Who: Dan Ibarra and Michael Byzewski
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Website: Aesthetic Apparatus
If you’ve ever seen a book collection of rock posters, you’ve seen work by Aesthetic Apparatus. If you’ve ever opened up one of the design annuals and flipped through the Midwest or poster sections, you’re aware of how amazing their work is. And if you’ve gotten a paper crown at your local Burger King in the past few years, you’re wearing Aesthetic Apparatus. (Bonus: if you’ve ever wanted to learn to screenprint, see this.) These guys are everywhere, they are amazing, and they are well-decorated for it – Dan even got nominated for a Grammy, and though it was for a CD package design rather than his awesome drumming, it’s still nice to be nominated (or so I hear.)
I had the great fortune of working with Michael and Dan for a couple years at Planet Propaganda, back before they took their vow of poverty and started their own design shop. Funny and dedicated, passionate and hard-working, these guys have earned everything good that comes their way. It has been beyond amazing to watch their shop grow over the past
10 11 years, and I’m always proud to say “I know those guys!”
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Website: Pancake Pancake Pancake
There’s something frightening about even the cutest of Natasha’s girly drawings. I get the sense that they could turn on me or come to life or sneak into my nightmares or something. That’s probably why she’s so good at designing characters for Adventure Time – the characters she creates are full of life and danger, even when they are super cute. Her comics are steeped in that same sensibility, where cute characters have a dark role to play, or head off on crazy adventures with uncertain outcomes. And ZOMG they’re all so gorgeous! Maybe I’ll get Nat to draw my next 8×10 glossy headshot?
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Website: Ocular Invasion
I first knew Emory as “that quiet, shy intern in the corner” when I was working at Planet Propaganda in the early ’00s. I got reacquainted with him a few years later when he came out of his shell (digitally at least) and started posting one awesome illustration after another! One of his latest projects is the ambitious and entertaining An Exquisite Beast – a huge, continuous drawing made up of daily drawings that build off the edge of yesterday’s entry. Like the rest of his output, it’s full of fun.
Location: New York, NY
Website: JOE ALTERIO
I first came to know Joe Alterio when he invited me to help make illustrations of robots and monsters for his fundraising project, Robots & Monsters. The more I looked at his work, the more my jaw dropped, as I realized just how many different kinds of work he makes, and does so well with. He wields pen and ink, watercolor, panels, pixels and more with skill and aptitude for clients large and small. Don’t get in his way, ’cause he ain’t stoppin’.
Always with Honor
Who: Tyler and Elsa Lang
Location: Portland, OR
Website: Always with Honor
Always with Honor makes work that just works. You see their illustrations, and you just “get it.” That level of simplicity and immediate communication of the idea is one of the most difficult goals to achieve, but Tyler and Elsa seem to hit the mark every time. It seems they can take any complicated problem and distill it down to a potent graphic. If they were making moonshine, it would probably be strong enough to blind you.
Splash in a sense of wonder and a sense of humor, and that is how I was introduced to Always With Honor’s pithy pictures. I first saw the t-shirts in their shop linked from another blog, and I knew I liked these people. As I continued scrolling and clicking, I kept smiling to myself like the idiot I am, and I knew I had to meet them! I haven’t reached that goal yet, but fortunately, like a lot of my art crushes, they just live on the other side of the mountains from me, and I will make that drive very soon!
Location: Portland, OR
Anyone interested in comics, animated short stories, puzzles, and the slightly macabre already knows who Graham Annable is. With past clients like Chuck Jones, Nickelodeon, Gorge Lucas, and Disney, it’s no surprise his talents are well-known. The rough texture of his drawing tools barely hides his clean drawing style, informed by his long history in the world of animation. Graham’s creations show a lot of love for Edward Gorey and Charles Addams, and both his comic and suspenseful timing are homages to Alfred Hitchcock.
I loved Graham’s work from the first time I saw it. We have a number of mutual friends, but it wasn’t until I stayed with Graham at TCAF in 2010 that I got a chance to meet him. A sweet and kind Canadian, he clearly gets all of his emotional darkness out in his work. An A+ bro.
Location: Bowen Island, British Columbia, Canada
Website: Marian Bantjes
Marian Bantjes may be most widely known recently for her massive Saks Fifth Avenue “Want It” campaign that brought products to life in swirling flourishes of text and calligraphy. In the design world, her work is known for its amazing attention to detail and clever lettering and type design that makes simple words into works of art. Marian has worked her magic for such magazines as Print, Wired, Creative Review, Wallpaper, and others. Her collaborations with Stefan Sagmeister are also standouts from her portfolio.
I’m not sure which works of Marian’s I first saw (probably this issue of Print), but I know that I was immediately infatuated with them. When I attended a lecture she gave at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis in 2008, I was amazed to see just how much work she has made, and so consistently strong both conceptually and visually. You can more or less relive the experience I had by watching this video of the Walker lecture.
Location: Jersey City, NJ
Website: Ana Benaroya
There’s something joyously unashamed about Ana Benaroya’s work. It’s full of full lips and hair and tattoos and bulging muscles, and always lots of sexual tension. Even when they are not explicitly about sex, there’s almost always something bodily about the drawings, and her colors are loud and bright and unabashed. Every mark she makes draws you into her crazy, hormonally-charged, adrenaline-fueled world. I always feel energized after looking at Ana’s illustrations!
Kate Bingaman-Burt is best-known for the drawings she makes of the things she buys. Her painstaking scrutiny of her own purchases force you to take a few moments to consider your own. A simple idea that packs a whollop if you let it. That the drawings are so awesome helps ease the painful sting of self-recognition. But she doesn’t just draw her own purchases– she draws for things you can purchase as well! And if you want to make the argument more circular, in March of 2010, you can buy a whole book of the drawings of the things Kate has bought. (And you can buy them in zine form right now!)
In addition to all the great work she creates herself, Kate is a wildly popular educator. She is a wonderful advocate for her current and former students, first at Mississippi State University and now at Portland State University. Also, she and her husband (Clifton Burt) had to close the Public Design Center when they left Mississippi, but, and I quote, “plans are furiously being hatched for something new that is surely to involve the internet and all things rad.”
I’ve been a fan of Kate’s drawings for so long, I can’t ever remember not knowing about them. We’ve had a number of near-misses in Portland, but we’ll go out for a coffee or beer one of these days. Perhaps it will end up in one of her drawings?
Location: Baltimore, MD
Website: Samuel Bosma
Rich and bright and lush and tactile, Sam Bosma’s drawings jump off the page and start running circles around your world. Looking at his illustrations, you’d think he came from a world with just a little less gravity than the one the rest of us live in. For static images, it’s surprising how many things seem to float and glide and sparkle through his work. If it seems like I’m glossing over his color sense, it’s because I don’t know what I can say about it. It’s as if he’s got some extra mutant sensory organ for it that leaves me speechless. Next you’re going to point out his stunning black-and-white ink wash drawings. Give me a break! It all leaves me speechless, mostly because it is so hard to talk with my jaw on the floor.
Location: Portland, OR
Don’t call Stephan Britt’s style “retro.” It certainly has that old Golden Book feel to it, but he is working in the here-and-now, churning out gorgeous illustrations in his “doodle room” for such clients as Chronicle Books, Target, and eBay.
