In which the unlikely publisher of Drawger points out some personal favorites from the year 2008 in no particular order what-so-ever. Thanks to everyone who made 08 one heck of a great read here. I love this place!
To my personal picks without delay:
Drawger launched into 08 with a fabulous post from Richard Borge where he documented his Jessica Hoop Video. This post remains one of my all-time favorites. Borge is the man in my book.
Okay, so I'm a real sucker for any type of detailed documentation of process. My favorite series of the year was back in July and August when Chris Buzelli posted his documentation on the Trophen Museum work. Chris gave us a really great look behind the curtain. Here's July posts on Trophen and here's August. Thanks Chris!
Anybody who didn't appreciate the Mingering Mike the Soul Supa-star post by Laura Levine back in February is just a bummer. I loved it and so should everybody else!
Zina Saunders caused HUGE traffic spikes at Drawger all year. Her Sarah Palin Bags a Big One may well have been the single most popular post at Drawger in all of 08. I liked it plenty myself, but my personal pick from Zina was her marvelous Marshall Erismon Profile. Simply yummy.
It's a given that Edel Rodriguez posts extreme coolness at a pace that makes the average bloggers head spin. His A Show in Spain documentation from January was one of my personal favs of 08 until he posted All About My Father in June which had me bawling like a baby. I also really appreciated his send-up to Tom Trapnell.Thanks Edel, I love you man!
No doubt about it, Steve Brodner has created a real show-stopper with his Person of the Day series. Traffic arrives here from far and wide to gobble up the brainy antics of this thoughtful master. His 4000 Persons of the Day was my personal favorite from 08 - as well as Steve's righteous and mighty Support Barry post which almost brought our dear server to it's knees. Thanks for keeping my brain buzzing this year Steve! I don't know what I'd do without you at this point.
Like I said, I'm a sucker for process posts. David Goldin's The Fruit of Our Labor post back in March was just coolness with a cork. I loved it and even got to taste it!
Fernanda Cohen's Illustrator Travel Kit. Nuff said. Too cool.
For the past three years, Tim O'Brien has documented his New York Marathon experience with the same degree of bravery and thoughtfullness as the amazing run itself. This year was no exception and it was his best run and his best post to date. Marathon is a great read and an amazing accomplishment. It also needs to be said that Tim's Cover of Rolling Stone post was easily one of the most viewed posts at Drawger this year, and for all the right reasons. Totally amazing.
Anita Kunz had me at hello with My new intern (I loved this too much for my own good) and Burn Baby Burn remains one of the most mind-bending posts I've ever had the extreme discomfort to witness. Thanks Anita!
Hanoch Piven does for Drawger what Captain Kangaroo used to do for me when I was two...keep me waiting for the next episode of wonder and delight. His Garbage Mountain post and his Keith post were both real keepers in my book. A world without Piven at this point is simply unthinkable. I salute you sir!
Rob Dunlavey has brought us some of his thoughts and insites into the state of affairs in Zimbabwe over the past few years. I really enjoy his contributions on this subject. Here's a look back at some of my personal picks from 08 - Hey Buddy Can Your Spare 50 Billion Dollars, Mugabe.
Harry Campbell (the undisputed king of spots) doesn't post a lot here, but when he does it's always some of my favorite stuff. His Op-Ed for Wednesday was my favorite from 08. I love to see the doodles that lead to the conclusion. Harry gives it up!
Linzie Hunter's Left or Right Brain? hooked me bad and her Back by Popular Demand! was a tastey treat as well. Thank God for the Brits!
Way back in January, Adam McCauley started a great conversation with his What is it article. I really love this kind of post. Represents the best of what Drawger does. Thanks Adam!
Do you like to get really close-up details of work, see all the brush strokes and cracks? Me too! At Drawger, Marc Burckhardt is your man. He posts a piece and then lets you see it up close and personal. BLAB! Show Los Angeles. Mmmmmmm.
