Saturday, October 31, 2009

Coffee with Rick Tulka


I’ve been meaning to have coffee with Rick for years, it so happens I’m in Paris, Le Select is open--it's always open-- and Rick is ready to meet. Well not exactly, we're disturbing his ritual of a 3pm jaunt to the café but he's nevertheless agreed to meet us for a morning coffee. Le Select is one of those famous Paris eateries in Montparnasse whose clientle reads like a Who's Who of twentieth-century arts. Hemingway, Bunuel, Brassaï, Giacometti, Picasso, Beckett, Picasso, Noguchi, de Beauvoir, Satie, Poulenc, Baldwin, and Godard all took their place there. Rick goes every day to sketch the newcomers and the regulars, in fact a compilation of his drawings Paris: The Select Crowd was published in 2007 and featured on the CBS Sunday Morning Show.

Rick and his wife left Brooklyn once they turned 40 and haven’t looked back. Neither speak a lot of French he says but he’s finding more and more people are speaking English. He does admit that the language has turned his English inside out, he now catches himself translating French into English when speaking and writing, which he has to laugh at. Rick’s a funny guy, he spent a lot of years at Mad Magazine and still contributes from time to time. He’s a comics-nut, and adds that the French are more passionate about it than even we Americans.

After our coffee and conversation we headed off to our next meeting, Rick simply changed his seat to his favorite spot and took out his sketchbook and returned to his daily routine.

Dinner with Eric Giriat

While we usually do lunch with artists this time we changed the location and the venue and or had dinner with Parisian illustrator Eric Giriat. Eric suggested one of his favorite restaurants, a quiet place in Paris’10th Ardissonment. Located in a former textile workshop the owner Odile Guyader--owner and chef—has been serving exquisite meals since 1992. Decorated with a changing assortment of artist’s work the name was a lift from artist Roland Topor’s book Café Panique, the artist when asked if it were okay to use the title simply replied, “As long as you don’t serve shit.” To that Odile replied, “Come eat.” The artist had no complaints so the name remained.

Eric is a charming fellow, born and bred in Paris he speaks English not with a French accent but a German one due in part we think to his mother being German and the fact that he splits his time between Paris and Berlin where he also has a studio. Speaking of studios, the next day we got to make a brief visit to his workshop which also doubles as his live-in space.

Crammed with books, magazines office supplies, drawing table and art supplies, the space is welcoming and understated. The view is directly above the railway tracks which is the site where Manet painted a number of famous paintings of trains—he was also a resident of the building along with other painters. Now the building is filled with mostly musicians which made sense as the neighborhood was filled with stores selling all sorts of musical instruments. Eric had a scheduled lunch with an art director so our visit was brief but memorable--he inscribed his latest children's book La tête perdue de Monsieur Mue for Sarah and I. In parting he pointed us in the direction of another favorite lunch spot, La Bastide Blanche which was equally divine.

That's Sarah in the top photo.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

For What It's Worth No. 11

We’re getting close to sending our next annual off to the printer and one of my tasks is to write the blurb for the backcover which got me thinking about art and illustration. Being a parent I can testify to the following observation and even remembering back to my own school days there was something natural about everyone drawing. One of my favorite books, perhaps my favorite book, was “The Little Engine That Could” and I still have the book and there are marks throughout it—my failed attempt to copy the illustrations. I’m not alone, we all start out making marks.

We all start off loving art, who can forget how we liked getting our fingers dirty in kindergarten with chalk or crayons or poster paint. We mushed clay together to make ashtrays for our parents. We pasted together popsicle sticks to make a jewelry box. We explored drawing mom, dad, siblings. Houses. Trees. Celebrations. Vacations. Crude though they were they had real meaning to us and even today looking back they still do. And as a parent I kept so many drawings and paintings of my young ones, why? They are memories we captured in our own unique way.

Most of us moved away from art as our education continued, we became more enamored with science or math or history, art faded in our lives. But there were always at least a couple of kids in our classroom that somehow we knew would always be artists. And they are, some are fine artists, others are illustrators and a growing number are both.

Illustrators capture the essence of our times through paint or pixel. The style of our times is evident in the illustrations that appear in magazines, newspapers, books and on screens big and small. They record events, personalities, ideas—political and otherwise, pathos, love, the zeitgeist in a much deeper and more meaningful way than we can ourselves or that an ordinary photo provides. The image is imbued with the hand and eye of the artist, it speaks to us in a truly unique way. And just like our early crude stick figures, it makes a lasting impression.

