Monday, October 24, 2011

Dallas Observer Cover

TOM - A couple weeks ago, I was contacted by Alexander Flores of Dallas Observer to illustrate a cover for them featuring a whole bunch of accomplished Dallas musicians, including Erykah Badu and Rhett Miller of the Old 97's. It was a super cool gig and I was glad to finally get to work with Alex. Unfortunately, during the  production of this cover, my computer crashed! Thankfully though, I was able to borrow a friends computer for the scanning and coloring of the final image and everything went to press right on time, whew!

Here's a look at some of the process that went into making this cover.

This is an early sketch idea. The cover called for pretty much, just a group shot, so placement and composition became my main focus. I wanted to have Erykah up front, she's probably the most well known of the bunch and also the most visually interesting ( I was really looking forward to drawing her fro!)

Then we decided on this one, I really liked the idea of having Erykah's hair somehow incorporated in the logo itself, as if the logo were etched out of it. After a few failed attempts on Erykahs likeness, I had to scrap that angle all together  it and try again. I think a big part of growing as an illustrator is being able to admit  when something just isn't working and being able to scrap it and start again, no matter how much time you already put in. If it's not working, it's not working.

I was simultaneously working on some interior illustrations of all the musicians and thought that version of Erykah would work much better on the cover. A bit more iconic and less of a full frontal shot. It worked!

Got to work on all the other characters and the assembly begun!

Trough several revisions and a broken computer, I'm very happy with the way it all came together.

Here's a quick look at another interior illustration I did of singer/songwriter, Sarah Jaffe.

Thanks for reading, more covers on the way!

Monday, October 17, 2011

"The Divide" Comic Book

JAMES - Oh man, I can't tell you how psyched I am about this one. Last month I was asked by the folks at Mondo to create a 12-page full-color comic book for the upcoming Xavier Gens directed movie, "The Divide." Not only that, but it would debut at the New York Comic Con this past weekend, one of the biggest comic events of the year (and this part I didn't even know about until I was done drawing and coloring!).
The comic serves as the back-story of one of the characters in the movie, Wendy, and her mother - sort of setting up the events that take place in the movie, as well as a peek into the untold fate of "Wendy" beyond what the movie shows. I got to work right away. The pic at the top of this post is the cover. Here are some photos that show my process for the rest of the comic, step by step, focusing on a climactic two-page spread - one of my favorite scenes. Click the photos to see them larger: 

It all started with these note pages, with the tiniest little sketches on them. The Director Xavier sent a very simple and rough outline of the story that needed to be told - so I had to figure out how to turn it into 12 pages and make it flow like a story. Everyone was cool with having no real dialogue in the book, so while it saved me having to actually "write", I did have to make sure the pictures could be strong enough to tell the story by themselves.

Next I made a better rough sketch of each page, which I drew actual size of the comic so that I could fee it out better (the final comic is a mini-comic - or "ashcan" - so I needed to take the size into account of how I'm going to compose my scenes).

Then I started drawing pencils for each page. I drew them almost double size - which is still kinda small for me, but after so many days in a row of drawing at that size, I was pretty locked in. I drew all the pages in pencil first before beginning any inks - this was probably the longest step in the whole process, because I was still making decisions about certain scenes and characters.

Next, it was time to put some ink on these pages. There are three acts to the story, and each one has it's own pace and vibe. The first act is very calm, domestic, and sad; the second act is all adventure (these pages are the end of the second act); the third act is cold and clinical. So while I kept my ink-style consistent throughout, I wanted to make variations for each act so that the style becomes an important voice in the storytelling.

Here's a close-up of the final inks for page 9.

