Oaxaca’s Painting Biennial at MACO

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MACO stands for Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Oaxaca. We had the good fortune to visit during the XVII Rufino Tamayo Biennial Exhibition. Tamayo,  born in Oaxaca, was one of the great Mexican painters of the 20th century. The exhibition of 50 artworks ranging from abstraction to realism is a juried show of painters working in the region.

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The witty mixed-media work  by Victor Suiser, above, is called “Tepeyollotl ruge con la voz de cuatrocientos jergas” Roughly translates, maybe, to “The Jaguar/Earth God roars with the voice of 400 hoodies.” (thanks, Google) Those are ten peso coins for eyes.

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Suave Patria by Sergio Garvel 2016

The work above, Suave Patria, Smooth Country, by Sergio Garvel is oil paint and gold leaf on canvas. It recalls the tzompantli , or skull racks of the Aztecs and Maya. The shopping cart might reference the carts protesters filled with stones during Oaxaca’s street battles of 2006.

The art students with me pointed out their favorite paintings. Several were drawn to Fernando Motilla Zarur’s photo-realistic self-portrait, oil on canvas, 2015. MACO is worth a visit no matter what is on the walls. The historic building was long ago the home of Spanish nobility. It was said to have been a home of the Conquistador Hernando Cortez, though  historians now dispute that idea.

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Autoretrato by Fernando Motilla Zarur

Fragments of 17th century murals adorn the walls. You can see them beside Zarur’s self-portrait(above).  Sarape #1 , (below) by Paul Muguet, 2016, was done with spray paint and masking tape. This homage to the humble blanket design in the context of a contemporary art museum is eye-poppping and provocative.

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Statuesque nudes on a runway is a jolting idea for a narrative painting. That is the theme of Samuel Melendrez Bayardo work, “El Aeropuerto de Paul,” oil on canvas, 2015.

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Detail of oil painting by Samuel Meledrez Bayardo
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Detail of work by Veronica Conzuelo Macedo

Veronica Conzuelo Macedo’s “Sorri mom I love graf” (detail, above) is a 21st century spin on the classic Mexican landscape. It is done in egg tempera on linen over wood.

This is just a small sample of the remarkable art in the exhibition. Some images were gritty, some witty, and few, I admit, I could not appreciate. Overall, however, I was struck by the keen technical skill and intelligence of the selected artists.

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Second Floor Gallery at MACO

MACO’s facebook page will have details about hours, and current exhibitions. I will leave you with one last image – A photo by Kutztown University student Samantha Kahres of a tourist admiring Siempre Verde (Always Green) by Anja Gerecke in MACO’s back patio.

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Photo © 2016 Samantha Kahres

Matt Twombly’s Leap to Freelance Illustration

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Screen grab from http://www.matthewtwombly.com

KU Grad Matt Twombly posted on Facebook that he had left his job at National Geographic and begin freelancing in 2015. He was a stellar student and won the Don Breter Illustration award when he graduated in 2008. So, I was curious about his transition and sent him some questions.

1. What was your job title at National Geographic?

Matt Twombly:  Graphic Editor. The job was basically designing, researching, and illustrating graphics. One project might call for a data visualization of some kind, say a chart, diagram, or graph, and another might be better suited for an illustration. But I left that in December 2015.

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2. Why did you leave NG? Did the recent acquisition by Fox have anything to do with it?

In short, no. It was a hard decision leaving the Geographic. At times I felt like I was crazy and at other times a transition felt necessary. Basically, it came down to reasons outside my professional life. I wanted to buy a house and set up the foundation for starting a family. DC is great, but expensive. Plus, my wife was offered a position up here (PA) in her old school district, which got her out of teaching in DC public schools, something pretty much unsustainable for even the most dedicated. So we took advantage of that offer to move back to PA.

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Coincidentally, the merger with Fox and creation of what is now National Geographic Partners happened just as I was leaving, but it wasn’t a motivating factor for me. The magazine was facing some big changes and up against some big challenges, but nothing that the entire magazine publishing industry as a whole wasn’t already up against. With the merger, some good talent left, or was pushed out, but I was still thankful for the job I had. Not to mention the fact that the staff there, and the graphics team especially, was moving ahead and would keep doing some great work.

