Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Exile on Main Street for A Circus Mind

Starring Mick and Keith, kickin' it in the south of France. I wanted to create a laid-back, beachy vibe and include some bits and pieces of architecture and background environments to give it all a sense of place. 

The Rolling Stones recorded their tenth British studio album in a rented villa called Nellcôte in the little commune of Villefranche-sur-Mer, near Nice. In the upper right I put the distinctive gate that precedes the villa. The villa itself is the building in the background. The pillars and the odd lion-woman statue are also features of Nellcôte. The little village and beach area were inspired by photos of the region. Thankfully, there were lots of picture to use as reference -- I was able to get a good look at the guitar Keith was playing, as well as his striped pants!

My twelfth and last illustration for Ryan Cox's book "A Circus Mind". Here are the other ones I've posted.


And here is the whole set, as well as the colour palette for the series:

Can't wait to see the finished book! Fellow illustrators Dushan Milic, Zela Lobb, Jacqui Oakley, Andy Potts, and Elissa Parente all also contributing work. Dushan is designing the book too! Very excited :).

-- Julia

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

My art on Breaking Bad!

Over the years I've done a lot of work for the Weekly Alibi, which happens to be based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. January 2011 I did a cover for them, the only cover I did for them that year. January 2011 is when season four, episode 1 of Breaking Bad was filming! Talk about the right place at the right time.

The episode aired in July 2011 -- more than a year ago and I only watched it now!

In the last shot of the episode, the camera lingers for a few glorious seconds on this:

Eeeeeeee! EeeeEEE! What's even cooler is that as you can see from cover I posted, the headline was "The 2011 Issue". In the shot it says "20th". So they even had to do some post-production magic there! And even, even cooler is that in the next few episodes they do "previously on..." montages that include the same shot. 

And nerdiest of all, I can now daydream that I'm a freelance illustrator in the Breaking Bad universe. Like, if I travelled to Albuquerque I could conceivably run into Walt or Jesse or good ol' Saul :P. 

-- Julia

Monday, July 23, 2012

Who watches the watchmen part 2, for the Weekly Alibi

Ongoing troubles for the Albuquerque Police Department -- They need an independent review officer who investigates the public's complaints about the police but are having trouble filling the position. Maybe it's because the job has no teeth! 

If the independent review officer feels that there is a legitimate complaint he takes it to the Police Oversight Commission, which is staffed by volunteers. The commission can decide not to pass the complaint on to the Police Chief. And even if they decide to forward the complaint to the Police Chief, the Police Chief ultimately decides what actions will be taken. Or not taken. Seems like a pretty thankless job to me.

The Albuquerque Police Department has had more than its fair share of troubles. Here's another illustration I did for the Weekly Alibi dealing with ABQ police troubles. And here's another one!


-- Julia

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Happy Birthday to my sister

Another Diablo 3 birthday card! And only a few weeks after my Dido-as-monk card. My sister plays a female wizard in Diablo 3 so I figured dressing Didocat up in wizard garb (including the lady wizard's signature ponytail) would be perfect. I chose the High Heavens level as the background for this card because I felt that the colours and elements would match well with the character. 

Diablo 3 is fun but I am super excited for World of Warcraft's next expansion. I'm a sucker for Asian themes and it looks like Blizzard is putting tons of content in for people who don't raid. The datamined Collector's Edition pet and mount don't look so hot to me but I'll be looking forward to the soundtrack and art book! Although it can be hard to listen to music that you constantly hear played in the background of  a game :P.

There are a ton of cards I painted before I started my blog and they're all collected in this book I made.

Happy Birthday Emily!

-- Julia

Monday, July 16, 2012

Red Hot Chili Peppers for A Circus Mind

My penultimate illustration in my "A Circus Mind" series! Featuring one of my favourite bands: the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I had their album "Californication" in mind when I was creating this piece. It's been so hot and humid out, so I figured it was the perfect time to share this.

Because the poem that Ryan wrote (he's the dude who set this whole project in motion) concludes with a reference to Hallowe'en I wanted to incorporate that into the image. I felt like Hallowe'en could give the illustration the eerie feeling I sometimes get from RHCP's music. Hallowe'en is a time when the spirit world is said to be closest to ours -- seance!

