Monday, December 20, 2010

Merry Christmas

A new advent themed church drawing from my sketchbook about today's sermon on King David and his distant grandson, Jesus. Noel!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Bloody Turnip

Is this a phrase still in use for people under the age of 75? Hope so... this will be running in Men's Health in March. The full page design below... (I drew the silly faces too.)

Friday, December 17, 2010

There Will Be PR

My new book about Sarah Edmonds, Nurse, Soldier, Spy is slated to come March 1st... and here is my pub page in the newest Abrams Spring catalog. So, let the public relations machine begin.

From the description:
This fast-paced, high-energy picture book tells the true story of Sarah Emma Edmonds, who at age 19 disguised herself as a man in order to fight in the Civil War. She took the name Frank Thompson and joined a Michigan army regiment to battle to confederacy. Sarah excelled as a solider and a nurse on the battlefield. Because of her heroism, she was asked to become a spy. Her story comes to life through the signature illustration and design of John Hendrix and the exciting storytelling of Marissa Moss. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Drawing in Church- 12/12

From an Advent series on King David... I've never had the pleasure of drawing Goliath, with or without stone lodged inside his forehead. (Apologies and thanks to my senior Kate Oberg for her Goliath drawing inspiration!)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Tall Tale- Denver Edition

Denver's city magazine 5280 called me with a fun project about famous Colorado facts and legends.
The opener was about a man in the 1930's who was officially titled the "State Liar" and paid a $1 salary after winning a tall-tale contest (his involving a cross-eyed wooden legged cat).

Both of my sketches focused on the various visual incarnations of lying...  and sort of liked both equally. Usually a good indication that neither will be chosen. But they went with sketch A and the big goofy cat marionette.

The spots were also Colorado related. There are more medical marijuana shops than Starbucks, Denver has a significantly dominant male population, and the Uber-Macho Buffalo mascot for the University of Colorado 1. Isn't a Buffalo, (a Bison) and 2. He is actually a she- horns and all.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

AIGA 50/50 Opening

A few of my former students (if they are reading this, "my best students") sent me this picture from the AIGA 50 Books 50 Covers opening in New York on Wednesday. It is a huge honor to have my AI28 cover included in this show, wish I could have seen it in person. Thanks to Marissa Dessanti, Allegra Fisher and David Yanofsky.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Drawing in Church- 11/22

A recent one from the pew... and yes, that IS a Yeti Crab. 
I'm making a concerted effort over the next few weeks to get these collected into book format, hope to have some exciting news to share soon. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Post It Show 2010

Mark Todd kindly invited me to be a part of his epic Post-It show this year. The show is at Giant Robot in LA, Opening on December 11th. I always love doing this show! You can buy all the 3x3 post-its for only $20 each.

I know some artists submit dozens of these every year... but I've got 12. Enjoy.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Designing Ideas - Faculty Show

I had the pleasure of organizing and designing the Washington University Design Faculty Show, which highlights projects from the professional work of the Communication Design and Fashion Design faculty, that we called Designing Ideas.

Though I did the curating and designing of the show, it wouldn't have happened with the tireless work of the gallery director, Brandon Anschultz, who put in countless hours of painting, hanging and reprinting the typographic vinyl for the walls.

The show is up for the month of November at the Des Lee Gallery at 1627 Washington Avenue in downtown St. Louis. The show offers a quick navigation of the design field as well as individual projects, all while trying to give the viewer a short education about how to look at such works in context.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Ye Olde Money Spot

Men's health called me with a quick spot project for their upcoming issue on balanced budgets. Don't you wear a top hat and monocle when doing your bill paying?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Drawing the Internet

I was contacted by Scientific American a few weeks back to illustrate an article by the guy who invented the internet. No, not Al Gore, but Tim Berners-Lee.

The article is really about the future of the internet. He posits that for the web to remain as vital and vibrant as it is today, we need to protect it from the threats of corporation and government. My first idea started with describing the threats to the future of the web by using the metaphor of a well with magic water that everyone needed but was being corrupted and constrained.
This idea didn't quite work for them. So I tried two others, that used a city metaphor and, of all things, Jack in the Beanstalk reference- to illuminate the threats to these channels of information.

None of these were working. What the art director wanted the illustration to do was NOT summarize the entire thesis of the article in the form of a visual metaphor, but help describe the somewhat abstract components of the online universe that become key players in the article. Almost like an informational graphic or a visual dictionary about how the web is constructed. 

Do you know the different between the Web and the Internet? I certainly had used them interchangeably before this job- but they actually refer to different systems. Simply put, the internet is the tubes (hardware) and the web is the stuff that connects the tubes to other machines (the protocols).

The author states that the 'gremlins' live in the protocols- the hardware is in place and is multi-platformed and accessible but if the protocols change and websites can't be universally linked to each other without a special interface, the web could be in trouble. So we revisited the first composition and my final sketch illustrated these three levels- the internet below, the web on the surface and the protocols in between- with cities, gremlins and tubes.

