Illustrator Ryan Lynn, 2006, BFA, Communication Design, is doing fine, thanks. I remember covering my ears when Ryan’s punk band, The Aurora, rocked the Trexlertown Grange, around 2005. His music career may have faded, but his artistic energy certainly hasn’t waned. He just completed the biggest illustration job of his career. His slightly-retro super-graphic style is the perfect match for this project.
He writes, “I was approached by Miller Lite to create a series of illustrations for 15 NFL teams that were to appear on posters, billboards, and other materials in each NFL team’s market. These illustrations were created in the Miller Lite illustration style that I helped establish in their Summer Poster Campaign.
As a huge NFL fan, it was awesome to get to work on this series and immerse myself in each NFL team’s colors, attitude, and traditions.
Question: How did this job come to you?
Ryan: I’ve been working with Miller Lite’s agency of record for about a year. I got an email from them one day out of the blue asking if I could do a poster series for the summer (the dragon and octopus, plus a robot one that never got finished). After that, I kept working with them on some billboards and trade show graphics before getting the NFL series.
Q: How long did it take?
Ryan: It was a tight turnaround – 15 posters took around 5 straight months without weekends or holidays. I even had to skip a cousin’s wedding!
Q: You are an Eagles fan, but strictly from a graphics point of view, which image is your favorite?
Ryan: I’m pretty happy with how they all turned out. If I had to pick, I like the Ravens because it has a lot of detail. The Steelers is cool, too.
Q: What size is your original art?
Ryan: They are all the same size 24” x 36”. Each poster also has a landscape version as well. The final illustrations had to be vector so their team could put them on billboards, buildings and whatever else.
Q: Have you gone to any of the Stadiums to see these?
Ryan: Not yet! I don’t know if they all are going to be in their stadiums. I know the Atlanta Falcons illustration is in their stadium bar and there was talk of the Texans putting theirs on a mural, but I don’t know.
Ryan: Miller Lite illustrations for Major League Baseball!
Thanks, Ryan. All I can say is “Wow!” Your artwork is solid and just right for NFL.
Visit Ryan’s website and shop to snag listed edition sic-fi art and gig posters for as at little as $20. Ryan is still into music. Below is his poster for Cruisr, the hit band that includes two KU design grads, Andy States and Jon Van Dine.
Marshall Arisman’s Retrospective is stunning. If you get to New York City, see it before it closes on Sept 16. If you can’t get there, watch this 10-minute video tour .
I remember the day I met Marshall Arisman. It was 1984. I went to his office at School of Visual Arts after seeing an ad in the NY Times for a new degree program, The MFA in Visual Journalism. The ad showcased in bold headlines a stellar faculty line up: Tom Wicker, Pete Hamill, Robert Weaver, James McMullan, Marshall Arisman.
Marshall sat at a big desk, wearing a camel-colored cashmere sweater. I showed him my cartoons and spot illustrations for The NY Times and Village Voice. He laughed at some. He told me I should apply. I told him I wanted to apply, but had a problem. I’d dropped out college and didn’t have a bachelor’s degree. He laughed harder then. He said I couldn’t enter the MFA program without a bachelor’s degree.
I pointed out the fine print on the SVA MFA application. “Must have 10 slides, a biographical essay, 2 letters of reference, and a transcript of an earned bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution.” Then it said, “Any of the above requirements can be waived by the chairperson.” Marshall waved his hands over his desk as if to say ‘meeting over.’ He told me he might waive a letter of reference, or slides, but he couldn’t waive the undergraduate degree, New York State would take away his program’s accreditation.
I asked if he could let me in conditionally. “If I get a bachelor’s degree before I finish the MFA program, can I get in?” I told him how much I wanted to study with him and the writers and artists in the ad. I kept talking. He was looking at me askance. He asked if I would like a cup of coffee. I said sure, and looked around his office for a coffee maker. He said, “Let’s go outside.” He lit an unfiltered cigarette the moment we hit the sidewalk of 23rd street. We walked across the street to a coffee shop on the corner of Third Ave. He bought me a cup of coffee. He shook my hand and told me he needed to get back to work. I drank my coffee on the street corner. Yes, it did occur to me our the trip to the coffee shop was his way to get me out of his office.