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Fantastic Beasts for Entertainment Weekly, 2106

3. What did you learn from freelancers at National Geographic?

The most important lesson I learned is what it’s like for the editor on the other side, – hiring freelancers. That was me for a time. A lot of editors find freelancers they like and keep going back to them again and again. Freelancers we worked with were known for their specialty, either a specific style or a specific subject matter: space art guy,  3D guy,  paleo art guy, etc.

Freelancers we used regularly had already established themselves in a particular specialty. But they we all very professional, never missed deadlines, always delivered and didn’t push back on feedback from us. If you get a chance to do a job, do it well and you’ll be asked again some day.

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4. How did I you get your first freelance job?

Well, some of my first freelance jobs came while still at the Geographic. Someone might see my work in the magazine. Or word of mouth. Mutual friends or colleagues might recommend me. In my case, the first big job, a poster for the Parks Service in Alaska, came from an ex-employee I had known from the Geographic who already had her own working relationship with NPS.

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Poster for National Parks Service, Alaska, Archaeology Month, 2016

Not much has changed in how I land jobs now. How I get jobs from National Geographic now probably goes without saying. They know me, know what I’m good at. But I’ve been able to work with some new clients in my first year freelancing. Most of them just by introducing my work to the appropriate editor/art director. Obviously, a lot of people know the Geographic’s work and some are already familiar with my work, so that gives me one advantage. Also, some people from the Geographic (or my first publication, Science) now work at other publications. So in most cases I’ve just sent email introductions. 

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5. How much time do you spend on self-promotion?

Probably not enough. It can be awkward reaching out, especially to total strangers. And it’s discouraging if you fail to get a response. While I was on staff at NGM, I’d occasionally get a mailer or mass email from illustrators hoping to get work. Most of the time, that didn’t have a big effect on my hiring an illustrator. Part of that is because NGM requires such niche work. But just as much because editors already had a trusted pool of freelancers to draw from. Breaking into that is tough. For that reason, as a freelancer I opt for personal email introductions with a link to my website.

These days most of my self promotion is through social media (Instagram and Twitter) and the occasional email self-promotion.

6. Did typography classes from Kutztown pay off?

Ha, I’m probably the wrong person to ask. At the very least, I think it’s important to have an appreciation for type and all of its crazy intricacies. KU classes were certainly my introduction to that.

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Mangrove, for World Wildlife Magazine © Matt Twombly

7. Any big ambitions or particular projects?

The biggest one is continuing with the professional relationships I’ve made this past year. Hopefully expanding that net wider to more publications. I’d also like to diversify my sources of income. What I mean is find other things besides illustration for publications to make money for myself. Whether that means making handmade goods, collaborating with other businesses, or even teaching in some capacity, I’m open to it all. One thing I’ve gotten into is making art prints to sell on Etsy or Society 6. It’s small potatoes now, but it’s fun and personally gratifying. I’d really like to turn that into something bigger!

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See more of Matt’s amazing work on his portfolio site: http://www.matthewtwombly.com  Follow him on Instagram, mjtwombly.  I am especially impressed by his comic-book style work, including animated illustrations. Check out a great one about looting in Syria. All images in this post © Matt Twombly.

Strange Cards

Christopher Irving sent me a deck of strange and colorful cards. He is an historian of pop culture, especially comics, and co-author of the book “Leaping Tall Buildings: The Origins of American Comics.”

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cards ©2016 The Drawn Word

In Spring 2016 Christopher Irving launched a Kickstarter to create Four Color Trading Cards “celebrating public domain comic book characters from the 1930s through 1960s as possible.” Some of these are very obscure superheroes. I’d never heard of the Blue Lady or The Black Owl or Airboy. I wondered if he’d invented them, but they appear to be real.

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Cards ©  The Drawn World

Irving has since expanded his Four Color card collection to include new superheroes who may or may not be obscure tomorrow. Below is Dean Haspiel‘s new webcomic hero Red Hook, named for the embattled Brooklyn neighborhood. 

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The Red Hook © 2016 Dean Haspiel.  Card © The Drawn Word

Haspiel’s Red Hook is a fast-paced epic, drawn with verve. Best of all, you can read it for free at Webtoons.

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Cards © The Drawn Word

It could be Irving’s careful curation of the deck, but I was pleasantly surprised by  the diversity of mid-twentieth century superheroes. The deck has more super women and persons of color than I expected. Take the Green Turtle. The only Green Turtle I knew was a  60’s hippy bus that made regular runs from New York to San Francisco. This Green Turtle is an amazing Asian superhero.

