Out New York: Hot Seat - I created the weekly "Hot Seat" portraits for Time Out New York magazine over five and a half years. It was an
enormous challenge, both artistically and professionally,
to be able to turn out a piece each week, every week.
I feel like my skills improved tremendously by
always having to solve that week's artistic challenge.
Some weeks I was very inspired, either by the subject
or the idea I've come up with, other weeks, not so
ones pictured here are Aaron McGruder, John Malkovich,
Rob Lowe, Neil Gaiman, and Lost's Jorge Garcia,
and are some of my favorites. I wanted McGruder, who
does the Boondocks comic strip, to look cool
and classy, so I left all the detail off his shirt
but added a nice textured background.
did the same effect for John Malkovich, but went with
all blues in very harsh lighting, to give off his natural
intensity and other-ness. It might still be my favorite
TONY piece of all time.
going to be interviewed for a Christmas TV special he
was in. I knew I wanted something tied to that, but
didn't want any red or greens, or Xmas trees or holly.
Once I hit upon all-blues in a snowy, wintery setting,
the whole thing came together in my mind instantly.
I had originally intended to add some detail to the
trees, but when I saw them like this, all simple and
abstract, I knew it was perfect and didn't add a thing.
Despite being what I think is one of my best, the Lowe
interview never came off so the piece was never run.
But I like it too much to not include it here.
Neil Gaiman portrait was one of those weeks where I
got the germ of the idea--to put the author in an otherwordly,
fantasy-type setting, like those frequently seen in
his books--and I really went to town with it, fiddling
with it and adding little details until I had it just
right. It remains one of my all-time favorites, out
of the hundreds(!) of Hot Seat portraits I did for
final one on this page, of Lost's Jorge Garcia,
is also one of my favorites because I was really happy
how the background came out, combined with the portrait,
making for a very complete image.
you want to see more of the Hot Seats I've done, just
go to the Time
Out New York page!
is a well-loved fixture of Time Out New York.
Week after week, he delivers compelling images on
tight deadlines. I can always depend on him to come
through with quality work no matter how short the
notice. Hot Seat would totally suck without him!"
Levendis, Time Out New York
Cho: Revolution - After watching her
concert film, I'm The One That I Want, I contacted
Margaret Cho's organization, mentioning to her that
I was a fan, and that I had done a portrait of her for MBA Jungle Magazine and that I had watched her
movie while working on it, which was enormously fun.
I was soon contacted by Margaret's manager, Karen, saying
they saw my portrait, really loved it, and would I be
interested in doing the illustration for a t-shirt idea
they had? How much time do you think it took me to answer?
had told me their idea was a goof on the famous Che
Guevara image. So portraying Margaret, somewhat of an
inspiration and spokesperson for the Gay and Asian communities,
as some kind of guerilla leader made perfect sense.
several attempts, we boiled the illustration down to
a simple black image on a red shirt (bottom right).
While the original versions did have more detail and
color, using this very simple graphic to me made the
shirt seem more like the Che Guevara image it was supposed
to emulate in the first place--wearing this shirt tells
people you're part of the Cho Revolution!
after, they asked me to design the tour poster as well,
not just provide the artwork. I jumped at the chance
to put together a one-sheet that I felt would have a
cohesive look, since I would be handling all phases
wanted to continue the idea I started--that this would
look like a recruitment poster to join the Cho Army.
I wrote out the word "Revolution" in marker, holding it in my fist, like a kid holding his first
crayon. I scribbled the word "Revolution"
over and over again, not concerning myself with how
neat the letters looked--I knew if I tried too hard,
it would look stiff and forced. After several tries,
I settled on the one I liked, scanned it in, and put
it together with the rest of the poster (I later added
the "Margaret Cho Live" using the same approach).
piece eventually was used in every form of merchandising
and advertising for the tour--print magazine/newspaper
ads, internet animated banners, backstage passes, promotional
stickers, and it was even projected onto the screen
before each show! Before Margaret came to Philadephia
for the April 24 show, I was contacted by the Courier-Post newspaper, and was briefly interviewed regarding my
work for Margaret. I got my own little column within
the article, with the piece pictured, as well.
piece was again repurposed as the cover for an audio-CD
of the show, and the final stage of this project was
the design for the DVD sleeve of the Revolution concert movie. My artwork is featured on the DVD menu,
as well, and can be seen a bunch of times in movie itself! Where's my SAG card?
