Archives for posts with tag: illustration
from Tuesday © David Wiesner

from Tuesday © David Wiesner

The great children’s book illustrator Davis Wiesner (WEEZner) came to Kutztown to talk at the 16th annual KU Children’s Literature Conference. The 3-time Caldecott Award winner visited a Communication Design class to share his art and creative process.

David Wiesner sharing his work with Kutztown University students.

David Wiesner sharing his work with Kutztown University students.

Oddly enough, he considered attending Kutztown University but was put off by our art test used in our admission’s process. Instead he attended RISD, Rhode Island School of Design, where he studied with great illustrators including David Macaulay.

March 1989 Cricket cover by David Wiesner

March 1989 Cricket cover by David Wiesner

One of his illustration jobs after college was a cover for the kids’ magazine Cricket. He said he always enjoyed the art school assignments that were the most vague, and this magazine assignment was wide open. The editor said there were several stories about frogs in the issue. Once he began sketching, he discovered, to his great delight, the shape of a frog centered on a round lily pad resembled the classic flying saucer seen in cheesy 50′s science fiction films.

From Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers, 1956, © Columbia Picures

From Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers, 1956, © Columbia Picures

His cover was a hit and David was inspired to take the imagery further into a full 32-page children’s picture book. The resulting nearly wordless book, Tuesday, won the Caldecott Medal for the best U.S picture book in 1992. David shared his four stage process of book creation. Stage 1: Storyboard, rough little pencil thumbnail sketches of all pages that will appear in the book. Stage 2: a dummy book, or prototype made to the same scale as the final. Stage 3: Detailed drawings for each page.

Stage 2 and 3: dummy, then finished drawing © David Wiesner

Stage 2 and 3: dummy, then finished drawing © David Wiesner

Compare the dummy to the final drawing and you will notice the houses are a lot more detailed. This is because at Stage 3 he gets serious about his image research. In this case, he found photos of homes in Provincetown, Mass, to serve as models from the neighborhood under aerial amphibious attack. He also constructs clay models like the frog below to help him envision the final image.

model by D. Wiesner

Frog model by David Wiesner

Stage 4: is the final exquisite watercolor painting. For Tuesday he used traditional transparent watercolor, (no black or white gouache) applied with kolinsky sable brushes. He makes his own low-tech graphite carbon paper to transfer his finished drawing to stretched Arches cold press watercolor paper.

Detail from Tuesday © by David Wiesner

Detail from Tuesday © by David Wiesner

This was a wonderful opportunity for our KU students to interact with one of the great masters of the childrens’ picture book. David Wiesner is a very busy artist. He is working simultaneously on two big projects now: an interactive tablet-based tale, and his first full-blown graphic novel. The graphic novel is a collaboration with writer Donna Jo Napoli. It has an octopus in it; I can’t say any more.

David’s own web site,  has much more information about his creative process. I was especially blown away by his step-by-step documentation of the development of one single page from his picture book, Art & Max.

Went to the PIX 2014 this weekend. PIX is Pittsburgh’s indy press expo of creator-owned, self-published, small-press, and handmade comics. Not the biggest expo I’ve seen, but I had a blast.

Chris Pitzer manning AdHouse books table at PIX.

Chris Pitzer manning AdHouse books table at PIX.

One of the first people I met at PIX was graphic designer and publisher Chris Pitzer of AdHouse Books. Chris told me he launched his critically acclaimed press with a single title in 2002 at a similar type event called SPX in the Washington, D.C. area. This was his first PIX. He was invited by Jim Rugg, creator of Afrodisiac and SUPERMAG, and one of the Pittsburgh artists published by AdHouse.

JIm Rugg's SUPERMAG is published by Adhouse.

Jim Rugg’s SUPERMAG is published by Adhouse.

