This is a very disturbing trend. Disturbing and scary make for some great visuals. So…OK, I admit it. I had a lot of fun with this illustration for the TECHNOLOGY section published May 14 in the San Jose Mercury News and Contra Costa Times. According to the story by the Merc’s Steve Johnson, cybercrooks are using “malvertisements” to steal data, infect computers and wreak havoc. Codes are hidden in these malicious ads…and the ads can show up on legitimate sites that screen for ads gone wrong. Not only are the malware codes hidden, a user does not even have to click on the ad to become a victim. Experts say this trend is only going to get worse. This story is worth a read to understand the problem and to get a few tips on how to protect yourself. Here is a link to Steve’s story
When I came up with the motif of the sinister shadow of a clawed hand and arm coming out of a computer everything else fell into place. The trick was to show someone getting attacked, but being unaware. I had the woman looking at a website with ads on the side. Out of one of the ads the shadow, filled with malware code, shoots out and wraps around. The hand is just about to get the woman. I hit on the idea of binary code interspersed with the word “MALVERTISEMENT” to layer into the shadow. I would have to say this one is one of my favorites so far this year for Bay Area News Group.
Here is how it looked in print across the Bay Area News Group papers, with a great page design by business design chief, Jennifer Morris.
A quick post on a recent illustration for a Jessica Yadegaran column for the Contra Costa Times and San Jose Mercury News. The column was about her newfound freedom from the trappings of her iPhone. Jessica left it in the back seat of a plane after letting her kid play with the phone during the flight. She was unable to get the phone back and was forced to revert back to her old phone. At first she missed her iPhone and felt lost without it. But she soon realized she was spending more time enjoying life in the moment, rather than respond to each text, tweet or status update. Here is a link to Jessica’s story:
I played with the concepts of being trapped, shackled or imprisoned to contrast the idea of freedom. Also I tried to factor in how to depict the lost iPhone. I started playing with the idea of flight to symbolize freedom. The birdcage seemed like a great way to express being trapped. For the final solution I created the iPhone in illustrator and used the old cartooning trick of using dashed lines to indicate something that is a ghost or invisible. The rest was created in photoshop. The line art of style of the birdcage further contrasts the swirls and looser more painterly approach to the background and the woman with wings flying out of the cage.
I created this graphic for Bay Area News Group back in March for a Mike Swift story on the ShoeBox app for iPhones that allows you to make a digital archive of old family photos . Here is a link to the story on the ContraCostaTimes.com website http://tiny.cc/iln8dw
In creating this graphic and in helping come up with visuals for the print presentation, I dug out a tattered shoe box full of old family photos. The main photo I used in the graphic to show how the app works is a photo of my Mom, Carlita Carolyn Todd. I hadn’t planned on using this image for the graphic, but it really seemed to be the best portrait I had in the old shoebox to use to tell the story. The portrait is a school portrait from her early years as a teacher in Fordland, Missouri. I would guess the photo is from 1960 or 1961 or thereabouts.
I researched how to use the app, and took photos with my iPhone for the graphic. I used a ink marker to draw the hands and phone and opted to keep them simple and graphic with no color to keep the emphasis on the photos and the process of upload images in the ShoeBox App. I combined all of the elements using photoshop and illustrator.
I haven’t posted many infographics on this blog. But for Mothers Day it seemed appropriate to share this graphic and the photo of my Mom. Although Mom passed away in 1991, she got to see my illustrations and graphics work published in the Springfield News-Leader. One Sunday when she was in the hospital before she passed, I had an illustration on the front of the paper and a TV book cover illustration of Twin Peaks (yes…that long ago) in the paper. The nurses told me how proud she was to see my work and how she glowed when showing them. As my teacher, my mother and as an incredible influence, she still inspires me.
To all Mothers past and present…Happy Mothers Day.
And if you haven’t checked out the ShoeBox app…it is a very handy way to archive and share those old family photos.
Angela Hill’s story, published Sunday in Bay Area News Group papers, explores why it isn’t easy being green…in fact it can be downright confusing. What may claimed to be green, when looking at the carbon imprint and the amount of energy used in manufacturing a “green” product may net an adverse impact on Mother Earth. So sometimes when we are trying to be green we may not be…thankfully sometimes we are. The story offers tips and sites where you can go to help make good green decisions.
