Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Harlem Hand, A Harlem Heart

JAMES - It's Day 3 of "Process Week," and time to unveil another brand new piece. Pictured above is the art print version of A Harlem Hand, A Harlem Heart, which goes on sale in my store today - $25 each at

I also made an accompanying poster version (pictured below) for my good friend Brian Bonz and his amazing band the Major Crimes, for their upcoming tour. I've known Brian and his brother Mike for what seems like forever - incredibly talented dudes. Our bands all used to play together back in the day - I had worked with him on his first couple of records, and even played keyboards in his band for a bit. It was great to get the chance to collaborate again.

Bonz Tour Poster Version

Unlike the recent two process blog-posts, this is a good example of how each and every aspect of the artwork changed and evolved with each passing minute of working on it. Sometimes I like having a plan, sticking to it, and executing. But other times, it's really exciting to let the artwork steer me in it's own direction - I just gotta hang on.

Sketch Evolution

As always, I start with sketches. I had done some acrobat-type stuff in my sketchbook recently, and wanted to elaborate on the theme with a print. So I had this loose 'circus' theme that I started late one night with a pencil scribble (above left). By morning I had my colors mapped out (next sketch over), but that composition is just terrible. I couldn't live with it, so I took the part I liked the best - the actual acrobats - and decided to close in on them.

The funny thing is that I hadn't intended to have them look as though they're about to kiss - but when I blew up the scribble lines, they already appeared that way. So I went with it. That there pretty much changed the whole direction of it all. By then, the circus theme was kinda gone, and instead of the trapeze platforms bordering the sides, I decided to put them in the city.

Final Sketch

At long last, I had what I would consider my final sketch. On to drawing.

Acrobats drawing

I loved the looseness of the original scribbles, and while I kinda tried to clean them up and get all fancy with it, I realized they were more beautiful as these blurry silhouettes. So I grabbed my Pentel brush pen - it's big and sloppy, and runs out of ink all the time. Perfect for this kind of style.

Duct Tape

Before I started drawing the city, I had this really fun idea - what if I made the city out of Duct Tape? So that's what I did. Tearing little pieces to get those corners and windows just right was a pain - and then getting the lettering together.... that took a few tries. That stuff is mad sticky! I did want a rough look though, and I wanted it to be obvious that it was duct tape, so I didn't pretty it up too much.

I then scanned the drawing and the tape collages into the computer and started to do my Photoshopping. The blue highlights on the acrobats, and the white 'tour info' lettering were drawn in Photoshop with my Wacom tablet - and to get the tape to look like tape when I printed it, I decided it would need to be divided into two tones to show the textures of it. Lots of Photoshop trickery.

I sat and stared at it awhile, till I was finally happy with it. Then outputted my films and off to the studio to print!

Printing 1st color, Blue

Printing 3rd color, Magenta

Here are some pics of printing the first three colors of the poster-version (which I printed first to get them done in time for the tour). Not pictured here is the 'split-fountain' I used to print the trapeze-strings in the background - another last-minute idea. This gives the fading effect as the lines appear strong at the top, then fade to very light at the bottom.

The next day I printed the Art Print version - and once again, at the very last second, I decided to add the moon in the background of that one, since I was missing the balance that the lettering gave me on the poster-version.

Signing & numbering the posters

Then back to the house to curate them and sign & number 'em. Am I the only one who forgets how to spell his own name after writing it 150 times in a row? Probably.

Detail shot

Another detail shot

4-color screenprint, 25"x19", on 100lb Sweet Tooth French paper, 
edition of 50, signed and numbered

5-color screenprint, 25"x19", on 100lb Sweet Tooth French paper, 
edition of 95, signed and numbered

The art prints are available now in my store, - $25 each.

Brian and the band will have the posters available on tour for the next couple of months - do check them out, they're pretty incredible. And their new album, The Triborough Odyssey, is amazing. I named these prints after the final song on the album, a real beauty.

Thanks for reading! Tomorrow is the 4th and final day of "Process Week" - it's back to basics time. Until then...

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