Archives for posts with tag: illustration

I went to NYC for the 92nd meeting of the NY Comics & Picture-story Symposium. I’ve missed 90 meetings, but they are a welcoming bunch. The Symposium pops up someplace different each meeting, so you need to find it. The Symposium is free, info here.  This is not Comi-Con. The emphasis is on D.I.Y., independent and innovative comics.

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Tom Hart and Leela Corman, husband and wife artists and educators presented. There was a crowd of about 40. Tom and Leela arrived a bit late navigating their way into the SVA conference room with their baby Molly in a stroller. Tom shared a Powerpoint about the Sequential Artists Workshop, SAW, the one-room schoolhouse for comics they founded in Florida in 2011. As Tom’s eyes darted across the audience he gave shout-outs to old NYC friends. He taught cartooning for 10 years at SVA.

Leela Corman teaching Life Drawing at SAW, Gainesville.

Leela Corman teaching Life Drawing at SAW, Gainesville.

VISIT GAINESVILLE: More Lizards than Criminals! Tom spoke of their move to Florida. A New Yorker in the audience must have flinched. “It’s Gainesville!” said Tom. “It’s not what you think of when you think ‘Florida.’ We have WAY more lizards than criminals.” He’s working on a graphic memoir dealing, in part, with their exodus from New York. I read somewhere Tom just got tired of being a starving artist in New York. I recall one telling detail. He wore his useless wristwatch for months because he couldn’t afford a new battery.

First floor at SAW, Gainesville, from SAW's blog.

First floor at SAW, Gainesville, from SAW’s blog.

SAW’s one room schoolhouse is in what looks like a mini-mall. Tom touted his Gainesville neighborhood, pointing out SAW’s proximity to the South’s oldest feminist/LGBTQ bookstore and the South’s oldest Infoshop. He explained the impetus for creating SAW, an affordable stand-alone academy for comics. “I had this vision of an intense, serious place, – The Paper Chase for cartooning.” (The Paper Chase was a ’70’s T.V. show about Harvard Law School with a hero named Hart, oddly enough.) Tom’s recollections of his time studying cartooning at SVA were not pretty. Nobody finished anything. -“It was terrible. They were all listening to The Cure and doing drugs,” he recalled. “and my mother had to take out a loan.”

Tom Hart's Hutch Owen comic strip is at www.hutchowen.com

Tom Hart’s Hutch Owen comic strip is at http://www.hutchowen.com

“It’s not right. There are art schools charging $35,000 a year, and there are schools charging less, like $12,000. Even that’s too much.” he said. “SAW’s flagship program, a 1-year full-time comics boot camp costs $3,500 for the year.” SAW’s program includes master classes in life drawing, comics/art history “that begins way before Hogarth” lo-fi technique classes, and, naturally, critiques. They don’t have a lot of computers or software, but they do have a risograph printer. SAW is not accredited, but teaches the same stuff as  accredited schools and the results are quite impressive. I wrote about SAW before and interviewed student Adrian Pijoan here.

Yahrzeit detail © Leela Corman 2013.

Yahrzeit detail © Leela Corman 2013.  Silver Medal winner, Society of Illustrators

Leela took to the podium. Besides teaching at SAW, she’s a zinester, illustrator, and belly dance instructor. A Powerpoint malfunction prevented her from showing much of her award-winning graphic novel Unterzakhn. Tom still asked her the question that irks her most, “Is Unterzakhn autobiographical?”  She answered with mock annoyance,”It’s about twins! It takes place in a brothel! in 1910! The answer is, No!”

leela-corman-unterzakhn-2012She shared work done for the Symbolia, the app ‘where comics meets journalism.’ I took some solace from her offhand remark, “I have to learn to draw again for every book.” The progressive Jewish mag Tablet published some of her most heartfelt work, – her graphic meditation on her Holocaust survivor grandfather and her own pain of losing a daughter. Their daughter Rosalie died near the age of two in 2011. “Since my first child died, I’ve tried to understand how my grandfather handled losing his entire family, and how he kept going.” As Leela noted, no one can understand this sort of grief, if they have not experienced it. Even then, it is beyond understanding. The full strip is here.

Odyssey, detail, © Justine Mara Anderson, SAW faculty.

Odyssey, detail, © Justine Mara Anderson, SAW faculty.

