I was away on vacation this past week which meant my commissions were all put on hold. I don't travel with large projects and currently, all my projects are... well, large. That being said, I always travel with notebooks, pens, paint and brushes. And playing around without the stress of a project gives me a little more freedom to explore. This past week was a fun and laid back exploration with color while at the beach. Blending colors, working on gradients, and not always staying in the lines yielded a bunch of good stuff. Here are a few sketches...
If you read my blahg post from last year called "Hamsterdam," you might recall that a friend of mine commissioned a drawing of a specific block in Amsterdam overrun by pigs. Well that brother recently commissioned me to do something for his friends and self. John-Erik ("Hamsterdam" recipient) emails me and says, "My group of friends elect one new member to 'The Best of Us All' each year and those who are elected 'B.O.U.A.' participate in the election process in future years. I'd like to do something special for the group."
We text. We talk. We spitball. Should we do a Mount Rushmore idea with the newest member's face being chiseled into the mountain?Not a bad idea. We sit on it for a while. In the interim, J-E sends me a VERY thorough email which includes names, photos, and personality traits/character stories about each of the friends to be included. In addition to the friends elected as "Best of Us All," there are also a number of other friends to be included but not necessarily featured.
Then weeks later I get an email from J-E that says, "The idea of a portrait gallery is almost too good. What do you think about that?" This coincided particularly well with the fact that the B.O.U.A. had just elected their first female member and she happened to be a staunch Hillary supporter. It was decided that we would steal elements of the "I'm With Her" campaign to celebrate Katie Ray's election into the B.O.U.A.
This resulted in a lot more ridiculous conversation about what that would look like and for about 10 minutes, two men in their 30's talked about monkeys hanging from chandeliers, dogs peeing on plants and ridiculous puns (see: I'm With Fur).
I kept J-E looped in throughout the process, making sure to get the details just right. It was a great combination of specific direction along with room for artistic license. J-E consistently said, "I defer to the artist."
Here's a little bit of the process, along with the finished product. This was an absolute blast to work on and I wish the Rest of Them All luck in future elections!
Lastly, thanks to John-Erik for having this idea and contributing so much to the vision while still also trusting in me and the process.
CLICK ANY IMAGE TO VIEW IN FULL SCREEN
Baby Brody was born last week, just in time for his new nursery installment. Brody's mom emailed me a couple months ago after seeing some of my illustrations on Instagram. We wrote back and forth about the idea of doing a series of drawings/paintings for his in-progress room and decided that an in-person brainstorming session was in order. Fortunately, we both live in NYC and were able to make this happen. Over the course of an hour or so, we rifled through some of my notebooks, picked our favorite elements and concepts and put together the idea of this series:
Then on to character development:
And then the final pieces, drawn in pencil, then ink, and then complimented with watercolor. (NOTE: See end of post for comments/photos on watercolor scanning. These images appear washed out due to scanning them in.)
And I'm flattered to get a text as I'm writing this that reads: "Brody says it was nice to meet you and he loves your artwork." This was followed by a series of emojis that I can't replicate on a computer. But you can be sure they were adorable and perfect.
Thanks for reading and have a great day everyone!
BONUS PHOTOS: These closeups give you a little better idea what the watercolor paint really looks like. Unfortunately, scanning watercolor paint doesn't yield perfect results.
Perhaps I've said this before (and perhaps I should have checked my old posts to verify) but I really am so lucky to get to work with people who are so trusting, imaginative, and fun. A couple months back, I received an email with the following commission request:
"I am not sure how much detail you need, but my husband and I want something for the boys' room....we were thinking Outer Space meets Dinosaurs meets Penguins and letting you come up with the rest."
After thinking about this for a few days... er, weeks, I came up with a few ideas. Should the dinosaurs be in a galactic battle with each other, firing penguins from penguin cannons at each other? Should the penguins be riding the dinosaurs which themselves are spaceships? It was s bit of a challenge given that penguins and dinosaurs have NO REASON TO BE INTERACTING!
Finally the idea that seemed the most fun came to me: astronaut penguins have arrived on Planet Dino and are taking to learning as much as they can about the planet's inhabitants. (NOTE: If you're ever talking to me and you notice a glazed over look on my face, it's because I'm thinking about stuff like this instead of listening. Sorry.)
I submitted a few scratchy pencil concepts of the above ideas. Client picked her favorite and the rest is history. Penguins arrive on Planet Dino.
Thanks for reading. Thanks for caring!
Person says: "A dear friend recently had to sell his long-time family home. I'd like to get them a drawing of their house."
"Can you draw my family as a duck, duckling, bear, and bear cub and a Jeep Grand Wagoneer? Maybe roadtrip/vacation themed?"
