Thursday, January 31, 2008

South Beach, Miami

JAMES - on new years eve, another Flying Pitilli Brother, Darren, flew into NC to visit. we had a nice dinner, went to sleep early, and at 5am we hit the road for Miami. the drive was great, took about 11 hours, and we arrived to a festive, post-new years South Beach for 5 days of sun and fun.
unfortunately, the sun wasn't around much the first couple of days. but there was plenty to keep us busy - especially splurging for one amazing gourmet dinner after another, and enjoying one of the best performances either of us has ever seen - Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings at the Culture Room in Ft. Lauderdale (someone posted you tube clips here and here).
we also did our best to infiltrate an undercover operation between some shady characters on the beach at night - haha. not to mention using 'really ripped abs' to keep the smell of smoke from leaving our hotel room (guess you had to be there). and finally on the last two days, we got to sit in the sun and do some hard core relaxing. Miami is a beautiful place, with beautiful people - amazing architecture and a very high concentration of artistic expression all around. i'm glad i brought my sketchbook.

and i also brought my camera, which it seems i only took out on the cloudy days.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Lets talk about Sex...

TOM - This week I got the chance to do the cover for New York Press. They are introducing a new sex column, which is actually very entertaining and funny (and raunchy!) and so this issue kicked it off. The art director and I came up with a bunch of ideas for the cover and the interior illustration, and ultimately, these were the two that got picked. Process: Usual brush and ink on vellum bristol, scanned, colored in Photoshop.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


"Dig Deep, My Son"


JAMES - still catching up...these are some of the posters i worked on before and after the new year. first, up top, are two posters i was asked to do by a non-profit group called Conscious Alliance: Art That Feeds - i strongly encourage you to click their link and check out what they're doing. they're a very small group of incredibly selfless people, who spend 300 days of the year on the road feeding people, and organizing events and concerts to raise money for food and support for the hungry and needy. all the profits from the posters they sell at the shows goes straight to the people they're helping - thus Art That Feeds. and besides they're super great people to work with - it was a pleasure, and i'll be doing more for them in the future (thanks Neal!).

anyway, the first poster is for an electronica/jam band (Zilla) who uses a hammered dulcimer prominently in their music, and a group of DJ's (Glitch Mob) from whom i got the impression had roots in Japan. so i decided to explore some Japanese art, and do something of it in my style. lots of interesting research, and reference (especially from my dear Zeshin) - after sketching a few pages, i wanted to combine two ideas, so i did another of my double-layer paintings (like "Listen, Sweetie"). pure fun - tho i must say ALOT of work. the details in the lettering took forever. but it was worth it i think. and it's hard to see, but the character in the background is a DJ, wearing headphones and holding a record. it's watercolor, acrylic, ink and pencil on 11x17 bristol.

originally i was only supposed to do one poster, but then they split the shows up and asked for another. i spent so much time on the other, this one allowed me to explore a more minimalistic style, one that i don't usually do for posters. but i wanted it to be really effective rather than a cop out. this group, E.O.T.O, is an electronica duo with members from the other two bands. i haven't done a robot poster in a couple of years, so this was a good excuse, and then cap it off with some street writing, which i've been diggin' on lately in my never ending search for text styles. and so, "Kooka-Botz" was born (thanks to Henry's mom Robin for the expression!). this one is mostly marker, with some white and black ink, and red acrylic on grey Rives BFK, 11x17.

prints of both these posters will be for sale on my site in the next couple of days.

"Hanging On A String Girl"

while i was in miami right after new years (the next post will be about that trip), i got a call about doing a poster for another show at the Orange Peel. i had recently seen a pose in a magazine that inspired me, and i did some quick sketching on a hotel note pad (too bad i threw it out) to adjust the pose and work it into a concept of a beautiful puppet woman coming to life. that was fun, cuz when i got home, everything was already mapped out in my head, so all i needed to do was draw it.

also, while in miami, we saw an exhibit at the Bass Museum about the development of Miami in the 50's, 60's and so on - there were alot of original architectural sketches and models, and some of the sketches were done on vellum (the translucent kind), and they looked so beautiful. it made the lines softer, and since it was usually mounted ontop of an opaque piece of paper, there was subtle shadow and depth. so right away i knew i wanted the next poster to be on vellum. so you see in the photo, i drew it out on a regular sheet of bristol, and then instead of lightbox-ing it onto another sheet of bristol, i could easily transfer it to the vellum in natural light. and the surface of it is sooo smoothe and soft, the brush flowed beautifully. tho, i did use marker for the string lines, and i realized that the marker didn't quite dry so much, and i had to be careful not to smudge (there's a little smudge by my signature). but when i scanned it, it did exactly what i wanted - the lines looked super soft, with almost a blurred shadow around them. i think it worked perfectly with the subject matter, making the pretty girl even more lifelike by making her skin look soft and almost in motion. i bought lots of vellum, so i'll add this to my choices of medium. this one is straight-up ink and marker on 11x17 tracing vellum. i was at the show last nite, and it was a blast (thanks Jeff!)

