Archives for posts with tag: advice for illustrators

Ivan Brunetti’s Cartooning Philosophy and Practice is published by Yale University Press. Brunetti combines a lovely spare drawing style with an occasionally overwrought writing style. I do dearly love this little book, but at times find his writing style infuriating.


Brunetti’s prose slips into and out of quotation marks, parenthesis, often for no clear reason. I felt I was hearing a “sermon” and the minister (randomly) switched to a parrot’s “voice” every now and “then.” I am exaggerating slightly. Here is an actual sentence from Brunetti’s introduction:

With writing, I do not give the “form” any thought at all, since writing comes more naturally then drawing for me (I am a windbag by nature) and I could not a adopt a “style” even if I tried; however, with drawing, I still feel that I am confusedly “building” something by trial and error.

Brunetti’s illustrations, on the other hand, are a clean and spare. He has drawn for the New York Times, The New Yorker, and even for Scooby-Doo. He edited a “scholarly” (now, he’s got me doing it!) two-volume anthology of the modern masters of comics for Yale Press.

2010 cover © Ivan Brunetti,  New Yorker.

2010 cover © Ivan Brunetti, New Yorker.

Cartooning Philosophy and Practice is a worthwhile text for a comics class at the high school or college level. It is the winner of the 2012 Will Eisner Award in the best book in the Academic category.

The text reviewed here last week Drawing Words/Writing Pictures is a much bigger, more comprehensive book and includes work from lots of artists. Brunetti’s Cartooning is a pocket-sized book that is illustrated exclusively with his own drawings. Comparing the two volumes is like comparing a Hummer limo to a Fiat.

From the YouTube video, link below © Ivan Brunetti

From the YouTube video, (link below) © Ivan Brunetti 2012

If I had to pick one cartooning book to smuggle into a prison or carry on a road trip it would be Brunetti’s. His idiosyncratic voice either grows on you, or it doesn’t. (Ok, it grew on me.) His lessons are clear and good. To get a better idea of his style visit the Yale Press page where Brunetti shares one of his cartooning exercises in a brief video.

dwwpcoverThere are a handful of good books that will help the motivated student succeed at becoming a cartoonist. Drawing Words and Writing Pictures may be the best of the lot. This is an ideal text for a 15-week class in comics. It also has guidance for starting an informal collective class. It includes DIY suggestions for the stereotypical solitary artist, who the authors are gracious enough to refer to as ronin. There is a wealth of info on the narrative process, page design, lettering, pens, and even Photoshop scanning advice.

La Perdida © Jessica Abel, a thriller set in Mexico City.

La Perdida © Jessica Abel, a thriller set in Mexico City.

The book contains the perspectives from two remarkable artists, a gifted husband and wife team.  Matt Madden is into “formalist” styles, working within Houdini-like constraints. Jessica Abel‘s La Perdida is one of the great masterpieces of the long-form graphic novel. From George Herriman to Robert Crumb, Charles Burns, to Kaz and John Porcillino, the book is crammed with a diversity of styles. Wide-ranging and inclusive, no matter what one’s preferred comics style, from manga to superhero to alternative, you will find something to like here.


In 2012 Abel and Madden created a second book: Mastering Comics. It has more info on color and web comics and up-to-date information about publishing and professional practices. The authors, who have both taught at SVA, have created a super web site:, that serves as a resource for teachers and students. The site is especially valuable if you live in a part of world where can’t get your hands on their books. For an example of its riches, check out their instructions on how to make the mini-mini-comic they call a “foldy.”

mc-bookScott McCloud’s Making Comics  came before the above books. McCloud’s 1994 Understanding Comics was  groundbreaking, a thoughtful overview of the field. McCloud’s books are also useful texts for serious students who have some background in thinking critically about the art form. Right now (Jan. 2013) Amazon has special deal, you can get both of the Drawing Words/ Writing Picture books plus a copy of McCloud’s Making Comics for $61.49. The set would make a good core for any comics creator’s library. That’s 3 books for less than I paid for my used Spanish textbook. There are a few more good books on comics that I will get to next week.