Donald Kilpatrick was probably a journalist in a previous life. His posts are always a solid read. His touching tribute to Joseph Solman was a real stand out for me this year. I loved it and if you haven't read it, read it now.
I like childrens blocks, always have. I have a small collection of them. It should come as no surprise that I also liked the ABC post by Greg Mambly a LOT.
If Joseph Fiedler wasn't the worlds greatest living illustrator he'd probably be a documentary film maker. He has loaded Drawger with some amazing accounts of travels, events and studio tours. The one that really hooked me in 08 was his Marin Studio Visit: John Hersey in May. Cool details, expert timing, just what I needed.
Bob Staake has a way of writing his posts where the reader feels like they are getting a personal tour of his ever-expanding brain. One of my favorite examples from 08 was his super-cool Roomy Enough For Two Cockroaches And Up To Eighteen Deer Ticks article. And, being a complete sucker for any post that documents process, you can't beat My Odd Way Of Working from January! Thanks for memories Bobster!
Felix Sockwell occassionally stops in here to give us a lot to think about and I for one sure do appreciate it. His Tour De Force explanation of his iphone icons in his new iPhone nytimes GUI article was just solid amazing. I also love it when someone at Drawger sends out props to out-going art directors and Felix's send-up to Brian Rea was really cool.
Stephen Kroninger uses Drawger to talk about other people and show us what inspires him, which is cool. Very occassionally he will give us a peek at his own process and that's when my ears really perk up. His Nation Cruise for The New York Times post from February was one of my favorites. Thanks for sharing Stephen!
Robert Hunt cleaned his brushes in April and built a model of a dragon so he could paint it in November. Both of these posts had me blinking in disbelief and awe. Unreal.
For one reason or another, Drawger inspires some collateral activities. One of the funniest this year was Nancy Stahl's Drawger Scrabble Tournament which was documented here all the way to the winner. Another very cool contribution from Nancy in 08 is the Women's Work show which gets a TON of traffic and has over 200 brilliant works on display. Yeah Nance! Woo Hoo!
Carl Weins uses Drawger to talk about his family life, his sons, his brother, his life at home, his travels. I love that stuff and it's a really cool use of Drawger. His Last skate post from March is a great example of letting people see Carl in his natural habitat.
If Drawger has any lasting historical value, internet archaeologists will almost certainly point to Randall Enos' widely acclaimed My Life on the Slanted Board series. This year, we only got one instalment, but it may well be the best one yet. MY LIFE ON THE SLANTED BOARD...Chapter 28, "Stripping For Playboy". Brilliant!
If Drawger had a face, it would be the face of David Flaherty. My favorite stuff from David is his documentary work, whether it's an opening, a pool party or just a simple trip across town. His Quest for the Wacksman's Passage is best of show in 08 in my book.
An 08 highlight for me was Peter Kuper reporting from Mexico. I felt like we were getting a direct feed from the dusty streets. I'm really glad he took to time to document and post Mexico Street Art especially. I love that kind of stuff. Keep em' coming Kuper!
I'm a real sucker for babies. Gina and Matt let us have it with New Employee. Loved it loved it loved it.
A. Richard Allen tends to show just about everything that he can squeeze in. I love that. I especially love all the process sketches he shows. How To Live to be 100 was just one of my favorites from 08 - especially the annotated sketch on drag, which was hilarious!
In April, Leo Espinosa posted Friday Pencil Fiesta, in which he just started collecting and posting pencil drawings people would email to him. All of those drawings got relocated to here, and that single post resulted in the ongoing Pencil Fiesta gallery here at Drawger, which Leo bravely manages and edits. Yeah Leo! I love you like a rock!
Brian Stauffer has really put together a string of hits this year at Drawger. I really appreciated the insight into his thinking process with The Tough Ones in February and in March his Spitzer OP-ED post really showed how quiet and confident art direction (in this case from Brian Rea) can lead to amazing results.
