ZIMM

2006

Pratt Bound

DECEMBER 30, 2006
My daughter, Lila just received her acceptance letter to Pratt. She'll be entering the creative writing program there as a freshman in fall, 2007. This is pretty big news around here for a few reasons. One is that she was born in New York City and has wanted to go back since I hauled her down South when she was 4 years old. The second is that it's the only college she applied to. The last reason is that it gives me pretty solid bragging rights, which is cool for dad. Proud pop. She's rockin it, solid.
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Illustration Forward

DECEMBER 15, 2006
It's no secret that print editorial, faced with a lot of entertaining competitors, is losing market. When the topic comes up, my suggestion for regaining momentum is simple. Offer something that no other medium can deliver as effectively: remarkable illustration paired with outstanding writing. Make it a product people really want to look at first, then seal the deal with compelling content. My concerns for print have mostly dwelled on a lack of foresight on the part of editorial management. Instead of more art, I see less. Instead of better content, it seems to get worse. Poignant art as a necessary ingredient for catching eyeballs, starting conversations and staying competitive and relevant in a changing world doesn't seem to have many buyers. Why is this the case? To me, it seems fairly simple. If you want to compete, do what you do best. It's easy to lay blame at the doormat of lack-luster and unimaginative management. They're a big target and easy to hit. But, there's plenty of blame to spread around. Imagine if some of it falls squarely at the feet of the illustration community, itself. I started imagining that recently and it wasn't a fun exercise. Anyone involved in the commercial illustration boom of the 1980's and 90's will fondly recall those salad days of cash and plenty. They were good times, but good times can breed complacency. The world of entertainment has changed dramatically, while you could argue that the basic assumptions about what illustration should deliver to an audience has stayed fundamentally the same. Illustration can still offer decoration, of course, but the demands for interpreting hard editorial content with skill and insight should be on the rise. I don't see that happening. Perhaps I'm expecting too much? I see more of the same salad day reruns. A good example of rising editorial standards is Forbes Magazine. Forbes, as anyone in the illustration racket knows, has been a long-time supporter of great illustration. They've used it well and in abundance. At the same time, Forbes has also consistently contributed hard-hitting and provocative editorial views. They remain a class act. The quality of journalism in Forbes has risen and in that regard they seem to be meeting the challenge of a new world. I look forward to it arriving. When Forbes exposes corporate corruption, poor practices and outright fraud, they often turn to the best illustrators in the business to help them tell the story. Their instincts are right. Illustrations should be able to aid this type of important content. As I was doing a casual browse through the last year in print for Forbes however, I was disappointed in the art. I didn't find even one example where the art came close to hitting as hard as the content. It was an unsettling realization for me. I say this knowing full-well that I am referring to the hard work of esteemed colleagues that I both know and admire. So, I'm a cruel SOB. I will loose friends. I don't care.
Matt Mahurin for Forbes
Here's an example of where I'm at, and I'm using an illustration that I personally thought was one of the best that Forbes commissioned this year. In the October 30, 2006 issue, Forbes took a brutal look inside Emgen, a biotech sector business that supplies life-saving and vitally needed medications for cancer patients. Forbes pulled no punches - they exposed a corporate climate that is genuinely creepy and quite likely corrupt. The article stuck with me for weeks and it started a lot of conversations for me. Forbes commissioned Matt Mahurin for a full page to accompany the remarkable story. Mahurin, as many will agree, is a long time professional and well regarded for good reasons. His illustration solution? A bunch of needles, wonderfully executed, pointing accusingly at the CEO of Emgen. It had every single element that I would normally enjoy: High concept, arresting composition, limited palette and very well executed in a unique voice. It had everything. Yet, for some reason I wasn't satisfied in the same way that I used to be satisfied. I wanted more.
The article itself was a huge conversation starter for Forbes. Why couldn't the illustration do exactly the same? Am I expecting too much? I hope I am not expecting too much. I'm a consumer. I just want a better product than the one that satisfied me in the 1990's. If they're smart (and I think they are) Forbes is asking themselves how the art they commission is doing anything more than decorating their pages at this point. I think it's important for illustrators to have that same conversation, as well. The articles themselves often have enormous impact, they start important conversations and actually move markets. Why can't the illustration contribute to the same conversations? They should, but right now they don't. I put all this out there as a consumer only. I'm not a critic. I don't have a masters degree in anything. I don't ever want to sit on a panel of judges. Perhaps I'm just a crabby and unsatisfiable consumer that should be ignored. I can live with that. Editorial print will survive, I'm convinced. I also believe that illustrators need to be an important ingredient for survival and growth. How that happens, I'm not sure. With that said, I honestly detest people who raise concerns without having a viable way forward.
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Topical: Complaining  

