Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Reaching the Finish Line

The year is drawing to a close and that can mean only one thing — year end lists. This is an illustration I did for Folio: looking at the magazine industry's big winners for 2009.

Early on in the process AD Dan Trombetto suggested a victorious publisher bursting off the cover of a magazine. Something like this:

Or, perhaps, this:

For good measure, I threw in this alternative:

When this job started we were working from a pretty limited synopsis. Right after my sketches showed up, so did the final version of the story. The big winners of ’09 were the folks who figured out how to make money outside of the traditional printed product. Perhaps we should have known given the dismal state of the publishing industry. There wasn't a single traditional magazine among the list, so it was back to the drawing board.

A lot the big winner made money on the internet. So I offered this variation on some earlier ideas:

As well as a more generic approach:

And finally this:

I thought it made sense, since the big winners actually reached the end of the year, whereas many publications didn't. Dan and his editors agreed. I think they got the right one.

If you're interested in the story read it in its entirety here.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Happy Holidays

Christmas trees always look smaller outside. I'm not entirely sure why. Last year, Mary and I ended up with a tree that was probably on the slightly too large size. Something that didn't become apparent until it came inside. That experience inspired this year's Christmas card. Of course, since there are trees for sale on seemingly every corner, we didn't have to try to get ours home on the subway.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Art for Sale

The Society of Illustrators is holding a holiday art sale to benefit the Permanent Collection Acquisition Fund. The Permanent Collection of the Society of Illustrators is the home for hundreds of works of art by many of the greatest names in American painting and illustration. This celebrated collection is ever expanding, thanks to purchases and donations from our membership, art patrons and estates. These works are catalogued with selections from the Collection on display throughout the building.

There is a terrific selection of work available. Perhaps best of all, you can take the work right off the wall of the lower gallery and home in the same visit. I picked up this great piece by Dave Stolte earlier today.

If you're at the Society of Illustrators you should also check out the Members Open Show, which on display through December. All the work in that show, including my entry, is on sale to benefit the Art Therapy Program at The Family Center.

If you can't make it to the Upper East Side of Manhattan, I'm selling some of my work here.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Turkey Day!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Art of Making a Difference

I'll be participating in this year's Members Open at the Society of Illustrators. Proceeds from the sale of art in the show will benefit the Family Center Art Therapy Family Support Program.

The Family Center works to create a more secure present and future for children whose parents have a life-threatening illness by providing comprehensive legal and social services, education and research. They will be launching the Art Therapy Family Support program this fall. Children and families will be able to utilize this wonderful expressive art form as a catalyst for healing and self-discovery.

The show opens Dec. 1, but some of the included work can be previewed here.

Here's my entry.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Thank you

Thank you:

John and Patricia Tomac, Heidi Spalholz, Elena Rossi, Chris Lanza, Kevin Koch, Alice and Bob Negron, James Toulouse, Mary Fezza, Ben Miller, Blaine and Erin Moore, Theispot.com Team, Andrew Hartman, Curtis Howard, Chad and Trisha Byler, Martha Murray, Matt Nettleton, Daniel Sciannameo, Joanna Siu, Jeff Abbott, Kathleen Anderson, Gregory Trupp, David and Grace Cicero, Rosemary & Catty McDermott, David Carleton, Chris Tomac, Moira Murray, Meghan Sperrazza, Kathy and Richard Pancoast, Angela Pensiero, Patt Early, Kathie Williams, Patricia Nichols, Alex Fine, Mario Colasuonno, Nils Anderson, Colleen Anderson, Al Passarella, Christopher Kudla, Anne Ju, Matthew Hartman, Laura Costello, Randa Jabbour, Jessica Vastola, Colin Grover, Kevin Turko, Dana Sanetti, Ryan Pancoast, Declan, Dermot, Kate, Rob and Anne Marie Connolly and Helene Conway

You helped raise over $3,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

The link in the upper right corner of this page will remain because you can continue to donate until Dec. 31. All contributions are tax deductible.

Illustration Friday: Fast

The fastest way to The 1964 World's Fair is on the 7 train. Of course, This is from my own imagination, Robert Moses would have preferred you drive.

