Thursday, October 10, 2013

Fifty Shades of Orange

This one is for the Philadelphia City Paper's Fall Book Quarterly Issue, which you can read at
For this piece, art director Reseca Peskin asked me to recreate one of those stereotypical romance novel covers where the voluptuous woman swoons against the shirtless man in some romantic location. Considering that the cover story is about fan fiction being written about Philadelphia Flyers players, the man being swooned for in this case is Philadelphia Flyers left wing Scott Hartnell.

I had a lot of fun finding various examples and references of the romance novels and discovering just how many of them have the exact same composition (seriously) For my initial sketches, I worked up some variations of the standard pose and placed the couple in a moonlit garden.

Once the first sketch was picked, I moved on to inking the final. I just switched to a new brand of ink and was extremely happy with how black my linework was on the paper. The previous ink I had been using was always turning out grey and not as opaque as I wanted.
In coloring the piece, I tried to make the orange of Hartnell's hair and Flyers jersey really stand out against the blues in the rest of the scene.

I'm really pleased with how the piece turned out and loved the text that Reseca and the folks at the City Paper did on the cover - it really nailed the romance novel look! Thanks to Reseca and the City Paper for the sweet job!


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

MacUser Interview

I was lucky enough to recently be chosen as the featured artist in the September issue of MacUser magazine. Art director Camille Neilson contacted me with a great questionnaire about myself, my work, and the role technology plays in my work. And since it's a British magazine, I got to use the "favourite" and "colour" spellings!

1. What was your first Mac? 
My first Mac was white 13" MacBook. I bought it in 2006 right before I left for college in New York City. It somehow lasted me for over five years until it was tragically struck down by a rogue fireplace screen.

2. What is the current Mac you are using? 
I'm currently using a 13" MacBook Pro from late 2011.

3. What equipment do you use apart from your Mac (periferals etc)?
I do most of my illustration work as ink drawings on Stonehenge watercolor paper. I use a scanner to bring the drawings into Photoshop where I can separate and manipulate the linework. My Wacom Bamboo tablet is incredibly useful once I begin to work on pieces digitally. I've had this tablet between six and seven years now and I'm dreading the day that it dies on me.

4. What is your favourite current software programme and what was the first programme you used?
My favourite programme would have to be Photoshop. I don't think a day goes by that I don't use it. I'm also a big fan of GarageBand. Even though it's fairly limited and I know I should be using Logic by now, I've been totally satisfied with some of the songs I've been able to create for my music and animation project The Least of Creatures.
The first programme I used must have been this game my sister and I loved that was called Jill of the Jungle. It was this great sidescrolling game where you would climb trees, swing on vines, collect keys and apples, and fight monsters.

5. Can you offer any tips for success?
Some of the best bit of advice I can offer is to find a balance in your career between taking yourself and your work very seriously and the ability to have fun with it. I feel like one can very easily get bogged down in the monotony of their work and completely miss out on the learning experiences that it can offer. What has really helped me is giving myself assignments and projects to keep busy. By constantly working and practicing, you maintain an excitement about getting to make art.
Another thing that I think is extremely helpful is being part of the community that you want to be in. As arduous as things like Facebook and Twitter can be at times, they're a great way to keep in touch with the people in your field that you admire and you want to work with. I have learned so much from being in contact with other illustrators and discovered that it's a friendly and supportive community.

6. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was a kid, I definitely knew I wanted to be an artist. I didn't know in exactly what capacity, whether it was comic books or animation, but I just couldn't imagine doing anything but art for the rest of my life. The one exception might be paleontology. I was completely obsessed with dinosaurs. I'm pretty sure I made the right choice though.

7. How did you get your first big break? 
I believe it was the spring of 2011 and I had been out of school for a little over a year. I was living in Brooklyn and barely scraping by on whatever jobs I could get my hands on. Then one day I got a message from an art director from the New York Observer. She had come across my work on Twitter and thought I might be right for a spot she had coming up. It was through that first real published illustration that I was able to get my foot in the door and start to learn how to work in the business.