Lunch with Mario Wagner

We had the pleasure of Mario Wagner and his girlfriend Holly Hambly's company on Friday for one of our studio lunches. The pair had just come in late the night before from San Francisco specifically to attend the "Cutters: An Exhibition of International Collage" at the Cinders Gallery in Williamsburg. If you haven't seen the show you should, over 40 artists contributing close to 150 works--the show's up through November 15. Mario is a part of the show and is a recognized collagist.

Holly and Mario met when he was here last year at a gallery opening in SF, Holly is a victim of the poor California economy and is headed back in school to study art history. Small world she worked at a vets where she met Vivienne Flesher, not realizing she was a famous illustrator.

Mario has been busy this year with work and busy working on getting his visa to move to the States, hoping to settle in either San Francisco or New York. He is presently based in Cologne and is a studio mate of Lars Henkel.

A charming 6'4" giant who with impeccable English--you'd never realize he's not from here--Mario is looking forward to his new life in America. He'll be a great addition to the market.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Lunch with Jean-Philippe Delhomme

Today we were graced with the company of Jean-Philippe Delhomme for lunch at the studio. Sarah and I had visited J-P's studio in Paris on one of our press checks in France a number of years ago and of course we got to know him when we featured him and his work in Issue Two of our magazine. It was a pleasure to renew the friendship and to have an opportunity to spend more time with him.

Jean-Philippe and his wife and young son moved to New York in August for the next year, maybe two and have encamped in the loft that Serge Bloch and his family were renting near Union Square. J-P's 11-year old son is attending school at Alliance Française and his wife, an art director for a French magazine, has taken a one-year leave of absence to enjoy her new life in the city.

It was interesting talking with Jean-Philippe about art and his early perceptions of illustration. HIs father was a creative director for Lancome so he was a bit familiar with the advertising world but didn't realize he could make a living as an artist. "I knew I wanted to do something in painting and drawing but was unsure how to make a living at it." he recounted. Starting out in art school J-P was influenced by the work off Savignac and other French poster designers. After school he was wise to realize that London would be a place where he might find work, and so he did.

We here in America are treated to Jean-Philippe's work on a monthly basis in GQ and now he is not only illustrating but also writing for the French GQ. In addition he has a new book out, The Cultivated Life: Artistic Literary, and Decorating Dramas ( Rizzoli 2009) and he has started a blog--Unknown Hipster--which he might make into a book at some future time. We New Yorkers have also been exposed to his work for The Mark, an upper eastside high-end hotel and condo. The fabulous slip-cased book fully illustrated can be seen through the windows of the rental office, or as they call it the Design Boutique. Designed by Pandiscio, the book is lushly illustrated in the romantic style of Jean-Philippe.

Thankfully Jean-Philippe's English is quite good as my French is non-existant. Asked how he came to speak so well, he of course had picked up some of the rudimentary language in school, but really grew his vocabulary by meeting art directors and other illustrators in London and New York. Asked what I should do facing a three day trip to Paris and not speaking the language well, even after weeks of Pimsleur's Conversational French, he said to think of it like a box, you start out with a small box of words you can recognize and hopefully put together to speak, then you build a bigger box by adding words and phrases. And then a bigger box. Of course he added that total immersion in the culture and surroundings is the real way to learn a language but that visual of the boxes is one that makes the task of learning French much easier to deal with. Hopefully I won't embarrass myself too badly.

We're pleased that he was able to take time out of his busy day to venture into Brooklyn on a rainy Thursday to share a meal. The menu: vegetable, chickpea and kielbasa ragout, side salad with individual cheesecakes and espresso for dessert--all fresh from our tiny kitchen. Jessica, you missed a great lunch! After a lovely get-together we bade adieu to Jean-Philippe as he headed back to work, an illustrator definitely hip but far from being unknown.

Pictured in the dining room: Jean-Philippe Delhomme and Sarah Munt; missing Jessica Quiñones--out sick with a cold.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Assistant Professor of Illustration Opening:
Emily Carr University

Emily Carr University of Art and Design, a world renowned learning community dedicated to research and the education of artists and designers, invites applications for a full-time tenure track position of Assistant Professor in Illustration, starting August 2010.

