HANDWERK at Lancaster PA First Friday

hwerkI’ve only been to First Friday in Lancaster once, but I am going again on Oct 2. It should be great. Ryan Smoker and Ryan Martin of Infantree are putting together a pop-up show at Passenger Coffee Roasters. The posters are by grads of Kutztown’s Communication Design Dept. I got a preview of some of the work in Prof. Karen Kresge’s flat file. I wrote to handful of the artists, Brian Barto got back to me.

Second-Hand Smoke © Brian Barto
Second-Hand Smoke © Brian Barto

Brian has been a designer for over 10 years at Goodwin Design Group. When he steps away from the computer he likes to work with real stuff. He says he enjoys being in his home in his workshop making “pieces/fabrications/reinterpretations mixing found objects with vintage signage”  The work above is constructed of  reclaimed wood, acrylic silkscreen print, latex paint, and chain. Brian’s personal website, whiskeyandchocolate.com is overflowing with his work.

Swans gig poster © Mike Katits
Swans gig poster © Mike Katits

There will be some impressive gig posters. The remarkable images above and below are by Mike Katits, who once traveled to Mexico with me. He is a wild man. Mike is now a senior art director at TracyLocke in Wilton, Connecticut. A good number of our best grads work there.

Neutral Milk Hotel gig poster © Mike Katits
Neutral Milk Hotel gig poster © Mike Katits

Ryan Lynn was in a punk band called the Auroras while he was a student. He invited me to a gig once in a hall on Rt. 222 near Allentown. There was a sign on the wall: No smoking crack indoors.  A giant leather-clad bouncer blocked my entrance to the show. Ageism, I guess. The bouncer said, “What are you, somebody’s father?” 

Light and Shadow by Ryan Lynn
Light and Shadow by Ryan Lynn

“Yes, I am somebody’s father,” I answered truthfully, “I want to see The Aurora.” The bouncer said,” Go away, come back in two hours, I’ll let you in. They don’t go on until midnight.” I came back. The bouncer seemed surprised. The band screamed well. I ‘d say Ryan is a better designer than guitarist. Below is his poster for Phish. Ryan sells his limited edition posters at ryanlynndesign.com for as little as $25.

Phish gig poster© Ryan Lynn
Phish gig poster© Ryan Lynn

Tom Whalen is a superstar in the world of collectable prints. His limited editions have been known to sell out in minutes of their surprise debut. I’ve wrote more about him here. See much more at strongstuff.net

Toy Story poster for Mondo © Tom Whalen
Toy Story poster for Mondo © Tom Whalen

Last time I visited Ross Moody’s website at 55hi’s, most of the work was purely typographic. Now he has a lot more illustration including a series of illustrated alphabet posters. Not sure what will be on the wall in Lancaster but I grabbed a sea themed print from his website.

Ocean Alphabet © Ross Moody.
Ocean Alphabet (detail) © Ross Moody.

Corey Reifinger has been doing some weird stuff for Johnny Cupcakes. Corey went to Mexico with me, too. I do think Mexico can expand one’s creative vision. Corey has developed a witty and graphic illustration style. Not sure I even understand the poster below, but it has rats and hot sauce and cupcakes, three of my favorite things.

Johnny's Sweet Heat © Corey Reifinger
Johnny’s Sweet Heat © Corey Reifinger

Corey has a lot of wild work at this site. Google the man, he has work all over the place. The image below was lifted from the web. I’m not sure exactly which works will grace the walls at the Handwerk show at Passenger Coffee in Lancaster Oct, 2 -4. But I am sure it will be delightful.

Day One Skate Shop © Corey Riefinger.
Day One Skate Shop © Corey Reifinger.
Postcard designed by Infantree.
Postcard designed by Infantree.

Illustration Awards at Kutztown U. 2015

JAMIE BASILE: The Don Breter Memorial Award

Main St, Kutztown, PA,  watercolor ©2015 Jamie Basile
Main St, Kutztown, PA, watercolor ©2015 Jamie Basile

Jamie Basile won the 2015 Don Breter Award for best illustrator in her class. She is a master of both traditional and digital media. The watercolor, above, clearly shows the influence of Prof. Matthew Daub.

