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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Oh hey, I’m actually working on non-corporate work during the day.
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.
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!
Jeez! Months and months ago I started this project; and each step has taken forever and/or I’ve procrastinated starting. I’m on the final step of building this piece—the books. I created the bookshelves about three months ago, the text about four months ago, the trees five months ago, and so on…
The Story of Emily in the Afterlife is a script that my friends Gregory Tuzin and Brent Bishop (now Bishop/Tuzin) have written. I’m designing perhaps an over-the-top design for their poster to help advertise the package. The final set-up will be 4′ x 6′ large, something Gregory will be setting up and lighting for ultimate effect. I’m still not going to share the sketch of the whole piece, so here is the latest small piece I’ve finally started to tackle.
The bookshelves above are made of foam core and the books are pieces of wood (usually used by architecture students) lined up and painted. These shelves will not be photographed this close up or with so much light, so the end product will appear to have more depth and show less flaws.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The above two images are raw shots of a typeface I’m building for my new design brand called, A Common Name. I’ve been physically building two different typefaces into 3-dimensional paper type. The plan is to place the letters onto complex surfaces to photograph. The end result would only feature one of the typefaces set in different locations—on grass, on a brick wall, in a river (oh yes, we’re going large scale too). I had so many typefaces in mind for this, even extremely round letters. Somehow these square/rectangle shapes appeal to me, when I lay them in any which way on a surface, they create amazing patterns and shapes (see above). I’m also happy with the possible juxtaposition of placing such rigid letters in natural settings.
A background on the name:
A Common Name comes from months of searching for a new business name and finding that nothing that pertains to me in the design world hasn’t already been used. Smith is THE most common name in the U.S. I cannot use it in any way, shape, or form because it’s already been done and used. I landed on A Common Name because of this problem. Many names have become common and so many design firms have “common” and regular used phrases. It’s hard to feel original, especially in the web world.
A Common Name will be a title for myself, for original design work, for a design firm. Everything has a common name, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t amazing.
The top three images are parts of our my process for the final round of design for Smitten.
The first image is a detail image of the cut paper. After the prototype design, I decided I needed to change a few things. The paper needed to be thicker (which took longer to cut), the thin lines of the logo needed to be thicker, and I needed to hit the black ink on the paper twice. This all helped to make a darker, more precise image to use.
The second image shows the set up of my favorite in-house photographer, Greg. He used a soft light box partially covered by a black board to emit less light and some running lights laid around the piece to create ambient light from the sides. Also, I had to increase the distance of the top cut piece with the bottom piece to help more light float around in between.
Because of Greg‘s excellent skills, I find myself with this last image that took about 5 minutes to retouch. Pretty fantastic. I really am working hard on these hand made pieces to make them as perfect as possible so that I barely have to touch them in post production. A success this time.
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.
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.
The books are flying, the flag is waving, Paris is now a city! This project has been long and difficult. How will that flag wave? How will those books flying properly? And how, oh how, will I ever get the episode to play, stop, pause and scrub the way I want?? All these burning questions I tried to avoid because of un-tread water.
I am not a talented programmer or a skilled animator, these are things I am working on slowly and painfully. I’m so happy with the way the flag turned out, a pseudo stop motion animation. I drew 20 different flags to get the flag to curl in the wind, placing a new image every 5 or so frames in flash. For this file, the pace is set to 24 frames per second, so by placing them frames apart, the flag will move more slowly than if I placed them right next to each other, frame to frame. With 20 flag images, the whole animation would have gone the full cycle in less than a second.
I thought I had to do another stop motion for the books, which I unsuccessfully tried. 15 new drawings of one book flap into the trash. Then, I went ahead and adjusted what I already had, pushing the motion further and making the book flap all the way down instead of stopping halfway. A million times better—at least my sister isn’t laughing at it anymore.
The longest, most painful thing was the programming of the episode player. Like I said, I’m not a skilled programmer, so I was consulting a flash book and the world wide web for the right kind of mp3 player. Hours and hours later, about 10 sound flash files in the can, I got this one working. Unfortunately, the compression settings are still a bit of a problem and the sound is not as crisp as we want yet; so hopefully we’ll figure that out today so we can post this thing! Also, check out the new music notes on the home page to stop and start the music.
I’ve been sick all week and somehow it’s worked out to being more productive. I guess when you’re bored, sitting in bed or on the couch watching cartoons, your brain has plenty room for something else.
I have some great process to share on my zombie project with Jonah Ray. As you might remember in my last post about this project, I feared that my illustrations were too goofy. You might say I know my client fairly well, the feedback was “feel free to get more graphic”. His suggested search led me to “the walking dead”, rather than “zombie”. I found plenty of photos of the walking dead’s faces, but not so much bodies…walking. Here’s wear Greg Tuzin and his new camera comes in. He suggests, “Let’s take photos of ourselves being zombies!” Brilliant!
The following is the process from our own photography to my sketches, back to Greg’s photography.
Adrian Merz is an award winning graphic designer from Germany. I have to say, he is quite what I would aim to be as a graphic designer. Merz has an incredible talent with type, collage, illustration, paper works, tactile arts—you name it. He touches all these mediums constantly when solving design communications problems. I’ve definitely done some myself with illustration and water color, and soon to come, more paper art. Eventually, I hope to be as graphic as Merz and his poster project above—working on it.
Punga is an animation and branding studio based in Buenos Aires. They come up with fun animations for the likes of MTV, Coca Cola, Nick Jr., and Chemical Brothers. Some of the work they do for Europe and S. America is so creative and out there, it makes we wish I didn’t live in states.