Back in the ’80’s, when I told my pal Putka I was getting an MFA in illustration, he laughed, “What’s next?  -a Phd in Wallpaper Hanging?” What’s Next? Looks like the answer is Advanced Comics…

The SAW campus © SAW 2012

The SAW campus © SAW 2012

Stanford is a great university with one respected graphic novel class. But suddenly, universities across the country are offering complete advanced degrees in comics. CCS, the Center for Cartoon Studies, in Vermont has offered a Comics MFA for several years. CCS is not to be confused with CCA, California College of the Arts in San Francisco which is launching a new low-residency MFA in Comics in 2013.

detail from Roots © 2012 Adrian Pijoan

detail from Roots © 2012 Adrian Pijoan

A curious new educational option has sprung up in Florida. It is called SAW for Sequential Art Workshop. Cartoonist Tom Hart who taught for a decade at SVA in NYC has relocated to a storefront on So. Main St. in Gainesville. There, with a group of dedicated faculty and students, he has begun an intensive comics course. SAW’s one-year intensive program is not an accredited MFA, but it cost far less, $3600. I contacted a SAW student, Adrian Pijoan, to learn more about this grassroots educational experiment.

Adrian Pijoan at SAW from

Adrian Pijoan at SAW from

KMc: What do you think of MFA’s in comics?
Adrian: “I’m all for MFA’s in comics — the more that the art world accepts comics as a legitimate medium the happier cartoonists will be.”

You are in a non-degree program, Why is that?
Adrian: “I met with some cartoonists who are also faculty at a major art school over the summer to talk about the MFA program at that school. Those faculty members convinced me that if my interests really lay in cartooning then the MFA program would be a waste of time and money.

comic panels from Roots ©2012 Adrian Pijoan

comic panels from Roots ©2012 Adrian Pijoan

For some reason drawing, painting, and literature are all legitimate art forms, but there’s still this idea that when you combine them some sort of dark magic happens and the end product is no longer art. So, I think the idea of a comics MFA program is great, but that there’s still this silly prejudice against comics in the mainstream art world. There’s also the issue that a lot of cartoonists — myself included — are more interested in producing art that is available to everyone than in producing art to hang in a gallery or in the houses of the extremely wealthy.”

detail from Roots © 2012 Adrian Pijoan

detail from Roots © 2012 Adrian Pijoan

Why SAW?  Adrian: “SAW is a really fantastic community and a much more holistic learning experience than I experienced in college or anywhere else. The curriculum is very rigorous, but it is also adaptable to encourage our growth as individual artists. During our end of semester show last Friday (12 /14) we were all impressed by the improvement we’ve undergone in three months. The whole school — students and faculty — work together as a community and we’re constantly pushing and challenging one another. There are always other artists around to critique or help you solve a problem.

Student show at Saw, August, 2012, used with permission.

Student show at Saw, August, 2012, used with permission.

Another reason I chose SAW over a degree program is that SAW is very inexpensive, but provides the opportunity to work with really amazing faculty. And though there’s no degree, I believe that in the art world your portfolio is more important than having a degree. So the quality of the education is more important than the diploma.”

from Fig about co-evolutionary symbiosis between wasps and figs. © Adrian Pijoan

from Fig explaining co-evolutionary symbiosis  © 2012 Adrian Pijoan

Can you tell us something about your background?
Adrian: “I have a bachelor’s degree in botany from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. I realized while there that my interests are more in outreach and education that research. I think a lot of research gets locked up in academic journals in the same way that a lot of art gets locked up in galleries. So my interest is in taking that scientific information — primarily about ecology and conservation — and translating it into a medium that is accessible, interesting, and fun. Even more than that I’ve found that my comics about science are creating conversation and generating curiosity about the natural world.”

