Friday, December 31, 2010

From The Vault - Spider-Man Ornament 1997

While digging around in the vault last week to try and find the first Christmas Card I ever did I came across a manilla envelope filled with some of my old work. It was fun to seeing the old work and even some of the printed pieces I did back in the day for Marvel Comics.

And there, at the bottom of the envelope, were two blurry Polaroid photos.

In 1997 I was all but done working for Marvel Comics. I had worked for them for years doing airbrush painting but, around the start of 1996, everything seemed to be switching to computer coloring and I was getting lost in the shuffle. I simply didn't know how to color on the computer yet and, at the time, I had no real desire to even try and learn how.

I would still do little jobs for them here and there and even ended up doing some inking for them later but, when I took these photos, I was pretty sure my work with Marvel was at an end.

Fortunately, there are still a lot of things in the world you can't color on a computer. So actually knowing how to paint with my hands came in pretty handy when Marvel was scrambling to find someone to paint a Spider-Man Christmas ornament for them.

The story I was told is that they needed the ornament painted and it would then be signed by Stan Lee (yes, that Stan Lee) to either be auctioned off for some charity or hung on some tree or something. Of course, they now had to figure out how to paint Spider-Man on this thing.

So, they gave me a call.

I told them I'd love to do it and took the job even though I had no idea how I was going to pull it off at the time. I was FedExed out this simple plaster ball and told to paint Spidey's head on it. No problem. Airbrush the ball red, mask out his black and white eyes, spray some more paint down, and you had a basic Spidey face.

The problem I ran into was trying to figure out how to make the webbing really nice and even looking on something as perfect as a ball. I thought I might be able to do it with brush work but I didn't trust myself to make the long lines exactly perfect on the ball. So, I turned to a friend who did a lot of acrylic painting and asked her advice. She came up with an idea so simple that I still love her to this day for making it so easy. She said the easiest way to make lines that would be straight and perfect would be to take a piece of string, dip it in black paint, and lie the string over the ball. Perfect lines!

It worked out great and then I painted the webbed lines in between by hand with a brush.

I then sprayed the whole piece with a clear coat fixative and sent it back to Marvel. Another job well done.

Sorry the photos are so blurry but you can see how I hung the ornament off of my stand-up easel and over the box of padding they had sent the ball in. My biggest fear is that I'd drop this thing, break it, and really screw the job up. So I was taking every precaution I could think of.

In the end it was really a fun and unique job to do. And I think it's funny to picture someone of Stan Lee's stature, a character as big as Spider-Man, and an event as big as Christmas, all being helped along by a guy sitting on his small porch in Colorado, painting away, trying to figure out how to make straight lines.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Going Gray

Since I showed off the inks for the skateboarding books yesterday I thought it might be cool to show the next step the pieces take after they are scanned into the computer.

After scanning each piece into the computer and cleaning them up a bit I'll make a few layers of each piece and start adding grays. When I first started doing these books I would only gray in the backgrounds and leave the figures purely black and white. But, over the years, that has changed and now I'm adding as many grays to the figures as the backgrounds. In order to make the figures still pop out from the background I started playing around with turning a lot of the background black lines into gray lines.

I think it works really well and I like the technique. I'm not sure whether the client likes it or not (or even if they notice that I am doing it) but they haven't said anything so I think I'll keep it.

In other news, I went to Seth Godin's blog this morning. I visit his site everyday and, day in and day out, he always has great advice and tidbits of information about being creative and marketing. This morning he suggested we all do a simple excercise and make a list of all the projects we "shipped" this year. In his world, shipping means getting the project done and out the door into the world. It doesn't matter if it was successful or not. Simply that you got it done and out the door. He went on to list the books he published, the seminars he put together, and the programs he launched.

So, I looked back at my year and realized, other than doing the same client work I do year in and year out, that I have absolutely nothing personal that I got out the door this year. The world was an open door to me this last year and I didn't take advantage of any opportunities presented to do something for myself.

My list was empty.

To tell you the truth, that realization made me more than a bit depressed.

But, it also had me making a vow to myself that I wouldn't make the same mistake in the coming year. The world has opened a few doors to me and this coming year, in 2011, I promise, I will "ship" something.

What it will be will be interesting to see.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Skateboarding Interiors

I finally completed the inks for the interior of the kids book on skateboarding.

