The Museum of Forgotten Art Supplies

NOVEMBER 10, 2011

Once hosted here at Drawger, Lou Brooks (with a bit of help from me doing some weekend and after-hours programming) has brought The Museum of Forgotten Art Supplies back!

Do the right thing: Here it is

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NatGeo Interactive

APRIL 20, 2010

Got sleep? National Geographic gave us the call recently to program an online survey based on just that question. One week deadline!

What NatGeo wanted: Ten illustrated questions. Four possible answers for each question. Four final results based on how the ten questions were answered. Finally, choose one of four faces that you post to Facebook.

Here's a link to the final result.

For this assignment, I had to pull out some dusty illustration skills (such as they are), which I hadn't put to use in nearly nine years. While struggling with the doodles for this interactive, it occured to me that what I'd really like to be doing is collaborating with a real illustrator to make this project really pop. It's something to think about for the next interactive we're asked to do. Cool javascript written right here, illustrations from somebody that really makes the final project solid.

Details for Dorks

In the past, we did interactives such as this exclusively in Flash. For this one, we programmed the entire interactive in javascript and for certain, this will be the way we handle these sorts of projects going forward. It was faster to deploy, and at the end of the day, it looks better than having to rely on a Flash player. Not only that, it runs on hand-held devices, which Flash currently can not.

Getting our final code delivered to the National Geographic server provided an interesting look under the hood of this major site, which AdWeek recently named as website of the year. We were provided with access to the NatGeo CMS (content management system), which allowed us to simply paste our full code straight into a text field, save and then view. Having designed and delivered CMS systems for the last nine years or so, it wasn't exactly the most intuative or elegant interface, but at the end of the day, it worked and that's all that really matters, one supposes...

It was also a fine thing indeed to team up with Rob Covey again. Rob is heading up online creative for NatGeo these days. Back in the day, Rob made working with US News and World Report a real gas and at NatGeo, he's still making every project a real pleasure.

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10 Things I Wonder About Illustration Marketing for 2010

DECEMBER 29, 2009

1. I wonder if source books work any more.

2. I wonder if direct mail works any more.

3. I wonder what reps do these days.

4. I wonder if social networking brings home any cabbage.

5. I wonder if big portfolio sites like theispot and folioplanet deliver a return on the investment.

6. I wonder if blogging pays.

7. I wonder if dropping off a portfolio actually exists any more.

8. I wonder if winning awards still means anything.

9. I wonder if just sticking with it still works.

10. I wonder if it's even possible to answer any of the things I wonder about.

Publishing for Profit 2.0

MAY 2, 2009

We've all read a lot of hang-wringing editorials about the demise of print and been equally subjected to the same lament about editorial content on the internet as well. Everyone seems to agree on one dreary fact: Editorial content can't make money in an information-rich world where everything is free for the Googling.

A recent article in Time Magazine by Josh Quittner has been on my mind a lot lately. The article, The Race For a Better Read does a few things which are remarkable and right out in the open: Begging, confessing the obvious in public, and finally, offering an actual solution that I can relate to.

First off, it's an article that starts out asking for a dime (in the online version). I think this is funny, but only in a sad sort of way.

Secondly, Quittner goes on to confess the obvious: Online editorial content isn't making any money for the owners. In an odd new world where the print side of journalism can't rub two nickles together and their online counterpart doesn't deliver the cabbage either, Quittner asks a timely question: What's next?

Kindle 2.0

Quittner suggests the way forward starting with Kindle and Beyond (his article published before the release of Kindle 2.0, pictured left). Kindle from Amazon, for those who have been living in refugee camps or inside the Washington beltway for the last couple of years is a hand-held book interface, an information retrieval device with a very simple proposition. That being, I will store your library of books, show them to you any time and also buy them for you as well. The concept is not much different from iTunes relationship to the iPod. It's an application in your hand, capable of delivering the content people want for a price people are willing to pay.

The beauty of Kindle, much like the iPod, is that you do not have to be connected to the information grid to enjoy the content you have purchased. You can enjoy it anywhere - trains, planes, automobiles, sofa or bed, it's all yours anywhere you go.

Kindle is a huge success story in the making. It proves that people are willing to pay for digital content ($10 per book right now) if the process of obtaining and paying for that content is easy to understand. Capitalism being what it is, success stories get noticed quick. Sony decided it wanted to play by introducing it's own book reader, which by most accounts isn't as friendly as the Kindle but at least proves the point that there's a rapidly emerging market for pay-as-you-go digital content.

