Friday, December 28, 2007

Thinking Inside The Box

Here it is! Or at least a web friendly version of it. The image below is of Toy Box, the drawing I did to hang in the TOYS show December 7th. The show was a blast and very rewarding for me. Not only did I see a lot of great work on the walls around my piece, but I had a great time seeing many old and new friends. The drawing sold too which is always gratifying.

I cannot say for sure whether I am more pleased with the poster illustration or the drawing. It's the first time I recall wearing two of my hats at once: commercial artist and fine artist. Also, each piece is made in a totally different way. In a certain way, though, they are the same piece. Different formats, different content, different moods yes but each are depictions of places where toys are perpetually stuck and always waiting to get out.

My favorite part of this drawing, of which I am very proud, is the folded paper under the 3d glasses. Mainly because I think paper is a hard but very fun material to interpret; but also because I remember somehow always finding magazines or comics in my own toy box.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

It's a BOUT time...

Another very cool thing I was asked to do recently was a poster illustration for the Naptown Rollergirls. I have become connected to the Rollergirls (Indy's own bloodthirsty babes on wheels) through relationships within the art community. Jim Walker of Big Car, Masterpiece In A Day and is very involved with the team and has invited me to judge the MIAD the last 2 years. In particular, though, this opportunity came to me from Jason Pitman, my friend and designer of the Big Car website and Rollergirls graphics among other things (and husband of my longtime friend Julie Pitman). I was honored and excited to be involved.

Initial sketch of final poster concept

Round 2 of approved concept. This was the sketch I 'vectorized' in AI.

The event is coming up this weekend and I plan to be there. The process of creating the illustration was a blast. I usually go with Adobe Illustrator for art that will be used in print. This allows total freedom for the designer to modify the art without sacrificing visual integrity at any size. With this piece, though, there is a grittiness to the nature of the scene that I wanted to preserve. So, I used the approved sketch and modified it in Illustrator. It's all vector, and there are lots and lots of paths.

It was fun to draw a badass babe in boxing gear because, obviously, I do not get called to do such a thing every day.

Jason came to the TOYS show and handed me hard copies of the printed poster. It looks awesome; I am quite proud. Jason took it the extra mile with the design of the poster.

Friday, December 7, 2007


I am once again honored and very excited to have been included in a really cool event. the Toys Show is an annual art exhibition presented by Primary Colours, an art organization here in Indianapolis, in which all participating artists contribute one piece each dealing with the broad theme of 'toys'. It's an honor because, first and foremost, this is an invitation-only show. This means that you have to be asked to participate; and with no shortage of local talent, it's flattering to be asked. Also cool because it's a food drive for a local organization that feeds the homeless during the holidays.

On a personal level, there is a certain feeling of validation that comes from this experience. The only post-school art show I have had to do with (with the exception of Oranje where we usually do a live painting) has been SubSurface, which I co-organize. Members of Primary Colours include some of my favorite local artists (not to mention gallery owners/operators and other members of the local arts community). They have always been supportive of what I do and have attended both SubSurface shows. I respect the group a lot and I believe that I would not have been invited to show in TOYS if I had not won them over with my pieces from the SubSurface show this year. In short, this invitation suggests that the art community includes me as a gallery artist.

I have always been known in town for the large, bold murals I paint with friends from Indy and other cities. These have always been recreational and generally in less appealing parts of town (these are the places where they embrace my art the most it seems). We have, however, done some work in more high-profile parts of town that has been noticed by lots of folks. Although I studied fince art, it was always clear that my true passion was painting walls. I enjoyed this distinction but eventually realized that it was a limitation people placed on my work. I don't think many people thought I was a legitimate gallery artist. I would not have blamed them; I never thought of myself as much of a gallery artist.

The cherry on top of this sundae is that I was also asked to do the illustration for all the event promo materials. Until I get a good photo or scan of my piece from the show, here's the flyer. Lucky me, I still blush.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Puzzle Pieces

When the pencil is moving, thoughts are happening. Art is constructed on paper and later embellished elsewhere. After all, it's the aesthetically boring frame that holds a house up, not the beautiful exterior.

I actually believe that sketches are random clues into oneself. Small pieces that, from a distance, combine to reflect something about the artist. I don't know what the following images reflect about me exaclty, but they definitely contain motifs that I have dabbled in consistently for many years. I think some of them were inspired by obvious sources.

This is the stuff, friends. I am a huge fan of sketch/preliminary art; anything that has 'bones' you can see. For me, that has always been where the magic happens. After all the early decisions are made, the rest is just execution. The irony of this is that sketches are the first steps of what usually is a long journey toward a finished piece of artwork. By the time the final piece is 'complete' the raw spirit of the sketch is long forgotten. Rough drawings contain real life; once you pass the sketching phase it's just a constant attempt to preserve that life.