Prof. Denise Bosler presenting award to Jamie Basile.
Prof. Denise Bosler presenting award to Jamie Basile. Photo: Chrissy Corrado

One of the all-time outstanding illustrators to graduate from Kutztown U is the great Tom Whalen, BFA 96. When Tom came to talk to current students Jamie Basile mimicked his signature style to create the event announcement poster below.

Tom Whalen at Kutztown, poster © Jamie Basile.
Tom Whalen Ice Cream Social at Kutztown, poster © Jamie Basile.

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Jamie’s simulated Wired Mag illustration hung in the Senior Show. Jamie explains the concept on her website, “In this digitally painted cover illustration, a larger than life soybean-chicken pod is showcased to emphasize the breakthrough in the artificial meat industry.”

Snove Chocolate packaging, © 2015 Jamie Basile.
Snove Chocolate packaging, © 2015 Jamie Basile.

Jamie demonstrates her graphic design and packaging skills on the Snove Choclate series. She writes, “When the cold bites your nose, Snove chocolates provide winter warmth on the coldest of days. This line of products was created to embody chocolate’s “melt-in-your-mouth” quality, warming your entire body as it touches your tongue. Each flavor has a unique linocut illustration of an arctic dweller, paired with an icy watercolor wash. The polar bear, snow fox, and Inuit distinguish the three spicy warming flavors of Snove’s hot chocolate, chocolate bark and coffee beans.”

You can see much more of her versatility at www.jamiebasile.com

ARREN DAWINAN: The Terry Boyle Award

Eden Poster © 2015 Arren Dawinan
Eden  © 2015 Arren Dawinan

Arren Dawinan won the 2015 Terry Boyle Award for most improved illustrator. He exhibited a set of vector-drawn travel posters in the Senior Exhibition that are simultaneously futuristic and retro. He explains the concept, “The human race just discovered a new, habitable planet near Earth, named Eden. These are a set of retro travel posters to advertise the beauty of the new planet.”

Prof Elaine Cunfer presented an award to Arren Dawinan. photo: Chrissy Corrado
Prof Elaine Cunfer presented an award to Arren Dawinan. Photo: Chrissy Corrado.

Arren also created ¿Como se Llama? a small foldable zine that also functions as a poster. The story is about a llama traveling around the world and meeting other animals along the way in search of his one true love. Arren bills himself as an illustrative designer on his website: www.arrendawinan.com

¿Como se Llama? © 2015 Arren Dawinan
¿Como se Llama? © 2015 Arren Dawinan

Prof. Cunfer noted that there was a lot of talent in the class of 2015. She said Jamie and Arren “have not only made great strides in their work they have shown strong professional growth in demeanor and attitude.”

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Lil Monsters Identity © 2015 Arren Dawinan

We expect great things from Jamie and Arren and the other talented illustrators of the class of 2015.

Steam-Powered Tinker, Chris Spollen

Robot 42 and his creator Chris Spollen. Photo © Chris Spollen
Robot 42 and his creator Chris Spollen. Photo © Chris Spollen

Chris Spollen is younger than me, but we both got our first illustration jobs for Crawdaddy. Crawdaddy was a NYC rock ‘n roll mag founded before Rolling Stone was born. Chris studied printmaking at Parson’s School of Design. His earliest published illustrations were etchings.

Etching © 1975 Chris Spollen
Etching © 1975 Chris Spollen

With help from his mechanically-inclined brother Tom he built an etching press from the recycled wringers of an old washing machine. He’d etch the plates in acid, ink them, run them through the wringers, then stretch his wet prints on plywood. He would hand deliver prints to Crawdaddy’s office on 13th St. and 5th Ave.

Runaway Train © 2015 Chris Spollen.
Runaway Train © 2015 Chris Spollen.