From Sitting Ghost © Adrian Pijoan

From Sitting Ghost © 2012 Adrian Pijoan

Any advice for young artists interested in making zines and comics?
Adrian: “Do just that – make zines and comics! Make them and get them out into the world. Trade them with other creators, go to conventions, put them online – get your work out there. And, even more importantly, keep making work. It can get discouraging when it feels like no one is listening, but you just have to keep on going. Don’t get too hung up on your early work, either – your first comics probably won’t be great, so finish them and move on. Set goals by the project. If you make a mistake or don’t like the way it’s turning out, finish the project and then try not to make that mistake in your next one – but don’t get discouraged. Also, even if you think you are going to draw in the most flat, cartoony style, still take the time to learn traditional art skills because your drawing can always benefit from them. If you don’t want to go to a traditional art school, look for local figure drawing sessions or evening classes taught by local artists. Or, better yet, apply to SAW! “


Adrian, one more question: What’s with the argyle sock on your arm?
“Haha, the sock — I get lots of questions about that. It’s a trick I learned from Tom Hart (director of SAW). It keeps the oils in your skin from getting on your bristol board (which can interfere with inking) and it allows you to slide your hand across the drafting table smoothly to make straight and consistent lines — especially helpful when you ink with a brush like I do! And on chilly nights it keeps your hand warm.”

Check out Adrian’s work at and watch Kathryn Varn’s video of him at the drawing board. I really appreciate Adrian’s perspective and expect more great things from him.

Indie alternatives to institutional higher education in the arts deserve support. Non-credit, off-the-grid, DIY art education centers are popping up all over. Tom Huck’s Woodcut Bootcamp in St. Louis, Maine’s Beehive Design Collective and Pittsburgh’s Cyberpunk Apocalypse are a few examples I’ve seen. I hope to see more. SAW has a fundraising Etsy page with original art by Vanessa DavisDash Shaw, John Porcellino and other important comics artists. Check it out.

There are illustrators and presses everywhere. I was in Worthington, Ohio, just north of Columbus, one recent weekend. There was a big street fair going on.  A sandwich board announced “Open House at Igloo Letterpress.” I have been to Worthington many times and never knew there was a press there.

Tragically Hip posters © 2002 Will Ruocco

Will Ruocco was minding his booth in the courtyard of Igloo Letterpress. He does gig posters, among other things. My illustration students are always interested in this sort of work. I had a too brief conversation with Will, but grabbed his card and sent him some follow-up questions. Here are some of his thoughts, including advice for students.

Will Ruocco and his wares. Photo courtesy of Igloo Letterpress © 2012

Q: Where did you study?

Will Ruocco: I was an Art major at Fredonia State (N.Y.) with a concentration in graphic design. It was a four-year art program.

Whiskey Daredevils in Erie, PA © Will Ruocco

Q: How big was the program there?

The graphic design program wasn’t very big, but was one of the best in New York State. The design professor was tough. Many students were cut from the program after the first year. The professor really pushed us to create strong work and never get sloppy or lazy. I still apply many of his design standards in my work today.

Crosby, Stills & Nash’s Marrakesh Express © Will Ruocco

Q: How did you get into gig posters?

I spent a lot of time in New York City as a teenager. The concert posters along the streets left a big impression on me. There seemed to be an ‘anything goes’ design approach that was really appealing. So in the back of my mind it was always something I wished I could do. Finally, one day at work, a friend asked me to create a poster for her band. It was so much more fun than anything I was doing at my day job that I wanted to do more. I quickly made up a series of mock posters for my favorite band, The Tragically Hip – just as a personal creative outlet. I was so happy with the results that I contacted the band directly and shared my designs, never really thinking they would ever hire me…to my surprise they loved the artwork and asked me to do six posters and a t-shirt for their world tour. After that I was hooked and it led to work with many other rock bands.

Concrete Blonde gig poster ©2004 Will Ruocco

Q: What advice can you give to students interested in pursuing this area?

Start by doing actual local events. They don’t have to be concert posters, but creating something for a real event is a good learning experience. If they really want to design for a particular band they need to have finished work that shows off their skills. You can’t just approach them because you like them. Show what you can bring to them if they hire you. It’s the same for any job really.