For the illustration I wanted to evoke a sense of Earth Day and of the dichotomy of making green choices…and choices that end up not being green. I wanted to avoid using a big earth for Earth Day…been there, done that. Instead I wanted to focus on the personal side of someone making green decisions. I came up with the concept of the Earth being used as the lens in a pair of sunglasses. One side the earth is green with blue ocean in the lens. The other has the continents in red and water is gray. On that side of the figure the color scheme is gray on the figure with red in the lens and background.
On the green side…color is vibrant..using a green, blue color scheme with warm flesh tones in the figure to give that side more life. We positioned the headline in the head scarf and the story in the dress of the figure. An extra embellishment was picking up the continents as a pattern in the scarf and dress.
Of late…all of the illustrations at the news job have been quick turnarounds…but challenging and fun. I working up a rough sketch, scanned it in and did more drawing and painting in Photoshop. I rendered the continents first in Illustrator and then imported to photoshop. Features Design Chief Jennifer Schaefer pulled it all together on the page and made it all work. For the page we used a tight, more dynamic crop.
I’ve been slamming out so much illustration work for Bay Area News Group recently I have had little chance to update my blog…I’ll start catching up this week.
Martin Luther King, Jr., would have been 83 if he were still alive. I had the honor of illustrating the great civil rights leader when I worked at the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader. After researching the writings and many images of MLK I decided on this profile to show his intensity and to emphasize the power of his words. Fun technique. I used china marker (wax pencil) on gesso, worked in ink…and scratched back into the surface with drypoint scribe and an exacto blade. I created the illustration in 1993…it is still one of my favorites.
Revenge? Shouldn’t I be wishing everyone Happy New Year? Perhaps this isn’t the most optimistic note to close out 2011 on, but this was one of the edgier illustrations I did in 2011.
This image was for a story on revenge by Bay Area News Group writer Jessica Yadegaran from early December (2011). Viewers revel in watching shows like ABC’s REVENGE where a young woman named Emily Thorne gets even with those who destroyed her family. We dream about getting even with a bad boss or teaching back-stabbing friend a lesson. According to experts in Jessica’s story revenge can even be healthy…so long as it does not go over the line and stays safe and legal. According to the story, we often work out our injustices in our dreams, and quench our desire to get even without actually having to act them out.
I suspect this is one reason why Revenge tales are so popular in movies, books and comics. They are a harmless way of fantasizing about righting wrongs without actually doing the dirty work or facing the consequences.
The woman in the illustration is based on REVENGE’s heroine played by actress Emily VanCamp. I did a bunch of thumbnail sketches and came up with this solution replete with religious symbols. Of course the Eye for and Eye motif is a biblical reference to revenge. I like the idea of exchanging one card of an eye for another with flames trailing behind and the light trails covering her eyes. I worked to depict the tension between right and wrong. The femme fatale figure is powerful and in control, she has angel wings…but perhaps she is more an angel of death. The deep reds and shadows create a dark mood. I did an unusual technique, using a woodless pencil, brush pen and pen and ink on paper. The color was done in photoshop.
I get to work out all of my revenge fantasies with my artwork. How fun is that? I think I’ll do more in 2012. May your New Year be full of fun, fantasy and righting wrongs! Actually, that does sound optimistic.
Wildlife artwork for the new exhibits at Lindsay Wildlife Museum. One of the coolest projects I’ve ever been a part of.
The Lindsay Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek, CA is part wildlife hospital and part wildlife museum where kids and adults can see animals native to Contra Costa County and the Mount Diablo area. The wildlife on display at the Lindsay are those that cannot be returned to the wild due to injuries or that they have become habituated to humans. You can see up close a mountain lion, golden eagle, hawks, snakes and many other birds and mammals.
Illustrations for the Lindsay Museum: I recently was asked to create illustrations for a new interactive flight simulator exhibit and for a field guide display. For the flight simulator I painted the wings, back and tail of a red-tailed hawk.
In the display the wings are life-size and constructed into a bench with controls and a monitor at the front. A kid (or adult) can lay down on the display, face forward to the monitor and can experience a hawk’s eye view of flying over Mount Diablo. The illustration for the simulator is at the top of the post and was created in pencil, acrylic and watercolor on bristol board. I was able to examine and study specimans and had two red-tailed hawk wings as reference. What fun!