The 7 train is still one of the fastest way to reach Flushing Meadows Park assuming you catch an express train.

This poster is for sale here

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Dude, Where's My Flying Car?

Here's one for this week's Illustration Friday theme — flying.

It's almost 2010. We should have flying cars now. Instead, we're still driving around on the ground like a bunch of animals. We are not living in the future promised to us by Popular Mechanics or Back to the Future, Part II. Given the current state of the auto industry, we probably aren't going to get them anytime soon.

Another thing we should have now is a cure for cancer. Help me raise money to find one. I'll be participating in the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Light the Night Walk fund raiser later this week. if you'd like to make a donation click here.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society funds lifesaving research that has contributed to major advances in the treatment of blood cancers and treatments for other types of cancer, such as chemotherapy and stem cell transplants. These treatments have helped patients, like me, live better, longer lives. New targeted therapies that kill cancer cells without harming normal tissue are providing drugs and procedures that are improving quality of life.

On October 15 I will be participating in the Light the Night Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge with the Society of Illustrators team to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. If you would like to make a donation please click here.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Lucky Me

I have Leukemia.

I am extremely lucky.

I have a tremendous group of family and friends who have done everything imaginable to help me since I was hospitalized a few weeks ago and who continue to do so now that I'm at home recuperating.

I have a great team of doctors at New York Presbyterian Hospital and Weill Cornell Medical College who caught this thing in the early, chronic phase.

I'm fortunate to have fantastic health insurance, thanks to my job working as a graphic designer for Dow Jones & Co. Hopefully, Congress will do something soon so that this won't constitute luck.

I'm also sure that this is nothing more than a bump in the road, thanks to a wonderful drug called Imatinib, but better known as Gleevec thanks to the good people at Novartis.

Gleevec is not the traditional cancer treatment. Instead of bombarding the body with radiation or chemicals, this drug is a targeted therapy. Gleevec works on the cellular level to stop the abnormal build-up of white blood cells. Left untreated this condition causes white blood cells to crowd out others in the blood causing all sorts of problems. Because it just targets the overproduction of white blood cells I don't have to worry about too many of the traditional cancer treatment side effects like nausea, fatigue or hair loss. That means I'll look like my normal self in June when I get married.

So far, the treatment seems to be working. When I was hospitalized on September 22 my white blood cell count was 390,000. As of yesterday, it was down to 24,000. Normal is between 3,000 and 10,000. I'm not there yet, but I'm getting close. When my white blood cell counts normalize I'll be a third of the way to remission.

In May, 2001 it took the FDA just two-and-a-half weeks to approve its use. In the same month Time Magazine hailed it as a "magic bullet" in the war on cancer. What would have been a death sentence 20 years ago is now a manageable condition, akin to high blood pressure or high cholesterol. If you'd like to help fund research for other, future leukemia treatments click here.

The image above was produced during the Great Depression as part of the WPA's Federal Art Project. I'm not planning on slowing down anytime soon. Hopefully I'll be cranking out images for years to come. I'm not even 30 yet. I figure I have a good 50 years to keep on drawing. If I'm lucky my work will be providing inspiration to another generation of artists, like the one above.

On October 15 I will be participating in the Light the Night Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge with the Society of Illustrators team to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. If you would like to make a donation please click here.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Three Straight Septembers Ruined by Philadelphia

A cellular mutation named for the city of brotherly love

I'm a huge New York Mets fan. Since 2006, I've been a Sunday ticket plan holder. In my opinion there are few better ways than to spend a summer afternoon than in the upper deck of Shea Stadium, sitting in the sun, cold beer in hand, watching baseball.

In 2007, the Mets were coasting along, never really playing great, but eventually taking a seven game lead over the Phillies with 17 to play. Over the next 2 weeks that lead would evaporate. It culminated on a Sunday afternoon. Before I reached my seat Tom Glavine had surrendered 4 runs. He'd give up a few more before being pulled with 2 outs in the first inning. The Mets lost that game and were overtaken in the standings by the Phillies on the final day of the season.