I got in the MFA program. I worked on my bachelor’s degree simultaneously with the SVA night classes. One night of the week we studied with Robert Weaver, next night, Marshall Arisman, then Jim McMullan, then Steve Heller teaching Illustration History. Alas, the heavyweight writers, Wicker and Hamill never showed. Arthur Pincus, a sports editor for the NY Times was our writing coach. He was a good writer. The other students, all better artists than I, didn’t care much about the writing component.
Marshall is one of the word’s great storytellers. His delivery is so dry, it may be an acquired taste. Marshall told us that he could read auras. His grandma was a psychic. The first aura he ever witnessed was during a lecture by Krishnamurti at Carnegie Hall. Great wings of light blasted from Indian mystic’s shoulders to fill the entire stage. I asked Marshall if he read our student auras. He said sometimes. I was rude enough to I ask if I left the room and changed my shirt would my aura change? “Auras change all the time, ” he said with a chuckle.
Marshall told me he once saved a life by reading an aura. A fellow wandered into his SVA office and claimed he needed to contact his girlfriend who was in class somewhere in the building. It was an emergency. “What sort of emergency?” asked Marshall. The guy mumbled something about lost keys. Marshall paused, read the man’s aura and saw mad white-hot flashes flying off his face. Marshall said he could call the Registrar to locate the girl. Instead he phoned SVA security and calmly conveyed that he had an immediate problem in his office. Public Safety arrived just in time to subdue the man as he pulled a gun and revealed his true intentions, “I am gonna murder that b_____!”
I recall a lot of things Marshall said in class. He once told us, “Give me 5 good years, that’s the artist’s prayer. ” Well, this retrospective is called Marshall Arisman: An Artist’s Journey from Dark to Light, 1972—2017. That’s 35 years, right? Seems like Marshall Arisman’s prayers were answered seven times over.
Marshall was mobbed at his opening. He stood in the center of the gallery, backed by a troop of his sacred monkey figures. I got a moment to shake his hand and thank him again for all he did for me. He thanked me for coming. I tried to eavesdrop on what he said to his many other well-wishers. He locked eyes with each of them. His lips moved, his eyes lit up. I was inches away, but I could not hear a single syllable Marshall or his partner of the moment said. It was so very strange. It was if they were enveloped in Marshall’s aura, something I will never quite see, but will always respect.
As the semester begins, I warn new students that illustration is a very tough field. Like acting, -the world only needs so many movie stars. On the other hand, I should share success stories of grads doing great work in illustration. Here are a few stellar grads.Take 2017 grad Heather Fox, for example. She made a zine that debuted at MoccaFest 2016. Then she self-published via Amazon’s CreateSpace. She created a retelling of one of Rudyard Kipling’s Just So stories, The Elephant’s Nose. She collaborated with her boyfriend Jonathan Stutzman on these projects. Now they have an agent and a real book deal with Putman books for Butts Are Everywhere! I wrote more about Heather and her talented classmate Meredith Shriner here.
Tom Whalen’s collector tix for Rogue One
Tom Whalen, KU CD, 1996, is one of the greatest vector-illustrators in the country. He has worked for major entertainment studios including Disney, Lucasfilm, Paramount, Marvel, DC, and Warner Bros. Above are his collector’s tickets for Rogue One’s theatrical release. Below is one of his posters for Disney/Pixar.
Tom Whalen’s work can be found at Strongstuff.net. Below is a screen grab from his site to give a window into his versatility and prodigious output.
Amanda Geisinger, a 2008 grad from Pottstown, won an Emmy for her work at Nick Digital, part of the Nickelodeon empire. She works on Times Square with Spongebob and other celebrities. Back in 2010, I interviewed her for a blog post I titled, What’s Spongebob Really Like.