Asked why he chose the name AdHouse for his business name, Chris had two smart reasons. A.D. stands for Art Director, his full-time job, and since it begins with the letter “A,” AdHouse rises to the top of alphabetically ordered catalogs and rosters.

images-1 The press’s stylish logo looked familiar to me. The illustration is the work of my SVA classmate Doug Fraser. Chris is a longtime Fraser fan. He said each year when he got hardbound illustration annuals, he’d just rip out the Doug Fraser pages as keepers and toss the rest of the book. I was happy to learn Doug has done a graphic novella, Mort Grim, a road rage tale.  Chris pointed to the page below and noted how Fraser’s illustration style owes a debt to the landscapes of Thomas Hart Benton.

From Mort Grim © Doug Fraser, an AdHouse Book.

From Mort Grim © Doug Fraser, an AdHouse Book.

Chris told me that AdHouse did a few anthologies, but now is concentrating of single-artist books of the high artistic caliber, like Gregory Benton’s B+F. One of the cool things about the AdHouse website is that many of the books have free downloadable pdf samplers.

Oddly enough, not long after my visit to Chris’s table I found myself at the Copacetic Comics table. Pittsburgh’s Copacetic Comics is the best indy comics bookstore I know. Bill Boichel, Copacetic’s proprietor, has been a mentor to a generation of Pittsburgh comics artists and he has a truly prodigious scholarly knowledge of the field. Really. To get a sense of the elevated discussion of comics that (sometimes) occurs in Pittsburgh check this podcast at Tell Me Something I Don’t Know, where Boichel talks with artists Jason Lex and Jim Rugg.

Pope Hats #3 © Ethan Rilly

Pope Hats #3 © Ethan Rilly

I digress. At the Copacetic table, I was drawn to a book I’d never seen before called Pope Hats. Bill looks over and says to me, “You’ll love that.” Though I have only bought a handful of comics at Copacetic, he was absolutely right. Bill Boichel is like a comics preference app, the comics equivalent of Pandora radio. Pope Hats by Canadian artist Ethan Rilly is one amazing book. The drawing is fluid, the story is compelling, the characters are intriguing. And guess what? It is an AdHouse book, too.

Next week, I will post about other folks I encountered at PIX including (in alphabetical order) Theo Ellsworth and Trina Robbins.

'Taking the Plunge' graphic designed by Prof. Karen Kresge

‘Taking the Plunge’ graphic designed by Prof. Karen Kresge

“Taking the Plunge” is an annual event at Kutztown U’s Communication Design Dept. where (very) recent grads share with current students their experiences after graduation. Prof. Karen Kresge runs the show. Someday, KUCD is supposed have its own social media campaign, meanwhile Prof. Kresge’s personal Facebook page serves as the resource for recent grads to find and share job news.

One Trick Pony's mascot  © 2013 One Trick Pony

One Trick Pony’s mascot © 2014 One Trick Pony

Speaking of social media campaigns, Danielle McShea worked on a wild one at One Trick Pony, a creative agency in N.J.  She handled social media postings for Virgin Mobile’s FreeFest 2013. Virgin may not be the biggest phone company, but thanks to Danielle, they have a lot more Facebook friends – like hundreds of thousands of friends! Danielle shared advice from her first meeting with Bill Starkey of One Trick Pony at a portfolio review. Starkey asked to see only the one worst piece in her portfolio, saying,  “You are only as good as the worst piece in your book.” By the way, according to their website they are hiring ‘client whisperers.’

Image from the Phillyosophy campaign from

Image from the Phillyosophy campaign from

New York, New York, or NOT!

Kelsey Kolvacik got a job for a big NYC agency, McGarryBowen, working on American Airlines social media. One day in NYC she saw a Visit Philly ad that she recognized as the work of the cutting-edge Philadelphia agency, Red Tettemer O’Connell. She had interned there and realized that it was her dream job. Kelsey got in touch with her old supervisor. At the exact moment she clicked the email from Philly offering her the job, You Make my Dreams Come True by Hall and Oates came on the radio.

From Possibilities, the Nike ad that changed Jessyca Pacheco's attitude.

