Friday, December 21, 2012

Burning Man/ Happy Holidays

This illustration appears in the interior of the current Seattle Weekly. It's about an old case from the 90s, in which Martin Pang plead guilty to, and was convicted of starting a fire in his parents' warehouse in Seattle, in order to collect on the insurance money. His little arson/fraud scheme ended up killing five firefighters in the SFD who showed up to fight the blaze. Although he was already convicted of the crime, his attorney has come forward with new evidence in the case. According to the story, the evidence doesn't do much to help his case.

I wanted to show how this man's fire-starting directly lead to the death of firefighters. I played with a lot of ideas combining images of death and the warehouse building (and other fire-starting paraphernalia, like matches, and lighters), but the trail of gasoline/accelerant forming the chalk outline of the firefighter was easily the right idea. Thanks again, Tom! Here it is by itself:

On another note, I want to wish a happy holiday to anyone and everyone that may come across this post. In the words of the great Krusty the Clown: "... have a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Kwaaazy Kwanzaa, a Tip-Top Tet, and a Solemn, Dignified Ramadan."

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Off the chain

I finished this cover for the Dallas Observer last week. The story, "Rise of the Nones," is about atheists in Texas, and references the box that people check on the census listing their religious affiliation (atheists and agnostics checking "none"). It follows several individuals attempting to organize like-minded skeptics into a non-theist movement to rival the groups out there of a more religious persuasion, focusing not only on civics, but charity and other areas more traditionally associated with churches.

Organizing these fellow "nones" can be challenging due to the attitude toward atheists in this country. There are a few examples given in the story of atheists attempting to purchase ad space on billboards and in movie theaters simply announcing their existence, only to be rejected due to hostility from the public. I wanted the image to relate to the title, and also explain how many of these people feel tied down and unable to express themselves in public, due to intolerant views from some of their more religious peers. Breaking free of chains was the perfect metaphor, and wouldn't you know it, some of these religious symbols look a lot like chain links! Thank you, Tracie!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Lost in translation

This piece ran in last Sunday's L.A. Times. It was for the L.A. Affairs section, for a story that recounts the author's recent experience in that dark, dangerous, jungle we call the dating scene. She explains that after buying a beer for a guy she spotted across the bar, and after trying in vain to converse over the noise, asked if he wanted to step outside to chat (where the conversation might actually be audible). He (wrongly) interpreted that to mean: "Let's go back to your place, stud."

I wanted to show how her words went in one ear, and after going through all that machinery we humans have in our heads, is rearranged into something completely different. Read the essay here.

And in a first ever Draw Your Weapon Outtake, here's a thumbnail sketch that, while well received, was a little PG-13 for the section, and didn't make the cut.

She's only thinking about opening up another beer, he's thinking about opening her pants. I think it would have been hilarious. Oh well, the AD and I both really liked how the final turned out.
Thank you to the wonderful Wes Bausmith for this very fun piece!

Thursday, October 18, 2012


These past couple weeks I had been thinking that my illustration in 5280 would be out in next month's issue. Oops, nope, it's out now. Here's the piece, for an article about how Colorado has turned from red state to purple, and soon enough, due to the high number of Hispanic, young, female and urban voters, will be a pretty blue state:

Having a woman changing from red and purple clothes into blue seemed like a good idea, and combining the changing room with a voter booth just fell into place.

Like I said, the issue is out now if you want to check it out. Thank you, Dave!
Up next: L.A. Times.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Shell Game

I was commissioned for this piece for the Harvard Law Bulletin a few weeks back. The school's International Human Rights Clinic is  following a case being heard in the Supreme Court, filed by Esther Kiobel on behalf of herself and several members of the Nigerian Ogoni tribe, against Royal Dutch Shell oil company (alleging crimes against humanity). Ronn, the art director, felt that a simple image connecting Shell with the Supreme Court would work well. I came up with this:

I think Ronn knows his stuff.

To read more about the case, see the article here. Thanks, Ronn!
Up next: 5280.