It's been a busy couple of weeks and, unlike the last bunch of kids books I've done, the schedule for this round of four books feels a bit chaotic. Usually I'll read one book, do thumbnails for it, pencil it, ink it, finish it up, and then move onto the next one. Because the schedule for these four books is so tight and because I sometimes find myself waiting up to four or five days for approval to continue onto the next step of work, I find myself penciling one book while trying to ink another while trying to read and do thumbnails for a third all at the same time.

Like I said, it's been chaotic and more than a bit exhausting but, so far, I've been doing a good job of keeping up and getting stuff done. I just try and do as much as I can each day and it seems to be working.

So, at least the first book is all inked and ready to be scanned into the computer, touched up, and gray toned.

Maybe I'll get these books done on time after all.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Peaks Island 2011 Calendar

One of the other things I've been slowly putting together has been a Peaks Island 2011 Calendar based on my Dad's photography that he posts over on his own blog.

For years there were a few people on the island who would put together a yearly calendar and, since 1993 or so, I've had one of these calendars on my wall to keep me company. But, a few years ago they stopped. I'm not sure if it was due to funding or time or what. All I knew is that I was in danger of not having photos of my home on my wall for the coming year.

So, I did what we Tiffanys seem to do well when dealing with such adversity. We did a calendar ourselves.

I took a few images off of my Dad's blog (luckily he posts very large images so the photos should look great when printed for the calendar.) and put together something for the new year. The funny thing I found while going through this past year's photos was that he had taken a few photos of the same locations during different times of the year. I'm not sure if it was intentional or not but it was really cool to see these places, almost taken from the same spot, during very different times of the year.

So, the calendar's photos have been chosen and now it's just a matter of getting a few of them printed up and sent out in the mail. I may have missed Christmas but I think I can get them to everyone before the start of the new year.

So, everyone, enjoy a few pictures of where I grew up from my Dad's point of view.

And, Dad, when you wonder why you keep the blog going and question yourself why you keep taking photos of the same five-mile-around island you now have your answer: because we'll need photos for next year's calendar!

Take care, everyone.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

I Lied...

I thought I'd actually take the whole day off on Christmas because, well, you know, it's a holiday and all.

But, no, I found myself inking away on some new illustrations for a kids book because my plans fell through.

Ah well, when all else fails there is always more work that needs to be done.

At least a new Doctor Who Christmas Special was on. And that was really fun to watch and made the day special, even if only for an hour and twenty minutes.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!

I hope you all have a great holiday filled with friends, family and fun!

Take care of yourselves!

Friday, December 24, 2010

From the Vault - Christmas Card 1993

I had to dig a bit in the back of the vault to find this, the first ever Christmas card I did to send out to people.

I was about a year out of college and pretty much all alone living in New Jersey. I wanted to do something to reach out to family and friends I missed during the holidays and sending out custom made Christmas cards seemed a great way to do it.

Back then I simply did a black and white illustration and printed them out on 8.5"x11" paper, folded them up, and sent them on their way. I actually really like the trucker cap, biker looking Santa Claus I used to do for these cards. I may have to bring him back someday.

With only a few exceptions, since I did this card, I've done a holiday card each year and sent them out to those nearest and dearest to me.

The cards, over the years, have turned into more sophisticated colored pieces but the thought behind them is always the same. I miss you all and hope you have a great holiday season!

Take care of yourselves out there!

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Ugh, I started writing this blog about ten hours ago and then never got around to actually writing it.

I've been drawing a new kids book all day and it's left me pretty drained. Something about working this hard the day before Christmas Eve just doesn't seem quite right but, no matter what I think, there I was all day drawing away.

The new book I've been working on is about hockey so I pulled out my old trusty Joe Sakic figure to help me with some of the details of the gear. The helmets alone in hockey are so odd that it really helps to have a three dimensional image in front of me to draw from.

So, even if I did work the day away on a project, at least little Joe Sakic was there with me the whole way. Now I just need to scan all the pencils (I'll probably do this much for taking Christmas Eve off) and then maybe, just maybe, I'll take a whole day off on Christmas without thinking about client work.

At least that's the plan. We'll see how it works out.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Happy Holidays

I've spent the better part of the last few days not only trying to get caught up on client work but also trying to get all of my Christmas shopping done as well as trying to get all my holiday cards signed, addressed, and out in the mail.

I thought I had everything on the cards pretty much wrapped up late Sunday night. All I needed was to buy stamps and throw them into the mail. It was a nice night here in Boulder so I strapped a bag full of cards onto my back and rode my bicycle up to the post office. Usually there is a kiosk there where you can weigh and send packages as well as buy stamps. But, when I got there the kiosk was undergoing some kind of service and it said to come back later. Defeated, I rode my bike home.