My earliest interaction with Stephan was when I came across one of his illustrations (almost ten years ago!), and I couldn’t figure out how he did it. I emailed him to ask, and to my amazement, he answered with encouragement to experiment and play and make textures. Over the years, I’ve collected not only S.Britt art, but some of his wife Maho’s prints as well. A dynamic duo of artmaking royalty. We’ve got a penciled-in appointment to visit each other’s studios should either of us ever be in each other’s town. Soon, I promise you!
Location: Portland, OR
Vera Brosgol is currently a storyboard artist at LAIKA, an animation studio in Portland. She most recently worked on the stop-motion feature film Coraline. She is also an occasional contributor to the Flight Anthology, published by Random House, and is currently completing a graphic novel for First Second Books, due to be released in Spring 2011.
Location: Austin, TX
Website: Will Bryant
Will “Mr. Fancy Pants” Bryant is a freelance designer and member of the Austin based collective Public School. He makes all manner of fun drawings, collages, and designs with clients such as Polyphonic Spree, Kitsune Noir, and Nike.
I started to notice Will’s work through mentions by Edition 3 artist, Kate Bingaman-Burt, who was one of Will’s professors at Mississippi State University, and when I saw this design, I was hooked. I think of Will as part of a new generation of intelligent, happy, internet-savvy, bootstrapping young designers and illustrators who make work because they want to and love to and need to, regardless of commercial purpose. His energy and attitude is infectious and inspiring.
Scott Campbell appears to be one of the most prolific artists around these days, with a mostly-daily comic strip, a steady stream of gallery shows (both solo and group), not to mention a full-time job at a video game company.
You may have seen Scott’s work in the comic collections, Flight or Hickee. Or perhaps you bought a print of his over at Tiny Showcase. Or maybe you saw his brilliant poster for King of Kong, that documentary about world Donkey Kong domination. Or maybe this is your first encounter, but I guarantee it won’t be your last. He’s that addictive.
Since discovering Scott’s work a few years ago, I have tried my best to see it all! It’s helpful that he is a generous blogger and now tweeter, so he lets us all know what he’s up to, complete with pictures and everything. And now if you’ll excuse me, he’s in London putting up yet another show, so I’m going to read up on his latest.
Location: Kansas City, MO
Website: Tad Carpenter
Tad Carpenter has been on fire lately! With six pieces featured in the newest Print Regional Design Annual, a bunch of work in this summer’s Gestalten book, Impressive (also featuring Cloudy Collection), clients like Ray-Ban, Chronicle Books, MySpace, Macy’s, Anorak Mag, Target, Kid Robot, John Mayer, Hallmark, and more, you probably already know his work. (But that’s no reason not to see it again.)
I love seeing what Tad is up to, and since he always seems to be busy, there is always more to see! Tad and I played internet phone tag for ages before he finally pinned me down for a super-fun show of prints last winter. I’m excited to return the favor with this latest Cloudy Collection edition.
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Website: Emily Carroll
Maybe I don’t get out enough, but Emily Carroll is the sweetest, friendliest person who draws dark, heart-wrenching, horrifying stories that I’ve met. Her intermittent web comics, almost more like online comic books, tell compact, tense, atmospheric stories that belong around a campfire on a cold autumn night. Her characters are always coifed and sharply dressed (as appropriate) and seem to time travel from the roaring twenties or Victorian England. But if their dress is stiff and formal, their blushing cheeks or wide, bright eyes are warm, welcoming, and charming. If her meteoric rise, complete with accolades and awards, is any guide, I’m not alone in saying that I’ll follow her characters wherever they lead me, even if (or especially when) they scare the bejesus out of me.
Location: Portland, OR
Website: Frank Chimero
As an illustrator, Frank is clean and direct. As a designer the same is true. He gets to the point. And as a writer and thinker about illustration, design, and life in general, he is one of the best in a generation. I hardly think it is possible for any young designer not to know who Frank is these days. Print named him one of 2010′s New Visual Artists to watch, but we were already watching. Thankfully he is writing his thoughts clearly and prolifically, so we can listen in on his process, and perhaps crib a few notes.
It is always a thrill to see friends’ work on a newsstand or poster, or really anywhere more public than their own website, but this was ridiculously great. I’ve been following and loving Frank’s work since I saw these illustrations he made, improvised inside the silhouettes of the states of the US. I have used the book of creative exercises he made to come up with better illustration concepts. And I finally got to meet him this summer, though I didn’t get a chance to interrogate – er, talk with him nearly long enough about his ideas. Like I said, thankfully he is writing it down for us.
Location: Baltimore, MD
Website: Kali Ciesemier
So cozy! There’s something about the composition and color and comfort built into Kali’s illustrations and comics that make you just want to curl up with a blanket and some tea. Her images are constructed from clean lines, smooth shapes, and a curious ability to sculpt space and depth from screen-print-like flat colors. I’d love to meet one of her characters on the street – I’m sure I’d feel compelled to buy them a coffee and ask them about their life, but more likely, they’d end up getting me to talk about mine, and I’d go home feeling warm and loved.
Location: Kansas City, Missouri
Maura’s “hyperdoodles” are a wonderful mish-mash of faces, critters, drips, dots, swirls and arrows. And don’t be surprised to find a robot or twelve peppered throughout her work – she has an admitted fondness for them in two or three dimensions. Her paintings deftly incorporate found images and old photos, lettering and symbolism, and of course more faces and doodles and robots. A fantastic mix of old and new.
I first became aware of Maura as a regular collector of our prints, and then in February 2010, we both participated in Vahalla Studio’s Show the Love print edition. When I got my set of the prints, I was blown away by a three-color version of one of Maura’s hyperdoodles. I’m going to need to find an excuse to go to Kansas City sometime so we can doodle in each others sketchbooks. (That’s not a metaphor. We’re both happily married. To other people. Sheesh!)
I first noticed Amy’s work through posts on BoingBoing several years ago. Now I see it everywhere! Amy’s paintings evoke the circus, dreamworlds, and a bygone vaudeville era, and as often as they land on canvas, the images also appear on the front of a ukulele or banjo. The scenes are filled with monkeys, cats, devils, and naked ladies, and always leave you feeling somewhat like a pervy voyeur, but not quite.
Amy’s recent solo show, DREAMGIRLS & UKES at Thinkspace Gallery in LA, ran February 13 through March 6, 2009. Her work was covered in the February 2009 issue Inked Magazine, and she just answered 20 questions for Juxtapoz.com.
Amy also has a long résumé of illustration work starting in 1991, with her pictures appearing in Rolling Stone, Esquire, Prevention, The Atlantic Monthly, ESPN Magazine, Forbes, GQ, The New York Times, Blab! and other national magazines. Her work has earned recognition from illustration annuals such as American Illustration and Communication Arts.
I began following Amy’s work through her Flickr account quite a while ago, and soon we began tweeting back and forth as well. Despite being in the thick of work for her solo show, Amy amazed me and agreed to join in on the inaugural set of Cloudy Collection prints.
Location: Brooklyn, NY
As you can probably tell from her website’s domain name, Jennifer Daniel has a sense of humor. Nobody is safe – from the oil industry to the Olympics, from dog shows to religion – everyone gets a barb. Spend enough time thumbing through her portfolio, and you’ll notice a distinctive love for bikes and for the internet, not to mention her stated love for unicorns. Her whip-smart work for the New York Times, Good Magazine, Time Magazine, The Morning News, Walrus Magazine, and more have earned her well-deserved recognition from such sources as Print’s 20 under 30 New Visual Artists and ADC’s Young Guns. Her skills and gumption and prolific work ethic will certainly keep her in the upper-echelon of world-class designers and illustrators – assuming all of her print clients don’t die off because of her and her contemporaries’ love for the internet.