See more of Amanda’s work including cool gifs like the one below at her website, AmandaGeisinger.com
I tabled at ALA in Chicago to promote my new Toon book, Something’s Fishy. ALA is the American Library Association’s mega-convention. Over 10,000 librarians and hundreds of authors and illustrators roamed the aisles. Anchored to my table, I still managed to meet some superstar illustrators as they passed by. In front of my display, Greg Pizzoli bumped into his pal Tom Angleberger, creator of the mega-hit Origami Yoda series.
I asked Greg how he came up with the idea for his new book, The Quest for Z. Truth be told, I wish I had thought of it. It began in Greg’s studio while working on his prior nonfiction kid’s book, Tricky Vic. He listened to the audiobook of David Grann’s bestseller, The Lost City of Z: A tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon. He was enthralled. “Soon as it finished,” Greg said, “I started it over, I’d never done that before.”
Greg is a 2005 Millersville University of PA grad with an MFA from Philadelphia’s University of the Arts. He still lives in Philadelphia where he is part of the printmaking scene. His specialty is serigraphy- silkscreen. He taught for 8 years at the U of Arts before becoming a full-time author and illustrator. He did 8 books in this year ranging from board books to nonfiction picture books. I asked Greg about how he came to do the nonfiction works.
Tricky Vic: The Impossibly True Story of the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower started out as a self-published zine. “Self-published is an overstatement,” said Greg, “I printed 100 copies and sent them to friends.” Somebody clearly liked it! Tricky Vic, in the form published by Viking, went on to success, and was selected for The New York Times 10 Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2015.
On Sunday at the appointed hour I went to the Penguin Books for Young Readers aisle where Greg was signing books. His line of fans snaked through the aisles much like an image from his ‘Z’ book. I will have to get mine another day!
Chicago was great. I had a good ALA convention and so did Greg. His Good Night Owl won a Geisel Honor.
Hey, Philly! Greg Pizzoli is doing a series of Free Public presentations for the Free Library of Philadelphia’s neighborhood branches. Check your local library. Info:
The insanely-talented Chris Sickels came from rural Indiana to rural Pennsylvania with a suitcase full of strange characters. He let me play with his dolls. – Me and a roomful of artists attending his workshop for the UCDA Summit at Kutztown University.
Chris Sickels is Red Nose Studio. The studio is known for 3-D illustration and experimental animation. “I don’t think of myself as an animator,” said Chris, “but as an animation enthusiast.” And his enthusiasm is contagious.
Chris gave us a rapid demonstration of how he shoots still frames on his Canon SLR and animates in Photoshop. After the demo he divided us into pairs.
I got paired with Prof. Brytton Bjorngaard of U of Illinois, Springfield. We tore up scrap paper, bits of a Brillo pad, and using Chris’s model plus some masking tape and florist’s wire we made a film. Our 20-frame film is so extremely short that by the time you say the title, Professor Cigar, it is starting over. See below:
It was a wonderful learning experience. I was lucky to work with Brytton, a whiz at both analog and digital media. A one-woman art and design department, she has taught animation and everything else. She ably used Photoshop’s Healing Brush Tool to clean up the frames where the Professor’s stray wire was showing, see below.
Seven other short films by newbie animators were created by noon and then we had a mini-film festival. Thanks to KU Prof. Josh Miller, the Program Director for the 2017 UCDA Summit. He did a wonderful job planning the event. Kathy Sue Traylor, the CD Dept Office manager, did a great job at event planning. The wine tour was a hit. Even I, a designated driver, enjoyed it. Nearly 100 conference attendees came from all over the country, a few even flew from China for the event.
Do visit Red Nose Studio and check out more wonderful Lo-Fi animation here.
Our last blog post featured recent illustration grad Meredith Shriner. Chris Sickels signed The Secret Subway, one of his children’s books for Meredith as Prof Cunfer looked on. His books are as marvelous as his animations and another way to become acquainted with his extraordinary imagination.
There was more to the UCDA conference, but Chris’s workshop was a high point. We will leave you with a a photo of KU CD grad, James Pannafino, now a prof of Interactive Design at Millersville U of PA. He worked with Prof. Denise Bosler, chair of the KU CD Dept. Believe me, they made this little bellhop hop!
Chris Sickels keeps busy making award-winning illustratios. He only does one or two workshops a year. If you ever have the chance to participate in one, do it!
