December 13, 2010

New York, New York

Last week, I had the good fortune to get a call from Aviva Michaelov at the New York Times with an assignment for the Op-Ed page.  The article, which ran yesterday, reflected on Sinatra's role as the touchstone of style and cool within mainstream hip-hop on what would have been his 95th birthday.

December 6, 2010

The American

This month's British GQ has an illustration I did alongside their review of Anton Corbijn's film "The American." Inspired by the duotone designs of the film's poster, the sketches (below) were done with a mono-print approach in mind, using red over blue and white to allude to the character's nationality (and line of work.)

November 29, 2010

Kind of Blue

Here is a piece from yesterday's Los Angeles Times book review of Miles Corwin's latest novel "Kind of Blue."  The book centers around the reinstatement of the main character, an unusually keen and obsessive officer, to the LAPD to solve a high profile murder.  The thumbnails and sketches below were a inspired by the character's lone-wolf mentality against the backdrop of LA.  Much thanks to Judy Pryor for the call.


November 23, 2010

October 26, 2010

By Nightfall

Editorial assignments are generally fast-moving targets, and having one good shot seems like the best you can usually hope for.  So the chance to take two swings at the same subject for two different assignments was unexpectedly nice.  The assignments were book review illustrations for Michael Cunningham's new novel "By Nightfall," in which the main character, a successful Manhattan art dealer, begins to question the life and career he's built after the his wife's younger brother enters their lives.

The first call was from Nick Vogelson at OUT, and the focus was on a specific chapter in the book to accompany an interview piece with the author.  Below are the sketches, a few color phases and the finished piece.

Shortly thereafter, I got a call from Paul Gonzales at the LA Times to do a piece for their book review with a broader focus on the overall story.  It's rare opportunity to do a second finish on the same concepts and characters so in the LA Times piece, I tried more of a designed poster format.  Below are the sketches and the finished piece, where the main character is being pulled between two worlds with his wife on his arm and a young and bright figure drawing his attention behind him.  Overall a lot of fun to do both, much thanks to Nick and Paul for being great ADs as always.

September 27, 2010

Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins

Today I have an illustration on the Picture Book Report, an ongoing narrative/collective blog I've been enjoying for months and home to illustrators like Meg Hunt, Sam Bosma, and Kali Ciesemier among many others. The above piece is based on a scene from the first Mary Poppins book by P.L. Travers, where Mary Poppins takes Jane and Michael Banks to St. Pauls Cathedral in London to see the Bird Woman. Below is a bit of the process from idea thumbnails, through to the rough pencils and then the finished ink drawing.


September 16, 2010

Engineering Terror

This is an illustration I just finished for an article in last Sunday's New York Times Magazine about the disproportionately high number of engineering degrees found among members of radical/terrorist organizations. The initial three sketches were based on the discussion of detachment and calculation, which are characteristics of members of both groups in the article.
After going over these sketches with Leo Jung at the Times, I went back and expanded further on the second one and the miniature city idea from a little more claustrophobic angle. In the process, I noticed the rough colors on the wall had a strange smudged look, almost a burn-mark feeling that worked unexpectedly well with the rest of the piece.

July 26, 2010


Here is an illustration I did earlier this year for a Zombie compilation project. The parameters were pretty open, and for some reason the idea of zombies handling the ocean and uneven terrain seemed really unsettling to me at the time.

July 12, 2010

Kings of the Earth

"Kings of the Earth" illustration

Here is an illustration I did for the LA Times book review. The book is Jon Clinch's latest book Kings of the Earth: A Novel about the lives and deaths of a family on a rural upstate New York farm. After going through the first half dozen sketches based on the short synopsis available before the book's release, I realized the ideas were really just guesses at plot points and character descriptions. For the final sketches (the last three which I submitted), I tried to keep the themes broader and more symbolic rather than narrative.

Ultimately the obscured, voyeuristic family photo idea was selected, and the finished piece ended up running in black and white (below right). But as luck would have it on newsprint the black and white version gives off an eerie documentary feel that hopefully helps drive home the concept of the story's unsettling, incomplete history. Much thanks again to Judy Pryor for the assignment.

"Kings of the Earth" illustration process and print

July 6, 2010

Watercolor sketchbook

I've been trying to keep entirely to watercolors in the sketchbook recently and it's been one of the toughest/best teachers in terms of letting go and reacting to the subject and paints. Here are a few pages from past couple months.


