March 27, 2013

Niklas Asker - ACC Docket, Unfriended

Last month, Tran Nguyen graced the cover of ACC Docket. This month, art director Jamie Mitchell hired Niklas Asker to create a cover based on companies using potential employees' social media to make hiring decisions: 

Tyler Jacobson - Wheel of TIme, A Crown of Swords

The Wheel of Time book series is a legend in the fantasy genre. Author Robert Jordan has ammassed a cult following over the years of die-hard, dedicated fans. We are proud that for the new book coming out A Crown of Swords, our own Tyler Jacobson created a beautiful cover. 
Below is the blog post written by Irene Gallo, art director at Tor books, where she talks about the process is took to create this magical work of art:

When it came time to print the trade paperback editions, editor Harriet McDougal asked if we could depict the scene where Cadsuane meets Rand for the first time. It’s a great moment in the book but I feared it might be a difficult one to depict, being a cinematically quiet test of wills. Luckily, artist Tyler Jacobsonpulled it off with flying colors. 
I met Tyler a few years ago when I went to a portfolio review at the University of the Arts in San Fransisco and have been watching his career ever since. I needed someone that understood the fantasy aesthetic and could handle a crowd scene—Tyler’s name came to mind pretty quickly. Not only did he manage to get all those characters into a small space, he was able to capture the sense of tension embedded in the scene. Not an easy task in a still image. 

Tyler says, “I was very honored to be allowed to work on the Wheel of Time series. It was really great to contribute to a set of books that not only have such a great following, but have also had an amazing lineup of artists creating beautiful covers. What I found particularly fun and challenging on this piece was creating a sense of anticipation and tension. I also wanted to develop a tight space and provide the viewer with some open questions that might draw them in, like who are these people and what the heck is going to happen next?”
Below you can see his paintng process step-by step.
The initial sketches:
Tyler Jacobson's Crown of Swords cover in progress.
I knew I had gone to the right artist as soon as I saw these sketces. What seemed to me to be a compositional nightmare was clearly not a problem for him. 
The first one got a good amount of movement in a static scene, and I like that Cadsuane is a pillar of calm and unperturbed by the crowd, but it was a bit more expected than the other two compositions.
I also really liked the third sketch, it was a great way to show Cadsuane's strength and calm even while faced with a room full of Asha’man on guard. The trouble was, Asha'man didn't use spears and I didn’t think the swords would work in their place. There was also a height issue between Rand and Cadsuane. 
The middle seemed just right. She enters a room full of pent-up agression with strength and poise, completely confident, as befits her status as a near-legendary Aes Sedai.
The final drawing. Note this is before we swapped the spears for swords. 
Tyler Jacobson's Crown of Swords cover in progress.
And here you can follow his painting style through a number of steps. It is interesting that, although he is painting digitally, he following a very traditional technique by blocking in all the values first and then slowly introducing color. 
Tyler Jacobson's Crown of Swords cover in progress.
Tyler Jacobson's Crown of Swords cover in progress.
Tyler Jacobson's Crown of Swords cover in progress.
Tyler Jacobson's Crown of Swords cover in progress.
Tyler Jacobson's Crown of Swords cover in progress.
Tyler Jacobson's Crown of Swords cover in progress.
Tyler Jacobson's Crown of Swords cover in progress.
Tyler Jacobson's Crown of Swords cover in progress.
Tyler Jacobson's Crown of Swords cover in progress.
Tyler Jacobson's Crown of Swords cover in progress.
And the final art! 
Tyler Jacobson's Crown of Swords cover in progress.

March 25, 2013

Chris Gall - Up, Up, And Away!

Chris Gall illustrated his third Departure article for Virginia Living, a magazine that comes out once every 2 months. In this article, author Dean King talks about how he considers his recently retired dental hygienist to be one of his heroes (she plays the bagpipes and raises chickens). 

Take a look at his other VL illustrations: 

March 20, 2013

Gregory Manchess - Gina Rinehart for The New Yorker

Gregory Manchess painted this dramatic portrait of Australia's controversial billionaire, Gina Rinehart for The New Yorker's feature story. We love when Greg flexes his painterly muscles and creates such a loose by controlled portrait. 