In 2008, the Mets started off the season playing some lackluster baseball. A mid season managerial change seemed to light a fire and for a while they looked like one of the best teams in the league. Then in August Billy Wagner blew out his elbow and threw the bullpen into disarray. Going into the final weeks of the season with a 3.5 game lead seemed anything but safe. Turns out it was not. Again, the Phillies overtook the Mets and on the final day of the season the Mets again playing for their postseason lives came up short. The Phillies went on to win the World Series that fall. That was hard to watch. The Mets had taken the regular season series between the two teams and had Wagner not got hurt probably wouldn't have caught them again. Adding insult to injury Shane Victorino and Co. seemed to take every opportunity they had to mock the Mets on their way to a championship.

This year, the Mets suffered a bizarre rash of injuries and were really out of contention by mid-July. I thought to myself at least Philadelphia won't be ruining my September this year. I was wrong.

In mid-September I started seeing spots in my right eye. At first I didn't think anything of it, but after being annoyed by the condition for a few days I called up my eye doctor and described my symptoms. Immediately, he referred me to a retinal specialist, fearing that I might have a detached retina. A detached retina is a pretty serious condition, especially to someone who makes their living in the visual arts. Needless to say I was a bit concerned.

The retinal specialist ran a battery of tests and determined that my retinas were fine. That was a relief. However, it was just the beginning of this ordeal. The doctor discovered bleeding in both of my eyes. In the right eye, it was pooling in my field of vision, causing the spots. As for what was causing the bleeding, he wasn't sure and recommended that I go see an internist.

After leaving the retinal specialist, I spent the weekend celebrating my future brother in-laws wedding. Luckily, among the wedding guests, including the bride, were several nurses all of them were happy to refer me to a great doctor practicing internal medicine.

I made it to the doctor a few days later hoping to figure out what exactly was going on with my eyes. After a physical and and a series of blood draws, I left with an appointment for a week when all of the blood test would be back. I wouldn't make it back for that appointment.

The evening of the doctors appointment, my fiance, Mary and I had Mets tickets. Her alma mater's choir was singing the national anthem, so a group of us had standing plans to attend the game. I felt okay despite spending the majority of my day at the doctors office and was actually looking forward to going. In the fourth inning Mary's phone started ringing off the hook, all private numbers. Finally, she picked up the phone. On the other end was my doctor's office.

"Are you with John Tomac?" the voice on the other end asked.

She said yes and handed the phone over to me. On the other end was a doctor from my doctor's office. "We have your blood tests and their are some irregularities. You need to get to the emergency room right away. I don't want to alarm you, but we think you might have leukemia."

Mary and I left the game, hopped in a cab and headed to New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center, where a team of doctors was waiting. The first doctor I saw was an oncologist who explained they were going to draw blood to make sure they hadn't mixed up the samples. I was pretty sure this was going to be the case, but soon learned there was no mistake.

The next two doctors that I saw were from the ICU. They were a bit surprised to see me in such good spirits and not feeling ill. Apparently, my white blood cell levels were 40-times higher than normal. I should have felt awful and been at risk for sorts of infection. Luckily, I felt fine and hadn't gotten sick. I spent a few more hours in the ER under observation before finally being admitted to a room on the Leukemia floor.

The next morning, I was visited by a team of oncologist who explained that they believed that I had Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia. They ran a battery of tests including a bone marrow biopsy which confirmed their suspicions. The doctors went on to explain that my case of CML, like most, was caused by a mutation where a pair of chromosomes switch places. This condition is called the Philadelphia Chromosome.

A third straight September ruined by Philadelphia.

On October 15 I will be participating in the Light the Night Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge with the Society of Illustrators team to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. If you would like to make a donation please click here.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Help Wipe Out Blood Cancers

Last week, rather unexpectedly, I was hospitalized and diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia.

On October 15 I will be joining the Society of Illustrators team at the 2009 Light the Night Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. If you would like to make a donation to help fund Leukemia and Lymphoma research please click here. We are just shy of the halfway point of our goal. Please help push us over the edge.

In the near future I'll begin sharing a little more info on my diagnosis and treatment.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Illustration Friday-Welcome

This weeks Illustration Friday topic is Welcome.

Liberty Enlightening the World has been welcoming people to New York's harbor and the United States as a landmark (and originally as a lighthouse) since 1886.

