December 29, 2008

Ralph Bakski's Fire and Ice (1983)

I just watched Ralph Bakski's Fire and Ice. I haven't seen this since the mid-eighties. Interesting to note that the two background artists listed in the credits are Thomas Kinkade (painter of bucolic and idyllic scenes) and James Gurney (Dinotopia).

imdb listing
dvdtalk review

December 19, 2008

Charlene Chua

Illustrator Charlene Chua - Toronto, Canada

December 18, 2008

Idea Generation by Jillian Tamaki


Concepts are Ideas. Some ideas are good. Some are bad. Some are offensive or insensitive. Some of them are tried-and-true (but possibly boring). Some are clever and make you laugh. Some rely on intangible things like “atmosphere” and “emotion” for their power. Some live and die on the execution (finish) of the piece.

In order for a piece to be successful, you must communicate your idea to the viewer. The viewer should be charmed, intrigued, empathetic, repulsed, provoked. SOMETHING.

They should be touched enough to want to cut the illustration out of the magazine.

How you choose to connect with viewers is up to you. There is no right or wrong, just successful and unsuccessful. There is space in illustration for personal vision and passions (in fact, illustration usually sucks when they’re absent), but we can’t forget about “the viewer” and our role as communicator.



Plunking yourself down in front of a pad of paper and scraping the inside of your brain is probably not the most effective way of generating ideas. If we only draw upon the images that already exist within our heads, or our own memories and experiences, we are actually quite limited.


- Consume media. Participate in culture. Read books, go to movies, the news, fashion magazines, stupid blogs, etc. Browse the bookstore just for the hell of it. All of this contributes to our personal visual fabric. Soon you will be CONTRIBUTING to this world.

– Find inspiration in museums and the visual arts. Discover the connections between what is going on now and what has already come before. You might be surprised to learn that your favourite artist is really a knockoff of someone from 100 years ago.


- See an amazing photo/illustration/design? Save it. I keep a folder entitled “Reference” on my desktop where I keep anything I find interesting. Sub-folders include: Bodies/Gesture, Chinese Posters, Colours, Faces, Vintage Objects, Maps, Nature. A quick jog through these images can really help you out when you’re stuck for a colour scheme or composition. Or they can form the BASIS of an idea.

- As a professional, one can write-off much of the media you purchase. Books, movies, museum tickets, etc. all become professional expenses.


- Read content (the book, the play, the article) carefully and thoughtfully. Several times. If possible leave a day between reading and starting work on it. Sometimes leaving it to sit in your brain for a while is very helpful, I find.

- WHILE reading content, highlight vivid imagery, key phrases, descriptive passages, notable quotes, and anything else the jumps out at you. Take quick notes or do a quick doodle in the margin if something comes to mind.

– Go find supplementary material, if necessary, to help you parse the content. If you’re doing a cover illustration for War and Peace, it may be helpful to read online discussions, dissertations, reviews, and such. The internet makes this VERY EASY.


- Starting with words is quicker and more fluid because the concepts do not exist as solid representations or images yet. They make the concepts easier to manipulate.

- Use the words you isolated in Step 3 as a foundation. From here, really open your mind and think of it as a game of word association. Metaphors, symbols, verbs, colours, random thoughts and connections… they’re all important, so jot them down. Do not think in specific solutions (but if one pops in your head, make a note of it).


- We think of ourselves as creative people, but the reality is that Nature is way more bizarre and interesting than anything we can come up with. Does your picture involve fish? Research variations. Does the story take place in the Texan desert? Gather some photos. You may see something in one of them that triggers a great idea (who knew cacti could look like that?).

– Try Google Image Search, GettyImages, Corbis, and Flickr. Books too (although I realize time is often short). Remember! You are drawing elements from these sources. Not transcribing or copying.

Step 6: MIX.

- By this point, you probably have some good leads as what looks interesting/what you’d like to explore. Your head is fully in the content. You’ve isolated what is important to communicate. Here are a few things to help you flesh out some usable ideas:

Combine words from the word list, even if the combinations seem strange. Unexpectedness is good.

Do character sketches. Many of them. Look at the word list and perhaps use some of the adjectives/concepts to guide your characterizations.

Sometimes thinking of COMPOSITION or DESIGN first can be helpful. Draw a thumbnail of the pleasing composition or gesture. Assign details to shapes.

Is colour very important? Build a composition to highlight it.

Look back into your Reference folder for inspiration. Sometimes you can fit your material to an existing design, colour scheme, etc.


- The Art Director is infinitely thankful for your research and process steps. They are going to provide her with a unique and interesting final product. But she does NOT want see them (however, I will sometimes include a reference photo to say, “this is the colour scheme I’m thinking of.”) EDIT your ideas, distill them into legible sketches, in the format.

This is my process. Everyone works differently, and maybe there are some fabulous steps out there I have yet to discover. But it’s a very standard way of generating ideas (which is just a fancy of way of “getting the juices flowing”). Try some of these techniques and think of it as an experimenting with concepts as you would experiment with paint. Everyone’s personal style and interests will dictate the exact process (a little less words, a little more character development, for example). One could argue that Step 1 is actually the most important.


Getting Work as an Illustrator

From Frank Stockon's site

Sunday, December 14, 2008
I received the following email a while back from a friend I went to school with. It's a question I get asked semi-frequently, so I thought it would be better just to post it here.

