shed a few tears, and for the most part... I had a blast. My sincere hope is that the new year be just as fun, wacky and full of optimism.

To each and everyone of you, may you all have a happy & joyous upcoming 2008 as well.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Getting dumped upon

Did I miss the memo? I thought with the school semester being done with- I'd be kicking back, relaxing and fending off this cough off once & for all. Instead, I've been beleagured with a heap of real work. Not that I'm complaining (because it's gonna pay for some crazy trip, a tiki widget, some electronic gadget, or some offbeat toy) but it just seems as though word got out on the street that I might actually try to relax and the sabotage was on.

And all this with the holidays breathing down the nape of my neck too. Such is life.

Hopefully my students are taking advantage of the break because next semester we're gonna rock da house HARD!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Dry cough

And to think, only a few years ago I was making fun of my friend Kate Briles for having a dry cough.

Now it's my turn to have this heinous condition- it's kept me up late at night, on the sofa and winded during the day. I'm shaking this bad boy off ASAP.

My new "best friend"

One more day of classes (not including the day I gotta drop off grades and attendance sheets at school) and soon after that, I'm gonna be best friends with my little bottle of Walgreens Wal-Tussin- the poorman's version of Robitussin. I've been trying to fend off this cold, cough and phlegm for the last few days without much luck. Granted going out to the bar to celebrate with the new December grads and working until the wee hours didn't help the other night. I couldn't be more proud of the new grads and really excited for the May grads coming up in a few more months.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Last week of the Fall semester

Mercifully so, there's only a few more days left in this semester. In a few days, the December grads will hike and get their diplomas and it'll be another lot of artists cast out to the wacky world. Me? I just want to shake this stupid head cold and feel human again. My voice sounds like a bad brake job on a '52 Buick. I've also been annointed the Duke of Phlegm by colleague, Steve Schudlich as well. I've gone through Kleenex like a snot factory.

Just a few more days. Just a few more days...

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

My kind of Christmas tree

I'm absolutely digging this Christmas tree.

Alas, I've been a 20 oz. bottle man for awhile.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Society of Arts & Crafts video

Here's a wonderful video shot by the fine folks at about the original Society of Arts & Crafts building on Watson & Woodward- this is where CCS came from over 100 years ago. It was torn down the weekend that the Super Bowl was in town a few years ago. Fortunately I managed to snag a handful of the bricks and ceramic roof tiles from the place before they got trucked off to who knows where. I was also lucky enough to have played urban explorer back in the late 80's within the building before it caught fire. Even back then, it housed (stolen?) car parts, was filled with clutter and it was already too far gone to be salvageable without dropping serious money on the place- something CCS could hardly afford to do then.

I can only imagine how grand it must've been to have taken classes back in this building. It's obviously not as spiffy as the current buildings we have on the campus now, but there's something to be said for the architecture, beauty & grace of that era.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Spectrum & CCS

Awfully nice to see fellow CCS alum, uber talented and all-around nice guy, Marc Gabbana getting a crack at designing the Spectrum Call for Entries poster. I got this poster a few days ago at school and hopefully we can muster up a few entries this year from our current crop of students.


Call out to an old friend

Rainy Saturday morning here and I had to meet a client to discuss a job at a local diner. As I'm there hashing out the specifics of the job, lo & behold a group of ladies stroll through and sit down a few tables away. One of them was a good friend of mine I hadn't seen in ages, Marge Sroka- art director and nice person extraordinaire. I had known Marge for over 23 years now. I first met Marge when I was a freshman at CCS in a heavy duty Psychology class; she intimidated me to pieces. Over the years we'd always bump into one another at the various agencies she had worked in town.

Today I found out she's working in Santa Monica and still living life large. She's still the happiest-go-lucky art director/ designer I know. I marvel at how she's still the same bright person that she is. I knew her in our formulative years in school, I knew her when she had a married name and back to Sroka. She literally flew into town today to meet her friends at the same diner I was eating at. Talk about kismet! Seeing her made my day.

Karim Rashid at CCS

Absolutely amazing lecture on the CCS campus Friday night by this visionary designer. The auditorium was packed to the point that many actually had to watch him in the basement of the WB Ford Building via live video feed. During the entire lecture, all he did was talk about his approach and vision on design while images of his more than 2500 products flashed behind him. He touched on how we should all design for the now. We shouldn't have to design for the future and all of those people who can't design only speak of the past. His lecture also touched upon what is craft and what is mass production. He challenged archetypes and posed the question of whether the digital experiencial world is actually better than the real world (based upon how many hours we work and some of the top requested items for the holidays).

