Thursday, September 25, 2014

Moby-Dick Marathon NYC brings the goods

A while back I mentioned the Moby-Dick Marathon in NYC Kickstarter campaign that I was a part of. Thankfully, the Kickstarter met its funding goals and then some, and the fine folks planning the Marathon got to work. A few days ago, I received a package from them and it included some of the rewards from the Kickstarter...silkscreened bookmarks featuring two of my own illustrations, silkscreened postcards, and a fine tote bag. Hats off to the wizards at Kayrock Screenprinting in Brooklyn for the damn fine work they did here. It's always a thrill and an honor to see my art in new places like this.

Check the pics below, and if you see anything you fancy, you can get in touch with the people at the Moby-Dick Marathon in NYC and buy some of this stuff for yourself. It's totally worth it, and I mean that.

New art at the Invisible Cities / Seeing Calvino tumblr

Joe Kuth brings us his vision of Octavia, the city of spider-webs, over at our group art tumblr Seeing Calvino. Take a look.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


For a group art tumblr that I am a part of called Character Wednesday.

Title: Black Lightning

11 inches by 7.25 inches
ink on watercolor paper
September 23, 2014

Seeing Calvino, all over again

It seems as if almost all of my favorite reads were introduced to me by good friends. I was in high school when Charley, a close companion who had gone off to college two years earlier than I would, came home on holiday break obsessively ranting about Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and endlessly repeating phrases like “papier-mache Mephistopheles.” Conrad and I would meet one another very soon after, although given the forcefulness of Charley’s recommendation I doubt it could have been any other way. I have my father to thank for a lifelong love of Tolkien, as geeky or pretentious (or both) as that might be. Undergrad drinking buddy Toby re-introduced me to Melville and changed my brain forever. And so on.

Strangely, I can’t recall when I first became aware of the work of Italo Calvino. I believe I was in high school, but I have no specific memories of reading any of his books then. His stories seemed to somehow slowly seep into my consciousness as an undergrad but again I am unable to identify exactly how. Or when. Or even why. Calvino simply seems to have always been there. That bred in me a kind of certainty regarding his writing. I knew it had always been there, I knew it would always be there, and I knew immediately it would always be challenging, rewarding and ultimately wonderful to read.

Delightfully, for those who have yet to discover the beauty, magic, and strangeness of Calvino’s novels, stories and non-fiction, Mariner Books, a division of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, has just begun a comprehensive re-issue program and the results have so far been absolutely stunning. The new covers, designed by Peter Mendelsund, present an instantly inviting and compelling opening to the reader with imagery simultaneously simple and whimsical as well as subtle and mysterious.

The first three books issued have been the story collection Into the War, the essays Collection of Sand, and, thrillingly, The Complete Cosmicomics, a long-awaited definitive edition bringing together every single one of Calvino’s Cosmicomics including seven previously uncollected stories and four stories never before translated and published in the U.S. It is nearly impossible for me to articulate how exciting this is, and how long I have been waiting for a book like this!

The books themselves are gorgeous objects. The covers have been printed on beautiful, thick, textured paper that adds a new dimensions to Mendelsund’s perfect designs. They are a marvel of simplicity and modernism in a way that is never arch and always sly, warm and welcoming.

These books already feel like friends, and I look forward to spending many many hours with each of them. Into the War, Collection of Sand, and The Complete Cosmicomics are all available right now, and more Calvino is on the way. My goal is to somehow convince both Leighton and Joe that this tumblr of ours, Seeing Calvino, is worth continuing well beyond this current Invisible Cities illustration project, and hopefully with this sublime new edition of Cosmicomics sitting in front of us, we will all continue to “see” Calvino in new ways that we can explore, illustrate and share.

Finally, there is an excellent and in-depth interview with designer Peter Mendelsund right here and he spends quite a bit of time talking about the genesis of the Calvino re-issues and his thought processes behind the covers. Mendelsund also has a new book of his own, What We See When We Read, that looks very much worth checking out.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

What if Las Vegas threw a party and nobody came?

My wife and I visited Las Vegas last month and bizarrely, no one else was there. It was very disconcerting. Here is the proof.

Friday, September 19, 2014

COMMISSIONS: Head of Wisdom

10 inches by 8 inches
acrylic paint, ink and marker on watercolor paper
September 18, 2014

A piece drawn specifically to trade. For some plastic toys. Which I am honestly incredibly fond of.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

COMMISSIONS: Single flue harpoon tattoo

A good friend of mind asked me to create a fairly realistic black and white image of a single flue harpoon that he could then tattoo on his forearm. This was surprisingly difficult because, when trying to depict a harpoon fairly accurately, there is not a lot of room for visual improvisation. In the end, I created three separate designs, each with elements that could be transposed with one another so that he and the tattoo artist could essentially build the best harpoon. I'll keep you posted with photos of the finished piece once it turns into ink on skin.

I get a fair amount of requests to use my art as the basis for a tattoo, and my answer is always "Yes" because honestly it's an incredible compliment. So if you would like to use one of my illustrations as a tattoo, please just send me an email first to let me know, and then send me a few pics of the final tattoo. That's the only cost. I do occasionally design tattoos as well, but it's a bit time-consuming for me so you'll have to be very patient if this is something you want.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


The 25th of Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities and my ninth overall, the colorless city Aglaura. You can see the entire series so far, along with work by my fellow artists Joe Kuth and Leighton Connor, at our group art tumblr Seeing Calvino which is updated every Wednesday with new art.

"So if I wished to describe Aglaura to you, sticking to what I personally saw and experienced, I should have to tell you that it is a colorless city, without character, planted there at random. But this would not be true, either: at certain hours, in certain places along the street, you see opening before you the hint of something unmistakable, rare, perhaps magnificent; you would like to say what it is, but everything previously said of Aglaura imprisons your words and obliges you to repeat rather than say."

10 inches by 8 inches
acrylic paint and ink on watercolor paper
September 16, 2014