Monday, April 16, 2018

Myriad

At about the same time as I was designing my 'Stranger Things' tribute piece(s), I was also working on some concepts to immortalize my adoration of the great 80's dark-comedy/drama, 'Heathers' (which also stars 'Winona Ryder'...weird).  The film takes place in the late 80's and stars our adolescent narrator/anit-protagonist 'Veronica' (Ryder), who spends her days (and nights), at the beck and call of a trio of troublesome teens all by the name of 'Heather'.  The Heathers consist of: 'Heather Chandler' ('Kim Walker'), 'Heather McNamara'('Lisanne Falk'), and 'Heather Duke' ('Shannen Doherty').  Led by 'Chandler' the group wrecks havoc on the school until 'Veronica' decides, with the aide of her love interest and new student 'JD' ('Christian Slater'), to grow a conscious.  The film is a great commentary on the social structures in society, that on some levels is still relevant today.

The initial concept (not featured), was one of a completely different direction..somewhat, I'd share it here, but it's something that I haven't really finished beyond the concept drawings, and I haven't decided if I want to develop it personally, or possibly commercially, so I'll keep that under wraps for now (stay tuned)!!!

While I was still kicking around with what I was going to do for the film, I received an email from Gallery 1988 with a list of shows they were recruiting artists for.  One of the shows happened to be a tribute to films from 1988 (their namesake), entitled '30 Years Later:  Artwork Inspired by the Movies of 1988'.  The list of films associated with that year had 'Heathers' attached to it, so now I HAD to create something dedicated to the film...it was the perfect excuse.  After talking with one of the curators at the gallery, I decided to scratch my original idea, and instead, try something different.  I wanted to capture the essence of the film, which, for me, was it's brutal humor.  There are so many quotable lines from the film, many of which are still used today, which embody the film's soul.  With that in mind, I made the choice to design illustrations with a typographical focus for each of the main characters in the film.  The tricky part here was finding a singular quote to represent some of the characters who's onscreen presence is either overabundant, or borderline background actors (I'll let you determine which is which).  Normally I would begin designing something straight away, but seeing as I've had so many issues with framing availability, I decided before I begin creating a layout, I would find a frame that worked for my purpose first.  I had originally planned only four designs (one for each of the main female leads), but upon visiting my local art supplier, I came across the most perfect frame (shaped like a filmstrip), however, it had seven spots, which meant I was going to need to create three more images to fill it out.  I contacted the gallery to make sure the frame would be okay to use (due to it's unorthodox shape), and upon receiving confirmation, I began to develop the remaining three quotes.  I decided I could include the characters of 'JD', the fictional band 'BIG FUN', and another memorable quote from the most diabolical of the trio, 'Heather Chandler' (she really does have the best lines in the film). 

While I had seen the film many times before, I needed to do some research and find elements from the movie that I could include into the quotes (and I also needed more quotes).  The majority of the lines from the film I selected were already kicking around in my head, but I wanted to do them justice, and make sure I represented them as directly as possible.  I also need imagery associated with each of the characters to include some visual representation for each one.  The main cast is intelligently associated with a specific hue, and in order to stay true to the film, I wanted to include each particular color scheme with it's corresponding actor (red for 'Chandler', yellow 'McNamara', green 'Duke', and blue 'Veronica').  I initially toyed with hand-lettering the quotes, but instead opted to use fonts ('Honey Script' and 'Stymie Black'), that were similar as the ones used in the film to represent the typography.  I already had the layouts done in sketch form, so I took them into Illustrator and began designing them accordingly.  Once I finished the initial layouts, I created the accompanying character specific illustrations for each design.  The biggest struggle I ran into with this project was the orientation of the quotes.  Many of them were designed to be horizontally formatted, but due to the frames orientation, had to be adjusted to a vertical format. The final step was taking the images into Photoshop, and adjusting them so that they best fit within the frames requirements. 

The illustration is entirely digital, laboriously made in Illustrator, painstakingly adjusted in Photoshop, and some details done in Painter.
The pieces were originally on display at Gallery 1988 during the aforementioned show ('30 Years Later:  Artwork Inspired by the Movies of 1988'), from April 6th - 21st, 2018.
A limited number of prints for each design are available on the gallery's website here.
The collection is titled 'Myriad' (which if you've seen the film you'd know EXACTLY what that is a reference to).  The individual prints are subtitled below.