Chris’s fantasy sculpture work is currently on exhibit in Scranton, PA at AFA Gallery until March 27. I met him there. He and I and Veronica Lawlor are exhibiting together. Chris calls his Staten Island home studio ‘The Steam Powered Art Factory.’ So naturally, he was thrilled to visit Scranton’s Steamtown National Historic Site, just 2 blocks from the AFA Gallery. The opening, by the way, was a jam-packed event. Clearly, Scranton has a hopping art scene, and AFA is a big part of it.

Train by Chris Spollen photo courtesy AFA Gallery, Scranton.
Train by Chris Spollen photo courtesy AFA Gallery, Scranton.
AMAZING GOOP.
AMAZING GOOP.

Spollen shared one of the trade secrets of his 3-D work. Amazing Goop. It can bond seemingly incompatible materials, wood, cloth, metal, ceramic. I asked him, “Are you a hoarder?”  He shook his head no. “I am not a hoarder,  I’m a tinker.” I asked if he used any of his new sculptures for editorial illustration. “No,” he said with some pride, “They are absolutely useless!”

Chris Spollen and one of his rockets at AFA Gallery. photo: KMc
Chris Spollen and one of his rockets at AFA Gallery. photo: KMc

For a time, his Staten Island neighbors were suspicious of the robotic creatures in his yard. In 2014, local writer Nicholas Rizzi visited The Steam Powered Art Factory and shared some great photos, here.  So Chris’s neighbors are more understanding. Nowadays, he finds strange offerings left on his steps: bakelite stove knobs, brass gears and assorted unidentified appliance parts.

Robot in Chris Spollin's yard during last week's snow. photo © Chris Spollen
Robot in Chris Spollin’s yard during last week’s snow. photo © Chris Spollen

Chris Spollen has had an illustrious illustration career. His work has appeared everywhere from Penthouse to Scholastic. He has illustrated stories of H.G Wells for The Franklin Library. He had a one-man show at The Society of Illustrators in 2011. He still teaches illustration at FIT and at the Hartford Art School MFA program. Our mutual friend, Ted Michalowski calls Chris Spollen “the most eccentric illustrator I has ever met,” and illustrators tend to be eccentric.

Vintage Illustration for Scholastic Press. © Chris Spollen
Vintage Illustration for Scholastic Press. © Chris Spollen

Chris revealed he is now a card-carrying member of AARP, but the man shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, he is speeding up. Another of his passions is HPV’s or Human Powered Vehicles. If you can get to Scranton this month visit AFA Gallery to see his work in person. If you can’t get to Scranton, do check out his site. Find his Steam Powered Art Factory on Facebook. He has posted plenty of pics, including sketch-to-finish process shots of his many amazing contraptions.

Chris in the "VEE BEE," his HPV, or Human Powered Vehicle
Chris in the “VEE BEE,” his HPV, or Human Powered Vehicle

 

Murray Tinkelman at the Norman Rockwell Museum

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.

 

The Lady Loves to Cut: Maude White

Elephant, cut paper, © Maude White
Elephant, cut paper, © Maude White

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

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

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

Hand, cut paper, © Maude White 2013
Hand, cut paper, © Maude White 2013

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

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

Maude White at Grits N Glory
Maude White at Grits N Glory

Who are your artistic influences?

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

CP9

How did you become an illustrator for Carrier Pigeon?

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

Chained, cut paper, © Maude White.
Wild, cut paper, © Maude White.

What are you working on now?

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

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

Chained, detail, cut paper, © Maude White
Chained, detail, cut paper, © Maude White

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

The secret tool for cut paper art. Thanks Maude.
The secret tool for cut paper art. Thanks Maude.

Meadowlands

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I visited Hoboken, my old hometown, for the opening of an art show from Meadowlands, Thomas Yezerski’s beautiful children’s book. His book is about the battered, but amazingly resilient, ecosystem that exists just a few miles from Hoboken and it’s better-known neighbor, New York City. The exhibit runs to March 10 at the Hoboken Historical Museum, my favorite small museum.

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I met Thomas last year when he came to Kutztown University Children’s Literature Conference. Raised in Allentown, PA, he now lives in Hoboken. He is a graduate of Syracuse University’s famed illustration program. Thomas has illustrated a variety of kid’s books, but Meadowlands: A Wetland’s Survival Story is his masterpiece.