From Possibilities, the Nike ad that changed Jessyca Pacheco’s attitude.

Living Here in Allentown

On the other hand, Jessyca Pacheco, had her sights firmly set on NYC. She went so far as moving in with an aunt and uncle who live in New Jersey. She managed to do bit of freelancing, but needed to waitress to pay her bills. Then a job opened up at the Media Arts Group, the in-house design studio at Allentown’s Morning Call. She got it, but admits that at first she felt she had failed by returning to Pennsylvania. Then a one-minute Nike commercial called “Possibilities” turned her attitude around. She sent me the link. Just click it. Taking the message of Possibilities to heart, Jessyca says she is thrilled by the challenge of projects like this “Red Hot Chili Pipers” cover for Go Street.

This week's Go Street, cover design by Jessyca Pacheco

This week’s Go Street, cover design by Jessyca Pacheco

Kelly Arsi talked enthusiastically about her work at Allebach Communications in Souderton, PA. As a transfer student to KU she had to stay a fifth year, but felt the extra workshops paid off as she designs everything from packaging to annual reports. Jessica Savard is doing a wide range of graphics at MCS Industries. Matt Stachewicz got hired by recently at MAG/Morning Call, joining Jessyca there. Court Woytko, who is a sports and entertainment fan seems to have landed her ideal job at the Sands Event Center in Bethlehem. She met Iron Mike Tyson this week. Raychale Fulginiti and Kelsea Ashworth couldn’t be in Kutztown, but phoned in video greetings from Disneyworld (Rachel) and Boston (Kelsea) where they are happily employed.

Self-portrait illustration by Mellen from

Self-portrait illustration by Mellen from

This blog is called Illustration Concentration, which admittedly is the smallest subset of the larger Communication Design major at Kutztown. Typically, only a handful of students complete the illustration concentration. One who did so is a wonderful illustrator who goes by “Mellen,” Melissa Rae Rheinbold. She graduated in December and just began her job yesterday at Crayola. Mellen said Prof. Kresge suggested she send a copy of her illustrated book to Crayola, and the job offer came quickly. We will give her a few days to settle in, but hope to have a future post devoted to Mellen and her illustration work.

Madison O'Niel at Vista Verde.

Madison O’Niel at Vista Verde.

Maddy O’Neil won the Don Breter Illustration Award when he graduated from Kutztown in May.  The honor student attended KU on a full scholarship. For his honor’s thesis he did a great job illustrating a children’s picture book. Oddly enough, his first job after graduation with his BFA was as a ranch hand at a high-end dude ranch in Colorado. I asked Maddy what he did as a ranch hand at Vista Verde Ranch.

maddy2“Pretty much anything that needed to be done outside. Mowing, putting up fences, splitting firewood, fixing anything broken, etc. Vista Verde is absolutely gorgeous, so being outside all day was a blessing. We also got to interact with lots of the guests.  The ranch had many activities that the staff and guests would both take part in: barn dances, horseshoe tournaments, and music nights.  I got to be a dance partner at the barn dance. It was a fantastic place to work and I had a legitimate excuse to wear cowboy boots on a daily basis.”

Cover for Maddy O'Neil's Willie the Moose.

Cover for Maddy O’Neil’s Willie the Moose.

“During orientation at the ranch we were able to share about ourselves to get to know everybody a little better. I shared that I had a design degree and a passion for illustration. Steph, the director of hospitality and head of public relations stopped me one day in passing and said she had an idea to do a children’s book related to the ranch. She asked me if I wanted to be involved. I was obviously excited and began work right away. We met weekly to talk about the story and artwork, but for the most part I had total creative control over the project.”

All illustrations courtesy Maddy O'Neil.

All illustrations courtesy Maddy O’Neil.

Maddy created what Steph of Vista Verde calls ” a charming story of a sweet moose trying to find his place at a little dude ranch in Colorado.” She wrote, “When Maddy revealed the book at our end of season staff party the room was filled with laughter that just wouldn’t end.”