8. What or who are your influences and inspiration?
A lot of my influences were instructors I had while I was at the School of Visual Arts. I was lucky enough to have teachers like Yuko Shimizu, Steve Brodner, Thomas Woodruff, David Soman, and John Ruggeri. Each one helped me grow tremendously as an artist.
I've also been exposed to an incredible number of illustrators who are just outrageously talented and constantly impress me. I adore the work of Frank Stockton, Tomer Hanuka, Sam Bosma, Kali Ciesemier, Jillian Tamaki, Joel Kimmel, Alex Fine, Thomas Pitilli, and PJ McQuade. I could go on and on as there's a wealth of great talent out there.
Another big inspiration for me, as both an illustrator and storyboard artist, is the work on cinematographers in film. I'm an absolute film geek and am constantly watching movies. I'm trying to study the way that films are composed and are able tell the story visually. Some of my favorites are Vilmos Zsigmond, Roger Deakins, Janusz Kaminski, Robert Elswit, and Conrad Hall.

9. What mistakes have you learned from?
I probably learned the most from the time after college where I was taking on absolutely anything and everything I could just to make rent. I got myself in over my head more time than I'd like to admit. I would scour Craigslist for any art-related jobs, whether it be a logo design, creating flyers, drawings for someone's children book, or images for tee shirts. It was unfulfilling and frankly debasing. Somehow, I managed to pull through and learn what I was capable of and more importantly what exactly I wanted to do as an artist.

10. What's your ideal project?
Because of my movie obsession, I would absolutely love to do illustrated movie posters. I've been a huge admirer of the work artists have been doing for Mondo. It's also been great to see more exhibits at places like like the Bottleneck Gallery, Hero Complex Gallery, or Gallery1988 with all of these incredible artists with a passion for pop culture. And if it ever happens I get to poster work, I certainly wouldn't mind doing anything having to do with Star Wars…

11. Tell us something good...
“To live will be an awfully big adventure.”

12. What's your favourite gadget and why?
I have to say my iPhone. Ever since my girlfriend convinced me that I needed to upgrade from my old BlackBerry, I've been so happy. It's just a wonderful tool for research, keeping in contact with clients, social media, and taking reference photos. It's unfortunately also fantastic for procrastinating. Bit of a double-edged sword.

Talk us through your work.

Revenge Story
This was a promotional image I created as a sort of still from a film that I wanted to see. In this case, it was a combination of inspiration from Cormac McCarthy's books and Terrence Malick's Days of Heaven (which I believe is the most aesthetically beautiful film ever made) Although inking the piece was tedious, as well as eventually separating the linework in Photoshop, I ended up liking the process. It was a fun challenge to tell the story I was envisioning.

Better Than Goofy Golf
This image was created for a show at the Bottleneck Gallery in Brooklyn, New York called Where Is My Mind? The piece is based on one of my favorite films Close Encounters of the Third Kind. This one was strange for me as it's the first illustration I've done from start to finish in Photoshop.  This allowed for me to get the level of extreme detail and accuracy I wanted in parts like the the grill of the truck or stalks of grass. While it was a great exercise for me, I don't plan on continuing to work strictly digital. I love inking too much.

Grenada Invasion
This was an illustration for the Village Voice's Fall 2012 Education Supplement. The art director wanted a scene of absolute mayhem as medical students from New York City colleges and the offshore school of St. George's battled one another. Even though I dread having to draw crowd scenes, this one was ridiculously fun as I had free rein to go as insane and over-the-top as I wanted. I enjoyed coming up with all of the different tools and weapons that the medical students would have at their disposal and use against one another. I also found that this piece gave me an valid reason to use some of my blood spatter brushes in Photoshop.

Beasts of the Southern Wild
This was a personal piece I did because I had been chomping at the bit to draw an animal as unique as the auroch. I also wanted to try and capture the strength in the magnetic little Quvenzhané Wallis as Hushpuppy. I did the auroch and Hushpuppy as separate drawings so I could adjust their scale and position once I started working digitally. When the piece came into Photoshop, I settled on a simple, earthy color palette and focused all attention on getting the two characters right. One of my favorite elements in the piece is a layer of thin pencil lines overlaid on the auroch's skin to convey the rough texture of the fur.

Father Vs. Son
A personal piece I did for fun. I am absolutely obsessed with Star Wars and have been throughout my entire life. With this piece, I wanted to depict an alternate angle of sorts of the climatic confrontation scene in The Empire Strikes Back. I gathered as many reference images as I could in order to very accurately depict the set, props, and costumes in the scene. While inking, I drew Luke as a separate image so that I could freely move him around in the composition once I began working digitally.

