Tag Archives: illustration

From The Slush Pile: Summer Finds

You know I’m busy at work when instead of going through art samples with my morning coffee, they pile up on my desk.  Today, I finally took lunch to sort through a few.  Check out some exciting new finds that came in lately!

Casey Uhelski / For pet lovers (like me!), this SCAD grad has mastered the expressions of adorable dogs, cats and bunnies.

Victoria Jamieson / Victoria’s anthropomorphic characters have landed her a two-book gig with Dial (part of the Penguin family) in 2012/2013.  In the meantime, I think her revisiting of Ramona Quimby is spot-on.

David C. Gardiner / This image might suggest that David and I are cut from the same cloth, stylistically, but his Flying Dog Studio also produces everything from fairly realistic older characters to animations.

Caitlin B. Alexander / This Austin-based illustrator’s folksy-yet-modern style looks mostly editorial, for now… but wouldn’t it make a charming children’s book?

Veronica Chen / I was intrigued by her intricate black-and-white patternwork, but her color piece Chameleon City just begs for a story to be told.

Jillian Nickell / This quirky, vintage-inspired vignette was fascinating enough to lead me to her website, where there’s a great series of pieces based on The Borrowers, and more. I can picture her style being perfect in the right book for older readers!

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Best of Student Work 2011 – Part 2: The Pratt Show

Mozart at the Beach from Christee Curran on Vimeo.

Oh, the Pratt Show . . . it’s hard to believe that it’s been a full year since all the momentous graduation-related events were happening to me!  It was great to be on the other side of things last week… browsing new artists, sipping champagne and catching up with old classmates, without the stress of having my own work in the show.

This year’s class certainly didn’t disappoint in talent!  I was so proud to see many familiar faces represented at the show, from Sarah Mimo‘s swoonworthy clocks, to new textile prints from Alexa MacFarlane and new comics from our former Putnam intern, Kris Mukai.  I’m also jumping for joy to showcase Christee Curran‘s video storyboard project (above). How adorable is that kid at the beach?!

In addition to old friends, there were also a few new faces at the show.  Here were my favorite kids’/book related discoveries:

1. Alexandria Marie Compo / I loved her quirky animal characters, and combination of digital and hand-crafted work. In fact, we were all so taken with her 3-D figures that they almost “walked” away with us!  Very well suited for the pages of a trade hardcover picture book.

2. Michelle Lynch / Michelle’s range of work is crazy – I’ve honestly never seen a graduating student grasp the concept of licensing so well!  Her style may be “simple”, but she captures a bright, cute and fun spirit with ease, and then translates it to a wide variety of products, books and character designs.

3. Erin Maala / Erin’s intricate paper-cutting skills had all of us Penguin employees drooling over her book jackets like Wuthering Heights and The Bell Jar. Another classic book series in the making, perhaps?

4. Zoe Norvell / With smart, sophisticated humor, Zoe designs books that are seriously attention-grabbing.  I especially appreciated the wit and depth of information in her collections The Future Of The Book and OKCupid.  Oh, and – how could I forget? – she redesigned Harry Potter, and we liked it. A lot.


lil zines and silkscreens from jane mai on Vimeo.

5. Jane Mai / Her work might look like it could be for kids, but trust me . . . it’s grown-ups only.  But her irreverent, freaking-hilarious style translates perfectly to comics, zines and more – so make sure to head on over to her site for the full experience!

Best Of Student Work 2011 – Part 1: SVA MFA Thesis Show

May means graduation time, and New York City is filled with student exhibitions and senior work on display for the world to hire.  So for the next few weeks, I’ll be snooping several art schools’ openings for new and inspiring illustrators, and bringing the best of the best right here to the blog.