I wish more of my students were there to see him speak (I did run into a lot of fellow alums I hadn't seen in a long while though!). His your "job should be your hobby" comment hit home with me and I really need to stress this to my graduates. Despite Karim Rashid not being an illustrator, some of the things he touched on could apply to all aspects of our school and profession. Again- a great lecture.

Friday, November 16, 2007

My contribution to CCS Potluck

Here's my feeble little contribution to the CCS Illustration Potluck art exchange. It's a statement on how the food goes at this event... er, any CCS event where there's free food.

CCS Illustration Potluck

Another fun filled Potluck meal in our merry department, as organized by our Student Government reps, Lauren Moyer and Domenique Chery. As always a ton of food for the hungry masses and even better yet, an art exchange where I got Chris Houghton's piece shown here. My wayward piece of artwork ended up in the hands of colleague Don Kilpatrick!

There was a myriad of food such as Bryan Durren's Little Caesars' pizza, Steve Schudlich's White Castle sliders, Yoo-hoo soda, taco salad, chips, dip, chinese food, hummus, taboulleh, spanish rice, cookies galore, cornbread, cornbread, cornbread and more cornbread. Again, a fun time to be had by all. Kudos to Lauren & Domenique for their efforts.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Color. woo hoo!

Just for kicks, I decided to toss a wee bit of color onto the last drawing. Again, straight forward and brainless.

Prismacolor can be my friend

Unlike my last post where I was mildly kvetching about having to use Prismacolors to do my linework, this technique is a little more in my comfort zone. A quick ten second sketch in non-repro blue, a swab with the brushwork, tip that black Prismacolor over, briskly swab in tone, and off to the scanner. Some mild tweaks in Photoshop to adjust contrast and voila! For me, this is quick & brainless- and loads of fun when given the opportunity.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Tricky style & work

For about the last three days I've been walloped with doing a huge campaign for Dodge. The tricky thing about it has been that they've wanted me to do this Prismacolor pencil sketchy technique. It's not exactly something I felt completely comfortable with at first but believe me, by the time you're doing the 30th driving shot of the vehicle you get pretty proficient! The one major downside to doing this style (as opposed to my regular line work style) is that when there are changes, I almost have to start all over again. Whiting out Prismacolor is not that easy but it does have a nice atmospheric moody feel that can't be duplicated easily.

But for kicks I took about five minutes to scribble out this Frankenstein monster. Again, I probably spent more time scanning it in than I did drawing it.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Hudsucker Proxy

Not only am I a huge Coen Brothers film fan, this scene from The Hudsucker Proxy is one of my favorite clips. I use this movie in teaching my storyboard class from time to time. The scene is superb in its pace, editing, storytelling, its simplcity with music and the camera angles. I would highly recommend anyone who hasn't seen this movie to go out and pick it up. It's not Citizen Kane (but then what is?) but this little obscure gem is still worthy of a good fun evening in front of the idiot box.

Simple Minds- Don't You Forget About Me

This was another one of those mid 1980's ballads that struck a chord with me. I was in the middle of my CCS college life, young, goofy & idealistic and this song sort of captures some of that naive innocence back then.

Not only did it have fame in John Hughes' "The Breakfast Club" but it was also used as a touching closing credit in an episode of Futurama where Phillip Fry discovers that his adversarial brother had named his son in honor of him.

Love & Rockets- So Alive

This was one of those quintessential late 80's/ early 90's bands that I saw back in the day. They played at the Fox Theater alongside The Pixies. Hearing this song brings back good times and fond memories of the two gorgeously long legged back up singers they had on podiums behind the band!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Congrats to Dave Boyle

For what seemed like an eternal summer of hanging on pins & needles, one of my ex-students Dave Boyle finally has gainful employment for awhile. He's already ridden the roller coaster ride with Pandemic as to whether they were going to hire him on for an internship or not (ended up being not). But just a while back, he was given a huge freelance opportunity to do some work with them for their Australian office.

Funny how Dave's department chair, Bryon Fitzpatrick just retired and is on his way to Australia. I've been razzing Dave that he's actually taking food from Bryon's retirement and making the poor guy subsist on dingo meat in his well earned retirement.