The Plastic Logic device

Enter Plastic Logic, due to be released in 2010 (hopefully with a better logo and an actual brand name people can take ownership in). It's much larger than the Kindle, measuring in at 8.5 x 11 inches, compared to Kindle's 8 x 5.3 inches. As with any innovation that proves itself, we're going to see cheaper and more powerful eBooks arriving sooner rather than later. Yes they will have color and yes they may even feel more like paper.

Adobe Air is finally coming into it's own as well and may point the way to the real future for handheld applications that deliver content that's easy to pay for and worth the price. I downloaded  The Time 100 Air Application (lots of our favorite Drawgers included in it, BTW) and really enjoyed it. I can easily see a day when Time could ask my handheld eBook if I want to store their next 20 issues for a buck fifty. My index finger would point to yes and I think a lot of other index fingers will do the same.

Where I think Quittner stumbles is when he imagines a world where a news article is worth a dime - or a world in which anyone will be willing to pay for one article at a time. This is the same idea that Quittner originally bounced back in 1995 in his Way New Journalism article for HotWired. That didn't happen and it's not going to happen.  What's going to happen is what's happening right now with the proven model of the Kindle. People will gladly pay for rich content that they can take anywhere, but are they going to pay for it one page at a time? Not now, not never.

I'm also surprised that Quittner failed to mention the minor success stories that newspapers are already beginning to realize in delivering paid digital content. The International Journal of Newspaper Technology reports that the largest selling newspaper on Kindle is USA Today. The price that people are willing to pay? $12 a month! The second most popular newspaper at Kindle is The New York Times at $12.99 a month. The number of actual subscribers are stored in a secret vault, but no matter what those numbers are - they are real subscribers, happily willing to pay for editorial content that doesn't leave ink on their fingers. Will those number grow and grow? You bethca.

David Kaplan, reporting at PaidContent.org from the American Society of Magazine Editors Awards yesterday writes that the editors he spoke with all "seemed to feel a need to mention the 'dignity of print' and that even in the digital age 'print has value'.” I think everyone can agree with that. Print will never disappear. The reality is there are compelling alternatives arriving that have the real potential to be more profitable than our old pal, paper. 

Ba Ba Ha Ha is back!

NOVEMBER 18, 2008

In 1996, Harper Collins published a little board book that I did for babies and toddlers called Ba Ba Ha Ha. One year later, after selling about 20,000 of them, Harper decided that printing board books was too expensive and took the book out of print.
In the years since, I have received hundreds of letters, emails and even phone calls asking if the book was still available. All I could do was refer them to Amazon, where "slightly chewed" copies were selling at prices of over $100.
Earlier this year I decided I was finally going to do something about the situation, take matters into my own hands you might say.

 Here's what happened.

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Anywhere USA

JANUARY 17, 2008

A couple of years back, my daughter Lila got the idea that she needed to take a semester out of high school to work on the pre-production of an independent film, being shot in our little town. She convinced me to also get involved by naming and designing some bogus products to be used by the cast. Being that it was my daughter asking, it was an easy decision to make. The film made a remarkable journey after Lila went back to high school. From very humble beginnings, with no budget to speak of, a complete cast of non-actors and guided by the single-minded and brilliant vision of director Chusy, Anywhere USA has landed itself in the dramatic competition at the Sundance Film Festival.

My small contribution was branding and designing products to be used by the cast. They needed a beer for starters. Since the film had a South of the Mason Dixon Line tilt, I wanted a name that would sound good in the unique drawl of a Southerner. I decided on Kegger. I wanted the beer to look cheap, but distinguished at the same time. Something that looked like ordinary folks would buy, feeling they were getting high quality at a very low price. Here's what I ended up with, accompanied by a cast shot with the actual phony product. Here's a better look.
The next product they needed was a soft drink. The requirements here were that it had to look and sound like a low-level bargain brand. In other words, it had to look cheap and it had to sound cheap. Again, I wanted the name to sound good rolling off the southern tongue. I settled on BUB cola. I really enjoyed the challenge of branding something that looks and sounds like complete crap, but that you could believe would be popular at the same time. It was actually a lot harder to pull off than I thought it would be.
Finally they needed a fake dating website that was geared towards plus-sized singles. Once again, it had to look and sound cheap, but believable. I settled on RealBigLove.com. Incorporating some advertising for BUB cola and Kegger into the site just seemed like a natural thing to do. Director Chusy also wanted part of the site to feature a dramatic close up of a penis, which I am not going to be subjecting anyone to here, but I will say that sitting with the director and retouching that photo was a uniquely unsettling and hilarious experience. I may never live that down...