Renaissance stock

DECEMBER 13, 2006
Detail from USN Cover by Raphaello Sanzio
When religion hits mainstream newsstands, you can usually count on the art department rummaging around in the Italian High Renaissance stock to fill space. This weeks cover of US News & World Report is no exception and treats readers to a high quality reproduction of Raphael's (Raphaello Sanzio) Sistine Madonna, to match up with a controversial article on The Real Jesus. Inside, the cover article is "illustrated" by Agnolo Bronzino (1503 72), Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640, Baroque) and the always popular, Pietro Perugino (1445-1523). This is a safe editorial decision. An illustrator who's been dead 500 years isn't likely to cause much controversy. And, it's safe to say that an article, teamed up with irreproachable art, gains credibility by proximity, even though the substance might be hot-button and largely conjectural. So sure, it's a good mix: Classic art and controversial religious editorial content. But at the end of the day, sad and perhaps even wimpy. Had USN decided to hire a living artist, imagine how much more public involvement could have been created - both for USN and the artist themselves. The result would be talking points in the broader media that referenced the core ideas of the article, with contemporary visuals that added to the conversation. Instead, the brass at USN run for cover and we get illustrations by esteemed artists from history, and bold editorial content that simply hides behind them.
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My Mayforth!

DECEMBER 8, 2006
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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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Slow Sorry

NOVEMBER 28, 2006
Sorry for the recent slow-down at Drawger. It was a server problem - database goobers running amok.

Should be running lickedy-split now.
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USN - Illo Watch

NOVEMBER 21, 2006
Everybody needs to make a living. Some people make a living as an illustrator. Still others make a living illustrating like other illustrators. Chris Gash is just such a fellow, making a living illustrating in the same style as the well established illustrator, Mark Matcho. People who watch illustration (there are probably a dozen or so) are well-aware of Matcho and also most likely aware that Gash does Matcho pretty well. Not a big deal, really. It happens in all walks of life. Copying someone who's popular to make your way in life, it's bound to happen. What normally happens with illustrators who make a living by working in the style of a popular illustrator, is that they work along the fringes of publishing. They work the small magazines, much like a Kiss cover band gets to play the local clubs, but not much more. But, when an internationally recognized and well respected magazine like US News & World Report decides to hire Gash for a multi-page, three spot story (November 27, 2006 issue - pages 67-74), it might give the hard working professionals, who've staked a lot of time and money on refining and promoting their unique style, a bit of pause. The Kiss cover band is suddenly playing Madison Square Garden. What’s happened here? No doubt about it, the excellent art directors (and they are excellent) at USN have known about Matcho for years. The man promotes himself well. He's been at the drawing board for almost twenty years now. And, also without a doubt, the art department of USN is aware that Gash is lifting the stylistic chops of Matcho to make a living. Anyone with an eye for art can spot the alarming similarities without effort. So, let me ask a question. If Matcho is Kiss, and Gash is the cover band, and US News really is Madison Square Garden, hasn’t everybody that bought a ticket just gotten ripped off? The sad conclusion that I reluctantly arrive at is that USN simply doesn't care that much. The public won’t know the difference, unless they’re sitting on the front row like myself. It looks like Kiss from the cheap seats. Who cares? Right? Well, I for one want my money back. Mark Matcho - Chris Gash
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USN - Enos Watch

OCTOBER 17, 2006
Enos - dah mahn!
The October 23, 2006 issue of US News & World report sports some fine Randall Enos. The work is a real standout for the magazine, lately. Since the departure of former art director, Rob Covey ( went to Discovery), US News has been steadily dropping illustration as a mainstay of it's content. Hal Mayforth, long-time USN reliable has been missed for some time now, with Barry Blitt seemingly the sole survivor of the illustration crack-down. It's common for many issues of USN to pass by without a single feature illustration, which is sad for a magazine that formerly used illustrators to great effect. I think part of that may be caused by the loss of Covey, who honestly loved illustration and illustrators. He hung framed originals in his office.
All rights preserved in formaldehyde by Randall Enos
The Enos work makes the issue come alive and takes what would be a fairly droll article on a slowdown in investing to giddy heights of fun. Hey, that's the job, right? Randall seems to do a bit more, though. After several issues with no featured art, his drawings seem like a wake-up call, chiming in and saying "Hey! Illustration rocks!"
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Marketing Hell

