exploring art and design, one day at a time



I think I’m behind on this work, but it’s not every day you stumble onto a site and get stuck there, in that one place, for an hour. Brosmind is a multi-disciplinary studio of candy coated mind-bending frenzied illustration, video, and toys. Made up of two brothers, Alejandro and Juan Mingarro, they’ve done a lot of familiar work for the likes of Bonnaroo, Outside Lands, Phish, and Wolfmother.

Their illustration style is not exactly something new, but it’s so well put together, consistent, and whole feeling. When I you really look into their imagery (they provide an awesome magnifying view on their site) you can see all the madness and details and creativity they posses. I almost don’t comprehend some of the characters they’ve made and have to double take constantly, it’s so very badass!

It was hard to even select a few images to post, but hopefully this is a great teaser.

mingarro brothers, brosmind, spain, illustration, amazing

mingarro brothers, brosmind, spain, illustration, amazing

mingarro brothers, brosmind, spain, illustration, amazing mingarro brothers, brosmind, spain, illustration, amazing mingarro brothers, brosmind, spain, illustration, amazing

Handsome Wheat Paste Painting

The week before holiday vacation time in Texas was a hectic one. Greg had a production for Logitech in which he put on many hats—writer, art department, creative director, and director. He hired me as an extra and an artist, ah we love nepotism in this house. Although, being an extra in a bathing suit at a pool scene in December is the opposite of great, so maybe I don’t like this particular “in”.

Besides that dreary pool party, I was asked to create artwork that the hero of the video would wheat paste onto a wall. A. I’ve never actually painted anything and B. I’ve never wheat pasted. I was nervous, went through several designs, and had to email my images out to friends for help deciding which to use. I finally settled on designing in a way I’m used to (without overwhelming myself with something new), using illustrator and vector art with heavy block colors.

In the pool scene, all of the people are wearing animal masks, dancing, and swimming. I decided to take that idea and repurpose it for the painting, drawing four girls with animal masks on. The “handsome” at the bottom of the image comes from the new coffee shop, Handsome Coffee Roasters this was pasted on, coming soon to downtown LA.

Handsome Wheat Paste

Handsome Wheatpaste

Handsome Wheat Paste

Handsome Wheat Paste Close Up

I’m pretty happy with how this turned out, Greg and I are both quite enamored with the look and process of wheat paste (we’re rubbing our hands together conspiratorially). The whole drawing and painting took me 3 full days to complete. The wheat paste went up on the wall for about an hour and then was torn down. One of the more painful things I’ve had to deal with—I helped for a bit and then ditched the final cleanup.

Oktoberfest Designs

Oktoberfest Designs 1 & 2

Oktoberfest Design 3

Oktoberfest Design 4

I was doing so good—writing posts almost three times a week, creating my own work, inspired constantly by others! One day I will learn what consistency is.

In the meantime, I’m posting old work. Officially, Oktoberfest has long ended, but there are some puttering little mini-Oktoberfests all over the country still kicking. I was asked to create some concepts for an internal corporate-America Oktoberfest this year and honestly, super excited to be given the task. I’ve always liked the vibe of Oktoberfest, and other festivals that aren’t just yearly holidays.

The above designs are a collection of accepted and rejected designs I created. The very first design was the accepted version, sans beer mug (what!). The rest are all rejected, and I was not surprised, they’re definitely the least obvious for corporate use. Unfortunately none of the illustrations are done by me, but if the overall layout was selected with illustrations I would have completely redone them to match.

Lex McQuilkin, Cut Paper Artist and Illustrator

It’s been ages since my last post! I still have nothing to say for myself, so I’ve decided to at least say something about someone else.

Lex McQuilkin is an amazing illustrator I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with this past month. Not only was she perfect for the job we are working on, but she shares a love of paper art with me. She’s been working on it a lot longer than me and has given me some sweet tips. Her work above are beautiful examples of intricate paper work, often layered with decorative papers underneath. The typography, hand drawn,  always works so nicely with her images. When I look through all of her work on her sites, I definitely take note of how she presents her work—within frames, hanging freely on pins, installations—and hope to be able to replicate something similar one day.

