“Go, Mum, Go!” © 2012 Robin Tatlow-Lord

Women’s roller derby was a national sensation in the 1950’s. Today roller derby is again a sporting and pop culture phenomenon. I met the Australian illustrator and roller derby athlete Robin Tatlow-Lord in San Francisco last week. Robin learned to skate in South Australia, with Adelaide Roller Derby and currently skates with the Bay Area Derby Girls. She taught me a bit about modern roller derby. Must admit, I had some misconceptions. For example, I called the athletes racers. Robin notes, “The sport is also not really a race, and is more akin to football, even though it’s on a looped track. Roller derby skaters call themselves and each other players, not racers.”

Skirmish, from the Fresh Meat series, © 2015Robin Tatlow-Lord

Skirmish, from the Fresh Meat series, © 2012 Robin Tatlow-Lord

Robin writes, “The kind of roller derby that has become really popular now is NOT a paid professional sport. It is a community-driven, unpaid ‘amateur’ sport (though played to an extremely high level of athleticism and competitiveness) and this has been a huge part of its popularity, because women can start up their own leagues and have full control over everything they do – from what they wear to which nights they train, etc. It’s also a real sport now – unlike 1950s and 60s roller derby, it’s not ‘staged’ or manipulated as an entertainment event. There are both flat-track and banked track incarnations of modern women’s roller derby – I play flat-track.”

T-Stop and Plow Stop, from Fresh Meat ©2012 Robin Tatlow-Lord

T-Stop and Plow Stop, from Fresh Meat ©2012 Robin Tatlow-Lord

I wondered is there some strange new intersection between roller derby and illustration?  I wrote about Kutztown grad and illustrator Kate Santee who plays for the Lehigh Valley Rollergirls. Jessica Abel’s epic Trish Trash Roller Girl from Mars has just been released in France. Her fans, myself included, are clamoring for the English edition.

Bobby Dazzler © 2015 Robin Tatlow-Lord. Her Roller Derby persona.

Bobby Dazzler © 2015 Robin Tatlow-Lord. Her Roller Derby persona.

I asked Robin, A.K.A. ‘Bobby Dazzler’  a few questions. First, is roller derby big in Australia?

Robin: “Yes, there is definitely roller derby in Australia. That’s where I started, and played for 2 years. In fact, an Australian team,Victorian Roller Derby League, recently beat many of the top USA teams, and are now ranked fourth in the world.”

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Bonnie “Bone Shaker” Dowling Australian Roller Derby star. ©2012 Robin Tatlow Lord

‘Bonnie Adventuress’ (above) is a portrait of her pal, skater Bonnie ‘Bone Shaker’ Dowling,  painted on recycled paper. Robin’s colorful Fresh Meat series is drawn entirely with brush pens. According to Robin’s website, the line art illustration below is from a few years back when lacy bras and fishnet stockings were more common.

“Fresh Meat” sketch © 2012 Robin Tatlow-Lord

Question: There seems to be a new wave of comics and illustration celebrating roller derby. I am imagining this trend?

Robin: “I don’t think it’s an imagined trend – in fact, a friend and I have been throwing around the idea of putting together a roller derby comics anthology for some time now. There have already been comics compilations on the theme, but to our minds these weren’t as interesting as the comics and illustrations actually being created by real skaters​ and other people involved in the roller derby community.”

Bruise from Fresm Mest Series, © 2012 Robin Tatlow-Lord

Bruise from Fresh Meat Series, © 2012 Robin Tatlow-Lord

Robin wrote a guest post about the current crop of roller derby players who are also comic artists. Seems like the stars are aligned for that skater/creator comics anthology she mentioned. If your artwork fits that double bill, get in touch via her website. Meanwhile, do check out Robin’s website to see the full range of her talent

Michelle Davies with sister Christina at Kutztown Univeristy

Michelle Davies with sister Christina, president of the Sketchbook Club at Kutztown University.

Michelle Davies graduated from Edinboro University. Edinboro, like Kutztown is part of PASSHE, PA’s State System. State university facilities can’t compare to privates specializing in game design, but Michelle proves a dedicated student can launch a career from anywhere. She said her foundation art classes, life drawing and 2-D design, prove valuable everyday in her job as a concept artist on Camelot Unchained.

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Sketchbook life drawings © Michelle Davies

Students may think a game concept artist does impeccably finished work. In truth, Michelle draws fast and furious against tight deadlines at City State Entertainment. She got a call from City State when she was teaching English and researching K-pop culture in Korea. They flew her back to their Fairfax, VA, headquarters. Her first task was to design a logo for the game.