Congrats to both.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Lois Maxwell- the steady Bond girl passes

'Twas a sad day this weekend when Kitchener, Ontario native Lois Maxwell passed away at the ripe old age of 80.

She will be forever known to pop culture enthusiasts as the unflappable Miss Moneypenny in the James Bond movie series. Moneypenny was always the bridge between M and the flippant rascal, Bond. She appeared in 14 Bond movies and was last seen in A View to a Kill. Roger Moore was quoted "I think it was a great disappointment to her that she had not been promoted to play M. She would have been a wonderful M."

Sunday, September 16, 2007

House Industries

Andy Cruz & Rich Roat were just featured a few months ago in Communication Arts and it showed some of the inner workings and philosophies of their highly successful graphic design/ illustration firm. I've been a huge fan of theirs for the longest time. These guys truly have a strong sense of humility and reverence for some of the coolest fonts and creators around. They've worked with Big Daddy Roth, Coop, Ed Benguit, Shag, and a whole list of anonymous typographers who've lent their talents to some of the coolest pop culture items of my generation.

Sven Kirsten's Tiki Modern book

An utterly amazing compilation of things tiki that weren't covered in his first book, The Book of Tiki. Great follow-up and it also highlights Witco furniture, polynesian influences, Detroit's very own Chin Tiki, and other things tiki. Taschen (see link posted in my links section) publishes some amazing art, pop culture, design related books and this is just one in the many that they do produce.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Quick sketch

Rather than just heave perfectly good pieces of paper into the recycle bin, I occassionally will tear regular office paper into four equal sections, clip them together with a bulldog clip and use them for scribbling notes- the poor man's Post-It Note. Well today I decided to do a quick sketch of my fellow Canadian, Wolverine on this pinkish rose piece of bond paper for kicks. I think on the back side of this paper was some old departmental mail or something from school. A few quick scribbles with the Copic Markers, some white Prismacolor pencils & voila!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

My two bit speed drawing

Inspired by several of my peers here (they're not just ex-students any more- they're grizzled seasoned pros now), I figured I'd give a go at doing a Speed Drawing (curse you Imran & Jeremy!). Granted that's generally my schtick for real work but I figured I'd give a shot at it here, time myself and see what I'd come up with.

Here's my go at drawing Robin Hood's buddy Little John. It had been awhile since I broke out the brush but that was about four minutes doing the black & white, a few scanning/ printing and maybe another four coloring. Total= maybe ten, eleven minutes tops. I always dug the Alan Hale, Sr. character in the movie and thought that guys who could beat the snot out of you with a quarterstaff were pretty hip.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Day One. Full of hope & promise.

It's the first week of school officially now. So many fresh new faces all across campus and for me, my responsibility stayed with the graduating seniors today. I've got the Portfolio Presentation class now- it's a daunting task for me because I sincerely want the graduates to go out there and be a success. I know I can't protect them from every hiccup and bump along the way but hopefully I can at least pass on some of the knowledge I have of being a working illustrator, a graduate of the school and just some of the life experiences I've had. I envy them because they're at the beginnings of what I hope will be very fruitful careers and yet I also fear for them because the market is in constant flux. But if they get anything out of my class, I hope it's that they know how to be agile, adaptable, relelvant to their craft, and have a sense of satisfaction.

Comic Con photos at long last!

As promised many moons ago, here are some various Comic Con photos (as taken by our fresh faced Comic Con virgin with the camera, Glenn Lattiere). It truly is the Pop Culture event to behold. Photos can't do it justice- it's literally an event one has to attend to really comprehend the scope of this thing.

Some pretty amazing Bruce Timm/ Batman figurines.

Glenn hanging with some mechanical beastie.

One of the many Daves that weekend getting gnawed on by a display.

Everyone's favorite wookiee, Chewbacca- made of Lego.

The two Daves, Swartz & Boyle.

Various cool figurines that were for sale.

The back of the Iron Man movie armor. They kept this under a huge Stark Industries crate until Saturday 2:00PM!

The DC Comics area and their array of banners.

The Comic Con floor and its sea of humanity. It was mind boggling the amount of people.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Hands & fatigue

As I'm trying to clean up my office a little bit prior to the new school year, I came across this little goofy gem of a drawing I did last year demonstrating what happens to my drawing of hands as the hours get longer and longer.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

School starts!