Lex is a resident artist with Million Fishes Artist Collective in San Francisco, is a co-founder of Aorta Magazine, and has started her own poster company, Argot Prints. Most of her work is dedicated to social justice, practice, and responsibility, often concentrating on women and queers on the arts.

PVC Grid, Stop Motion Setup

Stop Motion Grid, Full Set Up

PVC Pipe Grid

Bishop/Tuzin Logo Closeup

Full Shot of Cloud Set Up

Things are finally starting to happen! I’ve been bribing Greg with dinner at Pizzeria Mozza and massages in order to get him excited to make me things. He would have done these things anyway, but I like to give some extra energy into the project.

This week, after much trial and error, Greg has dreamed up and created a PVC pipe grid. The grid will be used for two projects, the first one I’ve already started setting up. The above pictures show first, the full set up. The second photo is an image of the grid, it’s a little warped because it’s not that strong (we’re not rich enough to buy steel or anything). Third, is the finished logo I created for Bishop/Tuzin out of paper already nestled in the clouds.

The last image is a straight on shot of the logo in the clouds. I made quite a few clouds from my first batch of pillow stuffing but I had to get more to fill in the background today. So far, so good. The really tricky part will be the camera set up and move…poor Greg needs to create a rolling camera rig so that we can zoom into the clouds and move up. Stay tuned!

Side note: sorry for the blurry images.

Zombie City, Part 4

Failed Building Designs

Jonah Ray, Zombie City

A few weeks ago I noticed a design competition with an awesome section called “Never Saw the Light of Day”.  I knew just the project I would submit, but alas, I had never even completed it. This got the gears working again on my project for Jonah Ray, that was left unused and unfinished because of some work issues.

I set to work making a paper downtown Los Angeles. This just means finding a semi-decent image of the downtown skyline and drawing some of the buildings via illustrator or my hand. The first image were a couple tests I created, they were colored to match the actual image I was using. After a few test shots (including my own iphone test with giant roaming kitty in the background) I decided I didn’t want color and that the largest building you see should actually be the smallest in scale. Moving forward, all buildings would be white with black outlines, a more stylized version of the buildings that match the zombies already created and the television sets I have built (see the bottom photo for final buildings!).

In my original plans, I had a giant puppy dog in the scene. That makes the giant live kitty in the first image incredibly appropriate. The kitty won’t be the direction in the end, I’m going to draw some kind of dog to match the rest—a chihuahua or wiener dog—something terribly non threatening. I’ll have the final image up soon and I can finally call a second paper art project actually complete. Weird.

Pretty Cool Work

Cool Work

Oh hey, I’m actually working on non-corporate work during the day.

Mary and Max, Strange Pals

Mary and Max

Last night I watched a dark claymation film called Mary and Max. It’s a story of two unlikely friends, an obese, middle-aged New Yorker and a young outcast from Australia, Mary. I had never heard of it before, but I can’t resist anything claymation and I noticed the voice actors were the likes of Philip Seymour Hoffman, Toni Collette, and Eric Bana. Also, it won a ton of awards when it hit the festival circuit a few years ago.

The imagery was super fun and dark and I kept getting little surprises from the scenes. I love the fish smoking underwater, the bubble bath design, and all the small details throughout. Beware of death by embalming fluid, hard psychiatric emotions, disgusting-looking characters, and ground up goldfish.

Watch it now on Netflix. Also, definitely check out their website if you’re into that kind of stuff.

Poor, Judged Bunnies

"Even the Cutest Things", Diptych

In the essence of completing long past projects, I’ve finished another that I started years ago. I received two panes of glass from a department store in Union Square in San Francisco that went out of business. I wasn’t quick enough to nab any mannequins or really cool stuff, but I was happy with my find. A few days later I spent the evening painting a little bunny on fire. I could never think of what the second pane should be until recently so I repainted the flaming bunny and painted the second pane of two bunnies having a go. Matches our house perfectly.