Secret Project GNAT

Tom returned to the podium to share a rather incredible comic he is editing for DARPA. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency are the folks who invented the Internet and drones. Really! Everyone is getting into comics. The GNAT project (Graphic Novel Art Therapy) is meant to help vets deal with PTSD. A declassified explanation of the overall project can be found here.  Tom shared pages from a graphic retelling of the Odyssey for vets. He pointed out details including extraordinary inking by Justine Anderson, above. That final panel is drawn with a toothpick.

Gasoline Alley panels by Frank King, circa 1921.

Gasoline Alley panels by Frank King, circa 1921.

Tom looped back to his own memoir project. He posts his Rosalie Lightning work-in-progress online. He, too, spoke of his massive grief when baby Rosalie died. He recalled reading classic 1920’s Gasoline Alley strips by Frank King. When got to a panel where Walt panics about losing his baby Skeezix, he couldn’t bear to continue reading.

The Gasoline Alley panel Tom Hart showed, taken from his Tumbler.

The Gasoline Alley panel Tom Hart showed, taken from his Tumbler.

Maybe it was a catch in his voice, or a dip in Tom’s positive psychic energy, but as he talked about “losing our baby” something changed. It seemed even Molly, eleven months old, sensed it. She swung her wee body away from her mother’s breast toward her father. Leela held on as long as she could, but Molly went willfully horizontal, arms outstretched toward Tom.

A page from Hart's Rosalie from http://rosalielightning.tumblr.com/

A page from Hart’s Rosalie Lightning from http://rosalielightning.tumblr.com/

Leela carried Molly across the room carefully shielding the girl’s eyes from the glare of the projector. Tom cradled Molly in his left arm and, as best he could, used his right hand to advance the slides. At one point he tried to pass Molly back to Leela. Molly refused to go that go far.

Tom Hart and Molly at NY Comic Symposium. K.McCloskey

Tom Hart and Molly at NY Comic Symposium. K.McCloskey

Nick Bertozzi seated near the podium managed to bounce Molly on his knee as Tom wrapped up his commentary. Tom apologized if he’d gone on too long. The room filled with applause. Molly’s eyes lit up as if the clapping was for her. I suppose some of it was. Grateful applause for the whole family: Tom and Leela and Rosalie and Molly.

There was time for a few questions, and someone asked how to help SAW. Tom was clearly relieved by the softball question. He’d totally forgotten to mention that key point. SAW depends on donations to keep tuition low. SAW will announce a new Indi-GOGO fundraiser in December. To help out visit the SAW site and sign up for the newsletter. They also have low-residency weeks if you haven’t got a year off.

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Note: The 93rd NY Comics & Picture-story Symposium is Mon, Aug. 4, 2014, 7 pm, Dixon Place on Chrystie St. Free and open to the public. Presenters: Sophia Wiedeman & Anna Raff.  Details here.

Felix Scheinberger's Urban Waterclor Sketching

Felix Scheinberger’s Urban Watercolor Sketching

Urban Watercolor Sketching: A Guide to Drawing, Painting, and Storytelling in Color by German illustrator Felix Scheinberger.  What a wordy title! Maybe it’s all one word in the original German? – Something like, um,  -“AguaZityKunstenKolor.” *

Detail from a two-page spread about blue. All art © Felix Scheinberger

Detail from a two-page spread about blue. All art © Felix Scheinberger

I found this book quite wonderful, though it might not be ideal for an absolute beginner. Scheinberger does provide how-to lessons on stretching paper, selecting colors, and brushes. The best pages, though, are overflowing with his illustrated musings on the expressive potential of the medium. Watercolor is unfortunately often associated with hobbyists. This book will be a kick in seat of the pants for artists wanting to attempt something bolder, more inventive.

Ivy © Felix Scheinberger

Ivy © Felix Scheinberger

According to the vita on his website Felix was a drummer for various punk bands before studying illustration in Hamburg. That makes total sense, his best drawings have a punkish intensity.

A bold portrait in wash that lets the paper provide the white.

A bold wash portrait lets the paper provide the white. © Felix Scheinberger

He has a section called ‘Pimping Watercolors’ in which he writes, “When you re-wet watercolors, they lose their luminosity. Watercolors are at their most vibrant when they are left to dry without lots of manipulation.” Personally, that’s something I love about working with watercolors, they force you to take a break, now and then, to let the page dry.

Fanciful pageful of bugs displays the brilliance of clean color © F.S.

Fanciful pageful of bugs displays the brilliance of clean color © F.S.

Vodka-colors?