Rather than get nervous about the upcoming semester, the incoming freshmen, and new challenges that lie ahead this year, I'm left thinking about all of those immensely talented students that have passed through the hallowed halls of CCS. Not just the students that I've taught but so many others that I never really had the opportunity to really get to know well. The ones I have met... some will keep in touch. Some have probably hated their collegiate lives and grumble & grouse about the experience. School isn't meant for everyone and everyone has a different take on it, but it is an experience; I hope they've all learned something about themselves if nothing else.

Just within the last few weeks I've gotten a handful of emails about how some of them have landed nice positions already. They're at the beginnings of their careers. They'll be focusing on establishing themselves and carving out their own niches in the business. I'd like to think I've helped some when they were in school. It's all so odd now that next week, those faces I had gotten to recognize over the last few years aren't coming back as students anymore. They've struck out on their own and have the world ahead of them and a new breed of illustrators, designers and artists are coming up right behind them.

It's a cycle I went through when I was a student and it continues along now that I'm an instructor.

Another random observation on SD Comic Con

This was an image I had done for a friend of mine at Itoya Portfolios and was fortunately an unfounded fear of ours the entire time at the San Diego Comic Con.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Pics from Comic Con

Sure it's supposed to be about comics at Comic Con (not really) but they had two of the coolest vehicles there from my childhood- the Batmobile and Speed Racer's Mach 5.

Gotta pimp 'em.

Y'know what? I might as well do some of my students some good here on my blog. Above is my up and coming Independent Study student, Wayne Porter and his work. He's seriously thinking about diving into the matte painting world and seeing if he can strike a fortune there. Wayne's busted some butt this summer doing this stuff on the side and emailing me pics (little does he know I try to have somewhat of a normal life during the non-teaching months!). Wayne seems to have the moxie and drive to do this too. Lemme know what you think or better yet, go check out his blog. He could use the feedback and could use a job in a few months too.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Mark Ryden book

This is another great book I picked up in San Diego that I think is noteworthy. It's by famed illustrator extraordinaire, Mark Ryden. I nearly forgot about it because it's so dinky in the big stash of books I brought back. I got this book from Stuart Ng ( at his booth- which was filled with all sorts of first editions, signed copies and all sorts of literary and visual jewels. Mark Ryden's great style, business savvy and cool art have most definitely propelled him to the top of the big illustration heap right now.

The nice guy that I am- I loaned it out to a colleague of mine Don Kilpatrick. If the pages come back sticky, drool filled or missing, there will be hell to pay! Enjoy it now Don... but I do expect it back soon, intact and in immaculate condition!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Wendy Froud

I met Wendy Froud last year at the Comic Con and presented her with a centennial pin from CCS. Our school where her parents taught and where she cut her teeth had just celebrated its 100th year. Her family's contributions to the school are amazing and far too numerous to list. She is by far one of CCS' most celebrated alums and probably one of the most famous.

On top of all the acclaim, she's one heckuva great person to hang with and friendly as can be. Her husband Brian and son, Tobey are also wonderful people as well. It was wonderful spending a few moments at Comic Con with them.

Greg Preston's amazing book

While perusing through Stuart Ng's great book section at the Comic Con, not only did I get a chance to meet Greg Preston but I also had him autograph his amazing book to me. We talked for a bit as we both stood in line for some other books and I was amazed at how lavish his book was. He took fifteen years to photograph some of the industry leaders in comic books and entertainment including Jack Kirby, Mike Allred, Mike Mignola, Alex Ross, Jim Lee, Gary Baseman, Frank Cho, Marie Severin, Moebius and an entire cavalcade of luminaries. Out of the many people that he took photos of, many have sadly passed away but there about 80+ still with us and about 60+ were at the Con. Sadly I didn't get a chance to go around and get many autographs of those people but I'm hoping to lug this book out next year and snag as many signatures as I can. Every year we'll lose a few more talented and gifted people from the industry; wonderfully so Greg Preston has taken us into so many of these creative geniuses' studios for a glimpse of their workspaces. Beautiful photographs!!!

Xaime Hernandez at San Diego Comic Con

Xaime Hernandez and his brother Gilbert have been producing some of the most gorgeously drawn B/W comics in ages. These guys seriously know how to draw great looking women with realistic attitudes and expressions. I had a chance to meet them both at the Comic Con, talked to them for a bit and could help but pick up a signed copy of The Girl from H.O.P.P.E.R.S.