I’m not even going to try to guess where I saw Jennifer’s work at first (okay, it was probably in The Morning News, if I had to guess) because her work really shows up everywhere. I am envious of her ability to maintain composure and her sense of humor in the face of such major clients, and covering such huge life-and-death issues as war, politics, relationships, and religion. To mix some metaphors, she’s got balls, and she isn’t afraid to throw them at you.
Location: Athens, Georgia
Website: Doing Fine
Eleanor’s drawings, paintings, comics, and everything else she makes have a certain quality that make you say, “DAMN! She’s good!” And no matter what she makes, you can see her curious mind at work, trying out this thought, experimenting with that idea, and discovering something else awesome about the world or relationships or herself or even you. She regularly participates in shows at Giant Robot, her comics have been in the wonderful Mome anthologies, and she has two comics for kids out: The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook, which she made with her talented husband Drew Weing; and Stinky, which earned a Theodore Seuss Geisel Honor in 2009.
I met Eleanor at SPX in 2009. I had one of those embarrassing experiences where I knew that I knew her name form somewhere, but I couldn’t place it or connect it with the art and comics while I was talking to her. Not long after I realized that I knew her name because I had just read and loved her book Stinky a week before. Duh. After realizing my mistake I quickly made another in thinking that I knew what kind of work she makes just because I had read Stinky. Eleanor’s work for children is wonderful and engaging and all the superlatives you can think up, but her paintings of hair and bodies and fruit and everything else are amazing on a whole different plane. I love everything she makes, and I hope I’ll get another chance to talk with her sometime. Only this time I will be able to strike the correct posture of awe.
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Website: King Trash
Oh! To be a gnome in Michael DeForge’s trash bin (analog or digital), and collect his discarded ideas. Michael keeps such a high standard for himself, that the things he casts off are still better than what most of the rest of us can come up with on a good day. It’s hard to find enough superlatives for his award-slurping LOSE series, his Spotting Deer masterpiece, and his seemingly endless supply of illustrations and comic contributions to various magazines both printed and online. Drippy and squishy, crisp and purposeful, textured and scratchy, full of smart references, odd juxtapositions, post-apocalyptic landscapes, and stupid gross-out jokes – he’s got it all, sometimes within inches in the same drawing. If there was a way to keep him on retainer, or to simply subscribe to everything he makes, I would (a) do it and (b) probably go broke trying to keep up.
Becky and Frank
Who: Becky Dreistadt and Frank Gibson
Location: Auckland, New Zealand
Website: Tiny Kitten Teeth
So much in the world these days is about the quickest way to crank out the next item, so we can move onto the next biggerbetterfastermore thing. Becky and Frank are no Luddites with their fantastic Tiny Kitten Teeth web comic, but they may be the only people out there painstakingly hand-painting each installment in gouache (as opposed to the more common digitally-scrawled-stick-figures-with-snarky-captions.) These paintings are gorgeous! And it’s no accident that they remind me of the old Little Golden Books we’ve been collecting for my daughter, with art by Gustaf Tenggren, Alice and Martin Provensen, and Mary Blair.
I had the great fortune of meeting Becky and Frank at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival this year. Despite falling ill due to their ridiculous comic tour schedule to promote their web comic and their fantastic Tigerbuttah book (printed and bound by the same folks who make the Little Golden Books – surprise!), they were out celebrating into the wee hours with the rest of us. Great people making great art! I can’t wait to see them again at the next conference I go to… I’m pretty sure they will be at all of them.
Eight Hour Day
Who: Katie Kirk and Nathan Strandberg
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Website: Eight Hour Day
Katie and Nathan are a husband-and-wife team who tackle any design problem that heads their way, from packaging to identity to websites and more. Katie even has a children’s book on the way. If their names and faces seem familiar, it’s because they were the cover models for the June 2010 issue of HOW magazine. EHD turned just five this year, but their work displays much more maturity. Old souls, them.
After I finished grad school and moved to the Twin Cities, I started introducing myself to every small design shop in the area. I met a ton of great people, and at Katie and Nathan’s studio I also got to meet Eli, their wonderful dog who is featured in Katie’s aforementioned children’s book. Warm and generous, these two (three) are an inspiration not just for their amazing, award-winning design work, but also for their spirit and outlook. I never saw a project of theirs I didn’t like!
Chris “Elio” Eliopoulos
Website: Elio House
Elio is a rapidly rising star of the ink and paper. With a children’s book on the way in ’09, a director credit on several animations for Yo Gabba Gabba!, and a webcomic on Top Shelf, Elio is making quite a name for himself! (just don’t confuse him with the lettering artist!)
I became familiar with Elio through Drawn!, and I immediately stared watching his Flickr pages like a hound, and then we started tweeting and emailing a bit as well. It’s a fully internet-enabled relationship so far. Though I wouldn’t recognize his face, I can spot an Elio illo from a mile away, and now you can too!
When we were kids, my two brothers and I used to spend hours upon hours drawing with each other. We created all sorts of faces and animals and beasts and monsters and entire, convoluted worlds. More often than not, we laid the foundation of our creations with creatures from an Ed Emberley drawing book.
If you draw for a living, or if you love characters designed from simple shapes, or if you were six years old once, you have likely seen one of Ed Emberley’s many how-to-draw books. They come in colors, they come in thumbprints, there are faces and trucks, and they even come in entire tiny worlds. Emberley has distilled drawing and design into a visual alphabet, and his step-by-step books show you how to create your chosen creature one simple scribble at a time.
And those are only his instructional books – Ed Emberley has plied his trade for many years, he’s made a lot of fantastic books (over 80!), and he’s still going strong. His work is well-decorated with awards and top-listings, including the 1968 Caldecott Medal for Drummer Hoff, which he wrote with his wife Barbara.
It is an incredible, indescribable honor to have the opportunity to make not just one but two original prints with Ed. His influence on artists either young or experienced (or both!) is multiplied by his many fans who have gone on to make more and more art, empowered by the simple fact that Ed Emberley taught them how to make a monster look awesome with just a few circles, lines, and dots. Thank you for the inspiration and the opportunity!
I won’t attempt to further describe the master’s work and influence – it all speaks for itself, and here is a video (with an intro by Caleb Neelon) where Ed Emberley speaks for himself:
Monster Parade with Ed Emberley (screen prints)
Monster Parade by Ed Emberley (letterpress)
With a name like “Emberley” it seems that it is hard not to be creative. Rebecca is no exception, and she has clearly inherited some of her parents’ drive to make great books for children. She has a lengthy resume of her own titles to her name, and she began building her catalog of books over 30 years ago. Her library continues to grow, and 2011 will see more new titles with Ed and Rebecca Emberley together on the cover, including Ten Little Beasties, arriving in August. Rebecca was a collaborator on several of Ed’s signature drawing books, and the pair’s recent non-drawing-book titles include The Red Hen and Chicken Little. Passing on the tradition, Rebecca has in turn made a book with her own daughter, Adrian.
I love books, I love drawing, and this Emberley business is the kind of family business I love!
