Friday, December 12, 2008

CCS Noel Night last Saturday

The 36th Annual Noel Night down in the Cultural Center of Detroit last Saturday- what a hoopla! There were over 3000+ people coming by CCS to scope out wares made by the students & alumni. A little cold blowing snow outside but somehow it still managed to bring in the crowds year after year.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Rest in peace, Betty Page.

I'm sure I'm not the only one mourning or blogging about Betty Page and her untimely death today, but I'd like to think that because earlier this year one my idols Dave Stevens passed away, she decided to join him and give him one of the most gorgeous figures to draw. May the poses be grand, beautiful and naughty all at the same time.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Enough of the hype, now VOTE!

For the last few months there has been enough mud slinging, campaigning, and all sorts of issues debated back and forth. Well, it boils down to today. So go out there and exercise your right to vote!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Recollect Dead exhibition

I'm a part of the Recollect Dead custom sneaker exhibition and costume party being held on Halloween night at the Cave Gallery at 1600 Clay Avenue in Detroit (third floor of the Russell Industrial Center, Building #4).

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Nike/ Richard Hamilton TV commercial

-the fake Richard Hamilton

-the real Richard Hamilton

Ordinarily I get hired to do storyboards for TV commercials, but from time to time I get hauled onto the set to do all sorts of things. Just a few days ago I got the call in the middle of the day to participate in a Nike commercial featuring Detroit Pistons star, Richard "Rip" Hamilton. This two day gig consisted of me replicating Rip Hamilton's tattoos on two stand-ins. I was given photo reference as to what the tattoos looked like and I had to find a way to apply them to the actors' arms. Throughout the shoot I also had to be on hand to touch up the artwork as sweat and abrasion would wear it down.

It's always amazing working on a larger production like this. There were well over 300 actors which included the crowd, two basketball teams (dressed as the Pistons and the Milwaukee Bucks), announcers, photographers, scorers, referees, towel boys, and everything you'd see at a real basketball game. Being a part of the crew that helps make this illusion look so real is daunting and yet humbling- turning Detroit's Cobo Arena to look like The Palace of Auburn Hills, making 300 people look and sound like 20-30,000 cheering people and me making two Michigan State students look like an NBA All-Star.

Monday, October 27, 2008

SketchCrawl- Detroit

Last Saturday all across the world was SketchCrawl, a day in which artists of all levels were encouraged to go out and sketch away. I was introduced to this by fellow sketch monkey, Jay Shuster- when he insisted I participate in one or at least start one here in Detroit. Seeing as how trusted teaching colleague, Joe Hickey had already hitched his trusty wagon to this cause, I figured it'd be easier for me to latch on.

While we didn't have the massive following that we both wanted, we did manage to take a few kids downtown to Campus Martius. Amidst the sparrows, pigeons and the great Detroit architecture, we drew away for awhile. Before hypothermia set in, we eventually went to one of my favorite places in town, The Guardian Building. It is by far one of the most visually lush buildings in the area and just a wonderful place for people to meet, draw and just ogle at the splendor of this architectural gem. It is truly one of those places that I would recommend all Detroit visitors check out, grab a bite to eat in, go shopping, and if the mood moves you... sketch!

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Sometimes on those seriously melancholy days, it takes something as innocent as the neighbor's cat to come over to sit in your lap to give you a sense of perspective.

"Geisha" is the cat that lives across the street and has found it within her persona to adopt me. She'll come over to just hang out and just chill. In doing so, she'll make me pause my day and look out into the world in her eyes. In such a busy and disjointed world, it's sometimes nice to just look out across the world and think about what's really important in life.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Medicine Hat pennants

Some people collect spoons, postcards, street signs or other items from their hometown. Me? I've been collecting for the last few years these sometimes satin, but more often than not, felt pennants from Medicine Hat, Alberta- my hometown. Utilizing everything from crudely Native American imagery to the day-glow fauna to represent the city has always struck me bizarre and yet intriguing.  The typographic solutions vary and some are repeated, but combined with the silk screened images they represent to me that far off magical place where I was born.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Sad day in typography

While I never had him as an instructor during my time in college, we all knew of the legend that Jerry Campbell was. He, along with his friends Dick Isbell & Arthur Spaniola taught the majority of the lettering classes at CCS. These guys could hand letter fonts on a blackboard better than most of us could with layout paper. They could do calligraphy with a brush, pen, marker and probably a broom if given the chance. They designed more car logos for the Big Three here in Detroit than most and had numerous typefaces to their credit.

Jerry Campbell passed a few days ago and we lost a giant in the typographical world.