Willie has an identity crisis! by Madison O'Neil.

Willie has an identity crisis! by Madison O’Neil.

Maddy’s success proves the power of networking no matter where one ends up. More Willy the Moose artwork can be seen on Maddy’s Behance page. Willie the Moose is now published in full color and available for 19.95 at the Vista Verde web site.

Willie as Ranch hand by Maddy O'Neil.

Willie as Ranch hand by Maddy O’Neil.

Maddy has returned back East to pursue his design and illustration career. We expect great things from him. Maddy has a great attitude, super people skills, and newly acquired horse and moose sense.

Speaking of curious networking, another KU grad, Kate Santee, tells me she got to illustrate a book through folks met as a roller derby racer! If I can get permission to use her artwork, I will share more.


The adventurous graphic novelist T. Edward Bak is coming to Kutztown University to speak about another adventurous explorer from the 18th century.  Bak’s ‘Wild Man’ tour includes stops at the Center for Cartoon Studies in Vermont, SAW in Gainesville as well as KU. The KU event is Free. Boehm, Lecture Room 261, Tues. Nov. 19 at 7:00 pm.

Letterpress print of Stellar Sea Lion © T Edward Bak

Letterpress print of Stellar Sea Lion © T Edward Bak

Bak, who now calls Portland, Oregon home traveled to Alaska’s Aleutian Islands to research “Island of Memory.” The 72-page graphic novel is based on the adventures of the German naturalist  Georg Wilhelm Steller.

Steller worked on the ill-fated Russian expedition led by Vitus Bering that explored Alaska in 1741. Steller discovered a number of species of birds and animals unknown to Europeans. The Steller Sea Cow became extinct within a 25 years of his initial description of the docile beast. The Steller Jay, though, is still common on the Pacific coast. It’s similarity to the American Blue Jay led Steller to rightly conclude Alaska was not an island, but part of the North American continent.


Bak’s publisher, Floating World, puts it this way, “Steller’s first-hand descriptions of the natural and human worlds at this crossroads of continents illuminate the unique confluence of culture and ecology binding North America to Asia via the North Pacific.” Island of Memory is “Part natural history, part adventure yarn and part experimental narrative, this …fever dream is the artistic realization of Bak’s inquiry into the socio-ecological consequences of empire.”


Bak’s Island of Memory is a labor of love, and only the first installment of a planned four-volume epic work on Steller. In an interview with designer Francois Vigneault, Bak recalled when he first visited to Alaska to work on a ship, “I flew to Sitka, and the minute I stepped off the plane, I realized ‘I’ve been headed here my whole life. I’ve been on a trajectory my entire life to come here.’

detail from  Bak's Alaska sketchbook/

Steller Sea Lions detail from Bak’s Alaska sketchbook

I got on the ship, and the first morning I woke up to the announcement: “We’ve got humpbacks starboard!” and there were humpback whales breaching beside the boat. I ran to the window and flipped out. So there are humpbacks every day. Constantly around the boat, breaching around the boat. There were sea lions constantly. Sea otters! We saw sea otters, like rafts of sea otters, floating out in the passage. And of course there are bears everywhere on the shore, and moose everywhere, wolves and orcas and Dalles porpoises, so many crazy birds. Anyhow, all of this was completely overwhelming for me. I had no idea what to expect. I expected to see wildlife, but not anything like this.”

Bak’s Island of Memory presentation touches on art, ecology, geography and the humanities. The event is co-sponsored by Kutztown’s Modern Language, Geography, and Communication Design Depts. A book signing will follow his illustrated presentation.MemoryZ



Here is your invitation to walk into Lucky 13 Tattoo & Piercing Parlor and The K’town Pub and Basin Street Tavern. If you don’t want another tattoo, go to Lucky 13 before you hit the bars! Meet Kutztown area artists at a variety of local businesses. Each venue will feature works from one or more artists, and many of the artists will be available to talk to about their work on Friday evening.