Location: Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Website: Ray Fenwick
Ray Fenwick’s Hall of Best Knowledge comic slapped your eyeballs and tickled your synapses starting from its humble home in the pages of a Halifax, Nova Scotia, newspaper, all the way to its publication by Fantagraphics Books. His deadpan delivery will haunt your funnybone, and the ink from his mighty pen has stained the hearts of such clients as The New York Times, RandomHouse, Threadless, Blue Q, Fantagraphics Books, Tiny Showcase, Nickelodeon, and many more.
I was alerted to Ray’s presence on this Earth by this post on the Drawn! illustration blog (he’s popular over there!), and inasmuch as I now own some prints, a Threadless hoodsie, the HOBK book, and even an original drawing, my life has never been the same since.
Location: Carrboro, NC
Website: Bill Fick
Bill Fick is a self-described “linographer.” That is, he makes linoleum block prints. They are in-your-face, larger-than-life prints that invite you with humor, then challenge you with poignant subject matter. His Gitmo series is a favorite of mine.
I met Bill when he taught one of my graduate courses at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is a great printmaker and a great friend. Bill also participated in the Lions, Tigers, Bears, Etc. show I curated in 2006.
Bob Flynn’s awesome day job at FableVision is just the tip of the iceberg. His inking prowess – digital or traditional – is an inspiration to anyone who digs into his blog posts on the subject. In addition to his personal projects like Heeby Jeeby Comix (with Dan Moynihan, Chris Houghton, and David DeGrand), Nickelodeon tapped his bottomless skill base to draw Spongebob for its (sadly now-defunct) monthly magazine.
I started drooling over Bob’s gooey drippy doodles when John Martz posted a link to them on Drawn! I immediately bookmarked my brain to have him do a print for Cloudy Collection, and he easily exceeded all my expectations with his contribution. It’s good to know where the deepest wells of creativity are stashed!
Location: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Website: Matt Forsythe Illustration
Matt Forsythe’s mind is one of the most curious places to visit. His Ojingogo comic takes us many places – underwater, through deserts and forests, and who knows where else – and we meet all kinds of strange beasts along the way. In any context Matt’s expressive linework and just-enough-detail-but-not-too-much settings tell amazing, curious, and funny stories, whether it’s a single image or a series of borderless panels. And don’t miss his watercolor illustrations: simple and beautiful. I’m certainly not the only person who thinks so, either: scroll down to the quotes.
I fell hard for Matt’s work when I first started reading his Ojingogo comic online as he serialized it. I was always thrilled and awed and fascinated when something new appeared. Seeing the work all at once and in-print in its now-published form gives it an entirely new life. Though I’ve been an admirer of his work since I first visited Drawn! in 2005, and though I invited him to participate in our very first edition (he was pretty busy), I only met Matt for the first time at the 2010 Toronto Comic Arts Festival. I’m excited to read that he has started work on a new Ojingogo book, as well as a children’s book, and super-bonus-plus: a series of comics based on a trans-Siberian trip he made in 2003. I can’t wait!
Ray Frenden is a prolific draw-er of heads and faces in all manner of discomfort, anger, and menace. His portfolio is chock-full of zombies, monsters, demons, and other unseemly characters (not to mention the pinup ladies!), drawn for posters and t-shirts for clients such as Threadless, Van Halen, Burton Snowboards, Rome Snowboards, Faesthetic and others. Currently he’s working on some comic strips, and I shudder to imagine the subject matter.
I was first wowed by one of Ray’s videos of his drawing process. I love his crazy color combinations and his linework is so crisp and striking. Obviously, I am also a fan of his amazing lettering work, and all the better when he mixes his intricate illustrations with hand-lettering. I was floored to notice that he is completely self-taught! It just goes to show you, kids: don’t stop drawing, and you can save yourself a lot of art school bills!
Location: London, UK
Website: Tom Gauld
Tom Gauld draws like a modern-day Edward Gorey, his storytelling is just enough off-pace to keep you on your toes, and his sense of humor is deliciously dry and British. Frequently featuring robots, writers, knights, lists, and beasts, his comics are smart, rich, dark, textured, and lovely, not necessarily in that (or any) order. Each drawing is made with the humble pairing of pen and paper, but through the magic of the artist’s mind and hand, Gauld builds worlds, words and pictures that stick in your mind.
I fell hard for Tom’s comics when I read Hunter and Painter. I originally read it online, but once I realized I could get a hard copy of it, I started collecting that and all sorts of printed things from Tom’s shop. I had the opportunity to invite him to contribute to the Lions, Tigers, Bears, Etc. show I curated in 2006, and then had the honor of him accepting that invitation. It is wonderful to see all those little lines in-person!
Ghostshrimp / Pendleton Ward
Ghostshrimp (a.k.a. Dan James) is one of those illustrators where once you see his work, it is burned into your retinas so severely that you’ll never miss one of his drawings again. Calling his drawing style unique is an understatement – nobody draws like Ghostshrimp, which should keep him employed and unfireable forever. This stuff is amazing and awesome and all the other superlatives you can think of. Untouchable greatness, my friends. Untouchable.
Pendleton Ward, as if you don’t already know, is the creator of Cartoon Network’s algebraic! new show, Adventure Time. The pilot he made with Frederator Studios is hilarious and weird and amazing, and there’s nothing else like it. Lumping great, people. The show is nothing but enhanced by Pen’s wise decision to hire Ghostshrimp to help design backgrounds for the cartoon.
I stumbled onto Ghostshrimp’s fantastic The Octopi and the Ocean comic on my way out of the Giant Robot store in San Francisco several years ago, and it made me miss my bus. If I could, I would move into the backgrounds he draws for Pen’s Adventure Time. Instead I’ve bought everything he’s made with Tiny Showcase, and I’m thinking about wallpapering a closet with it all, so I can pretend I’m there anyway. (Bonus: if you are a fan of LOST and/or Ghostshrimp, you have to see this commission he drew for Dustin Harbin.)
Though I haven’t known about him for as long as I have Ghostshrimp, I got to meet Pen Ward at SPX in the fall of 2009. He was walking the floor, quietly and humbly, just looking at the art. I didn’t realize who he was when he stopped at my table and chuckled at a few of my offerings, so I was spared the awkward star-struck-ness. That came later when my tablemate told me who he was, and I gushed loudly across the crowded floor about how much I loved the show. And then again when some friends and I were drinking and drawing after the end of TCAF this spring, and someone sent Pen a drawing I’d done on top of some infographics, and it turned out my lewd scrawlings kind of looked like Pen’s comic character of himself. Oops.
Location: Madrid, Spain
Website: Cosas Mínimas (“Tiny Things”)
Blanca Gómez’s illustrations and designs are clean, simple, and full of character. Filled with geometric shapes, clean lines, subtle textures, and a pleasingly limited color palette, her portfolio is a joy to explore. She works on projects ranging from editorial commissions, interior design, stationery, books and advertising.
I started looking at Blanca’s work after I saw one of her prints in a store. I wrote down her name and was thrilled when I looked up her website and found a whole lot more great stuff. Looking at her work I think of everything from Alexander Girard to Yoshitomo Nara, and each little drawing gives me a little more of a smile. Her work is an inspiration to any illustrator hoping to clean up their style, but beware – that level of spot-on simplicity is harder than it looks. Something to aim for.
