December 22, 2009

Mark Summers: Person of The Year (art)

When Time Magazine picked their Person of The Year for '09, they knew that in these past few months, the economy has been at the center of everyone's attention. That's probably why when it came to commissioning a portrait, they chose to let Mark Summers reimagine the dollar for them.

As The Ispot says, "Mark Summers’ signature engraving style was the perfect medium for this ripped-from-currency cover portrait of Ben Bernanke for Time Magazine’s Person of the Year issue."

Mark Summers, Time Cover

From the article: "Bernanke is the 56-year-old chairman of the Federal Reserve, the central bank of the U.S., the most important and least understood force shaping the American — and global — economy. Those green bills featuring dead Presidents are labeled "Federal Reserve Note" for a reason: the Fed controls the money supply. It is an independent government agency that conducts monetary policy, which means it sets short-term interest rates — which means it has immense influence over inflation, unemployment, the strength of the dollar and the strength of your wallet. And ever since global credit markets began imploding, its mild-mannered chairman has dramatically expanded those powers and reinvented the Fed." (read more)

December 21, 2009

Rock Out With You Chalk Out

This week’s featured illustrator is Gary Kelley
This week’s featured illustrator is Gary Kelley

Richard at Art Basel

For those of you who are not familiar with Art Basel Miami, it is the largest and most prestigious art fair in the Americas. It takes place once a year in Miami Beach. The Basel Switzerland fair is número uno in the world, and Art Basel Miami is an offshoot of that. I have just a few examples, but you can get a little sense of it by clicking on the pictures in this post to go on to their websites.

For five days every December Miami and Miami Beach are literally overrun with art of every possible stripe imaginable. The centerpiece is the Convention Center… Imagine four to six football fields chock a block with hundreds of dealer booths containing thousands of artworks including 3D, video, installations and sculpture, above and beyond flat art. Now picture twenty other smaller fairs going on simultaneously in various venues plus street fairs, people watching, and the usual south Beach madness… That’s Art Basel Miami!

I made my headquarters in a lovely small Art Deco hotel in South Beach within walking distance of the Convention Center. One night after one of the fairs devoted to emerging artists in the Design District, I decided to take a walk through a tough and rundown neighborhood... hey, I was born in NYC, that sort of thing does not faze me. Anyway, on many of the abandoned buildings are large Graffiti wall paintings, some quite good. Up ahead I see a young man spray painting a very large wall. This "kid" is in his early 20's and is up on a ladder with various spray cans, and salsa music playing from a boombox. I knew in a nanosecond he was the real deal. We talked for 20 minutes and I told him I was VERY excited about his work. In retrospect, that was the highlight of the trip...go figure, right? You've got to trust in fate.

Oh, one more thing. On the way to Art Basel my car service was running 45 minutes late. It was raining, 37 degrees, and I'm dressed for spring. So I hail a yellow cab. The driver is from Haiti and we get to talking. He says: would you like to hear music from my country? "...sure..." L'ORCHESTRE TROPICANA D'HAITI, I loved it! He sees that I'm really into it and offers to give the CD to me. He told me to go to a club in Queens to hear the GOOD STUFF. I'd like to give it a shot.

- Rick's Art Basel adventure.

September 8, 2009

Sidebar Nation: The Podcasts Continue

Things have been a little slow on the Solomon blog lately... but big changes are on their way. More about that soon, but for now we'd like to once again point you to Sidebar Nation's excellent site. Some of you may have noticed them popping up in our own sidebar, but they're worth a feature story. Actually, more familiar faces have been in the spotlight there than here lately, most recently Rudy Gutierrez. And be sure seek out Greg Manchess too. Thanks again for all the hard work, interviewers and interviewees alike.

June 5, 2009

June 1, 2009

Harlequin Celebrates 60 Years of Cover Art


Ok, so this isn't our normal fare, but I thought all you illustration junkies might want to know about this show that is now at the Open House Gallery on Mulberry street in Little Italy, NYC. While it isn't "high art" it is how many illustrators made (and still make) a living. Looks to have some interesting illustration, even if it is a bit racy. If you want to see it you will have to get there quick the show is only up in NYC for a week.

Open House Gallery

201 Mulberry Street

New York, NY 10012

(212) 334-0288

May 29 - June 12

All images Copyright Harlequin Books

May 29, 2009

The Many Faces of David Johnson

David Johnson emailed us last week with this story about a portrait job he had just finished. As you may know, David is one of our most traditional artists, working in pen and ink from start to finish. But today art directors expect every artist to be a master of fast revisions. At the last possible minute, David was asked to make his previously stern subject smile for the readers. Luckily for everyone, he's been honing his photoshop skills.

David Johnson double whammy

May 27, 2009

Dinotrux are here!

Publishers Weekly agrees with us, Chris Gall's Dinotrux is "hilariously imagined [with] creatures that suggest the offspring of R. Crumb creations and the Transformers." Yes, the book has been released. You can read the article here, or just go buy the book.

Behold, the beauty of nature's-OHMYGOD!

Rick Farrell

This week’s featured illustrator is Rick Farrell

In Praise of Public Art: An Introduction

By José Maria Sert, 1941

Recently, with the economic downturn and Shepard Fairy in the news because of his guerilla style art, my thoughts have been turned toward the last real depression. While happening a generation ago, there are still many things that came out of the Depression in which we can relish in today. A passion of mine (although by no means something I follow everyday) are great displays of public art. I am not speaking only of the art from the Great Depression and WPA projects that went on, but great demonstrations of it from the largest of corporations and great benefactors to wonderful public works like parks and bridges to beautiful items that adorn public locations.