6 variations for Camelot Unchained logo © 2105 City State entertainment

6 variations for Camelot Unchained logo © 2105 City State Entertainment

Michelle visited Kutztown thanks to KU’s AIGA chapter. Her sister Christine, also a stellar illustrator, is heading into her senior year here. Michelle spoke to the AIGA crowd in the Academic Forum. The next day she visited the Sketchbook Club to share her sketchbook with students.

Sketchbook Detail © 2105 Michelle Davies

Sketchbook Detail: Character and Perspective Studies © 2105 Michelle Davies

Illustration is a big field, and many of our students say they want to be video game concept artists. I admit I know little about it. Michelle used unfamiliar phrases. Who knew a MMORPG is a Massively Multiplayer Role Player Online Game? When I asked what the phrase “Low Poly” meant, Michelle asked me if I was familiar with “Assassin’s Creed.”  Students laughed when I said I wasn’t.

Michelle shared her sketchbook at Sketchbook Club © Michelle Davies

Michelle shared her sketchbook at Sketchbook Club © Michelle Davies

Low poly means a simplified shape, – a low number of polygons. “Like an inflatable doll compared to a real person.” is the metaphor she used. Actually, her metaphor was saltier.

Concept art from camelotunchained.com © City State Entertainment

Concept art from camelotunchained.com © 2015 City State Entertainment

Michelle showed a slide of her coworkers at City State sitting around a conference table. They were mostly male. I asked if there is a glass ceiling in the gaming field. She said not in her experience, half of the staff artists are female. She said female programmers are “golden unicorns.” Her boss, Mark Jacobs, has tried hard to recruit female programmers, only to have them snatched away by Google.

From camelotunchained.com promo art ©City State Entertainment

From camelotunchained.com  Promo art © 2015 City State Entertainment

There is much more impressive art to see at camelotunchained.com  There is a free Fan Kit available to download. I grabbed some of the above art from there. I must admit some of the game lingo on the site is greek to me, but I did notice that City State Entertainment is hiring. Golden Unicorns please apply.

JAMIE BASILE: The Don Breter Memorial Award

Main St, Kutztown, PA,  watercolor ©2015 Jamie Basile

Main St, Kutztown, PA, watercolor ©2015 Jamie Basile

Jamie Basile won the 2015 Don Breter Award for best illustrator in her class. She is a master of both traditional and digital media. The watercolor, above, clearly shows the influence of Prof. Matthew Daub.

Prof. Denise Bosler presenting award to Jamie Basile.

Prof. Denise Bosler presenting award to Jamie Basile. Photo: Chrissy Corrado

One of the all-time outstanding illustrators to graduate from Kutztown U is the great Tom Whalen, BFA 96. When Tom came to talk to current students Jamie Basile mimicked his signature style to create the event announcement poster below.

Tom Whalen at Kutztown, poster © Jamie Basile.

Tom Whalen Ice Cream Social at Kutztown, poster © Jamie Basile.

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Jamie’s simulated Wired Mag illustration hung in the Senior Show. Jamie explains the concept on her website, “In this digitally painted cover illustration, a larger than life soybean-chicken pod is showcased to emphasize the breakthrough in the artificial meat industry.”

Snove Chocolate packaging, © 2015 Jamie Basile.

Snove Chocolate packaging, © 2015 Jamie Basile.

Jamie demonstrates her graphic design and packaging skills on the Snove Choclate series. She writes, “When the cold bites your nose, Snove chocolates provide winter warmth on the coldest of days. This line of products was created to embody chocolate’s “melt-in-your-mouth” quality, warming your entire body as it touches your tongue. Each flavor has a unique linocut illustration of an arctic dweller, paired with an icy watercolor wash. The polar bear, snow fox, and Inuit distinguish the three spicy warming flavors of Snove’s hot chocolate, chocolate bark and coffee beans.”

You can see much more of her versatility at www.jamiebasile.com

ARREN DAWINAN: The Terry Boyle Award

Eden Poster © 2015 Arren Dawinan

Eden  © 2015 Arren Dawinan

Arren Dawinan won the 2015 Terry Boyle Award for most improved illustrator. He exhibited a set of vector-drawn travel posters in the Senior Exhibition that are simultaneously futuristic and retro. He explains the concept, “The human race just discovered a new, habitable planet near Earth, named Eden. These are a set of retro travel posters to advertise the beauty of the new planet.”