Staff Pick, Villam by Veronika Obertova

Viliam from veronika obertova on Vimeo.

Dog Day Fundraiser Partners


This Tuesday, Wurstkuche downtown will be hosting a fundraiser for their friends Kevin Pecota and Dominic Devore. The two have written a script called Dog Day and need to raise the funds to make it. If you are looking for something to do, something to support, or some delicious beer and sausage, come to Wurstkuche on Tuesday, March 15. Ten percent of the proceeds will go to the film and if they make over what was expected for a Tuesday evening, they’ll make fifteen percent!

The image above was created by myself and Gregory Tuzin for the fundraising activities.

Hope to see you there!


The Lighted Bridge, Episode 2, In Progress

The Lighted Bridge, Initial Sketch

The Lighted Bridge, First Layout

I’m working on another illustration for The Lighted Bridge. Episode Two is under way and now being edited. For this episode we are going for a darker theme than the first, with German Expressionism as our main inspiration. I’m trying to portray lots of strange angles, shadows, and a giant deconstructed clock. There are a lot of death and love themes and clock faces and face gears. The whole episode is filled with themes and amazing imagery, it’s definitely a challenge putting it all together and making it work. I went through a lot of iterations before sending this first round, adding and subtracting to find a good balance of imagery. We have still to add and subtract, but I am happy with the main shell of the image so far.

Rachell Sumpter’s Pastels

Rachell Sumpter, Ghosts 2009

Rachell Sumpter, Islander 2009

Rachell Sumpter, Mothers Little Helper

I’ve just discovered the Richard Heller Gallery and I can’t keep my eyes off of the delicious art featured there. Rachell Sumpter uses mainly gouache and pastel on paper and I can’t believe the worlds she invokes with her techniques. The colors are reminiscent of aurora bourealis and her characters are warmly dressed eskimos or ghosts residing in these mysterious lands that actually look fairly warm themselves. I enjoy the juxtaposition.

My favorite up above are the ghosts with rainbow beards, on first look, I thought they were puking rainbow. They remind me of the old mystics from Dark Crystal achingly traveling on their last journey.  The last image I have added because, yes, I love that a baby is riding a rat.

3D Preparation

A Common Name 3D

I did a little vector art for my new graphic design brand, A Common Name. I kind of like the colors I used and all of the shapes layered over each other at this point. This isn’t the end result, but it’s fun to share a little weekend process.

Smitten, New Portfolio Piece

Smitten Final Image

Smitten Close Up

Smitten About Page

I just posted my final images of this project on Behance, but I wanted to follow up with a blog post (since I haven’t done one in a while). These are the final images used for the Smitten website. The background image was a hard one to get perfect, but fortunately we found an amazing image that looks its actual 3-dimensional style that it is. The last image I used was a little too glowing and not casting enough hard shadows.

This turned out quite nice, I’m not sure how much time this would have taken if I had just built the whole thing in photoshop rather than making custom paper art. Either way, I’d happily spend all of the hours cutting paper than creating fancy brushes hunched over a computer, even if it takes more time.

This website was worth it in so many ways—an awesome portfolio piece and I was paid in private yoga lessons. Portfolio and a new yoga practice? Thank you very much.

WITHOUT, A Short Film for Purchase

WITHOUT, Short Film Imagery

WITHOUT, Movie Titles Close Up

The holidays have slowed up my posts and my projects, everyone is on vacation or working half-time right now. Luckily, we received some great news today! A short indie film I worked on a couple years ago is now available on iTunes. The film is called Without and was written and directed by Gregory F. Tuzin and Brent Bishop. These two collaborators were excellent clients—they usually tell me their concept and then say, “Go for it!”. They give me free reign on design and let me explore as much as I want.

For Without, I worked with water colorist Beverly Tuzin to create the promotional poster. We selected a few screen shots and asked Beverly to water color the characters and background. The idea was to recreate the scene to really show the dry, arid, and sparse landscape the characters inhabited. After Beverly delivered, I incorporated a logo that I created using india ink and a cut out potato. I also used typefaces that I had printed out, redrawn, and scanned to create brand new typefaces that were now extremely distressed.