OCTOBER 5, 2006
Lovely, right?
Got an email this morning from an old friend, saying they were happy as heck to be coming my way soon and staying in the near-by town of Canton. And why not? Check out the marketing for this apparently lovely little mountain enclave.
This is downtown Canton
The reality? Canton is home to one of North Carolina's largest and most productive paper mills, Blue Ridge Paper. Ever been around paper being made? Not only does it smell REALLY bad for miles in every direction, the pollution output (even though they have dropped in recent yers) for old mills such as Canton's are the stuff of environmentally challenged legend.
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The Playoff Sign

OCTOBER 3, 2006
© New York City Department of Transportaion
The sign was stolen (using bolt cutters) from the Cross Bronx Expressway in 1987 and has gone up in front of my house every year since 1991 that the Yankees have gone into the playoffs. Yes - I have been seen tearing it out of the ground at midnight and dragging it back into the garage on several occassions... Does the NY DOT read Drawger? Yo - it was ME, and now you know where I live! Go Yanks!
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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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September at Drawger

OCTOBER 1, 2006
September at Drawger was remarkable - and I thought I'd send out my thanks to everyone and all who have made this site an important part of my life. When I started this site up a very short six months ago, I had no clue how much of an impact it would have on me. I'm not the kind of fellow who gets mushy about much - but I don't mind admitting, this place really does get yank my sentimental chain in unexpected ways. September 11 at Drawger took me by complete surprise. The day revealed something vital here - that it does provide a real community for an amazing group of people. Edel sent me a memorial screen shot, which I have printed out and hangs in the studio - reproduced here to the right. I've put Edel's original on the server for downloading right here if anyone wants a reminder of that day and how remarkable this place has become. - sniff - Drawger hooked up with Nate Williams and Illustration Mundo in September. This tip of the hat from the outside web world was cool and also telling. It showed that Drawger has real substance - content that makes a difference and that others want to track. At this point, the Mundo connection represents about 10% of the total traffic to the site. Totals are over 12,000 visitors in September and over 150,000 page views. Fairly amazing... September also acted as the proving ground for a concept that I believed in, but wasn't so sure would actually pan out. I've had this notion for a long time that online communities can (and in fact, must) be self-regulating. When I started up Drawger, I got a lot of hand-wringing emails, people worried about what someone else might say, and how I planned on policing content that some might find inappropriate. From the begining, I believed that the good people would take care of that themselves, that the community at large would figure it out. So far, so good. I could point to a few other watershed moments, including welcoming some great new people to the site, but I figure I'd better end it here with simple thanks to all. I appreciate.
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Drawger 12 Step Program

SEPTEMBER 29, 2006
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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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Thanks to Illustration Mundo

SEPTEMBER 20, 2006
Thanks to Nate Williams and Illustration Mundo for giving Drawger big props and a nod by flowing some of the content here straight into the excellent Mundo world. Even though not all Drawger articles will be fed to the marvelous Mundo machine, certain ones will. It's up to the people here which ones flow Mundo-side. One thing I'm certain of, Drawger will not disappoint. It's absolutely phenomenal what's happened here at Drawger since the beta testing started six months ago. The remarkable people here have put this site on the map. Group hug! I love this place and everything it does for me (he admits with a certain sniffle and a handy Kleenex). I hope the arrivals from Illustration Mundo find it just as inspiring.
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Topical: At Drawger  

The Original Google?

