TWITTER
Sunday
Aug312014

Postcards from the Road

Here are the numbers:

21 Days - July 5 to 25

10,072 km (6,258 miles)

115 hours of driving

1,036 L of Gas (281 Gallons)

2 parents, 2 kids, 2 bikes, one car

They are just numbers. Like looking at a map. If you want to understand something, you have to immerse yourself in it. If you want to understand the country or the continent where you live, you should drive it. You can see pretty mountains from an airplane, but if you climb one or drive through a mountain pass, then you know what they really are. Allow me to share some of my experiences along the way.

Windsor/Detroit border, supercells in DesMoines, cornfields in Iowa, a long & lonesome road east of Omaha     #pectoportland

I've been planning an epic road trip for a couple of years now, but was hampered by a bad back that required surgery and the day-to-day realities of working. This spring I booked my attendance at ICON in Portland, and started to dream again. I pulled out maps and started looking at possible routes: Salt Lake City, Yellowstone Park, Mt. Rushmore popped up and I connected the dots. We all dream of the open road, an empty highway with and endless horizon: freedom. Being self-employed implies that you should have that choice. To pick up and go, and not be tied down. My sons are growing up to be young men, and I know the window for spending time together as a complete family is shrinking. So we decided to bring everyone along for the adventure, Griswold style.

Hey, hey, easy kids. Everybody in the car. Boat leaves in two minutes... or perhaps you don't want to see the second largest ball of twine on the face of the earth, which is only four short hours away?

- Clark Griswold

The first leg of the trip I drove solo. I managed to arrive in Salt Lake City after three days. I was dodging tornadoes in DesMoines, Iowa (no joking) and decided there was no need to stop in Nebraska for any reasons other than food & fuel. After an 18 hour marathon driving session I landed in Utah. I was super road-weary, but Leo Espinosa was kind enough open his house and let me relax for a couple of days. Leo has an ultra-cool house, studio and a fantastic set of cycles. We even went mountain biking and hiking. Man, what a beautiful city and setting. Totally going back there, it's the best, if you are looking to be active.

Mountain biking with Leo, all vertical, hiking the canyon and the fabulous Espinosa studio    #pectoportland

 'Life is short and the world is wide'

       -Simon Raven

Leo and I drove from Utah to Oregon. We took two days to get to Portland, driving across the endless horizons of Idaho. Everything disappears, everything falls away. It's incredible to watch mountains and valleys rising and falling as the road unfolds over hours & days. It was a joy & relief to roll into the green Columbia River Valley and Portland.

What can I say about ICON? If you have been to one of the conferences, you will understand. It's incredibly immersive and inspirational, and you always meet one or more of your 'heroes' in the business. Ellen Weinstein had a great recap of this year's conference, you can read about it here. I logged my travels for the ICON website, and used the hashtag #PECtoPortland (Prince Edward County to Portland) to document the experience on Instagram.

 Brian Rea's tape mural project, Jason Holley's stage sets, picnic on the lawn, Portland Art Musem   #pectoportland

My family flew to Portland on the Sunday after the conference. We took in the food carts, gardens, restaurants and shopping. I could live in this city, the arts community is fantastic! We also took a trip to the Columbia River falls - if you are in the area you have to see this. The weather was hot and sunny, great to be out walking, cycling and exploring. And eating. Lots and lots of eating.

 A stop at the Land Gallery, Bridal Veil Falls, enjoying the food cart cornucopia, Columbia River Gorge.  #pectoportland

The trip from Portland to Jackson Hole is like travelling through two or three different countries. The landscape keeps changing and there was lots of oohs and aahs strung together with long desolate stretches. I like to see everything open up to the infinite. But the mountains are the best. When we got to Wyoming we were truly rewarded. My son Jacob suggested the Museum of the Mountain Man, in Pinedale, so we took a detour. The drive up there alone was worth it - Pronghorn antelope everywhere and an encounter with a large mule deer buck. The next day we took the tram to the top of the mountain when we got to Jackson Hole. Snow on a hot sunny day. I used my panoramic feature to capture the vista.


 

Yellowstone Park is something you have to experience to believe. We loved everything, although the altitude can get to you. We had sunny, clear, beautiful weather. The roads were not as crowded as we expected but the popular spots - Old Faithful and the Prismatic spring, were pretty crazy. See it!!! We drove on the melted road that caused a buzz - happy to report it was a tiny section of road that was quickly repaired. The park is not melting. The bison have not left. We had a standoff with a huge hulking beast walking down the middle of the road. We survived. The kids survived. We made it home. Did I mention we moved three days after we got home? It's been that kind of summer.

Crowds waiting for Old Faithful, Prismatic pond at dusk, the 'hoodoos' and Mammoth Hot Springs     #pectoportland


 

Thursday
Jul032014

Escape

I am about to escape the studio.

I am taking the month of July off - I have an epic road trip coming up, driving across North America to Portland (and back) with stops in Salt Lake City and Yellowstone Park. First and foremost is ICON 8. Looking forward to connecting with some old pals in the biz and making some new friends! Then it's off to Yellowstone Park, camping with my family.

