Running with Type like Frank Viva

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A page detail from Sea Change © by Frank Viva

I showed my Digital Illustration class Frank Viva‘s illustrated book, Sea Change.  The typography is wonderful. The Globe and Mail put it nicely, “With Sea Change, a graphic novel in the truest sense, author and designer Frank Viva blurs the lines between written word and illustration.”

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art © Frank Viva from Sea Change

Sea Change is published by Toon Books as part of their Toon Graphics series. Toon Books has a free teacher’s lesson plan for every one of their titles. The guide to Sea Change notes  “Text can do much more than simply communicate the plot of the story. Text can be playfully designed, arranged, or organized to add another layer of visual meaning to the narrative.”

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A quote from Louis CK,  art © Christian Debuque

I asked my students to be inspired by Sea Change. They were to pick an evocative line of type and weave it into an illustration. They were to make type an integral element of the image. We also considered Viva’s use of a limited palette. They could pick their personal palette of 5 colors plus black. I usually find artwork about boredom, um, boring, but I was impressed by Christian Dubuque’s moody piece, above.

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Inspirational quote, art © Rafael Nunez-Castaneda
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Art © Kylie O’Connor

Rafael Nunez-Castaneda, Kylie O’Connor, and Julia Taft all illustrated inspirational quotations. Rafael and Kylie didn’t limit their palettes much, but worked the type in well.

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Art © by Julia Taft

Below is an image that looks like a Valentine card by Kaitlyn Reber. I should note the students are working in Adobe illustrator and Photoshop on Wacom tablets.

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detail of illustration © Kaitlyn Reber

Most of the students in the class are far better with digital media than I am. I hope they continue to play with typography and some are inspired more work in this manner.

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Art © Jenn Prendergast

Type is a specialty of the Kutztown Communication Design curriculum. Type is not something I teach, but I have picked up some typographic knowledge by osmosis. I remember when nearly every kid’s book was done in New Century Schoolbook. If you haven’t looked a children’s book lately, there has been a revolution in type. Our students, following the likes of the great Frank Viva, are joining that revolution.

Elham Atayi, world-class illustrator, in tiny Kutztown, PA.

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We have a world-class illustrator here at Kutztown University. Her name is Elham Atayi.  A grad student from Iran, yes. IRAN!, she’s working on her MFA in Communication Design. Steve Heller, one of the most important design writers in the U.S,  admires her work. Heller did a wonderful interview via email with Elham in 2015 for Print Magazine before she ever arrived in the U.S.A.

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all artwork ©Elham Atari

Elham has illustrated several children’s books for the Lebanese publisher, Asala. She would love to illustrate a children’s book for a U.S. publisher. She is learning it isn’t easy.

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Elham just won another international award. She was selected as one of the Top 10 Illustrators of 2016 by COW (Center Of the World) festival. The award is presented by The Ukranian Design Guild. The COW award might sound funny, however, the jury included Anita Kunz of Canada and Francisco Valle of Brazil, among other world famous artists.

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Elham has a unique digital collage style that incorporates Iranian folk art motifs.

Elham has also been selected as a finalist for Shanghai’s Golden Pinwheel design award. At Kutztown she is working to develop computer animations in her distinctive style.

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Character study for an animation.

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From a story called the Tailor’s Daughter.

There is a need for diverse books for children in the U.S today. I can’t think of any artist better suited to illustrate a story set in Iran than Elham Atayi. She also has drawn commentaries on modern life in her homeland. If you would like to see more of Elham’s work or contact her, visit her Behance page here.

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illustration for a poem for young adults

GET OUT THE VOTE

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Cambrea Roy

Prof. Holly Tienken’s Poster Seminar class has done some impressive topical work, Get Out The Vote posters. Here are a handful by select seniors: Cambrea Roy, Elaine Knox, Erika Mabus, Jamie Hubert, Julia Wolf, and Malachi Hall.

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Elaine Knox

From the assignment sheet: ” The main objective of this project is to motivate citizens of the United States to GET OUT AND VOTE! You will design a NON PARTISAN poster—it is not about Democrats or Republicans, it is not about who is right or wrong, it is not about issues or policy, it is just about VOTING. Your poster needs to call the view to action.”

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Erika Mabus

WHY HERE? WHY NOW?

According to Prof Tienken, “Sadly 18-24 year olds historically have the lowest voter turnout. Promoting the movement on a collage campus is one of the best, most direct ways to engage that audience. We are in the final days of one heck of a heated presidential campaigns, it is the perfect time to spread our message!”

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Jamie Hubert

Let’s hope one of these posters inspires someone extra to exercise their civic right.

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Julia Wolf
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Malachi Hall

If you are on the Kutztown Campus, there are more of these on display in the Sharadin Lobby Gallery. Check it out

Gonzo Sketching with the Great Ted Michalowski

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14468242_10154147444014234_2242321415096126844_oYou have seen Ted Michalowski’s art on TV. He’s done courtroom reporting for ABC, CBS, CNN, all the major networks. He is an energetic part of the Scranton, PA art scene. When I say he is a ringmaster, it is not a metaphor, he has worked with the circus. His is a 4-time winner of the Electric City ‘s Best Visual Artist award. Once a month Ted takes over the New York’s Society of Illustrators to host their Sketch Night. He arranged recent the Gonzo Sketch night that celebrated the current Ralph Steadman exhibition. Steadman invented the visuals for Hunter S. Thompson’s stories in Rolling Stone that define Gonzo Journalism.