LOVE the illustration you did for Margaret Cho.
Not only is the T-shirt selling off the site but,
everyone associated with the new tour wants to figure
out a way to use the illustration for the poster.
We asked you to do an illustration of Margaret that
suggests the famous image of Che Guevara. To say
you nailed it is an understatement. Thanks so much
for your great work. We will owe a portion of Margaret's
success in the upcoming year to your artistry."
Taussig, Cho/Taussing Productions
magazine May 2007- It's
very rewarding when I continue to get calls from art
directors who have changed their places of employ, and
that's the case here. A former a.d. I worked with at MBA Jungle magazine had since moved over to Vibe magazine,
and he called me to do a portrait of musician/producer
didn't have any instructions other than it be a really
cool portrait to accompany any article about some CD
of his. I've been experimenting lately with more varied
color combinations and I really liked the purple/orange
combo to give a funky, in-the-middle-of-the-night kinda
feel. Not being funky myself, I was sort of flying blind,
but I thought it came out pretty well, and Vibe agreed.
there was some problem with the article, so the piece
got scrapped and got replaced with an article on musician/actor
Redman, so I had to do all the same things except with
some else as the subject.
decided not to mix the purple and orange on the face,
since this time it looked odd to me. Since there was
a lot less of the lightest tone on Redman, just having
that little bit of orange looked really odd so I ditched
taking another look at the piece, when there was just
a head and arm in the darkness, I decided I wanted to
add some sort of texture to the shirt, so I just drew
a whole bunch of squiggly lines which had that kind
of yes, funky, feel that I had wanted from the beginning.
I faded them a bit to help the face and arm pop out,
and I think I'm just as happy--if not more--with this
one as I am the Timbaland one. The Vibe a.d.
liked it just as much, as well. So that was set to go.
at at the last minute, the Timbaland thing fell back into place, so it ran, and it's the Redman one that
got scrapped. See what goes into making a magazine?
magazine - June 2007 - This
was a huge, eight-illustration project I did for Vibe magazine's June 2007 issue. This time,
the a.d. asked me to do something a little more ambitious--eight
illustrations that would be the center point for a collage
of events happening in a particular city.
think my favorites are the portraits of "Pitbull"
(#5) and T.I. (#7), since I really like all the bright
whites and clean, open space they have. Having so many
to do I really got to try as many different things as
possible and see what worked and what didn't.
stuff for Vibe is always a lot of fun because
they have very few limitations on how these portraits
should look--I can use any crazy combination of colors
I'd like, and for this project in particular I was able
to make them all slightly different--different colors,
different angles, some close-up, some far away--it was
magazine - July 2007 - Right
after finshing the above project, Vibe asked
me to do this piece for the following issue. They wanted
a slightly poster-ish feeling for this portrait of musician/producer
DJ Drama, and I was free to integrate their column heading
("Volume: Mastering the...") into the piece,
which was cool.
put a half-tone pattern in the background(hard to make
out here) to give it that slightly cheaply-printed,
basic-color feel to it. I had to reduce DJ a bit to
fit in the text, and it took a couple of versions to
nail it down. But the final one I came up with really
pleased me, and I think it's probably the best piece
I've done for Vibe so far.
10.16.06 "Google" - I'm
always happy to do another piece for Forbes.
They're fun and easy to work for, and they're always
enthusiastic with what I come up with. This assignment
was pretty straightforward--four portraits of some of
the top guys at Google. The headshots would be printed
very small--only about 1" high each--so I knew
I wanted to keep the colors fairly monochromatic.
figured they'd look really cool when put all together
and at such a small scale and after I did the first
one to show the magazine, they agreed. The other three
came off without a hitch and they all appeared in the
10/16/2006 issue of the magazine.
"The Midas List" - Another
assignment from Forbes magazine! Like the Business
of Hockey piece, all my illustrations were put
together in a multi-page pull-out article.
was a list of big-time tech dealmakers, and like any
of the many similar jobs I've done, the main challenge
is to make what can be fairly dull photo reference into
exciting, visually dynamic portraits.
did these all at the same size, since the magazine didn't
know at the time how the layout would be done. But the
varying sizes give the pieces even more punch, making
what could be a fairly dry text piece into something
with real punch. Looking
forward to doing more work for Forbes!
see other assignments I've for Forbes, please
check out the Magazines and Sports pages.