Fortunately for me, my cameo appearance in the film as Manudo, the bitchy and dreadful fashion designer ended up on the cutting room floor. With any luck at all, it will stay there.

16 films will be shown in the dramatic competition at Sundance, culled from 1,068 entries. It's a remarkable achievement for everyone who was involved. A lot of heart and a lot of guts went into this and it was an honor to be involved.

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RubberNeckers 3

DECEMBER 8, 2006
a few samples
The truth of matter is that since an encounter between my right wrist and an icy manhole cover in 2001, I haven't been able to draw that well, or very often. Before that, my skills were pretty questionable anyway, but I did land an on-going and really fun card game project with the great folks at Chronicle Books called RubberNeckers. The third in the series is just arriving on shelves, titled Flying Rubber Neckers. The art director for this, Tracy Johnson, was absolutely a dream for me to work with. I need a bit more time to do illustration work since 2001, because my wrist starts to hurt and also because I rarely like the results any more and end up doing other drawings, trying my best to make them look as good as they can be. It's kind of tedious stuff, but Tracy was fantastic. She gave me lots of time and didn't seem to mind me complaining about my lost dexterity. The writers for this are the brothers, Mark and Matthew Lore. I don't hear from them much, but when I do they're pretty hilarious. Anyway - it's cool to be able to draw every once in a while, and Chronicle Books simply rocks.
Some doodly extras for packaging
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Weebles Wobble

OCTOBER 1, 2006
18" x 18" - arcylic on cheap-ass canvas
It's a lazy sunday down South and on such days, us Southerners are apt to ponder universal truths. After some porch sitting and a spat of doodling, the only universal truth that I could come up with is this: Weebles Wobble But They Don't Fall Down. There may be other universal truths, but I just couldn't come up with any. So, I decided to paint a Weeble, surprised at the burden it must now carry. Not that it looks anything like an actual Weeble, or is even very good, but setting accuracy and aesthetics aside, it made me smile.
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Flux Mix

SEPTEMBER 26, 2006
Flux Mix is a collaboration between myself, the artist Kevin Hogan and my friend Chad Pry. The basics of the Flux Mix project is this: See what happens when art starts making itself, without any aesthetic over-site by humans. The project started out as an experiment, with that simple, and uniquely disturbing thought in mind. The outcome is a never-ending art piece, in which you will never see the same thing twice. In fact, you can open it up on a million computers simultaneously and no two computers will display the same thing. In short, whatever an individual viewer is looking at is a unique experience. Right now - it operates on about 40 individual elements, which are chosen, mixed together and moved around at complete random. As the project moves forward, the elements that Flux Mix will "choose" from will reach into the hundreds. Very few people have seen this thing in action. Today is the first release to the public at large. FluxMix.com
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100 Drawings and National Security

AUGUST 13, 2006
100 drawings (count em) had to go to final art in about 6 days, here. The sketches were laying around for weeks. Great art director, great client. Circumstances conspired against us all in the end-game.

Now that I'm done, here's a National Security suggestion for these troubling times:

I'd like to recommend 100 final drawings in six days to the CIA as a sure fire way to turn a completely and otherwise rational man into a blubbering grease spot of his former self. He will, by day six, tell you anything you want to know. The method comes complete, with a customary bright light focused on the subject day and night. Last minute changes to finals are suggested to create further distress and self-doubt . Our national security  folks should know: You will break any man, he will tell you anything you want to know using this cruel but completely acceptable method of gathering important intelligence.
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Kuba inspired logo

JUNE 8, 2006
When a recent job came in to do a logo for a NYC recording studio, I thought back (for one reason or another) to how darn cool those Kuba Clothes were that Rob Dunlavey made a gallery about.
Where I started
I went to work right away, just experimenting. But, about an hour later, I got a call that the job had been killed. I didn't even get to show them anything! While these are completely unfinished experiments, they still make me darn happy for reasons that escape me.
Yeah, I did some more "traditional" looks, but the heck with them...
Rob D pointed out the Hammill Gallery where you can get a real fine sampling of Kuba. Here's some favorites: one and two and three
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My Fifty-five CD thing

JUNE 4, 2006
Occassionally a friend talks me into doing their band's CD design. This one for the wonderful Joti Marra, and her band, My Fifty-five came out looking pretty cool, I think
I scanned the cover of an old gag cartoon book by Carl Rose, titled One Dozen Roses. Then I moved it around in Photoshop until it was a little square book. The horse photo I dropped in was taken by Joti's aunt. The hand writing is Joti's.
My favorite thing about the way this came out - it appears there really is a little square book inside the jewel case. It looks like it's floating inside there, waiting to be read. It's almost a disappointment when you open it and don't find the little book waiting for you - that is ... until you listen to the CD.