And here is the final page 8-9 spread. I colored everything in Photoshop, and made all the necessary additions at this stage: the exciting panel borders on page 9, the sparks shooting out on page 8, the lasers for the guns, and lots of other stuff throughout the other pages. I kept my color palette very simple and consistent throughout - almost approaching it like I do with my screen prints - but I made good use of filters to set the tone again for each act.
This was one of the coolest things I've ever worked on, and I'm so proud of how it came out. Big thanks to Mitch at Mondo for putting this one together. The movie will be out in January 2012 (on my birthday, no less), and hopefully these comics will make return appearances at any future advance screenings. In the meantime, here's the trailer. Thanks for reading.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Gigposters Book - Volume 2

JAMES - Ok, this is one of those things that just blows my mind. I just got my advance copy of the new Gigposters Book (Vol. 2), which I am excited to say has a couple pages of my art in it. And as I flip through the whole book, I feel so incredibly humbled and honored to be in the company of so many of my favorite artists. 

For fans of Vol. 1, the format is the same - it's a large, oversized book with perforated pages giving you 101 ready-to-frame posters (as it says in the cover). You can pre-order the book now, and you get a free screen print with each order - trust me, you want one of these: 

Here are shots of my pages:  

Thursday, October 6, 2011

New Prints & Posters

"Born Bad"
"Mixtape Make-Up"
"Asheville, NC"
JAMES - It been a REALLY busy end of summer, working on all sorts of exciting projects. I can finally start rolling out the first bunch - starting with these three.

First is my Garbage Pail Kids print, for the recent show at Gallery 1988. Those old cards and stickers were such a huge part of growing up for me, and it's no secret that I actually got my name from the original card (#317A) of "James Flames" - a little dude eating hot sauce and spitting fire. Well, when I was asked to be a part of the show, there was no question which character I would portray. The title of this one is "Born Bad", and I'll be damned if he ain't. The artwork and printing on this might be the work I'm proudest of to this point - the print is quite a killer in person, if I do say so. An 8-color screen print, 18" x 24" on 100lb White French Paper, Signed & Numbered Edition of 100 - they're available now in my store for $30 each:

Next is a poster I created for the Hopscotch Music Festival in Raleigh, NC. Featured as part of the "Posterscotch" poster show at Amplified Art Gallery, I thought I'd get a little sentimental with this one. The title is "Mixtape Make-Up" - an homage to the days when a $2.99 blank tape and an afternoon with your records offered a better alternative to the sappy "I'm sorry" love letter. The print is based on semi-transparent colors overlapping each other, including the Black, which is thin enough to see the colors underneath peaking through. A 4-color screen print, 18" x 24" on 100lb White French Paper, Signed & Numbered Edition of 75 - they're also now available in my store for $20 each: 

Last but not least is a print I created as a tribute to the town I've called home for the past 4 1/2 years, Asheville, North Carolina. I debuted these prints at the LAAFF festival in Downtown Asheville about a month ago, and it was great to see people connect with the artwork the same way that I connect to this town through it. Depicting the almost fairy-tale town nestled within the almighty Blue Ridge Mountains as the French Broad River roars to a waterfall end, these are all my favorite parts of living here. The hand lettering is the finishing touch to bring it all home. A 5-color screen print, 24" x 18" on 80lb Cream Spekletone French Paper, Signed & Numbered Edition of 65 - these are available in my store for $20 each:

Thanks for reading. I should have more new stuff in another week or two. In the meantime, back to work...

Monday, October 3, 2011

Jet Propulsion - San Diego's Night & Day Magazine Cover

JAMES - I was asked to illustrate another cover for the San Diego Union Tribune's "Night & Day" magazine. It's always great working with their talented art director Peter Nguyen, and when he mentioned the lead story was about the upcoming air show, my imagination started to soar - both figuratively and literally.

The main attraction at the air show are the Blue Angels of the U.S. Navy, who have some of the damn coolest looking jets of all time. So along with the cool paint jobs, I wanted to just convey speed - lots and lots of speed. So I started sketching like a wild man, sitting there making "shhoooommm" and "whoooossshhh" noises like a five year old. Serious fun.

Here's a close-up of the final cover artwork:

And here's a look at the final printed cover put together by the design team over at Night & Day. It's still available for the next couple of days in San Diego.