The final art was a fun one to work on, with all those monsters and gremlins. We also added two spots to run with the package. A few details included below.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Meeting Doodles

I've got a few irons in the fire this week, so I'll be posting a few new editorial projects by end of the week. But, until then, one of the benefits of a teaching community is all the time to draw during meetings. We've had a series of long meetings recently, with exciting new results coming to our curriculum. Here are a few of the drawings that help me listen... (yes, they HELP me listen).

Some of the text has been blurred to protect the innocent.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Overheard at Hipster Coffee Shop

"It's so sad really. Its not that she's socially awkward, exactly, it like she's the opposite of awkward."

"Well, maybe she's beautiful on the inside... right?"

"No, that's not it."

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Op-Ed at 40

Those of you who get the Sunday New York Times probably saw the beautiful 18-page section dedicated to the 40th anniversary of the Op-Ed page. In addition to that, the NYT also produced a really touching video about the history of the page and it's illustrations. As many of you know, I used to work on the Op-Ed page as the Assistant Art Director from 2003-2005, so I have a special regard for the Op-Ed page.

To my great honor, one of my drawings was included in the video along side some of the most seminal names in the pages history. I truly have no business beside some of these folks. You can see the video here, enjoy!

Friday, September 24, 2010


I'm happy to say that my newest book is finally done. With fingers crossed. It won't be out till January of 2011, but I'd like to give you a quick preview of Nurse, Soldier, Spy: Sarah Edmonds, A Civil War Hero!

For those of you who are not aware of the story of Sarah Edmonds- she was a passionate woman who wanted to fight for the Union in the Civil War. But in order to enlist, dressed up as a man, Frank Thompson. In this book, we tell the tale of her enlistment, her exceptional abilities in the battle field and her adventures as a spy behind the Confederate lines. She went on many clandestine missions, but in this book we depict one where she dressed as a slave.

Children's books really rely on a warm and enjoyable main character, like this fellow, for example. In the case of this story, creating a look for the main character was challenging, she had to be both a girl and a boy. She had to look like a passable union soldier, but also feel a bit feminine, so the girl readers could identify with her as well. In some drawings Sarah started to look neither male nor female- just a poorly drawn figure.

My Sarah Edmonds, as Frank Thompson. 

The interior book art was finished in August, but the cover is hot off the press. As you might imagine, the cover is an essential part of branding and marketing a book. Because of the commerce part of this equation, the cover becomes the source of much hand-wringing, by artist, editor, art director and also the sales department.  

I completed the first cover way back in July (below) so that it could be included in the catalog. After I finished all the final art for the interior we all decided that it needed to change. The cover was nice but it didn't feel as exciting as the story itself. 

We were able to salvage the original cover, above, for the title page. Making for certainly the most elaborate title page of my book career. Once again, this is an example of a difficult change brought about by a good art director that resulted in a better final product. It is a hard thing to admit, but with good editing, most of the time your work will improve. 

Here is the full wrap of the jacket, the front, back and flaps (without copy on flaps). 

I've posted a few of the images from the book already, but now I'd like to give you a full sense of the books narrative by posting some of my favorite images from the story, in sequence. 

My color arc cheat sheet- a thumbnail version of the entire book in order.

Sarah wants to enlist... 

Sarah's journey from Boston as a woman to Canada as a man, and then to enlist in Michigan. 

She is rejected the first time she enlists- they think she's too young.

Sarah desperately wants to serve in the Union Army, and will try to enlist again.

As the war drags on, the Union starts recruiting young boys- and Sarah signs up.

The men in her company called the dainty "Frank" by an ironic nickname, "Our Little Woman" 

She worked as a field nurse, assisting in horrific surgery.

She also showed great heroism on the battlefield, pulling wounded soldiers to safety. 

Her bravery earned her the chance to become a spy.

Dressed as a spy, with her skin darkened with silver nitrate powder, she crept behind enemy lines.

In confederate territory, she meets a group of slaves working on the trench lines.

She tries to evade capture, but is sent to work with the slaves.

During her work, she meets other slaves who help her learn about the Confederate Army's movements.

At night, she sneaks out to scout their cannon positions. 

The work of the slaves is difficult, she trades jobs digging for carrying water so she can get close to the commanding officers. 

She recognizes an officer who was in the Union camp, posing as another peddler, but who was actually a spy like her. 

On her way back to the Union camp, she's caught by a guard. But he only tells her to take his position for the night - he even gives her a gun.

To get back past the front lines, she needed to say the password to the guards.

The process of working on a long term project like this is so different than a standard editorial job. Though the bulk of the final art was done between March and August, the entire process takes about a year. So, as I send Sarah out the door, it is time to start my next book, which will be out in January 2012 titled "A Boy Called Dickens" about the childhood of Charles Dickens. Time to start practicing my top-hats and crooked chimneys. 

A few shots of the cover design in progress on my drawing table...