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His ten years of research began by reading everything he could find about the natural history of the area. Then he got into a canoe so he could observe the North Jersey wetlands firsthand.

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Thomas found some remarkable wildlife thriving beside some of our nation’s noisiest, and ugliest highways. His watercolor washes and finely detailed pen and ink drawings are perfect for depicting this strange world. The New York Times gave the book a glowing review: “Meadowlands is tremendously (but not intimidatingly) informative, fun to read and gorgeous to look at.”

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The book is a generous 40 pages, more than the typical children’s picture book. Nearly all of the panoramic two-page spreads are framed by multiple vignettes, like those appearing here. Thomas includes dozens of these supporting images in the current exhibition.

The artist custom matted his illustrations to include the supporting details.
The artist custom matted his illustrations to include the supporting details.

Thomas Yezerski will return to the Hoboken Historical Museum on Sun. Feb 10 at 4pm to describe his research, writing, and illustration process. (And sign books!) More info on the event can be found here. Admission to the Museum is $2 for adults, free to children and members.

Thomas Yezerski at Kutztown
Thomas Yezerski at Kutztown’s Children’s Lit Conference in 2012

If you can’t get to the Hoboken Museum, Thomas’s publisher has a nice page about the book with more pictures. To see the wide range of his illustration work, visit thomasfyezerski.com.

All artwork on this page © 2012 Thomas F. Yezerski

Comics MFA? There is an alternative… No Joke.

Back in the ’80’s, when I told my pal Putka I was getting an MFA in illustration, he laughed, “What’s next?  -a Phd in Wallpaper Hanging?” What’s Next? Looks like the answer is Advanced Comics…

The SAW campus © SAW 2012
The SAW campus © SAW 2012

Stanford is a great university with one respected graphic novel class. But suddenly, universities across the country are offering complete advanced degrees in comics. CCS, the Center for Cartoon Studies, in Vermont has offered a Comics MFA for several years. CCS is not to be confused with CCA, California College of the Arts in San Francisco which is launching a new low-residency MFA in Comics in 2013.

A curious new educational option has sprung up in Florida. It is called SAW for Sequential Art Workshop. Cartoonist Tom Hart who taught for a decade at SVA in NYC has relocated to a storefront on So. Main St. in Gainesville. There, with a group of dedicated faculty and students, he has begun an intensive comics course. SAW’s one-year intensive program is not an accredited MFA, but it cost far less, $3600.

Student show at Saw, August, 2012, used with permission.
Student show at Saw, August, 2012, used with permission.

A student told me this, “Another reason I chose SAW over a degree program is that SAW is very inexpensive, but provides the opportunity to work with really amazing faculty. And though there’s no degree, I believe that in the art world your portfolio is more important than having a degree. So the quality of the education is more important than the diploma.”

Any advice for young artists interested in making zines and comics?
Same student, who now wishes to be anonymous: “Do just that – make zines and comics! Make them and get them out into the world. Trade them with other creators, go to conventions, put them online – get your work out there. And, even more importantly, keep making work. It can get discouraging when it feels like no one is listening, but you just have to keep on going. Don’t get too hung up on your early work, either – your first comics probably won’t be great, so finish them and move on. Set goals by the project. If you make a mistake or don’t like the way it’s turning out, finish the project and then try not to make that mistake in your next one – but don’t get discouraged. Also, even if you think you are going to draw in the most flat, cartoony style, still take the time to learn traditional art skills because your drawing can always benefit from them. If you don’t want to go to a traditional art school, look for local figure drawing sessions or evening classes taught by local artists. Or, better yet, apply to SAW! “

Indie alternatives to institutional higher education in the arts deserve support. Non-credit, off-the-grid, DIY art education centers are popping up all over. Tom Huck’s Woodcut Bootcamp in St. Louis, Maine’s Beehive Design Collective and Pittsburgh’s Cyberpunk Apocalypse are a few examples I’ve seen. I hope to see more. SAW has a fundraising Etsy page with original art by Vanessa DavisDash Shaw, John Porcellino and other important comics artists. Check it out.