SEPTEMBER 6, 2006
It's still seems a bit unclear whether Billy DeBeck created the word "Google" with his remarkable strip Barney Google, but one thing's for certain, he sure did make the word popular. Without a doubt, DeBeck did indeed introduce a few other popular phrases along the way and influenced many that doodled along afterwards. DeBeck in the Drawgerpedia for fellow Drawgers to edit and update as knowledge allows.
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The Drawgerpedia

AUGUST 31, 2006
The beta-version of Drawgerpedia goes live today, ladies and gents. It may work out, it may not, I don't have a clue. This place constantly surprises me. What is it? It's a member maintained encyclopedia of any type of information we'd like to create. People that are members at Drawger should log in and check out the options. Broad categories of interest can be started. I started one initial category called "Illustrating Greats". Then I added a sub-categrory under that titled "Comic Strtip Artists" and then I added an article inside there about a fellow named James Childress. Anyone who is a member and logged in can edit that article about Childress. Any topic of interest can be added, and then added to or edited by any Drawger person. The information in the Drawgerpedia will be available to any web site visitor. They will not be able to add or edit, however. So - don't be timid about it. Jump and if you want and add a sub-category under Illustrating Greats. I intended this as a biography section. If you are super-bold, then add a new main category - whatever seems like a good idea. We'll see if this works and if we like it or not. Could be cool. Could be a giant flop. We'll see. The Drawgerpedia is pretty much open to whatever happens.
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Foladable Subway Cars

AUGUST 30, 2006
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The Plankton

AUGUST 26, 2006
I've been coaching youth baseball for about eleven years. The past two seasons, I've done things a bit differently. The main difference is, I don't coach. I don't sit in the dugout. Sometimes I even leave and go do something else during games. The results of this non-coaching approach have been fairly amazing. The players themselves decide who plays where, what the batting order is, who pitches - the whole thing is up to them. They win. They actually win a LOT. Last season, they were undefeated. My favorite part of this is the reaction of other teams and especially the coaches. They'll be over there in the dugout or on the field, looking at this team of kids that is absolutely hammering them - and there is no adult anywhere to be seen. The only thing I really do is name the team. I think next season I'll leave that up to them as well.
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Drawger for Photographers

AUGUST 21, 2006
The beta version of a Drawger-like site for photographers will be up and running in about one week. Any working pros who have chops and the inclination should contact me here.
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Drawger in the news

AUGUST 17, 2006
A nice write up by Bill Russel at The Northern California Graphic Artists Guild web site, where Adam McCauley waxes about Drawger, and offers advice on proper blogging, such as "readers can't detect irony" . Thanks Bill and Ad! I guess the secret is out...

. . . . .
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Drawger Speakeasy

AUGUST 16, 2006
The Drawger Speakeasy is now open for business. Members here will only see the link, up top, when they are logged in. The only way for ANYONE to view the content of the Speakeasy is to be a member AND logged in. In short, the general public has no access at all to view whatever is written there-in.

It can hold as many topics of conversation as we can think up, so if you're a Drawger and want to start a conversation, log in, hit the Speakeasy button up top, and fire at will.
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Name This Idea

AUGUST 15, 2006
A new upgrade will be arriving at Drawger in short order and I am calling out for help with naming it. What it is: A message board that only members can see and only members can post to. The general public rabble that wanders through here will have no access to the inevitable complaining and client busting that will commence. I am not beneath sponsored naming opportunities. For example, The Elwood Smith Board of Bullwax and Balogna might be worth considering. At any rate, post em if you've got em. . . . . .
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Topical: At Drawger  

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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JD King and the Coachmen - American Mercury

AUGUST 3, 2006
Pkg Design ( for reasons that baffle me) by David Greenberger. Illo © JD King.
The eclectic beat soundscapes of JD King and the Coachmen, American Mercury CD arrived unexpectedly by post recently. The sonic caliopy of the Coachmen, I've since discovered, is best appreciated alone in a car driving on lonely mountain roads at night. Expands the experience to a disarming sound track for life. Thanks JD! Sample the Coachmen
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Topical: Props  Seen  

Garage Band

JULY 30, 2006
Probably not suitable for Drawger and more in my own peculiar personal world, but I need to send some props to the kids of Lose This Gun, who played in my garage (really) this afternoon. 15 year olds that R O C K, yall. Watch for these names in the near future: Robert Adams - Vocals and rhythm guitar Quinn Kimsey-White - Lead Guitar Corey Abshire - Bass Daniel Coombs - Drums
Photos by JZ
They had perhaps 40 or 50 kids show up in my garage. Nobody knew who this guy was but he had a rockin time, no doubt.
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Frazier's 98

JULY 28, 2006
©2006 Craig Frazier
Late tag-on to theLeo Espinoso note on Craig Frazier's 98 sketch book. Just received an imprint of 98 today in the mail and wanted to send out a "YO DUDE THANKS" to the Craig Man! .... The book is sublime. Should be "mandatory looking" (if there were such a thing) for everyone. . . . . .
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Comic Fine Art by Chris Ware