Prof Elaine Cunfer presented an award to Arren Dawinan. photo: Chrissy Corrado

Prof Elaine Cunfer presented an award to Arren Dawinan. Photo: Chrissy Corrado.

Arren also created ¿Como se Llama? a small foldable zine that also functions as a poster. The story is about a llama traveling around the world and meeting other animals along the way in search of his one true love. Arren bills himself as an illustrative designer on his website: www.arrendawinan.com

¿Como se Llama? © 2015 Arren Dawinan

¿Como se Llama? © 2015 Arren Dawinan

Prof. Cunfer noted that there was a lot of talent in the class of 2015. She said Jamie and Arren “have not only made great strides in their work they have shown strong professional growth in demeanor and attitude.”

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Lil Monsters Identity © 2015 Arren Dawinan

We expect great things from Jamie and Arren and the other talented illustrators of the class of 2015.

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Introducing my worms to Françoise Mouly at MoccaFest in NYC.

We Dig Worms! the book I wrote and illustrated at the request of my librarian wife Patt was officially released by Toon Books on April 14. Françoise Mouly, above, is editor and publisher of Toon Books. She is also the art editor of the New Yorker magazine. It was my good fortune that she personally art directed We Dig Worms! The book looks better than I imagined and has been generating a lot of excitement.

Kindergarten at Simon Elementary School, Wash, D.C

Kindergarten at Simon Elementary School, Wash, D.C.  photo courtesy: An Open Book Foundation

In less than 2 weeks I’ve done 3 school visits, 2 bookstore events and one comic book convention. I’ve signed over 200 books and got some fine reviews. Geek Dad found it “fascinating,” Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review: “McCloskey comes not to bury worms (they can handle that themselves) but to praise them in a guide to annelids that manages to be reverent in its irreverence. Painting on brown paper bags, McCloskey offers a crash course on worm physiology, habits, and environmental impact, focusing on garden-variety earthworms.”

Amazon #1 new release in Children's Zoology.

Amazon #1 new release in Children’s Zoology.

The big bounce came when the NY Times chose to feature We Dig Worms in the Sunday Book Review“One of Toon’s stylish comics-inflected early readers, this paean to the worm is a winning combination of facts and gross-out fun.” The book became Amazon’s number one bestselling new release in a number of small categories, including Children’s Zoology.

150 children for Earth Day at Politics and Prose Bookstore, Wash, D.C.

150 children for Earth Day at Politics and Prose Bookstore, Wash, D.C.

150 children showed up at Politics and Prose Bookstore for Earth Day in Washington, D.C. The crowd went wild when a large nightcrawler got out of the bucket and hit the carpet. After that bookstore event, An Open Book Foundation brought me to visit an inner city school, Simon Elementary. Thanks to the generosity of Simon’s “Book Buddies” outreach program of the Washington Hebrew Congregation, each of the nearly 90 children I met there got a copy of my book. We sang “Happy Earth Day” to the worms. It was sweet.

Each Kindergartners at Simon Elementary  got a copy of We Dig Worms!

Each kindergarten student at Simon Elementary got a copy of We Dig Worms!

The tour continues. This week I will be at Firefly Books just up the street from my home in Kutztown. I will be heading to San Francisco’s Academy of Sciences and to the Brooklyn Book Festival. The full Worm Tour schedule can be found at Toon Books or on my Amazon author’s page.

A page from We Dig Worms!

A page from We Dig Worms!

My wife Patt, has been a trooper on tour. She is fine with the new worm bins in our basement laundry room. She even made a short video of a worm race, you can see it at Vimeo.

Watch a Worm Race, link above.

Watch a Worm Race, link above.

TOON BOOKS may not be not the biggest children’s book publisher. They do make beautiful books, and in my experience give their authors great support. They even made temporary We Dig Worms tattoos for me to share at book events. They are having a “We Dig Worms” Earth Day art contest. Deadline is Monday, April, 27. Like Toon Books on Facebook and learn more about all the cool things they do.

"Hello" © 2015 Christina Davies

“hello” © 2015 Christina Davies

More talented Kutztown students are heading to the 2015 MoCCA Arts Fest in NYC with their zines or mini-comics, April 11-12.

Christina Davies is not only a design/illustration student, she is a student of the universe and avid space enthusiast. Her zine, titled “hello” celebrates manmade spacecraft and satellites, and how humanity’s will to learn and explore the universe will carry on through time. Printed in spacey blue, $3. More of Christina’s work can be found here and here. She will also be featured in the next Illozine, issue 12.