Lastly not leastly, Lou Brooks uses Drawger to mostly post up things that inspire him, tracing his roots to jazz and pulp. It's always great stuff. Every so often he lets us in on a good inside story as well. The You and Your Turntable article was a cool insight into how illustrators can often effect smart editorial decisions and that's the kind of stuff that really gets me going. In June, Lou posted that his Art Supply Museum Tops '100' Mark!, referring to his Museum of Forgotten Art Supplies show here, which continues to be one of the most visited areas of Drawger. Way cool. Lou is the man.
. . . . . . . .
That's it for now! I probably left some of my favorites out, but I can definately recommend all of the above as a sample plate of what Drawger does best. Look forward to 2009!
Publishers Picks 2008 at Drawger
Ba Ba Ha Ha is back!
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.
Drawger Annual 08
Very pleased to announce that Drawger has survived long enough to publish it's third annual and that it's the biggest yet, with 61 fabulous pieces for your viewing pleasure!
And when I say that Drawger has "survived" - this is not neccessarily a given, folks. This site has traveled through some precarious terrain since it arrived on browsers in February of 2006. We were basically set up as a small social club, with enough room to accommodate a few people milling around the bar chatting among themselves. That was the original idea and that idea didn't last very long. By February of 2007, Drawger was struggling to seat over 1,000 visitors daily and a quarter of a million page vews per month. By February of this year, those numbers had more than doubled and we were on our third server, scrambling to seat eager visitors who gobbled-up bandwidth on scales never imagined. On an average day lately, Drawger welcomes an average of 5,000 unique visitors, and serves up well over a million page views monthly. Who woulda thunk it?
It's a testimony to the great people here. Drawgers have consistently delivered a tasty mix of daily content - from the seriously thought-provoking to the downright nutty. It's been my honor and enormous privilege to make this happen for everyone involved.
Enjoy the show!
All the Art That's Fit to Print
In 2004, Jesse Sunnenblick interviewed Jerelle Kraus for The Columbia Journalism Review. When I read the article, I thought to myself: There's a book here! In fact, I thought: There's one heck of a GREAT book here!... Little did I know, the book was already well underway.
Four years later, the lucky folks who attended ICON 08 got a small taste of that book, dished out from Jerelle herself.
Now you can bite into the whole thing.
All the Art That's Fit to Print (And Some That Wasn't): Inside The New York Times Op-Ed Page, by Jerelle Kraus
Stepping boldly out on a limb here: This may well be the most important book ever written on the subject of editorial illustration to date. It's a chronicle of where ediorial illustration has been, how it got to where it is today and shines a bright light on where it should go from here. But don't just trust me, the esteemed (is he a Knight yet?) Ronald Searle said it's "Certain to become the illustrator’s bible". Everybody's in it - recognize any of these names?
In or around NYC? Attend the book party at the Strand, November 13th. She'll sign a book for you! Buy one for a friend. Buy one for your least-favorite art director. Buy two for you favorite art director, for sure!
Not around NYC? - Buy it online
Oh and - Jerelle has agreed to do an interview with me over at illoz, so look for that coming soonish. Should be fun!
Why is it that kids baseball team photos are all the same?
The photographer lines everyone up according to height so that the photograph is nice and symetrical. Everyone is instructed to put their hands behind them or at their sides. Face forward.... look like winners....and snap, that's your memory. A solumn line-up of kids who signed up to have a good time and play a great game in the sun.
I've been involved with youth baseball for over 15 years now and year after year as the teams line up for their generic photos, I've often wondered, why so serious? For me, baseball is about having fun - and when I say "fun", I really do mean exacty that.
Most coaches insist that it's all about having a good time. In fact, they will repeat it over and over again. Have fun! But the truth is, when the game is on the field there are very few who actually deliver on their promise. Parents rarely help either. They scream from the bleachers, not with joy, but about the missed call or the missed opportunity.
By far, the largest group in youth baseball is the very young. Players from ages four to eight outnumber players at age eleven by double. By age thirteen, the number of players is only a tenth of those who started at age six. Why do the stop playing? They stop because they thought the word "play" actually meant it was about having fun. It turned out to be exactly the opposite.
