Way to Go: Travel Guide Section for Washington Post

It’s been years since I’ve done anything travel related, but travel is a subject that is near and dear to my heart. I got my start as an illustrator and designer working for the world’s most beloved travel guide publisher, Lonely Planet, where I worked from 1992 to 1998.

So I was really pleased when the Washington Post called recently, not to ask my opinion on world events but to see if I had time to do an illustration for their annual Way to Go travel guide. The best part? They wanted to put my typographic skills to use! That always makes me happy.

The sketch was easy, and actually it was mostly done before I was even off the phone. The hard part was getting the color right. I did several versions, each slightly different. Here are the first few:

In the end, we came full circle and kept most of the original color version. Here’s how it looked on the page:

The Way to Go guide had five articles, and I did a spot for each one:

It’s been a while since I’ve done work for a newspaper, and I’d forgotten how much fun a quick and dirty illo on a tight deadline can be. Thanks to the Washington Post for the opportunity!

Spooky Young Adult Jacket Cover!

My good friend LisaRuth once paid me a high compliment. She said that my paintings struck her as inspired by European folk tales like the Brothers Grimm, but reinterpreted so that the kids are no longer the hapless victims. That really made my day. I hadn’t thought of it in quite those terms, but it’s a really nice insight. The kids in my paintings are often facing a frightening reality, but they shouldn’t seem scared or intimidated.

Well, a few months back I got a great assignment. Penguin’s young adult novel division called with a new book based on the Brothers Grimm. The book, A Tale Dark & Grimm, is a modern retelling in which Hansel & Gretel are far from hapless. In fact, they wreak some havoc on the abusive adults they encounter. The book is dark, funny, and gruesome in parts. Perfect for young adults! (It’ll be available in November.)

Here are a couple sketches:

And here’s how the front cover came out:

But the really cool thing is what we did with the wraparound dust jacket for the hardcover. (Click to enlarge) This sort of thing is tricky, because it has to work as a whole, but each panel has to work independently as well.

Inside, I created the title page and spot illustrations for each chapter. Here’s a sampling!

You know what’s cool? Some kids, somewhere in the world, will love this book. And they’ll spend a lot of time pouring over the illustrations, looking for clues, etching the images in their minds, just as I did with illustrated books when I was a kid. Maybe some of them will even grow up to be illustrators!

Me and the Ferocious Few

I don’t do that many rock posters these days, but when I saw the Ferocious Few (myspace, facebook) play a few months back, I knew I had to do a project for them. They’re a band composed of just two guys that generate an enormous amount of noise, and it’s just the kind of noise I like: loud, melodic and intense.

The Ferocious Few now have an album coming out, and this Wednesday is their album release party at Cafe Du Nord. This was as good a time as any to do that poster for them, so I did! It will be available at the show (and later next week in my online shop).

I did a few rounds on this project. First, I was going to do one of my cats. Here’s the first version of the poster:

But as I listened to the album while I worked on it you can stream it in its entirety here I realized I was missing something. This record is just edgy and crusty and intense, with a hint of sadness lingering in there somewhere. Also, a couple of the songs mention the devil.

All this reminded me of an old painting I did of Satan as a forlorn loser in a Charlie Brown shirt. (This painting never sold, and it just kicks around the studio because Mati doesn’t want it in the house. Maybe you’d like to buy it?)

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I don’t know why I never thought of it, but this painting was a rock poster just waiting to happen. The rough texture of the painting and the moody but intense colors seemed to fit with the band’s sound. It took me some time with the image in photoshop in order to simplify it enough to silkscreen in 3 colors, but in the end it came out pretty great!

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I got my friend Conor Ottenweller at Forthrite Printing in Oakland to print it for me. Conor’s a great printer who really cares about his craft, and I highly recommend him!

The show is Wednesday, May 5 at Cafe Du Nord on Market Street in San Francisco. The cover is just $5, but if you are a dirt cheap bastard (or are just saving your pennies so you can buy some a copy of the poster at the show) you can RSVP here and get in free.