December 30, 2008


It usually occurs between a year and two years after a student graduates. I often get a phone call or an email from a student who is searching for a life- line. Someone to be a sounding board. It's hard to get these calls. I can tell that the student on the other end of the line is in a struggle, trying to figure out exactly where they belong in the world- if art is indeed in their future. Young artists begin searching for things that are close to what they want to do, but not exactly. I've been on the other end of those phone calls- in the early stages of my career. I remember questioning if I was good enough, what I was doing wrong, if the thing that had identified me as exceptional (my artistic abilities) my entire life was my calling, or if I was wasting my time. All of the time, I was getting positive reinforcement from shows, competitions, accolades, etc. Still, I wasn't making it, and I knew it. I fell back on my instructors from the Illustration Academy- John English, Gary Kelley, Brent Watkinson, and my mentor Robert Meganck from VCU. It takes a village to raise a child, so it is said.

Recently, I've been contacted more frequently. Considering the economic climate, it is no surprise. It is a strange feeling being on the other end of the telephone. To be the one giving advice instead of seeking it.

I often question why I teach illustration, art and image making, especially in these times.

When I get the question "Do you think I have what it takes to be an artist?", or similar, I often respond "If there is anything that I could say in this moment that would dissuade you from pursuing art as a career, then you should find something else to do with your life."

The truth is that I justify educating artists by attempting to give full disclosure, with the hopes of preparing individuals who MUST make art. I feel that I can arm them as well as anyone with current, pertinent information.

The world of the professional artist is grueling, anemic, and it will test you every moment of every day. You don't get to stop being an artist because you have chosen a different path, or a different course was set for you. I was an artist long before I was paid to make art. It isn't something that I was taught in school (although I was taught many very important lessons in school). Being an artist is in the way that you see things differently than everyone else. It is being sensitive to the nuances in life, the things that fall between the lines, and turning those things that you see, feel, hear, know, learn, into something tangible that helps other humans feel more human.

I have always looked for the mistakes that artists make. This makes me feel more human. The things that great artists have seen as beautiful errors that others would never have noticed. Recognizing beauty is easy. Appreciating flaws is hard.

I've been delving into encaustic painting recently. Here is a piece that came from the experimentation, and a detail from the painting. The final image is entitled 'Path', and it is 12" x 12".

December 24, 2008

A Very Merry Christmas... our dear readers of such persuasion. We know many freelancers (our artists included) are working through the holidays. We hope you all find the time to squeeze in a little Christmas magic nonetheless.

Illustration by C.F. Payne for Reader's Digest.

December 22, 2008

2008-12-22 22:36:00

New work for Richmond Magazine. Poe and his child bride in Petersburg, Virginia.

Food Drive at Society of Illustrators

Through January 16, 2009, The Society of Illustrators will be hosting a food drive:

In New York City, one of the richest cities in the world, food poverty is around every corner. Throughout the five boroughs, approximately 1.3 million people – largely comprised of women, children, seniors, the working poor and people with disabilities – rely on soup kitchens and food pantries.

In an effort to maintain social responsibility and give back to the community, the Society of Illustrators is holding a Food Drive from December 12 - January 16. We are contributing to the Soup Kitchen and Food Pantry at Saint Peter’s Church, a part of the Food Bank of New York, on Lexington Avenue and 54th Street. Saint Peter’s is also a haven for the Momentum Project, which is dedicated to feeding disenfranchised New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS.

Whether it is a few cans from your pantry or a few boxes of household supplies, any donation to the Food Drive will be greatly appreciated.

    All items must be:
  • Non-perishable (soups, pastas, beans, peanut butter, canned vegetables, etc.)

  • In their original, unopened packages and containers

  • Within the expiration date on the package or container

All donated items may be dropped off at the Society of Illustrators 128 East 63rd Street, between Park and Lexington Avenues. Thank you for your contribution and we wish you a happy holiday.

Illustration by Barbara McClintock

December 19, 2008

Vicki Khuzami's Holiday Windows for Bloomingdale's

Art On a Grand Scale artist Vicki Khuzami was commissioned this year (and last) to create artwork for the Bloomingdale's holiday window display. The results were a charming tribute to Christmas as we knew it in the 1950's. The display is accompanied the music of Tony Bennett who, incidentally, is a member of the Society of Illustrators. Or at least he was years ago when I stood next to him at an awards ceremony.

Take a closer look at the windows on the AOGS blog.

Tom’s MAD Blog: Drawing Hands

On Tom Richmond's MAD blog, a tutorial on drawing hands.

December 18, 2008

The New Yorker Eustace Tilley Design Contest

Via Unbeige: The New Yorker Relaunches Eustace Tilley Design Contest. Make like a high-profile artist who has landed a coveted New Yorker cover commission and make an image that includes some form of Eustace Tilley, the magazine's iconic, monocled mascot...