Disco Turtle ©2015 Brynne Camburn

Disco Turtle ©2015 Brynne Camburn

DT, aka The Disco Turtle by Brynne Camburn, $5.00. DT is a cowardly turtle who has a passion for deep house music and his own discos held within. After a turtle catastrophe, DT is forced to come out of his shell. This comic comes with an extra bonus: a custom music track on CD. The track is mixed by DJ newpyhundo, aka Tedd Wampole of NEPA, aka NorthEast PA.

Moon and the Wolf Girl © 2015 Kristen Tully

Moon and the Wolf Girl © 2015 Kristen Tully

The Moon and The Wolf Girl by Kristen Tully is a twist on Little Red Riding Hood where a girl and a wolf become friends. There is a tragedy, and the girl must do everything in her power to avenge her friend. Includes stickers! $3

Interior pages, Moon and the Wolf Girl, Kristin Tully.

Interior pages, Moon and the Wolf Girl, © 2015Kristin Tully.

Also debuting at MoCCA will be We Dig Worms! by me…

We Dig Worms! 2015, Toon Books.

We Dig Worms! by me, Kevin McCloskey © 2015, Toon Books.

I will be at MoCCA’s Kutztown U table or at the table of Toon Books. MoCCA has been good to me. Last year at MoCCA I met with Françoise Mouly, publisher of Toon Books to finalize this book deal. As the art editor of the New Yorker magazine Françoise Mouly has the world’s best illustrators on speed dial. I am very fortunate that she chose to publish my We Dig Worms!  She, along with her deputy art director Sasha Steinberg took my worms painted on paper bags, and made a beautiful book. The reviews have been good.

We Dig Worms! © 2015 Kevin McCloskey, Toon Books

We Dig Worms! © 2015 Kevin McCloskey, Toon Books

Toon Books is sending me on a multi-state worm tour with a bucket of racing nightcrawlers. After NYC, we visit Alexandria, Va, Washington D.C. and San Francisco. I am also doing talks closer to home in Kutztown and Reading. Hope to see you. We Dig Worms! tour info here. Available wherever books are sold including Barnes and Noble, the Kutztown University Bookstore and Firefly Bookstore.

From Imago © Liv Carberry

From Imago © 2015 Liv Carberry

From Imago © Liv Carberry

From Imago © Liv Carberry

Liv Carberry created Imago. Here is her description: A 1940’s pilot struggles to stay alive after his airplane crashes. Price: $3

More of Liv’s work can be seen here. Imago is just one of twenty zines, small comic books, from my Illustration 2 class that will debut at MoCCA Arts Festival in NYC, April 11 and 12. MoCCA, the annual comics festival hosted by NY’s Society of Illustrators will be held in Chelsea this year. More info here.

MoCCA Fest Poster by Eleanor Davis

MoCCA Fest Poster by Eleanor Davis

Students had this entire semester, 11 weeks, to work on the zine project. We meet 6 hours a week, so at the very least, they get a sense of what they can do in 66 hours.

Artwork© 2015 by Adam Leisenring

Artwork© 2015 by Adam Leisenring

Not of This World: Two True Stories of Alien Encounters by Adam Leisenring
Adam Leisenring has acquired 2 top-secret government files from the Office of Extraterrestrial Research, circa 1955. He is now making this information available by publishing it in mini-comic form. The book will be $4 and will come in its own top-secret file folder. More of his work here. Adam, by the way, will be featured in the next issue of Illozine, a competitive quarterly devoted to contemporary illustration.

From The Folly © 2105 Madison Stauffer.

From The Folly © 2105 Madison Stauffer.

The Folly by Madison Stauffer is priced at $2. The story in brief: Two thieves find more than they bargained for when they break into the house of a woman rumored to be a witch. Madison’s artwork is leaning toward the supernatural lately. She is also doing the cover art for the next issue of The Journal of Dracula Studies. More of her work can be seen here.

Heavy © 2015 Jordan Moser.

Heavy © 2015 Jordan Moser.

Jordan Moser has been in a number of bands. His book, HEAVY, features a small-time metal band trying to graduate from playing small potatoes venues to getting a shot at the big leagues, but the odds are stacked against them when just about everything that can go wrong does go wrong. Price $5.

Kutztown University’s Communication Design Dept pays for the table space at MoCCA. This event is a great opportunity for our students to compare their work with projects from other art programs and meet indy publishers and artists. We will share more student images soon. MoCCA’s general admission is just $5 a day, a bargain for an art fest. Look for Kutztown at Table 239 in the Red Zone.