Since July 4 visitors are welcome to visit the crown.

If you like this image you are welcome to buy it here.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

SILA Illustration West—Call for Entries

The Society of Illustrators-Los Angeles also has a Call for Entries out for Illustration West 48.

Society of Illustrators—Call for Entries

The Call for Entries is out for this year's Society of Illustrators show.

Entry details are here.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Tyranny of the Alphabet

Earlier this summer, I had the pleasure of being called for jury duty in Kings County.

The day got off to a bit of a rough start. Somewhere between Grand Army Plaza and Borough Hall I lost my summons. I can only assume that it fell out of my pocket and ended up as litter in the tracks or stuck to someone's wet shoes on the subway. Upon my arrival to the courthouse I had to make a detour to the county clerk's office get a new summons. The woman behind the counter offered me the chance to come again another day, but I figured that since I was already there I'd deal with the unpleasant civic duty to get it out of the way.

With my freshly printed summons in hand, I headed to the jury room. There were already about 300 hundered other unhappy people waiting when I got there. Some read the paper, some brought laptops, a few were watching a Fox News with the sound off on the large flatscreen TV's throughout the room. I sat doodling in my jurors handbook and in a sketchbook I brought along.

Shortly after I arrived, a diminutive man in a loud suit entered the room, took a seat behind the desk at the front of the room and began explaining what was going to happen that day. At one point he mentioned that if you didn't have a basic grasp on the English language you would be dismissed after meeting with a translator. At this point about two-dozen individuals ran to the front of the room. All of them were told to sit down because clearly they understood English well enough to serve on a jury. the rest of the room broke out into laughter.

The next point he made was that everyone's service was going to be needed until 5:00 p.m., no exceptions. Even if you were called to potentially serve on a jury and were rejected, you needed to stick around in case you were needed for another case.

All of these instructions were repeated again in Spanish, Chinese and Russian, then the waiting began.

Periodically potential jurors were called away to interview rooms down the hall. At first, just about everyone was paying attention, then after about an hour almost no one was. Each time a new name was called a few panicked people began asking those sitting near them if their name was called. This dragged on for hours, but somehow managed to feel significantly longer. The monotony was broken up briefly by lunch, then proceeded to drag on for what felt like forever and a day.

Around 3:30 something almost miraculous happened. The diminutive gentleman in the loud shirt returned and informed us that he lied. We were all going to be dismissed early. A loud round of applause burst out. However, before anyone could run for the door, we were informed that each of us needed to leave with a piece of paper that said we had served our time. We were also informed that this magic piece of paper was going to get us out of jury duty until 2017. However, there was a small catch, if we left without the paper we were going to be marked absent for the day and called again in the near future.

At that point, the real torture began.

How do you dismiss 300 people? With alphabetical order of course!

At this point I realized that wasn't going home anytime soon. The Tomac's are blessed with many wonderful characteristics. We're intelligent, attractive, hard-working and and we smell good, too. Unfortunately, we are burdened with a name that falls near the end of the alphabet.

So I sat through what felt like the reading of the Brooklyn white pages. I learned that there are a surprising number of Johnsons and Smiths in New York's most populous borough. I also was in awe of the number of different surnames that start with the letter Q.

Checking the time on my cell phone it was 4:30, about an hour into the dismissal process, when at long last they reached the letter T. At this point I thought I was going to be leaving any minute. I was wrong. I waited through the Ta's and the Te's. Th and Ti came and went. A few strange combos like Tc were thrown in for good measure. At long last the To's were reached. Unfortunately, all sorts of To last names were called before they reached Tomac.

Finally, I could leave! At this point I was among the last dozen or so left in the jury room. Checking the time again, it was 5:00 on the nose.

So much for leaving early.

If anything positive came out of my hour-and-a-half wait it was the rough drawing that became the image above.

My lovely fiancé thinks I'm a little crazy for getting worked up over this, but her last name starts with a C...at least for the next few months.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Interviewing for a job in print 5 years from now

Here is a recent image for FOLIO.