Silkscreened animal girl band posters © Will Ruocco

Q: You go to shows in Chicago and the West Coast. Did these trips pay off from the start?  How do you decide what shows to do?

There is a concert poster show called Flatstock (that has been going on for about a decade now) that has linked itself with a few major music festivals. There is sort of a built-in audience because concertgoers are gig poster artists’ biggest customers – so those shows are always good to participate in. Choosing other shows and whether they are successful or not is really just a matter of trial and error. You just have to keep your travel expenses low in order to make any of them worthwhile.

Th’ Legendary Shackshakers © 2007 Will Ruocco

Q: What ever happened to Th’ Legendary Shackshakers?

Th’ Legendary Shackshakers are still around. They’re an intense band that plays a lot of country and rockabilly with a punk rock edge. They don’t have a huge following but the fans are really loyal and the band always gains new fans wherever they play.

Q: What is your relationship with Igloo Letterpress?

Working with Allison Chapman and Igloo Letterpress has been great. I’ve always loved Hatch Show Prints‘ letterpress posters and when Igloo came to town to set up shop I immediately knew we had to work together. I took the initiative and approached them with a few projects that I thought we could collaborate on and Allison was really open to the idea. We’ve had nice success with the Farmer’s Market posters. It’s been a great experience.

Last Question: Any upcoming project that you want to share?

I’ve been creating fewer concert posters and focusing on my signature work. Working on my series of whale designs, as well as my series of prehistoric creatures. I’m continually releasing new graphic tees on and Soon I’ll start work on new project with Igloo Letterpress.

Igloo’s logo and press from

Bottomline: I am glad I ran into Will Ruocco, a talented illustrator/ designer willing to share his secrets. Will maintains Etsy and Big Cartel virtual storefronts for those not lucky enough to run into him in person. The best place to keep up to date with all of his many projects is or:


Rostislav “Russ” Spitkovsky by Kevin McCloskey 2012

Russ Spitkovsky makes things happen. He came to Kutztown as one of the 9 artists in the 2012 Print Invitational at the Miller Gallery.  The founder of the cutting edge art magazine Carrier Pigeon hung artwork from the latest issue at the Eckhaus Gallery on Main St. He circled back this week as a visiting artist to spend time with students.

oil monotype illustration by Russ Spitkovsky for “Hall of Mirrors”

Carrier Pigeon is an artist-driven publication. Russ and friends began it after grad school at SVA’s Illustration as Visual Essay MFA Program. Each issue has works by six fine artists, plus six writers, and six illustrators.

Carrier Pigeon cover by Cannonball Press, Martin Mazorra & Mike Houston

The magazine has included original etchings and woodcuts by Russ and guest artists including Marshall Arisman, Bruce Waldman and Frances Jetter. KU Prof. Evan Summer has contributed to several issues.

Russ speaking to overflow crowd in KU Print studio. Photo by Evan Summer

Russ shared some mind-boggling stories. Like the one about a meth addict who tells his wife he’s spending their life savings importing alpacas, but the alpacas are being held up in customs. There are no alpacas; he’s building a giant meth factory. The factory bursts into flames and meth maker gets encased in glass and, well, I don’t want to ruin the ending. The full story by Ryan Scamehorn called “Hall of Mirrors” can be found in Carrier Pigeon #3. It is fiction; I hope.

Illustration by Marshall Arisman for “Good Dog” by Erin Browne, Carrier Pigeon #7

Digression: Many years ago I sent a book idea to Lawrence Ferlenghetti’s City Lights Press. A few weeks later I got the best rejection letter ever. It said, ‘Your project is so interesting, you should publish it yourself. We are swamped publishing our own friends. Start your own press. Here are some resources…‘  Russ Spitkovsky never got that memo from City Lights, but certainly he embodies the D.I.Y. publishing spirit.