Science - These
are my favorite examples from a series of portraits I
did for Popular Science magazine. They asked me
if I was interested in doing their "Headlines From
the Future" column, profiling someone working in
a field that will affect us---in the future!!
first was Carlo Montemagno, whose been working on "muscle
bots", which will be used to repair tiny punctures
on a Mars-bound spaceship, who'll use sugar converted
by sunlight into fuel. How friggin' cool is this?
final pieces are printed very small, only about 1.6"
high, so I didn't have a lot of room to get fancy with
the background. I made a nice, visually-pleasing oval
shape, giving (to me) a vague, science-y feel of a bunch
of tiny robots marching lockstep, doing their duty.
I liked it, PopSci liked it, we moved on to the next
early '06 the Headlines From the Future column ended
as a monthly feature. PopSci was one of my first big-time
regular gigs and it was always a thrill to be able to
go to nearly any newsstand or bookstore and know there's
at least one magazine with my work in it. The subjects,
while fairly routine visually, were always interesting
in the work they were doing (nano technology, advances
in voting, deep space exploration), and I'm glad I got
a little more exposure to that world through my association
with the magazine. PopSci was also the first magazine
to do a profile of me as a contributor (bottom), which
was way cool.
see other illustrations I did for Popular Science,
check out the Magazines page!
magazine - I've done a number of
projects for POZ magazine, a publication about
people living (and even thriving) with HIV. First is
a series of portraits for "Think Positive",
a special supplement to the magazine. The portraits
were used on the cover and throughout the inside pages.
to that are three examples of another article called
"10 Black Leaders", about leaders in the black
community on HIV awareness.
Sullivan - Kelly "omg shoes" - This
was a logo I designed for the comedian Liam
Sullivan, who has a character he sometimes portrays
named Kelly, who stars in a music/comedy video called
"Shoes." Liam is represented by some of the
same people who rep Margaret Cho, so they had
previously worked with me and were happy with the work
I did(they told me the t-shirt I did is still Margaret's
best-selling shirt, even though she's done multiple
tours since then).
had a definite idea of what he wanted, and it was just
a matter of refining what he sent me, finding a good
font for the "omg shoes" tagline, where to
place it, etc. Fortunately, it all came together very
quickly--Liam and the reps liked everything I did and
it was just a matter of selecting fonts, and even that
didn't take too long.
now that Liam has it, it's going to be on t-shirts and
maybe even his upcoming CD, which will be a real blast
to see the alternate "Kelly" version)
Bob For All Seasons - I like to check
in with Bob every couple of years. With the release
of his first new album in five years, Modern Times (#1 on the Billboard chart, thank you very much), it
seemed like a good time to try another Bob portrait.
he's never tried very hard to make himself look pretty,
I felt free to highlight every wrinkle and crese in
his face. I even added some outlines around each block
of color, which I thought gave the piece a nice effect.
And while he does have that trademark Dylan scowl, the
colors are nice and soft and match his baby blues. Even
with one eye, you feel like he's seeing right through
you (in a nice way).
I look back at these (the other ones are Bob from 1995
and 2004), I'm really happy with how much better they're
getting--more complex, more colorful (duh), more evocative.
Someday, someday, I really need to get hired by Bob's
organization to do something official for him. Until
Grammy Awards - I bought Brad Pasiley's
CD, Who Needs Pictures, to get a sense of what
kind of country music this guy was making; and it sounded
to me that Brad was squarely in the classic, Grand Ole
Opry tradition (in fact, Brad was later "inducted"
into the Opry), and I wanted to give off that simple,
down-home, old-fashioned kind of feel. To that end I
also did the piece with cut-paper, not digitally, to
give it more of that homemade feel.
putting him in the thick circle, I was sort of "presenting"
him to the audience, since he was up for a Grammy as
Best New Artist, I thought it was fair to assume most
people hadn't heard of him. I partly took the idea from
old issues of Justice League of America, where
the various heroes taking part in that issue's adventure
got little head shots on the opening page of the story.