I went back last night and, thankfully, it was working and I got a lot of cards sent out into the world.

There are still a few stragglers and people I am still waiting for addresses from but getting the cards in the mail was a huge weight off my back.

Now, it's back to the drawing board to tackle the newest kids book. No rest for the weary, not even during a holiday.

Friday, December 17, 2010

From the Vault - Phoenix Coyotes/Arizona State Lottery 2003

The weekend totally got away from me but I'm still setting this up as a post from Friday. Why? Just because I can. And "From the Vault Monday" just doesn't seem to sound quite right.

Here is a piece I did for an advertising agency down in Arizona back in the fall of 2003. It was a joint collaboration between the Phoenix Coyotes hockey team and the Arizona State Lottery.

This was an interesting piece because not only was I asked to draw a hockey team and stadium, but the piece needed to work in such a way that when a child's spinner was placed on top of the piece, three numbers in each section would be visible. The point was to make a piece people could take, spin the spinner, and choose three numbers to play the lottery with. So, figuring the logistics of the numbers out was interesting.

But it all worked out well and I got to do an actual piece of art for an NHL team. Now, if only the Colorado Avalanche would call me and have me do some work for them life would be perfect.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


I think BOOM! says it all.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Here are few more pieces I did for the super hero project I've been working on for the past few months.

The good news is that the super hero pieces are going over great with both the client and the author of the book. The bad news is that we are still hitting snags here and there with the internal anatomy stuff that I showed yesterday.

It sounds like we have a new game plan that I am excited about and think will work well. I just wish we had thought of it three months ago. Ah well, that's how you learn things. By trying them out, figuring out what doesn't work, and trying a new path.

But at least the super hero shots, the things I felt I was really hired for, are looking good.

Maybe I should have gone to medical school or massage therapy school for anatomy. I'm sure it would have helped me more with the internal anatomy than phrases like, "when you see the line of Captain America's boot hit his costume, you'll see the muscles used in the leg."

Yes, that is what a human figure drawing class sounds like when you go to comic book school.

I may not be able to draw like the old master artists but I can draw the hell out of a cartoon super hero!

Monday, December 13, 2010


One of the elements I had to create for the super hero pieces I am working on is a few illustrations of internal anatomy for the characters. Now, it's been a while since I sat in a life drawing class and worried about how a bicep connects to a deltoid and, even in school, we never got into anatomy in this much depth.

So, I pulled out my old Human Figure text book from school and did my best. But, even then, with a book in my hand to copy, I still had problems.

I've never studied every muscle that makes up a face. Never counted every piece of bone on a human spine. Never peeled back the skin of my characters to figure out how their mouths moved. This was all new to me.

Luckily, the woman directing me on this project knew all of the stuff I didn't know and really helped me out. More than a few times she'd send back detailed notes with markings on it how a certain muscle should stop or how this one overlaps here and not there.

You'd think getting back constant revisions would be a pain in the ass but, with notes as detailed as she sent, it really wasn't bad at all. I made the needed changes and would send her back revisions. Then I'd have to tweek a few more things.

But, it was certainly better than an art director telling me, "it doesn't look quite right to me...can you just fix it? I don't know how...just fix it." I'll take detailed, concise changes over that kind of wishy washy attitude any day.

And, finally, I think I almost got it.

Now I know way more about anatomy that I did when I was even in school.

I'm sure I'll still draw cartoony though. I don't think you can ever beat that out of me.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Cowboy Up!

The last of this rounds kids books featured something I never ever thought I'd have to draw before...Bullriding!

When I got the original comp for this cover that my art director/designer put together it made me breath a sigh of relief that the original idea of them using photos for the characters and me drawing the backgrounds was shot down. While it sounded like less work to simply draw backgrounds for the covers and was certainly sold to me that way when I signed the contracts I had a big wake up call for what they would have expected of me if that idea had gone through.

The comp had a photo of a kid in a cowboy hat and then faded into a background of an old west scene complete with an old western town, cowboys, and even a full horse drawn carriage. If I had had to draw a full western town when the idea was sold to me as easier than the covers I usually create I would have thrown myself off of my third story deck.

So, I'm really happy that idea got shot down.