Back from the mountains AND the coast.

Of course photos will be forthcoming, but a quick update since I'm back now. I've spent two glorious weeks back in my home province of Alberta and I also spent one grueling week in San Diego doing the Comic Con. I even went up to LA, meandered there visiting old students (that are now climbing the big ladders in the industry) and shopping for tiki. Needless to say my internal clock is still a few hours off and I still haven't gotten back into my Michigan mode yet.

And school starts up in a few more weeks? Egads!

Friday, July 6, 2007

Comic Con

In a few weeks, I'll be attending the San Diego Comic Convention again ( It's always a great time. I get to bump into old friends and check out some really cool stuff such as artwork, toys, new art supplies, books, books, and more books. I'll also be talking to prospective students for CCS as well. What makes this year's convention really interesting for me is that I've also invited a handful of recent grads and a few students to San Diego. Some of these folks are accustomed to comic conventions (not to the size of this one though) but some aren't.

The above artwork is my take or observation on just some of the people that attend this convention. I figured I'd at least let the comic convention virgins know who they're liable to bump into. For the most part, most of these convention people are harmless and actually have a lot of fun at these shows. One has to applaud them for their bravery & courage for dressing like this in public too! Also if it wasn't for these sort of rabid fans, our industry would be kaput.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Big Sonic Heaven

I've been a huge fan of Darren Revell's choice of music for what seems like eons now.

And like it says on their website...

Big Sonic Heaven is a radio show on Indie 103.1 playing ethereal, dream-pop, electronic, shoegaze, electro-pop, deep alternative, etc… Big Sonic Heaven airs Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday nights from 10p-12m (PST). Hosted, programmed and produced by Darren Revell. Originally broadcast from 1995-2003 in Detroit now makes it’s Los Angeles debut. Listen to Indie 103.1 FM and on-line at

Again, it's that eclectica that I like. He's not afraid to play an odd mix of old, new, funky, techno and then some. Thank goodness for internet radio so I can at least listen to some of this stuff.

It just makes me wonder with the loss of true eclectic free form radio that it's one of the reasons for the rise in satellite radio services (you guys can check out my sadness about the passing of Detroit's last bastion of that form of free radio on some of my earlier posts).

Mid-June already?

Wow... where has time gone? I could've swore it was just like yesterday that I was helping students hang their senior shows and dealing with all of those graduate insecurities that hit this time of year. Needless to say for those of you that know me, I've been out there hustling up work from every third source. I just got done doing a huge rush project for Microsoft & Ford Motor Company (among other things) and I'm about to dive into another huge Toyota project this week. I'm not one to sit back and relax easily; I thoroughly enjoy what I do for a living and can barely fathom calling it a job at times.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Promos & samples

From time to time I get all sorts of phone calls to submit samples of work to art directors and such. I generally try to ask if there's a particular genre of stuff that they're looking for and I try to send samples of stuff that fit more accurately towards what they're trying to shoot for. To me that's just smart marketing. Above are a few of the samples that I just sent out to an art director in Texas. With any luck I'll hit the mark and start working for them soon. We'll see.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

I couldn't be more proud

Earlier tonight was graduation at CCS and I couldn't be more proud of my students. They've stepped across to being peers and alums now. Not only have they refined their visual voices but they've also stepped it up as good human beings. Here are Mike Maher, Kitty Crawford, Annie Tanalski & Jessica Crump (on behalf of the graduating class) presenting our department administrator, Terry with a token of their appreciation. They've done good and I hold the strongest of convictions that these good people will continue to do good, not just in their fields but as human beings. My hats off to this year's graduating class.

Pause & a respite

After weeks upon weeks of just getting pummeled upon with an ungodly amounts of storyboard work, I finally manage to squeeze out a split second to catch my breath. Not only are some of my students graduating in a few hours, but I'm also off to attend a graduation over the weekend as well.

I've been at school most of the evening helping my grads hang their senior shows. While I'm dismayed at their procrastination, I completely understand their reluctance as well. As they hang their show, it's their last obligation to the school. It signals a new unknown chapter of their lives. A few will go off to graduate school whereas the rest will slowly meander out into society and try to make something of their degrees. Some have already found success, some are interviewing, some will take some time to find their niche and I'm sure some will get disillusioned and not go into the Illustration field at all. I wish them all well. I sincerely hope each and everyone of them finds some measure of satisfaction in their lives. And for their brief time in college, I hope they had as much fun as I did when I was there as well.