Mark Wiener and Art Interactive

Art on a Grand Scale artist Mark Wiener will be broadcasting a live painting event from the Roger Smith Hotel in NYC tonight, December 18. More details on the Art on a Grand Scale blog.

7 Illustrated Gifts

December 17, 2008

The Beauteous Ills of ImageS Magazine

Before working for Richard Solomon's Empire of Fun and Repping,* I was a semi-full-time assistant for several super star artists. I split my week between the studios of Steve Brodner, Burt Silverman and Peter de Sève. Peter, in particular, was a huge collector of art books, periodicals, prints, originals, graphic novels, doodled napkins and anything else with a beautiful image on it.

Peter introduced me to a magazine called ImageS published by Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr. Jim collects old and rare illustrations of a myriad of well known and relatively unknown illustrators. The magazines (I use that word loosely as they are gorgeous collections and hardly what I'd call a "magazine" in the common sense) are a who's who of beautiful and sometimes forgotten illustration. Many times, where institutions like The Society of Illustrators may gloss over an artist or group of artists in favor of legends like Wyeth, Leyendecker and Rockwell, ImageS highlights and showcases those names and pantloads of other brilliant artists including Harry Rountree, Edmund Dulac and Gustav Adolph Mossa to name a few.

Vadeboncoeur's collections truly shine in their respect for classical pen and ink work. He's published 4 black and white annuals highlighting work by people such as Herbert Railton, Heinrich Kley, Winsor McCay and T.S. Sullivant. Illustrations and cartoons from the golden era of pen and ink illustration 1858-1922, images plucked out of Life Magazine and Simplicissimus that many would never even know existed.

They are all for sale at but, sadly, some editions are already sold out.

*Slogan pending official approval.

Wicked Good Wicked Art. Get It?

This week's featured illustrator is Douglas Smith.

December 15, 2008

Gall and Manchess in Spectrum 15

Chris Gall and Gregory Manchess in Spectrum 15! Check out some of the other inclusions posted on

Ted Wright Makes Winter Charming Again

I found out today that I got 4 pieces in the Society of Illustrators Show in the sequential category.
What a nice surprise from the Society. The art was produced for a winter poster Series for a Canadian land development named Ambleside. Art directed by Jeff McLean from Calder-Bateman in Edmonton, Alberta.

December 12, 2008

Mark Summers Newsweek Cover

Art Director Bruce Ramsey at Newsweek commissioned Mark Summers to illustrate this week's cover. Check it out at your local newsstand.

December 11, 2008

Chris Gall Illustrates The Average Commute

If you're a New Yorker, you've likely eyeballed your share of art posters in the city's subway cars. Since 2000, the MTA has been commissioning these horizontal pieces so that we commuters have something interesting to gaze at while we stealthily avoid eye contact. As a strap-hanger, I have to say that I love them.

The latest artist to interpret our daily commute is Chris Gall. This is a rare opportunity as only one or two are commissioned in a year, and the MTA takes great care in picking an artist.

You can purchase this piece and the other commissioned horizontals as Art Cards from the MTA website.

(Click on the below image to see it a bit larger)

December 8, 2008

Travel To Tuscany With Gary Kelley

May 8-16, 2009
(includes two nights in Rome)

"You desire to embrace it, to caress it, to possess it, and finally... your visit becomes a perpetual love affair."
—Henry James (on Tuscany)

Art and architecture. Food and wine. The landscape. These are what inspired by love affair with Tuscany. The Uffizzi Gallery in Florence. Botticelli. Michelangelo. The towers and frescoes in San Gimignano. Trattorias and mercatos. Amazing gelato. Wine tasting in Chianti. Rolling hills colored with forests, vineyards, olive groves and medieval hilltowns.

Join me as we tour, taste, look at art and, perhaps, make some art. I'll be drawing and painting along the way, and I've set aside some time specifically for us to explore the landscape together as "artists." Feel free to bring a sketchbook and an open mind. Just for fun. No previous experience necessary. Cordial criticism is free!

Vive bene; di risata molto.

For more information, contact your Humble Travel Specialist!
Call 800-582-5656.

December 7, 2008

Richard Interviewed on Wise Elephant: Design and Influence

Interview by Jason Moriber of Wise Elephant.

"I met Richard Solomon the Artists Representative a few years back at his former office, flat-files stocked to the gills with images, his team deeply quiet in their work, Richard with the phone at his ear. A lot has changed since then, but Richard’s firm belief in “art” has guided his shop to continue to offer the best work available from the best artists working today. This interview with Richard was conducted earlier this Fall, just as the economics of our time hit their low point."

Read the interview here.