Of course, now that I had no idea what the cover was about other than a title called "Cowboy Up" and a description of the kid looking like a young Matt Dillon I was left shaking my head again. Was he riding a horse, a bull, was he using a lasso? I had no idea and felt stupid for even having to ask.

It ends up the story was about bull riding. So, I did some reference thanks to Google and came up with a few ideas for the cover. One was approved and I got to work.

I was then told that the kid had to wear a helmet and not a cowboy hat. What a shame, I thought. My one chance to do an iconic image of a guy riding a bull and I don't even get to draw the cowboy hat. I can understand wanting the kids to be safe and have the proper safety equipment but I'm still sad I missed my chance to make a really iconic cover. Ah well, I'm sure somewhere in the interior illustrations I'll get to draw a cowboy hat or two.

For the background I used the same technique I incorporated on the other three covers. I really like this technique and might have to find a way to use it again in some future illustrations. It looks cool, really makes the character pop, and gives these covers a look like none of my previous covers have had before.

Now, with the covers done, it's on to the interiors!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

BMX Bike Ride

Here is the third cover I did for the new series of four kids books.

Like the skateboard and hockey pieces before it, I drew the figure in the traditional ways and used a manipulated photo for the background.

This is one I definitely would have done a little more to if I thought it was worth the time. Maybe adding a little more toothbrush splatter or texture on the piece overall to make it more a piece of art.

But, I was happy enough to hand this piece over to my art director to play around with it as he saw fit.

I can't wait to see how the finished cover turns out.

Friday, December 10, 2010

From the Vault - Skateboarding 2003

I figured since this week has been filled with me drawing new images of a skateboarding story that I'd dive into the vault and find an earlier piece I did that featured kids on boards and wheels.

I did this piece back in 2003 for The Weekly Reader magazine. I can't remember what the story was about but I think the illustration accompanied one of those plays they used to have in schools where the teacher would assign each student a character and then you'd all read the play aloud. Being a shy kid I never liked those days in class. But now that I'm the one sitting at home drawing the illustrations for those stories I don't seem to mind them at all.

What kills me about this piece is that the kids are skating by this poor woman so fast that it looks like she broke a few fingers on her left hand.


Thursday, December 9, 2010


The next cover I tackled for the kids books involved hockey.

Initially, the only information I was given about this cover was to make the player look like a young Matt Damon-type. I was just hoping he was a player and not a goalie as I started doing thumbnails and sketching away.

Finally, I had to break down and ask, plead, for any information about the character. But, mostly I was looking for his team name and if he already had a designated number in the story. Like I said, it's always easier to read the stories first before you start doing the covers.

But, I try to please.

The character's team was called the Rangers. I created a simple "R" for his chest but I did give him a similar design and color to the New York Rangers hockey team. I hope some hockey fan out there appreciates it.

For the final three covers I was provided photos by the client's art department. One of the reasons, even after I did a cool job on the skateboard background, that they still wanted me to draw all the backgrounds myself was they thought I could never find photos of hockey rinks or rodeos on my own. In the end they simply provided the photos themselves.

With the changes and comments I received on the former skateboarding cover I kept this cover and its background much more simple. It seems on this round of covers they don't want a completed cover. They want pieces. Pieces they can then muck around with themselves and make it their own.

So, on this one, instead of adding textures and cool motion lines, I kept it simple.

We'll have to wait and see how this one turns out when it hits book shelves.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Skateboard Cover

I finally got approval on the thumbnails I sent in so it's been a busy day of sitting down at the drawing board and doing the pencils sketches for the interior of the newest kids book.

The good news is that I got all the covers done already for the four books I am now working on. So, that part is out of the way and I already know what the main characters look like.

The bad part of doing the covers first is that sometimes, once I read the manuscript the covers are for, I wish I could go back and change little things here and there.

I usually prefer to read the story first, draw the interiors, and then do the cover last. I feel like I get to know the character as I draw the interior and then, when I do the cover, I can do my best version of him. It's hard to sometimes figure a character out from a description as simple as, "a 14 year old Asian boy rides a skateboard in a skate park."

But, I also understand the business of publishing and the need for the covers to be done way ahead of time for promotion and catalog placement. Still, it's not easy on the creative process.

On this round of books I was told, after doing over 50 previous books, that the new covers would be using photos of kids for the covers while I would be doing artwork for only the backgrounds. I thought that was an interesting concept and looked forward to designing characters based on photos already being used for the covers.

