Friday, January 14, 2011

Sketchbook Show

A few weeks back, Patrick, owner of my favorite dusty little coffeeshop, Meshuggahs, asked me if I'd like to show some work on his espresso scented walls. It offered a chance to put together a small collection of images from my ongoing "Drawing in Church" sketchbook series.

Sketchbooks are very difficult to present faithfully in any kind of exhibition. You really can't display original art as removing the images from the binding compromises the entire book, it is also clunky to ask a viewer to flip through an open book on a pedestal. As many of my students have seen at the Modern Graphic History Library at Washington University, we have an extensive collection of Robert Weaver's sketchbooks. What the students always say is "Why did he draw on the BACK of this amazing drawing with ANOTHER amazing drawing!" I made hi-res color prints and foam laminated them for hanging. My short introduction follows.

I love to draw. There is something magical about the solitude of pen, paper, and a voice. To me, the joy of making images is the opportunity to tell a small story. Not a lofty or unique goal, to be sure, but one that I enjoy. Working everyday as an editorial and book illustrator, I don’t consider drawing a mystical event, but a process. That said, there is something transcendental about the linear improvisation of working in a sketchbook. Much like jazz, it is unpredictable, exciting and unfiltered... with very good and very bad results.

Though I agonize over my more finished and composed drawings, the accidental doodads in my sketchbook represent the very best part of my work. I attend church every Sunday, and I draw during the sermon. All of these pages were done in a pew at Grace & Peace Fellowship, a Presbyterian church a few blocks east on Delmar. The images on the wall are a small collection of my favorites. Though I don't bring my watercolors with me (that waits till I get home and have an upcoming deadline) I draw with a variety of colored pens and inks. The collision of text and image on a page can bring new meaning not found in either passage alone. This is also true in the language of faith, as the parables of Jesus bring new meaning to difficult ideas. Simultaneous drawing and listening can transform familiar language into something new- a feedback loop of symbols, theology and wonder. -John Hendrix

The show will be up through February, a few images of the show.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Progressive Cover- Plutocracy

Nick Jehlen from The Progressive gave me a fun assignment last week, the cover for the February issue about the visually gripping concept of plutocracy. It is an idealistic, if not academic, piece by Bill Moyers, about the dangers of a society controlled by wealth. Despite feeling like it would better fit in The Economist, sometimes these kinds of articles can yield fun, broad metaphors.


I'm happy to give Nick credit for suggesting the idea that 'a rising tide lifts all boats' as a way to think about the plutocratic rationality. Unfortunately for some, their boats are chained to the bottom.

This was a case where I only did one sketch, that came to me almost immediately. The idea was driven in some ways by a desire to draw on blue paper, like I did with my recent post-its for Mark Todd, which I enjoyed very much. 

I set out to construct a little collage, assisted by Professor Photoshop. The blue paper is a high end colored paper, and I built the waves in multiple layers and intentionally emphasized the shadows behind each layer. A few details. 

Monday, January 10, 2011

AIGA 50/50 Book Release

The new AIGA 50/50 book showing the 50 best covers of 2009, including my cover of American Illustration 28, is out now, you can buy here it at or even page through the whole book online! Thanks to art director Matthew Lenning for the heads up.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Sarah Edmonds Preview Copy

Got an exciting package in the mail yesterday, my very first copy of Nurse, Soldier, Spy! It is such a wonderful moment to see a years worth of work turn into a real live book. Of course, I'm wracked with anxiety over certain choices I made that seem silly when the book is seen all together, but over all I think it looks great. The cover is coated with a spot varnish, which doesn't translate in photos, but is very striking in person. So, the moral is, order your copy now!

On this note, two of these images will be seen in the Society of Illustrators 53rd Annual Book & Editorial Show, highlighting the best work over the last year in these categories. Both the cover and the spread below of Sarah being teased as "Our Little Woman" will be on display. The opening is February 4th, 6pm, at the American Museum of Illustration at Society of Illustrators in New York.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Hallows or Horcruxes?

With a new season of Harry Potter anticipation upon us, I've been working on a HP based t-shirt. For those of you who have no idea what this is about: 1.Unfriend me immediately 2. Read all seven Harry Potter books tonight (or this helpful wikipedia article on Horcruxes.) Will you buy one? They don't exist yet... but soon.