I used a black tray, which really makes the effect (poorly photographed by me to the right, no doubt) come alive.
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Paid in Steadman

MAY 20, 2006
a photo of the Steadman print
The first real job I ever did for a real magazine was in 1978 for Mother Jones Magazine. I was living in Oakland at the time, and I rode my little Yamaha 400 across the Bay Bridge in gale force cross-winds with the illustration in a backpack. I arrived at Mother Jones and handed over the art to the art director (can't recall her name).

She said she liked the piece very much, but that there was a slight problem. That being, Mother Jones didn't have any money to pay me for the job. I don't mind saying I was counting on the money to pay for some much needed food at the time and the news came as a serious blow to my complaining stomach.

The art director asked, "Do you like Ralph Steadman?" I said that indeed I did. She asked me to follow her and I was escorted to a room where there were perhaps 10 or more signed prints of Steadman's spread out on a table. She asked if I would accept one as payment.

After picking out a print, she provided me with a mailing tube which I bungied to my little Yamaha and faced the cross-winds of the Bay Bridge home.

The print, signed in pencil below a printed signature and numbered 56/100 depicts J. Edgar Hoover and has hung in my house ever since.
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Mothers Day Anniversary with Choking Victim

MAY 14, 2006
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Big Move Done

APRIL 27, 2006
New house! Move accomplished!

Very cool to see some new faces here. I guess there were no major bombs while I was disconnected, so the code works whether I watch it all the time or not. Yeah!

Best advise to anyone who is planning to move: Hire someone else to do it and pay them whatever they want. I'm too old for this and my feet are killing me.

. . . . .
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Big Move

APRIL 22, 2006
I won't be around for at least a few days because I bought a house and now I need to move into it.

I've moved many times over the years, but I never seem to realize, or I simply forget between moves, a few simple truths about myself:

I have too many books and should never move at all, because they are just plain heavy.

There is little to no point in saving every illustration I ever did. They take up a lot of space and they don't do anything but lie in state.

Every time I move, I spend more time looking at archived stuff than I spend packing. If I didn't save old drawings, I'd move much faster.

My refrigerator is actually filled with condiments and very little food.

All of the socks I thought I lost are behind the dryer.

. . . . .
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MARCH 4, 2006
I'll be gone for a week for my annual birthday escape - just to let all here know that there's no one watching the store. My partner in Drawger, Josh Carpenter leaves as well for a tour with The Nein, where he'll be playing at South by Southwest on March 18th. I'll be checking email.
Dali - age 13
As if anyone could possibly be interested - I'll be staying in the states this year, traveling down to Tampa Florida for some Yankee's spring training games and to visit the Dali Museum. No need to explain Yankee spring training, but the Dali Museum trip is a major enterprise for me. Two years back on another birthday escape, I was in Barcelona and a short train ride north to Figueres, took me to the home of another Dali Museum - which is a mind-expanding experience.
Dali Museum - Figueres
Figueres, by the way is also home to the Toy Museum of Catalunya. - do check the site out and explore some of their uniquely disturbing Flash animations. This animated oddity from the Toy Museum of Catalunya is a good example of how these people think.

. . . . .
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Evidence of Extreme Boredom

FEBRUARY 11, 2006

As further proof of my decline into senality, I have posted my first image gallery, Designs for Better Mobile Living.

It's far afieled from what I get to do style-wise in my "professional life" as an illustrator, but for reasons that escape me (and everyone else who looks at them) these things make me smile.

. . . . .
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Old Blocks Are Cool

FEBRUARY 9, 2006
Maybe it's just me, but these old blocks inspire me. I don't know what they inspire me to do beyond just look at them, but that's okay for now.
I just stuck this block in my scanner. If anybody is interested, I can scan a block letter for them. I have the whole alphabet and all the numbers.
Here's an example of what the numbers look like. I have no cluue why I like these things so much. It may be that something is desperately wrong with my childhood.
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