Thursday, July 30, 2009

Lunch with Josh Cochran

We had the pleasure of having Josh Cochran over for lunch at the studio. We've been a big fan of his work for some time, he was featured in an early 3x3 Gallery section and I had to admit that I thought he was from the UK when I saw his work. It definitely has an un-American look to it, much more European. Fact is, Josh spent a great deal of his days in Oregon, some time in Taiwan and finally in the LA area where he attended Art Center. After spending three years as a fine arts major at USC, he transferred to Art Center as their grant specified he had to be working on his bachelor's degree. Smart move. Josh will be taking to the other side of the desk as he begins a teaching stint this fall at Parsons, teaching a drawing class--lucky students. Josh and his wife moved to Brooklyn last year with a studio in an old pencil factory in Greenpoint and an apartment in Bed-Stuy. His wife is working at a book publisher's and studying typography nights at the SVA. He's been busy with a lot of interesting projects, mostly advertising assignments and has been picking up more work from across the pond lately. We noticed that Josh was sporting an interesting new tattoo. When asked we found that the topographic drawing along his upper left arm was an original design commemorating the last hike he had with his father along the Muir Woods Trail. He's still debating whether or not to color it in. Lunch was the chicken curry salad redeux we did for Carlo's lunch; dessert was a homemade chocolate sorbet followed by cold-brewed iced coffee. With every course Josh would exclaim, "Amazing!" about the food and presentation which is exactly what we think of his work and him, amazing!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Lunch with Carlo Stanga

What could be better on a grey, rainy, humid day in New York than a visit from distinguished illustrator, architect Carlo Stanga from Milan. The minute he walked into the studio he lit up the room, charming, gregarious and funny it was a delight to sit in his company. Usually it is all work and no play around here but today was different, for a good three hours we were entertained more than being the entertainers.

When asked how he learned to speak such good English, he commented that he taught himself--movies were a big help but also the cultural influences of music and literature played its part; his English was so perfect it sounded as if he lived in the States. Based in Milan Carlo spends at least a week out of every month in Berlin. Fascinated by the art and architecture scene there, he has settled into an apartment of his own but has yet to master the Germanic tongue--and may never. Fortunately most speak English though he admits their English is a different than here; one thing they speak slower than most New Yorkers.

Carlo had come over to New York to meet some friends from Rio as well as to spot his new subway platform poster for the MTA which is featured in the current issue of 3x3. Of course another stop was with his agents, the lovely Vicki Morgan and Gail Gaynin. And we were pleased that he put us on his schedule on his way to the airport--another reason it's good to have a studio in Brooklyn, close to all three airports, JFK and Newark in particular.

Lots of discussion about art, illustration, art supplies and architecture and he was one of the rare guests to recognize our collection of mid-century furniture by name. He was only in the city for a short time be he shared his views on both art and architecture: Impressed by an exhibit on Afghanistan at the Met, the architecture of the New Museum and disappointed by the the new MAD museum on Columbus Circle, it was an interesting discussion on architecture in America. We shared with him our images from our trip to Philip Johnson's Glass House last week which got him excited about the next trip to New York.

In relating the current illustration market in Italy he says that he's never been busier, that editors have found a new-found interest in illustration, replacing well used photography with drawn visuals. And he's picking up assignments within even more traditional markets--his work for a Italian law firm has him busy with dozens of portraits and conceptual spots--all to be used online. Talking about technique he prefers the tools of an architect over the use of a tablet; his poster of the skyline of New York done for the MTA was actually completed in pieces, each building hand-drawn with a Rotring pen and then assembled and colored on the computer.

Lunch consisted of Sarah's Bombay Chicken Salad served with kiwi, peaches, plums, toasted coconut and almonds with chicken, curry and sour cream served over a bed of watercress. An architectural masterpiece in presentation. Desert was a literal flop, the Chocolate Walnut Cookies failed to rise and stay firm--probably the humidity--but were served in pieces eaten with a spoon. Embarrassed to make Espresso for a true connoisseur, it seems our guest was nevertheless impressed as we sent him off to catch his flight home. Ciao, Carlo.

Pictured above: Carlo and Jessica, at left dueling photographers

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Lunch with Jon Burgerman

As is our habit, when illustrators come to New York we like to invite them over to the studio for lunch. Many times this doesn't happen, they're only here for a short time so I'll come into the city. But Jon Burgerman is a special case, he's here for the summer so lunch at the studio could be more leisurely for everyone.

Luckily we had prepared a lunch of salad and risotto balls followed by homemade pineapple sorbet as we learned as we sat down that Jon is a vegetarian. And that's not all we learned, Jon is a world traveller, sometimes flying in for a day at a time in some exotic locale to do one of his wall paintings and then back home. We found out that he uses, not a Sharpie but a Japanese pen that actually spits out a substance closer to paint than ink; that way he is able to fill in areas and maintain the same flat surface and texture. We learned that he's in the process of moving, well, kinda. He hasn't made up his mind exactly where but feels like he's stuck and needs to make a move--not that all that traveling hasn't given him lots of choices, including New York.