Location: Charlotte, NC
Dustin Harbin used to be best known as one of the organizers of Charlotte, NC’s, HeroesCon. Of course, that was before everyone realized he was an amazing artist himself. In addition to his fantastic illustration work, his comic strip recently went daily with diary comics, and the world is a better place for it.
I’d heard rumors about Dustin’s driving via another web comic. Fortunately when I was hanging out with him at SPX last year, his car had a flat tire. On a more brotherly note, Dustin (and Scott Campbell and Kate Beaton) took me under their collective wing for the weekend, and my first SPX experience was made because of it. Dustin’s wisecracks sounded gorgeous in his Carolina accent, and it’s even more fun to read his comics now, imagining that voice as narrator. If you ever get a chance to spend some time with this guy and/or his drawings, don’t miss it!
Julia Sonmi Heglund
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Website: Sonmi Sonmi
Julia’s illustrations astound and intrigue and fascinate. They are full of magic. Not a dark or devious kind of magic, more like they come out of a mystical place where strange and wonderful things happen without a need for explanation – they just are. And they are just awesome. A client list with places like The New York Times, MTV, Nike, Threadless.com, Timbuk2, and Faesthetic on it asserts that I am not the only one who thinks so.
Like those strange and wonderful images she makes, I don’t care when I first saw one of Julia’s drawings. I’m just glad that I know about them. Though I didn’t realize it, we both lived in Madison, WI, at the same time. If I had known, there is no way I would have missed out on a chance to sit in some boring meeting with her and watch her doodles emerge from her pen and onto her notebook. As it is, I’ll just have to try and catch her coattail as she makes it big in her new big-city home of LA. Go Sonmi go!
Dustin Hostetler (a.k.a. UPSO) uses intricate drawings made up of simple lines and sharp bursts of color to set you up and then blow you over. He puts his pens and pixels to work for places like Motorola, Converse, American Eagle, and Verizon, all the way over to Upper Playground, Burton, Kid Robot, and so many more. He recently parted ways with Threadless, but not before curating some amazing shirts into their Select Series. Dustin is also the creator of the amazing art zine, Faesthetic, currently in it’s twelfth gorgeous issue.
Though I have been a fan and collector of Faesthetic for ages, it was his solo show at Carrboro, NC, gallery Wootini where I first saw Dustin’s amazing work collected in one place. His gray-toned illustrations mixed with explosions of color is like dropping chocolate into peanut butter. Filled with eyes and hands and skulls and color, and this one sparrow sitting on a pile of rainbow-colored jewels, I instantly fell in love with his art.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Website: Meg Hunt
Meg Hunt is an amazing and generous illustrator, whose work has graced the pages of Time Out NY, Las Vegas Weekly, Nickelodeon magazine, Nick Jr. and many other national and international papers and magazines. She also created three wonderful illustrations for the Beasts! book by Jacob Covey at Fantagraphics: one for the first volume, another for the letterpress print set, and yet another for the traveling one-year anniversary print show.
I first became aware of Meg when she started the great illustration business tips blog, Trade Secrets. After falling head-over-heels for her portfolio, I was an instant fan-for-life. On Twitter, I probably reply to Meg more than anyone else. Sorry, that’s kind of creepy Meg. I’ll cut down a bit.
Linzie Hunter made a big splash recently with her series of illustrated spam email subject lines. While that project was a wonderful introduction to her work, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to all of her wonderful lettering work, she’s a fantastic illustrator, just out with her first children’s book, A Small Brown Dog with a Wet Pink Nose. She’s prolific, and if you get lost looking through all of her work, perhaps one of her maps will help.
Linzie gave me license to make up something about her for this bio, so I’m going to tell you two truths and a lie*:
1) Originally from Glasgow, Scotland, Linzie Hunter started her career as a scuba-adorned summer intern for the Loch Ness Monster, bringing Nessie lattes and cheeseburgers at her underwater lair. Despite the recent rumors that haggis was an English invention, Linzie’s former boss assures us through her latest intern that it’s just tripe.
2) As impressive as her work is, Linzie is just a puppet for the true artists, Milli and Vanilli. They can’t sing, but apparently they can draw.
3) Linzie gets a regular stipend form Hormel, the manufacturers of Spam Luncheon Meat.
* HINT: the lie is that any of this is true, though she was actually originally from Glasgow.
Location: Northfield, MN
Website: Made by David Huyck
I am David Huyck, and I am the proprietor of the Cloudy Collection and the instigator of this project. I am an illustrator, designer, artist, teacher, husband, father, and probably a few other things, not necessarily in the stated order. I’ve been a professional designer, illustrator, and web jockey since 1998, and I’ve been making art since before I can remember.
The Cloudy Collection is my way of acknowledging working artists who have had an influence on me and my work, while sharing our collaborations with the rest of the world at the same time. I hope you all have as much fun seeing the work as we do making it. Read more of my thoughts about the project.
In addition to his prolific self-published mini-comics, Tom K.’s comics regularly appear in the Fantagraphics anthology, Mome. Born in Poland before the fall of the Iron Curtain, Tom distills his worldly experiences into comics that often wander through dense internal worlds, exploring philosophical and metaphysical questions about the past and the future, and a search for Utopia. Or something like that — it’s truly fascinating stuff!
I met Tom at a small art expo at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. After that it seemed like I ran into him at every art opening I went to. We spoke frequently of going out drinking and drawing, but it never came to pass before I left Minnesota again. Instead, here we are making prints together!
Location: Salt Lake City, UT
Website: Adam Koford
I’ve loved Adam’s (a.k.a. ApeLad’s) work since I first saw his complete set of all 700 hoboes from John Hodgman’s book, The Areas of my Expertise back in 2007. Since then, I’ve fallen in love with his Laugh-Out-Loud Cats, his Woot Shirts, and pretty much all of his other drawing endeavors. It is truly disgusting how good he is at this.
Who: Ryan Meis and Sarah Labieniec
Location: San Francisco, CA
Website: Lab Partners
It’s rare and amazing to me when looking at an illustration that I think of as “colorful” to realize that it was made with a limited palette of just two or three colors. Looking through the portfolio of Lab Partners, it happens with each new piece! And if anyone tries to tell you that it is not possible to give digitally-drawn art a sense of character and life, I suggest you point them to this amazing accumulation of work that soundly defeats such notions. Bright and alive and, yes, colorful even with a limited color palette – LP is making distinctive, amazing art and illustration.
I’ve been a fan of Ryan and Sarah’s ever since I saw this great print (letterpress!) on another website. I hunted down more of their work, and I’ve been an enthusiastic fan ever since! And I can’t wait to see what they’re up to next!
Location: White River Junction, VT
Website: Sub Sub
Joe’s comics, illustrations, and screen prints are in a league of their own. He boldly experiments with any medium, and he toys with the visual rhythms of comic panels like a poet. The expressiveness of his characters’ faces is equalled only by the energy of his lines. Not to be outdone, his lettering holds its own as yet another character in everything from comics to posters to commissioned book covers. Finally, in his sketchbooks, not a scrap or corner is wasted space, and you can peek into the future if you look carefully enough. These raw materials don’t look all that raw, and it’s not difficult to notice a nascent idea on its way to a new illustration, drawing, or comic. Dense and alive and full of energetic tension, I often find myself jumping around when I look at new work from Joe – in all the best ways possible.