Kevin McCloskey, Moe Tierney, Russ Spitkovsky. Photo by Evan Summer

Russ was born in the Ukraine. Why do so many amazing printmakers come from Eastern Europe?  KU’s Print Invitational includes Michael Goro from Russia, Ivanco Talevski from Macedonia, Endi Poskovic from Sarajevo, and Russ. It occurred to me perhaps these artists find core concepts difficult to express in English and are therefore driven to excel at graphic communication. Russ provided a better insight into why so many extraordinary artists come from places once under the Soviet sphere of influence. Growing up in the Ukraine he showed a precocious talent for art. He was plucked from preschool and put in an art academy. He was drawing the human figure from plaster casts at the age of four.

Illustration by Russ Spitkovsky from Central Booking, his self-published visual essay.

On the night of January 3, 2009, Russ was walking down a Brooklyn street. The police stopped and searched him and found he was carrying a knife. It was an ordinary knife purchased at Home Depot. The NYPD decided it was a lethal weapon, “a gravity knife,” and threw him in jail. He spent the next 32 hours in an overcrowded holding cell at Brooklyn’s Central Booking. Charges were dropped, but Russ made art from the experience. Upon his release, drawing from memory, he transformed that grotesque night into a visual essay in book form. He published “Central Booking” via the print-on-demand publisher Blurb. The book was not a financial success, but led him to explore other self-publishing options.

Russ loves working with the likes of Martin Mazorra and Mike Houston of Brooklyn’s Cannonball Press. Russ calls Cannonball Press the pioneers of the indy press and affordable art movements. Russ advises art and illustration students not to hole up in their studios after graduation. “Find a co-op print shop; work among other artists.” He said the community of Robert Blackburn’s  NYC printmaking studio saved his sanity. He was able to get instant feedback on his art and stay in a creative loop.

Today, Russ works not only with graphic artists, but an ever-expanding community of playwrights, jugglers, Coney Island sideshow performers and puppeteers. Strange doors keep opening for Russ. Recently someone gifted Carrier Pigeon with a building in Gutenberg, NJ. To keep up with Carrier Pigeon news and events visit their Facebook page.

Justin Sanz, Eckhaus workers Nicole and Megan, Russ. Photo from

If you are fortunate enough to be in Kutztown, PA, get to Eckhaus to see the original art from Carrier Pigeon. There are copies of the latest issues for sale. Each issue costs $25. Twenty-five bucks is a lot of money for a magazine, but not a lot for a work of art.

Out of the blue I got a note about Ryan and Audrey Durney’s Birds of Lore” Kickstarter project. I was impressed enough by this couple’s fantasy illustration project to become a low-level backer. I emailed them a few questions and asked to share some of their art here. 

Q. Other than Leo and Diane Dillon I can’t think of many husband/wife illustration teams.  What are the rewards of this creative partnership?

Ryan: My favorite thing about it, is that we speak the same language, even if we don’t always agree on things about the field. And, we sit right beside each other, sipping coffee and sketching and riffing off of each other’s direction and discovered influences. Sometimes, critiques get precarious-they can be given too early, or too late! But, it’s really rewarding to be in the same boat.  …we’ve rarely ever gotten to work on a complete idea together, which is one reason for the Kickstarter.

Mexican CU bird sketch © 2012 Audrey Durney

Q: Where did you two meet, the Kickstarter video says art school, but what art school?

Ryan: We met and fell in love at Columbus College of Art & Design. Back then CCAD  was like “military art school” they purposely overloaded you-so I don’t know how we even had time to date!? CCAD did a lot to prepare me for a career as an illustrator. However, at the time about half of the staff was anti-digital art, and I have a lot of bitter memories of instructors knocking my grade down just because I did assignments on the computer-meanwhile, I had been up all night at KINKOS trying to get one stupid final to print correctly!

Q: Can you tell me something about the CCAD illustration program, maybe a favorite prof, or most important class?

Ryan: Mr. Stewart McKissick was probably the most influential instructor for me. He really cared about preparing us for the real world, and he even forged a class where we competed against each other for real, paying assignments. I remember winning 2 of the 3. That was the kind of confidence boost I sorely needed so near to graduation. Audrey’s favorite was Ms. Tam Peterson for her energy and enthusiasm.

