June 15, 2014

Viking: The Ways of the Dead

Viking/Penguin: Ways of the Dead
An interesting challenge came in the form of a book cover project for Viking last fall. The assignment was the cover illustration for The Ways of the Dead, the first in a series of crime novels by Neely Tucker. The art direction was to hint at an eerie crime scene on the backstreets Washington D.C., and to do it without any figures – which are usually pivotal in the majority of murders.
Viking/Penguin: Ways of the Dead
Without the human element, I threw myself into researching alleyways and refuse containers (not always easy to access by the way) and noticed a certain sickly green glow from fluorescent lights in entryways and loading zones would often lend a claustrophobic edge to the space. The dumpster in the piece also took on its own character so I played with different compositions and proximity from the viewer within the alley.
Viking: Ways of the Dead
The final illustration was painted digitally using Photoshop and Corel Painter and underwent a few rounds of punching up the contrast to help make the shadows feel deeper and inkier. Art Direction by Alison Forner.

June 2, 2014

The New Yorker: Night Moves

The New Yorker: Night Moves Illustration for The New Yorker  review of director Kelly Reichardt’s film “Night Moves.” AD Christine Curry.

May 13, 2014

Entertainment Weekly: Mr. Mercedes

Entertainment Weekly: Mr. Mercedes
A couple illustrations I did for Entertainment Weekly's feature on the upcoming Stephen King novel Mr. Mercedes are in the issue on stands this week. The story follows a retired detective working to stop a killer who murdered 8 people and injured 11 at a job fair with a stolen Mercedes. The excerpt focuses on the dark interior of the antagonist's basement and mind as he reflects on past and future attacks.
Entertainment Weekly: Mr. Mercedes
Above are development thumbnails and sketches for the spread and interior, working out different compositions for the foggy morning street and the ominous wired basement. Ultimately, the more overt violence was selected and the circuit diagrams became a connecting visual motif. AD Dennis Huynh.Entertainment Weekly: Mr. Mercedes Entertainment Weekly: Mr. Mercedes

May 6, 2014

Mental Floss: Head Case

Mental Floss: Head Case
Illustration and idea sketches for a Mental Floss magazine piece on archeologist Ephraim George Squier's 1860's search for evidence of early neurosurgery in the jungles of ancient Peru. Creative Director Winslow Taft.Mental Floss: Head Case

The New Yorker: Blue Bloods

The New Yorker: Blue Bloods
I love horseshoe crabs. It might be their quiet witness to half a billion years on earth, or the fact their hearts pump a singular amebocyte that defends their blood from pathogens, or the fact they can't be raised in captivity yet are preciously harvested by pharmaceutical companies. Horseshoe crabs are fascinating.

I wish I could claim that my interest in them predated the piece by Ian Frazier but it truly started after Christine Curry from the New Yorker sent me the article to illustrate. Once I read the story and began researching and drawing horseshoe crabs it was hard to stop. Below are some of the development sketches, exploring different ways to try to do these orthropods justice. Did I mention they swim upside down?
The New Yorker: Blue Bloods

April 23, 2014

Canadian Business: The Slaves of Eritrea

Canadian Business: Slaves of Eritrea
One of the great aspects of working on editorial assignments is illustrating in concert with different forms of engaging journalism. A few weeks ago I had the chance to work with Art Director John Montgomery on an interesting assignment for Canadian Business magazine. The article investigated reports of Human Rights Watch allegations brought to Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. The report stated that Canadian mining companies were, knowingly or unknowingly, employing local contractors that exploit unpaid conscripted labor in the North African nation of Eritrea.
Canadian Business: Slaves of Eritrea
Above are the rounds of idea sketches, the core of which I felt were to convey the visible and invisible systems that contribute to slavery and exploitation in developing nations – grounding the scenes in realism, while also using symbols and visual metaphors for the more insidious human rights issues at play. We circled back around to the idea of a reflection to convey an alternate, darker truth about the conscripted workers. Final page design and layout by John Montgomery.
Canadian Business: Slaves of Eritrea

April 16, 2014

Houstonia: Notes From Underground

Houstonia_InvasionProof_spread Illustration on the booming world of vigilante home security for the latest issue of Houstonia Magazine, layout and design by AD Chris Skiles. Process roughs below from the development of ideas of, particularly how paranoia and fear obscure the reality that violent crime rates continue to decline each year.Houstonia: Notes From Underground

February 28, 2014

The New Yorker: The Unknown Known

The New Yorker: The Unknown Known Illustration of Donald Rumsfeld for The New Yorker preview of Errol Morris' new documentary "The Unknown Known." AD Jordan Awan.

February 24, 2014

Mother Jones: 780 Days of Solitude

Mother Jones: 780 Days of Solitude Illustrators and artists working in black and white have always captivated me, and have been inspirational in keeping me practicing drawing directly with ink in my sketchbooks. Ink forces you to move only forward in a drawing, which I find instructive and exhilarating, and perhaps the closest to a "live record" of the process.

In most illustration assignments, the ink drawings are just the first step in the process, so it was particularly exciting to get a call to illustrate a series for Mother Jones with ink drawings as finishes. The feature was an excerpt from the upcoming book A Sliver of Light by Shane Bauer, Josh Fattal, and Sarah Shourd about their experiences as prisoners in the Iranian Evin prison for 780 days beginning in 2009, and the visceral detail and intimacy of each of the voices in the story is astounding. As I re-read it I felt a growing weight of responsibility to create as an honest sense of reportage as is possible secondhand.
Mother Jones: 780 Days of Solitude

The initial sketches were inspired by various personal accounts throughout the piece, and once the ideas had been edited down, I was actually able to discuss additional visual reference and specific details with author Shane Bauer. Much thanks to AD Ivylise Simones for the collaboration and opportunity to look at things in black and white.
Mother Jones: 780 Days of Solitude 

Mother Jones: 780 Days of Solitude