Selected works from www.mararockliff.com

Selected works from http://www.mararockliff.com

One Keynote Speaker at the 17th annual Kutztown University Children’s Literature Conference is author Mara Rockliff. Mara will walk less than one block from her home on Walnut St. to campus. If you want to hear her talk, don’t knock on her door, come to the conference on April 18.

Cookie-like art © Vincent X. Kirsh for Gingerbread for Liberty.

Cookie-like art © Vincent X. Kirsh for Gingerbread for Liberty.

Thanks to Firefly Bookstore, Kutztown’s hoppin’ indie bookshop, Mara’s Gingerbread for Liberty launched at KU’s PA German Heritage Center. That location made sense as her picture books are grounded in history and geography. We got a sneak peek at her newest picture book, Mesmerized. It recounts a duel of wits in Paris between Ben Franklin and Otto Mesmer.

Me and Momma and Big John. Cover detail © 2012  William Low

“Me and Momma and Big John” cover detail © 2012 William Low

Mara’s Me and Momma and Big John was illustrated by William Low.  The book is a loving tribute to the first woman stone-cutter working on NY’s Cathedral of St John the Divine. Low is also coming to the KU conference from his home near NYC. Low is one amazing painter, adept with both the traditional paint brush and now the digital tablet. The artwork for ‘Me and Momma’ is 100% digital, which surprised me.

William Low in his studio from www.wiliamlow.com

William Low in his studio from http://www.williamlow.com

You may already have a collection of William Low art in your home. He created the ‘Winter Flowers’ stamps for the U.S. Post Office.

Forever Stamps USPS by William Low.

Forever Stamps USPS by William Low.

Another New Yorker coming is illustrator Elijah Cooper. A Yale grad, Cooper parlayed his Ivy League education into a job as a go-fer at the New Yorker Magazine. He paints in a lyrical watercolor style that appears deceptively simple. His Beach won the Society of Illustrators Gold Medal. Dance! was a New York Times Best Illustrated Book of the Year. Other books include his memoir of fatherhood: Crawling: A Father’s First Year.

A small selection of his many picture books © Elijah Cooper

A small selection of his many picture books © Elijah Cooper

Cooper is the author/ illustrator of local favorites including Farm, A Good Night Walk, Magic Thinks Big, and Homer.

Farm, cover art © Elijah Cooper.

Farm, cover art © Elijah Cooper.

Booklist said this about Farm: “Most picture books about farms tend to be slapstick animal adventures rather than realistic views of daily life. Cooper’s latest fills that gap with a quiet, atmospheric portrait of a farm through the seasons.”

Young Adult Novels by Gary D. Schmidt.

Young Adult Novels by Gary D. Schmidt.

I’ve been on the lit conference committee all 17 years. One of my specialties is logistics, meaning I pick up authors at airports, or walk the illustrators from the Bieber Bus station. The committee thanks me profusely, but I really enjoy it. I will pick up Gary D. Schmidt at the airport when he arrives from Maine. I admitted to my colleagues that I was unfamiliar with his work. My Bad, his Wednesday Wars is a Newbery Honor winner and a fave of the committee. I went over to Rohrbach Library to find his books. Guess what? I found a literary bio he wrote about Robert McCloskey, of Make Way For Ducklings fame.

From Make Way For Ducklings © Robert McCloskey

From Make Way For Ducklings © Robert McCloskey

This may not be Schmidt’s most popular book, but I found it fascinating. I’d already read how Robert McCloskey drew real ducks on the floor of his Greenwich Village apartment. But according to Schmidt, he fed the ducks red wine to try to slow his models down!

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New books by Kutztown authors Lisa Kahn Schnell and Kevin McCloskey

Besides Mara Rockliff, two more local Kutztown authors will debut books at the conference. Lisa Kahn Schnell is author of High Tide for Horseshoe Crabs and Kevin McCloskey, (I just love him, -he’s me) will share his Toon Book, We Dig Worms!

The KU Children’s Lit Conference needs your support. The overall economy has improved since 2008, but Pennsylvania education funding has never rebounded. School districts no longer routinely reimburse teachers for professional development expenses, such as educational conferences. It’s easy to blame this on Gov. Corbett and Tea Party Republicans, but Gov. Rendell left PA with over a billion dollars in unfunded teacher pensions. Gov. Wolf says education is his top priority. Let’s hope so. We have enough prisons and casinos.

Illustration by Liz Kane, design and type by Prof. Elaine Cunfer.