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Ted recreated the Gonzo experience for 20 Kutztown illustration students. He brought the perfect Gonzo model, Ariel Krupnik. Ariel wore a coonskin cap, a feather vest, and what appeared to be an American flag kilt. A dead frog hung from his neck. Ariel leapt onto the conference table in the Society’s library and struck a pose. Ted’s bluetooth speakers blasted Elvis Presley’s  Viva Las Vegas!

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My 3-minute study.

Elvis screamed “Bright light city gonna’ set my soul on fire…” and Ted screamed over Elvis, “One more minute! New pose! Switch hands!” It was magic.

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Ted Michalowski sketch of Ariel Krupnik

I first met my friend Ted at the Society of Illustrators. We sat at the same table at an ‘Educators who Illustrate’ conference. There was some gloomy chatter at the table about the state of education and illustration.  A fellow prof was moaning how teaching ruined his illustration career. It happens. Not every career choice is win-win. Ted and I make a conscious effort to keep our conversations posi, shorthand for positive. Whenever anyone, myself included, complains about a lackluster student, we refuse to let the conversation end until we consider an amazing student.

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Sketch by Jess Paley

One of my amazing students said Ted’s Gonzo drawing lesson was the highlight of her illustration life.

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At one point Ted instructed the students to draw with their opposite hands. Then he had students pair up and two people drew on a single page with their opposite hands. I asked Ted where he had learned this mind-boggling technique. He told me it was brand new. He invented it that very moment with the Kutztown students. GONZO!

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Kutztown Students in NYC photo by Kathy Sue Traylor

You too can draw alongside Ted at the Society of Illustrators. ($20 entry or $15 for students and seniors.) There is a rotating roster of great artists hosting the weekly Tuesday night event. There is often live music and  always live models. Ted is there once a month. Check the Society of Illustrator’s sketch night schedule. Stay Posi.

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Gonzo Sketch by Meredith Shriner

Some photos courtesy Ted Michalowski, Thanks. Thanks also to the wonderful staff at the Society of Illustrators, and to Prof. Ann Lemon for organizing the field trip.

Dane Lachiusa on illustration

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He may not be a household name, but you have seen his work. Dane Lachiusa drew the cartoons that appeared on your Snapple caps, sketched  goofy images for Nickelodeon’s earliest website, and drew cartoons that covered the walls of your local Starbucks. He also drew the quirky images you may have noticed on your large soda cup at Blimpies.

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Dane Lachiusa talking to KU students at Society of Illustrators

Dane was good enough to come from his home in Brooklyn to talk to a group of Kutztown University students at New York’s Society of Illustrators. He came as a favor to his friend and former co-worker, KU Prof. Ann Lemon.

He was frank and engaging. He passed around his sketchbook. He told us today’s illustration market is competitive. You are not only competing with all the other illustration grads, but also art directors who might do the illustration in a pinch. He ought to know, he’s been an art director, too.

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Art by Dane Lachiusa

Dane calls himself a self-taught illustrator even though he studied advertising at NY’s School of Visual Arts and worked as a designer at major ad agencies. Sometimes he needed quirky drawings fast and nothing is faster than drawing them himself. He also drew keyframes for commercials.

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Art by Dane Lachiusa

Dane says illustration is a business of relationships. He actively works at building creative relationships by inviting artists he admires to work with him on projects.

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Dadsville cover art © Fabio Lyra

For Example: With his new comic book anthology, Welcome To Dadsville, he engineered the opportunity to work with Box Brown , Cole Closser, and a  host of other hot comics artists. Dane’s own graphic contribution to the book, entitled Raw Hamburger,  can be read here.

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Detail from Raw Hamburger © 2016 Dane Lachiusa

The Kutztown students came away inspired by Dane’s energy. To see more of his work check out his website. He has another mind-blowing art project inspired by the work of Pablo Picasso and  Henri Matisse. Dane paints homages to the two masters on a single canvas under the name Pablo Matisse. You need to see it to believe it, here.

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Art by Dane Lachiusa under the name Pablo Matisse

 

Scatter Joy Illustration Show

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The Tailor and his Daughter © Elham Ataelazar
Kutztown University has produced some amazing illustrators: Tom Hallman, Stephen Kroninger, Renee French, Kathi Ember, Kevin Cornell, Tom Warburton, Tom Whalen, Simeon Wilkins.   An exhibition at the Scatter Joy Center for the Arts will showcase artists likely to be added to that list.
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Elham Ataeiazar, work pictured above, came from Iran to work on her MFA at Kutztown. ‘Ellie’ has already illustrated a number of quirky children’s books for a publisher in Lebanon. Her artwork will be on display along with nearly 40 other KU undergraduate work at the Scatter Joy Center for the Arts in Horsham, PA.