I started with the School of Visual Arts’ MFA Thesis exhibition last night!  I’d highly recommend trekking to Chelsea for both design and illustration. Details below:

Visual Arts Gallery / 601 W 26th Street, 15th floor

April 29-May 14, 2011 / Mon-Sat, 10 am – 6 pm

All the student work was of exceptional quality (they ARE MFAs, after all), but here were my Top 5:

1. Hye Su / Looking at Hye Su’s body of work is like stepping into a completely different universe.  Her mastery of a range of mediums (from embroidery, to zines/books, to 3-dimensional objects) remain entirely consistent – everything is shown through her very unique lens.  I couldn’t get enough of her wild and wonderful characters!

2.  Lisa Anchin / Of anyone else at the show, it was Lisa who was made for children’s books.  I was impressed how prolific and professional her work was – at least 4 or 5 book dummies ready to go, and full of adorable characters and dynamic compositions to boot.  Lucky for me, guess which Penguin imprint she’ll be interning at this summer?  That’s right… we’re very excited to have her!

3.  Philip Cheaney / How excited was I to see someone who created a fully-formed eBook app?!  I was really impressed with (read: jealous of) its smooth, polished look on the iPad.  His bold, graphic lines and color sensibility are perfect for medieval subjects like Tristan & Iseult.  Check out his animations here.

4.  Pimlada Phyapradit / Pimlada’s another artist with a very different way of approaching characters.  Her broken-down toys are sweet and childlike, but with a touch of melancholy.  I’m most impressed, though, with the muted pastel tones throughout her book – it really adds to the wood textures and her drawing style overall.

5.  Jungyeon Roh / Jungyeon’s silkscreen prints are seriously, seriously stunning.  The illustrations for her book, Hot (featured in the show), somehow strike a balance between whimsical color and powerful content, with a bonus of beautiful hand-drawn type.  I wouldn’t be surprised if she continues to garner major awards and editorial publications in the future!

From The Slush Pile: Great Animal Illustrators

Today was a more wackadoo day in illustrator submissions than usual, so I thought I’d give myself a pick-me-up by highlighting three great illustrators who draw some super-cute animals.  Enjoy!

1. CharrowMy first favorite recent find is Charrow, whose quirky illustrations exude a playful spirit and sense of humor.  Her light watercolor and drawing technique feels breezy, like she just jotted down some animals, and they happen to be hilariously adorable. She’s also a frequent contributor to They Draw and Cook. Her Etsy shop is down at the moment, but when I checked it out a few weeks ago, it was easily my favorite part of her portfolio… be sure to check back for it soon!

2. Stephanie GraeginProbably my all-time favorite illustrator submission ever is a little “mini portfolio” booklet from Stephanie Graegin.  Her Renata Liwska-style woodland creatures, accented by limited color and unlimited sweetness, had both design and editorial drooling. Crossing my fingers that I see a book with her name on it soon!

3. Lizzy HallmanIf illustrator David Catrow’s art proves anything, it’s that there’s a place in this business for a little ugly-cute.  And if my love of french bulldogs proves anything, it’s that I will always get behind ugly-cute!  Hallman’s characters may have wonky eyeballs, but they make their expressions unique and humorous. And her color treatment? 100% sweet!

SCBWI 2011: Stand-Out Illustrators!

This past weekend was the annual SCBWI Winter Conference, a 3-day event, packed with speakers, panels and workshops, that brings authors and illustrators to Midtown from across the country.  I’ve always wanted to go, and finally had the chance to attend the Illustrators’ Intensive by begging offering to help out a bit.

Friday was all about children’s books and new media (more on that later), but one of the most fun perks was getting to see the showcase of illustrators that was set up for judging and industry viewing.  As I tried to have fun and not to get overwhelmed by the VIP cocktails and networking, I managed to grab a few cards of my favorites.

I was pleased, but not surprised, that Leeza Hernandez (above) won the Grand Prize at the showcase. She’s super talented, and has a friendly, approachable personality to boot. But I’ve been following her work for some time, so while she deserves much congratulations, she doesn’t count on my list of “new discoveries” . . .