Thanks again Camille!


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

It's Arrested Development

Here's a new set of portraits I did of everyone's favorite TV family...the Bluths! This project has been in the works for a long time now. After a hiatus in which I took on quite a bit of storyboard work as well as moved out of my apartment, I finally managed to sit down and finish all 9 portraits.
Before the fourth season (which was okay) aired, I re-watched the first three seasons. I think this is the third or fourth time I've watched those seasons through. It's just complete and utter comedy gold. So when I came up with a Brady Bunch-esque arrangement of the Bluth family, I decided to depict them in their heyday before the fourth season. In this big family portrait, we've got:

George Sr. (Jeffrey Tambor) with his prisonmade yarmulke
Lucille (Jessica Walter) with her martini and not-so-subtle wink
Buster (Tony Hale)
Gob (Will Arnett) presumably in the midst of dancing to "The Final Countdown"
Michael (Jason Bateman)
Lindsay (Portia de Rossi)
Maeby (Alia Shawkat)
George Michael (Michael Cera) who is admiring Maeby
And last but not least, Tobias (David Cross) who just blue himself.

I had fun trying to use a limited color palette. I felt like it helped tie them all together.
The piece is now for sale at my Society6 Shop at
It's available as a print from 8x8" all the way up to 28x28" It can also be purchased as a framed print as well as a stretched canvas print.

I've also recently uploaded some older work to the store. The pieces "Crash Landing" "Good Ol' Fashioned Revenge Story" "Space Oddity" and "Spectator's Sport" are now available as prints,
Check them all out at


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

City Guide 2013

Here's a new piece I did for the Philadelphia City Paper's City Guide 2013. The City Guide is the City Paper's annual publication for introducing residents both old and new to a potentially richer experience in the City of Brotherly Love with venues, restaurants, neighborhoods, and events. You can peruse the entire issue at
Art director Reseca Peskin contacted me with the idea of drawing Philadelphia's Benjamin Franklin Bridge along with the city skyline behind it.
I sketched up a couple of ideas that would fit the bridge and skyline into the cover's layout. Right from the start, I wanted to do my first sketch. Luckily, Reseca and the folks at the City Paper agreed and let me go for it.
With the go-ahead, I started gathering a whole lot of reference images. Since this piece was specifically for people in Philadelphia, I was determined to get all of the details just right. I know I'd be peeved if someone got my hometown wrong, so I really didn't want to disappoint.

Detail - Skyline
Although I was initially a bit intimidated by the architectural aspects of the drawing (despite the genetic predisposition possibly passed on to me by my dad the architect) I ended up really enjoying inking this piece. I especially enjoyed it because I got through a whole bunch of episodes of This American Life.
In order to get that detail I wanted, I did the piece as two separate drawings. One was just the foreground with the bridge and its base and the other drawing was of the skyline, which I then shrunk down to the appropriate size in Photoshop. 
The issue just came out and I'm incredible happy with how it turned out.

Thanks to Reseca and the folks at the City Paper for a great gig!


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Star Wars Sale!

So I'm in the process of moving from my apartment and wanted to clear out some of my old Star Wars ink drawings I did back in 2011.
Here are all of the pieces that are currently available.
Email me for details!

"Artoo" - 5x7" Framed - $40

"Threepio" - 5x7" Matted & Framed - $50

"Sidious" - 5x7" Framed - $40

"Shut Down All the Garbage Mashers on the Detention Level!" - 5x7" Framed - $40 

May the Force be with you!


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Miami Mercenaries

Here are a set of three spot illustrations I did for the Miami New Times (they also appear in New Times Broward-Palm Beach) They accompanied a fascinating article (which I highly recommend that you read HERE) about the prevalence of private security companies in Florida. So many of these companies set up in the Sunshine State because of it's proximity to dangerous (aka profitable) countries like Mexico, Central America, Colombia, and Venezuela.
Art director Miche Ratto contacted me about the pieces, wanting three spots of specific "scenes" described in the article. Instead of full color spots, she suggested black and white line drawings, referencing the drawings that I did for Alex Fine's awesome Hairy Baltimore book back in 2011.

The first scene is of a training exercise that former British soldier and Miami-based mercenary Andrew "Orlando" Wilson ran with the Mexican military. Soldiers were submitted to simulated torture, being hung over a makeshift latrine and waterboarded.