Looking and listening to Jon reminded several of us of the actor Clive Owen, close your eyes and you hear his voice, remove the beard and you'll have a very young looking Owen. Clive, I mean Jon, moves in different circles than most illustrators, he is more at home with street artists and gallery artists than hanging with fellow illustrators at the Society or AOI. And he's gone solo, after a period with a rep firm here in New York he now fields all his work on his own--he does have a UK rep, Debut--and tends toward more specialized projects that utilize his work more perfectly. A constant namedropper--a good thing--we were busy looking up artists we weren't familiar with after he left. A good time was had by all.

Feeling badly that he'd missed a previously scheduled lunch in February he left us all with a ton of stickers that he always carries with him in his rucksack. He's got a book-signing this weekend at Kid Robot and a show coming up in August. Just look for that Clive Owen look alike.

Monday, July 6, 2009

For What It's Worth No. 6

Entering shows is tricky and after reviewing the entries to our shows I would make a few suggestions that may improve your chances of being a winner.

The biggest problem I saw was that the series entries can be a problem simply because you are judged on the entire suite of illustrations. All three to five images have to be excellent; many times three out of the five were great but the one or two that were weaker eliminated your entry from being in the show. What I do in shows is enter the series but also enter the top three pieces as single entries as well--five if I can afford it. That way I have a better chance of getting something in the show, and it has happened that both the series and the singles get into the show because once judges like a piece they will always rank it high. So instead of getting nothing in the show you could have multiple pieces accepted.

The other thing is to know what judges are looking for, unfortunately not all shows are judged equally. Looking at shows you can see a pattern of what the organization is looking for and they will usually select judges to give them that type off outcome. You'll find traditional and non-traditional shows, select your work accordingly. If you see that there are a lot of comics being accepted in previous shows then enter, if not, don't. But don't be afraid of entering strong pieces in any category in any show, good work will always be recognized.

Also be concerned with the categories. A few things to keep in mind: Generally speaking, children's books should be entered in children's book competitions; entering them in the Books category makes it much tougher to be recognized. The more obtuse category is Unpublished and what I find is that there is a lot of work in this category that would do better in the Self-Promotion category. What judges look for in Unpublished is what should or could have been published but wasn't. Don't confuse it as self-promotion though if it is a strong image it can be entered in both categories. Also enter your more experimental work as this is a perfect place to show a new way of image making. Judges are looking for new ways of making images which is a good way to get work in a show.

Gallery is another one where it seems that illustrators are selecting work that probably is better in the Unpublished category. What judges look for here is different than commissioned works, they're looking for work that may or may not relate to the artist's general style but stands out as a work of fine art. If you have prints of your commissioned work that you're selling they would do better in the Self-Promotion category rather than in the Gallery.

What I also find is that concept is king in all categories, judges are looking for fresh ideas and ones that are easily recognized. As a suggestion: If you feel you have a complex entry that could use some explanation it would be better to submit the entry in context, while it will only appear as the illustration in the annual, judges will have a good opportunity to see it in its application.

And it's important not to be discouraged, a lot of the entries almost made it into the show--I think our percentage of really good work is better than a lot of shows so keep entering. I saw a lot of really good pieces that had a shot of being in the show.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Children's Show Winners Announced

The Children's Book Show judging is complete. This was the first year we judged the actual books along with digital entries as well as adding several new categories. As always the judging was tough and each winning entry had to receive a majority of votes from our judges. A great many fell just shy of having the necessary votes. In some shows all it takes is two judge's votes and an entry would be in the show; if we used that criteria then we would have had many more winners. We prefer a tougher show; it makes winning all that more special.

Our panel of judges included senior art director David Caplan, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; Laurent Linn, art director for Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers; Eleni Beja, editor for Holiday House and illustrators Raul Colón, Serge Bloch and Sean Qualls.

Congratulations to our winners.

Best of Show
Shaun Tan, Young Adult

Shaun Tan, Children's Book
Sun Young Yoo, Children's Book
David Ercolini, Educational
Annika Skold, Educational

Isabelle Arsenault, Children's Book
André Letria, Children's Book
David Ercolini, Educational
Scott Menchin, Misc

Elisabeth Alba, Children's Book Unpublished
David Ercolini, Educational

Ofra Amit, Children's Book
Carin Berger, Children's Book
Maria Carluccio, Children's Book
Rachael Cole, Children's Book
Andre da Loba, Merit,  Children's Book
Cambria Evans, Children's Book
Julia Friese, Children's Book
André Letria, Children's Book
Natalie Pudalov, Children's Book
Sean Qualls, Children's Book
Edel Rodriguez, Children's Book
Dan Santat, Children's Book*
Stefano Vitale, Children's Book*
James Yang, Children's Book
Soundprints, Children's Book
Claudia Boldt, Children's Book Unpublished
Cannaday Chapman, Children's Book Unpublished
Seounghyon Cho, Children's Book Unpublished
Kenny Harris, Children's Book Unpublished
Kevin Kelly, Children's Book Unpublished
Youngsun Liu, Children's Book Unpublished
Sonia Kretschmar, Book Covers
Michael Slack, Book Covers
Paolo d’Altan, Covers & Interiors
Adrià Fruitós, Covers & Interiors
David Ercolini, Educational
David Ercolini, Editorial
Michael Slack, Misc

*Multiple winning entries