CHANDLER (1) 

DUKE

McNAMARA


JD


VERONICA


BIG FUN


CHANDLER (2)

Friday, April 13, 2018

Monthy Python's Life of Brian

In June of 2017 I received a correspondence from Gallery1988 about participating in a show dedicated to the classical comic stylings of comedy troupe 'Monty Python'.  I began checking into their catalog of works, and after some grueling research (i.e. watching movies), I had a few sketches/ideas to work with.  Ultimately I ended up basing my work off of the 1979 film 'Life of Brian' (a parody of the Christian messiah story, and tale of mistaken identity). 

This show, unlike any of the previous ones I have done with the gallery, required that I submit a sketch for approval prior to working on the actual illustration.  The sketch was due in September, and I had several ideas, so I set about seeing how I could translate my 'vision' into an image that would properly represent the film.  Initially I was going to illustrate the song lyrics from the end theme song, "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life", but then changed directions when watching the film.  The movie itself, intelligently tackles many issues, from religion to politics, and during a scene where the lead 'Brian' is being pursued by his followers, it came to me.  In this particular sequence, our protagonist 'Brian' is trying to escape the zealots through the city market, and during the chaos, a gourd becomes a mistaken relic in his honor.  Moments later, during a segment where 'Brian' tries to avert his mob, he loses one of his sandals.  It is then, that the two factions are born.  One group begins to 'gather the shoe', while the other believes they should 'follow the gourd'.  The humor wasn't lost on me, and I knew what I was going to make propaganda posters dedicated to the two religious factions that evolve during this event.  I set about making new sketches, developing one for each of the groups ('shoe' and 'gourd'), and sent them to the curator of the show.  When I received a response in October I began working on both images.

Follow the Gourd
Shortly after submitting the sketches to the curator, I set about looking for color schemes that would work best for my designs, and identified references, tutorials, and other various resources for the project.  The first design I worked on was the '...Gourd' piece as it was the design I liked the best between the two of them.  I went into Illustrator, created all the shapes/designs I needed, and then reconstructed the image in Photoshop.  I found a font during my research that really work with the direction I was going, and after some layout manipulation, had my design locked in.  I then wanted to make the image look distressed (afterall the film was from the late 70's, any poster existing would be weathered from age by now), so I set about looking for filters I could use to overly on the final product.  I had to do A LOT of research and troubleshooting during the final distressing phase, it was a good learning process.  The final product is below, and prints are available on Gallery1988's website here.



Gather the Shoe
Upon finishing the first image, I started out working on the second design which was molded after the Russian constructivist movement, known for it's Communist propaganda posters.  I already had the color scheme lined up, so it was just a matter of arranging all the elements I designed in Illustrator, in Photoshop, and making the necessary adjustments.  Similar to the first poster, I found a proper font that fit the art movement from above, and then went about looking for another image to use for the distressing process.  Upon resolving the final step, both posters were done.  Prints for this image are also available on the Gallery's website, here.


The pieces are both digital, done almost entirely in Illustrator, with some manipulation done in Photoshop.
The posters were originally on display in the gallery during the 'Monty Python' show which ran from February 2nd to the 24th, 2018.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Hyrule (Breath of the Wild)

In early April of 2017, I received the initial email from Gallery 1988, accepting my submission, and inviting me to participate in two of their shows that year.  The first was the 'King' show (dedicated to the works of 'Stephen King'), and the second was their annual 'Postcard Correspondence 2017' show in December.  The show's precedence was for each artist to create a postcard (functional or not), for a place/location (real or imagined), based on a television show or movie.  I apparently did not read (nor follow), the directions very well, as I decided to base my image on a video game I was currently obsessed with.  Earlier that year Nintendo had released a new console (the 'Switch'), and the next installment in the 'Legend of Zelda' series, entitled 'Breath of the Wild'. 

The game itself is a breathtaking work of art, and I could in no way do it justice by trying to explain it here.  As with most of the games in the franchise, there's the protagonist 'Link', the princess 'Zelda', and some kind of incarnation of 'Ganon'.  Needless to say there's lots of exploring to be done in the open world of 'Hyrule', and each environment is more stunning and immersive than the last.  It was this particular element of the game I was most interested in capturing.  My original intention was to create a postcard for each one of the provinces that appear in the game, but that proved to be an arduous undertaking as there were at least nine different regions to be represented.  Instead, I opted to create a postcard for all the lands under the moniker of 'Hyrule' itself, since the term is often used to describe the entire world that the game takes place in. 