You can view the poster on the top left of the above images. The rest of the images are screen shots from the film and title sequence. The inked logo and the newly distressed fonts also appear in the horizontally moving title sequence of the film.

Support our artistic endeavors and purchase the film on iTunes! We are so excited to have the film at a convenient place to purchase and to share, so please direct your friends and family to the film as well.

Parlour Tricks and Toulouse Lautrec

Toulouse Lautrec Ads

Toulouse Lautrec Sketches

Last week I had the pleasure of spending a day in San Diego for a wonderful birthday woman. We spent the day time perusing museums in Balboa Park. There we found a wonderful exhibit of Toulouse Lautrec artwork at the San Diego Museum of Art. It was inspiring to revisit this master’s work as one of the greatest graphic designers and illustrators. He had such a unique style of drawing that wasn’t particularly attractive for his subjects but still sought after by many dancers and performers.

I’m incredibly attracted to what is implied in his drawings. He’s constantly skipping drawings eyeballs, just drawings the sockets, hands are incomplete and claw-like, dresses have no details, just outlines. All of these effects truly allow you to leave your own imagination to fill in the blanks. I also very much admire his use of typography on the prints, usually hand drawn and never intruding on the characters of the page.

This revisit and reminder of Toulouse Lautrec is a great way to rethink my typography and keep moving forward with my hand made approach. Lately, I feel my typography has gotten boring and soft after so many corporate positions, hopefully this will give me a jolt in a new direction.

“Smitten” Paper Design

I’m in the beginning design stages of a website for a new book called “Smitten”. My friends Ariel Kiley and Simone Kornfeld have written an insightful book about the “way of the brilliant flirt”. They had a few wonderful inspirations of places in New York that they loved and felt represented the feeling of their book. The Gramercy Park Hotel and the Kiki de Montparnasse New York store set the mood for me to hit the ground running with creativity.

The Kiki de Montparnasse store inspired me to create something luscious, with some dark, elegant, and rosy hues. I decided to hand-cut some paper into the lace effect. This is my first time doing this, so I chose a slightly simpler design than I’ve seen before for this treatment. When I started cutting it out, my filmmaker boyfriend walked by and exclaimed, “You’re going to cut all of that out?! I’m doing a time lapse.” And so he did…

The following is the silly video we came up with. The time lapse wasn’t the greatest for what I was doing (we plan on trying again on the next design I do) so we added some silly elements to help beef up the interest.

The final image is the effect used for the initial round of design on the website. I doubled the design over a rose colored sheet of paper and photographed it to create natural shadows.

“Smitten” Cut Paper Time Lapse from Julian Paige Smith on Vimeo.

"Smitten" Paper Cut Design

Sketch Motion Picture

Rudolph Sketch Process

A long while ago I started a large drawing in a sketch book, and I decided to document the process. I started documenting a little late, so I had to fake it with some photoshopping a few shots. I promised myself the sketch would fill the page and I definitely had a few hitches in the road where I had no idea where or how to continue. A few times I started a section using some inspiration I had found and I think those are the parts that do not fit the rest of the drawing as much. I’m glad I abandoned those thoughts but made sure to keep them on the page.

For me, this isn’t supposed to be a perfect drawing, it’s supposed to be an accomplishment of actually finishing. I’m very hard on myself and I tend to not even start projects, so this is part of a personal process to start and complete ideas, whether I like them or not or if I think they failed.

Perusing Napa Valley

Old Film Gel

Magic Lantern Ad

Magic Lanterns and Stereopticons Ad

Stereopticons and Magic Lanterns Ad

Metal "Puppet"

I just spent a short weekend in Napa Valley. While there, I went tasting at the Francis Ford Coppola Winery (now renamed to Rubicon Estates), one of my favorites. At the winery, there was a fantastic display of old machines, devices, and ads for animated movies. The first ever moving picture machine was called the “wheel of life” or the “zoopraxiscope“. This is where you would look through a slit in a wheel and watch a series of photos move quickly by to create that famous running horse. There were several of these wheels on display along with larger machines in which one person could view at a time. In one of these machines, the pictures flipped towards you and there was a slightly risque movie of a woman with a large feather. Gotta love old “porn”.