Linear Composition, painting by Jan Crooker.

Linear Composition, painting © by Jan Crooker on view at Lucky 13.

What I really like about this event is this: it’s not a fundraiser!  It is meant to build an audience for Kutztown artists and give you a reason to enter a new business. It is free to see. The artists don’t have to pay to play; perhaps someone might buy their work. The Kutztown Community Partnership is the sponsor. Thanks to Kutztown booster Jim Springer of Dunkelberger’s Jewelers for coordinating this unique event.

Navajo Madonna and Child by Maureen Yoder. Kutztown

See Navajo Madonna and Child © by Maureen Yoder at Vynecrest Wine Shop

Artists will also be at Global Libations, Uptown Espresso, Jackie & Daughter, Monaghan Realtors, Wholesome Foods, Adam N’ Eve, Firefly Books, J.A. Meyer, CC’s Wooden Grill, Pop’s Malt Shoppe, Main Street Inn, and Spuds. Start anywhere and grab a list!

Portrait of Azuka ©Leah King at KTL Cigars.

Portrait of Azuka ©Leah King at KTL Cigars.

Leah King was my illustration student at Kutztown. She’s had success lately doing art for children’s books like Bathtime for Brandon by Angela Hunt. Leah will be showing her mixed media artwork at KTL Cigars, 100 Constitution Blvd. Two of my former KU design colleagues are Artist Harvest participants, Dianne V Dockery and John K Landis.

Clay monoprint © by Dianne Vottero Dockery at Dunkelbergers.

Clay monoprint © by Dianne Vottero Dockery at Dunkelbergers.

John Landis is sharing his hand-made miniature buildings. His work will be on view at Colasanti Printworks. He sent me some photos of his tiny buildings based on real places he recalls from his childhood, like the one below. What is happening on the second floor?


Dress Store and Doctor’s Office © John K Landis at Colasanti Printworks

All the artists and venues will be happy to see new faces. Most are located along Main St. At the edge of town Nectar’s Cafe will be open for dinner Friday Oct. 4 from 5-8pm in celebration of the Artist Harvest. My friend Camille Eaton Romig will be showing quilts there and Nectar’s will be rolling out a new orange cognac coffee just for the event.

Graphic © by Matt Williams of Firefly Books, Kutztown

Graphic © by Matt Williams of Firefly Books, Kutztown

Depending on the venue, the art work may be on view Saturday and Sunday Oct. 5 and 6, as well. However, if you want to meet and great the artists, get to Kutztown Oct. 4. It’s like New York, but smaller.



SpongeBob© Copyright 1999 Viacom International Inc.

SpongeBob© Copyright 1999 Viacom International Inc.

I hate Facebook posts with multiple exclamation points !!!  It should be up to the reader to decide how excited to become by reading an exclamatory sentence. Yesterday Amanda Geisinger, a Kutztown grad and Interactive Designer at Nickelodeon posted: WE WONNNNNNN AN EMMMMMMMYYYYYYY!!!  OK, OK, I am willing to make an exception for major awards. Amanda has every right to be excited. She helped create the EMMY award-winning NICK App!!!

Nick app screenshot.

Amanda by Amanda

Amanda by Amanda

I last saw Amanda by chance on a Bieber bus to NYC in April. I asked her if she was still working with Spongebob. She told me yes and that she had just begun making her first app. When I heard the NICK App won an Emmy I wrote to ask for details.

Amanda writes: “Yup, this is the app I mentioned, ha! Our team is pretty big; the design team has about 20 members, and Nick Digital {which includes departments like ad sales, digital marketing, content and programming, engineering, product development, production, etc.} is maybe 130-ish in total. My team that started on the initial style guide {which has evolved dramatically} was pretty small, but the endeavor was so large that pretty much everyone has participated in the development in a significant and meaningful way. A lot of us are still involved in the daily content updates. We also enlisted the help of an outside vendor, Fantasy Interactive.”