JULY 23, 2006
Stumbled by complete and happy accident into the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art where the second floor was dedicated to exhibiting the original comic pages of Chris Ware. Made me immediately think about Roy Lichtenstein - half a century ago, basically recreating comic book panels and having them widely regarded as fine art. Struck me as a bit amusing that it took another half century for actual comic panels to be regarded the same way. Don't know if it was because of the Ware exhibition or not, but the gift shop was awash in contemporary illustrator/artist wares from the likes of Baseman and Biskup. It's probably remarkably uncool, but I've posted a photo gallery of shots taken (mostly) by my son, John Z. during our Chicago trip.
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The Gourd Lady - Margaret Sparkman

JUNE 29, 2006
I try to visit Margaret Sparkman once a year to buy her fabulous painted gourds. She just turned 90 and I missed her birthday party. I have perhaps 200 or so of her painted marvels.

Here's a great little movie slideshow about her.

I would post a few pictures of her little goard crittters but my digital camera went snorkling with me recently...
At her house with some gourd penguins.
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Photager

JUNE 10, 2006
I have a few professional photographer aquaintences who've asked if I can set up a site like Drawger for their community. Drawger has been such an inspiration to me, on a daily basis, I figure it's my obligation to spread the goodness around. I've registered Photager.com and will go into beta on that site within a month. If you have similar friends, then pass the word and tell them to get in touch with me if they want to try it out. It will be the same deal - invitation only, working pros only. . . . . . On a similar note, the idea I floated for Designager isn't getting much traction. I might be inspired to set up a site for freelance designers - but it ain't happened yet.
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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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Using Odeo at Drawger

JUNE 7, 2006
In case anyone wants to follow Tim's example. You should use the Safari Browser when placing Odeo files on the site. If you see the text editor thing, it don't work so good.
powered by ODEO Follow this path to Odeo for sign up and get your microphone ready.
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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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White as blank paper

JUNE 2, 2006
Yeah - the home page and everything else at Drawger just went as white as blank paper. Anyboody who doesn't like it should file their complaints here. I'm going to have the alleged Drawger logo pull from a random list of image files - so anybody who wants to send me an alternate alleged Drawger logo, check it out here.

Mac Packaging Movie Set

JUNE 1, 2006
How about a movie set built entirely with Macintosh packaging materials? Moon Europa delivers on the vision.
Took these photos of the set, with director Chris Bower's permission. Pictured here are the food storage aquariums. (not that aquariums are included in Macintosh packaging that I'm aware of...but hey)
Attended a Moon Europa party in the Mac Packaging spaceship set - here's the DJ. Thought this glimpse might inspire.
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Matcho Watch

MAY 28, 2006
Thankfully, Mark Matcho has finally let us in, to see what he's been doing at his web site all this time. It's a treat.
Includes the sublime Gallery of Rejected sketches (perhaps, the perfect sound score for the theme).
Definately, check out Mark's movies. Mark's promo, My Life as a NewsPaper Man touched me, personaly, but there is lots of other stuff to see as well.
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mckibillo baby watch

MAY 25, 2006
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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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Luc Watch

MAY 9, 2006
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Topical: At Drawger  

Using the Document Upload for Flash Stuff

MAY 5, 2006
I've uploaded some Flash interactive stuff in a gallery here at Drawger to give folks an idea about how to use the document upload tool of the admin.

It's fairly easily to do if you know how to put together a basic HTML page. I'm simply creating a page to hold the Flash files, and then uploading all the supporting images and files one at a time.

Here's an unfinished game based on Simon.

Here's a bunch of critters that were intended for a bigger game but never made it to prime time for one reason or another.

Fellow Drawgers - if you want to learn how to use this document upload deal and don't quite get it, ask me.

. . . . .
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Yeah May 4th!