I hope that I was somehow testimony to them that it can be done. And as hard as I work, I also take the time to kick back from time to time and enjoy life as well. I hope that maybe a few of them will be brave enough to take the eight weeks off to go explore; I've lectured endlessly on this point as it was my only regret after leaving college. For some of these people they've been in the academic cycle for over 17 years (come next Fall when they don't have to go back to school for them will be strange indeed). Most of them have struggled to a certain degree and have reaped the rewards of their hard work.

As I get ready to catch my breath for a split second (and do the meet & greet with their families), I hope that my students will take a chance to catch their breaths and reflect upon their accomplishments as well. As a visual artist, the journey never ends- but it never hurts to slow down, step back just to see what you've accomplished.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Deadline hell

There's just something slightly wrong about being on deadline and it's sunny and gorgeous outside.

The Importance of Ceremony

I just got back from my goddaughter's Comfirmation ceremony today and I couldn't be more proud of her. I've been grinning like a cheshire cat all day thinking about those many years ago that I held her fragile little self in the church as she got baptized. Being a godparent has been one of the highest honors I've ever been bestowed. To see her recognized in her church as a full member is gratifying. Her mother says that technically my duty to her (raising her Catholic in the event something should have happened to her parents) is now done that she's achieved her Confirmation. Fat chance; I'd like to think that my godfatherly duties will never end and she'd be an integral part of my life for as long as I shall live.

I've also been espousing to one of my classes about their impending graduation and how vital it is that they attend. They've earned every bit of pomp, cimcumstance and honor that a graduation ceremony provides. They need to sit through all of those various speakers, see all of the guests get their honorary degrees and ultimately hike across that stage to receive that diploma from our school. My students owe it to their friends, family and loved ones for all the years of support that they've received. Those scant seconds across that stage is one of the most gratifying things a proud parent can see their child do.

Did I need to attend my goddaughter's Confirmation? Did I need to attend my collegiate graduation 20 years ago? Do I really need to attend any event, function or ceremony? Technically no but how unfulfilling would that be? I wouldn't have felt this wave of pride if I didn't see my goddaughter confirmed. My parents would have been saddened to see my diploma arrive in the mail. And even the sad ceremonies- such as funerals... they give credence to our existence here on Earth. Ceremonies are a way to put a timestamp on our lifespan; it's a landmark to which we can all latch onto.

A very wise friend of mine once said that life is but a bunch of good memories. I agree. Why not stop and pay homage to our lives? Even in great sadness people can be proud of where they've come from. And more importantly in moments of great happiness like my goddaughter's ceremony and graduation, we really need to cherish our accomplishments and our very existence.

I've already got some great memories to cherish and plan on making plenty more good memories.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Current project

Here's a current project I'm working on now. Alas since it hasn't been totally approved, I really shouldn't say much about it other than I had a blast drawing goofy moments like this. Not to mention the creative team behind this TV commerical has really nice storytelling techniques to their presentations. I'm hoping to do much more fun stuff like this.

Gorgar pinball game

This was a classic pinball game I played when I was young. I remember the coolest thing about this machine was that not only did it play well (not too many straight drains), it was also the first talking pinball machine. It's primitive by today's standards but those sounds of "Gorgar EATS!" still resonate in my head. The artwork on the backglass was nothing special to write home about either, nor was the playing field a beauty- it was just a good solid game to plunk a few bucks worth of quarters into.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Another sad passing... Kitty Carlisle

She's the lady in the middle towards the lower portion of the picture.

Some of you guys are going "Who?", but she was a lady that was in my TV game show youth. Kitty Carlisle was a regular panelist on shows like "To Tell the Truth" and "What's My Line?". I never really knew of her background until a few years ago; she was always the very elegant lady who wore the pearls and asked the insightful questions on those shows. As quirky as some of those shows were, she always had a regal air about her, had a quiet dignity and exuded class to this young television viewer.

Years later I found out that she also starred in one of my favorite Marx Brothers' movies, "A Night at the Opera" and in several Woody Allen movies. Beyond her success with the movie roles she was also an accomplished singer, actress and active theater performer (she was still performing in 2006). More importantly she was an avid arts advocate (I found that fact out when she was awarded a National Medal of Arts from the White House) for many things in New York City and beyond. She campaigned tirelessly for funding of the arts. She also belonged to the board at the New York State Council on the Arts for 20 years and was a trustee at NYC's MoMA and Metropolitan Museum of Art.