lastly (for now) i recieved an email from the Orange Peel about doing a poster for Henry Rollins. i mean, Henry Fucking Rollins - so much of my musical taste has been influence by this man and the things he's been involved in. my Black Flag records, and my books by and about Henry and crucial parts of my collection and fuel a very healthy fascination with the music i love from the early-mid 80's. of course, Blag Flag is no more, and i'm not even sure if the Rollins Band is still techincally together, but Henry's been touring for the past years doing spoken word shows, and he's at it again. this particular show is titled "Provoked: An Evening of Quintessentially American Editorializing and Storytelling."

no time to waste, i need to step up and impress one of my heroes. i offered two sketches - the first was a play on the comedy/tragedy masks (since Henry's shows combine both), but including some obviously abrasive imagery to attract attention, as well as what would have been a bleeding American flag in the background (it's hard to show in a quick sketch, but i explained it to them). the second was inspired by a sketch i did in one of my personal notebooks, and i adjusted it to fit this project. it's mostly an excercise in composition and using easily recognizable icons to "provoke" or grab attention. i left the top wide open to add to the weight of the 'smash' and the black shards on the bottom left corner complete the movement of your eye, giving the ultimate impact. they chose that one, and i'm glad cuz i think it's way stronger.
"Laying The Hammer Down"

in general, it looks like an easy poster to do, considering some of the extreme detail in previous posters, but this was no joke. it took THREE tries to get it right. no kidding. by the third time i was able to loosen up enough, and make it look less forced. there was a bit of photoshop color adjusting, especially to get the green just the way i wanted, and to also exploit all the brush strokes in the whole thing.

this one is watercolor, acrylic, marker and ink on 11.75x15.5 bristol. the final poster is 18x24, but i'd rather not draw that big - it takes longer (and there was a tight deadline) and it's a bitch to scan so big). i sent these out to a printer in Nashville, and i just got them yesterday. i signed and numbered them (it's a series of 95, no reprints) and they'll be for sale on my site starting February 23. i brought some to the club to hang up and promote and they look fantastic - and most importantly everyone is psyched (thanks Liz!).

Friday, January 25, 2008

Big Talkers

JAMES - well, i've got alot of catching up to do! this is the cover to last month's Bold Life - the lead story was on the local 'Toastmasters' group (i never heard of the Toastmasters before this, but apparently, they're all over the world). basically they're a group of people who meet up and give speeches. not the easiest cover assignment.

i was recently influenced by the work of Shepard Fairey after seeing some stuff in Juxtapoz mag (thanks for the subscription, tom!), so i put together this sketch which was very conceptual and ambitious. i drew it on a page ripped out of an old paperback book, and i intended the final peice to be bits of chaos, mixed with fine illustration, with lots of different media used (collage, spraypaint, regular paints, inks, etc.). unfortunately, i think it was too ambitious and it was rejected.

so i came up with these two - the last one being a throwaway, but hey, i was stumped. they liked the idea of mixed media from the last sketch, i think it was the concept that was too vague. so the second sketch solidified it much more, and i was ready to go.

first, i used my last sheet of some really shitty watercolor paper, which i used on purpose. this paper would start to crumble when it got really wet, and especially when i hit it hard with a brush - so i did. over and over, creating lots of layers and texture with watercolors, pencils, charcoal and scratching it up nice with a knife. then i drew all the charatcers on separate sheets of paper (actually three: one for the main head, another for the smaller heads, and another for the megaphone). i lightboxed it onto the messy watercolorpaper with a nice concoction of black india ink and some brown shellac ink i had. then i went over it with some more colors, and chalk, until i felt satisfied.

at the last minute, we realized we were running an article about historical markers and moments from the area - but had no photos for the article (no time to dig up photos from the civil war). so i was asked to do three illustrations for the story, each pertaining to one of the historical tales. i had to work real fast, since the deadline was approaching. they were all drawn on regular copy paper with my pentel brush pen; scanned into photoshop, and colored it up. the whole thing took 3 hours. when i was done, i stepped back and was really satisfied with the amount of looseness that i was able to keep, while still getting the point across. i think if i had more time, i would have gotten much more tight on them, but i don't think they would have been better served that way.
you can read the article here:

next month (technically this month): fencing!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


TOM - Here is a poster I did recently for Brian Bonz and the Dot Hongs, a band straight outta Bay Ridge Brooklyn. The poster is to promote their upcoming album, "From Sumi To Japan". The idea given to me was pretty out there, and I had fun illustrating it. Until next time...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Time Out New York

TOM - Wow it's been a while since we updated this blog, it's been a bit busy for the both of us, but this month actually marks our one year anniversary of the 'Flying Pitilli Brothers'! Here is a recent project I worked on for Time Out New York. It is an article about investing in NYC, different ways of making money investing in things ranging from real estate to music, to art. There was a VERY tight deadline on this project, but it was fun to tackle these three ideas and try to make them as visually interesting as I could for a topic that could be a bit dry. Check out the issue, as it is on the stands now, or visit it online here.
More regular update to come!