MAY 4, 2006
yeah, sorry Hal! You dah Mahn!
This is the best Mayforth Day ever! We love you Hal! < (left) Mayforth in ten seconds or less.
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Bonus mckibillo

MAY 2, 2006
mckibillo
I've been using the above image from Josh McKible's bonus page today as my desktop and I'm now taking it off cause I can't get anything done. Thanks mckibillo but I need to stop staring at my screen all day.
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The Unofficial Semi-Annual Drawger Design Awards

MAY 1, 2006
The first semi-annual Drawger Design Awards do not include a buffet lunch, no key note speaker and have no legitimacy what-so-ever as they are based completely on what I think is nifty. For best use of Drawgers clunky and remarkably confusing interface, the top award goes to David Flaherty for his super smooth header.
Special props to David for custom article art
A close second, receiving nothing what-so-ever except big props and insane jealousy from me is Susan Crawford for her deft melding of background color and banner.
For best use of a frustrating and madly confusing color picker, loud applause and admiration to new-comer Marc Burckardt for the enviable eye candy.
The semi-annual Drawger Design Awards are based on nothing at all except what I personally think is groovy. Anyone who thinks they have been left out, passed over, or unjustly ignored can file complaints in the circular file.
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Drawger Gallery Shows

APRIL 29, 2006
Here's a Drawger upgrade idea - would appreciate feedback. From the start, I've wanted to incorporate a central Drawger gallery for group shows. Here's where my attention deficit disorder has managed to take me so far on this concept. Each member will have the ability to launch a gallery show at Drawger. They'll give it a name, a logo if they like, and a written description of what the show is about. They will also set whether the show is curated, or the show is open to any Drawger member. If the show is curated, they will be able to pick which pieces get in, and which hit the street. Open shows, obviously will take any entry. Pieces that are submitted will appear in a new admin function. A member that starts a show will see the pieces before anyone else does. They can organize the show and launch it all at once, or let pieces trickle in as they arrive. The Drawger who starts a show will be able to organize it any way they want, by setting priorities for each piece. They will also be able to end a show. Any gallery show that is started will be viewable from the main site. They will be represented by links, based on the title of the show. Also, the shows started by each member will be viewable on the member page that started it as well. That's the thing in the works. Any add ons, ideas, bonus feature concepts will be appreciated.
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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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Messin with Enos

APRIL 17, 2006
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Travels with Lynnster

APRIL 16, 2006
From Lynn's wildly popular Patron Saints of Graphic Design
The remarkable art director, designer, jazz singer and friend, Lynn Garrett will chronicle her travels to Egypt and beyond in blog form so whoever wants to can tag along with her around the world.

Here's her spot at TravelPod.

Lynn has a sharp writing style, so it should be a witty and entertaining thread to follow.

Lynnster has been the major brains behind another of my online experiments at TotallyStupid.com and without her the site will most likely languish, since I'm such a sorry slacker there of late.

Anyway, I'm highly recommending you add her TravelPod to your regular RSS feeds - she's not only hilarious, but takes some winning travel photos as well.

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The Real Thing with Clouds also

APRIL 14, 2006
I think guys like this need some big clouds behind them. Yeah, I cleaned up his hair a bit as well.

< Gothard < Espinosa < Enos

. . . . .
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Twenty Bucks a Year?

APRIL 10, 2006
This note from Luc got my attention. I'll quote:

"Some folks have told me they're not keen on paying $20/year for a blog when Blogger and other places offer them for free. How about a full-service Drawger Blog for $20 (which I think is totally reasonable, considering hosting fees for a single site), and a limited-feature free option? Maybe even a student-artists section? Maybe not. cheers! Luc"

. . . . .

Luc is right, there are plenty of places to blog from for free. Blogger is of course owned by Google, who make their money on AdWords. MySpace makes money by selling hideous ads.

I figure the people who are here and any that follow will figure out whether it's worth $20 a year. If it isn't worth it, then that's okay. I'm not selling hideous ads, ever.

It's also a private club. Any junk that shows up here will be shown the door. I don't want their crummy $20.

I do plan on making a seperate free section just for students. I have this whole "adopt a newbie" idea that I think would be a real kick. An online mentor program of sorts. It will happen.

Also on the board, a section for Flash animations for everyone, a central gallery spot with themed shows that everyone can contribute to from time to time, a central movie spot where everyone can contribute animations.... heck I've got a long upgrade list that doesn't include raising annual dues.

The money - if I ever make any - will simply go straight back into the site and make itself known with more capabilities to communicate for everyone here.

I pay for band-width and hosting and beyond that I have Josh Carpenter on staff who wrote the majority of the code we use here every day. I'd at least like him to be able to take his excellent girl friend out for a nice dinner once a year. Right now, I pay him enough so they can do that semi-annually...