Scheinberger is clearly a globetrotter. He shares one surprising workaround for sketching alpine landscapes in sub-freezing weather. He substitutes vodka or clear schnapps for water when sketching such icy landscapes. He specifically advises against using Jaegermeister and reminds us to wash the brushes thoroughly.

Beer bottles show how a dash of color adds life to a sketch. © F.S.

Beer bottles show how a dash of color adds life to a sketch. © F.S.

Felix Scheinberger has illustrated over 50 children’s books in Europe. Must admit I haven’t seen them, but the work he shares in this volume demonstrates a ferocious talent.

Illustration © Felix Scheinberger

Illustration © Felix Scheinberger

Urban Watercolor Sketching: A Guide to Drawing, Painting, and Storytelling in Color is published 2104 by Watson Guptill, $22.99. Available online and wherever books are sold.

Sketch of House in Transylvania. © F.S.

Sketch of House in Transylvania. © F.S.

* Note: The true title in German is “Wasserfarbe für Gestalter,” or according to Google translate, Watercolor for Designers.

Murray Tinkelman awarded the Rockwell Artist Laureate Award.

Murray Tinkelman awarded the Rockwell Artist Laureate Award.

I know of 3 Norman Rockwell Museums*, but only one Murray Tinkelman. The best of the Norman Rockwell Museums, the one in Stockbridge, Mass, bestowed the honor of “Artist Laureate” on Murray Tinkelman this weekend. He is only the third person to receive the honor, after artists Barbara Nessim and David Macaulay.

Self-portrait © Murray Tinkelman

Self-portrait © Murray Tinkelman

Tinkelman’s distinctive pen and ink drawings have gained gold medals from the Society of Illustrators, The NY Art Directors Club, and the Society of Publication Designers. Tinkelman began his illustration career in 1951 inking backgrounds for Sheena of the Jungle Comics. “Just vines and leaves, they never let me draw Sheena,” he said. Now in his 80’s, the man is still as sharp as a push-pin.

Tinkleman did many Sci-Fi and Fantasy covers in the 60's and 70's.

Tinkleman did many classic  Sci-Fi and Fantasy covers in the 60’s and 70’s.

Murray Tinkelman has taught hundreds of illustration students at Parsons School of Design, Syracuse University, and now at the Hartford Low Residency MFA program.  Bob Dahm, a 2007 grad of the Hartford program, rightly calls Murray “a walking encyclopedia of illustration.”

Knight on Rhinoceros, pen and ink, 1971, © Murray Tinkelman.

Knight on Rhinoceros, pen and ink, 1971, © Murray Tinkelman.

I learned that Murray is color blind. He jokes that he prefers the term “chromatically challenged.” Perhaps this explains why his most iconic work is black and white, done with a technical pen and india ink. His Knight on the Rhinoceros was on exhibit at the Rockwell Museum. The drawing is surprisingly large, about 20 inches square. It won the Society of Illustrators Gold Medal in 1971 and led to editorial work for the op-ed pages of New York Times, the Washington Post, and Atlantic Monthly.

58 Caddy, pen and ink © Murray Tinkelman

58 Caddy, pen and ink © Murray Tinkelman

His wife and partner, Carol Tinkelman was by his side during the event, as were their daughters and grandkids. Murray Tinkelman has a lot of accolades on his resume, but it was clear that he was touched by his new title bestowed by The Rockwell Museum: Artist Laureate.

The award is based on a sculpture by Peter Rockwell, Norman Rockwell's son.

The award is based on a sculpture by Peter Rockwell, Norman Rockwell’s son.

Illustration superstars attended the gala award ceremony, including Istvan Banyai, Kinuko Craft, and William Low.  Mark McMahon, who taught with Murray in the 90’s drove out with his wife Carolyn from Chicago. But, Bob Dahm certainly came the greatest distance – from Dubai!

NY Times Op-Ed Illustration © Murray tinkelman

NY Times Op-Ed Illustration © Murray Tinkelman

Many former students, now teachers, were there. Jack Tom and Cora Lynn Deibler came from Connecticut. Deibler is a Kutztown U grad who earned her MFA with him at Syracuse. She recalled Tinkelman forcefully insisting (“He nearly grabbed my lapels!”)  that she never neglect her own creative work for the sake of teaching. That jibes with my first Tinkelman sighting. In 1972 I took continuing ed illustration classes at Parsons in NYC. I never studied with him, but I saw him working in his faculty office on a massive line drawing during his breaks between classes.