So I was surprised when I was first contacted by my art director and told they needed an illustration of the main character AS WELL AS me drawing the backgrounds. Of course this came after I had signed the contracts so I felt more than a little bamboozled. But I wanted to give them the new look they were asking for as well as not kill myself doing double the work on the covers.

So, I looked into taking photos like I usually do for the backgrounds of these books and, using a little Photoshop wizardry, make them a bit more illustrated looking and pushing the book's look in a new direction.

For this cover I headed down to the local skate park and snapped a few shots as the guys around me dropped in on their boards and did a few tricks. Choosing the one I thought worked best with the illustration I did, I kicked it into Photoshop, messed around a bit, added a lot of textures and toothbrush splatter and came out with the piece you see above.

Honestly, I think it turned out great and made the whole piece look like something out of a manga comic book. I loved it!

There were a few changes requested but I'm always happy to do those. I want to make everyone happy and make the best illustration I can for my client. Some simple changes like flopping the motion lines to fall behind the character and changing the characters helmet to a different style were pretty easy.

I even sent the art in with a comp showing how I thought the title and type could lay over the piece.

So, when I got this piece back showing me the client's thoughts for the cover layout and a few color changes they were going to make themselves I was a little shocked.

I know I do this for as a job and for a paycheck and I'm being paid to draw what my client's want but this...this I had no words for. I told the client as much and was assured it would look better once it sees print.

But, right now, I have no idea how these are going to turn out.

We shall see what happens.

But seeing this definitely changed the approach I took to the next three covers...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


I'm sitting here today waiting for approval on some thumbnails I submitted to a client on Friday and I'm not really sure what to do with myself. I don't want to start some new personal project because, hopefully, I'll get approval tonight or tomorrow and have the rest of my week booked solid with a new kids book.

So, I don't know what to do.

I figured now might be a good time to put up some sketches I've done over the last week for really no purpose at all.

One is a simple sketch of a girl, one is a bunch of quick thumbnails for some girly pin-up poses, and the last is the full page where those poses were done.

This way you can see how small these thumbnails really are and how I have some weird need sometimes to fill up a page of my notebook during dinner.

OK, I am off. Maybe I'll watch a movie while I'm waiting.

Have a good one.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Maybe Next Life

While ordering my lunch at Einstein Bagels one day I got to talking to the girl behind the register and she mentioned that she wanted to write songs and be a singer, dancer, actress, performer, etc.

Loving anything creative, especially with art or music, we got to talking about what she wanted to do. She said she had met a "producer" who was setting up a studio in Boulder and offered to produce and mange her. Maybe it's just me but I got a weird feeling about the whole thing. My biggest fear is some guy would take advantage of her and soon be telling her, "I bet you could sing MUCH better if only you'd take all of your clothes off."

So, trying to be nice, I told her if the thing with this guy fell through that I have a home recording studio set up and if she just wanted to record a song I'd be happy to help. I told her I didn't have any industry contacts and couldn't help her in any way with her career but, if she just wanted to record a demo, I could help.

Months went by and, surprisingly, this "producer" flaked out. So, she and I talked about her recording one of her songs. I asked her how she wrote songs, did she play piano or guitar, and what kind of music she had in mind. She couldn't play any instrument and basically wrote lyrics and sang them in a melody. I asked her if she could get me a song of hers recorded on something as simple as a tape player to see what I could so with it.

A few days later she handed me a tape recorder and said she had sung the song really late at night while she was pretty drunk. Perfect, I thought. If there was something I really wanted to do in life I'd make sure to do it late at night and drunk. That would show people how serious I was.

So, I took the tape home and had a listen. This was going to be an interesting challenge.

First I got the tape recording she gave me recorded into the computer. Then I figured out a basic tempo for the song and laid down a computer drum beat and click track. Next, and this was the hard part, I, line by line, cut up her vocals and made them fit the click track and arranged them into some sort of song. Finally, I figured out the chord structure on acoustic guitar and figured out some sort of lead guitar riff.

While miking both my voice and guitar, I played the song through twice, singing and playing guitar on the same track. I panned one take to the left and one to the right. The vocals don't quite match up but it sounded cool so I kept it and then added one more guitar part with the lead guitar riff.

Within 36 hours of her handing me the tape of her singing, I handed her back a basic demo with drums, arrangement, acoustic guitar parts, and me singing.

It was a fun exercise just to see if I could do it and I am still tweaking the song here and there. Once I get her on board we should be able to do a decent demo that she can send out to see what will happen. We will see.

