blog – Teaessare Illustration & Design Drawing lines since 1974 Fri, 07 Feb 2014 13:33:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Superman Digital Painting. Finally. Sat, 18 May 2013 14:21:24 +0000 In 2009 I posted an old sketch of an elderly Superman, stating my hopes to get around to painting it “very soon”. Apparently by very soon I meant four years later. Sometimes time is my my Kryptonite.

So here he is. A Superman, ravaged not by Lex Luthor or General Zod but by the super villain that is time.

Old Superman Digital Painting

This image was digitally painted in Photoshop using a tablet. I’ve wanted to attempt a more painterly effect, and feel I’m headed in the right direction. The process and outcome feels and looks the way it did in my days of brush and canvas work, so I’m pleased overall.

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Creating a Michael Jackson – E.T. Photo-Op Standee Fri, 05 Apr 2013 17:23:09 +0000 In 1982 Michael Jackson released E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, a storybook album read by the King of Pop himself. Undoubtedly an interesting piece of pop ephemera, it included a poster of the pop sensation with the alien and has become a somewhat collectible item.

Michael Jackson and E.T.
The folks at Redscroll Records are proudly displaying this poster in their store and have even adopted the duo as unofficial mascot team. Once while visiting the store and expressing my love for the image’s kitschy glory with Rick and Josh, the owners of Redscroll, one of them mentioned wanting to create a photo-op standee where customers could put their faces in a hole to become the King of Pop or the Extra Terrestrial. Assuming they were joking, I kind of laughed it off. They assured me that they were very serious about the project. They would use it for record fairs and store promo events as a fun attraction much like you’d find at a carnival or amusement park, and asked if I was up for the job. I accepted, adding that it was the type of project I was born for.

Here’s a step by step of how I put it all together.

Step 1: I began with a line drawing of the poster image adding in a forest background and a lower portions of the two figures.
Michael Jackson E.T. Line Drawing
Step 2: Next, I needed to create a way to transfer the image onto the surface I’d be painting on. Ideally, an opaque projector could have been used to achieve this, but to keep costs down I opted to print out the image scaled to the appropriate size on 8.5 x 11 sheets of paper which were taped together like a huge puzzle and set over carbon transfer paper to be traced onto the wood. Apparently this step is irresistible to cats.

Michael Jackson, E.T. and Cat

Step 3: In an effort to create a sturdy piece, I decided that to frame it all out with 1×3 boards. A fine excuse to break out the power tools.

Boards and Tools

Standee Frame

Step 4: Next, I secured the main surface to the frame and transferred my illustration using carbon transfer paper as mentioned in step two.

Unpainted Standee

Step 5: Next, I attacked the boards with acrylic paint and paint markers.

Michael Jackson and E.T. Painting

Step 6:
Next, I needed to cut out the face holes for people to be able to stick their own faces through. For this I fired up the jigsaw.

Michael Jackson E.T. Standee Cutout

Step 7: I wanted to give this standee some flexibility allowing it to be utilized by one or two people. Meaning you and a friend could become Michael Jackson and E.T. respectively. Or you could take a photo alone with the other character face in place. For this feature I attached the cutout faces to hinged latching doors that could be opened or closed as needed. The final touches were to sand and repaint the edges of the jigsaw cuts to avoid face splinters and treated the entire standee with a weatherproofing sealant.

Standee Face Doors
Michael Jackson and E.T.

Despite the inside looking like a public humiliation device from days of the Puritans, here it is in use by a brave Redscroll Records customer.

Michael Jackson E.T. Standee in Use

This was one of my favorite projects to work on to date. I love its nostalgic effect, scale and functionality. Also, it’s rare that I get to use a jigsaw. When its owners came to claim it, I must admit I felt tinge of sadness in letting it go.

In a curious instance of synchronicity, while taking a break from the project for a weekend, I took a trip to the New York Comic Con where I met E.T. in person, and he happened to be wearing Michael Jackson’s rhinestone glove. I returned home to finish the standee knowing that this was a sign confirming my first claim, that I was born for this project.

Teaessare Meets E.T.
I leave you with Michael Jackson singing “Someone in the Dark” from the E.T. the Extra Terrestrial storybook album.

Be good.

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It’s Not Delivery, It’s Nightmare Pizza Thu, 13 Sep 2012 14:41:51 +0000 Here’s a project that never happened. After you’ve read this, forget that you have and proceed as normal.