Ted Michalowski, Bob Dahm, Murray and Carol Tinkelman.

Ted Michalowski, Bob Dahm, Murray and Carol Tinkelman. (photo courtesy of Bob Dahm)

I am grateful for the pleasure of carpooling to the event with the irrepressible Scranton-based illustrator, Ted Michalowski. During the drive to and from Massachusetts, Ted regaled me with legends of Tinkelman.

Norman Rockwell's art studio, Stockbridge Mass. Photo: K.McCloskey

Norman Rockwell’s art studio, Stockbridge Mass. Photo: K.McCloskey

* NOTE: Years ago I visited the Norman Rockwell Museum of Philadelphia. It is now long gone. I’ve also visited the Norman Rockwell Museum of Vermont in Rutland. It is a sweet little place with some memorabilia and quality reproductions of Rockwell’s work. The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass, however, is the real deal. This was my first visit. The museum is substantial and houses an impressive collection of original Norman Rockwells. The view from the grounds of the museum is postcard perfect.

 

Trina Robbins at PIX, photo 2014 Kevin McCloskey

Trina Robbins at PIX, 2014, photo by Kevin McCloskey

In the 1980’s I drew the occasional cartoon for the San Francisco Bay Guardian, an alternative weekly newspaper. Trina Robbins, the great underground cartoonist, drew a strip for them, too. We never met until last month at Pittsburgh’s PIX comics convention. Trina is the foremost expert on the history of women in comics. Her newest book, Pretty in Ink: North American Women Comics 1896-2013, published by Fantagraphic, is the definitive work on the subject.  She showed me the hefty book. It is an impressive and important volume. I ordered a copy for Kutztown’s Rohrbach Library. Any school with an illustration major or a women’s studies major should order a copy for their library, too.

Illustrator Rose O'Neill became a millionaire  with her invention of Kewpies.

Illustrator Rose O’Neill became a millionaire with her invention of Kewpies.

Rose O’Neill

A free sample chapter from Pretty in Ink can be found here.  It is a quite fascinating chapter about the Irish-American Rose O’Neill. O’Neill began her career in her teens, so young that nuns would chaperone her visits to Manhattan art directors. O’Neill’s 1896 comic strip may have been the first ever published by a woman. Her most famous creations were the Kewpies and the Kewpie doll, cupid-like sprites she claimed visited her in her dreams. She was the first woman to draw for Puck and in 1917 the first woman inducted in the all-male Society of Illustrators.

Rose O'Neill

Rose O’Neill

She studied abroad, including sculpture lessons with Rodin. She held great parties at her Washington Square townhouse studio in Greenwich Village. The press described her as one of the 5 most beautiful women in the world. She managed to be a suffragette, a sex symbol, and a doll-maker.

Detail of a father at wit's end by Rose O'Neil. Puck Magazine, circa 1900, from Bonniebrook Historical Archives.

Father at Wit’s End, detail, Rose O’Neil. Puck, circa 1900, Bonniebrook Historical Archives.

O’Neill’s pen and ink drawings for Puck are brilliant. The Rose O’Neill Museum, Bonniebrook, in the Ozarks in Missouri has an archive of hundreds of images, like the one above, worth exploring.

Mary Blair

Poster for Mary Blair exhibit at Disney Family Museum San Francisco

Poster for Mary Blair exhibit at Disney Family Museum San Francisco

When I told Trina Robbins I taught the history of graphic design, she challenged me to tell her which female illustrators I included in my lectures. At the moment the only woman I could think of of was Violet Oakley, who painted the magnificent murals in the Pennsylvania Capitol Building in Harrisburg. Then Trina asked me if I taught about Mary Blair. Mary Blair? I had to admit I’d never heard of her. Trina shook her finger at me and told me I owed it to my students to look her up. She told me Blair is the subject of a show at San Francisco’s Disney Museum. (Full disclosure, I didn’t even know there was a Disney Museum in S.F.)

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I did look up Mary Blair and learned she created much of the concept art for Disney’s greatest animated features including Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan. Blair’s Little Golden Books are enjoying a renaissance as new readers appreciate her timeless style. Blair, who died in 1978, was inducted this year, 2014, into the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame.

Mary Blair concept art for Alice in Wonderland.

Mary Blair concept art for Alice in Wonderland.