Lords and Ladies

Ricardo Martinez
"Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves; vanity, to what we would have others think of us."
Jane Austen
Jason Seiler
"All our souls are written in our eyes"
Edmond Rostand, Cyrano De Bergerac
Paul Cox
"Common sense, in so far as it exists, is all for the bourgeoisie. Nonsense is the privilege of the aristocracy. The worries of the world are for the common people."
- George Jean Nathan
Tim Bower
"During all these years there existed within me a tendency to follow Nature in her walks."
John James Audubon
Mark Summers
"Some may claim that is it unscientific to speak of the operations of nature as miracles. But the point of the title lies in the paradox of finding so many wonderful things subservient to the rule of law."
Elisha Gray
Gary Kelley
"One can't judge Wagner's opera Lohengrin after a first hearing, and I certainly don't intend to hear it a second time."
Gioachino Rossini
Gregory Manchess
"I am now quite cured of seeking pleasure in society, be it country or town. A sensible man ought to find sufficient company in himself."
- Emily Bronte
Bill Sanderson
"Necessity dispenseth with decorum."
-Thomas Carlyle
Edward Kinsella III
"Somebody did indeed ask me what kind of feather it is I'm wearing. Well, there are only two specimins of this rare bird known to man. One of them has clearly ended up on top of my head, and the other - rumor has it he's running for office in the Tory Party."
-Georgiana, The Duchess of Devonshire (character), The Duchess, 2008
John Mattos
"If you have to ask how much it costs, you can't afford it."
-J. P. Morgan
David Johnson
"The very rich can afford to give offense wherever they go. - We need not care for his good opinion."
- Elizabeth Bennett (character), Pride and Prejudice 1995
Kent Barton
"The history of the Victorian Age will never be written: we know too much about it."
- Lytton Strachey
Ted Wright
"There is a natural aristocracy among men. The grounds of this are virtue and talents."
Thomas Jefferson
C.F. Payne
"My only books were woman's looks, and folly's all they've taught me."
Thomas More
Andrew R. Wright
"Proud people breed sad sorrows for themselves."
Emily Bronte
Tyler Jacobson
"There is a natural aristocracy among men. The grounds of this are virtue and talents."
Thomas Jefferson
Tran Nguyen
"Belladonna, n.: In Italian a beautiful lady; in English a deadly poison. A striking example of the essential identity of the two tongues."
Ambrose Bierce
Kinuko Y. Craft
"Ladies of Fashion starve their happiness to feed their vanity, and their love to feed their pride."
- Charles Caleb Colton
Douglas Smith
"I believe that history has shape, order, and meaning; that exceptional men, as much as economic forces, produce change; and that passe abstractions like beauty, nobility, and greatness have a shifting but continuing validity."
- Camille Paglia
James Bennett
"Every man has his moral backside which he refrains from showing unless he has to and keeps covered as long as possible with the trousers of decorum.
- George C. Lichtenberg
David Palumbo
"Real nobility is based on scorn, courage, and profound indifference."
- Albert Camus
Chase Stone
"All day long the superior man is creatively active."
- Fu Xi, The I Ching, or Book of Changes

March 19, 2013

Art Fair Hopping by Richard Solomon

The weekend of March 9th was art fair time in NYC. Many fairs were going on simultaneously around town and I had the pleasure to attend two.

The first was Fountain Art Fair featuring many up and coming artists showing at a diverse mix of worldwide galleries. My favorite pieces were done by Orlando Arocena, an artist that wears many hats including creative director, fine artist, illustrator and brand consultant.

His work has a clean graphic simplicity that evokes 30s mural art which was so popular in large scale environments at that time. He had on display 6 works which explore the combination of traditional and contemporary aesthetics, a "mash-up" of influences from Advertising and the Cultural arts – delivered through a digital medium called Vector.
Orlando Arocena

My second stop was also at an armory, the Park Avenue Armory. This show was a far cry from Fountain, having been organized by the Art Dealers Association of America, a trade association of the nations leading galleries. Many of the works are by heavy hitters of the contemporary art world as well as the greats of the 20th century. I have picked two pieces that I would love to have in my home. Incidentally they both came from the Mary-Ann Martin | Fine Art.

My eye was immediately riveted on a large rather dark oil portrait of a very intense looking man. I couldn't take my eyes off this piece… So Strong and unforgiving, turns out it was a self-portrait of the great Mexican Artist, David Alfaro Siqueiros.

David Alfaro Siqueiros
Note from Mary-Ann Martin | Fine Art:
"Excerpt from the catalogue for Portrait of a Decade: David Alfaro Siqueiros,1930-1940 by James Oles, 1997: “The inscription on this solemn self-portrait indicates that it was painted in Taxco in March 1930, just prior to the artist’s incarceration in Lecumberri, Mexico’s federal penitentiary. Siqueiros was therefore familiar with the remote colonial town, located in the mountainous state of Guerrero, before moving there after his release in November.

In this work, the artist places himself within an awkward and claustrophobic interior; his head is framed by the corners of two unadorned walls that jut deeply into the background. Similar spaces appear in the portrait of Moisés Sáenz and Emiliano Zapata, and in Proletarian Mother, although the walls here are much more simply articulated. In each case, however, the juxtaposition of the human figure with architecture increases the relative scale, and thus the solidity and monumentality of the subject.