The story, which can be read here, is about jobs people will be applying for in publishing industry over the next 5 years. It's an interesting to see where publishers see their industry heading at a time when most are predicting its demise.

Dan Trombetto was the AD on this illustration.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Graphic Depictions of Harry Potter

With Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince taking in a boatload of cash at the box office, I figured now would be an opportune time to throw up an old Harry Potter image I did for The Record, I believe around the time the last book in the series was released.

My fiance loves this image, but to be fair she's also a huge Harry Potter fan. Much to her dismay I've been unable to get into the series with the same enthusiasm.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Something is rotten in this tribute to Denmark

Here's a rather interesting copyright infringemnt story as reported in the Wall Street Journal.

Greenville, Michigan, a town with a rather large Danish population, erected a replica of the famous Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen. Now, the town is now being sued for copyright infringement by the Artist's Rights Society. The group claims that the towns statue violates the copyright of sculptor Edvard Eriksen.

Monday, July 20, 2009

There's always football season

NFL Training Camp starts in a few days. With the Mets season spinning out of control, the Jets beginning practices at SUNY Cortland should provide some much needed optimism. Unfortunately, having followed the Jets, I realize that any hope will ultimately be crushed and ruin more than a few Sunday afternoons in the most excruciating ways possible.

I can't wait.

The image above is a nod to the wonderful Antonio Petrucelli.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Rejected by The New Yorker II

With the U.S. Open just a few weeks away, I thought The New Yorker might be interested in using the image above. I thought the nod to the great A.M Cassandre and the inclusion of one of the remnants of the 1964 World's Fair in Flushing Meadows Corona Park (which is also the home of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center) might be enough to get on the coveted cover.

I was wrong. Rejected by The New Yorker once again.

I'm still fond of this image. If you like it too, prints are available here.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Posters for Sale

I am now selling posters of my work. Click here to take a look.

More images to come in the not too distant future!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The return of Orphan Works

In Orphan Works Land, no news has been good news, but that's about to change.

US Copyright Register Marybeth Peters told Intellectual Property Watch that orphan works legislation is expected to be introduced within the next 10 days. It is her understanding there may still be some issues in the House version to be resolved, and there are some stakeholders - such as illustrators and other artists - "who are probably going to lobby pretty hard against it."

Peters said this issue is important to her, and the fact it came so close to passing last year is almost bittersweet. "What I hope it isn't ... is it's one magic moment you get" to finally get it passed, then it doesn't happen, she said.

We don't mean to disparage the Register's comments. She's had a long and distinguished career at the Copyright Office. But her statement deserves a reality check. Illustrators are not opposed to an orphan works bill. We're opposed to this bill.

We're opposed because its scope far exceeds the needs of responsible orphan works legislation.

Moreover, illustrators and artists are not the only stakeholders who oppose it. At last count, more than 83 creators organizations are on record against it, representing artists, photographers, writers, songwriters, musicians and countless small businesses.

Last year, we proposed amendments to the Orphan Works Act that would have made it a true orphan works bill. The amendments were drafted by the attorney who was chief legal counsel to the House Judiciary Committee in drafting the 1976 Copyright Act. The amendments were co-sponsored by the Artists Rights Society and the Advertising Photographers of America. They can be found here: http://ipaorphanworks.blogspot.com/2008/07/hr-5889-amendments.html

On July 11, 2008, we submitted those amendments to both the House and Senate Judiciary Committees. In our preamble we wrote this:

As rights holders, we can summarize our hopes for the Orphan Works Act simply: to see that it becomes a true orphan works bill, with no unnecessary spillover effect to damage the everyday commercial activities of working artists. We'd be happy to work with Congress to accomplish this. No legislation regarding the use of private property should be considered without the active participation of those whose property is at stake.

Last year more than 180,000 letters were sent to lawmakers from our Capwiz site. These letters did not come from obstructionists. They came from citizens whose property is at stake. They may lack the resources of big Internet companies and the access of high powered lobbyists, but last year they spoke. They asked only one thing: that Congress respect their personal property rights and amend this bill to make it nothing more than what its sponsors say they want it to be - a bill that would affect only true orphaned work.

We urge this Congress to listen.

