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Entries in Science (10)

Tuesday
Jul122016

The world we live in

I get to work on a lot of scientific and research-based illustrations, which I love. We live in a beautiful, complex, and troubling world. Everyday, in a way, is a miraculous thing. If we want to continue to enjoy the things we have, the things we take for granted, we have to have our eyes open to what is happening locally and globally and be willing to adapt, make changes, and preserve what we can.

The first illustration was for Science magazine, a new client, for an article on an Environmental Film Festival, covering human, local and global topics. There were a lot of interesting and intriguing subjects like biodynamic food and farming, urban gardeners in L.A., wild bird egg poaching, women and water, as well as larger global and climate change concerns. Art director Michele Chu invited me to do an overview, taking in some of the broad-ranging topics and weave them together in the illustration. I adopted a clear and simple vector style to allow a balance and flow in the spread.

 

Here are the sketches:

I also got a call to work on a Cap and Trade proposal for the Province of Ontario, aimed at reducing carbon emissions. I wanted to convey the idea of change and transition over a period of time. Areas of focus included industry, transportation and energy. It all comes down to individual choices and the way in which we approach the economy. Finding the right balance between jobs, progress and sustainability.

Here's a shot of the cover, produced by Hambly and Woolley.

Monday
Feb292016

Life, the Universe, and Everything

I had the honour of working on this cover image for Queen's Alumni Magazine. Dr. Arthur McDonald was awarded the prestigious Nobel Prize for his research and discoveries in physics. This assignment combined my love of science with a challenging cover assignment, to explain the unseen, the subatomic, the Neutrino Breakthrough.

I am not a particle theorist, but I know this. Dr. McDonald and his team of researchers built an observatory 2 km deep in a mine shaft in Sudbury. What they discovered enhanced our understanding of physics and what we are made of, energy and the universe around us. The name of the observatory was SNOLAB, filled with heavy water and removed from man-made electric energy fields and interference.

Every second millions of neutrinos pass through us, unhindered and non-reactive, generated from deep within the sun. So then, how can they be observed and quantified?

Here's a very brief synopsis.

1.      Neutrinos are sub-atomic particles coming from the sun.
2.      There are three “flavours” of neutrinos: electrons, muon, and tau.
3.       Neutrinos switch flavours during their oscillation.
4.      Their oscillations prove that neutrinos have mass.

The SNOLAB observatory was able to record the oscillation of neutrinos. During oscillation, energy is released in the form of a photon. Observing this phenomenon established the mass of neutrinos, and enhanced our understanding of the universe in terms of it's overall mass, which affects how we understand where we came from and where we are heading.

The final illustration depicts a logorhythmic chain of images, from the sun to the earth to the SNOLAB sphere to the inner workings of an atom. A window into what we are made of.

Thanks to Andrea Gunn, Dr. Arthur McDonald, and the people at Queen's. Keep up the good work!

 

 

Monday
Oct062014

Raw Data

I posted earlier about my regular feature with the New York Times science section, a monthly column written by George Johnson. It's called Raw Data, and it asks the big questions that are integral to the advancement of scientific knowledge and research. I enjoy reading these and, of course, illustrating the series. Brilliantly written and thought-provoking. Please click through and take the time to read these.

The first piece shown here was created while I was on the road, in Idaho at the time. I drove out to Portland this summer and decided to take this on just before I disappeared into Yellowstone Park for three days. Squeaked out the final somehow (the joys of being an illustrator), but I was thrilled with how it turned out. Sometimes the pressure cooker situation produces great results!

 

Beyond Energy, Matter, Time and Space. Humans might think we can figure out the ultimate mysteries, but there is no reason to believe that we have all the pieces necessary for a theory of everything.

The Intelligent-Life Lottery: With billions of stars in our galaxy, there must be other civilizations capable of transmitting electromagnetic waves. By scouring the sky with radio telescopes, we just might intercept a signal. But if we want to 'win' these sweepstakes, we will have to buy more tickets.

A Future as Cloudy as Their Past: When the Anasazi abandoned the cities they had worked so long to build on the Colorado Plateau, it had something to do with climate, but drawing lessons from their opaque past may be as difficult as predicting our clouded future.


Thanks to AD Peter Morance for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this!

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The upshot is a great running feature in the NYT. A lot of great thinking and surprising observation. I recently illustrated a piece on the influence of money and sponsorship upon scientific research. Some interesting and disturbing findings.

To get more out of science, show the rejected research.

Nice to be a part of this, thanks to AD Luke Shuman!

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.

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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.