The Little Friends of Printmaking
Who: JW and Melissa Buchanan
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Website: The Little Friends of Printmaking
JW and Melissa are amazing artists who are masters of their craft, from design to drawing to brilliant tricks of transparent ink and layering in their screenprints. There is always a hidden gem or two or three that you don’t notice until you’ve stared at the print for a while, scooped your jaw up off the floor, taken a break to finish your beer and recover, then go back again for another viewing. The work is like the offspring of Richard Scarry, Charley Harper, Little Golden Books, Mad Magazine, and heaps of magic. They’ve been featured in design annuals, magazines like Juxtapoz, and blogs from here to next century, with clients big, clients small, and clients always a little bit awesomer after they’ve worked with the Little Friends.
I knew about JW and Melissa and their screenprints through Michael and Dan over at Aesthetic Apparatus, but it wasn’t until JW sat in on some projects at Planet Propaganda that I got to know them in-person. Sarcasm seems downright jolly after chatting with this hilarious pair for a while. Dark and ridiculous and passionate and caring, they pour themselves into their work, and it shows. I just wish I had more rooms in my house to hang their work.
Location: Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Website: Scott K. MacDonald
I first fell in love with Scott’s character drawings on his Flickr (check out These Dudes!) Then I was two-timing with his animations. I made it a love triangle when I saw the images from his Mike Tyson book (I still want one of those, Scott!) I’m sure the relationship needs counseling at this point, but I also know it won’t end here. Do yourself a favor and make a pass at some of Scott’s work.
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Website/blog: Robot Johnny
John Martz is the founding editor of the fantastic illustration blog, Drawn! His comics, illustrations, and lettering can be found all over the place, including the amazing comic he made by redrawing his mother’s entire high school yearbook, Excelsior 1968. He is currently working on a graphic novel for kids with cartoonist Zach Worton.
I've been e-stalking John ever since he first established Drawn!, and he participated in the Lions, Tigers, Bears, Etc. show I curated in 2006.
Location: Liège, Belgium
Vincent Mathy’s illustrations are full of color and character and joy. The pictures he makes are not simply there to support a story – they suggest an entirely alternate universe where animals can talk, light bulbs can dance, and everything is well-designed. I’m not the first to suggest that it would be amazing to crawl inside his drawings, and with a growing bibliography of books for children, it seems that French-speakers with a little imagination might be able to pull that off.
I first learned about Mathy’s work through Drawn! and I’ve been a huge fan of his illustrations ever since. After some digging, I learned that he is also an accomplished cartoonist who worked on a regular series of comics called Ludo. It looks fantastic, and along with all his children’s books, it may be reason enough for me to go out and learn a new language.
Location: San Diego, CA
Website: Phil McAndrew
Not only is Phil an awesome, energetic, ambitious artist, he is also one of the funniest people to hang out with. That sense of humor glows through each scratchy line he puts to paper. I picture his drafting table spattered with ink and watercolor paint, piled high with his prolific output. His warm and thoughtful personal demeanor don’t get in the way of him drawing something gooey, gross, or horrifying, but it will get him to apologize before sending you a link. No apologies are necessary for something so awesome.
Location: Chicago, IL
Website: Lauren Nassef
Lauren Nassef is a skilled wielder of pencils, pens, and the occasional marker. She has harnessed the powers of contour, hatching, texture, repetition, repetition, exaggeration, and hair. She also knows exactly how to make an unfinished drawing look “done.” Clients like Print Magazine, the New York Times, and the University of Chicago Press seem to enjoy the work as much as I do.
I was first introduced to Lauren through her amazingly long-sustained series of daily drawings. While those delightfully decontextualized drawings are my first and strongest love, it is also wonderful to see Lauren’s drawings alongside articles, on book jackets, and turned into maps. She has an eye for the quirky, and a shy sense of humor that always catches me off-guard. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll go drink my morning cup and see what drawing she’s made for today.
Location: Cambridge, MA
Website: Caleb Neelon Was Here
Whether you know him as SONIK or as Caleb will determine how you hear the label “writer” when applied to Neelon. If you walk past Caleb’s art on the street, you might call it graffiti, but the same painting might as easily have appeared on the hallways of your local children’s hospital (and if you live in Boston, it did!) He has shown his work indoors and out, all over the world, from Boston to China to Spain to Turkey and more. Looking at his work I think of Philip Guston, Trenton Doyle Hancock, or a Giacometti collaboration with Christo, not to mention a color palette like Maya Hayuk or Jen Stark.
And when you trade the paint brush and spray can for a pen and paper, his résumé is equally impressive: his words have graced the pages of Swindle, Print, Juxtapoz, and others. Recently he has combined his curatorial eye with his love for street art (and street-art-in-the-gallery) in his work on several books – three of them released in 2011: The History of American Graffiti, Art in the Streets, and Delusional, a history of the Jonathan Levine Gallery.
Regardless of how you know him or what you call him, Caleb Neelon’s (or SONIK’s, if you prefer) art and writing and art-that-is-writing and writing-that-is-art is fascinating, passionate, and just fun to look at.
Laura Park makes her authentically inky drawings for such great places like the late, great, The Drama magazine, Asthmatic Kitty Records, Chicago Reader, Willamette Weekly, Tiny Showcase, and the fantastic new project Picture Book Report (started by Cloudy Collection alum, Meg Hunt.)
I first learned of Laura’s awesome drawings when I saw her contribution to Julia Wertz‘s I Saw You comic collection inspired by craigslist missed connections posts. Since then I’ve been keeping a close eye on her Flickr stream, gushing over gems like her commissioned paintings, her Covered show painting, and OMG her lettering! Maybe I can convince her to hand-write me a letter?
Location: Nottingham, UK
Website: Luke Pearson Illustration & Comics
It’s just lines and shapes and colors, but... just wow. The things Luke Pearson is able to create with the same visual language as we all have available to us just boggles the mind. He clearly loves sitting down to build an image full of character (and characters), charm, humor, and intelligence. Not unlike other modern geniuses of the indie comics world, Luke is as adept with his panels and lettering as he is with he creatures and landscapes. His resume may as well include “graphic designer” as much as artist or cartoonist. The stories he tells through this medium are sophisticated, smart, and compelling for a broad audience – I won’t share Everything We Miss with her yet, but my three-year-old daughter and I have enjoyed reading his Hildafolk comic together easily more than twenty times.
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Website: Mike Perry Studio
Mike Perry is one of those artists you wish you could distill and purify into a dangerously potent pill or elixir. The investment would return a thousandfold when people started jonesing for another hit of pure creative energy. Instead, Perry displays what that hypothetical drug does to him in his studio every day. After generating copious amounts of work for the likes of the New York Times Magazine, Dwell Magazine, Microsoft Zune, and Urban Outfitters, not to mention the book of hand-drawn type he edited, and another one of repeating patterns (coincidence? I think not!), it’s inevitable that someone will take notice. Like, perhaps, all the awards and recognition he has gotten from the Art Directors Club, Print Magazine, Computer Arts Projects Magazine, and more.
Mike shows his work all over the world, including this past summer’s Giant Zine show at Portland’s (and Bwana Spoons’) Grass Hut gallery, which I saw, in-person, and drooled upon. This is unlike the time, two years ago, when I was teaching at MCAD, Mike’s alma mater, and he returned to give a talk, and I was sick, so I didn’t see him or the talk (but my students were enthusiastic.) I did watch every episode of Design By the Book, however, and got a little insight into his process, which as far as I can tell is simply to draw with more awesome than the next guy.
