Friday, April 25, 2014


As a new patron of the Richmond Art Center, I'm looking forward to a summer of healing and relaxation through the pages of a sketchbook as I put my new North American Reciprocal Museum Association sticker to use at participating museums.

Vimana Screenings in London and Los Angeles

Faroukh Virani's USC student thesis film short is "in the can" and set for its first 2014 release dates:

SCI-FI London
SATURDAY APRIL 26, 11:30AM, Stratford Picturehouse:

Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival
WEDNESDAY MAY 7, 9:00PM, CGV Cinema, Los Angeles:

USC Thesis Screenings
SUNDAY MAY 18, 2:45PM, USC Norris Theater, Los Angeles

Set in the near future, three Indian astronauts are on a one-way trip to a distant planet, Gliese. Unfortunately, the ship's captain, Rishi, passes away after an adverse reaction to the hyper-sleep. Now it's up to the two remaining astronauts, Pankaj and Naaz, to come together and land the vessel in his memory. To complicate things, India's mission control requires them to jettison the corpse in order to avoid bringing biological contaminates to the new planet. But Naaz, who has fallen in love with Rishi, refuses to let this happen. Digital, 17 min., color, narrative, in English and Hindi w/E.S.

Congratulations to the producers, directors, cast and crew. You are making cinematic history!

P.S. The spaceship and space probe in the film are pretty cool!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Note to Self...

Sometimes, waking up is the worst part of dreaming…

Joshua Darden

Not much to say here except that this Joshua Darden guy is a wizard with type, and I'm seriously considering adopting bits of Omnes Pro for my design business. The lighter weights are a bit hard on my eyes, but overall, it has a nice flow. (My mildly dyslexic brain keeps seeing "Ormes" as in Jackie Ormes. Look her up too if you haven't heard of her.)

Sunday, April 20, 2014


Many thanks to my now over 50 followers on Instagram. I am honored by your kindness, curiosity and support. Plus, several of you have phenomenal work. The app has been a simple yet effective tool for sharing sketches with people who have similar interests as well as unique and inspiring styles.

My sketchbooks are once again a personal outlet for exploring new ideas, mediums and techniques. There also seems to be a certain catharsis tied to making pictures that express things that might be hard to say aloud. Others may follow me there at or by clicking the icon below:


And now, back to more drawing and painting!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Hugging Vectors

There was a time when the prospect of working on a project using Illustrator would leave me feeling anxious. In fact, even after two semesters of Illustrator at City College of San Francisco with John Seckman, it was my "last resort" tool for illustration.

I have taught Illustrator at the California College of the Arts, City College of San Francisco, and Dominican University. Last year, I was asked to craft a series of Illustrator workshops for a group of MFA students from the Academy of Art University. And yet, I still feel a tiny bit of anxiety when sit down to begin work with this wonderfully awkward tool.

Last weekend, I sketched a young barista at the Starbuck's on Solano and Colusa in Albany, California. She was tall and slender and had features that reminded me of several of my favorite femme fatales from science fiction, including Aeon Flux, Ellen Ripley, and the android from Blade Runner. Her heavy black eyeliner accentuated a pair of bold, expressive eyes that shifted repeatedly from stoic calm to bright and caffeinated. I thought it would be fun to imagine her on a poster for a science fiction thriller.

Because we are getting closer to our final handheld tool illustration project at CCSF, I felt compelled to improve on last semester's handout and create a more detailed example of one of the image deconstruction methods I teach. But this little sketch kept nagging me, so I decided to take it a bit closer to something finished. I enjoyed the subtle irony of rendering a Starbuck's barista in a style similar to local designer Michael Schwab who designed posters for Peet's Coffee. But I am also a student of design history and a child of the 80s, so my stack of influences and motivations include boredom, Nagel, experimentation and the need to practice and improve.

I think another round of tweaks and critiques will take this image to that elusive "print me" level.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Craig Elliott @ AAU

"I spent a lot of time playing in the creek in Cupertino where I grew up… "
— Craig Elliott

Again, a mix of luck and good timing brought me within a whisper's distance of yet another art hero. I generally reserve the term for any living artist whose work I admire and whose career path has some quality that I hope to integrate into my own. This was not my first time seeing Craig Elliott in person. Years ago, I was at WonderCon and came across his table. It was close to closing time, and they were already packing up his work. Something compelled me to pick up a postcard. (Okay, it was the nude, voluptuous woman. I won't lie.) I saw in his work a kind of contemporary Art Nouveau with strong influences from traditional Asian design principles. I learned that he has done considerably more than gorgeous nudes. He was the publisher behind Aphrodisia: The Art of the Female Form I and II. He also designs jewelry and had done a considerable amount of visual development for films and games, including environments, character designs and props.

He shared with us a few pages from the style guide he developed for the swamp sequences in "The Princess and the Frog" and talked about the importance of designing shapes that express the mood you are trying to get across to the audience. He mentioned comic book artist Burne Hogarth as a teacher who taught him how to "feel" the mood in his own body by acting it out. Elliott showed how body language influenced the design of tree limbs in the swamp by hunching forward to show "frustration" or raising his arms to show "celebration". It was a simple idea that I had heard elsewhere, but seeing how it was applied to the background elements showed how effective the designs were.

Craig Elliott also talked about how the backgrounds in Bambi employed a foreground-background reversal known as "counter-change" that gave them a misty, ethereal feel. He pointed out that as vis dev artists, it's hard to balance our wild imaginations with the needs of a client or art director. Sometimes, we benefit from constraints, and other times, a lack of constraints can be a bit overwhelming. We need to be able to "switch" between both modalities in order to be successful.

New Work!

I can trace my life-long fascination with hybrid creatures to the early 1980s when I saw my first episodes of Ultraman during the Captain Cosmic hour on KTVU Channel 2. The giant monsters were a bizarre amalgamation of glowing eyes, crustaceans, insect, amphibian and reptile parts and always captured my attention. I know there was a man inside, but there was enough action during the fight scenes with the star of the show for me to ignore the low-budget effects and feel the sense of power and dread when the monsters seemed to get the upper hand.

I've been toying with the idea of creating my own series of kaiju-inspired creatures for a series of children's book illustrations that feature a tiny character known as "Cocoa Cub". Cocoa Cub is on a mission to learn about the monsters in his world by asking deep, personal questions without getting eaten or smashed. During a recent rewatch of the original Ultraman series, I was surprised to see how much the writers seemed to want to instill feelings of compassion for the kaiju, many of whom were interstellar outlaws, but also sentient beings.

I'm also tempted to submit one of these new concepts to the recent AAU Children's Book Club call for entries in spite of its nascent weirdness. Why not? Let's see what happens.