Illustration by Liz Kane, design and type by Prof. Elaine Cunfer.

Kutztown University students can attend the April 18th conference for just $10. Teachers, librarians, authors, and other professionals need to pay $70 at this point. It promises to be an exciting event with top-notch speakers. Registration info can be found here.

Gate of Heavenly Peace, Beijing, ink on paper, ©  Veronica Lawlor, 2015

Gate of Heavenly Peace, Beijing, ink on paper, © Veronica Lawlor, 2015

Veronica Lawlor is an artist who draws to document what she sees. When everyone carries a camera 24/7, why bother drawing?

Viewing Lawlor's drawing of Stp Peter's Square Rome, at AFA Gallery, Scranton.

Lawlor’s pen and ink drawing of St. Peter’s Square, Rome, at AFA Gallery, Scranton.

The new 1.5-micron pixel iphone is, according to Apple, “the world’s most popular camera.”  Has the iphone replaced pen and ink and human hand?  It is worth recalling Robert McCloskey’s observation, “Hands do play a part in drawing, but it’s an automatic part like shuffling cards or knitting. Drawing is most of all a way of seeing and thinking.”

Panoramic drawing of St Peter's Square, Rome. © Veronica Lawlor

Panoramic drawing of St Peter’s Square, Rome. © Veronica Lawlor

Veronica Lawlor proves hand-drawn journalism is not a throwback to simpler times. Like craft brewing, observational drawing is in the midst of a remarkable renaissance. And Veronica Lawlor is at the vanguard of the movement.

Veronica Lawlor, with Chris Spollen and Kevin McCloskey, AFA Gallery Scranton.

Veronica Lawlor, center, with Chris Spollen, Kevin McCloskey, AFA Gallery, Scranton.

A working illustrator, she is a professor at both Parsons and Pratt. Her original drawings can be seen through March 28 at Scranton’s AFA Gallery. I have the honor of sharing the gallery with her and Chris Spollen, who I wrote about last week. Veronica emailed me answers to questions I posed about her work.

Times Square urban sketches for Canson Paper © Veronica Lawlor.

Times Square urban sketches for Canson Paper © Veronica Lawlor.

KMc: Veronica, where are you from?

V.L: I was born in Manhattan, and spent my early childhood in the Bronx. I have lived in four of the five NYC boroughs: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan. From about 1998 to 2006 I lived within walking distance of the Manhattan hospital that I was born in. I always liked that it was so provincial, in the middle of such a large city.

More Times Square Tourists, detail © Veronica Lawlor

More Times Square Tourists, detail © Veronica Lawlor

KMc: Where did you study?

V.L: Parsons School of Design, in the eighties, and after graduation at the Passalacqua School of Drawing and Illustration, with my mentor, the late David J. Passalacqua. He used to take us to Disney World in Orlando, and sit us down at the entrance gates to draw all the tourists as they came in. He called it the Gates of Hell! (Almost felt like it, since this was usually happening in August.) The illustrator Margaret Hurst and I have continued this tradition with our own school, Dalvero Academy. More recently, I received a Master in Media Arts from the New School.

Tour de France ©2006 Veronica Lawlor

Tour de France ©2006 Veronica Lawlor

KMc: I am fascinated that you drew in Lower Manhattan on 9/11/2001. How did that come about?

From the book, "Sept. 11, 2001:Words and Pictures" © Veronica Lawlor

From the book, Sept. 11, 2001:Words and Pictures  © Veronica Lawlor

V.L: On September 11, 2001, I was heading downtown to meet a friend. When I got off the train at Union Square, in downtown Manhattan, there was bedlam on the streets, and the World Trade Center was burning. I had a sketchbook in my backpack and a few pencils, and my first instinct was to draw what was going on.

Police Barricades 0n 9/11/2001.© Veronica Lawlor

Police Barricades 0n 9/11/2001.© Veronica Lawlor

I kept drawing and walking, further downtown, as the towers fell, until the police stopped me, somewhere in TriBeCa. I continued to draw the events of the next month around the city. Unfortunately a dear friend of mine lost her husband, a firefighter, on 9/11, and she asked me to draw his funeral as well. These drawings are in a book, called September 11, 2001: Words and Pictures. You can see a few of the drawings here.

The drawings were exhibited at the New York City Fire Museum in 2006, and I was very touched by how many big, burly firemen came up to me with tears in their eyes, and told me how the drawings brought them right back to that day.

