Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Macleans obit illo: An Active Life

A Macleans obit frame! The subject (Kassandra Marie Kaulius) loved all sports and softball in particular. She played for the Surrey Storm in Vancouver and eventually coached for them, too. She went to college on a full scholarship and continued to play and coach softball even as she worked to save for school. After she died, her parents set up a scholarship fund in her name, though the Surrey Storm. Because softball was such a major part of her life, I made it the overarching theme of the frame and used a softball diamond for the actual shape.

Kassandra was a terrific athlete, but off the field she loved to glam it up; her boyfriend Cody said that this transformation from one to the other and back again "was the most beautiful thing about her". I included a lipstick because I wanted to celebrate his love for her.

I really enjoy incorporating bits like that, those little details that make up a person. I put in a BMW car key because after she returned home from the full scholarships she'd had at American colleges she worked hard to save for school in Canada and buy a car, making all the payments herself. All the while she was coaching and playing softball in her spare time. She was intent on paying off the car completely before moving in with her boyfriend.

She and Cody enrolled at the University of the Fraser Valley (the stems and leaves motif on the frame echoes the logo of that school) with plans on becoming teachers. Cody was going to propose to her this summer. That's why I played up home plate as a diamond ring. Kassandra had chosen to come home, and she had the future in front of her.

Friday, September 23, 2011

New t-shirt! Tree-shirt?

Craig and I recently did a road trip to Vancouver. We met up with yet another friend we met in World of Warcraft (five so far, three to go!) and to commemorate the occasion I made him this t-shirt! Being handy with silkscreening has its advantages :).

A little while back my work was featured on popular WoW news site WoW Insider. It showcases a bunch of the other Warcraft stuff I've done, as well as a lengthy interview about my process and how I came to be a freelance illustrator.

I mention in the interview that for my fan art creations I don't draw the designs (my freelance professional work is 100% me, though!), but I do fiddle with my reference images a good deal before they are ready for silkscreen printing. Here is the picture I used for this t-shirt. It's all about picking out the right lines and emphasizing the shapes to make sure it prints clearly, not to mention processing the screen properly so the design transfers well. Especially all those picky little leaves!

I've done a couple non-Warcraft related t-shirts, to see those and more, click here!

Monday, September 19, 2011

9/11 + Haiku Contest

Here's the cover image I did for The Weekly Alibi's 9/11 commemorative issue + 19th annual haiku contest. I can't take credit for the terrific idea (props to the art director), but I know one when I see one! Alibi covers are always fun to do because it's a large (around 10x10") prominent (cover!) space for illustrations. At first I had the bonsai tree much taller -- I planned to have the "alibi" name right across the foliage, but probably for legibility's sake the art director requested that the bonsai be... pruned! (heh). 

This is a close-up of the piece, it's all hand-mixed colours and silkscreened onto paper. The original pretty much looks exactly like this! If you look closely in the background you can see how it has an odd, irregular texture. That's because I used fairly thick ink and when you pull the paper off the screen the ink clings to the paper creating a bumpy, raised surface. I'm pleased with the textured background because it really does look like a wall! I used process magenta and flourescent green for the flowers and leaves because those inks are transparent and I knew they would overlap the background colours nicely. 

And here's a blast from the past! This is the cover I did for the very same haiku contest for Alibi a few years back. 

That cover, as it was published:

Making haiku art
For Alibi is great fun
Illustration rules!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Honolulu Magazine: Bed & Breakfast Battle

Aloha! Honolulu Magazine was established in 1888 (its original title was "Paradise of the Pacific) by King Kalakaua. Talk about a long and venerable history! I was so pleased to get to work for this publication.

The article I illustrated was "Bed & Breakfast Battle". It deals with the controversy that is being created due to the influx of BnB's into Honolulu's neighbourhoods.

I showed different perspectives of the issue in the sketches I submitted. In this sketch, I wanted to show the tourists as obnoxiously kissy-kissy and to contrast the their flowery surroundings and luxurious food with the more down-to-earth life of the neighbour.

In this sketch I wanted to show a bit more conflict -- turn it up a notch!

I went a more comedic route with this one and flipped the perspective around. The tourist is depicted as a destructive force that the BnB is welcoming to shore.

Here's the one we went with! It's still got that conflict element but not as overt. Honolulu is a pretty classy magazine so I can see why the art director picked this one. She cited my "Dorothy in the Poppy Field" as a favourite piece, so I tried to make the illustration for this commission have a similar look. The background has the same faraway feel.

This is the cleaned up sketch. I am always playing with the scale and position of the elements in my compositions. I made the tourist-guy a lot bigger, for instance -- along with dozens of other minute adjustments.

I inked it with a tech pen because that's what I used for the Dorothy piece. Sometimes I use a brush, it varies from piece to piece. Some examples:

"Be Somebody or Be Somebody's Fool: National Post" -- Brush
"Who Watches the Watchmen?: The Weekly Alibi" -- Tech Pen
"Macleans back page Obit piece: August" -- Brush
"Happy Canada Day: Personal piece" -- Brush

Funnily enough, I use a nib (dip pen) for all of my watercolour cat cards but I've never used it in my illustrations. I find that I'm pretty shaky with my line quality using nibs and it just makes my stuff look weird. Maybe one day!