You can see what it looks like in action on the front of today’s Contra Costa Times.
Story by Elisabeth Nardi with photos by Jose Carlos Fajardo and design by Chris Gotsill. Very cool. (Full disclosure: Although I work at the Times I was not involved with or mentioned in the story, nor did I design or art direct the package. Elisabeth wasn’t even aware that I had done illustrations for the project until after she had worked on the story and I mentioned it to her.)
Here is a link to the Contra Costa Times story on the new Lindsay exhibits including a video and slideshow.
I’m also including a few other wildlife illustrations for the new Raptors Exhibit and for the new field guide display. The grand opening is next week, I have not seen them myself yet, really looking forward to taking one of my drawings for a ride. Thanks to Loren Behr, Michele Setter and Marty Buxton at the Lindsay Wildlife Museum and to designer Lisa Park-Steskal and James Freed on allowing me to be a part of something so special.
On the somber 10-year anniversary of 9/11 I thought I should post a couple of 9/11 related images I have done. The first illustration went with a story published in the Contra Costa Times a month or so after the horrific terrorist attacks. It went with a story about how we are coming to terms and coping with the terrible events and images of that day. I contrasted a linear portrait of a woman, head bowed, with an abstraction of the twin towers.
The second illustration went with an A&E cover for the Contra Costa Times on how the Arts have been impacted by 9/11. I painted a stage with Hamlet raising a sword, twin lights beaming down from above against a backdrop of the ruins of the twin towers. This published a year or so after 9/11.
The third illustration I painted to go with a story on athletes that have a fear of flying…even though they have to fly on planes to competitive events. 9/11 made this fear more daunting to overcome. After 9/11 I think all of us had to deal with a fear of flying in one way or another. In this painting I tried to portray the emotional conflict and fear the person had to confront. Lines connect different cities he has to travel to. Dramatic lighting, a shadow of a plane and hand lettering for the headline echoed those feelings.
Looking back on these images now, I see that I was also coping with the 9/11 events in my artwork.
Here is an illustration I did of Steve Jobs for the Contra Costa Times a number of years ago. Apple announced today that Jobs is stepping down as CEO. Jobs is a great pitchman, visionary and guru. This illustration was for a story about Apple’s rising success under Jobs’ guidance.
I was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of illustrator, teacher and mentor Kazu Sano earlier this summer (May 31). Kazu was a master illustrator who was prolific, creating artwork for book covers, for National Geographic and painting a famous Return of the Jedi poster. Kazu was the epitome of what an illustrator should be. His ability to research, and know his subject matter and his masterful techniques as a painter created a lifetime of work that was revered by other illustrators and honored by the Society of Illustrators.
I took Kazu’s Acrylic Figure Painting class at the Academy of Art in San Francisco in the Spring of 1997 – my second semester in the graduate program in illustration. The class and Kazu’s demonstrations and insights were transformative for me as an artist. Beyond techniques Kazu imparted a passion and love for discovery.
You always went early to Kazu’s class. Without fanfare he we would bring in a painting or two of his and lean it up against the critique board. Seeing these works, leaning up close to them, soaking them in hopes of gleaning from them their magic. Kazu rarely said anything about those paintings. They were there to speak for themselves…and for me they spoke volumes. He would start off the class with a demonstration of one of his acrylic techniques, and then send us off to paint from models. Intense, inspiring, joyful and life changing for me…all in just one semester.
One assignment was a self portrait project and along with that a personal review of my paintings, studies and projects created during the semester. I remember the critique as if it happened yesterday. Inexplicably Kazu did not see just my color, or my brushstrokes or my design and painting skills. He saw what was behind them. He peered beyond the artwork to find the artist. He saw exactly where I was coming from and what I was exploring. He was absolutely in tune with what I was doing in my paintings, and what I was getting at. For me this was an exhilirating and spiritual experience. An incredible validation from a master. I have never had an experience as a student or as an artist that has come close to Kazu’s insight and inspiration that morning in Bradley Hall.