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Art by Chu F. Hing, Card © The Drawn Word

According the to back matter the Green Turtle was drawn by Chinese-American artist Chu F. Hing. The Green Turtle fought the Japanese occupying China during World War II. When his publisher (Blazing Comics, 1944) did not permit him to make the Green Turtle Chinese, Hing cleverly skirted around the character’s origins and ethnicity (his face was always blocked or in the shadows).

Ace Harlem, below, appeared in All-Negro comics #1, 1947. He was drawn by African-American artist John Terrell. Alas, that venture folded after one issue.

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All art in this post © The Drawn Word

War Nurse, created by Jill Elgin, 1941, was British nurse who fought Nazis. Wow! Here is another comic book I’d love to get my hands on. Meanwhile, I am tickled to pore over the amazing eye candy of Four Color Cards.

Get yours at thedrawnword.com. See more of Christopher Irving’s mind-boggling cards. He also blogs at www.christopherirving.com and is doing a New York City comics-related podcast at www.nycgraphicnovelists.com.

 

Artist meets the Bread Lady: Drawing Outside a Student’s Comfort Zone

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Prof. Cunfer and her illustration class at Rohrbach Library

Prof. Elaine Cunfer teaches a 7-week illustration Visual Essay class in which she asks students to step outside their comfort zone. Works from the Fall 2016 seminar are currently on exhibit in Kutztown’s Rohrbach Library.

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©Meredith Shriner

Meredith Shriner chose to draw her essay about The Bread Lady at Renninger’s Farmer’s Market. Carolyn Zimmerman, started her bread business in 2012 on the weekend that Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast. Meredith first met the Bread Lady when she visited her stand this fall for this illustration project.

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Meredith Shriner and Carolyn Zimmerman

Meredith’s poster says, “Carolyn Zimmerman, otherwise known as “The Bread Lady,” runs a stand by the same name… She is a kind, funny, and thoughtful person who genuinely enjoys her job as it offers a way to both serve people and put smiles on their faces.”

Yu Wen Sun (Sue) is an international student from China. She spoke with KU Professor Bill Donner, Phd, about the legend of the Groundhog. Donner is author of “Serious Nonsense: Groundhog Lodges, Versammlinge, and Pennsylvania German Heritage” published this year by Penn State Press. “Sue really grasped the spirit of the project and started in the summer by visiting and talking to people at the Kutztown Folk Festival.” said Prof. Cunfer.

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© Yu Wen Sun, Sue

Below is another project that has a PA German heritage connection. Deanna Black interviewed Rachel Yoder, MFA student, about her new children’s book, Penny Olive. Rachel was thrilled by the poster and she and Deanna have bonded as fellow artists.

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poster © Deanna Black,  Penny Olive © Rachel Yoder

Personally, I prefer the projects above where KU student artists actually interacted with a living person. At my old school, SVA , students did visual essays about the non-faculty employees. Turns out many of the cafeteria ladies, the elevator operators, the night janitors were immigrants with fascinating biographies. Prof. Cunfer, however, does not require an interview. She permits research-based projects. Of those, I found Heather Fox’s poster on Peter Miller and his massive colonial book, The Martyr’s Mirror, most fascinating.

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© Heather Fox

In another research-based project, Katelynn Chambers tells the story of Nolde Forest , a state park not too far from Kutztown. It is beautifully drawn.

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© Katelynn Chambers

Prof. Cunfer explains the project like so: Communication Design Seniors concentrating in illustration complete a half-semester course entitled Visual Essay in which they use illustration as a medium for reportage. Students were assigned to create an illustration based visual essay in a poster form. These posters could profile any aspect of historical/cultural significance, a unique life experience, and/or an interesting person in Kutztown (or very local area) outside the traditional student microcosm. Students were expected to go out into the local community and interview their subjects, as well as research life, culture and folklore of their subjects. Students gained a new appreciation of their lives in Kutztown.

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© Katie Bertolet

Katie Bertolet researched the history of the landmark Pagoda that overlooks Reading.

There are over a dozen more examples of these visual essays on display on the walls at Rohrbach Library. If you are near Kutztown, the exhibition is worth a visit. Prof. Cunfer’s visual essay project is a great example of community outreach. At the library exhibition opening I overheard Ms. Zimmerman, the Bread Lady, exclaim, “Next time I hear anybody talking bad about Kutztown University students, I am going to tell them about Meredith.” 

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

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.

 

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