- Brad Holland and Cynthia Turner for the Board of the Illustrators' Partnership


For news and information, and an archive of these messages:
Illustrators' Partnership Orphan Works Blog.

Over 83 organizations opposed the last Orphan Works bills, representing over half a million creators. Illustrators, photographers, fine artists, songwriters, musicians, and countless licensing firms all believe this bill will harm their small businesses.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Doing plenty of evil

Google's unofficial motto is "Don't be evil."

The thinking is that doing the right thing breeds trust and respect for the brand and company among customers that in the long run outweighs doing the underhanded or unethical for a short term gain.

It's a nice philosophy.

It would be nice if Google actually practiced what they preached.

In the first three months of 2009, Google reported a profit of $1.42 billion. That's a lot of money. And it was made during the middle of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

You would think that a company that was still making fistloads of cash would be willing to pay illustrators. You'd be wrong.

Over the past few months Google has been asking many illustrators to contribute artwork so people can personalize the appearance of the soon-to-be released browser, Chrome. They have the audacity not to pay. Understandably some rather prominent illustrators have said no.

Google says the they do not pay for these projects, but instead offer terrific exposure and a unique opportunity to promote the use of illustration.

This isn't promotion. Its exploitation. Its evil.

A company as big as Google should pay for the use of illustrations like so many other businesses, both large and small, do every single day. They certainly can afford to pay who work for them.

The work that illustrators do adds value to all types of projects and products. They deserve to be compensated for the value they add.

By they way, Google doesn't give away its services or products for free.

Why should Google expect the independent contractors working for them to give away their work?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Hooray for Tamalewood

One of the more interesting things about being an illustrator is that you never know when your going to get the call to do a job.

Last Friday afternoon I received a message from Angela Moore at the Santa Fe Reporter. She wanted to know if I was available to illustrate a cover on a a feature about the film industry in New Mexico, or as they call it, Tamalewood.

It was a cover, so without thinking too much about it I said yes.

The story touched on how the state had passed a loan program for the film industry and how the biggest beneficiaries of it weren't local filmmakers, but the big Hollywood studios. As a result, the state hasn't generated any real permanent or good paying jobs related to the movie industry and instead has become a labor colony for the studios. The whole story is here, if you would like to read it

Of course there was a catch. She needed the final art on Monday. Luckily, I have a very understanding fiance when it comes to things like this.

So I spent a good part of my Friday evening generating ideas and sketches and fired them off. I chose to play with the idea that New Mexico was doing a lot heavy lifting by subsidizing the big Hollywood studios

Sketch 1. Like Sisyphus pushing a rock up the hill.

Sketch 2. Hollywood as a burden on the backs of New Mexico.

Sketch 3. The star-struck day laborer.

Saturday morning I received a couple of emails from Angela. She seemed happy with the ideas I sent, but was leaning toward sketch number two, but needed to run them by the editors first.

About an hour an a half later I received another message saying the editor liked number 3 because the state being star struck was part of the problem. She had one request though, make the reel bigger and look more like a burden.

So with that request in mind, I proceeded to final and fired off the finished project first thing Monday morning. Happily, Angela thought the work looked fabulous so there was no need to make any changes.

There is a great deal of satisfaction in turning around something quickly like this, enough to make working for the weekend enjoyable.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Barron Storey at SI

Life after Black: The Visual Journals of Barron Storey will be at the Society of Illustrators from Wed June 10 through the end of July. There will be an opening reception Friday June 12 at 6:30. The show should provide an interesting look at one illustrator's process. Check it out if you are in the area.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

"I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today"

Here's a great video that illustrates the sometimes absurd nature of client requests and getting paid. Most clients or potential clients are not like this, but there are more than a few looking to get something for nothing. Without fail, these types of clients are the most difficult to work with, requesting endless revisions, deciding to change the concept after sketches have been approved and grabbing reproduction rights that were never negotiated, among other transgressions.

Tip of the hat to Heidi Schmidt and David Airey

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Rejection and Acceptance

I moved to Brooklyn just before the beginning of last spring. Shortly after moving I began exploring my new home by venturing out on a run with the purpose of getting lost and trying to find my way back home. I have done this everytime I've moved. Its the best way to learn your way around, at least in my humbel opinion.