I'd appreciate feedback.

. . . . .
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The Great Vegan Cookie Guy Rip Off

MARCH 30, 2006
not zimm
I get asked a lot if I was the guy who did the packaging illustration for The Alternative Baking Company and their popular line of vegan cookies. The answer is no, I did not. The cookies first appeared in small numbers about ten years ago and I glumly noted the rather blatant appropriation of my illustration style being used as the face of their product line. I never attempted any legal action (not much one can do in a case where the rip-off artist isn't ripping you off exactly). I did write a note to the owner at the time, telling him that if he ever wanted the real thing, he should call me. He never did. I also never learned who actually drew it. The fellow that started the company is also a vegan children's book author and apparently runs with a posy of vegan illustrators, so maybe one of them did it.
zimm
A longer than necessary foot-note to this... I'm well aware of my own artistic limitations, but never-the-less, I was able to carve out a little nitch for myself with a unique enough look that people could recognize it when they saw it. Overly bold outlines always, spiked zig-zag hair often employed, scratch board artifacts left in place, very often a triangle nose in the early days, and evenly spaced hatch marks to vaguely indicate shadow areas - these continue to be staples of the what I do and what art directors learned to expect. Happily, even art directors who have asked me about the Alternative Baking Company logo illustration seem to already know that I didn't do it - or if I did, I was having a really bad day. "It's a rather sad imitation of what you do", they always say, consolingly. The downside of this for me is that in the world of branding and packaging, a certain style only has so much currency to spend before it runs itself out. Brands require unique identities and when that identify is a style that is unique enough, it's good for the brand, and other brand managers take note of that. One can't have a product "look" that is similar to another. Each brand, to be successful, has to have their own unique identity. So, what the Alternative Baking Company did to me, by appropriating the look and feel I had created for myself, was to categorically lock me out of product packaging illustration, grocery store shelves in particular. I can tell you the downside described above is not just theoretical either. For years I did many illustrations for the American Dairy Association - in store displays were common, collateral in-store give-aways and a bit of packaging, all containing my peculiar brand of drawing. As soon as the Vegan Cookie Guy got wide distribution, I was told flat-out by the art director that I was done with the Dairy account. Vegan and dairy , ya know. It didn't matter that I hadn't actually done it, the client recognized the style, promoting, shall we say, "a diametrically opposite world-view" and I was promptly shown the door. What other opportunities I have missed because of the Vegan Cookie Guy, I shall never know.
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Major props for Chronicle Books

MARCH 25, 2006
Just finished my third game project with Chronicle Books and I want to send a shout out: These people are the best. It's never easy working with the book publishing world - they are all slow, they all take three hour lunches, and they are brutal when it comes to the bottom line... but Chronicle somehow has managed to maintain a crucial mix of dignity, fun and flare . My hat is off to them. They wore me out and made it cool and profitable at the same time.

I'm not going to wax ecstatic over just any publishing house that writes me a check. I've had some mighty hairy dogs in that world shed on my carpet lately and Chronicle Books is Best of Show in my book.

. . . . .
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Moores Watch

MARCH 20, 2006
The above is the address area of a promo recently received from fellow drawger Jeff Moores. This is a printed piece, with my name and address in a font, and then a personalized message, printed in the balloon, using my first name.

This is some seriously cool and extremely effective (in my opinion anyway) direct marketing. Not only is this mailer printed to be customized for ME on the mailing side, but also on the INSIDE where a PRINTED greeting to me appears, which reads "Welcome Robert, to the Cafe Menagerie.

I personally guarantee results....

Super fine.

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Rejected Experiments

MARCH 18, 2006
Some time ago I was trying out a variation on what I usually do - not all THAT different from my regular fare - but never the less, rejected far and wide by art directors. I like the look myself, but getting completely hammered with complaints shut this stuff down mighty fast. Oh well - I'm posting these up here anyway as a reminder that change isn't always for the best, I suppose.
Totallly shot down in a ball of flames, but I like it anyway, so there.
Rejected out of hand and sent into illustration exile.

. . . . .
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The go-to guy for designer toys

MARCH 15, 2006
Klim Kozinevich, a new friend of mine and the throbbing brain atop Big Shot Toy Works, did the sculptural development for this mighty fine Mc Supersized toy for Ron English.

Klim combines some sublime drawing skills with bonifide industrial design chops and his own personal brand of pure whack.