So Nickelodeon Digital’s EMMY is for: Outstanding Creative Achievement In Interactive Media – User Experience And Visual Design. I thought EMMY awards were only for TV shows. This is the first year Emmy jurors are celebrating not just traditionally formatted content, but cutting edge “next generation” content such as apps. The EMMY site notes the Nick App goes “beyond a typical app that offers free video viewing and instead offers more interactive content, games, and video — whenever and wherever the user wants it. “

Special Offer for readers of the illustration concentration blog: the Nick App is available FREE, Here!!! I’m kidding about the special part, the app is free everywhere. In fact, the NICK app has been ranked #1 free entertainment app for the Ipad. It is also available for Iphone, Windows 8 and X-box. Congrats, Amanda.

"Be a Rainbow" detail © Amanda Geisinger

“Be a Rainbow” detail © Amanda Geisinger

Above is a sample of Amanda’s happy illustration style. To see more of her work visit:

art © 2013 Alabaster, previous SAW min-grant awardee

© 2013 by  Alabaster, previous SAW mini-grant awardee

The Sequential Arts Workshop, SAW, in Gainesville, Florida is once again offering two mini-grants of $250 to artists working on a comic or graphic novel project. True, this is not a lot of money, but if you need to buy time to work on your art every cent helps. What I like about this grant is that the runners-up get honorable mentions with pithy advice from the experts at SAW. To apply and view past awardees, see SAW, here. The image above is by Alabaster who is working on a project called Mimi and the Wolves.


Are you an illustrator, designer, app developer, hand-letterer who breaks the rules? Here is an opportunity to strut you stuff. KU Prof. Denise Bosler is doing her second book for HOW, it is called Creative Anarchy. Submit your best rule-breaking designs here.  She’s looking for zines, T-shirts, custom type, under-the-radar marketing, -you name it.

That reminds me. When I was kid I studied art with a teacher in her basement studio in Elizabeth, NJ. She had two rules for artists. 1. Never use a ruler. 2. Never make a head larger than life-size. This was around 1960. The next big movements is art were OP Art ( rulers!) and Pop Art  (think Warhol’s oversized portraits.) So, break those rules!

Collage illustration © Stephen Knezovich

Collage illustration © 2013 Stephen Knezovich, see below.

Looking to launch a career as an illustrator, but haven’t got that first publication? Check out Poets & Writers’ expansive list of literary magazines. There are hundreds of listings.  Some are university related, many pay only in copies, but this is a way to build your portfolio. The P&W site can be searched using the subgenre: Graphic/Illustrated. I’ve just done that, and after a few dead ends, found a magazine that I’ve heard good things about, Creative Nonfiction. I clicked through and interestingly enough Creative Nonfiction includes an interview with writer and collage-illustrator, Stephen Knezovich.



At one time, art grants were not worth the trouble of an application if you identified yourself as an” illustrator.”  The prejudice may have  evolved since there is/was a market for illustration, so grant moneys were reserved for the fine arts. That’s changing. Pittsburgh illustrator Jim Rugg has gotten several grants including a Creative Development Grant from the Pittsburgh Foundation to pursue his illustration and design experiments. His latest project, Supermag, above, has been getting rave reviews.


The College Art Association has an Opportunities page that includes Grants, Residencies, and Calls for Entries for exhibitions. You need not be a CAA member to access the site. How about an Artist’s residency in the U.S or abroad? Nowadays “graphic artists” are considered for these opportunities. Places to look include Mira’s List. Mira’s web site is a bit dormant, but you’ll get her latest updates via her Facebook page:  Two other searchable sites for grants and residencies are ResArtis and Trans Artist.