Fun fact: this is the second time I've depicted a seance scene. The first time was in the New Yorker, for a blurb mentioning an opera set in San Francisco called "Seance on a Wet Afternoon". 

I wanted to do something spooky and contrast that with cheesy Hallowe'en decorations and candy and a modernist California setting. The Chili Peppers have created haunting, melodic songs and more rap-based, testosterone-driven rhythmic work. I feel like they have two sides and I wanted to show that.

I think when most people think of RHCP they imagine them shirtless (and often pantsless!), possibly because of their Simpson's episode or their infamous Rolling Stone covers. I depicted them shirtless because I wanted to show their tattoos, to contrast with the seance setting, and to indicate the warmth and laid-back attitude of California. And of course, if I'd dressed them up in three piece suits they'd be unrecognizable!

Details that it might be difficult to see: The two framed pictures on the wall are renderings of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper and Abbey Road album covers (mentioned in the poem), the "chili pepper" lights represents the band's name, the pool in the backyard is meant to slightly resemble the Californication album cover, the building in the distance is an indication of the Laurel Canyon mansion they used to record Californication (also mentioned in the poem), and the bottom right has ants crawling to a weird shape that recalls Dali's painting "The Persistence of Memory" (referenced in the poem).

Left: Original sketch. Right: tighter sketch 

Hope you like it!
-- Julia

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Nonquon Lagoons Birding Trip

My parents and I took a trip to Nonquon Lagoons in Port Perry, Ontario to see if we could spot any good waterfowl or shorebirds. They added a bird to their lifetime bird count! That's a pretty big deal when you've seen 212 different species and you haven't left Ontario. Here are two sketches I did from photos my dad took: The top is an adult black tern and the bottom is the juvenile version. 

Nonquon Lagoons is some sort of waste water treatment area. It smells like a public restroom. What makes it great (besides the smell :P) is that it's off the beaten path and doesn't get a lot visitors. You need to pony up $10 (per person) for an annual permit to visit the area, which is fenced off and locked. There isn't even any actual parking to speak off and it's at the end of a dead-end road. There are about half a dozen lagoons of varying smelliness and depth, which means there's something for just about any type of bird that likes water!

The town is doing some construction in the area so if you are thinking of visiting, you may want to go on a weekend when it's quieter. In the pic below on the far right you can see a big truck kicking up dust clouds. That guy was driving back and forth all day! He seemed nice and we waved each time he went by. Didn't seem to bother the birds but you never know. But don't forget to grab your permit(s) first! You need to go to the nearby transfer station (which may in fact be closed on the weekends, not sure) to get it, otherwise you can't get in. 

Also, July isn't the greatest time to go see birds. Spring/fall is best!

Here's one of the lagoons (courtesy of my iphone 3 + Instagram):

Plenty of bluets buzzing about. Here's a pic I took with my iphone 3 of a bluet shedding its old skin:

And here the list of what my parents spotted today:

Spotted sandpiper
Semipalmated sandpiper
Canada goose
Herring Gull
Trumpeter swan
Black tern
Red winged blackbird
Hooded merganser
Red head duck
Ring billed duck
Turkey vulture
Caspian tern

-- Julia

Monday, July 9, 2012

Dick Clark Dance-off!

A fun one for the Weekly Alibi! This one features a dance-off between a 60s-era Dick Clark and Alan Freed. Clark was the squeaky clean square and Freed was the swingin' cool daddio! I based the colour palette around Freed's trademark patterned suit jacket and went from there. 

Here's just the inked version:

 And the rough sketch!

-- Julia

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Happy Belated Canada Day

I did this piece for the Weekly Alibi for Fourth of July, figured it could work for Canada Day for my blog! The article was about how New Mexicans want fireworks banned when there's a severe danger of fires, but lobbyists and some politicians are opposing this fairly commen-sensical idea. Who would've thought that the fireworks industry would have so much clout?

I decided to have some of the indigenous wildlife fleeing the conflagration (there's a subtle skull in the smoke!), with a startled pronghorn antelope standing in for Bambi.

Be careful out there, folks!

-- Julia