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Claire Robertson is an illustrator, a writer, a crafter, and an all-around generous creative person. Her blog is a constant source of wonderful links and inspirations, and she’s been at it consistently for over ten years now!
Of all the contributors to the Cloudy Collection, I think I’ve known about Claire’s work the longest. She illustrated the cover of a book written by Derek Powazek that inspired me not only to create my EnchantedCeiling photo project, but also to get myself back into making art and illustration (the contents inspired the website, the cover inspired the art-making.) I also started making plush toys because of her Month of Softies project, which got me into the Plush You! shows I’ve been doing for five years, and which also got me a spot in a book about making your own plush critters.
All that is to say, THANK YOU CLAIRE! You set the ball rolling for me almost ten years ago, even if you weren’t aware of it. It is a true honor to have Claire do a print with us!
Heather Ross is an illustrator, textile designer, and creative crafter working in New York. She has been working on a pile of children’s books recently, and a line of new girl’s surfboards will soon be graced with her drawings. Heather also runs sewing workshops related to her book, Weekend Sewing, during which you can make clothes and quilts out of one of her fabrics, or write a note to a friend on her stationery. Her patterns and drawings evoke the sea, childhood, and fairy tales for a variety of clients.
When I first saw one of Heather’s fabric designs, the only thing I could think about was being wrapped up in my favorite children’s stories. I grew up with a quilter for a mother, so the comfort of fabrics and patterns is instinctive for me. I also grew up on Lake Michigan, so her depictions of mermaids and boats make me long for the water from my land-locked home in Idaho. Wherever her work takes me, anyway, I’m happy to follow.
Julia Rothman is a prolific illustrator and pattern designer with a list of clients you’ve probably heard of. Places like the New York Times, Urban Outfitters, Details Magazine, and Chronicle Books. And along with her partners at the design firm Also, Julia helped build the entire website for Cartoon Brew, from logo to blog to an online store for vintage animation, and they revamped the popular schmancy-looking-stuff blog Design*Sponge. Julia also recently participated in Design by the Book, a project with the New York Public Library and Design*Sponge to make works based on books from the library’s archives, which resulted in the fabric used on these great pillows.
I first became familiar with Julia through her fantastic blog, Book by its Cover, where she highlights books she’s discovered and collected. After watching the videos from the Design by the Book project, I sought out this great tutorial on creating your own pattern repeats by hand, which I have used for my own purposes as well as for lessons in the classes I teach. Now that I recognize her style, I see her work on everything from housewares to websites to wallpaper (and I don’t mean computer desktops – I mean the wall of your house!) It’s a special honor for me to have Julia in this set because it was her pattern tutorial that gave me the idea for this theme in the first place!
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Blog: the disappearing treehouse
I once read that Souther Salazar’s favorite source of art supplies is the office supply aisle in the grocery store. Looking at his art, I can picture the process of creation, noodling around with anything and everything that he can put together to just make stuff. With just pencils, light bulbs, markers, and paint, Souther creates entire worlds in a simple sculpture, tiny collage, or enormous painting. The sense of joy and playfulness is intoxicating, and makes me want to step away from the keyboard and just go make stuff, too.
Souther has made comics, zines, comics about making zines, a children’s book, animations, and wonderful wonderful installations. As I type this, he is in New York preparing his third solo show at Jonathan Levine Gallery, opening Saturday, April 16th, 2011.
And if you want to hear him describe his beginnings, and how John Porcelino indirectly and directly gave him license to just make stuff, here is a wonderful 120-second interview he did for Friends We Love:
(okay, watch one more video from Friends We Love on Souther’s last solo show at Jonathan Levine. Then just go make stuff!)
Location: Lafayette, California
Website: Michael Slack Illustration
I always feel like a giddy 10 year old when I look at Michael’s art. Full of goop and splotches, texture and shadows, sticky and wet, his critters and scenery are all so full of life I feel like I’m full of sugar and caffeine as my eyes dart across the page or screen. As a fellow artist, curious about other artists’ processes, it’s fun to think of him crouched above the paper, smudging and smearing and flicking ink and paint at his drawings. It’s exciting to watch his bibliography grow, as it means there are more ways to gather his work on my bookshelf.
Who: Nick Butcher and Nadine Nakanishi
Location: Chicago, IL
Trying to introduce the work of Sonnenzimmer is something of a tricky assignment, so I’m going to let others do it for me. Though their work defies definition, Dan Ibarra of Aesthetic Apparatus made good inroads in the January 2009 issue of Step Magazine:
In the design community there seems to be a recent rebirth of borderline-orthodox modernism, and on the opposite end, an upsurge of chaotic abstraction. One embraces strict conceptual, formal thinking, the other embraces dada-esque unconscious proformal process... Sonnenzimmer is creating completely original work that really breathes new life into what is mostly a polarized design philosophy of concept vs. chaos.
Well-said, Dan! Also, like their prints, this fantastic video portrait of Sonnenzimmer says a lot without having to lay it all out.
Even though I was only recently introduced to the work of Nick and Nadine, I am instantly enamored. My own career dances around on the increasingly-smudged shared border between graphic design, illustration, capitol-A Art in academia, and pretty much any other excuse to put pencil to paper, and the work coming out of Sonnenzimmer’s studio seems to tie all of that together beautifully in each print they create. Decidedly handmade, with an ethereal color palette and a celebration of mark-making, design, and typography, these images are so different from everything else out there right now! Each image feels like a discovery after a successful experiment.
Location: Portland, OR
Website: Bwana Spoons
Bwana Spoons’ paintings have been leaping off the page and going 3-D! He has been cranking out one amazing hand-painted art figure after another. His painter’s palette deftly mixes candy colors with earth tones in startling ways, and his characters come to life because they seem to be coming out of the woods from all around you. He is so prolific, it seems like Bwana simply exhales new art!
I was introduced to Bwana Spoon’s work through the pages of Juxtapoz, and then I got to meet him when he had a solo show at Wootini when I was living in (North) Cackalacki. He engaged my river-scientist-wife and me in an engrossing conversation about the great outdoors and how to fix it. Later Bwana participated in the Lions, Tigers, Bears, Etc. show that I curated in 2006.
Bwana also runs the Grass Hut gallery and store in Portland, OR.
Location: Chatham, MA
Website: Bob Staake Studio
You’ve probably seen his children’s books. Maybe you’ve seen his cartoons. And I’m sure you’ve see Bob Staake’s New Yorker covers. Bob is notorious for insisting on using one of the earliest versions of Photoshop, and his feats of hardware maintenance must be epic to be able to run a Mac old enough to handle the program. But the art doesn’t lie! Photoshop, pencils, ink: all just tools. And in the hands of this master of illustration, who cares what he’s using to make his amazing work?
His clients certainly don’t care. While his website claims the list of those clients is too long to post, you can piece it together (or I have anyway…): American Express, Anheuser Busch, AOL Time Warner, AT&T, Barron’s, Blockbuster Video, Bloomsbury, Boston Globe, Cartoon Network, Chicago Tribune, Children’s Television Workshop, Christian Science Monitor, Coca-Cola, Coors, Disney, Fantagraphics, Foote Cone Belding, Forbes, General Mills, Hallmark Cards, HarperCollins, Hershey’s, Holiday Inn, Hostess, Kenner Toys, Klutz Press, Little Golden Books, Little, Brown, MAD Magazine, Mattel, McDonald’s, Miami Herald, MTV & Nickelodeon, National Football League, Nintendo, Parents, Penguin Putnam, Playboy, Ralston Purina, Random House, Scholastic, Simon + Schuster, Smart Money, Sony Music, Sports Illustrated For Kids, Sunkist, Target Stores, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, TIME, U.S. News + World Report, Viacom, Viking Children’s Books, Warner Books, and probably a lot more. Um, okay, that is a bit long to post.