But, for now, here is a track of what she gave me and, below it, what I gave her back.


Amber's original recording, late at night.

If the streaming player doesn't work you can find the original file HERE.

What Sean turned around in 36 hours based on the above demo.

If the streaming player doesn't work you can find the original file HERE.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

On to the Color

The super hero art has been scanned into the computer and the color has been started.

I'm putting up not only the color work in progress of yesterday's piece but also the piece I was inking before the heat turned off and I bunkered down.

So far so good.

Looking at the heroes now, I think I subconsciously took some of their designs from a few Marvel and DC heroes and villains. I guess after growing up with comic books and being asked to draw my own versions of heroes it was inevitable that I'd use some ideas I had already seen before. In the end, though, I think these two are all mine.

I'm enjoying the way these pieces are progressing and once everything is done I'll show you how they all turned out.

But, for now, back to the color. Have a good one!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Hit Somebody! Part 2

I can't believe I had to go all the way back to October to figure out when I originally penciled this piece. Between waiting for approval to ink it, being so sick this last month, and trying to catch up on client work it wasn't until yesterday that I had a chance to sit down and ink this piece.

And, I was really itching to get to it. Honestly, at one point about three or four weeks ago, I was just going to ink the piece before I had the client's approval just because I liked it so much. I thought, even if there are changes, I could always make them later, after I inked it. But, I thought better of it and let it sit until I got approval. And then I got approval with no changes. So, maybe I should have just inked it in the first place and got ahead a bit. Ah well, hindsight is 20/20.

One of the things I've been having problems with lately is that either I got a bad batch of bristol board or maybe my humidifier is affecting the paper I draw and ink on. On more than a few pieces I inked this week the paper really didn't take the ink that well and it led to really rough and chewed up looking lines that took me a while to make look right. It felt like the pencils just dug into the paper when I was drawing and left a really beat up surface on which I had to ink. But, not these super hero pieces. They were so great and so perfect to ink over it just went really fast.

Plus, I think I end up inking so many sports pieces with all kinds of clothes and gear on each character that I forgot how easy it is to simply ink a figure who is pure super hero anatomical muscle. It was really fun to get this piece going and was a blast to finish.

So much so that I took a few photos while I was in the middle of the process.

Now it's on to scanning the piece into the the computer and laying down some color. That is my plan for the day.

On to the color!

Friday, December 3, 2010

From The Vault - South Portland, Maine Fireman Lobster 2004

Here is a piece I did for an old friend of mine from Maine who is a police officer, fire fighter, and an EMT. And, if that wasn't enough, he's now getting his pilots liscense. I think he's doing his best to be a modern day Batman.

He was actually one of the cops on the island I grew up on so I'm sure he has more than a few stories about me from my high school days. It's for that reason that I keep doing pieces like this for him when he asks. If I ever ran for President and some of those stories got out I'd be sunk. So, I do my best to keep him happy.

I'm not sure where this piece finally ended up but I'm always happy to do anything I can to help out the guys in law enforcement, fire fighting, and emergency responders. They do such good work and even things like this I can do to give something back is the least I can do to say thanks.

Plus, I got to draw a giant lobster in a fireman's uniform. When else is anyone going to ask me to do something as fun as that?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Happy December

After weeks of being sick, dealing with broken TVs, getting sick again from food poisoning, and dealing with a management company who said me not getting heat in my place was my fault while, in fact, it was there's, has really put me at a point where I am looking over my shoulder wondering what will happen next.

So, I've been quiet, hiding in my studio, hoping whatever "IT" is will just leave me alone and go on to the next person. And, while hiding, I've been frantically working away trying to get caught up on all the client work I fell behind on while I was sick. So, at least I'm being productive. If all goes well I should be caught up by the end of the weekend.

For my new December blog header I'm using the Mr. Mucho Christmas card design from last year so I won't spoil this year's surprise. But, I promise to put up this year's card design promptly on December 25th.

And, as I hear "IT" walking away from my door I promise to post to the blog a bit more.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Back To It

One of the worst things about having food poisoning (other than the pain, living in the bathroom, and trying to will your soul to leave your body) is how far I fell behind on all the client work I had lined up this week. Bad enough to feel sick but to also be worrying about losing jobs and making clients angry weighed heavily on my mind as I was lying in bed.

But, I've emailed all the clients and pushed a few things back and all seems well. I love my clients and thank them for understanding. It's hard when you're a one man show and that one man goes down.