Monday, October 15, 2012

LMU interiors

I know you've been super psyched for it... here it is, my recent project for LMU Magazine! I worked with Pentagram Design on the Fall 2012 issue of Loyola Marymount University's superbly designed publication (see recent awards here). I was commissioned to do four full-page interior illustrations:

For the first illustration, the client wanted an image that conveyed the idea of celebrating the success of the school, focusing on how it is a team effort. The second article is about providing access to  college, ensuring that the road to higher education is open (and features their famous clock tower). The third article discusses the school's endowment, and how it provides funding for education. They requested that the hill upon which the school sits be in the composition. So any Angelenos out there may notice Marina del Rey (or my simplified interpretation of it) on the left of the illustration. The fourth article examines the Jesuit tradition of charitable donations for education, dating all the way back to St. Ignatius himself. 
Most of my work is fairly simple, usually consisting of blocks or shapes of color (much like my piece for Harvard Law Bulletin that I'll be posting soon), sometimes with a small amount of photo-collage for texture and accents (like this). The client in this particular case requested that since the images were so large, that they have a lot of depth and texture, and not be too flat or simple. So they're a little different than my usual style and incorporate a little more photo-collage, but the Art Directors and the client were very happy with the way they turned out, and so am I. Thank you so much to Barrett and D.J.!
Up next: Harvard Law Bulletin.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

You Dirty Rat

I finished this cover for a few Village Voice papers last week. It should be in the free weekly newsstands in Seattle, San Francisco, St. Louis and Broward/Palm Beach. The cover story goes over the ten most corrupt loopholes in the U.S. tax system. Corrupt because they allow very, very, very, very, very rich people to pay lower tax rates than the average citizen. A loophole is always viewed as a sneaky way to get around the system, and in an article dealing with lobbyists and politicians, what better way to illustrate that concept than a bunch of rats?

(SF Weekly AD: Andrew Nilsen)
Having the illustration run on the cover of several different titles, it's a little tricky ensuring the type will fit in for all the different layouts, but they seemed to work it out well. Thank you, Tom!
Up next: LMU!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Fandom of the Opera

Hello! Yes, I'm back from cryogenic hypersleep! Or so it would seem, since I skipped the whole month of September. I assure you it was due to an extremely busy month, and had absolutely nothing to do with laziness.

Anyway, as promised way back in August in my last post, here's a fairly recent piece from the Washington Post that finally ran this past weekend. The article centered around two books published this past year about opera. One of the books focused on how people fall in love with opera. The book makes the case that opera fans have more in common with sports fanatics, believe it or not.

This was just a little spot, and they wanted a very simple image showing a love for opera. Cupid's arrow through the fat lady's helmet seemed to be a good solution. Thank you, Kim!

Stay tuned for work in 5280, Harvard Law Bulletin, four full-pagers for LMU magazine and more. On another note, the Bordo Bello show is this Saturday night for anyone that's interested in attending. I think you have to buy tickets here to go. Six to ten, at Redline Gallery in Denver. Be there or be square.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Bordo Bello 2012

I was invited by my bud, local illustrator and designer Shaw Nielsen, to take part in this year's Bordo Bello skateboard deck art fundraiser. Artists create deck designs, which are then auctioned off to help fund AIGA mentorship and scholarship programs. Shaw is on the planning committee, and managed to get a bunch of awesome designers and illustrators to participate in the show, such as Scott Bakal, Gwenda Kaczor, Charles S. Anderson Design, also local Evan Hecox and many, many more. Here's the deck I sent to the printers:

Skateboards are obviously not rectangular, so there will be some trimming to this image, but you get the idea. I was sitting around, listening to music, wondering "what the hell am I going to put on a skateboard deck?" when "Today your Love, Tomorrow the World," by the Ramones comes on. Perfect.
 Here's the page Shaw put together announcing my participation in this year's show. I don't know when the opening is scheduled, but I'll post as soon as I find out.
Also, coming soon to Draw Your Weapon: a Washington Post piece, a 5280 Magazine piece, and work for LMU magazine. To be posted whenever they're published. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Ohhhhh, Mexico

My cover for the Phoenix New Times is out today. The story details the consequences of our American "War on Drugs" and former Mexican President Felipe Calderon's war on cartels. Since Calderon declared his war in 2006, some 100,000 people have been murdered in Mexico. For an explanation for the range of different death toll numbers read this. The cover article explains how despite the government claiming that "90% of the victims are criminals killed by other criminals," the truth seems to be much more complicated, and much more nefarious than that.