Here's the obituary from The Detroit News today:

"POPS" A long-time Detroit typographer and calligrapher Gerald B. Campbell, 86, has died in Henderson, Nevada, a week after suffering a stroke. Born in Lansdowne, New Brunswick, Canada, on September 23rd, 1922, he graduated from Royal Oak High School in 1940. During World War II he served with the Second Armored Division and saw combat in N. Africa, Sicily, Normandy, and at the Battle of the Bulge. He became the president of the Graphic Artists Guild in 1968, and taught typography and calligraphy at the Center for Creative Studies for 17 years. His company, Campbell/Isbell Alphabets, designed dozens of typefaces and hundreds of logos and special typography for the automotive industry. He is survived by his brother Earl "Curly" (Jean); daughters Carole (Steve) and Mary; sons Colin, Scott, Matt (Nancy) and Gerry; five grandchildren and four great grandchildren. A life celebration will be held at the VFW Hall in Royal Oak, 214 E. 4TH Street on Saturday, October 11th, from 12-5p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Veterans of Foreign Wars or the Alzheimer's Association in memory of his late wife of 44 years, Martha (nee: Bieke).

In a world where typography at times is taken for granted, here was a man who created it, treasured it and taught it to us as an art form. He will be missed dearly by those of us in the CCS community to which he is listed as a 1948 graduate.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Jay Shuster & his beard, part II

I had way too much fun coming up with imagery for Jay's beard last time (see my August 2008 posting), I couldn't hold off and I had to come up with another series. Part of it is that I know Jay's a good humored lad who can take this sort of ribbing about his facial fuzz and stand proud. Secondly is that I probably secretly wish I could grow a lush jaw mop like him.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Love classic car ads

There's a part of me that wishes that car advertisers one of these days will be bold and daring enough to go back to hiring illustrators to do gorgeously painted car ads and catalogs again. Not that I could even come close to doing what those old time car painters did back then. They were done by truly technically gifted and great artists. These ads portrayed a much more simpler time whereas nowadays people want to see actual photography as proof.

Here's an ad from the May 15th, 1954 Maclean's Magazine that showed my 1954 Chrysler Windsor Deluxe in all of it's glory.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Paul Newman passes

One of the most dynamic actors of our time, Paul Newman has passed away. Beyond his many accomplished roles, he also had a social consciousness that spread to many of his charitable organizations. By all accounts he was a wonderful family man, director, friend, entrepreneur, humanitarian, and racing enthusiast.

Pictured here is Doc Hudson, a role where he was the voice of the iconic 1950's car I nearly bought about 15 years ago and with fellow actor/ humanitarian, Tim Robbins in The Hudsucker Proxy. Newman has said never really liked the role of corporate cad, Sidney J. Mussberger, but I thought it was a great role for him.

He will be sorely missed.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

CCS 50 Buck Show

On September 12, CCS' Center Galleries staged a show requesting people donate a piece of art to their opening and had it revolve around the idea of $50. The tickets to get into the show were $50 (free if you contributed artwork) and to purchase a piece of artwork was $50. Needless to say, the multitude of friends of CCS, the Gallery and hordes of people donated well over 230 pieces to the show. The opening was a grand success as witnessed by the huge amount of people in attendance. Unlike other gallery openings where work is left on the walls to be enjoyed for a period after the opening, the walls were being picked clean a few hours after the opening. Sales were brisk and many happy patrons were seen taking home wonderful pieces by the end of the night.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Navy TV commercial art

Here's one frame from a series of shooting boards I just got done doing for the US Navy via RedOrange USA. The spots are geared towards the high school/ soon-to-be college age kid and will be shot in Hamtramck and Ann Arbor soon. I'm still not so sure how I survived working on these frames- I subbed for a colleague's classes, pulled the all-nighter banging out the frames and then I taught my all day classes with relatively no ill effects. I'm not questioning how or why but am thankful that I can.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Summer Cruising

For about the last dozen years I've had this car, the 1954 Chrysler Windsor Deluxe to which we've affectionately named The Beast. It has no power steering, no power brakes, no AC, no AM or FM radio, no cruise control and no frills. And yet every summer we take this "urban land yacht" out to cruise Woodward Avenue and the local roads. It handles like a charm! It drives like a boat where you have to make decisions well in advance and you sit way up in it like huge sofa on wheels. Sure, there are cars out there worth a lot more than mine, have tricked out chrome, a killer sound system, a sweet big block under the hood and can blow me away at the gate- but this has been a amazingly fun car to enjoy the Michigan summer months. It's not your typical tricked out cruise ride but it still turns just enough heads and we can feel the breeze come into the car as we accelerate up the boulevard.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

First day of classes.