Lastly, if you are a printmaker… And, in my opinion, all illustrators should become familiar with the basics of printmaking. You can search the term “Call for Entries.” Check the links page on McClain’s Printmaking Supply Company web site. I just entered an International Print Exchange at La Calaca PressDeadline extended to Sept. 30. The exchange and exhibition honors Mexican illustrator Jose Guadalupe Posada’s centennial. 2013 is the 100th anniversary of his death, not birth, but this death centennial celebration makes sense as Posada is so closely associated with the Day of the Dead. He created Catrina, Mexico’s most iconic calavera (these skeleton characters are also called calacas.)  I will leave you with my entry in the La Calaca Print Exchange, a silkscreen print of Posada as puppet.

Feliz Cumpleanos Posada, silkscreen on paper © Kevin McCloskey, 2013

Feliz Cumpleanos Posada, silkscreen on paper © Kevin McCloskey, 2013

Elephant, cut paper, © Maude White

Elephant, cut paper, © Maude White

I met artist Maude White at Grit N Glory on NYC’s Lower East Side at an opening reception for Carrier Pigeon Magazine. Her medium is cut paper. She illustrated “The Girl Who was Struck by Lightning,” a quite peculiar short story by Chris Stanton. If there is a literary genre called Backwoods Surreal Noir, this story fits the bill.

Art © Maude White Text: Chris Stanton

Art: Maude White    Text: Chris Stanton    Carrier Pigeon Issue #9 Designer: Amanda Bixler

I’m a professor, so I naturally asked Maude where she studied. She told me she had never studied illustration. In fact, she only recently began taking classes at Buffalo State in areas that interest her. Maude’s artwork is quite wonderful. I tell my students one doesn’t need a degree to be an illustrator. Maude White proves that point.

Hand, cut paper, © Maude White 2013

Hand, cut paper, © Maude White 2013

I emailed her a few questions and apologized for the rather dumb one I asked her at the gallery.

“No worries about the college question! I went to a Waldorf School for my early, formative years. I think that influenced my art in many ways. Waldorf Schools place a very high importance on handwork and visual storytelling. Also, I come from a family of visual storytellers. My mother and my sister are both gifted toymakers, and my mother is a puppetmaker as well.”

Maude White at Grits N Glory

Maude White at Grits N Glory

Who are your artistic influences?

“I am influenced by my mother’s art a great deal. When I was little she would make wool felt playscapes – little scenes of a tree stump in a forest-covered in plants and animals, a small garden scene with vegetables and apple trees, a playscape for the story The Three Billy Goats Gruff. It was these types of small, precious, complete worlds that drew me to working with paper. I like the idea of the stark contrast between the black and white paper, and the cut nature of the work makes my art more three-dimensional than paint on canvas. I have always been fascinated by small, hidden, secret things. I like the idea of looking in, or through. With paper cutting there are so many opportunities to create negative space that tells its own story, just by letting the observer become present in the piece, by allowing him or her to look through it. I like that.”


How did you become an illustrator for Carrier Pigeon?

“I met Russ (Spitkovsky, Editor-in-chief ) at the Book Fest at the Western NY Book Arts Center in Buffalo last summer. We were both vendors and our tables were next to each other. At the time I was making tiny carousel books with pop-out paper cut panels (a carousel book is a type of book that ‘pops’ out into a star shape). Russ and I got to talking and he expressed interest in having me illustrate a story for Carrier Pigeon. He sent me Chris Stanton’s ‘The Girl Who Was Struck By Lightning’ to illustrate for CP9. I never talked to Chris, but after CP9 came out he reached out to me via Facebook and expressed his delight over our collaboration. It was great, and I’m glad to have made that connection.”

Chained, cut paper, © Maude White.

Wild, cut paper, © Maude White.

What are you working on now?

“Currently I’m working on some large pieces, roughly 24 in. x 18 in. and very intricately cut. One is a giant hand, the other is an elephant. The hand will be exhibited at the Western New York Book Arts Center’s member show. Also, I am completing panels for a small 4 in. x 4 in. paper cut alphabet book. Each panel has the papercut letter and usually two things that relate to that letter. For example, ‘D’ shows a dragon blowing fire at a dandelion. ‘S’ has a snail sitting on the ‘S’ looking down at a ship. This has been a really fun project and the only ones I have left to draw and cut are WXY and Z.”