“The Kutztown Univerity Communication Design Illustration Showcase” opening is Friday Sept. 23,  5:00 to 8:00pm. The public is invited and the show will hang through Oct.19, 2016.

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Scatter Joy is the brainchild of Kathy Davis. Kathy Davis is the well-known artist who started a greeting card business in a corner of her bedroom and found fame and fortune. She also employs a crew of talented illustrators, designers, and letterers. In 2011 we wrote about grad Ashley McDevitt working at the studio. Ashley, who drew the announcement above, isn’t the only KU grad working for Kathy Davis. According to Prof. Elaine Cunfer, who has been instrumental in arranging this exhibition, 4 other grads are at the studio.

 

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Summer © Kristen Tully

Prof Cunfer collected and organized work for students who chose to participate in the exhibition. Undergrad work includes projects done by sophomore through senior year. Kristen Tully  (work above) drew the zine ‘Moon and Wolf Girl’ which was the bestselling KU zine at Moccafest in 2015. You can see more of her images here.

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Darkside © Adam Liesenring, done in illustrator

2016 grad Adam Liesenring’s work often evokes science fiction. More of Adam’s work can be seen here.

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Art by Meredith Shriner, digital painting over scanned pencil.

Meredith Shriner is still on campus. Her junior-level work, above, will be in the Scatter Joy exhibition. More of her work can be seen here.

Kutztown University is proud of its association with Kathy Davis Studio and hopes the relationship will grow in the years ahead. By the way, the studio is looking for a watercolor artist and a hand-lettering artist! Check the careers tab on the Kathy Davis website.

 

$15,000 Advance for a Kid’s Comic by New Artist. Hey, you!

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Graphix, the young adult and children’s comics imprint of Scholastic announced a contest at Comic-con. Some contests are scams; they charge high entry fees, or insist you give up rights to your characters at time of entry. This one looks wonderful. It is only for unpublished creators. The prize is publication and a $15,000 advance. I’ll explain what an advance is in a minute, if you don’t know already.

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Cover of Raina Telgemeier’s new fall 2016 book.

The deadline is April Fool’s Day, 2017, but it is no joke. Comics for kids are a red hot commodity. According to Publishers Weekly Raina Telgemeier‘s Ghosts, her next graphic novel for kids will have a first printing of 500,000 copies. Telgemeier’s book Smile has been on the NY Times bestseller list for 218 weeks! I read her Sisters and loved it.

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art for El Deafo © Cece Bell

Graphix would love it if this contest uncovers the next Raina Telgemeier, or Cece Bell, or Gene Luen Yang.

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A panel from Cece Bell’s award-winning ‘El Deafo.’

If you haven’t read a graphic novel for kids recently, pick up anything by Telgemeier or Gene Luen Yang or Cece Bell’s El Deafo. These books are all quite brilliant and deal tastefully with serious issues including gender roles, racism, and disability. It is heartening that such great storytellers are having financial success.

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From Gene Luen Yang’s ‘American Born Chinese.’

Back to the Contest: The contest website explains what they are looking for: “Since our founding, the focus of Graphix remains on creator-driven graphic novels appropriate for children and teens that bring exceptional art, rich content and strong storytelling to realistic fiction, memoir, fantasy and beyond.”

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David Saylor, founder of Graphix, has a short video that clarifies this search further on this page. He is looking for up to 5 new artists. The $15,000 is better than the typical advance a new artist might get.

OK, That $15,000 prize. What is an advance?

What exactly is an advance? Same as in the record business, an advance against royalties.  Remember when Bruce Springsteen sang, “a record company, Rosie, just gave me a big advance.” It’s money up front. For the sake of simplicity, let’s say you have a contract for 10% royalty on a $10 dollar book. You’ll get 1 dollar for every book sold. Suppose you got a $10,000 advance when you signed the contract. You will not get any royalties until book number 10,001 is sold. If you sell 15,000 copies, the publisher will send you a check for $5000.

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‘Boxers’ and ‘Saints’  by Gene Luen Yang

There is an interview with graphic novelist Gene Luen Yang at the TED Ed blog. the whole interview is interesting.  Here is one important thing he says that I try to convey to my ambitious illustration students:

“When I was really little, I wanted to be in animation — I wanted to be a Disney animator; that was my lifelong goal. And then after I started collecting comics in fifth grade, I slowly switched over. I think it solidified for me when I was in college and I took a summer-long animation class, and during that summer, I produced like two, three minutes of animation total. That’s when I realized that animation is so labor-intensive that it’s actually very difficult for one person to have control over an entire project. I mean, comics is really labor-intensive as well, but at least it’s manageable enough that one person can do it. If you really want to, you can do the whole thing all on your own.”

That’s great advice. My advice: Read something new by one these stars of this genre. I am recommending this contest to my illustration students. What if Graphix doesn’t select your work?  Well, there are other publishers focusing on graphic novels for young people. You’ll have a project ready to go.