A new shop is now open for business, offering t-shirts, tote bags, mouse pads and more featuring characters from my “Steampunk Monkey Nation,” “World War Monkey” and “Literary Pets” series. Choose from a list of fun shirt colors or liven up your home decor with a General Persnickeybritches coaster for your drink. To see more, visit:
All you need to express your feelings for any critical situation.
Not sure how to respond? Let the Monkey Decider do it for you!
An avalanche of 1.25 inch pinback buttons have hit the ChetArt Etsy shop.
John Martz has the great ability to express a fresh feeling with his whimsical style and color palette. His subtle humor and flair for caricature practically jumps off the page. Above is a recent piece of John’s based on the Douglas Adams book “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe” that’s showcased on the Picture Book Report site. He’s also the man behind the incredibly popular cartoon and illustration blog Drawn! I tip my hat to him for the great support he’s shown to the illustration community as well as for his numerous mentions of my work over the years.
I’ve referenced Norman Saunders in a couple of interviews I’ve given in the past as an early art influence. My first connection to his artwork was the Batman trading cards released in 1966, which I carefully and completely collected (only to have them purged during a family move.) I also was able to do some trading for a handful of the Mars Attacks cards that were a bit before my time but never managed to own a full set of the originals. Norman’s work was so unique to me as a child, because he was offering up fantasy and superhero subjects as beautifully rich paintings. And the subject matter! Martians burning people alive and giant robots crushing cities and people. Tame stuff these days, but very thrilling to my young eyes back then.
I was approached recently to create a cover for issue #3 of the popular “Steampunk Tales“ collection of stories. Advertised as the first ever electronic pulp fiction magazine published exclusively on iPhone and iPod touch.
Borrowing from the flavor of one of the ongoing stories “The Mask of Tezcatlipoca” by G.D. Falksen, I worked up a tight sketch from some thumbnail explorations and included a font choice for the magazine title. Once approved, I proceeded to create the finish, using Corel’s Painter software. The pencil sketch was scanned and I started with black line work mixed with some scratchboard treatments around the face and grass. All the line work behind the figure was selected with the magic wand tool and I substituted the black with greens and browns to soften the background. Color was than added, below the line work layer and a floral texture was added to the vest. The final step was adding a variety of textures over the entire area with beige and sepia colors to “age” its look and dull down the colors. I used thin line strokes along the left “magazine spine,” the edges and the corners to emulate some dog ears and stress.
Tish Brewer and Shannon Phillips are the creative geniuses that make up The Center for Art Conservation, as well as Paper Works, a.k.a. Paper Nerds. The goals of the Center for Art Conservation are to “specialize in the treatment of works of art on paper, prints, maps, posters, paper ephemera and manuscripts, as well as related materials such as parchment.” Their studio is located in a renovated loft in Exposition Park, near downtown Dallas. They each have amassed an enormous wealth of education and training in their area of expertise. In conjunction with their work on high profile works of art and ephemera, they offer a wide range of workshops that delve into creating fun and creative projects. Past classes have focused on gocco printing, paper marbling, bookbinding techniques and paper ornaments, just to name a few. Their conservation services are highly recommended. Also, if you’re in the Dallas area and looking for some fun and creative learning, be sure to sign up for a future class with them.
Moises Braga creates figures and faces that are wonderfully appealing. His work is a rich blend of reality and caricature, heavier on the exaggeration side, which makes for a satisfying personal interpretation of people and their expressions. He lists his current employment at O2 Filmes in Sao Paulo.
Back in late December I was greeted by a super sized order from my Etsy shop for a large variety of prints. All monkeys. I noticed that the buyer was Ben Chestnut, one of the co-founders of the Atlanta based company Mailchimp. Additionally I was proud to learn that he planned to pass them out as Christmas presents to his company’s employees. Monkey like!
A few weeks passed and then I was contacted by Mailchimp’s video impresario extraordinaire Joshua Rosenbaum with details of a project they thought would be just right for me. And how! The job was for a 12 foot by 40 foot long mural banner. This artwork was to be used for Mailchimp’s presence along the front of a building across from the convention center in downtown Austin for the annual South by Southwest conference. It would serve as a very large announcement to the world of some of their “Automagic” services. Their art direction was simple and straightforward: Invent a whimsical environment with a Rube Goldberg sprinkling of silly devices, add in some monkeys, Steampunk flavor to taste and… a unicorn. The resulting sketch composition was greeted with happy chimp screams. Working with Joshua and receiving input from their meetings to work out the details for the finished image was a true pleasure. The 500MB+ digital file was delivered to a large format vinyl wrap printing company and the site installation went up yesterday.
The art is also the centerpiece of the new “Automagical” landing page, replete with clanky, bubbling soundtrack. (shiny!) In addition, Mailchimp worked out a sponsorship with Austin’s Intercontinental Hotel so that for the duration of the event the hotel key cards will be a special edition ChetArt card.