page is from that year's Grammy Program Book, and the
piece also appeared on the Grammy website created for
Latin Grammy Awards - Having seen
my work in the 2001 Grammy Awards Program Book, I was
tapped to do an illustration for the 2002 Latin Grammy
Awards. Again, I was given someone who I had not heard
liked both of my intial ideas--to do a close-up, or
to a profile of Carlos Vives in an always dynamic pose--playing
a guitar. I decided to combine them, mixing my black
and white and full-color approaches. I spent quite a
while figuring out where the head shot would properly
orbit the full-body one. I decided the picture should
go off in two directions, that way he was bound to be
facing the direction of the page's text (that would
be added later, without my input) no matter how it was
was thoroughly happy with how it came out, as were the
Grammy people--and hopefully, if he's seen it, Carlos
did a tremendous job of bringing Carlos Vives to
life for our Latin Grammy program. His illustration
captured the feeling of Vives' music as well as
his compelling presence and image."
Konjoyan, Publications Director, The Recording Academy
Rawls 1931-2006 - Ok, typically, Lou
Rawls would not be someone you'd think to find an illustrated
tribute to on this site. But...
I was a little kid up until my late teen years, my parents
and I would take a vacation every August to the Poconos.
We rented the same cabin every year, and we grew to
feel like it was ours. I celebrated every birthday up
until about my 19th there, and I retain nothing but
warm memories of those trips. The drive itself took
about four hours, and even though I had my face buried
in a pile o' comics (ibid) I set aside just for
the trip, I did catch whatever music was on the radio
at the time. And that radio was AM.
parents' taste ran more towards an older generation's
music than most kids my age. So instead of growing up
hearing the Stones, Zeppelin, and Pink Floyd, I heard
Englebert Humperdinck, Tom Jones...and Lou Rawls. Mr.Rawls'
biggest hit "You'll Never a Find Another Love Like
Mine" was a massive one, and I must have heard
it a million times during that two-week radio blitz
years passed of course, and I forgot all about it. For
one reason or another, I'd hear the song in some context
or something, and tell myself that I liked that one
song of his ironically--"oh, it's so square it's
cool" or some crap like that. But as I got a little
older and stopped caring (as much) what other people
thought of my tastes, I came to realize, no, I actually
just like the song. It's a good--no, great song. And Mr.Rawls made it work with his smooth, gentle,
yet powerful voice. While I never became a fan or anything,
I belatedly developed a respect for the man and his
when he passed away, I felt genuinely sad to hear it.
Not only was he a great talent, but he spent a lot of
time and money supporting the Negro College Fund, as
well as other charities. He used his celebrity to help
other people, and what more could anyone ask?
I wanted to do something to pay tribute to the man,
and I immediately came up with the concept--a loose,
free-form poster-ish ad for Lou in concert, stylistically
from his heydey of the mid 60s to the late 70s. I do
most of my work in very pre-set shapes (as you can see
from almost every other piece on this site), but I wanted
to have this be even looser and funky. I did the portrait
early on and then waited, always keeping the file on
the dock of my Mac, waiting until inspiration hit. It
finally did, and a few hours of very enjoyable trial
and error later, I had it all together. Tracy, looking
over my shoulder, said "that looks nice" which
is usually the moment I know I've come up with something
didn't like obscuring any of my spiffy design with the
"Sold Out" banner, but I thought Lou deserved
one last packed house.
Jungle magazine -I did a number of different
pieces for MBA Jungle magazine over 2002-2003;
here are four full-pafe feature illustrations I did during
that time, plus some celebrity portraits that were part
of a regular column.
pieces on the right were both done for the March-April
2003 all-music issue; the first was an interview with
techo-artist Moby. The second was more conceptual--it
was an article on how to "save" the music
top left was for an interview with Lanny Davis, and
the bottom left was one of a semi-regular feature I illustrated called
"Recruiter Recon", where Jungle would interview
a recruiter from a major U.S. company.