Each year Kutztown University presents awards to the best of our Communication Design Graduates. This year the illustration honors went to Heather Fox and Meredith Shriner. Meredith Shriner’s 3-D sailor, above, graced the poster of the K U Children’s Literature Conference. Created under the tutelage of Prof. Elaine Cunfer, it has been selected for exhibition at the Society of Illustrators, NYC.
Meredith won the Terry Boyle Award for the most improved illustrator. Terry Boyle was a student a Kutztown whose life was cut short by a car accident on RT 222 back in 1984. Terry had ambitions to be a children’s book illustrator and so her family and friends endowed this award in her honor.
Meredith did a wonderful zine for last year’s MoCCA, Museum of Cartoon and Comic Art event in NYC. Another memorable zine was made by Heather Fox. Heather won 2017’s Don Breter Award for the outstanding student illustrator.
Heather, from Lancaster, PA, did a culturally appropriate illustration for her poster of the PA German colonial publisher, Peter Miller.
Heather has some great news that was revealed last month on Publisher’s Weekly site.
In 2015, Heather and Jonathan Stutzman reworked one of Rudyard Kipling’s “Just So” tales, The Elephant’s Nose. Using Amazon’s print-on-demand publishing service, CreateSpace, they turned it into a real book, available here. As you can see from the brief notice above their next book will be a big deal published by Putnam.
Don Breter, by the way, was the chair of the Communication Design Dept in 1989 when I got hired. He was an excellent draftsman and calligrapher and a wonderful man.
Here is a photo of all 5 Communication Design Award winners. Left to right: Graphic Design Award winner Jamie Hubert, Heather Fox, Interactive Design Award winner Alicia Wrye, Meredith Shriner, and Dianne V. Dockery Advertising Award Ciara Sweeney. It was noted this is an all female sweep of the awards. Since the majority of our Communication Design class is female, this should not be a great surprise. Excellent work all around. We expect great things of them all.
Joan Reilly makes comics. A established illustrator she moved last year from Brooklyn to Kutztown. Imagine that! She is co-editor along with Shannon O’Leary of the acclaimed comics anthology, The Big Feminist But. Originally published via Kickstarter, the book has been republished twice by Alternative Comics.
An exhibition of artwork from the book is now appearing on the walls of Eckhaus Gallery, 157 W. Main, Kutztown, PA. The opening reception is Saturday, April 8, 6-8pm. Info here.
The show features work by many important artists including: Gabrielle Bell, Jeffrey Brown, Vanessa Davis, Shaenon Garrity, Justin Hall, Shannon O’Leary, Sarah Oleksyk, Virginia Paine, Mark Pritchard, Joan Reilly, and many more.
Jeffrey Brown lent his original sketchbook with the comics pages he contributed to the anthology. Observers will note he is one of the few cartoonists who draws his work smaller than the size it will be printed.
The artwork on display at Eckhaus beautifully drawn. It is clear that the artist care about their work. Kutztown may not become the next Brooklyn, but we are fortunate to have this exhibition in town.
My illustration students, some of whom have ambitions to be cartoonists, had the chance to see the show thanks to Olivia Knowles, one of the Eckhaus directors. My students seems particularly impressed with the story dealing with gender identity by Virginia Paine, below.
As Heidi McDonald of Publisher’s Weekly says on the back of the book, “The Big Feminist But Kicks Ass.” If you can’t make the opening, the show runs until April 16, or ask for the Big Feminist But wherever books are sold.
Collier is a stellar illustrator, best know for his vibrant collage work focusing on the African-American experience, such as Uptown and Rosa. He’s won The Coretta Scott King Honor and Ezra Jack Keats Awards. Trombone Shorty, image below, is a 2016 Caldecott Honor winner. Collier is only one of the four award-winning authors and illustrators coming this year.
We’ll see Caldecott Medal winning illustrator/author Lauren Castillo. In a starred review, Publisher’s weekly praised the artwork above- “Castillo conjures security with her trademark warm colors and solid black contours .” Castillo is a graduate of NYC’s School of Visual Arts and, I think, she shares a Harrisburg studio space with Jonathan Bean, who was a hit at last year’s conference.