I first began the project with an entirely different approach than what you see here, as I began to painstakingly illustrate only the main parts of 'Hyrule' (like the castle), and then include some smaller elements (such as the 'Shrines', and 'Towers'), that have larger roles to play.  The further I got into the project, the less I felt it really did the game any justice.  The visual direction was also just not 'working' for me.  In the end, I scrapped the project, but kept some of the design work I did in Illustrator to use in the new version I was designing. 

I begrudgingly began the project anew, and took it in a familiar, yet different direction by creating 'layers' of the landscapes in the game.  I wanted to stay away from this particular silhouette approach, as I had used it numerous times in past works, and it was beginning to feel 'stale' or 'gimmicky' to me.  I'm not a big fan of using one tool or style to execute my work in, as I feel, as an artist, it's important to diversify and challenge myself.  Pardon my rant, as I was saying...I managed to locate an image online of the world map (as the game itself was still relatively new), and began outlining which 'lands' would appear in the layer order.  I already knew I wanted the color scheme to be monochromatic, and the only variations to be shades or tints of the original selection.  Luckily I had already designed some of the elements such as the 'Shrines', 'Tower', and 'Hyrule Castle', in Illustrator, so now I simply needed to do the lands, and then include whatever other details I saw fit.  It was still a massive undertaking, but I had a better plan, and approached it more vigorously than the previous incarnation.  The layers depict all of the major territories including:  'Akkala', 'Central Hyrule', 'Eldin', 'Faron', 'Gerudo', 'Great Plateau', 'Hebra', 'Lanayru', and 'Necluda'.  I attempted to illustrate whatever iconic landscape each area had, in addition to, any other unique features or 'encounters', that may take place there.  After completing the image,  I need to create a header, so I found a satisfactory font for the title, and using logo from the game as a reference point, I adjusted it, by adding the recognizable 'Master Sword', 'Silent Princess' , and fairy orb, to it. With that, the front of the card was finished, so I only needed to complete the back side, if I wanted to create a functional postcard (which was the goal).  For the backside, I reused the logo I designed for the front, a 'Rupee' graphic for the postmark, a 'Eye Symbol' similar to the one that appears in the game, and on 'Link's' 'Sheikah Slate'.  I then created some lines for addressing the card, and a divider below the 'Eye Symbol', to segregate the address and correspondence space.  I was quickly running out of time, so the image below contains my embedded information for social media (Instagram, email, and Etsy store), however I forgot to include this before sending it off to print.  It was too late to cancel the order, and I needed the postcards yesterday, so I had to design the information to fit on clear labeling stickers.  When my order arrived I had to hand number them, and then place a sticker with the missing information on each one.  It's a lesson I wont soon forget.  The final product was, however amazing.  I had them printed through Moo, who also do my business cards, and they were excellent quality.

As indicated above, the piece is entirely digital, done mostly in Illustrator (those clean lines tho'), with some adjustments done in Photoshop, and all the detail work done in Painter.
The piece was originally on display in the gallery during the run of the show from December 15th-31st 2017, with a limited run of 50 copies made available.  The piece was also featured on Gallery 1988's Instagram page, and their website.
Each card is functional as a postcard (if you decide to use it), and is formatted 4" x 6".  If you would like to purchase one of the originals, you can do so on the gallery's website here.  I do have a limited number of them also available on my Etsy store as well here.

 FRONT
 BACK

Monday, April 9, 2018

The Craft

To anyone that knows me, it should come as no surprise that I created a piece dedicated to the movie 'The Craft', a story of three misfit teens ('Nancy', 'Bonnie', and 'Rochelle'), at a Catholic school who form a coven with a newcomer ('Sarah'), and began to irresponsibly mettle with forces beyond their understanding.  I won't bore you with too many details, but I was (or maybe still am), obsessed with the film.  It  started back when the film was released (1996), and I won tickets on a local radio station to go see the red carpet premiere at the world famous 'Gruaman's Chinese Theatre' in Hollywood, California.  The film really resonated with me, and it was only matter of time before I designed something honoring the film.
 