Siqueiros wears a blue work shirt, the costume of a man who a few years before had organized his fellow muralists into a ‘syndicate’ of craftsmen, and who had just spent several years as a union activist among miners and peasants in the state of Jalisco. The shirt is thus symbolic of his role as a member of the proletariat, rather than of the artistic elite of the capital. His deeply tanned features are also indicative of a life spent outside of the ivory tower. The crossed position of his arms, reminiscent of the pose of ancient Egyptian kings, serves to distance the subject from his audience. Indeed, this is the only self-portrait in which Siqueiros revealed so much of his own body. The look of confidence, however, would appear repeatedly in his self-representations throughout the decade.” "

Isabel De Obaldia

The other work was a sculpture that at first glance looked like it had been unearthed from an archeological dig, taken from a lost civilization. This sculpture was done by Isabel De Obaldia, a contemporary artist living and working in the Canal Zone inside Panama. This work is entitled "Blue Idol" and touched a strong cord in me.

I have passed the stage of analyzing why or how artwork "gets to me". But these three works stopped me in my tracks and that is what wonderful art does. It stops you in your tracks.


Jason Seiler - Pope Francis

With so few good photos of the new Pope, Der Spiegel asked Jason Seiler to paint his portrait for their cover. Turnaround was about 1 day. Although the magazine never ended up running it on their cover, we still think it's one of Jason's best portraits to date. 

March 18, 2013

Goni Montes - Some Men Can't Work with Some Women

The Work Style Magazine issue #11, coming out in April, features an article about why some men can't work with some women and vice versa with an accompanying illustration by Goni Montes who added a humorous touch.

Maria Corte - Vocal Oodles & Doodles

Sauce Music's production, Vocal Oodles & Doodles, features the artwork of Maria Corte. Our compliments to Simon King (producer and art director) for choosing the perfect artist to compliment the sounds. 

Check it out on their website where you can purchase/download the CD.

Breakthrough Contest 2013 Q&As

The Breakthrough Contest is in it's third week and with the deadline set on April 5th, there is still plenty of time to decide on what to submit. 

We would like to remain as communicative and open as possible so here are answers to common questions we have been asked: 

How many winners will there be?
There is only one winner that will receive the full prize. There are 4-5 runners up that are featured on our website and social media as well as 10-20 staff picks that we in the office choose to feature as well. 

What do you mean by "all-expense paid trip to NYC"?
This means we will be paying for your airfare from anywhere in the world, a 3 night stay in a hotel, as well as food expenses for 3 days. In the past, winners have chosen to stay longer than 3 nights. The hotel and food expenses for the extra days were paid by them. 

Can I have a representative/agent at the time of entering?
We would prefer that you not have an agent at the time of entering. Since we are an illustration agency hosting the contest, if winner is represented, this can be viewed as a conflict of interests. 

Does winning the contest mean automatic representation by Richard Solomon?
This is not necessarily the case as this is a promise that we might not be able to keep. For example, if the illustrator got representation from another agency in between entering and the announcement of the winner (as did happen before). We can say however, that the winner from the first year, Michal Dziekan, is now repped by us as well as several non-winners from both years we ran the contest so far.

How is a winner chosen?
On the left panel of, we list the judges that will help us decide on the winner. They are all either art buyers and art directors in a variety of fields, from publishing to editorial. We present them with the submitted portfolios and they grade each one on a scale from 1-10. Once the last judges submits their scores, the person with the highest tallied score is the winner. 

Why have you put a cap on age?
This is the question we are probably asked the most so I will do my best to clarify. Our purpose for this contest is not to air an open call for all illustrators and find the best one. As you can imagine, this can create a lot of unfair competition among illustrators with different levels of experience. The initial idea has been to find a young talent just starting out in their career and give them the leg up they need that they might otherwise not have. Since we have no way to accurately gage experience level, the best we can do is set a ceiling on age. 

Many people have brought it to our attention that they started out a career at a late and the age limit is unfair. Although we completely understand, this is the exception rather than the rule. People above the age limit are still very much welcome to submit their work for review in the traditional way (by sending us an email). In future years, we can come up with a better compromise to be more accommodating, but for this year the age limit will remain at 30 and 35 if still a full time student. 

If you have any more questions, don't hesitate ask either in the comment field or via email ( 

March 14, 2013

Mark Summers - Revamping Hudson's Bay Company's Crest

Fall 2012 until earlier this year, Mark Summers was working on revamping the Hudson's Bay Company's crest. Although the art itself is small, it took this long because they wanted to get it just right, as their first change in 50 years. And right they did! It's now out and getting buzz on various media outlets, including a review Brand New, a branding identity opinion source. 

Hudson's Bay Press Release

Brand New Review