Venetian Vendor, St. Mark's Square, Venice © Veronica Lawlor

Venetian Vendor, St. Mark’s Square, Venice © Veronica Lawlor

KMc: What can you tell us about the Urban Sketchers and upcoming projects?

V.L: I am working now on a book for Quarry called: The Urban Sketching Handbook: Reportage and Documentary Drawing, coming out soon. It’s full of examples of on location illustrations by me and many other artists involved with urban sketching – drawing on location. USk is an international organization of people who draw their home cities or travels, and post online in international and regional blogs. I am giving a workshop at the Urban Sketchers annual Symposium in Singapore in July, very excited about that! Learn more about Urban Sketchers here.

Brooklyn Bridge, detail, for Brooks Brothers, © Veronica Lawlor

Brooklyn Bridge, detail, for Brooks Brothers, © Veronica Lawlor

KMc: You still do corporate work, like the Brooks Brothers campaign?

V.L. Yes. I’ve just completed a reportage campaign for JP Morgan Chase that will be in branches around the country this spring.

Gallo Wine Label © 2015 Veronica Lawlor.

Gallo Wine Label © 2015 Veronica Lawlor.

KMc: What is Studio 1482?

V.L: I am the president of Studio 1482, an illustration collective based in New York City. Our website is www.studio1482.com. There are seven illustrators in the group. We all met in school and enjoy sharing our work and our experiences in the business. 

Veronica Lawlor’s portfolio can be found here. Even if you can’t get to her show in Scranton, or join her Singapore urban sketch workshop, her way of seeing might inspire you to sharpen your pencils.

 

 

Robot 42 and his creator Chris Spollen. Photo © Chris Spollen

Robot 42 and his creator Chris Spollen. Photo © Chris Spollen

Chris Spollen is younger than me, but we both got our first illustration jobs for Crawdaddy. Crawdaddy was a NYC rock ‘n roll mag founded before Rolling Stone was born. Chris studied printmaking at Parson’s School of Design. His earliest published illustrations were etchings.

Etching © 1975 Chris Spollen

Etching © 1975 Chris Spollen

With help from his mechanically-inclined brother Tom he built an etching press from the recycled wringers of an old washing machine. He’d etch the plates in acid, ink them, run them through the wringers, then stretch his wet prints on plywood. He would hand deliver prints to Crawdaddy’s office on 13th St. and 5th Ave.

Runaway Train © 2015 Chris Spollen.

Runaway Train © 2015 Chris Spollen.

Chris’s fantasy sculpture work is currently on exhibit in Scranton, PA at AFA Gallery until March 27. I met him there. He and I and Veronica Lawlor are exhibiting together. Chris calls his Staten Island home studio ‘The Steam Powered Art Factory.’ So naturally, he was thrilled to visit Scranton’s Steamtown National Historic Site, just 2 blocks from the AFA Gallery. The opening, by the way, was a jam-packed event. Clearly, Scranton has a hopping art scene, and AFA is a big part of it.

Train by Chris Spollen photo courtesy AFA Gallery, Scranton.

Train by Chris Spollen photo courtesy AFA Gallery, Scranton.

AMAZING GOOP.

AMAZING GOOP.

Spollen shared one of the trade secrets of his 3-D work. Amazing Goop. It can bond seemingly incompatible materials, wood, cloth, metal, ceramic. I asked him, “Are you a hoarder?”  He shook his head no. “I am not a hoarder,  I’m a tinker.” I asked if he used any of his new sculptures for editorial illustration. “No,” he said with some pride, “They are absolutely useless!”

Chris Spollen and one of his rockets at AFA Gallery. photo: KMc

Chris Spollen and one of his rockets at AFA Gallery. photo: KMc

For a time, his Staten Island neighbors were suspicious of the robotic creatures in his yard. In 2014, local writer Nicholas Rizzi visited The Steam Powered Art Factory and shared some great photos, here.  So Chris’s neighbors are more understanding. Nowadays, he finds strange offerings left on his steps: bakelite stove knobs, brass gears and assorted unidentified appliance parts.

Robot in Chris Spollin's yard during last week's snow. photo © Chris Spollen

Robot in Chris Spollin’s yard during last week’s snow. photo © Chris Spollen

Chris Spollen has had an illustrious illustration career. His work has appeared everywhere from Penthouse to Scholastic. He has illustrated stories of H.G Wells for The Franklin Library. He had a one-man show at The Society of Illustrators in 2011. He still teaches illustration at FIT and at the Hartford Art School MFA program. Our mutual friend, Ted Michalowski calls Chris Spollen “the most eccentric illustrator I has ever met,” and illustrators tend to be eccentric.