And the mural was designated as an official Gowalla point of interest:
Discover more Steampunk Monkey Business by visiting:
There’s a fantastic shop here in Dallas by the name of “We Are 1976.” They are set uniquely apart from 99% of the retail stores in the area by offering a wonderfully uncommon blend of artist made goods, books, art and toys. In addition, the owners Vynsie, Jully and Derek host a variety of workshops with artists that teach a range of techniques, from learning bookbinding structures, screen printing and paper sculptures, just to name a few. Be sure and visit their site for a showcase of gift offerings and a schedule of art openings and workshop events. I’m proud to be a part of their inventory with my monkey and literary pets cigarette card sets.
Be sure and pay them a visit if you live in or plan to visit the Dallas area.
A great friend of mine, Ramsey Said, is both an amazing designer and photographer. We met the brief time he lived and Dallas and have continued our friendship since his move to the Bay area. He’s transformed into a true Bay Area native since his move there in 1989. He and his wife Jane live in Marin County now and he has fully taken advantage of the incredible beauty of San Francisco as well as the surrounding cities and countrysides with his photographic skills. Combined with his amazing eye for composition and lighting, he uses his extensive knowledge of the area and wit to craft some truly interesting stories. His first blog, FogBay, has since been retired (after 1000 posts!) but is well worth the visit for hours of visual and historical entertainment. His latest blog, FogPhoto expands on a multitude of aspects of his surroundings in a more simpler visual presentation. His third blog is in production and I look forward to sharing the news of its release here in the future. If you live in the bay area or have visited, you will no doubt discover new things from his photo explorations. If you’ve never visited Northern California, his talents will make you want to drop everything and plan a trip. Links to both blogs are below. Well worth the visit!
A big thanks goes out to Tom Biederbeck over at Felt & Wire for his kind post about the Steampunk Monkey Nation card sets.
A bit of info about the great Felt & Wire site, from their “About” section:
“Felt & Wire is about the universe of design, paper and print — from posters to packaging, from memorable mail to beautiful books, from invitations to artistic innovations. Felt & Wire reveals the fascinations, avocations and professions of the people who inhabit this continually expanding and evolving universe. It is a community, by and about those of us who are paper-obsessed.”
Also, be sure and visit the Felt & Wire shop for loads of beautifully created items by artists and designers.
This blog would not be complete without a well-deserved shout out to my incredibly talented wife, Julie. She has done what most people can only dream of by transforming her life from the world of corporate anonymity to exploring and nurturing her creative side, which she has done quite successfully! Her current bookbinding talents started with a few local workshops and classes that helped her begin mining her inner talents that combined her love of creative expression with a true understanding and love of engineering. (She comes by her engineering skills quite naturally, since her engineer father worked for NASA during the historic moon landing years.) With guidance from her teacher, Catherine Burkhard and continued study through workshops and conferences, Julie’s talents have flourished over the years. Her studio projects in her “Dancing Cat Bindery” have grown over the years from simple repairs to a sanctuary for high profile items, complex mending and unique limited editions. Together we’ve laid the framework for what will soon be the successive release of collaborative projects. Our first, “Woodland Wisdom,” was a lettered edition (26) of Aesop’s Fables that I illustrated and topped of with a haiku moral of each story.
You know it’s getting close to spring with the annual “lazy rolling in the sea oats straw” event. This handsome, albeit somewhat portly, orange gentleman goes by the name of Brodie. He’ll make an appearance on this blog from time to time. For now, consider this video a tonic against the recent foul weather events we’ve all been experiencing. Move over Punxsutawney Phil!
Here’s an simplified example of the steps I take to create one of my Steampunk Monkey Nation characters. I scan my pencil sketch and open in Painter. It’s used as a guide for creating the black and white line work with Painter’s Scratchboard tool. Color is applied to a lower layer which shows through the line work since it’s converted to a “Gel” composite layer (something similar to Photoshop’s Darken or Multiply layer attribute.)
Here’s a bit of background on Professor Horatio Sprocketnotch:
Brilliant but quite mad mastermind behind of scores of scientific breakthroughs. These include: the creation of the Eye of Radical Hyperbaric Transcendence and Licorice Legs. Pictured holding his greatest creation, the inter-dimensional tsunami egg of destruction, which worked perfectly the first and only time it was activated.
I’ve had the pleasure with working with a wonderful art director over the years by the name of Keith Crabtree. Not only is he an accomplished and successful designer, he has transformed into an amazing nature photographer over the last several years. In Keith’s many trips across Texas he has created a wonderful collection that showcases the astounding diversity of the wildlife and landscapes of the state. Be sure and check out the links below to see more of his beautiful work.
This video is great fun.
Watching it brought back memories of my college art history classes. Sequestered away in a dark auditorium and introduced to a variety of historical art talents via slide show. Back then it was a combination of discovering wonderful new worlds of expression combined with a constant game show like memory challenge for the next exam. Manet or Monet? Doric, Ionic or Corinthian? Braque or Picasso?
I’ll always remember my final exam in an advanced art history class. We were each given our own picture of a long lost church structure and tasked with researching everything we could find on its architecture, sculpture and any other art detail. I looked on at disbelief at the image chosen for me: An overgrown field somewhere within a French countryside with a ramshackle pile of eroded stones partially hidden among the weeds. Needless to say, thoughts of anyone pursuing a career of art historian seemed mildly insane after I was given this task.
I recently had the honor to be interviewed by Patrice Leymarie from It’s Art, an online CG gallery and computer art forum. Visit the link below to see more.