Located in downtown Vancouver on the West Coast of Canada, the main campus is on Granville Island, an award-winning site of urban renewal. The student body is culturally diverse with approximately 1800 students from across Canada and the world. Emily Carr University offers programs leading to undergraduate and graduate degrees in Fine Arts, Media Arts and Design. Emily Carr University is actively searching for a full-time faculty member in the Faculty of Visual Art + Material Practice to teach in our new Illustration program. The successful candidate will have an exemplary art practice with a demonstrated interest in all aspects of current pictorial discourses that bridge contemporary art and design.

The successful candidate may teach students at all levels, from Foundation to Graduate Studies, and will be expected to make a major contribution in developing Illustration curriculum in a university that is committed to the interrelation of theory and practice. Faculty members are expected to contribute in shaping the future of the university through participation in planning, administration and committees and in being actively engaged in the Emily Carr community. Candidates should have a Master of Fine Arts or equivalent, a minimum of two years related post-secondary teaching experience, and an active art practice.

Letters of application should address the candidate's expertise in the areas of teaching, pedagogical philosophy, current research, professional work and community service. The applicant should include a current curriculum vitae and supporting material including a CD or DVD containing images of recent work (maximum 20) presented as a Powerpoint or PDF file with a printout of thumbnail images submitted, catalogues and reviews (to a maximum of 5 each) and CD (if appropriate). Please provide a check list of submitted material. Submissions should include the names, addresses, telephone numbers, and email addresses of three persons who can be contacted for a reference.

All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply, however Canadians and permanent residents will be given priority.

Please send applications (quoting Competition #F009-2009) by November 18, 2009, to:

Human Resources Department
Emily Carr University of Art and Design
1399 Johnston St Vancouver BC V6H 3R9

Phone (604) 844-3824 Fax (604) 844-3885

Friday, October 2, 2009

Illustrator Barbara Nessim Honored as Norman Rockwell Museum's First Artist Laureate

This is a bit late but we wanted to recognize Barbara's honor by the Norman Rockwell Museum. Barbara was our magazine's second ICON and first Educator/Illustrator of the Year back in 2003 and I've been a huge fan for years--one of my very favorite artists and a wonderful person. She's been supporting our efforts since day one and we greatly appreciate it and her sage advice. Here's more from the NRM press release:

STOCKBRIDGE, MA.- Norman Rockwell Museum announces the honoring of Barbara Nessim as its first Artist Laureate. Nessim, an internationally known artist, illustrator, and educator, also served on the Museum's Board of Trustees from 1999 until 2008. The award will be presented to Nessim on behalf of the Museum's new Rockwell Center for American Visual Studies during its annual Board of Trustees meeting, held on Saturday, September, 26.

"We are honored to award our inaugural Artist Laureate award to Barbara Nessim," says Laurie Norton Moffatt, Director/CEO of Norman Rockwell Museum. "The commendation of this award recognizes Barbara's exceptional skills as an influential visual communicator and an early visionary in the digital arts. Barbara's ongoing dedication to the Museum, where she has worked closely with curatorial staff, and served as a passionate advocate for the Museum's expanded collection mission continues as she lends her vision and support- connecting the Museum to new illustration communities and younger artists."

A selection of Barbara Nessim's work will also be on view at Norman Rockwell Museum starting Saturday, September 26, and includes "Women In Madness," an original work generously donated by the artist for inclusion in the Museum's illustration art collection. Later that day, Nessim will present "Graphic Change," an illustrated talk about her evolution as an artist and her creative inspirations.

Illustrator Barbara Nessim has been a vital contributor and influential visionary in the art world over the past several decades. A digital art pioneer, Nessim helped shape the MFA Computer Arts Program at the School of Visual Arts, and was Chairperson of Illustration at Parsons School of Design for 12 years. Her work has graced the covers of Time, The New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, and many other publications. Most recently, the artist has been commissioned to create several large-scale works for various building lobbies in New York City. In addition to several years of dedicated service as a member of Norman Rockwell Museum's Board of Trustees, Nessim acted as liaison to the Museum's Illustrators Advisory Committee, helped develop the exhibition and participated in early discussions related to the development of the Rockwell Center for American Visual Studies. In addition to Norman Rockwell Musuem, an exhibition of Nessim's art will also be on view at The Sienna Gallery in Lenox, Massachusetts, starting September 25.

Photo of Barbara in her Soho studio, 2003 from the 3x3 Student Annual