Vintage Illustration for Scholastic Press. © Chris Spollen

Vintage Illustration for Scholastic Press. © Chris Spollen

Chris revealed he is now a card-carrying member of AARP, but the man shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, he is speeding up. Another of his passions is HPV’s or Human Powered Vehicles. If you can get to Scranton this month visit AFA Gallery to see his work in person. If you can’t get to Scranton, do check out his site. Find his Steam Powered Art Factory on Facebook. He has posted plenty of pics, including sketch-to-finish process shots of his many amazing contraptions.

Chris in the "VEE BEE," his HPV, or Human Powered Vehicle

Chris in the “VEE BEE,” his HPV, or Human Powered Vehicle

 

St. Patrick Converts the 50 Foot Woman. © Kevin McCloskey, 2015

St. Patrick Converts the 50 Foot Woman. © Kevin McCloskey, 2015

My grandpa Patrick McCloskey immigrated from Donegal, Ireland. I got the grand idea to have some fun with St. Patrick, the most sacred hero of the Island of Saints. Fortunately for me, the Irish, even religious fundamentalists, tend to have a sense of humor.  St Patrick: The Lesser-Known Miracles will be exhibited at the AFA Gallery, Scranton, March 5-28. The prints will be up for St. Patrick’s Day.

Patrick & Celia McCloskey with baby Patrick, Mary, James (center front my dad)  and John

Patrick & Celia McCloskey with baby Patrick, Front: Mary, James ( my Dad) and John.

These are relief prints, carved from wood or linoleum. It is a down-and-dirty way of printing. In my case, a bit the prints are rough-hewn, but they tell a story. I learned this process from masters like Tom Huck and Endi Poskovic and from my printmaking friends in Oaxaca.

St. Patrick Arm-Wrestling a Pagan. © Kevin McCloskey 2015.

St. Patrick Arm-Wrestling a Pagan. © Kevin McCloskey 2015.

One of the new miracle prints is a linoleum cut of St. Patrick arm wrestling a Pagan. Kutztown printmaking student Victoria Beck asked if the pagan was Tom Huck. Good eye, there is a resemblance. I made my first St. Patrick print at Huck’s studio, Evil Prints in St. Louis. So this image is a shout-out to Huck. On another level, the legend of St. Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland may be rooted in his driving the tattooed druids out of power.

The Irish discovery of Pi.

The Irish discovery of Pi.

I’ve read Thomas Cahill’s book How the Irish Saved Civilization and Seamus MacManus’s The Story of the Irish Race. Both interesting books celebrate Irish exceptionalism. I am proud of my Irish ancestry, but I toy with this sort of myth-making in my prints. Every nationality tends to inflate their ancestor’s contributions, I suppose.

St. Patrick Driving the Elephants from Ireland

St. Patrick Driving the Elephants from Ireland © KMc 2012

Reading Eagle reporter Lisa Scheid wrote about this project here. “We see a lot of pictures of a saintly St. Patrick, but Kutztown University professor Kevin McCloskey wants people to see something more. McCloskey, a printmaker and an Irish-American who has participated in his share of St. Patrick’s Day parades, has a series of prints about St. Patrick. The series, “The Lesser Known Miracles of St. Patrick,” doesn’t depict any aspect of the saint or legend but is a celebration of its spirit. Patrick came to Ireland as a kidnapped slave; he escaped and then, surprisingly, returned. “It’s kind of a subversive idea to go back and want to change a country,” McCloskey said. “With a religion from the Middle East, he returned to this cold, tough place to spread love.”

Original woodblock, St. Patrick's Headstand, 12 by 16 in, used as illustration for Reading Eagle 3/17/14.

Original woodblock, St. Patrick’s Headstand, used as illustration for Reading Eagle 3/17/14.

St Patrick: The Lesser-known Miracles can be seen at AFA Gallery, 514 Lackawanna Ave, Scranton from March 5-28. Opening: Friday March 6, First Friday 6-9pm. I will be there and look forward to meeting my fellow exhibitors, Veronica Lawlor and Chris Spollen. Gallery info here.  A few more St. Patrick prints can be seen here.  If I don’t see you before March 17, Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

AFA Gallery announcement, Opening March 6, Scranton, PA.

AFA Gallery announcement, Opening March 6, Scranton, PA.

Many thanks to my friend Scranton-based illustrator Ted Michalowski for introducing me to the AFA Gallery. Thanks, too, to Dean Bill Mowder of Kutztown University for a grant to support this project.

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