Q. Have you had some success freelancing illustration?

Ryan: Both Audry and I have won some awards and earned some respectable commissions. I make a modest living, with some good years -feast and famine, I suppose, but I’ve been happy doing it for over a decade. It’s really true that you just keep getting better and evolving. Audrey has taken a more stable road, working as a technical illustrator by day and freelancing via an agency at night, -tough but way more practical. My one complaint about making a living this way is the level at which freelancers are taxed. Also, illustration agents take the highest % of any creative endeavor, including music, acting, etc. at 25%, and art is one of the lowest in compensation. 

Q. Why Kickstarter vs. traditional publishing?

We can keep and manage the rights to our own work, and we get to finish a creative endeavor without corporate edits. I believe this brings the book much closer to an actual work of art. It’s being written and illustrated by unfettered artists, from start to finish. This is what the storytellers of olde did.

The Wila, or Vila, or Veela of Polish folklore. © 2012 Ryan Durney

Q. Who drew the Harpy (top image) and the Wila?

Ryan:  I did both the “Captive Harpy” and the “Wila.” I’m pleased with both. The Harpy is the more popular of those two (based on viewer feedback.) With the Wila, I tried to integrate pen-and-ink within the 3D. Sometimes that meant actually sculpting “ink-like” lines into the mesh, and sometimes that meant adding ink touches. That’s why you can see me using pens in the video. I’m 3D, but definitely experimental. I love mixing hand and digital media. The other thing about the Wila is that I was completely taken by an old etching. The Wila is homage to a very old engraving by Anton Eisenhoit (see below). Before anyone thinks it, yes-I agree that his original is better!

Q. Who did the little yellow bird blowing the horn, the Hercina?

Ryan: Audrey did the “Hercinia” bird, which is equally enjoyed by all. She  is a master of vector work and using Painter with vectors. Audrey and I are tilting our illustration styles in a few different directions, depending on what there is to say about each bird. The Hercinia is a direct homage to medieval bestiary art.

Note: As always: all art © the original artists. See a more Birds of Lore on the Kickstarter site. I have a hunch this project will fly.

Kutztown University Prof. Denise Bosler wrote our most popular guest post, Making it as an Illustrator.  She also knows a heck of a lot about typography and wrote the new book, Mastering Type, published by How. How is hosting her webinar, a virtual book launch, for Mastering Type on Tuesday, June 19 at 3pm. It is free, just register here.

I got an advance copy of the book. It is profusely illustrated with great work from designers around the world. For me it is exciting to see the inclusion of so many fine designs by Kutztown grads. There are award-winning works by star graduates: Jason Santa MariaSean CostikRoss Moody; and Amanda Geisinger.

Award-winning Middletown Lumber logo by Sean Costik

There is also art by recent grads including Cheryl Sheeler. The image below is from Cheryl’s visual essay on a most unusual wedding present – a pair fainting goats. This image was used in the book to demonstrate how hand-lettering can be an intrinsic part of an illustration.

Artwork © 2011 Cheryl Geiger Sheeler

If you can’t make virtual book talk, well, get the book, Mastering Type: The Essential Guide to Typography for Print and Web Design. There is a free online excerpt here.

Brian Shaw graduated a few weeks ago, winner of the 2012 Don Breter Memorial Award for most improved illustration student. He drew a series of gig posters for his senior illustration class. He asked me how he might get them in front of the eyes of Wilco, one of his favorite bands. I didn’t know, but Scotty Reifsnyder, a successful illustrator and KU alum did a poster for Wilco once, so I asked Scotty to take a look at Brian’s work.