It's hard to believe today's the first day of classes for CCS. The freshmen have had an entire week of orientation after orientation, the faculty have syllabi & lesson plans ready, the groundskeepers have cleaned the place up pretty nicely and we're hopeful and awfully optimistic with this new year coming up. The cycle continues today.

Don LaFontaine passes.

Possibly one of the most distinctive voices in Hollywood, Don LaFontaine has passed away. He was by far one of the busiest and he's been heard doing practically every major movie premiere in recent memory.

I had the chance to hear the man work years ago when I had to meet an art director at a local recording studio in Southfield to pick up some storyboard work and they had Don LaFontaine on the voice patch to his Hollywood Hills studio. He was recording some Ford Truck TV commercials and to hear how he worked was amazing. His inflections were crisp and that voice could've moved mountains! Not only did he nail the spot in just a few takes, he'd also had fun and ran with the script. He'd heave out some pretty off handed remarks that surely would've made the client cringe if they had heard them aired. Many were unfit for public consumption, but to hear those remarks in that deep recognizable voice was hilarious.

He will be missed.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

This is the Day

Hard to believe this song came out in 1984. I was a wee lad at CCS discovering this new "alternative music". "This is the Day" by The The stands out as one of those songs of that era. It was off of the "Soul Mining" album (vinyl!). Up until just a few years ago I had never seen the video until Youtube. Looking back at it now- the special effects were laughable. But back then MTV was still in its infancy, cable TV wasn't widely distributed, the lead singer Matt Johnson had a full head of hair, and things were so much simpler or at least it seemed like it for those of us.

Now years later, people get a chance to hear this song once more on the M&M commercials.

Mignola/ Corben Hellboy

Being a huge Mike Mignola fan, his latest saga with the Hellboy series has really piqued my interest when Dark Horse signed on artist extraordinaire, Richard Corben to draw it.

I've been a fan of Corben's since his early Heavy Metal (the magazine, not the music genre) days. His handling of Mignola's most famous red hued big man is going to be a treat for the next few issues.

Jay Shuster & his beard

Fellow speed demon with the marker & Pixar impresario, Jay Shuster has been growing out his facial fuzz over the last few months. Beyond scaring small children & people with heart ailments, he's also become the inspiration of a handful of drawings I've done since coming back from California.

For Jay's comments on this libel, you can check out his vision and feeble comments on his blog.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Medium Well

By the good graces of CCS' Career Services and Marketing & PR departments, last semester Don Kilpatrick, Stephen Schudlich and I were given the task to come up with a book touting some of our department's finer works. This book so eloquently named Medium Well by Stephen is that compilation. It includes some of our stellar junior & senior work within the department. It made its debut at the San Diego Comic Con and was shown to several of our more prominent LA alumni as well.

San Diego Comic Con 2008

Ryan Gitter, Stormtrooper Elvis & comic book cover artist extraordinaire, Adam Hughes

Famed painter, illustrator and all around great guy Greg Spalenka with Kassandra Heller & Chris Houghton

Rachael Olek, Sherrie Savage & Christina Harper on Preview Night

Dave Boyle & Lori Watson at the CCS booth

Ryan Gitter, Lauren Moyer, Chris Antoin, Dave Swartz & Lance Red

Scott Daly, Wes Eggebrecht & Matt Byle

Angie Lai, Mike Roll & Scott Bogoniewski

Wes Eggebrecht, Scott Daly, Matt Byle, Mike Roll & Jay Shuster

It's hard to believe it's been over a week since I got back from the San Diego Comic Convention. This year has been exceptionally good for the simple reason that we had over 50+ students, recent alums, and older alums attending on their own dime. Many of my current students and the recent alums attending for the very first time got a chance to sit in on panel discussions, attend seminars, meet their heroes, have their portfolios reviewed, and buy cool swag. On Saturday we had an alumni get together at the Rock Bottom Brewery which was attended by plenty more CCS folks & guests.

In so many ways it was sensory overload, a marathon of the senses, and a great time to be had by all. And as grueling as this event is to do every year, I'm buoyed by my students' raw enthusiasm and excitement at this event. I think it's a great way to introducing them to the business, their possibilities, their peers, and a chance to see where they fit into it all.

Like Steven Guarnaccia, the chairperson of Parsons Illustration program so eloquently said of the Comic Con- "it's the future of Illustration". After seeing my students do so well promoting not only themselves, but the school- I'm so inclined to agree.