My response to the email is specific to this artist's work, but I hope any of you who are interested in the topic to put yourself in the shoes of the person who sent the original email.

I've removed the illustrator's name for their privacy.

Hey Frank,

Got a question for ya. I gots me a new round of promo postcards burning holes in my pockets/desk/floor-where-t
hey're-strewn. I've sent a few out with some of the info I've gathered, but I thought I'd see if you could list off a few places/art directors that you recommend I hit up, especially while I'm still out here on the east. Whatcha thank? I'd much appreciate your recommendations as I'm sure you also know who's more receptive to newer people, my style, etc... Anything helps! Hit me up when you get a chance.

Hope all's well in NYC even if they did turn the waterfalls off, sad... I might be in town again at the end of the month. I'll give ya a call if so.

Thanks, C

Hey C!

I am sorry for not getting back to you sooner, the question you posed in that email was kind of a big one that isn't so easy to answer.

I checked out your site and the first thing I'd say about getting work is that you need to commit your portfolio site to one style of art. Your website reads more like a gallery painter's website than an illustrator's website because of the style and content of the work. I don't know where it could be used professionally.

As for narrowing it down to one style, I'd say just pick a handful of images you really enjoyed doing that represent what the work you're currently making or planning on making looks like. Simplicity is key for getting an art director's attention. They don't have time to wonder how they should use you and they don't like to think about what "style" they should ask for.

You'll get more bites if you're specific about what you do and if when you leave them they have a visual impression of what your work is like.

As for getting work, that's all promotion. I recommend buying a list (such as Adbase), or if you can't afford it, make a list of magazines you think are appropriate for your work. It's going to take some research on your part, but you have all the time in the world when you don't have any assignments (I know, I've been there!).

Once you have a list, the way to go about it is to regularly and methodically send promos--either email or postcards, every 45-60 days. Art directors want to be sure they're dealing with professionals, and that you're not a flash in the pan.

Another way of thinking about promotion is that you're a dude hitting on a hot babe (the magazine is the babe). When you make a pass at the her (by sending a postcard) and she likes it, the hot babe (magazine) thinks "hmmm... this is interesting..." but is not necessarily ready to jump right in the sack with you (i.e. hire you for a job).

So you have to be persistent. :)

By the way, don't expect any feedback as in "I like your postcard," because you're unlikely to get it. They'll just call you for a job in 6 - 12 months if they like your work and you've been doing what you need to be doing.

Lastly, the easiest jobs I've come across happen when you do email promos. They tend to be free jobs or very low paying, but they help you build your portfolio. You should be adding a minimum of one new piece to your site every month so there is a reason for the art directors to look at your site when you send an email or a postcard. It also keeps you fresh so that when you get the call you're not feeling rusty (unless you are Rusty).

I wish I could just give you names of people would hire you off the bat, but I don't really know anyone who's likely to do that. Sorry.

Anyway, best of luck to you and kick some ass!

Benoit Godde

Benoit Godde

December 16, 2008

Christian Schellewald

LA/SF: A Sketchbook from California
Dreamworks SKG art director Christian Schellewald's personal sketchbook with drawings of Los Angeles and San Franciso.

December 14, 2008

Ben Caldwell

Ben Caldwell

Valerie And Her Week Of Wonders

From 1970, the cult classic Czech movie Valerie a týden divu aka Valerie And Her Week Of Wonders. Directed by Jaromil Jires and starring Jaroslava Schallerová as "Valerie".

December 13, 2008

Bettie Mae Page

Bettie Mae Page - April 22, 1923 - December 11, 2008

With deep personal sadness I must announce that my dear friend and client Bettie Page passed away at 6:41pm PST this evening in a Los Angeles hospital. She died peacefully but had never regained consciousness after suffering a heart attack nine days ago.

She captured the imagination of a generation of men and women with her free spirit and unabashed sensuality. She is the embodiment of beauty.

Statement by Mark Roesler, business agent for Bettie Page

A private funeral service is planned for Tuesday. Page will buried at Westwood Cemetery in Los Angeles, just a few feet away from Monroe.

December 9, 2008

Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell
The Tipping Point

Ephemeral Realism

adrian tomine

james jean

tomer hanuka

jillian tamaki

These three illustrators all draw beautifully and their work has a similar ephemeral quality.

December 6, 2008

December 3, 2008

Chanteuse Annie Philippe

Angelic-looking blonde Annie Philippe enjoyed a number of hits in the mid-1960s, although she never quite joined the premier league of French singers.

Flickr site

Check out more of Europe's girl singers of the 1960s at

Guy Peellaert 1934–2008

Belgian pop artist Guy Peellaert, whose work includes album covers for the Rolling Stones and David Bowie, has died according to a report from Agence France Press.

Peellaert died Monday in Paris of heart failure. He was 74.

Peellaert created dozens of album covers, including David Bowie's Diamond Dogs, with its image of a male dog with Bowie's face and the Rolling Stones' It's Only Rock 'n' Roll. The Diamond Dogs cover, controversial because it showed the dog's genitalia, is considered a collectors' item because later versions were airbrushed over.

He designed posters for countless films, such as Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver, Robert Altman's Short Cuts and Wim Wender's The Wings of Desire and Paris, Texas.