the bottom row are three examples of the pieces I did
for the "Celebrity Stock Pick" column. In
each issue, a different celebrity would pick a stock,
then the magazine would follow its performance and comapre
them to other celebrity picks. Pictured are three of
my best: Ashton Kutcher, Kirsten Dunst, and Margaret
had a great relationship with Jungle, and my art director
(at that time), Matt Guemple, was always fun to work
with; open to my suggestions yet never afraid to ask
is good-natured and has an unusual willingness to
understand that some things need to accommodate
type. These things coupled with a true effort to
be creative and his sincere desire to "make me happy"
made him not only a regular contributor, but invaluable
to me. He would always work fast and help me out
of tight spots and was always willing to work to
meet my budgets, a real all-around life saver. In
fact he was nothing short of a joy to work with." - Matthew Guemple, Art Director, MBA Jungle magazine
Tea - In 2002, I was contacted through
a NYC ad agency to produce an illustration to go on
boxes of Salada
Tea. Apparently there have been some shake-ups in the tea business,
and Salada had wanted to reaffirm to their customer
base that they were solid, reliable, the Thing You Knew
You Liked. So they wanted to add a portrait of their
founder to the front of the box, peering out across
Coffee and Tea aisles all over America.
was only one known picture of their founder, P.C.Larkin,
and it looked like what you think--very formal, stiff,
sepia-toned photo. Wanting him to look a tad less stern,
I played with the face for a while until he looked proud;
proud of the product that he created.
few months later, the new boxes hit the shelves in supermarkets
across the country. So the next time you're in the Coffee
and Tea aisle of your supermarket (wearing your Margaret
Cho t-shirt, of course), go pick up a box!
"Batman" - I was at a loose end one day and just wanted to work
on something simple and fun. I'm not sure where I got
the idea to do a Adam West-as-Batman piece, but I quickly
grew enamored of the idea of seeing if I could make
the TV show Batman actually look cool.
had originally put in full-color skin tones, but I saw
that it looked much better in black and white, so I
stuck to that. Using heavy blacks and just having the
blues as highlights gave it a really sharp, sleek look
I thought. I
had this whole thing put together in less than two hours,
and I was just thrilled with it!
being able to leave something alone, I then thought
why not do a series of Batman TV show portraits? I whipped
up a Penguin piece, which didn't turn out as well. There
wasn't anything wrong with it, exactly--it was just
sorta dull. Then I moved onto a Joker which, 3/4ths
of the way through, I realized was a disaster, so I
stopped. Sometimes I need to be happy with what I've
accomplished, so just the really good Batman piece will
ever see the light of day here!
Update: When moving onto my next site update, I pick and choose
what pieces from the last update get put into
the permanent galleries and which disappear forever.
I had intended to leave this one off--not that I'm not
proud of it, but I have to leave off some stuff, especially
since I had so much new work last time.
during a correspondence I had with Alan Brennert; novelist,
TV writer, and comic-book writer (one of my all-time favorite comic-book writers, in fact), he said
this about this piece: "That Adam West Batman
really does improve on the original!"
good enough for me.
Selina Kyle" - Like a lot of
artists who also love comics, I can't help but try my
hand at real life-style shots of various superhero characters.
Most of the time they don't come out that well, so once
I finish them they pretty much disappear.
occasionally I get something like this, a portrait of
Catwoman I did based on a woman walking the NY Comic
Con a few weeks ago. When I saw her, I was stunned at
the attention to detail of the costume, and the fact
that a living, breathing human woman could fit herself
into such a tiny, form-fitting suit.
really liked the strident, proud pose she took, which
exactly fits the personality of Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman.
So as I was trying to think of a background to go with
the portrait, I hit upon the idea of Selina posing in
front of a wanted poster of herself, striking the same
exact pose. It seemed like a very Catwoman-ish thing
can't really see them because they're obscured by her,
but the list of charges the GCPD says Catwoman is wanted
for are: Robbery, Breaking and Entering, Trafficking
in Stolen Goods, Possession of Stolen Goods, Impersonating
a Police Officer, Carrying A Concealed Weapon (Grappling
Hook), Tieing Up A Police Officer, plus 16 Other Charges)
- The Man With the X-Ray
Eyes - Golden Age of Hollywood-era
actor Ray Milland starred in this 1963 Roger Corman
film, about a man who, and I quote:"could see through
clothes, flesh, and walls!" Why would you want
to see through flesh? Clothes, sure, but...
the approach to this piece popped into my head almost
immediately. The sort of spooky, off-kilter X, colored
to match his eyes--eyes that can see through clothes,
flesh, and walls!