The second references the expereiences of John Walbridge Jr, a Vietnam veteran. As a member of the Green Berets in Vietnam, his unit was known for ambushing POW camps and escorting rescued POWs across borders. Walbridge went on to found OSSI, a very successful private security company based in Miami.

The last image is of a mercenary soldier from Hamed Wardak's very controversial private security company NCL Holdings guarding a cargo truck in Afghanistan.
Although researching all of the weapons made me nervous that the NSA was going to crack down on me, I had a blast working on these drawings. Without having to think about color, I really let myself get invested in the drawing.

Thanks again for a great gig, Miche!


Friday, July 12, 2013

Better Than Goofy Golf

Here's a new piece called "Better Than Goofy Golf" that I did for the new show at the Bottleneck Gallery, Where Is My Mind?
I chose to do a piece based on Spielberg's classic Close Encounters of the Third Kind because, besides my Spielberg obsession, it's a marvelous movie and is a prime example of a director at his peak of ambition and creativity. 

Because it's such a visually iconic movie, I wanted to do one of those well-known moments while staying away from Devils Tower and the arrival of the Sky Harbor at the end. I wanted to show the initial moment in which the aliens make contact with Neary in his truck that sets off his obsession throughout the story.

What was especially fun for me was getting all of the details right in the truck. I found out (via the Internet Movie Cars Database) that Roy drives a 1975 Ford F-250 for his job at Indiana Dept. of Water & Power. I dove into research and found some great images of everything from the grill to the side mirrors to the chrome details on the side. Unlike most of my work, I did this one entirely in Photoshop. I'm not sure if that's a direction I'll stick with, as I just love inking too much, but I feel like it was a great exercise for me.
The show is running at the Bottleneck Gallery at 60 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY 11249 from Friday July 12th through the 26th.  A portion of the proceeds from the show will be donated to Teach For America. 
Work from the show is for sale online HERE

"Better Than Goofy Golf" is available as a 13x19" limited edition giclee print through the Bottleneck Gallery at
Printed 300 gsm fine art rag.


Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Boy Who Lived

Okay, it's finally done. Finito. It's a wrap. The Harry Potter franchise poster project is complete.
For some reason, this one for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone has been the one that caused me the most trouble from the beginning. I don't know what it exactly is that's made it so difficult. Maybe it's that the main conflict/defining moment from the film, which is something I've generally focused on in the top section of these posters, is simply not that big of a deal in the film. Most of the running time is  spent introducing and building the world.
My first run at Sorcerer's Stone was based around the showdown between Harry and Quirrell/Voldemort in the chamber where the Mirror of Erised is kept. Although I liked the imagery of Lily and James Potter in the mirror and what that means to Harry, I felt everything surrounding it was a bit boring.

Snapshot of Harry and the Mirror of Erised on their own
So after abandoning that idea, I decided to focus on a different important moment: when Harry is sorted into Gryffindor by the Sorting Hat. It's in this moment that Harry's fate for the next seven years is essentially decided.
Rather than crowd the Great Hall scene with all of the students at their House tables or the professors at their table at the back wall, I made it so that Harry was like the only person in the world in that moment. I've loved the look of the Great Hall set from the very first film onwards and was very excited to draw it.

Detail - Harry and the Sorting Hat

With this one done, the complete series of posters has been compiled into one big image...all eight films from Sorcerer's Stone to Deathly Hallows Part 2! In this image, it's especially clear how Harry is growing up through each poster.

I'm terribly pleased with the way that the whole series has turned out. It was a great exercise in style as well as a commitment to an extended project. Thanks for sticking with me throughout this whole series!


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

2013 Writing Contest

Here's some work I did recently for the Philadelphia City Paper, who I always enjoy working with. This time, AD Reseca Peskin contacted me to do the cover as well as an illustration inside the issue for their annual Writing Contest issue. The winning fiction story, which you can read here, is about a woman who works as a casino card dealer. When her child dies, she and her husband take a trip to New Orleans to help get their mind off of their loss.
Reseca had the idea for the cover of a black voodoo pin, which is used to relieve pain, pushed through the suicide king playing card. As for the illustration inside the issue, she had the idea of an airplane made out of playing cards.
When I began sketching, I went through several variations just to push the ideas.