What makes the government line about most victims being criminals so incredible, is that so many journalists have been killed. Reporters that detail corruption in the army and police often end up murdered, to which the government responds with a convenient excuse that the reporters were likely killed because they were involved in the cartels. The vast majority of homicides are never investigated, and the crime is quickly swept under the rug. The story is a frightening but important look at how Mexico is being rotted from the inside out, as a result of our drug war. A war that is apparently soon to be waged in Africa as well. One of my early sketches mimicked the flag a little more- the skulls more closely resembled the shape of the cactus, and the foliage underneath was made up of drug paraphernalia- but we decided that was a little overkill.
 Thank you, Peter!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Not too young to get married

Didn't have much time to post this piece for the L.A. Times over the busy weekend, but it ran in Sunday's L.A. Affairs section. The story is by a woman who was just engaged for the first time at 37. She explains that getting married at that point in life gives her an advantage, as she has many friends' marriage experiences to learn from.

I wanted to focus on how the author uses her friends' marriages as guideposts for her own relationship, and this concept came pretty quickly. You can read the essay here. Thanks so much, Wes, for your input on this assignment and for your concern Friday morning.
Next post: a cover for the Phoenix New Times.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Greetings from Aurora, the "All America City"

With a few exceptions, I've tried to keep this an illustration blog, as opposed to a personal one; meant for keeping friends, family, art directors and people interested in my art or in illustration in general up to date on recent work. I've deliberately shied away from using it to post inane personal info, like the movie I just watched, or the really cool thing I did over the weekend. I really try to stick to posting new work, explaining it a little bit, and maybe giving some information on the publication or project it's for, and that's it (with a few exceptions where I am obviously posting from a very big soapbox). However, with the horrifying event that has taken place just a few miles from where I've lived most of my life, at a theater I've been to many times, next to the mall I grew up visiting, and which has seemingly affected everyone in this city, I can't post without mentioning it. To not speak about a tragedy that has touched people in my life, from family members that were in that theater at the time to friends that have lost someone they know, would just feel callous. Luckily, I don't personally know anyone that was killed, and to my knowledge anyone that was hurt. My heart goes out to everyone who has lost a loved one, and everyone who is still hoping that their loved ones in critical condition pull through. The victims are in my thoughts, and I wish all the survivors a speedy and full recovery from their injuries, physical and emotional. The area around the mall and theater has had it's problems for some time now (A man was shot and killed about a mile down the street from it a few days before this). And unfortunately shootings like this have become more and more frequent, all around the country. But as a neighbor expressed to me over the weekend, if one positive thing can come out of this, maybe it would be that we all treat each other just a little kinder. If we can act with just a little bit more compassion and civility to strangers. Being the cynic that I am, I replied that it might happen for a couple weeks, and then we'll all go back to "normal." Let's hope I'm wrong.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Happiness is a warm gun

This cover I did for Seattle Weekly is out today. The story is about a Seattle-based attorney that is currently fighting for the freedom of an Ugandan man, imprisoned for his role as a commander in the Lord's Resistance Army. The LRA, headed by Joseph Kony of "Kony 2012" fame, is notorious for its use of children as soldiers and sex slaves. The reason that the attorney has taken up this fight is because his client (now a grown man) happened to be one of those children, kidnapped on his way home from school.