My favorite sketches come back to me from nowhere. I have kept good sketchbooks at times in my life but now is not one of them. For the last year or so, I have drawn mainly on loose pages. I think it's good because it makes everything less precious. However, it is also very, very bad because the odds are not in favor of me every drawing inspiration from the little bits of magic.

I recently found a whole stack of such pages. I was elated! It's like finding a journal I never remembered writing. I don't know what the drawings are 'about' but there seems to be a strong narrative to some of them. These drawings were drawn at the office during various different discussions. All this time I have wondered where my sketching alter ego has been and it turns out he was tied up in meetings.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

It Takes A Village

I have found lately that the best subject matter for my art is people. Specifically, though, I am happy to find that I am most inspired by the scenes on the street that borders my neighborhood. I live near downtown and drive on 10th St. nearly every day. The things I see in my neighborhood affect me in several ways. This area would often pass for the inner city. However, in Indianapolis (and other cities I'm sure) there are strange places where it seems that the city collides with the suburbs. This is certainly one of those places.

The house in which I live and most of the homes in my neighborhood are well maintained and appear to be very inviting. There always seems to be plenty of family and community activity. This is a little bit new to me having spent many periods of my life in apartments. What is a little more familiar to me is what is see on the streets that border the neighborhood: people everywhere, walking to the store, waiting for the bus, sitting on their stoops or in front of a dilapidated storefront, etc. Yesterday I saw this guy:

I relish these moments. This guy was pacing in front of one of the aforementioned storefronts, wearing only a pair of unflattering sweatpants (a little underdressed for October) and playing a recorder. Yes, the instrument used to introduce children in thousands of elementary school music classes to the frustrations of learning to play Mary Had A Little Lamb, is this dude's instrument of choice. Naturally, the resulting sounds were horrid; reinforcing my theory that a recorder is used as a 'worst case scenario' teaching tool: if you can bear to listen to a song played through this big pipe, your experience with music will inevitably get better.

Several posts ago, I posted a photo of baby Isaac Pitman in front of a yellow illustration I did called "Indianapolis Street." That piece was also inspired by what I have seen around my neighborhood. I grew up in apartments, many of which were in low-income areas. When you live in this environment, lots of things are communal. Everyone uses the same porches, hallways, street corners and open spaces. Also, the community is more intertwined for this reason. It was not uncommon for me to come home and find that my friends were waiting for me or that a group of friendly strangers was using my furniture. Lately, I recall that way of life often as I drive home or walk to the convenience or liquor stores. Looking back, I am much more perceptive of the way others interact with art; like this guy with the recorder. This is him in the act of creating...

Friday, September 14, 2007

Drawing for drawing's sake

As my commitments dwindle (which always happens near the end of summer), I find myself with a small surplus of 'free time'. This has allowed me to get back to drawing as an excercise. This usuallly consists of several pages filled with miscellany of all sorts. Some characters, some simple doodles of nothing, and lots of writing. Eventually, I stumble onto something that could stand alone. This little guy seemed pretty funny at the time.

These sketches hardly ever become anything more than random thoughts, the lucky ones end up being inspiration for something else. I find that it helps me to have a lot of sketches laying around because over time, their meanings change which allows me to see them differently. The silly drawings are important not because they are strong art, but because they can always lead me to something new.

Of course, sometimes I do start with the end in mind. I have embarked on a series of pieces (undetermined number in the series) that feature my artwork as a dominant element of the environment. These pieces have to have human characters in casual poses in order to work.

I drew this guy to have when it's time to finish the third piece.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

I make real art too!

Typically, I contribute to different phases of short animations. They begin with a script, then are storyboarded, then the full color, moveable art is created, audio is attained, and then finally it is animated. There are other smaller steps as well that are involved in the process. I have done all of these tasks to some degree except animation. It’s all web-based, so when we finish, the animation goes to a developer to deliver via the Internet. All of this, for me, amounts to hours of sitting at a computer. It has become very rare for my company to use anything hand-made.

On occasion, however, I get to put a real pencil to real paper. I drew this in pencil first and transferred it in ink using a light table.

This is what it's all about. I believe that one can only be so close to his or her art without actually touching it or the surface on which it lives. I spent what felt like my entire childhood
drawing pictures. I still remember the first time I noticed the bump on my middle finger that would remain a permanent callus from the pencil rubbing into my skin. Anyway, I think this is a pretty cool drawing.