This was only one class with Kazu. Kazu’s wisdom, advice and artwork have made an indelible, lasting impact that continues to inform and influence my journey as an artist. I saw Kazu a few years ago at Barbara Bradley’s memorial celebration. I had a good conversation with him and was able to thank him for his class and insight. Thank You Kazu.
Below is the self-portrait project for Kazu’s class.
The Academy of Art director of the department illustration, Chuck Pyle posted a great tribute to Kazu on his blog:
We heard the news as a family midway through President Obama’s speech. In shock I couldn’t believe it was actually true that the the architect of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States had been killed by U.S. special forces in Pakistan. Bin Laden was not hiding in a cave in a remote area of Afghanistan or Pakistan but in a mansion / compound in the city of Abbottabad. As we watched we told my two girls ages 9 and 12 to watch history in the making. My girls tried to soak it in and make sense of it, comparing our reactions to what Obama was saying. Both girls wrote eloquently in their notebooks to record their thoughts. My youngest wrote this: “…when we start(sp) to watch Obama say that Osama Bin Laden is dead at first I thought it was bad. My dad cried and my mom shouted, “What!!!” I asked my Mom is this good? “Yes, listen to Obama speak. I cried…”
As an artist I created this graphite, watercolor and pastel sketch to mark the moment visually. The idea popped into my head almost immediately. I thought playing with a quick line drawing and X-ing out the eyes…an old cartooning symbol to show death… could be powerful contrast. I painted the background with a watercolor brush and added some pastel texture all in blood red. The Xs on the eyes I made by using my index finger…the act was intense and emotional. Of course I’m probably channeling somewhat the famous Hitler X-ed out Time magazine cover from 1945 or the more recent Parada illustration for Time of Saddam. Those paintings X-ed out the whole face.
Rather macabre to create an illustration to note of the killing of someone. I have to say when President Obama said that “justice has been done” I cried, thinking of all of the lives lost on 9/11 and since. I usually work on Sunday nights….it was a tough day for a journalist to be off on furlough from my news job for the Contra Costa Times and Oakland Tribune newspapers. I felt compelled to make the artwork and post it. I have to say that the world is much better place without the evil of Bin Laden in it. Interesting note I heard on MSNBC, the killing of Hitler was also announced on May 1.
In honor of Smithsonian’s Jazz Appreciation Month in April my friend Ed Peaco just posted on his blog about one of Duke Ellington’s works. “Harlem Air Shaft.” It inspired me to share this fun piece I did a few years back for LeapFrog.
You should check out Ed’s post: http://edpeaco.blogspot.com/2011/04/can-you-hear-smell-of-dried-fish.html
I created this several years back for a Chicago design firm for their client LeapFrog. LeapFrog does interactive, fun and educational products for kids. This was for an interactive kids magazine. Using the LeapFrog reader kids could use a stylus and click on different images on the pages and hear information on each musician. They could click on each piano key and play music. In the yellow area of the mural the music and lyrics of “When the Saints Go Marching In” it would enable the kids to select the music and hear it…or play the notes, etc.
In my rough sketch all of the jazz musicians in the composition were completely different characters and fictitious…with a variety of instruments. The mural idea was part of the assignment with the family dancing in the foreground. I added the concept of the mural itself being in the process of being painted.
After submitting my composition, the design firm responded that the client loves it…but wants to change this character to Duke Ellington, this one to Benny Goodman…etc. Glad they loved it. I got busy with research and turned in a real dandy on time. I got paid, but unfortunately the piece never got published by LeapFrog. They stopped publication of the magazine it was for. Too bad. But I loved how this one turned out and am really appreciative that I got to illustrate all of these jazz icons.
One of the great pleasures I have in painting and illustrating stories is connecting with people. The last few months with the publication of our new children’s book, “There’s a Hummingbird in My Backyard” author Gary Bogue and I have had a lot of fun chatting with fans of the book at various events and signings around the Bay Area. I particularly enjoy talking with kids about the artwork and being an illustrator. I can often see a little spark in the eye as a kid talks to me. Suddenly illustrating for a book goes from being an abstraction to something that is tangible and possible. Hopefully I am igniting that spark in some of these young minds. It would be rewarding to meet a kid someday that started illustrating in part from meeting me and seeing my work.
I am excited about sharing my artwork and musings about illustrating for books and newspapers. Thanks for joining me in this new adventure.