One thing I hate about my work being viewed primarily online is that you folks out there (that can't pick up a copy in Seattle) aren't able to really see much. So here's a close up:

When I first turned in my sketches, one composition was originally approved, but then quickly dropped in favor of the above solution. I had some time after the final was turned in, and decided to take the original sketch to final too, in the chance that it might end up working out after all. The art director liked it, but the editors felt it might not be a clear enough concept (which I don't disagree with) and isn't quite as strong of an image. Here's the alternative version that wasn't published:

Despite its depressing content, this story is exactly the kind of assignment I enjoy working on.
Thank you to AD Jane Sherman. It was a pleasure!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Jagged little pill

Remember that album? God, it always reminds me of middle school. Anyway, here's an illustration I did for Nexus, the alumni magazine of the University of Toronto's Law School:

The article mentions a donation Teva Canada, a pharmaceutical company, recently made to the school. The donation is to be used for a new program that focuses on patent law- something a pharma company has a lot of interest in. The editor wanted the illustration to focus on how patent law is universal. The pharmaceutical aspect is only one of the many applications of patent law. So I started thinking about drugs, its primary focus, and came up with a pillbox also holding some of the other areas: chemistry, technology, and genetics. You can download the issue here. Thank you, Lucianna and Levi!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Crossing the line with Village Voice

If you pick up your city's free weekly paper this next week (if it's part of Village Voice Media) you'll see the cover story that's running nationwide. "Crossing the Line" is a series of articles/columns on the state of affairs we find ourselves in nowadays in the good ol' USA. From "papers please" laws, to new laws attempting to keep as many people of color as possible from voting. I was asked to illustrate a few of these essays:

"Welcome Back, Jim Crow." This essay discusses the attempts in states across the U.S. to keep people from voting. From purging voters, to ending Sunday voting, to requiring various forms of identification to vote, politicians nationwide are finding different ways to make voting harder. Completely by coincidence, the people most affected by these laws are minorities.

"Days of Rage." This essay lists the many ways that Mexicans/Chicanos and Latinos have been targeted in the last few years, and the inevitable Civil Rights-like action that's bound to follow. When I was given the assignment, we didn't have the story, and were under the impression that the column would make more of a connection between the Civil Rights Era demonstrations of the past, and the need to do the same today.

"Love the Beans, Hate the Beaner." Gustavo Arellano's hilariously tongue-in-cheek essay on the United States' historic attempts to repress Mexican culture by purging Mexican cuisine. Long story short, the attempts failed. Americans surrendered to Mexicans, according to Gustavo, when they surrendered to their food.

This was an awesome project to work on, and I was honored to contribute. As the son of a once illegal immigrant, these articles are a welcome wake up call- not only to people concerned about their own family members, but also those concerned about basic civil rights for other human beings. Thanks so much, Tom!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Migrate Magazine

I was contacted by CD Roanna Williams a couple months ago, to participate in an issue of Migrate, the official magazine of the Loerie Awards in South Africa. The theme of this issue is "Viva," or "long live" in Spanish- as in "Viva Zapata!" I thought my Loteria series exemplified the idea nicely, as all the pieces were based around environmental themes. I may as well have been saying "Long live Earth" or something with the series, and Roanna loved the project, so it all worked out great.

My copy arrived all the way from Jo'burg yesterday. The magazine is chock-full of work by photographers, writers, illustrators, sculptors and fine artists from around the world, with the art reproduced beautifully. Thank you again for the opportunity, Roanna!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Up those stairs and to the left

I had the pleasure of working with David Herbick on a full-page illustration for the Summer 2012 issue of Stanford Social Innovation Review. The article details a study that looks at the growing trend towards hybrids- combinations of non-profit and for-profit organizations. The first example given in the article is the Hot Bread Kitchen in New York City; a bakery that sells breads made by immigrant women in the area, while at the same time helping them gain skills for management positions in the food industry.

 I wanted to show how the revenue generated by the for-profit side of the business helps these women advance their skills and career opportunities. Thank you, David!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Inflight Club

 If you happen to be looking at this blog while on a United flight (and it's still May), check the pocket of the seat in front of you. No, that's the barf bag, the other one. Yeah, there you go, Hemispheres Magazine. My illustration is gracing the pages inside, in the Tech section:

As I'm sure you gathered from the image above, if your eyes are good enough to read the print, the article laments the probable downfall of the Blu-ray video format. Very sad for us movie buffs, as it is far superior in quality to DVDs and streamed movies. Combining the broken, discarded dics with the shape of a broken heart just felt right. The AD on this was the wonderful Christine Bower-Wright. Thanks again, Christine!