I’ve been a fan of Bob’s work since I stumbled onto his website almost ten years ago. I always catch myself doing a giddy little double-take when I recognize another one of his books or illustrations. Not that I needed an excuse before, but now that I have a young daughter I don’t feel so guilty buying up a bunch of children’s books. My latest acquisition was a Little Golden Book Bob illustrated of the good old ABCs. While
my my daughter’s library will certainly swell along with his “Bobliography”, I’m especially excited to grow my collection of prints with a 4″x6″ letterpressed Bob Staake to hang on the wall.
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Website: King Mini
Sole employee of the King Mini International empire, Vincent Stall, a.k.a. King Mini has personally overseen the creation, production, and printing of practically every product in the vast KMI catalogue.
When Mr. Stall is not at the KMI operation center he can be found at Puny Entertainment, a new media company. There with a band of brothers and sisters, Puny has produced an amazing body of work in its short 3 year existence. Projects you may have seen or should see soon include animation, design, and programing for Yo Gabba Gabba! TV and web, Cat Williams, Big Bio as well as a roster of big brand clients.
When Puny moved its studio recently, the storefront still had the previous owner’s sign up, “LIENS BOOKSHOP.” After some anagramming, the creative geniuses at Puny dubbed their newly created gallery space at the front of their studio Pink Hobo. I could go on about all the awesome things that Puny is doing, but I’m going to run out of awesome words to describe how awesome they are. Dang, too late.
I met Vincent when I dropped by the Puny studios to show them my work a couple years ago. Vincent and his business partner Shad have been fantastic to me ever since, and it’s been amazing to see their little shop explode into its full-on glory. Along with Tom K., I kept running into Vincent whenever I went to art events while I still lived in the Twin Cities. Come to think of it, they might have been stalking me…
Location: Madison, WI
Dave Taylor is a frequently-awarded associate creative director at Planet Propaganda in Madison, WI. The stuff everyone is a fan of is his work for Gary Fisher Bikes, Design Madison, Wisconsin Film Festival, Intelligentsia Coffee, and – well, pretty much everything he touches turns to gold.
My favorite memories of working with Dave were our mid-day bike rides over to UW Madison’s Union Terrace, with a brief pause at the sandwich shop or taco cart. Of course, that’s not really working, but making stuff together was pretty great too. Dave is the first Cloudy Collection artist with whom I’ve collaborated before. If you ever get a chance to work with this guy, I promise it will make you a happier human being. (As long as you keep your laptop away from his stapler – you know what I’m saying, DT.)
Keep an eye out for his next collab with Streetwear brand Benny Gold and an OkayBro T-shirt drop in the near future.
Location: Hollywood, CA
Blog: Chewing Gum in Church
Steven Weissman (a.k.a. “Ribs”) is probably best-known for his Yikes! series, published by Fantagraphics. His crew of movie-monsters-as-children go on mundane adventures made extraordinary by the characters’ monster-ness. Part Li’l Rascals, part Peanuts, part “dang, I wish I’d thought of that!”, Weissman’s comic kids balance adult situations, childlike resolutions, and idiosyncratic spelling to rock my comic world. If you hadn’t guessed, I’m a total fan.
I’m pretty sure I own everything I could find that Steven has published, so I recently bought some original art and had one of those awesome “hey he’s a real person” moments that helped me get past my star-struck-ness, and I asked him to do a print with us. Thus continues the awesome!
Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Nate Williams is one of those artists whose work is all around you and you might not even know it! Some of his recent projects include the Denver bookmobile, some laptop skins, and a great bag for those purveyors of great stuff, Blue Q. He’s also done fabulous work for Urban Outfitters, his chalk drawings and wall art gussied up a Montreal design shop, and he decorated the streets of Val de Marne, France, for their Festival d’Oh!
I’ve been aware of Nate’s work for years now. Early on when I was trying to figure out what the heck I was doing, Nate stood out as a shining example of both a great illustrator, as well as a savvy entrepreneur. He is one of the most generous working artists I know of, with articles and blog posts that give other illustrators a leg up, either by passing on his hard-earned knowledge, or by posting a few great links to the next great thing you’ve done. Oh, and that’s the other big one: his fantastic Illustration Mundo site is one of the best illustrator inventories and free promotional sites out there for working artists.
And he does it all from the southern hemisphere! ¡Que bueno!
I made it all of two days from the time I first saw some of Steve’s work to acquiring one of the very first things he ever printed, a poster of Cat Rackham Gets Depression. I met him (and bought said poster) at SPX in 2009. I made it all the way to this year’s TCAF before seeing Steve again, and there he was with his very second* printed version of Cat Rackham. That can’t be coincidence, can it? If I promise to go see Steve more often, do you think he’ll print more Cat Rackham comics?
Steve acknowledges a certain amount of neurosis, at least in the comments he makes online and through his infrequent diary comics, but being a brilliant humorist, he grinds that grist into some of the funniest, most charming comics being made right now. There’s a lot to be said for keeping a sense of humor, but there’s a lot more to say when we get to consume that humor, manifest as all manner of ridiculous and silly and fun things.
*not technically true, but it makes for a better story, no?
Location: Emeryville, CA
Blog: Nate Wragg
Nate Wragg is a character designer for Pixar. Yes, that Pixar. Yes, yes he did design characters for Toy Story 3. And being a former hedgehog owner, I am glad to see Mr. Pricklepants in Nate’s portfolio, because I love Mr. Pricklepants, and, to be sure, I am thoroughly grateful for the opportunity to say “Mr. Pricklepants” three times in a single bio. He also worked on Ratatouille, and I am sure there is something he is working on now that he can’t tell us about yet, but which will also most certainly be amazing as well.
Scratchy and scruffy, dirty, dank, smoky, and scary. And Yeti. (Those are descriptors for Nate’s wonderful characters, not a new generation of the seven dwarfs.) Poke around a bit in Nate’s portfolio, and you’ll find an abundance of fantastic characters, from monsters to dinosaurs to aliens to great-looking sci-fi ladies (well, great-looking sci-fi everything), and with a color sense and dark and moody style that makes me think of Samurai Jack, The Triplets of Belleville, or Gris Grimly. Nate could put eyes on shredded potatoes and bring them to wonderful, vibrant life. And thank goodness, he did.
Location: Baltimore, MD
Website: Jaime Zollars
Jaime stopped at my table at SPX in 2009 to admire the first Cloudy Collection editions. Little did I know how talented my audience was. Jaime’s work is decidedly narrative in nature, and brings to mind both storybooks and the Juxtapoz/lowbrow art world. There is often something unsettling about her drawings, and the tiny details always draw you deeper into her created worlds. The work is so carefully crafted, and clearly the labor poured into each work is not insignificant. It’s an inspiring amount of focus, and a dauntingly high standard for anyone to hold themselves up to (especially her students at MICA!)