It's easy to get weighed down by assignments and paperwork. I have been lucky to have an incredible workspace and studio, in an old barn that I renovated. But after sixteen years, I am sorting through piles of books and old illustrations, filing boxes and recycling bins and getting ready to relocate. I will be moving right after I get home. I scouted out my new space and it looks promising. I will provide some pics once I get settled in. So, I am escaping from my current digs in more ways than one. As an artist change is a force that drives us, spurs creativity and opens up new opportunity. Plenty on the horizon to look forward to.

Here's the latest illustration for the New York Times. Gravity is the least understood of the universal forces, yet it controls us and threatens our well-being in so many ways. I have been working on this series and the writing is top-notch. Challenging and rewarding work. You can read the full article here: Still Exerting a Force on Science, by George Johnson.

_________

I might as well jump in and talk about an exciting project I recently completed. I was invited by art director Jim Burke to participate in this year's Frogfolio calendar project. The calendar takes the personal interpretations of various artist on one theme: the frog. Artists are given creative freedom to explore and define their vision of the subject, and over the years eight medals have been awarded by the Society of Illustrators. It was a real honour to have been invited. No pressure, right?

Earlier this spring I worked on a collage called Spring Peeper. Winter was so long this year and extreme, I love the sound of frogs in the swamp that come out after the thaw. You can hear them before things turn green, and it's always a chorus of hope for warmer weather, and an explosion of life and activity. I wanted to capture some of that energy in this image.

This year's calendar is available for purchase in September. Details to follow soon. A great lineup of artists including Bill Mayer, C.F. Payne, Victor Juhasz, Wesley Allsbrook, John Dykes, Melanie Reim and more!

I will be blogging photos from the road trip on the ICON instagram feed. See you in August! I am out of here.

Monday
Jun162014

Spot Lights

'Some painters transform the sun into a yellow spot, others transform a yellow spot into the sun.'

             - Pablo Picasso

I might be setting my sights high quoting Picasso as an opener, but I think the message holds true for illustration. Spot illustrations might not be something to feature, but they are an opportunity to show what you can do. You are limited by space or time, or both, so make the best of it. I always enjoy working on spots, and you have to bring your best to make them shine.

 

 

 

I taught my illustration students about isometric perspective in illustration and that may have influenced this pair of spots for Scientific American about artificial intelligence as well as potential emotional interaction in software and smartphones. The concept was explored in the film 'Her'. and the article explored the plausibility of engaging in a relationship with technology. I worked with art director Bernard Lee on this pair.

This was a quick turnaround assignment for Pete Hausler at the Wall Street Journal, about smartphone apps that allow the user to remotely control his/her home, adjusting temperature, unlocking doors, playing music or being alerted to incoming mail, leaking pipes or a pet wandering off the property. I passed this assignment to my illustration students to see what they came up with. Working on this, I wanted a simple colour scheme and designed them in illustrator to maintain clean lines.

Here's another set, in the same style for the tech section of WSJ. This one was about apps to help locate or disable a lost or stolen phone. Security and saftey features including location, alarm, notifications and a remote 'wipe' if need be (top left).

 

 

 

I do a monthy feature for UpHere magazine, a business magazine out of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. Most of these images are resource-based. So clockwise from top left - oil glut and future oil prices; energy access and mining development; wind-based power; raising pot in former mines.

I'll leave with this image. It's not a spot, but it's a reflection of where I am at right now. I am packing up my studio and getting ready to move. I am organizing a road trip to Oregon for ICON8. Really looking forward to it,  making big changes & moves. I did this for the Work & Play show, organized by ICON. It's about maintaining the right balance, something I am always involved in, feeling like I am winning or losing the battle.

 

 

 

Tuesday
May132014

A Fork in the Road

New directions, new assignments. Here's a healthy portion of recent assignment work. Calorie-free!

 

Here's the latest illustration for a monthly column for the New York Times called Raw Data. It's written by George Johnson and raises questions about statistical analysis and scientific data. Interesting topics and a potent mix of science, data and our common misconceptions. The latest is on challenges to all of the warnings we have been given to eating red meat. Long-term studies refute the findings of earlier results.

An Apple a Day, and Other Myths - the gap grows between food folklore and science on cancer. Art director Peter Morance is always great to work with.

 

Just finished this spot for Daniel Smith at the Wall Street Journal, about the FCC auctioning off low-frequency bandwidth to a pool of four wireless carriers.

A portrait of Enrico Fermi and the development of nuclear science. For a book review in the Christian Science Monitor.

 

Thursday
Apr102014

Now, where was I?

Trying to keep it all together this spring, super busy with so many things going on. Here's a peak inside my head and an update on some recent work.

These are illustrations from a recent cover assignment and feature for ProSales. I worked with art director Sarah Bell at Hanley Wood. It's all about getting the right combination of elements together to build leaders. So I ran with the conveyer belt/factory/industrial aesthetic. Fun stuff (for me, anyways!).

Here's another cover assignment, for Golfworld - Timothy Carr, art director. Now that the Masters is on, I thought it would be a good idea to post this golf-related piece. Love to do covers, and in this case, it's technology meeting sport. I added a little extraterrestrial twist as well, because the golfing universe was altered forever by this strange-looking device.

While I am on the topic of strange-looking devices, here's a little 'selfie' to end things. I submitted this to Pictoplasma, and it will be part of the portrait show in Berlin in May. Mecanismos on the move. Love it!