If you were to go to Oak Island, NC for a beach vacation, you'd probably want to know about Oak Island Accommodations. And if you were to go there, you'd probably need a map to get around. (Unless you're like me in which a case a map does little to correct a broken internal compass) They had been using a traditional map for a while and they wanted to add something with a little more personality to their marketing collateral and welcome brochure. Something that would remind people of the good times to be had there. So off to work we went.
As I usually do, I provided my lovely client with an introductory draft to ensure the tone was right and we were on the same page. Said intro draft looked like this:
Then came the fun part: adding more content and moving things around. Because the map was going to be printed from a digital file, I could scan in pieces and assemble the map digitally. This was a YUGE benefit in the creation process as it allowed the client to put different elements exactly where they wanted them. (Also, I could make mistakes and fix them digitally!) For example, my first complete draft came back to me with these notes:
As the project went on and we moved to various drafts, my working copy transformed from a functional map to a collection of Frankenstein parts to be assembled later. Airplanes and jetskis were removed, sailboats eradicated, dogs were added to biplanes and fishing fish to piers... you know how it is. So by the very end, this:
...was scanned in and digitally reorganized to look like this (click it to enlarge):
Furthermore, deliverable to the client is a Photoshop file with all the elements individually available so that they may use the separate components across their marketing materials. Here are some closeups for your enjoyment.
So that all being said, if you know anyone that needs a map, I'm your guy. Thanks for reading! Enjoy!
I should start by saying that there are few people alive that I like as much as Kim and Peter. They're the type of people that make you scratch your head and ask yourself, "How are they so damn nice? And so freaking smart? And so all around wonderful?" Ok, ok. I'll move on...
Kim loves Peter. Peter loves Kim. Peter also loves science-y space stuff. You know, the space station, Saturn, rovers, etc etc. Peter also happens to work on the largest microscope in the country. Yes, that is something of an oxymoron. But I digress...
They both love their twins, Landon & Riley. And their twins love wubbanubs. So much love. So little space. So when Kim wanted to surprise Peter for Christmas, we had our formula laid out for us: The Ercius Space Shuttle, a team of five astronauts (including their lady-dog, Taco), and a bunch of things they can't live without. Lots of wubbanubs, aliens, meteors and fun colors. For your sake (and for theirs) their identical twins, Landon and Riley, are always kept on their respective left and right sides. How else would you expect a scientist to identify and track two identical children?
Step 1: A small handful of texts and emails about this all.
Step 2: The Blueprint, to be approved by Kim.
Step 3: Pencil
Step 4: The ink.
Step 5: The paint.
I'm a sentimental softy, so this text I got from Peter when he opened it was pretty awesome: "Thanks so much for the amazing painting! It's the most thoughtful gift I've ever received!"
If you didn't watch the video above, please do. And check out the following photos, including the last one here with source images.
My first foray into this style of architectural portraiture. (2 words, 8 syllables.) This piece was commissioned by a friend who plans to give it to the owners of the home as a thank you gift for hosting her over the holidays. 12x18. Ink. Lots of tiles. Lots of vines. Lots of time.
You know how good I can be at procrastinating? I've been meaning to share this project since 2013. That's a solid three years of "waiting until tomorrow". Alas...
In 2013, I was living in Western Massachusetts and had access to a) a lot of free time and b) my dad's workshop. As someone who doesn't do a whole heckofalot of woodworking, he has a pretty extensive collection of tools. So... lucky me.
As the year was drawing towards its end and Christmas carols started hitting the radio waves, I did what we all often do - I started up the nostalgia machine, thinking about Christmases of the past. Onesie footy pajamas, sneaking around the house looking for gifts, hot chocolate and advent calendars. One thing that always stood in my memories was a mini chair and table set that still lives in my parents' basement. I don't even know if that was a Christmas gift but regardless, it reminded me of my own childhood Christmases.
With that in mind, I decided I'd build a set for my youngest nephew and his sister-on-the-way. It was a really fun process and I learned quite a bit about woodworking, like why furniture costs so much.
The below photos archive the process.
As soon as Andrew emailed me about a Christmas commission, I couldn't wait to get started. It had all the elements of a project that I love: fun architecture, animals, family, and personal details to fill in the gaps. Andrew's family had rented a house in Martha's Vineyard over the summer and what he wanted was a family portrait that would capture their time together in a fun, quirky, and personal way. Here's the house:
After a brief conversation and a few emails explaining the details (including photos of everyone and their signature traits and features), I sent him this highly detailed draft of how I wanted to build the scene:
Andrew ordered five copies so that all the families included would have their own piece of revisionist history for their homes. And it really lit up my Christmas Eve to get a text from Andrew that said, "You have no idea how much people love it!!! Thanks again Billy!" along with a photo of the reveal:
Thank you, Andrew! It was a ton of fun making this for you and your family and I'm grateful to get to help commemorate such a great time for you all. Merry Christmas!