On one of the first runs, I traveled down Flatbush Ave. from Grand Army Plaza. About a mile down the road, I turned left onto Washington Ave. and quickly found myself crossing Sullivan Place.

I thought, "Hey, Ebbets Field used to be around here." So I turned and jogged away from Washington Ave.

Sure enough, a block away was McKeever Place. The intersection of Sullivan and McKeever was the site of Ebbets Field, the home of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Arguably, the place is more famous in death than it was in life. Since its destruction, the tiny stadium has been written about, sung about and served as the inspiration for another ballpark in Queens.

Today, there is little indication that a ballpark ever stood on the spot. Instead a public housing complex dominates the landscape.

That day, I wasn't the only person looking for the site of the old ballpark. There were a few other people looking for some sign that there used to be a ballpark here.

As I turned and continued on my run I conceived the image above in my minds eye. Upon returning home I quickly scribbled a very crude version in one of my sketchbooks. In my free time a short time later I put together the finished version.

Fast forward to Spring 2009. I thought this would make a lovely New Yorker Cover, a tribute to ballparks in the city that had been torn down, but not forgotten. It was timely, since the city was tearing down another beloved baseball stadium and another building that hosted its fair share of baseball games. I could just picture it on the newsstands, so I sent it off as an unsolicited submission.

Of course, the editors at The New Yorker didn't think it was quite as great as I did. I received a polite letter thanking me for my submission, but that the editors could not use it at this time.


Of course, almost immediately that nagging self doubt begins creeping in. Maybe this image isn't quite as great as I thought. Ordering all those postcards with this on it may have been a mistake. Oh crap.

Luckily, before I plunged to deeply into despair I received notice that this piece of art would be included in the 2009 Communication Arts Illustration Annual. I had entered this before I sent it off to the New Yorker and then promptly forgot about doing so.


Maybe this image isn't that bad after all.

I guess if there is lesson here, aside from inspiration striking anywhere, its that my work isn't a good as I think it is, sometimes, but not nearly as awful as I'm afraid it is either.

By the way, if you're an art diretor, art buyer or someone who commissions illustration, I have a few postcards left. Send me an e-mail or leave me a message in the comment section and I'll be happy to add you on my mailing list.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Giving your extra two cents

Here's a friendly reminder that the price of a first class stamp increases two cents next Monday, May 11. The price of mailing everything else goes up, too. With the United States Postal Service losing a ton of money, there is also the chance that postage prices could increase again later this year. Buy your forever stamps now.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

An interesting discussion

Gary Taxali has started a rather interesting conversation about the state of illustation industry at his blog on Drawger. If eroding illustration fees, increasing rights grabs by big and small businesses and the ethics of the illustration field are the sort of thing that interest you, then head on over.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Another cover

Piggybacking on my previous post, here is another cover I worked on for the most recent edition of the American Banker Fin Tech 100.

Originally, the cover looked like this. However, after Lehman Brothers collapsed and the economy went into a tailspin it was decided to go with a less festive color palette on this particular cover.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Illustration Friday-Legendary

The image above is of Atlas. According to legend, he was banished by Zeus to the western edge of the earth to hold the heavens above the ground for all eternity. I created this illustration a couple of years ago for the cover of the FIN TECH 100, a joint publication produced by American Banker and Financial Insights that ranks technology providers to Financial Institutions. Debbie Fogel was the AD on this project. Below are a couple of initial, rough sketches. As you can see, they like the background in one sketch and the figure in another, so we married the two. The dimensions of the final also ended up being more squarish which is reflected in the final.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Magazine Spots

Over the past year and a half or so, I've worked with art director Dan Trombetto (who is great to work with, btw) on a handful of spots for a recurring section in FOLIO, the trade magazine covering the magazine industry.

Here are a few recent illustrations I've done for him.

This one was for a look at the good side and bad side of banks taking control of near-bankrupt publications.

From Growing your company in the age of e-media

For Understanding Link Journalism

Much has been made about the demise of print and its business model, so I was surprised to learn that magazines generate a fairly significant of revenue from hosting and sponsoring events.