She passed away April 17th, 2007 in the midst of her loved ones at the age of 96.

And to think I only knew her as the dignified lady on a few game shows in my youth. She will be missed.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Don Ho passed away.

I'm so saddened to hear of Don Ho's passing earlier. Talk about a guy who practically embodies Hawaii and that culture to the rest of the world. Reading about how legendary this guy was as far as an entertainer's pretty amazing. The celebrity A-list that came out to Hawaii to see this man perform was something else.

And to think, just a few months back I bought a Tiki Farm commemorative Don Ho tiki mug as well.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Sunrises and work

Don't get me wrong. I love sunrises. They're beautiful, magical and harken a fresh new day for all of us.

But there's just something bordering on painful when one's been up all night working on a project AND the sun's peeking through. As I look over my shoulder now, I can just see the faint glimmers of the morning sun about to burst through the venetian blinds. I'm about half way done with this job and the mojo faded a few hours ago; I'm just working on reflex right about now. I do need a few hours of shut-eye though. Long day ahead... taxes, more work, and then teaching tonight.

And in the immortal words of a great writer that just passed away today, Kurt Vonnegut... "So it goes".

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Another great influence

The great Will Elder.

Along with Harvey Kurtzman, this quiet unassuming guy drew some of the most lush, detailed and rip snorting funniest drawings for the ages. I adored his stuff in the early issues of MAD magazine, Goodman Beaver, and later the Little Annie Fanny series in the Playboy. One of the things that most impressed me about his work is his draftsmanship. His linework and cross hatching was god-like in precision. For those of you not familiar with his stuff I would highly encourage you to check out some of his stuff (Fantagraphics Books has a few of his books, see the link to the right)- see how he tells a story, look at the compositions, and how intelligent his stuff is. Will Elder is truly an under appreciated American Master.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Feather Bowling

I've been feather bowling for well over 20 years now. What is feather bowling you might ask? Well, it's an odd esoteric Belgian game that's played locally at the Cadieux Cafe ( on the east side of Detroit. This is one of my favorite local neighborhood haunts that I like dragging out-of-towners to experience something relatively unique to the area.

The two lanes there consist of dirt/ manure packed down into a long groove with a feather at each end. Each player/ team gets to roll six brick/ ball/ wooden wheels down the track and points are determined by who gets closest to the feather- sort of like Bocce. There does require some skill in this game since you can bank the shots by rolling them within the concave track. First team to 10 points wins. Simple in practice but tricky to master.

But what's really great about this place is that it is relatively unassuming. It's an old school neighborhood bar in an established post war Detroit community. The staff has always been top notch friendly. The food is pretty darn good (specializing in mussels, burgers and fish & chips) and the beer selection has always been great. One can go in and watch a ballgame on the big screen, have a family dinner, play some feather bowling, listen to some great live bands and be one with the neighborhood.

Congratulations to Amy Rauner

I've really been stoked for Amy Rauner, one of my students at CCS (not this semester, but still one of my mentoring kids nevertheless) this weekend. We entered her stuff along with a small contingent of some really strong artwork into the Communication Arts Illustration Annual competition this year and wouldn't you know it? She got a piece selected for the Annual! Quite the accomplishment considering some professionals never get chosen and she did it while still in school and in the ultra competitive Unpublished category. I couldn't be more proud of her (not that I'm not proud of ANY of my students when they do well- whether on a national stage or an individual accomplishment).

Five minutes of fun.

For the sheer stupidity of staying up late night and having fun drawing again, here's a quick five minute sketch: non-photo blue construction lines included.

Drawing cars in Detroit

From time to time people ask me how it is drawing cars in Detroit and I'm often puzzled by the fact that it seems to be labelled as drawing something horrific or mundane. I try to to make too much of a judgment on what it is I draw at times. When I do storyboards for a client, I'm helping them solve a problem- I don't consider that any more or less noble than any other form of illustration. What I also try to do is be in the mindset of "helping a friend" out of a jam. It makes it a lot easier working for someone. I got into this biz many years ago because of a passion for drawing, not the almighty dollar.

Seen here is a recent project I did for Organic for a great art director over there; super friendly dude. It was for a new Dodge vehicle. Is it groundbreaking artwork? Probably not, but I got a chance to do what I enjoy (and get paid for it under 30 days).