The market for designer toys doesn't seem to be slowing down any time soon - with some top illustrator talent taking full advantage.

Klim came over for my monthly poker night of arty farty folks, but unfortunately didn't bring any money so we couldn't take it from him - but did let me know that it's guys like him with industrial design brains that act as the conduit between art and production, which is good stuff to know, especially if you don't know it in the first place...

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Ringling Museum Pics

MARCH 10, 2006
About two and a half feet high
Here's an early Lou Jacobs clown car from the Ringling Museum in Sarasota Florida.
Too cool for words
Here's a section of the big top area of Howard Tibbals' 3,800 square foot miniature circus (3/4" to the foot).

Ringling Museum

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WI FI POST

MARCH 8, 2006
Yo - wi fi post here from The Atlanta Bread Company in Sarasota Florida. Just left the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art - where not only is the art collection mind bending but the Museum of old Circus stuff is insane! I'll post pics when I get back. In the meantime, here's a really lame virtual tour of where I just was.

. . . . .
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Gone

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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Illo Watch

FEBRUARY 23, 2006
While flying the friendly skies of United yesterday, I noted that the cover of Hemisphere's Magazine gave not only credit to the talented Mr. Craig Frazier, but also directed readers to his website.

The online version of Hemisphere's does the same, with a handy link, which if clicked on, appears in a framed version of Hemisphere's own website.

Are the folks at United getting into creative cost cutting - the begining of commercial illustration as self-promo - or what?

. . . . .
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Jim Flora

FEBRUARY 17, 2006

I can't stop looking The Mischieveous Art of Jim Flora.

I've had it for about 6 months and I carry it around like some kind of security blanket.

At Amazon

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Play (whatever)

FEBRUARY 15, 2006
Boo!
The Play Illlustration Source Book from Serbin was supposed to promote people who design interactive games, design for games, stuff like that. I do that kind of stuff for money these days, so I thought I'd buy a page.

Today, Play Illustration launched it's website, which is unfortunately just another online mishmash of jumbled confusion that allegedly does good things for folks like me. What I got is basically an unfindable page among hundreds of others that I can't control, can't make the way I want, can't actually run the games I'm designing on, and basically just sucks large. Reality check: I know I can't draw that good but in the big scheme of things I can at least entertain folks for a spell

The first on the scene with online illustrator promoting, as far as I recall was theispot.com, from the amazing Gerald Rapp. I like Gerald - I'm down with the guy because he's cool and I dig him, but when he showed me theispot.com I said "This is lame" - "it's a jumbled ball of confusion" and I thought to myself those many years ago, that there has to be a better way for illustrators to get a message out online in a way that doesn't suck. Lots of time has passed and theispot still seems to be the standard - Click a whole bunch of check boxes, like humor, animals, children, and you get a few hundred talents to browse through. Not only do these various online talent systems seem screwed up, they ain't cheap either. They're making serious dollars and what do they deliver? I'm not sure...

I tried out portfolios.com (sexy animated chick on the homepage probably got me...) - but it delivers zero traffic to my site - the search at portfolios.com is the same as Gerald Rapp created at theispot in the late 90's - click a bunch of boxes and get several hundred results to browse through.

I have a feeling it doesn't have to be this way, but I'll also admit that I'm not sure what the best answer is yet. One online high note is the amazing blog at drawn.ca - comes up at number five in a Google for Illustration search and maybe there's an answer there... somewhere.. . . . .
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Russell Tate - Wuz Up?

FEBRUARY 14, 2006
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Kevin Pope starts daily cartoon

FEBRUARY 14, 2006
Kevin Pope is up and running with FishStiks.com and is posting daily humor of the Kevin Pope variety. Worth checking out.
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Gothard's Way Back Post

FEBRUARY 12, 2006
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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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Enos Post

FEBRUARY 10, 2006
Randall Enos posted his first article at drawger and it's a doozy folks.

Check it out here.

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The Amazing Shrinking Illustrator Credit

FEBRUARY 10, 2006
This is same size

Okay, I know I don't see as good as I used to, but I'm convinced that illustrator credits are getting smaller and smaller.

I measured this one from US News and World Report and it was 3.5 point type, crediting the talented David Gall.
200 % view
Here it to the right at 200%.

I don't know, maybe I'm just suffering from old age and general crabbiness...

. . . . .
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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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