I started designing this piece back during Wondercon 2017, and I continued to play with the design a bit until I finally had a layout I was happy with.  I then went into "research mode", which is honestly just an excuse for me to use the internet, and watch the film for like the millionth time.  I got some reference shots, and then began to tighten up the layout.  I knew I wanted to do a profile shot of both 'Nancy' (as played by Fairuza Balk), and 'Sarah' (Robin Tunney), framed by their respective elements/creatures (serpents for 'Nancy', and birds for 'Sarah'), used during the 'Invoking of the Spirit'.  Seeing as both characters are complete opposites of the spectrum it was necessary to find something that would 'divide' them, so I used the design of the anthame that was present in the film to separate the two images.  Like any coven, the image wouldn't have been complete without cameo's from both 'Bonnie' (Neve Campbell), and 'Rochelle' (Rachel True), accompanied by their elemental manifestations from the film as well.  I designed the other two members of the circle as silhouettes, and contrasted them over a spiral of butterflies, and fish accordingly.  The goal here was to create a transition from the portraits above to the remaining portions of the illustration.  To complete the illustration, I added a pentacle (not to be confused with a pentagram), along with many of the items seen in the film that were used for some of the coven's rituals and castings.  Supporting the bottom of the image, I placed the book 'Nancy' buys from the Occult Bookstore (complete with the storming clouds illustration) for 'Invoking the Spirit'.  I decided to keep the color palette for this design a varying degree of blacks, whites, and grays, (similar to the 'Supernatural' piece I did previously), with  the only exception being the two main protagonists ('Nancy' & 'Sarah') eye colors.

The image is completely digital, with a lot of the design work done in Illustrator, editing/manipulation done in Photoshop, and any painting or detail work done in Painter.
The piece is also available as a print on my Etsy store.



The Chosen One

In July of 2017, I received an email from 'Creature Features' about contributing to their 'Art of the Buffyverse:  A 20th Anniversary Group Tribute', which was to open in November at the Burbank location.  Having been a long fan of Joss Whedon's 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer', I was more than happy to participate, and they were welcoming multiple submissions.  I already had one piece dedicated to the character of 'Dawn',  'Buffy's' pesky younger sibling, and was in the process of creating a piece dedicated to the title character herself.  While I was initially planning on creating a piece for 'Buffy', 'Angel', 'Faith', and possibly 'Willow', I ran out of time and was only able to complete the following piece.

In order to keep the two pieces somewhat consistent, I wanted the new work to also portray a similar narrative about the character origins.  In this case, for 'Buffy', I was tasked with portraying the main character, her struggles with her own identity, and that of the mantle of 'Slayer'.  I knew from the get go, that I wanted to shape the piece in the form a stake, and used the format of 'Mr. Pointy', in order to refer to not only the role of a 'Slayer', but also to pay homage to the character of 'Kendra'.  I had to adjust the shape a bit, in order to illustrated the profile of 'Buffy's' face. Luckily the stake had enough ridges, where the transition wasn't too drastic.  In terms of the character and her role as 'The Slayer', I had to incorporate elements that would fit within the designed shape, but also (hopefully), make sense in a linear fashion.

At the bottom of the illustration I placed the 'Scythe' that 'Buffy' acquires late in the 7th season of the television series, which worked well due to the narrow space.  To fill in the surrounding space, I created ribbons of smoke, that spiral up to manifest the form of the 'Shadow Demon', the source of the 'Slayers' power. To continue the transition of the images, I placed the characters of 'Sineya' (the first Slayer), and the 'Shadow Men' performing the ritual that would bind the demon to her.  Above the scene, I placed the lovelorn 'Angel' ('Buffy's' vampiric true love) to the left, and the 'Seal of Danzalthar' (the entrance to the 'Hellmouth') to the right, which resides below 'Sunnydale High School' (seen above).  No 'Buffy' tribute piece, of course, would be complete without references made to the two characters that most influenced the Slayer's life, 'Giles' her watcher, and 'Joyce' her mother.

Originally I wanted the piece to be more realistic, and less graphic, but once I started it, I was happy the direction it took (plus I've been reading the graphic novels, so that may have influenced the appearance).