1. Andrea Offermann /  It was so lovely to meet German illustrator Andrea Offermann, whose rich, detailed porfolio is breathtaking.  Her work is perfect for older, middle-grade readers – book covers, black and white interiors, graphic novels.  I won’t be surprised to see her art all over the shelves!

2. You Byun / Aww, how sweet are those characters’ faces?  And look at the lush range of texture!  And warmth of light!  When it comes to creating worlds, You Byun has it down.  And I’m seriously gushing over every single one.

3. Greg Pizzoli / Okay, this guy’s silkscreen prints are just too freaking cool. I’ve got major jealousy looking at his 32-page promotional zine, C’mon, Go!, and the hand-bound editions of his books are fine art, but could so easily be commercially reproduced.  His website is most effective too, with a fun, in-depth look at his process.

4. R.S. Posnak / We designers made a beeline for R.S.’s Oliver Jeffers-esque line work and letterpress business cards (we’re too predictable).  Turns out, she’s also a designer, and has an online portfolio with a healthy mix of sleek commerical projects (for adults) and vintage curios.  Hello, animal dioramas!

5. Brian Gerrity / On the other end of the spectrum, Brian Gerrity’s work is made for kids.  Fun, bubbly characters, with a smooth digital look, are perfect for little ones.  And what a whimsical sense of pattern… you can look back at the picture again and again, and still find something new.

New Artist Showcase: Chris Mulvey

Chris Mulvey

Website: http://mulveyart.com
Email: Mulveyillustration@gmail.com

What makes you passionate about pursuing a career as an artist?

I think the main factor that motivates me is the same thing that drives most artists to do what they do. I’ve been doing this for such a long time, that I can’t picture myself thriving in any other field. You set yourself up for success in almost any skill that that you begin to practice at an early age. Ask any Olympic gold winner. They’ll probably tell you they’ve been training since the age of 4.

What kind of stories are you working on lately?

Right now I’m working on two stories simultaneously. They are both graphic novels. One of them takes place in a parallel universe, on a distant planet. It touches on many of the problems we have here on earth – war, economic disputes, pollution, etc. This comic won’t be done for many years, and I began conceptualizing it eight years ago.

The one I plan on finishing sooner is about drugs and substance abuse. Each character in the series is a drug, and they all interact inside the body of a 15 year old boy. I do not work any biased views into the plot, and make sure that each drug’s persona proves to be educational to the fullest extent of it’s nature.

None of my stories have ever involved humans. They’re boring and predictable.

Where do you get your inspiration, in or outside of art? Favorite artists?

Ren and Stimpy, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Anything that involves the Muppets, Looney Tunes, Calvin and Hobbes, The Crow, The “Bone” series, the Ninja Turtles, Dennis Hopper, Edward Munch, Salvador Dali, Magritte, Goya, and Hunter S. Thompson.

No matter who you are, your creations will always reflect what you were exposed to when you were younger. I feel like my generation was particularly lucky.

You’re an art teacher as well… does that inspire you creatively? What advice would you give to kids looking to pursue illustration as a career?

The kids I teach are mostly between 6 and 8 years old. every once in a while we’ll get a passionate teenager who requires more specific guidance. I can still easily relate to the little ones though, especially the stubborn ones that pretend I’m not there when I try to help them. The main thing we try to teach is hand eye coordination. We make them use a grid system so that they can map out the image in their brain and draw everything freehand. I feel like the earlier this type of skill is instilled in your mind, the more unstoppable you will be as a creative thinker. I want them to eventually feel like they can draw whatever they want. Once you have that kind of confidence, you can build off of your own ideas and produce images that have never existed before. Reference will be a tool, not a necessity.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Nobody knows, nobody cares, and nobody will ever care, unless you absolutely MAKE them.

New Artist Showcase: Christee Curran

Christee Curran

You’re about to enter your senior year at Pratt in the spring. Do you know what direction of illustration you’d like to go in for your final projects?