Sometimes there are times when I draw for a living and then there are times I draw for myself. Part of what this blog is to help me draw more for my own exploration and growth as an artist. Hopefully you'll get a chance to see a little of both in the following posts. I wouldn't trade what I do for living for anything in the world... it's THAT good.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Peter Cusack to appear at CCS

Famed illustrator and friend of Don Fitzpatrick's, Peter Cusack is going to do a presentation, a demo and speak in my class for a little bit today. I just scoped out his website and his stuff is amazing.

According to D-Money, Peter's the Czar of New York to my Mayor of Detroit (sorry Kwame).

I look forward to hanging out after our day on campus and causing some mayhem afterwards. I just hope that our Department Administrator, Terry has enough bail money for all of us.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Last Detroit radio rant... for awhile

Friday night/ early Saturday morning on WDET, Liz Copeland signed off. This morning Chuck Horne & his radio show, The Seventh Journey will sign off at 5:00 AM. As he said, "This is the final flight. There is no return flight".

I'm left to wonder where anyone in Detroit will get exposed to new electronica and techno on the airwaves now.

'tis another sad day for WDET and Detroit's cultural landscape as this show signs off.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Carnival barker III/ digital!

For whatever wacky reason, I've been doing this Carnival Barker series.

Well, here's my first digital painting. It's done in the same methodolgy that I use to do traditional markers but no fumes were sniffed during the entire process. I'm still getting slowly accustomed to the stylus' senstitivity and the layers but it's none too shabby of an attempt. I guess for certain areas I could've paint-bucketed it but I also wanted some more practice with using the Wacom.

Any thoughts?

Rest assured. More to come.

Got to hang with Jay Shuster +

The last few days were abuzz at CCS with the Entertainment Conference. Friday night after class was a dinner with the Entertainment Conference folks and the fun filled folks in the Career Services Office. We mowed down food at Atlas Global Bistro as we talked shop. In attendance were many of the great folks in the CCS Animation Department as well as our guests. The next day we heard them all do great presentations (despite some technical glitches in the auditorium).

•Shannon Gans from New Deal Studios; an amazing lady who is equally artistic as she is business savvy. Very inspirational to me in the sense that she blends the two polar opposite worlds together and makes it work so well. Her company's really really done well in this competitive field. I don't know how much she connected with students, but sooner or later the stuff she was talking about will resonate. It struck home with me though.

•Marty Stoltz from Midway Games; really funny and creative guy. His reel was full of the games that made Midway what it is today. Lots of blood, gore & guts! But that's the genre that's made big money for Midway. It was really interesting seeing the evolution of storytelling & games on his reel.

•Mike Wellins from Laika. He seemed much more the maverick garage film maker who's explored a little of everything. While the stuff he showed wasn't as impressive as the first two presenters, I couldn't help but admire his dedication to his craft. Unfortunately he sat at the opposite end of the table Friday night and I really didn't get much of a chance to talk to him.

•Linda Simensky from PBS also impressed me with her depth of knowledge and her career. This lady's literally been all over the animation map from Cartoon Network to Nickolodeon. The stuff that this lady's been pushing for will be the next generation's Sesame Street and beyond.

•And CCS' very own Jay Shuster. He's the Star Wars/ Pixar/ CCS rock idol. He's where a lot of my students want to be someday. Whether they have his dedication, drive and sheer talent is something else but he at least brings it closer to home for a lot of them. By far the funniest presentation of the day and kudos goes out to the guy for telling the audience how important storyboard work is. It sort of validates what I've been stumping within our curriculum.

Ever since last year in LA, I've been honed in on making our students and their work relevant to the job force. I hope these people at this conference brought some of that back sensibility to the campus.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Detroit Radio rant

This is the final week of WDET playing music late at night. I've literally enjoyed 12 years of hearing some of the most diverse music on this station and it's shaped some of my musical tastes. Liz Copeland, the late night music mistress is also having Clark Warner on for the last time do his retrospective of techno. It just struck me as really being sad not knowing when's the next time I'm going to be able to hear techno (a great Detroit export) on the airwaves again.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Carnival barker II

Just continuing playing around with the carnival barker dude, but this time with some minimal color. About five minutes with the drawing, a few with the scan, maybe ten coloring and a few more inputting. Down, dirty & brainless.