Today, things are getting better. I'm feeling better, climbed out of bed, and am back at the drawing board.

Now it's time to tackle some of that work that I've fallen behind on.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Biking in Boulder

I found this cool video online this morning that, between being sick and it getting colder, makes me really miss riding my bike.

I'll let Mat Barlow, the guy who made this video, say it better than I ever could:

"Boulder has one of the world's best bike path systems. To show just how much fun it is to ride, and how far you can go, I set out to put together the longest route I could think of, without repeated any sections of path, and videoed it with the GoPro Hero HD. Then, because I'm such a fast biker, I slowed it down in Final Cut so it wasn't so blurry and added some stats.

And yes, most of the paths shown on Mat's bike ride are ones I usually end up riding around on at eleven o'clock at night.

When it's warmer and when I'm healthy, that is.

I miss my bike.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Kids Are Alright

I'm finally feeling a bit better but I'm still not at a hundred percent. It's been a weird last couple of weeks and I can't wait to just get back to square one, feel better, and get back to work again.

I had planned to work all weekend but this food poisoning definitely set me back a bit. I wasn't able to keep any food or fluids into my body for two days straight and trying to get my strength back has taken me most of today.

Fortunately, one of the clients I was working for took another direction with the art I was doing and canceled their job. Normally I'd hate this but, feeling the way I've been feeling, it was nice to take some of the worry and burden off of my shoulders.

So, here are the pencils I did for the canceled job. While the sick part of me is glad I didn't have to get it done I still think it would have looked great if I had completed it.

Any new clients out there need a couple of kids done for an ad campaign? I can give to a good deal and get it done quickly.

Give me a few more days to get better and let me know.

Friday, November 19, 2010

From The Vault - Bolt 2008

I think I got a bit of food poisoning last night (I had a late dinner of sushi) so today has just been awful. It really hasn't been my week this week (or last week for that matter.) So, I'm going to keep the vault piece short today and get myself back into bed.

This is Bolt, the companion art to the Karma piece I showed off yesterday. I did it as a commission piece back in 2008.


Thursday, November 18, 2010


Ugh, it's been a busy week...

But, I did get the Karma piece colored and finished.


Monday, November 15, 2010

What a Week

Last week was a rough week. I was sicker than I can remember being in a long time. It wasn't awful, no throwing up or being curled up in a ball wishing I would die, but it just wouldn't go away. And one of the drawbacks of being a freelance artist and being your own boss is that there are no sick days.

So, after a full week of being sick, not sleeping right, doing projects, and dealing with clients, by Friday I had had it. All I wanted to do was sit on the couch and watch a hockey game that started at 5pm.

So, at 5pm, I walked over to the TV, turned on the cable box, and hit power on the TV. It slowly blinked to life, had some sound, no picture, and then turned itself off and started blinking. I hit power again and the same thing happened. I could hear the game starting but the TV never quite turned on. It had happened like this earlier in the week but then started working again. So, I kept hitting the power button.


My giant behemoth of a TV, the biggest projection TV I had ever owned, the biggest piece of furniture in my living room, had finally died.

And I didn't know what to do. We have another TV, my older tube TV from my old place, sitting in the other room. But, we hadn't bothered to hook up the digital cable box to it yet so it couldn't show me the hockey game either.

I paced for a few minutes, frantically trying to figure out what to do. So, I pushed the giant TV to one side of the living room, unplugged the older TV from the guest bedroom, and hauled it into the living room and sat it on the floor.

Going from a 55" projection TV that takes up a good corner of the living room to a 27" tube TV sitting on the floor was like someone took my season ticket holding box seats away and threw me up into the nosebleed section of the arena. But, at least I could watch hockey.

That night, after the game, I did some research on plasma TVs versus LED TVs and headed down to BestBuy. The website said they were opened until 10pm but, getting there at 9:05, I was informed they closed at 9pm. No TV for me Friday night.

But, at least it gave me some more time to do some research, pick out a TV, and make sure it was a good one. By Saturday morning I had hopped onto the BestBuy website and ordered a TV to be picked up at the store in the next town (we have a smaller one here in Boulder so it doesn't have the warehouse space of the BestBuy a few towns over.)

Monika and I went to pick it up Saturday night after dinner. When we got there we looked around for a stand to put it on and did a little shopping. Once done, we went up front to pick up our new TV. As the salesman brought out this huge box I got a little worried. After some quick measurements with a strip of BestBuy ruler paper, I found out that there was no way this box was going to fit in the car. And, to top it all off, it started snowing.