I’m definitely doing another children’s book, although I don’t know what yet! I’ll have to ruminate over winter break.  For my other senior project, I actually have no idea. I may just work on a series of promotional pieces to expand my portfolio, but I would like for the body of work to have a common thread. I know that in the Fall of 2011 I will be doing a lot of the characters that I’ve created in 3D, but not just yet for Spring! I’m really trying to find a way of working right now.

What kind of stories do you like to illustrate? Any favorite subjects?

I love to draw kids, especially in the classroom setting. I also love to play with drawing kids and animals together–except I put the animals on “human-level.” I think it makes a great story whenever humans and animals are nonchalantly interacting. I probably love to illustrate that subject so much because when I was a kid I wanted nothing more than to have some sort of animal who could converse with me in fluent English. That was everyone’s fantasy, right?

Who are some of your artistic heros?

Gosh there are a lot. Walt Disney and Pixar, for starters, not just for the art but for the amazing story and character developments.

Tim Burton’s animation, as well. As far as illustrators go: Norman Rockwell, Maurice Sendak, Chris van Allsburg, David Weisner, Mary Blair.  Two new favorites of mine are Suzy Lee and Peter Brown. As far as writer-illustrators, I will not ever respect any other poets as highly as I will ever respect Shel Silverstein or Dr. Seuss.

As a Peer Counselor, what career advice would you give to aspiring illustration students?

Well, I highly recommend that you take a class called “Self Promotion.”  Not only will it give you some really valuable information about getting jobs and internships, but it will force you to make a great resume, portfolio, and website. And you do NEED a website. I shouldn’t talk, because I don’t have one yet, but I will by the end of the semester!

While we’re on the subject of portfolios, make sure that every single assignment that you get in your classes is completed to a level of sophisticated finish. If that means that you don’t sleep for the night, that means you don’t sleep for the night. Trust me: when you are putting together your portfolio, and you have those great pieces, the bags under your eyes instantly become superfluous.

In addition, make sure that every single assignment that you do caters to your career agenda. Put it through your creative filter. Think of the assignment as a point of departure.

Do what you do. EVERYONE has a different “style.” Don’t get stressed. Look for patterns in the way you work or design a page. Sometimes just exaggerating these preexisting patterns can help you find your own visual language.  Stay more concerned with making each piece your best piece yet. You WILL be judged by the weakest piece in your portfolio.

Do NOT underestimate the importance of type. Take Type 3 or Graphic Design 1. Take it with a great teacher. You’ll go crazy during, but will be really happy you did afterwards. Seriously.

Make sure you know what’s going on at Career Services. The counselors are there to help you. Make connections with them and the teachers you love. Keep your eyes open for events posted on the bulletin boards around campus and friend “Peer to Peer” on facebook, because we totally keep you up to date on events you should be attending (like resume workshops, internship fairs, lectures from successful alumni, etc.).

Last one, I promise: This sounds weird, but always be friendly with people.  The kids in your major, the kids in other majors, the kids at other art schools. Strangers! Because guess what: A little kindness goes a long way and so does karma. Networking doesn’t start or stop at any specific time. NEVER cut off a potential connection. The person you flipped off on the way to your interview could be your interviewer.

What career advice would you give to yourself in the next year?

Dear Christee,

Hi, it’s yours truly! Don’t worry about sleeping, just worry about getting plenty of coffee and exercise. Keep pushing yourself and get an internship for this Spring. Focus on perfecting your portfolio and updating your website. Your getting really close to finding your personal voice; let it talk and listen to what it has to say, because then it will get stronger on its own. There are other things to keep in mind, but none that I can think of at the moment, except to keep worshipping Pat Cummings, and to believe in yourself.

Best,

-Christee

PS: Remember what E.L. Doctorow said (about writing, but it applies to careers in general):

“It’s like driving a car at night. You never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”