The piece is entirely digital, with most of the design work done in Illustrator, adjustments made in Photoshop, and colorization done in Painter.
The image was originally on display exclusively at 'Creature Features' in Burbank from Saturday November 11th, to Sunday November 26th.
Prints are currently available now on my Esty store.


Monday, April 2, 2018

Sounds of the City

In early August, I was contacted by Gallery 1988 in Los Angeles to participate in their group tribute which was to showcase original artwork from 'Focus Features' catalog of films.  The show originally ran from September 16th through October 4th, 2017.  I was provided with a list of their films, many of which I was familiar with, but only one really resonated with me, Sofia Coppola's 'Lost in Translation', starring Bill Murray, and Scarlett Johansson.

The film centers on the unorthodox relationship between American transplants, actor Bob Harris, and  college graduate Charlotte in Tokyo.  The two form a strong platonic bond, and while distant from their current love interests, they manage to enjoy the sites and scenes of the foreign land they're in. 

I did my usual research for the project, by watching the film, and capturing reference.  I knew early on that I wanted the piece to reflect classic Japanese brush painting, or illustration work.  To do so, I had a very limited palate to work with (only black, grey, white, and red).  My layout was pretty flexible at this point, and was actually vertical initially.  The main elements I wanted to include from the film were the main characters of Bob, and Charlotte, Tokyo, and the music.  I opted to portray Charlotte's character from the iconic Shibuya Crossing scene, and Bob's from his Suntory Whisky ad.  I knew I could include Bob on a billboard, but Charlotte was more of a challenge.  The city backdrop came together a bit more easily, although I did attempt to lay things out geographically correct.  Later when the layout shifted to a horizontal format, I was able to add Charlotte, and the crosswalk in the foreground.  Typical of most Coppola films, the music in the film further accentuates the emotional, and moody atmosphere, and it was essential (to me), that I include it in the design.  It was then that I had the idea to incorporate the song titles from the soundtrack in the lines of the crosswalk.  I decided that in order to really sell myself on the style of the piece, any writing would need to be in Japanese.  Luckily for me, I had a good friend who had studied Japanese for many years, and was able to get the translations I needed.  I then hand wrote all the characters myself (so if they're wrong...my bad), and altered the crosswalk to look like an equalizer.  I also wanted the crosswalk to reflect the city, since both the music, and the city were very closely connected.  The last thing the piece needed was some kind of border.  I googled some designs, and found a few that looked authentic enough to work for the piece.

The work is entirely digital, done in Illustrator, Photoshop, and Painter.
Prints are currently available through the gallery's website here.




Star-Crossed

I believe this piece was inspired by a show I attended somewhere in Los Angeles.  One of the artists exhibiting had an illustration based on Baz Luhrmann's 1996 modern interpretation, of William Shakespeares' classic work 'Romeo & Juliet'.  While the film adaptation follows the storyline of Shakespeares classic pretty closely, it has been given an updated wardrobe, set in the 1990's, yet still retains it's trademark dialog.  The film was, commercially well received since it starred Hollywood up and comer Claire Danes, and the already well seasoned Leonardo DiCaprio.  The design work was also very bright and colorful, a theme that Luhrmann would carry on through other films. 

The design of the image came to me pretty quickly, but it was the execution that proved to be a bit trickier.  I new I wanted to do a silhouette piece of ill-fated lovers, but also needed to make sure that my images were close enough in likeness to the actors playing the characters from the film.  I was able to secure a copy of the movie from a friend of mine (thank you Cory), and begun looking for reference shots.  Combining that with some images I found on the internet, I was able to secure the poses I needed.  I knew I wanted to portray Juliet in her angel costume from when the couple first meets, and put Romeo in his wardrobe of choice (a Hawaiian shirt).  I also knew that in order for this illustration to read more, it needed to be connected to film's modern take on the couple's fate.  I added a gun to Romeo's extended arm, and a vial of poison to Juliet's. Once the silhouette was completed (in Painter), I had to take it back into illustrator to clean up the edges, then began experimenting with color.  After several attempts, and techniques, I ended up settling on a watercolor style for the color.  Many passes later, I was satisfied with the blending, and the shades of colors I had chosen.  Finally I added some 'stars' to the overall image to further push their 'star-crossed' status.

The image is entirely digital, done in Illustrator, Photoshop, and Painter.
If you are interested in purchasing a copy of this image prints are available on my Etsy store.