So, we called a friend who was nice enough to drive all the way out to where we were and pick us up in his truck. All it cost us was a pint of ice cream.

Saturday night at our place resembled something like a Christmas morning gone amok. Not only did we have a new 50" plasma flat screen TV but we also had a new Blu-Ray player it came with and a new TV stand to build for it. The living room was a mess of boxes and wrapping paper and new toys.

It took Monika and I most of that night and a good part of Sunday to get all the wires we had sorted out and to get everything hooked back up and in working order.

But, WOW, does it work. We figured out how to get everything, including the TV, hooked into our surround sound and, not only does the Blu-Ray player play Blu-Rays and DVDs, but it also hooks right into the internet so we can access our Netflix account and watch streaming movies right from online. I thought the picture might look bad since it can get a little rastery when I watch stuff on my computer but, oh my, it is DVD quality streaming right on the TV.

The photos of the new set-up were when we were watching Star Trek streaming from Netflix. I'm still amazed at how good the picture looked.

And, the great thing is, not only does this TV look and sound great, but it takes up about half the room as my old projection TV. I feel like I have a ton of room in the living room now. It's like a whole new house!

The next thing to do this week is to go down to the cable company and order myself some HD cable. The problem with a TV that looks so good is that the digital cable pales in comparison to what it can actually show.

So, after a week of being sick, client work, and breaking TVs, all seems right in the world. I'm feeling much better, the client work seems to have settled for the moment, and my TV is working.

I just can't wait to watch hockey in all it's HD glory!

Friday, November 12, 2010

From The Vault - Electronic Gaming Monthly 2003

This one of the first pieces I did for the Electronic Gaming Monthly magazine back in 2003. I ended up working for the magazine a handful of times and every piece was fun.

But, there's always something about that first piece you did for a new client that seems special.

And this one, for an article questioning whether video games were good or bad for you, was no exception.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


I've been as sick as I can remember this past week so I haven't felt a lot like posting anything.

But, I did find some time to prop myself up at the drawing board and get this inked.

So, it hasn't been a total waste of a week.

Friday, November 5, 2010

From The Vault - Andy Travano 2003

I can't remember exactly when I first met Andy Travano. But, I do remember where I first met him.

Any of you out there who even know me even a little bit know I love two things...routines and sandwiches. So, it should come as no surprise that back in the early 2000s I was going to the same bagel shop, Beatnik's Bagels, every day for a bagel sandwich lunch. That's where I first met Andy.

I don't know how we first started talking but, when you go to the same place every day, you tend to become friendly with the people working there. This was after I had created the band OilCan Drive but before I had the idea of even trying to do anything as tough as the music behind it myself. But the idea of the music at the time intrigued me. So, when I found out Andy was a musician who wrote and sang his own songs, we started talking more.

Andy would do local shows where he would get up on any stage anyone would allow him and sing his songs. I began going to those shows to see my new friend perform.

The first piece of art I did of Andy was at, what he called, one of his "secret shows." These were shows he wouldn't advertise and just show up and play. He wanted to see if he could win over a crowd of people who weren't there just to see Andy the friend. He wanted to win them over as Andy the songwriter and musician.

Once I did this piece Andy commissioned me to do the art for a three song demo EP he was putting together. So, I had him come over, pose for some photos, and did what would become the first CD cover I ever did. And, if you look really close, you can see I used a lot of the art from OilCan Drive as the background images for the CD.

When Beatnik's Bagels closed down I lost touch with Andy. The place closed so quickly that no one, not me, not the other customers, not the people working there, knew what happened. I wasn't sure if I'd ever see Andy again.

But, then, one night while walking over to get a sandwich (I told you...sandwiches) I heard a call from the back door of a restaurant I was walking by. It was Andy, working at his new job in another sandwich shop. He bought me dinner and we caught up.

That fall, when I was ready to buy my first guitar, I called up Andy and asked for his help. We both went to a local music shop and he helped me pick out a Fender Stratocaster.

We've been good friends ever since.

Andy has since moved to Nashville, TN to follow his dream. I still talk to him at least once a month and he has become the one guy I go to when I want to share some new music I'm working on with someone. I miss that he's not closer but I'm glad we still keep in touch.

You can check out some of Andy's music and even buy his first professional CD HERE. I love this album. I even got to sit in the studio one day and watch him record it. It's always an adventure with Andy.