Brian writes, “This opportunity was a dream come true for me. Not only did I get to illustrate for a band, but for one of my all time favorites, WILCO! I never in a million years thought I’d get this lucky. I owe all my thanks to Kevin McCloskey and Scotty Reifsnyder for helping to set up this opportunity! Scotty was extremely encouraging and offered very helpful information to point me in the right direction. Perhaps the most helpful tip was to be patient and determined! Though you may not find the work right away, keep trying and eventually something will present itself.”

Wilco printed 145 limited edition, 18 by 24 inch, prints, all signed by Brian. Brian was paid a flat fee of a few hundred dollars and he got to keep the first 15 prints for sale. When those run out, they are available for purchase from WILCO’s store for $25.

Rock gig posters are a natural fit for Brian, “When I’m not drawing, I’m playing drums in my band, The Flintstone Club.” To see more of Brian’s illustration and design work, or to contact him about buying a signed print, visit his web site. 

Artwork for his own band, The Flintstone Club, © 2012 Brian Shaw

Pittsburgh cartoonist Nate McDonough’s graphic novel Don’t Come Back is quite interesting. It is nightmarish and convoluted in a good way. There are falling angels, dogs peeing in a cemetery, and one screaming chicken demon in the pizza box. There is death and resurrection. Don’t worry about me spoiling the ending. I’m not sure I figured it out. Another fascinating thing about Don’t Come Back  – All 160 pages are available online Free! Here, the entire book, Nate’s gift.

Nate raised over $700 on Kickstarter to get this project in print. In 2011 Publisher’s Weekly reported that was the third largest source of indy graphic novels in the U.S. Today it looms even larger. Yet Kickstarter is not a publisher, but a funding site that savvy entrepreneurs and artists use to essentially pre-sell creative projects of all kinds. I’ve contributed modest sums to 7 Kickstarter ventures.

Fresh from the printer, first editions of Don’t Come Back.

Full disclosure: Nate is a close friend of my son Daniel. Incredibly, I first met Nate, by chance, as he and I were gassing up at a Sheetz in Wheeling, West Virginia. Nate popped the trunk of his red 2005 Chevy cobalt and gave me a pile of his monthly zine, Grixly.

Have Coffee with Nate: Yinz near Pittsburgh? Don’t miss the Release Party for DON’T COME BACK. Weds, May 30, 7:00pm at Copacetic Comics and Lili Coffee Shop in Polish Hill.  Here is your personal YouTube invitation. Even if you can’t make it, next time you are in Pittsburgh visit this great indy comic shop and great indy coffee shop.

Q & A with Nate McDonough.

Nate talks about his art education, Pittsburgh, his zine, and how Kickstarter worked for him. He talks frankly about the dollars and cents of the project and offers advice for aspiring comics artists. Interested in doing your own project?

To read the full Nate McDonough interview, click here…

Angels & Demons is a book and a movie, sequel to the DaVinci Code. The title was inspiration for our final project in Illustration Techniques class. Most of these students are sophomore C.D. majors, not necessarily Illustration majors. This course involves mastering traditional media: pen and ink; scratchboard; watercolor; and for this final project, acrylic paint. Of course, the class asked to see past students’ work. Well, I mix it up to keep it interesting. Last year was “Rare Birds” so I had no “Angel and Demons” to show.

At the end of the semester students are running short on cash, so I treated them to the masonite and gesso. They had to provide the paint. Limiting the palette saved some money. I got two 4ft by 8ft sheets of masonite (about $11 each) from Lowe’s, cut into 12 inch squares.

Project instructions: Your Angel or Demon should be largely monochromatic, with red or blue the dominant color. Close up, a telling detail, not full figure. Imagine the light is coming from the upper left. Angels or Demons can be either blue or red. No color code, but largely one or the other. Grading criteria: Originality, sense of mass, and consistency of light source. No points for originality if you lift a cherub from Rafael or devil from Bosch. Better to find a baby picture or photo of a wicked-looking person for reference. Even better –take your own reference photo of yourself or a  friend.

This was a two-week project and the results were fascinating when grouped side by side. We will do Angels & Demons again next year. If you teach illustration, feel free to use this. Let me know how it works!

One of our better angels by Bill Collier.


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