Commissioned by Asbestos Records, Treephort’s Nightmare Pizza packaging was intended to be a CD sleeve emulating a takeout  pizza box. Here’s what I illustrated for the release.Nightmare Pizza CD Packaging Design

The cover featured a Rat Fink inspired  nightmare-version of the ubiquitous stereotype that is the North American pizza box chef. Being a child of the ’80s, weaned on Garbage Pail Kids, Wacky Packages and Fangoria Magazine, I can say this project flowed from me with ease. Illustrating the  gross-out and somewhat dangerous pizza toppings for the disk face awakened a dormant adolescent in me and gave him full control of the drawing tablet. Unfortunately, like a pizza delivery called in by pranksters, this pie has gone unclaimed (see what I did there).

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My Best Al Hirschfeld Impersonation Thu, 06 Sep 2012 14:46:38 +0000 Franz Nicolay Frank Turner Vinyl Cover Art

From the record releasing engine that is Asbestos Records comes the inaugural EP of its Double Exposure series, in which two musicians or bands pay tribute to a third musician or band. In this first volume, multi-istrumentalist and composer Franz Nicolay and folk/punk singer-songwriter Frank Turner cover the songs of the prolific playwright and composer, Noël Coward. Once again, the nice folks at Asbestos Records asked me to help with the record sleeve illustration and design. The proposed idea for the cover illustration was to emulate the Al Hirschfeld caricature illustrations that are synonymous with Broadway and musical theater, paying tribute to Noël Coward’s expansive career.

So, while Franz Nicolay and Frank Turner would be covering Noël Coward I’d be covering Al Hirschfeld.

Al Hirshfeld by Al HirshfeldSelf Portrait by Al Hirschfeld

What would Al Hirshfeld do? I immersed myself in Hirschfeld’s caricatures in preparation. I needed to know how he might draw a guitar, an accordion, or a pork pie hat. He was a brilliant artist, able to convey so much information, movement, and personality using minimal strokes. It became clear that I’d need to resist some of my approaches and techniques while attempting those of a master far greater than I. The more I researched, the more I felt the pen I was trying to wield was much too good for my hand.

At times, my attempt to draw like Al Hirschfeld felt very much like forging a signature. The pen stroke is a bit more labored and without the natural ease of its original hand. Much like a musician’s cover of a song, the cover is rarely as good as the original, and should never attempt to better the original. The best an artist can hope for is to contribute their own personality to the work. With any luck it will be seen for what it is, a humble tribute to a master.

I’m pleased with the final illustration and layout above, which is a nod to Noël Coward’s A Special Event LP which was illustrated by Al Hirschfeld.

Noel Coward by Al HirshfeldNoël Coward, A Special Event LP Cover by Al Hirschfeld

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Squirrels I Have Known Tue, 21 Aug 2012 15:19:51 +0000 I like squirrels. I can relate to their paranoid nervous energy. I certainly don’t mind when they get at the birdseed or stale bread that I’ve left out for the birds. I figure, if you’re going to set out to feed one animal group, why discriminate.

Coincidentally, I’ve had the chance to draw the twitchy little beasts for a number of past projects, most of which feature the Redscroll Records, red squirrel mascot.

Here’s the red squirrel giving a mini Santa a lift in a flyer promoting this year’s Blackout at Sunrise sale.

Redscroll Blackout Poster Illustration

Here he is behaving more squirrel-like in a flyer for Redscroll’s 5th anniversary sale.

Redscroll 5th Anniversary Squirrel

And here he is in a promotional sticker/t-shirt design for the store.

Redscroll Records, Redsquirrel Mascot

Lastly is this surreal cover art which was commissioned by a musician who calls himself The Emotron for a split EP with Mose Giganticus. Here we have a giant squirrel dining on the heads of The Emotron and Mose Giganticus, with a tall glass of milk before a portrait of Kurt Cobain. The concept was explained to me at the time of commission, but I’ve since forgotten. Unfortunately the EP, named For Squirrels, was never released.

The Emotron and Mose Gicanticus, For Squirrels

I have a feeling that there are more squirrels in my future. My only concern is that I get typecast as “that squirrel drawing guy”.

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Bad Tomato, Good Music Fri, 03 Aug 2012 13:58:39 +0000 In 2009 I was contacted by Doug Slawin, a musician looking for art for an album he was working on with a collective musicians under the name Pale White Moon. Two things attracted me to his project. First, the music being represented was unlike anything I’d created art for in the past. His project was a mostly instrumental endeavor, self described as chamber music, which drew upon the talents of a range of local musicians. The second lure was the concept behind album, which was to be titled Call of the Wolf Peach, with each song being named after varieties of Tomato. Doug started by presenting me with a neatly typed information outlining some stranger archaic legends about the tomato.

In the middle ages, the plant was associated with belladonna, a poisonous nightshade sometimes used to dilate a woman’s pupils in an effort to enhance her beauty and as a hallucinogen. Some folklore also credits the fruit with being an instrument of witches, used to conjure werewolves. This folklore must have influenced the tomato’s scientific name, Lycopersicum esculentum, which translates to edible wolf peach. Some legend even purports the tomato to be the forbidden fruit that led to the Adam and Eve’s eviction from Paradise. Who knew the tomato had such a checkered past?

