Catching up with 2013
In February my wife Lisa and I had our first child, our lovely little son James, and since then the time has positively flown past. In what seems the blink of an eye, little James is four months old and it’s nearly July. Not surprisingly I’ve fallen behind with the blog since then, so here’s a bit of catch-up.
This personal piece grew out of a sketch for a commission. The sketch didn’t go anywhere useful in terms of the job, but it left me with an itch to draw spacesuits and a nice little compositional idea.
This is a self-portrait for the upcoming book ‘100 Illustrators‘ by Taschen. The book is a best-of collection from the Illustration Now! series, curated by Steven Heller and Julius Wiedemann, and being part of it is a huge honour for me. With the self-portrait I wanted to do something off-centre without being overly weird. In the end I took my inspiration from my newly-minted fatherhood. I partly see my fathering role as analogous to that of an entertainer, and I’m ready to make a fool of myself for James’ amusement or comfort at a moment’s notice. I feel in that way I’m a bit like one of his pull-string musical toys, and that’s where this idea is coming from.
‘Said The Caterpillar’
This painting in acrylic ink was made for Espionage Gallery in Adelaide, Australia. I was contacted by Josh Smith from Espionage to take part in a big group show on the theme of Alice In Wonderland, and I didn’t have to mull it over long before I knew what I wanted to draw. I have found the Alice stories that much more fascinating since learning of their origins, and that the books may never have been published had young Alice Liddel not requested that Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) write down her favorite of his stories for her. There has been a lot of speculation about inappropriate feelings and behaviour on the part of Dodgson, and I didn’t want to go that way with it since doing so seemed cheap to me without some basis in real research, and I neither saw the need nor had the desire to do that. Instead I wanted to show Alice being transported by Dodgson’s story and show her as the center of the piece by inverting the usual Caterpillar scene; placing her on the toadstool and the Caterpillar (Dodgson of course) below.
These pieces were done for Laura Hogan at the British therapy magazine Therapy Today. The magazine’s beautiful design, set up by Esterson Associates, places a focus on illustration by commissioning one artist to illustrate the entire issue. It’s a very effective approach to the design and makes for a great project to illustrate. The top piece was a spread for an article on the experience of adoption from the birth father’s perspective. The bottom two are a spread and cover image respectively, for an article on the effect of class differences on the client-to-counselor relationship.
There is an interview with me about this project on the magazine’s website.
‘The Movement For Leaving Women Alone’
This one was for Nick Jehlen at The Progressive. The article commented on the state of abortion law in the US, and particularly the scrutiny and judgement aimed at women in the public debate. My lovely wife Lisa, who in addition to being lovely can also muster a very fine angry glare, posed for this. She was very pregnant at the time so I needed to downplay that in order to remain consistent with the subject matter.
This spot for Minh Uong at the New York Times Sunday Business section was about people piggy-backing on their friends’ streaming subscriptions to watch the latest TV shows. What with the terms ‘streaming’ and ‘surfing’ we went in an aqueous direction.
I teach classes at a small illustration school here in Vienna, called Illuskills. For this year’s promotional brochure and fold-out poster, the school’s founder Nana Swiczinsky asked me to do something relating to the theme illustration. What I think I love most about drawing is that it allows you to create whole words out of nothing, worlds you can sink in to as you bring them to life on the page, and that’s the crux of what this image is about. I also wanted to make reference to the learning process and the hard skills we teach, like perspective and construction, and I of course included a student at her table.
Big thanks to Nick and Minh, Laura, Josh and Nana for these projects, and thanks to Lisa for her great modelling and our lovely baby.