More Death With a Smile

I promised more images from the exhibition “TO DEATH WITH A SMILE” or in Spanish “A LA MUERTE CON UNA SONRISA.” Thanks to Prof. Vicki Meloney for sharing the files, here they are.

Save My Soul by Carlos Franqui

These Kutztown students are finalists, along with artists worldwide. The works are on display through Feb 9 in Mexico City at MUMEDI, The Mexican Museum of Design.

Breathe Breed Bury by Malichi Hall

Finalists’ artwork can be found on the MUMEDI website.

By Erika Mabus

First Prize in this contest includes a MacBook Air, a three night stay at the Museum’s boutique hotel in Mexico City and 3,000 pesos.

Dead Zone by Kristen Demilfy

Prof. Meloney writes, ” the contest challenges cultural perceptions of death and dying. When can death evoke a smile (clever, funny, emotional)? We spent weeks researching the concept of death — Cultural connotations, discussing and dissecting our beliefs and traditions (sometimes the conversations has us rolling with laughter and sometimes brought us to tears).— thousands of entries worldwide, 400 finalists, only 22 from the united states and 16 of those 22 were from our Kutztown University Graphic Design class! Way to go KUCD!”

Michael Oxendine

Some of the images are cartoon-like.

Five More Minutes! by Morgan Mahoney

Others border on the surreal.

Bliss by Kathryn Desiderio

Prof.Meloney pointed out that she Prof. Cunfer and Prof Tienken  are so proud of their junior year students. The final image, below, is by Natalie Bett, a grad student from Kenya, a student in our new MFA program.

Music Shall Carry Me Home by Natalie Bett

All images © the individual artists, students at Kutztown University of PA. For more info on the Communication Design Dept at Kutztown, including our new MFA, visit the website.

Illustration of a Black WWI Doughboy.

My last post was on the Afro-Mexicano experience. Here is something about a little-known African American experience. The wonderful thing about being an illustrator is researching fascinating new things. -K.Mc


Chad Williams is coming to Kutztown to talk about African American soldiers in World War I. I got to illustrate the poster. First thing I did was visit Dr. Williams’ website Torchbearers of Democracy. His book of the same name has won some serious awards. I was surprised to learn 380,000 black soldiers were involved in that war. Next I did a Google image search for statues of black WWI soldiers and found Chicago’s Victory Monument. Generally, public sculptures are in the public domain. Though I am doing an unpaid project for educational event, I never want to knowingly violate another artist’s copyright.

From courtesy Jack Foley.
From courtesy Jack Foley.

I used several reference photos including some from tour guide Jack Foley’s super site on Chicago history,

Victory Monument, Chicago, courtesy Jack Foley.
Victory Monument, Chicago, courtesy Jack Foley.

That gear bag on the soldier’s chest would hold his gas mask. Trench warfare in the First World War was horrific for the use of poison gases, the original weapons of mass destruction. I did a rapid india ink brush drawing of a soldier rushing forward, bayonet at ready. I simplified his uniform and ditched the gas mask pack. Then I scanned the ink drawing into Photoshop and added a sepia tone.

My india ink drawing with a digital wash of sepia tone.
India ink drawing with a “digital wash” Kevin McCloskey

Sometimes an illustrator needs a designer. Type is not my forte, so I asked another faculty member for assistance. She was swamped, but referred me to a talented design student who is interested in military history. It is my good fortune that junior John Woodward took time to design the poster below. He is a Communication Design major with concentrations in Advertising, Interactive and Graphic Design.

Poster design by KU CD student John Woodward
Poster design by KU CD student John Woodward

Thanks to John Woodward’s design for making my illustration look good. The info is clear on the poster. You are invited to hear Dr. Chad Williams if you are in the area on April 1. Should be fascinating.