Rounding out the Keynote speakers is nonfiction writer Deborah Hopkinson. She is the author of over 50 books ranging from picture books to middle-grade history titles.
Besides hearing these superstars, conference attendees have a chance to join in informal chats with Aubry Joi Cohen and me.
Aubry Joi Cohen is a 2014 grad of Kutztown University’s Communication Design Dept.She did a great job illustrating Seek and Find Animals Around the World while keeping her day job. Aubry is currently a designer for Artskills, an educational art firm specializing anything related to posters: poster markers, poster lettering, and decorative items like stickers. Aubry will talk about how her first book came about. She was contacted by Auzou, a French children’s book publisher, because of her artwork online.
All the books will be sold at a conference discount (20% off) at the KU bookstore through April 1. The full schedule for the Saturday conference is here. A number of activities will be available free to the KU student and faculty community on Friday, March 31, info here.
KU students may attend the full conference Saturday for a reduced fee of $10.00! You can show up Saturday with your student ID and register by 8:30am in the Student Union Building.
What to do? Enrollment is down 20% at Kutztown University from its peak. YOW! Kutztown is the best school for art and design in the state of PA. Full disclosure: I teach at KU.
Let’s crunch some numbers: Private art colleges are great, but cost a fortune. Take PA Academy of Fine Arts,- A BFA from PAFA? Four years tuition is $150,584. According to Payscale.com, median salary for new illustrator, 1 year out of college is $37,638.
Kutztown’s annual tuition and fees for instate students is $9,618 X 4 years = $38,472. So a PA resident saves $112,000 over a private school. One could build a pretty fine studio with that money, or get an MFA.
What about Out-of-Staters? Glad you asked.
Effective immediately, Kutztown University is offering a 40% tuition reduction to all admitted out-of-state students. This reduction will be offered to non-PA residents upon acceptance to KU.. This makes the current out-of-state tuition price roughly $10,850, a savings of over $7,000 from last year.”
I think this is great news from our Admissions Office. I am a proud New Jersey native, but Kutztown is now a bargain for Jersey students.
Does it make sense to go to art school at all? That is a bigger question. I tell students being an illustrator is like being an actor. There are many people with the requisite skill set. Some have the talent, luck, and personality to succeed. A good number of grads have gone far with Kutztown degrees.
Puentes, Si! Muros, No! –Bridges, Yes! Walls, No! is at Kutztown U’s Student Gallery until Feb 9. Five Kutztown art students joined me for a 17-study abroad course in Oaxaca, Mexico. We just got back last week. Woodblock prints they made in Mexico are on display along with prints from prior Mexico study-abroad students and noted Mexican artists. I am proud of this gutsy group of students, all female, and their successful cultural exchange. We worked in Taller Chicharra with Alan Altamirano, the energetic young artist who came to Kutztown last year.
I say gutsy because even in the best of times, college students typically prefer to study abroad in English-speaking countries, think Britain, Ireland, Australia. I’ve taught 4 courses in Mexico, every year it gets harder to recruit students. Last year, as you may have noticed, Donald Trump began his campaign with demeaning insults to Mexico. That said, these students managed to have a rewarding cultural exchange with warm and hardworking people of the great country of Mexico.
Jesse Todero, a freshman majoring in Art Ed, was taken by flowers blooming in January. Most days the temperatures got into the 80’s.
Samantha Kahres fell in love with the mountain landscapes of Oaxaca from the moment we landed. Patt McCloskey made a print, too, based on the balloon sellers in Oaxaca’s zocalo, or center square.
I am not sure if it was the hot sun and tropical fruits that influenced Miranda Pells. It might have been a motif she saw on the textiles or pottery we studied.
My piece, above, is based in part on a pre-Hispanic sculpture I saw and the night we spent ringside at the Lucha Libre.
It is my sincere hope more U.S. college students will have the courage to visit Mexico, Latin America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. It is a big world. We need to build bridges, not walls.
As always, all images copyright the individual artists. Opinions expressed are mine and not those of Kutztown University.