Cover sketches

Plane sketches
We wound up combining the normal king face and my more gruesome skull king into one and going with the plane covered in the elements from the card rather than made out of cards.
I had a great time working on both pieces in all of their great detail.


Thanks again to Reseca for a great gig!


Monday, May 13, 2013

The Battle of Hogwarts

Here's the poster for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 and I think it might be my favorite of this poster series thus far. Or at least tied with Chamber.
Wonderfully directed by David Yates, this movie is such a satisfying conclusion to the franchise. It's swift and doesn't waste a second away from the story. Although that ends up leaving out some key parts from the book. its a solid, emotional, and impressive film as well as a great bookend to the films.
So when it came to the poster, I decided to pare down and concentrate solely on the battle between Harry and Voldemort in the Hogwarts courtyard.

Detail - Voldemort 
Hogwarts  has been beautifully captured in the films since day one (and I loved depicting it before on Prisoner) so I really wanted it dominate the image on top. I feel like it really drives home the point that Hogwarts is Harry's true home and it is under attack. Simple as that.

And with this one, I've got seven out of the eight posters done. Now time to go back to the very beginning with Sorcerer's Stone. I originally started Sorcerer's after Chamber, but was having trouble with what direction to take it. So I shelved it. That way, I could tackle the other movies that I simply enjoy more and get a more definite idea of what I was doing with these posters. Anyway, look for it soon!


P.S. Here's one of my favorite songs from the film score by Alexandre Desplat.

Friday, May 10, 2013

I've Just Had An Apostrophe

Hook is my favorite (non-Star Wars) movie, as has already been documented. That being said, when Joe from the Bottleneck Gallery asked me to participate in their next group show, I Love You Man, an ode to bromance, I thought of Hook and Smee right away.

I just adore every frame of this movie and this scene between Hook and Smee is a standout favorite. There's a great rapport between veteran actors Dustin Hoffman and Bob Hoskins and they are clearly having fun with their characters. From Hook's childish narcissism to Smee's idiot savant idea, they're an oddly perfect match for one another.


So to show their bromance, I picked the specific moment where Smee is using his earwax to tweak Hook's mustache. Such a moment could only happen between true brosephs.

The show is running at the Bottleneck Gallery at 60 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY 11249 from Friday May 10th until the 26th.  Given the quality of their past shows, I Love You Man should be filled with great work by some ridiculously talented artists. A portion of the proceeds from the show will be donated to the World Wildlife Fund. Sales online for work from the show begin at noon on Saturday May 11th at

The piece is available as a 10x18" limited edition giclee print through the Bottleneck Gallery at Printed 300 gsm fine art rag.


Monday, May 6, 2013

The Silver Doe

Here's my poster for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. Other than Prisoner of Azkaban, this is probably my favorite of the HP films. Directed by David Yates, the film is essentially the calm before the storm, before the final showdowns at the Battle of Hogwarts. It's surprisingly mature and emotionally rich, while still providing impressive action beats.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione go on the run and try to finish Dumbledore's work in destroying the Horcruxes. Meanwhile, Voldemort grows stronger and gains power and influence across the wizarding world.

Detail - Patronus
Front and center is the silver doe patronus that leads Harry to the sword of Gryffindor underneath the ice. The patronus makes for a great image and is pretty beautiful considering who sent the doe to help Harry.

With this poster, I'm 3/4 of the way done with six out of the eight films. Next up is the Deathly Hallows Part 2, which I'm tremendously excited about, before I go back and knock out Sorcerer's Stone.


Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Cave

Here's my poster for film six of the Harry Potter franchise, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince! The sixth book is probably my favorite of the series and I feel the film, directed by David Yates, does an admirable job adapting it. Naturally, a lot has to be left by the wayside in order to make it a digestible film. While there are parts of the book that are sadly missing and changed, I think that the streamlining of the plot to focus primarily on Harry was for the most part very smart.
At the top of the poster, we see the cave where Harry and Dumbledore go to seek out a Horcrux that contains a part of Voldemort's soul. Swarming them from both sides are the Inferi, which are dead bodies that have been reanimated by a dark wizard to do their bidding.

Detail - Inferi
Well that's five down and three to go on this series! I'm very excited to do both posters for the two Deathly Hallows films. Or I at least feel that way based on my sketches. We'll see if I feel differently once it comes time to do the finished versions.