CP9, Carrier Pigeon, Issue 9, costs $25. Besides Maude White’s artwork there is much of interest, including linocut monsters by Bill Fick and a letterpress cover by Richard Kegler. I love Carol Fabricatore‘s illustrations for Ryan Scamehorn’s ‘Honor Among Thieves’ and the stunning portfolio of Alex Zwarenstein‘s figurative oil paintings. See more at As I’ve said before, $25 may be expensive for a magazine, but it is cheap for a work of art. My copy is signed and numbered #95 of 1000, and it smells like fresh ink. I once bought an 1894 copy of The Yellow Book, the London-based magazine art directed by Aubrey Beardsley for $20. Today that issue is on Amazon for $100. I believe Carrier Pigeon will prove as influential as The Yellow Book was in its day. I also expect the limited edition issues of Carrier Pigeon will similarly increase in value. As they say on Wall Street, “Past performance is no guarantee of future results.”

Chained, detail, cut paper, © Maude White

Chained, detail, cut paper, © Maude White

More Maude
Visit to see more of Maude White’s work. You can purchase paper cuts or commission art. She also does felt jewelry. I asked Maude if she ever considered using a laser cutter. She told me she prefers a sharp X-acto knife, “It may sound weird, but I love to cut, ” she said, “I just enjoy the process.” She also shared one trade secret of her technique. She uses a silver colored pencil to sketch on the black paper before she begins cutting.

The secret tool for cut paper art. Thanks Maude.

The secret tool for cut paper art. Thanks Maude.

Neil Gaiman © Ryan Bittle

Neil Gaiman © Ryan Bittle, digital portrait

Ryan Bittle writes, “I have been influenced by the work of Neil Gaiman for over a third of my lifetime. I find his offbeat and eerie style fascinating, and I’ve made attempts at a few lackluster portraits, so I thought it was about time to make a good one in honor of all the inspiration Mr. Gaiman has given me over the years.”

J.R.R. Tolkien © Tessa Ports

J.R.R. Tolkien © Tessa Ports, colored pencil

Tessa Ports, is a graduating senior in Fine Arts. “I chose J. R. R. Tolkien because I’ve never been more amazed by the depth of someone’s imagination and their ability to dream.” With the exception of Tessa, the artists here are KU Communication Design majors, mostly juniors. All have had Illustration Techniques, the required sophomore-level traditional media course. Then they took Illustration 1 which focuses on digital illustration using the Wacom tablet.

Chuck © Erica Slough

Chuck © Erica Slough, digital

For this project , students can use traditional or digital media. Erica Slough went digital and writes, “I chose Chuck Palahniuk because he has always been my all time favorite author. His books are pretty much the only books I ever read. I typically finish an entire book in days.”

The assignment insisted they choose someone other than an actor or entertainer as a subject. Many chose authors. Aubrey Cohen picked Maurice Sendak. She writes, “I chose to paint Maurice Sendak because his book “Where the Wild Things Are” is such a classic and I thought it would be fun to portray him like one of his beloved monsters.”

Maurice Sendak © Aubrey Cohen

Maurice Sendak © Aubrey Cohen, digital painting

“I picked Nostradamus for his often stern look and the controversy that revolved around him. He struck me as a reserved man who was probably going crazy on the inside.” -T.J. Walston (below)

Nostradamus © T.J. Walston

Nostradamus © T.J. Walston, digital

“I chose to do a digital painting of Rasputin,” says Hanna Stephey, “because his eyes are so distinctive and kinda creepy, I felt compelled to capture that creepiness. Also, I added an albino bat sidekick hiding in his beard, a la the animated film Anastasia.

Rasputin @ Hannah Steffey

Rasputin @ Hannah Stephey, digital

These were not the only excellent portraits from this talented class. These were chosen to demonstrate excellence and diverse illustration styles. If you’d like to leave praise or constructive criticism, use the comments section. Thanks!


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