Friday, September 4, 2009

Tower Records

From 1986 to 1990 I was the display artist at Tower Records in the University District of Seattle. Back in the day, life at night was a blur of concerts, clubs and band practices, but days were filled with the spray paint, foamcore and X-Acto blades of my small studio in the store basement.
Good times.

One of my early windows was for R.E.M.'s Document album. The panels and graphics here are all painted 1" Foamular cut with a hot wire and hung with fishing line. I liked using "real" props like tree branches when I could. I don't know what they had to do with the album but they seemed to work.

Most of the construction for freestanding displays were made from laminated sheets of foamcore. Except for the photos or posters, everything was usually hand cut and painted. Sometimes after spraying paint all day I'd blow my nose and different colors would come out.

Displays for Green River and Mother Love Bone led to the job of creating the lettering sculpture on the cover of the first Pearl Jam record. Jeff Ament remembered my work when they were concepting the cover and gave me a call. Looking at the Green River board I was wondering why I didn't use thick foam instead of flat foamcore for the lettering, then I remembered. People walking upstairs would always bump into stuff in the stairwell and knock the letters off.

I was a big Pixies fan and I worshipped the work of Vaughan Oliver and Nigel Grierson at 4AD. I coated this board with black paint and then drizzled and rubbed solvents over the top to give it a marbled texture. The dissoved areas created sepia tones similar to the ones on the Surfer Rosa cover.
One of the few I actually took home.

Because the window space at the store was huge, I rarely devoted the entire thing to one album. But there was a big push by Capitol for Heart's Bad Animals and I figured out a way to fill the whole thing with crumpled butcher paper. Sometimes the simplest solution was the best. My pal Astrid was the Capitol rep at the time and she probably gave me a stack of promo CDs to do this. Windows often went to the highest bidder... haha.

This Queensryche display was on the wall for like a year and a half. I tended to leave local artists up as long as I could. The images on the board were done using a projector to sketch, then hand paint.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Ella Poster Puzzles illustrations

I did these illustrations of Ella, Belinda and Tiki as part of the Poster Puzzles game on the Ella site. You can play the game by going to the Fun Stuff section here.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Vintage SI spots

I recently dug up some of the illustration work I did when I began working at Smashing Ideas in 2000. The very first project I worked on was a collaboration with the lovely and talented Ms. Jessica Barnes for a company called Safe Harbor. I created a series of retro-looking spots in Flash that were used throughout the piece.

Another client I worked with back in the day was Post Cereals. We did a lot of games and activities for their Postopia website early on. These spots are from one of the first games we did for them, although I can't remember the name of it. Something to do with treasure, looks like.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Starbucks training manual

I just finished doing a series of 35 or so spot illustrations for Starbucks. They'll be part of a new barista training manual due out later this year. I was provided with reference snapshots of each of the objects, which I used for color sampling, etc. I was asked at one point whether I was using Photoshop filters to achieve the paint effects (I wasn't). The illustrations were authored in Corel Painter X using the charcoal and blender tools on a rough french watercolor paper surface. 

On a few of the images I patched photo elements into the drawings and used a grainy blender to 'painterize' and marry the patch to the drawing. On the warming oven illustration below, for instance, the control panel was originally a photo element that was added and blended to match the rest of the drawing. 

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Ella website

In 2005 I collaborated with Smashing Ideas to produce a companion site for the Ella books. To visit the site, click here.

I created original artwork for the site environments and some of the non-animated props. Animated objects were re-drawn in Flash by studio animators Laura Tulio (intro sequence), Jason Medisky (Ella) and Doug Gordon (props, rollovers). I was concerned at first that the charcoal renderings wouldn't mesh well with the flatter vector artwork, but in the end it felt like everything hung together pretty well. A huge shout-out to Smashing Ideas and Steve Jackson for investing so much time and energy to the site!

Ella is currently in development for television by The Cookie Jar Group. Which is very cool, but since a lot of properties are developed but never actually make it to the screen Carmela and I are keeping our optimism on the cautious side. We've been encouraged by the episode synopses, which seem very clever and cute, and we've been told we should see concept artwork soon!