December 6, 2008

Reference: 1890s fashion

A great resource for period-correct costumes during the 1890's, for those of you that find yourself drawing such things. Includes photographs, drawings, paintings and more corseted waists than you can stand. Thanks to Bryan for the link. Wikimedia Commons: Category: 1890s fashion.

December 5, 2008

Chris Gall... Yeah, And He Can Write Too

There are many honors bestowed every year in the world of picture books, but few are as widely respected as being included in the the annual Kirkus "Best Children's Books" list. The newly released 2008 list includes a picture book I wish I had owned as a frequently relocated child, "There's Nothing to Do on Mars", written and illustrated by Chris Gall. To Chris we extend our many and sincere congratulations.

From Kirkus:

Chris Gall’s book tucks right into one of childhood’s bugbears—moving house. In this case, Davey’s family is off to Mars. You’d think that would be plenty distracting, but “I’m bored,” he complains after a day on the Red Planet. As Davey zips around on his space scooter trying to scare up some action, Gall catches the adventure in nostalgia-fueled engravings with flair. “Witty details abound,” according to Kirkus’s starred review, “from Davey’s home, which is an old Airstream trailer perched atop a giant rocket motor, to his pop-eyed robot dog, who tends to leak battery fluid when stressed. Taking the barb out of moving is the book’s genius. “When I decided to write a book about a boy moving to Mars, I wanted it to be a metaphor for the challenges all children face when moving to a strange new place,” says Gall. “After doing lots of research, I found myself confronting an unnerving possibility. There actually might be nothing to do on Mars. So my journey of discovery became Davey’s. “That discovery cures a lot of Martian body odor, sparks a plague of tourists and makes Davey’s parents itchy for Saturn, where, as Kirkus put it, “There probably won’t be much to do there, either, right?”

From the publisher, Little, Brown, and Company:

"There's Nothing to Do on Mars", written and illustrated by Chris Gall has been named a 2008 Kirkus Best Chidren's Book. It's the stirring tale of Davey, a boy from Kansas transplanted to the mysterious Red Planet. No trees to swing in, no fish to catch, just plain no fun to be had. But with the help of his faithful robot dog Polaris, Davey will discover a a whole new batch of fun… and a little bit more. Chris will be at the International Reading Association in Phoenix this February. If you're in the area, please drop by the show.

December 3, 2008

2009 Stamp Preview

Every year the US Postal Service sets philatelic societies aflutter by announcing its annual batch of newly created postage stamps. The USPS is notorious for using great illustrators to portray people and scenes from America's history. The 2009 preview is now up, and includes our artists Mark Summers and Gregory Manchess. Also in the mix this year are Michael Deas and Kam Mak, two artists whose work we really adore.

From the USPS:

Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial, Feb. 9: Artist Mark Summers used his scratchboard style to portray Lincoln as a rail splitter, a lawyer, a politician and president. The block will be issued before Lincoln’s February 12th birthday.

Oregon Statehood, Jan. 14: The sesquicentennial of the 1859 event, using a seacoast scene by artist Gregory Manchess. This design was released in late August in Oregon. The stamp will be issued in Jan., although statehood date was Feb. 14.

Economy went bad. Enjoy these paintings!

This week's featured illustrator is James Bennett

December 2, 2008

Illustrated Trains in Japan

Via, photos of Japanese subway trains covered in imagery, including anime, manga, and designs by renowned artists. Below is one of my favorites, a landscape painting.

Gary Kelley's Dark Fiddler on Review of the Day

On the School Library Journal's website, a Review of the Day for Dark Fiddler: The Life and Legend of Nicolo Paganini by Aaron Frisch, illustrated by Gary Kelley.

Gary Kelley illustrates The Film-makers of Mars

Irene Gallo of Tor Books commissioned Gary Kelley to create a series of monoprints for the web-only story "The Film-makers of Mars" by Geoff Ryman for

"The films just started showing up, everywhere, old forgotten silent movies turning to jelly in warehouses all over SoCal: Anaheim, Burbank, Tarzana.

I got a call from Al at Hannibal Restoration. “They’re mindblowing!” The old hippie.

Eight reels of a film about Santa Claus from 1909. Filmed in Lapland. And forty reels of a film it says was produced by Edgar Rice Burroughs. In 1911?

Cinefex sponsored a program at the LA film festival. They invited me, of course; Hannibal invited me as well. I gave the second invitation to my friend Amy.

I don’t know what I was expecting. L. Frank Baum went bust producing Oz movies. They’re terrible and have very silly special effects, but you couldn’t film them now, or even fake them. They just look like they’re from their era, or even maybe from Oz itself, if Oz were poverty-stricken."

Read the full story...

December 1, 2008

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening

Mark Summers created this illustration of Robert Frost for this week's The Weekly Standard. Mark has been the go-to guy for their Winter Reading Issue for many years, and here's why...