I asked Trina Robbins if it was hard finding historical information about women in comics. She said the research was tough in the beginning, but once she published her first essays, people came out of the woodwork to share comics by women. She had more to say in this 2008 interview at the International Museum of Women site.  “I knew that there had been more women cartoonists, and the guys would always justify their attitudes by saying, ‘Well, women just don’t draw comics. Women have never drawn comics.’ And I knew that wasn’t true. So I did a lot of research and, of course, I was right. I found hundreds of women cartoonists. Really, really great women cartoonists.”

I’m happy I got to meet the legendary Trina Robbins. It is quite wonderful the definitive history of women in comics is written by a woman practitioner. I will read Pretty in Ink cover to cover and add more slides of women’s work in my historical survey of graphic design class. I promise.

Rosie the Riveter © Trina Robbins

Rosie the Riveter © Trina Robbins

Visit trinarobbins.com to learn more about women in comics. Trina has a free gift for visitors, an ebook, The Golden Age Comics of Lily Renée. The entire 200-page book is available in multiple formats, Kindle, Ipad, or pdf.  Who is Lily Renée? –Another of those amazing women artists Trina Robbins wants the world to appreciate.

Comic Art by Lily Renée, learn more at TrinaRobbins.com

Comic Art by Lily Renée, learn more at TrinaRobbins.com

 

 

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As noted in prior post, December grad Melissa Rae Reinbold, who goes by Mellen, landed a job a Crayola.

Mellen, photo by Ben Hallman

Mellen, photo by Ben Hallman

She also was awarded the Don Breter Award for Best Illustrator in KU’s class of 2014. I sent Mellen a few quick questions about her success in landing such a great job. I’d heard folks at Crayola were impressed with how she incorporated her zines into her portfolio.

crayons

Q. What was the book you sent to Crayola?

Sketchbook spread from Mellen's self-promo book.

Sketchbook spread from Mellen’s self-promo book.

A: The book I sent to Crayola was an original Pop-Up book I handmade (one of ten) that talked about who I was and what I do best… Illustration + Design!

Mellen included her zines, like 'Bediquette" in her self-prom pop-up book.

Mellen included her zine ‘Bediquette” in her self-promo pop-up book.

Q. What is your job title?

A: Freelance Illustrator.

Mellen tipped in her Zines, like Tonight, in her self promo book.

Pages from the  small zine “Tonight” in her self-promo book.

Q. How did day one go?

A: Day one went very well. I was given my own desk (so fancy) and learned how to log into my company email and calendar. They explained the servers they use and how to access them. I also started working immediately on creating digital mock-ups for store displays and more! Everyone was very friendly, and employees came over to my desk throughout the day to introduce themselves.

3 talented KU illustratos at MOCCA '13. Hannah Stephey, Lauren Gillespie, and Mellen.

3 talented KU illustrators at MOCCA ’13. Hannah Stephey, Lauren Gillespie, and Mellen.

Q. Was there something you meant to say to current students in your recent ‘Taking the Plunge’ talk that you didn’t get to?

A: I meant to say a lot of things in my Taking The Plunge talk that completely slipped my mind. Here is a list of cool stuff I completely skipped over :

- Explain where I was earlier that day. -In Brooklyn, New York filming February’s Creative Mornings talk. I do this work through Hallman Productions, a videography company run by my boyfriend, Ben Hallman. Creative Mornings is a great project to be a part of, overflowing with creative people within the industry!

- Explain creative and freelance jobs (some not in my “field”) I held before Crayola and how they helped me (not only monetarily) but also to prepare for a full-time job.

from "The Mountain" illustrated storybook © Mellen

from “The Mountain” illustrated storybook © Mellen

- Explain how many, many, many, many people told me NOT to pursue illustration as my concentration. I was told on so many occasions that I’d never get a job with a portfolio full of tons of illustration. Illustration is what I love though, so I ignored their warnings and went for it.

An illustration concentration does not mean all you can do is draw. I have many skills, and they showed through. Even in my illustration heavy portfolio.

Coraline cover, a  KU class project. © Mellen

Coraline cover, a KU class project. © Mellen

This year Kutztown University is fortunate to have truly exceptional illustration talent in our senior class. Congrats to Mellen, a December grad, and congrats to the other talented illustrators graduating in just a few days. 

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, www.davidwiesner.com  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 visitphilly.com

Image from the Phillyosophy campaign from visitphilly.com

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 www.mellenmade.com

Self-portrait illustration by Mellen from http://www.mellenmade.com

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.


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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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

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