From better managing workflow between print and online editions.

And this one is for realizing a profit from social networking.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Amazing Posters

Illustrator Bob Staake has put together a rather impressive collection of posters from the 1930s-1960s. There's work by Paolo Garretto, Jean Carlu, A.M. Cassandre, Joseph Binder and many more great artists. Take a look at it here.

Monday, March 2, 2009

May you live in interesting times

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed below 7,000 for the first time since 1997. The government is pumping a ton of cash into AIG and just took a 40% stake in Citigroup. Meanwhile, Bank of America is lamenting its decision to take TARP funds. Job losses are expected to exceed 600,000 for the month of February to push the unemployment rate to 8%. A lot of people are making comparisons to the Great Depression.

Back then, during FDR's first term, businesses hung signs with an iconic blue eagle to let people know they supported the provisions of the National Industrial Recovery Act and National Recovery Administration. Maybe soon we'll have banks and financial institutions hanging placards declaring that they have taken bailout funds and support government efforts to stabilize the financial sector.

I won't hold my breath for that to happen.

I doubt we'll see anyone declaring their support for gov't programs like this anytime soon

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Roy Blount on The Kindle

In today's New York Times there is an op-ed piece by author Roy Blount, Jr. on the e-book reader, The Kindle 2. In its latest incarnation the device has a feature that reads the text aloud. The problem, in his estimation, no one has paid for the audio rights of the books available on The Kindle. That may not seem like a big deal, but the market for audio books is huge compared to that for e-books. As you might imagine, the fees associated with audio rights are much greater than those with electronic rights.

Mr. Blount goes on to make a very important point:
"...people who want to keep on doing creative things for a living must be duly vigilant about any new means of transmitting their work."

You can read the piece in its entirety here.

Speaking of e-books. About two-and-a-half years ago I created the image below for The (Bergen) Record. Apparently, e-readers were supposed to be the next big thing. In 2009 they seem to be about as common as the Segway. Maybe the $300+ price tag is a bit much for what seems to be a glorified pdf reader.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The First Sign of Spring

Baseball is back.

Every team has a chance at a championship season.

Every player is in the greatest shape of his career.

There is no better sign that winter is melting away into spring than hearing that pitchers and catchers and position players have reported to Florida (or Arizona) and that exhibition games are just around the corner.

Baseball and Springtime are almost here.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Shea Stadium, a great place to watch a game...and planes take off

By the end of the week Shea Stadium will be gone.

Wrecking crews have been dismantling the former home of the New York Mets since October. Thanks to the team's second straight collapse, there were no playoff games to delay the deconstruction.

Most cities use implosions to bring down their retired stadia. However, since implosions are illegal within the boundaries of The City of New York, Shea has been taken apart piece by piece. This process has given fans a chance to watch a familiar place slowly disappear like the many summer days spent inside.

I'll miss Shea, despite its oddly-angled, undersized seats that at times were too far from the action. Other Mets fans definitely will. Oddly enough, pilots flying in and out of La Guardia Airport will too. Beyond that group of people, it's tough to imagine anyone else shedding a tear over the demise of this facility like Larry Jones, Jr.

It probably won't take long to adjust to the improved sight lines, unobstructed corridors and bathrooms that aren't ankle deep in mystery wetness at the new place next door.

Of course the new place already has its share of problems and it hasn't opened yet. Let's hope that's not an omen for the 2009 season.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

What do you love/loathe about your job...Assuming you still have one?

Recently, I had the pleasure of working with Mary Beth Cadwell of Storage Magazine on the image above. This piece ran with a salary survey for storage professionals. (That's data storage, not to be confused with storage unit rental) The art itself was incorporated as part of a sidebar/alternative story form listing the most common complaints and praises these men and women have about their jobs. The icons orbiting the figure in the center were picked to represent some of the pros and cons of working in the storage field. These included things like hours, budgets, bonuses, out-dated technology, co-workers, supervisor feedback, problem solving, workload, creativity and opportunity for advancement. Of course, a few of these fell in to both the pro and con category.

In case you were wondering, the job market for storage pros seems to be a bit better than the rest of the population.

And here is the art in sketch form:

This one was rejected.