So the goal was to illustrate belladonna, the beautiful woman, in flight luring wolves to the edge of a quiet village with her forbidden fruit. In this project I opted for a bit of a departure from my regular outlined style to something a bit more painterly, with the illustration spanning the front and back of a digi-pack cover.

Pale White Moon, Call of the Wolf Peach CD Art

I’m pleased with the CD illustration and package design and hope it’s an adequate representation of the music contained within. Of all the musicians that I’ve had the opportunity to work with, Pale White Moon is among my favorites. It is thoughtful talented music, crafted with great care. Since its inception, Pale White Moon has enjoyed some impressive successes, having their music featured on an episode of the television version of This American Life, as well as in the documentary LaPorte, Indiana.

Here’s a video clip of Pale White Moon on This American Life.

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Oh Snap! Thu, 19 Jul 2012 15:15:24 +0000 Oh snap is right! The first new blog post in two years. In that time I started full-time work at a job that bit into my freelance schedule, left that job for one that allows for more freelance time, quit smoking, lost 50 pounds, watched every episode of Community, hung out with my wife and cats, read some books, and aged two years. Now that you’re up to speed, we can move on.

My intent with this blog has been to highlight some projects that have crossed my desk. Hopefully, I can get back to that on a regular basis. In the meantime, I have some backlogged work to share.

One of my recent favorites is a cover for an album by Honeycreeper called Oh Snap! The task was to depict an old school hip hop robot carrying a boombox, with the album title in a Yo! MTV Raps speech bubble.

Honeycreeper - Oh Snap CD

It’s projects like this that make me love what I do. It features nostalgic pop culture references, old school hip hop, and a robot wearing a Kangol and shell toe Adidas with fat laces. How could I not be thrilled?

Every once in a while, I like to sneak a little inside joke or secret into my work. In this one, the sound wave in the robot’s visor is an actual two-second sound wave clip of the early hip hop classic “Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugarhill Gang. I couldn’t resist.

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Cooking Skulls & Bacon on Top Chef Sat, 31 Jul 2010 16:34:00 +0000 This week while catching up on the culinary competition that is Bravo’s Top Chef, I was surprised to see one of my illustrations catching some screen time. Contestant Andrea Curto-Randazzo was sporting a t-shirt emblazoned with the skull and cross-bacon logo that I designed for Skulls & Bacon.

Television is a fine way to shut off the brain and escape from the real world for a while. Yet here was a collision between my real world and the television world. A briefly surreal moment in which I felt a bit proud. I had birthed this skull and cross-bacon design, sent it off alone into the world to pleasantly find that not only was he doing well, but the little guy had landed himself a spot on prime time television. I can only hope that his star keeps rising and that if he should reach the top that he doesn’t forget where he came from. I’m rooting for you buddy.

Unfortunately, Andrea was voted off of Top Chef in the episode. Thankfully, contestants are not judged on their fashion sense. I was able to get in touch with Andrea, and thanked her for sporting the shirt and for an entertaining run on Top Chef. Not to worry, Andrea is undoubtedly a culinary talent and will do fine back in the real world. She and her husband Frank own the Talula Restaurant & Bar in Miami beach, Florida

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Bark at the Moon Fri, 19 Mar 2010 22:38:00 +0000 Last July, I was commissioned for the fun task of illustrating a zombie T-shirt design for The Terrors, a punk band from Scotland. Tina, guitarist for the Terrors had found herself in an additional project, called The Cemetery Girls, and once again I was commissioned to come up with something spooky for their T-shirts. I aimed to put together an image reminiscent of classic punk rock as, in my opinion, the band has an honest retro sound. Here’s what I came up with.

Cemetery Girls

So give The Cemetery Girls a listen and buy a T-Shirt why don’t you?

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Out of Hibernation Wed, 17 Mar 2010 23:00:00 +0000 Crazy. I’ve been missing in action since January. I blame the New England winter.With spring starting to come around my winter malaise beginning to wear off,  I’m to getting a the tickle in my brain and fingertips that means I should get back to updating this one way conversation of mine.

I’ll begin by sharing all twelve illustrations from my show, Teaessare Can Read. Revisiting these moments was truly a pleasure in that I have a sense of homesickness when I finish a book that I truly love. This project enabled to revisit these settings for a bit longer. A couple may be a bit suggestive and one even contains nudie bits, so don’t say I didn’t warn you. Enjoy.

If you haven’t yet, I recommend the stories above as ones well worth reading.

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