Monday, April 23, 2012


I had the pleasure of working with the ad agency Exit10 recently for an in-house publication they do for one of their clients. I provided a few spots for some of the articles inside:

This article went over the importance of social networking, and the importance of using technology and the internet to gain access to new contacts.

This article advised readers/investors to be wary of financially supporting companies that have questionable accounting or business practices, and instead invest in companies that are responsible and transparent.

This article discussed the "cowboy code," a list of rules to live by that businesspeople should take into consideration.

These spots were a lot of fun to work on, thank you again, Scott! OK, so the Hemispheres post will be next time.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Spinnin' like a spinnin' top (Jenny, Jenny, woooo Jenny, Jenny)

I just received a copy of the latest issue of The American Lawyer, with my spread in the "Corporate Scorecard" section. The article profiled the recent trend of big spinoffs in the last few years:

 As explained in the brief I received, when companies with multiple operations are looking to make some cash or no longer want to be involved in a certain area of their business, they sometimes spinoff a segment of the company. They basically sever their ties legally with a former part of the corporation, which can end up growing into its own large company. 

The "Scorecard" section also includes some great work from illustrators David Plunkert, Chris Silas Neal, and Heads of State, and I feel pretty damn honored to be among them. And my local buddy Shaw Nielsen is in the issue too! Thank you again to AD Jay Dea!
Coming soon: work for Hemispheres Magazine.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Them's fightin' words

This piece is my most recent  for Wes Bausmith at the Los Angeles Times. The story is the author's reaction to the empty pro-war rhetoric that politicians (especially presidential candidates) use to score points, without ever having to actually fight in those wars. He explains his feelings about watching his own son head out on tour, and comments how few politicians and elected (or might-be-elected) officials have children in the armed forces.

Wes had a very emotive concept, of a soldier treading off to war, while a politician waves and orates to his adoring supporters on the virtues of sending other people to fight a war. I think it worked out very well.

Thanks again to the wonderful Wes! Up next, a spread for The American Lawyer.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I want to suck your blog!

I  just got a copy of the current issue of Smith Alumnae Quarterly in the mail from Ronn Campisi, the AD. My illustration of the "modern-day vampire" is inside. The article it accompanies explains how, despite the history of these creatures dating back hundreds of years, they still manage to keep up on all the latest trends and technologies. They even tweet!


 This was a pretty fun piece to work on. Thank you, Ronn! Look at that- a whole post about vampires, and I didn't mention Robert Pattinson once... wait. Dammit!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Weird (food) Science

Here are some tiny little spots I contributed to Radcliffe Magazine recently (none of which have anything to do with Anthony Michael Hall). They're part of an article in the Winter 2012 issue about a class that explores the science behind the food we eat.

These were a lot of fun to work on. Spot illustrations are sometimes more challenging than larger pieces, because you have to get more information into such a tiny little space. I think these came out pretty successfully. Thanks, Ronn!

Ronn Campisi art directed this one. And coming soon, another piece for Ronn for an article about vampires... And it has absolutely nothing to do with Robert Pattinson- for the most part.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

An excellent start to the new year...

I received my latest issue of Communication Arts in the mail the other day... The January/February Typography issue, with a feature on me, written by the wonderful Anne Telford.

I've been lucky enough to have been accepted in the last three CA Illustration Annuals, but when I received a phone call asking if I would give the magazine permission to do a feature on me, my heart about fell down into my gut. I've been reading Communication Arts and enjoying all the inspirational art and informative columns within its pages ever since I discovered it in art school. I read previous features on illustrators throughout the years, and fantasized about an opportunity to be among those artists that I admire so much. When that day actually arrived, it was completely unexpected and still seems a little unreal. This is one of the greatest honors I've ever received, and I'm extremely grateful to Anne, for coming out to Denver and for her awesome article, and to Communication Arts Magazine for allowing my work to grace its pages. Thank you, Rebecca! And a big thank you to Wes Bausmith, for the kind remarks he shared with Anne!
Happy New Year, everyone!