The images above are some of the images and ads on display at the winery. I’m so in love with the typography on the “magic lantern” ads—the layout, the multiple type faces, the accompanying illustrations—beautiful. The colored gel was a great specimen, as well as the metal figure I’m calling a “puppet”. It looks like it belongs in an old kids’ theater. Pardon the cheap iphone shots, I do think the cheap camera worked well with the gel.

Nathalie Djurberg, Pushing Boundaries


Nathalie Djurberg Images

I was reading a Times Fashion magazine and came across this incredible artist, Nathalie Djurberg. I hesitated adding her to my collection of inspiration because she’s a little out of the realm of what I’m working on—but she does relate as far as stop motion, which yes, I do plan on working with on my paper art.

Her twisted art is disturbing yet somehow still attractive. The characters are crudely made but really work with her usual subject matter, which are often chilling. Some videos touch subjects of rape, mutilation, death, destruction—all things that she feels she must create but cannot talk about. Watching the videos, I can’t help but feel she has some demons, yet the worlds she creates are incredibly cinematic and have beautiful production value. Something I hope to achieve along the way.

The Pleasure of Your Company

Erin and Adam's Wedding Invite

17th Century American Furniture Design

The week before I went on vacation I was jam packed with last minute projects, one of them being my best friend’s wedding invites. Of course I left this project to do at the last minute, but am so happy with the outcome.

The top design above is the final illustration we came up with. I had a really tough time getting some concept together for her, neither of us like cheesy and that’s all that wedding invites seem to be. I don’t think that this isn’t cheesy, but at least it’s not hearts and roses and pink and purple. I originally wanted to do a Day of the Dead sort of thing, you know, “til’ death do us part”. Unfortunately, that was a little too morbid for the bride-to-be. I’ll save that for someone else. I found this beautiful skull made of flowers and I couldn’t get away from it, so I thought maybe two lovebirds in the same fashion would suit them better. We liked the many meanings of birds—freedom, love, joy, good fortune. Erin found a tapestry with two birds she liked, so I used that as a base shape for the bird design, turning up the wings as if they were flying rather than sitting. I decided to keep each bird unique, just like Adam and Erin, awwwww.

The second image is a couch design I saw at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. I was pretty impressed with the similarity and thought it was a beautiful design so I wanted to share it.

Palling Around in Williamsburg, NY

"Mystic" - Art on Building

"Mythical Creature" - Building Art

Old Bird, New Pattern

Old Bird, New Pattern

Rust Pattern, Bedford Metro Stop

I’ve been traveling in New York the past 10 days and haven’t had much time for creative work. Alternatively, I’m experiencing plenty of creative inspiration from my surroundings. The fashion (it happened to be New York Fashion Week, lucky me), the graffiti, the grime and dirt, architecture, interior design, museums. It’s kind of like a system overload. I didn’t bring a fancy camera, but I snapped a few inspirations along the way. This post contains images found only in Brooklyn, just a few blocks from where I was staying. Definitely more to come.

Zombies-Polished Off

Jonah Ray, Media Page

Jonah Ray, Media Page, White

I’ve finally finished the photography for the final designs for Jonah Ray‘s website. In my last post, I mentioned, what? Eight zombies? Try 22. I definitely needed to fill up the space and show a slew of zombies coming towards the camera. I love the television sets—my very favorite detail is the Mystery Science Theater 3000 crew watching the largest image of Jonah. He’s a MST3K junky so I thought it would be a great detail.

I have created two versions that Greg photographed for me—a dark version and a white/light version. Unfortunately, the setup for the scene was not as perfect for the lighter version, but I still really like the effect. I can’t decide which I like better, so I decided to share both. Any opinions out there?