June 23, 2010

Rolling Stone: Eminem


Earlier this month, I was contacted by Steven Charny at Rolling Stone to do an illustration for the magazine's review of Eminem's new album, "Recovery." Interestingly it also turns out to be the same issue as the late-breaking McChrystal interview thats out this week.

Aside from heading away from drug references, the brief was nicely open, so the sketch ideas below were inspired mainly by the longevity of Eminem's career and his role as a veteran of fame. The scaffolding idea, which we went with, was based on the his role a cultural icon with a lot of baggage facing an uncommon amount of scrutiny at the release of his seventh album. (Also after roughing out the sketches I discovered the video from the first single off the album used a lot of the same elements of risk and vertigo, which seemed like a good sign.)

Overall it was a lot of fun to have such a flexible brief and the opportunity to work with Steven at Rolling Stone on such an interesting subject.

May 24, 2010

William Burroughs

The William Burroughs paperbacks that I illustrated earlier this year along with Naked Lunch just arrived from the printers. Because the art director liked the style of the Silky Shark print in my portfolio for the initial Naked Lunch assignment, I continued the process using a silk screen-style approach and a limited palette throughout the sketches and finals. The Soft Machine, The Ticket That Exploded, and The Place of Dead Roads all followed the same process as Naked Lunch, including two or three layers of drawn tones, which I attempted to keep in tune with the style of each book and as a set. The final layouts and text were done by Jo Walker at Harper Collins and I think they did a nice job of pulling the artwork together. (Below is a bit of a process breakdown of the finished covers.)

Initial sketches for The Soft Machine, The Ticket that Exploded, and The Place of Dead Roads (columns L to R respectively.)

The selected sketches with some adjustments in the saturation and color to help balance out the group as a set.

Ink and brush on Bristol Board drawing for the Soft Machine shadows layer.

Ink drawing for the Soft Machine mid-tones layer.

Finished colors on the background layer with some separations for black.

Finished cover illustrations and designs:




May 22, 2010

Washington Posts

Here are a couple new illustrations that have run in the Washington Post Style section this week. The image above is for a piece by Hank Stuever about the finale of "Lost", and the image below is for another piece about the evolution of the mockumentary format into today's TV sitcom landscape. (The "Lost" one should be on stands today.)

May 4, 2010

The Terrorist Next Door

My first OpEd illustration for the New York Times is out today, alongside Michael Sheehan's piece about the challenges of preventing lone-wolf terrorism. Much thanks to Aviva for the call.

April 28, 2010


Getting the chance to illustrate short fiction has been such a pleasure that I'm actually starting to feel a tiny bit guilty about it. I received an assignment from the Atlantic last month for a piece by Stuart Nadler entitled "Visiting" which, after reading, had already conjured such an atmospheric picture of this quiet, slightly suffocating afternoon trip by a father and his estranged son that I really just felt like I was reporting sketches from the scene.

Below are the idea sketches mocked up on the page to see how they fit with the spread, and the finished piece above was done with ink and wash and then colored digitally, and should be available now on stands in the Atlantic's annual fiction issue. Thanks to Melissa Bluey for making it such an enjoyable project.


April 18, 2010


Here is my latest Symposium opener illustration for the current issue of OUT, which is on stands now. It is accompanying an excerpt from the story by Helena Andews entitled "Riding in Cars with Lesbians" about witnessing domestic violence as a girl. Initially there was a sketch that touched on the fight itself, but ultimately the sketches of the moments after when she's tending to her mothers injuries in the bathroom seemed truer to the overall tone of the piece.

April 13, 2010

The Redhead

The spring issue of Granta just arrived and includes an illustration I did for a fiction piece by Roberto BolaƱo called "The Redhead." A part of the Sex issue, the excerpt sketches the narrator's dreams and memories of a girl from his past and her relationship with a narcotics cop. I worked with the very cool Michael Salu at Granta who suggested we play on the author's style with an equally loose illustration finish.

April 8, 2010


Today's Washington Post includes a piece I did for a preview of the new series "Treme" which premieres on HBO this Sunday. While doing research I came across an interesting interview with the creators (who also created "The Wire") on Fresh Air. The show sounds like an uncommonly hard look into the nuanced world of post-Katrina New Orleans, and the thumbnails and sketches were mainly inspired by the disparity of the city's vibrant music and traditions against the more muted state of the characters' personal situations and the neighborhoods they're returning to. Much thanks to Chris Meighan at the Post.