Perhaps one should define what public art is, as there can be many interpretations of that idea. My personal definition is: Displays of art in places where the public at large can view them. This excludes in corporate collections (although there are some great ones) and museums. It can be painting, sculpture or designs that are viewed in the round, like a great play. This being said, public art can also be determined by the viewer. So my definition is not what my friends might be.

In the coming weeks I am going to address public art that is, mostly but not all, in New York City (The only reason for this is, this is where I am and will be in the coming weeks). As I travel I will also attempt to do posts from other areas in the US and around the world. I would also like to hear from you, as I am by no means an authority on such things.

Part 2: Rockefeller Center Sculpture and Art

May 1, 2009

April 10, 2009

A Wicked History: Julius DEASer

Today we bring you the last post in this week's series of illustrators as the wicked and conquering by Mark Summers. This entry belongs to Michael Deas, an illustrator whose client list (er... conquests!) would make old Julius proud.

If you'd like to see more of the lovingly illustrated covers by Mr. Summers, check them out at Some are still in the works but will be on the shelves soon.


April 9, 2009

A Wicked History: Alexander the Great Scott Brundage

Five similarities between illustrator Scott Brundage and Alexander the Great:

  • Alexander studied with Aristotle just as Scott Brundage studied with Burt Silverman.

  • Alexander was rumored to have been the son of Zeus, who liked to play with lightening. Scott's father is an electrician.

  • They both enjoy(ed) olive oil, wine, and public bathing.

  • Both were fondly nicknamed, numerous times, using such names as "The two horned one" and "Lord Bryn".

  • Alexander was constantly surrounded by Greek soldiers. Scott lives in Astoria Queens.

Alexander the Great Scott by Mark Summers, Art Director Marie O'Neill at Scholastic.


April 8, 2009

A Wicked History: Manchess as Pizarro

Once upon a time a young bastard named Francisco Pizarro grew up to be an explorer. Somewhere along the way he managed to conquer the Incan Empire, mainly due to the fact that no Inca warrior could in good conscience hit a man in ruffles.

Historical facts aside, here is the man as modeled by a decidedly gentler Gregory Manchess. Although, I have been on the receiving end of this look before. All I'm saying is, don't even so much as joke with the man that Thomas Kinkaid is your favorite painter. You've been warned.


April 7, 2009

Tim Bower: When All You Have Left is Your Pride…

Check out the Science Times today to see a painfully topical illustration by Tim Bower: When All You Have Left is Your Pride….


A Wicked History: Peter de Sève as Sir Francis Drake

Today in the Mark Summers series of generally behind-the-scenes illustrators who willingly morphed themselves into wicked(ly attractive) cover models, we bring you Peter de Sève.

Peter plays Elizabethan Pirate Sir Francis Drake (Who, like Peter, was known to the Spanish as "El Draque" or "The Dragon").

Because of this unfortunate pet name, I was too scared to call Peter to see if he had the original sketch. And apparently Mark Summers chucked that sucker first chance he got. Sorry folks. But the finish is pretty mischievous, no?


April 6, 2009

A Wicked History: James Bennett as Hannibal

Mark Summers has been working diligently over the last several years on the "A Wicked History" series of book covers for Art Director Marie O'Neill at Scholastic. Each cover features a different personality from history, in this case, the Carthaginian General Hannibal.

In an effort to increase his own engagement with the characters and pump a little personality into the long dead villains, Mark decided to use his own friends and fellow illustrators as models for the series.

Here for your amusement is James Bennett as Hannibal. You might see the real Bennett with a red-stained paintbrush in his hand instead of a sword, but other than that... spot on! Nice breastplate.


April 2, 2009

Scottie does Dallas: Conceptart's Reverie

I've only recently acquainted myself with and really didn't know what I was getting into by attending Reverie. My buddy, Greg Manchess, made it sound like some sort of art orgy. Which makes me wonder how many orgies he's been to.

Irene Gallo, Manchess, Bryan Beus
(not pictured: orgy)
My travelmate, Bryan, and I met up with Irene and Greg before heading to the Reverie venue. Irene informed me about how Kindle and Kindle-like products will eventually be your ipod and book library. We had an earlier discussion about the possibility of reading children's books to kids off a Kindle, which I thought was preposterous. Irene told me it was very posterous. To the point that your child's book will record you reading it to him or her, so he or she can look at its digital pages and hear you narrating. Holy year 2000!

Then we hit the kick off party. Wowo. 7 open bars, 12 screens projecting digital paintings in progress, 3 djs, Android Jones projecting artwork onto a dancer, and models coming up to pose left and right.

No biggie.

Behind this group of artists was a dancefloor. And more nude models. Not sure if Bryan approved. Should be an interesting couple days.

Instead of trying to recall exactly what I absorbed, I'll list some highlights of the last three days of Reverie...
-learning an impromptu lesson in how to use a Wacom tablet and CS3 to draw from life. Thank you, Dustin Darnault, for some tips.-Hangin out with a Greg, Irene, and Dakota, the red-tailed hawk, in a hotel room
-Watching Greg paint a full painting over 7 hours or so-Dinner with Ringling grads Dustin Darnault, Adam Volker, Erin Maguire, and... two more that I forgot names of (sorry). Ringling has a tradition of staggeringly beautiful sketchbooks. Take a gander at their blogs for proof.
-Character design demo/photoshop how-to by Bobby Chiu
There I am lookin pensive.
-Multitudes of lectures ranging from Winsor McCay's narrative style to how to create a contract to keep a movie studio from robbing you.
-7 or 8 artist "Thunderdome." For those who don't know, that means a competition where the artists create a piece on a theme and one wins. This theme was on hope in the midst of genocide generated by demand for materials in Africa that are used to create our ipods, cell phones and electronics. The artists were given an hour... ridiculous what they can pump out in an hour.
....And here are some sketchbook pages from the event, one of which is a Manchess cameo.