Sadly, team photos are very often a snapshot of broken promises. I see it year after year.
But, I'm not willing to give up! I'll be back next season with the same crazy notion that this game really is about having a good time. Perhaps I'm delusional, so be it. Play Ball kids!
The illoz Angels
This is a team of 8, 9 and 10 year olds playing this fall in Western North Carolina, corporate home of illoz.com.
Western North Carolina Fall Baseball is a BIG DEAL around these parts and I thought "what the hey...", if a $325 sponsorship will guarantee that a bunch of kids can get dirty and hit some balls, then we're in! Right?
Today was opening day for the Angels. I was so excited I could hardly contain myself. Seeing them take the field in those little illoz shirts....I can not EVEN begin to describe the excitment of it. I wish everyone could have seen it like I did.
Our illoz Angels went up against the highly favored Astros and came away with a narrow defeat, backed by solid defense and swift base running. When the game was over, team drinks were immediately poured down each other's necks and they went and played in the creek, the narrow defeat forgotten ... immediately.
Ah, to be a kid again...
Glad that illoz had a few bucks left over (thanks so much to everyone involved) to make this happen for the Angels. They are one chill team of characters.
Great parents too! As the illoz Angels slipped in the 4th inning to hand over the game to the Astros, parents calmly chattted amoung themselves about how hard the team was trying and how the next game might be better. Parents make a huge difference in youth baseball and the Angel's parents made it all good in the end, the way it should be.
These guys really do have the best interests of the kids in mind at all times and I'm SO PROUD to be able to help them field a team this fall, with the help of everyone involved with the illoz project.
illoz mousepads shipping out
These fine and highly collectible items are available only to art directors with registered accounts at illoz. So, if you are reading this and suddenly look down and realize, "Hey I'm an art director without an account at illoz"... then what the heck are you waiting for? Get an account right here and get a mousepad. There are plenty to go around!
As an added bonus, art directors also get the Official Art Director Owner's Manual, which is a handy booklet, capable of guiding any art director through the best use of the illoz system. As you may know, illoz is a lot more than a pretty portfolio site, folks. Indeed, it's filled with lots of handy tools for getting jobs done and this invaluable illoz Owner's Manual will make all these fancy gizmos easy to understand and start using right away.
Lisa brought in myself to talk about illustration. Luke Hayman was there to talk about his current work over at Pentagram and past work at ID Magazine as well as New York Magazine. Mitch Shostak did a really cool presentation on all his current projects and showed a huge amount of illustration work he's commissioned, to boot. And lastly but not leastly, D.W. Pine was there as well to talk about his past ten years at Time.
This talk I did was an hour and a half. That's a long time to talk about something! It would not have been possible without a lot of help from others. Edel provided me with some great information from his years at Time. Brian Stauffer was a big help as well when I needed some extra insider details. Eddie Guy, Brad Holland, Anita Kunz, Ross MacDonald all also sent in stories and antidotes that were a huge help to me as well. And, I also have to thank Drawger itself, as I lifted several success and horror stories straight from these pages, including from Harry Campbell and Tim O'Brien to share with the conference.
The bonus dinner with Mitch, Luke and editor Bruce Anderson last night was a real treat for me. I got insider details on the secret Smooze Society, it's untimely demise and Shostak's covert plans for it's revival. I hope to be lucky enough to be included...
Marc Art Mine
A signed and numbered print by Marc Burckhardt, of Robert Johnson - all for me!
It's impossible to explain how fine this print is. The brilliant colors, the luxurious paper, the exceptional quality of the print itself are all simply breath-taking. This is one truly exquisite work. The man is a master, done deal, game over.
Luckily for everyone, Marc has the same quality of prints for sale at his illogator shop, which just opened for business this week.
How cool is that?
I mean, how many people have their own tape? Gimmi a break!
Anita Kunz Interview
I explored some of the themes I'll be discussing in a talk I'm doing for The Magazine Association of the Southeast next month in Atlanta.
Here's the interview with Anita
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.
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.