Wednesday, November 17, 2010

3x3 in Print

We just received the new issue of Print Magazine's Regional Design Issue, and not only is 3x3 featured but they have a quote from yours truly.

Only forty-two design firms were selected from New York City; only five designers had quotes featured in the section. I'm honored to have been included in such a prestigious group. Quite a coup for a design firm whose principal's commute is a 15-second walk from bedroom to office.

After-Hours: Davor Bakara

Another visitor from Germany, this time it's Davor Bakara from Stuttgart. Davor has been an illustrator for past eleven years, working in both Berlin and Stuttgart for a variety of clients. This was his first visit to New York.

Two of his classmates—who graduated a year ahead of him at the Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste Stuttgart—were Christoph Nieman and Thomas Fuchs. His professor was the inimitable artist and designer Heinz Edelmann. The bar had been set high. And Davor will admit to being intimidated by both Christoph and Thomas, yet he came to realize he was his own artist and that was just fine.

Davor was one of founders and editors of Moga Mobo and now concentrates on editorial illustration. He has been honored by Freistil, Zelxs and 3x3 and exhibits his work in Germany and New York. And is a member of the Illustratoren Organisation—Germany's illustration organization.

Our three-hour conversation compared the US to Germany with respect to art directors, assignments, fee structures and promotion. One of his favorite landmarks in the world is the Brooklyn Bridge, he'd eyed it from afar on his computer and after his walk across a new drawing appeared in his sketchbook. He had arrived. We have a feeling he'll be back.

Monday, November 15, 2010

After-Hours: Stephanie Wunderlich & Jens Bonnke

We had the pleasure of meeting several illustrators from Germany last week, among those were Stephanie Wunderlich from Hamburg and Jens Bonnke from Berlin. We had met Jens several years ago when I was a speaker at Illustrative: Berlin; both Jens and Stephanie have been regulars in our annual shows.

The illustrators were in town for the American Illustration Party and of course taking in the sites in New York. They met through a mutual friend, Orlando Hoetzel who was Stephanie's studio-mate in Hamburg and now is sharing a studio with Jens in Berlin. Contacts count. Stephanie was staying with Nora Krug in Prospect Heights—Monika Aichele had introduced the two when they both lived in Hamburg. Jens was staying with his friend Ingo Fast in Red Hook.

Stephanie and Jens were on their way to dinner at Nora's and had time to sample our homemade guacamole and tortilla chips appetizer accompanied by fresh lime margaritas!

Lunch with Peter Diamond

Last week's American Illustration Party drew a number of foreign visitors to the city and we had the pleasure of having one of those illustrators over to the studio for lunch. Peter Diamond is a native of Canada and attended art school in Nova Scotia, receiving a degree in fine art. He only took two illustration classes as part of his schooling and pursued a freelance career working with small bands in Canada before concentrating on editorial illustration. He now calls Vienna, Austria home. How did he end up there? His girlfriend who he met in school is from there and it was less trouble for him to move to Vienna than for her to move to Canada. At some point he might consider returning to North America but for now he is content with his new life in Europe.

The really interesting part of our lunches with illustrators is to hear the backstory of how they got to where they are today. Peter's was no less interesting. He would call himself a born-slacker, dabbling in this and that and not really concentrating on his studies or listening to the words of his professors. And then two things happened, the death of his mother and leaving school and having to make a living. Both forced him to grow up fast.

I'm sure the transformation didn't happen overnight, but in conversation he has the sensibilities of a successful illustrator who's been doing this for the past ten years or so, not the two that is reality. I was curious how this happened, but in the discussion it was apparent that he was simply smart enough to know what he didn't know about the business side of illustration: how to find work, how to promote, how to be an illustrator. And he just started looking for answers, a slacker no more. His father was an ornithologist who had various government jobs in Canada and his mother was an archivist, neither would be an influence on his newborn business acumen though he can attribute his organizational skills to his mother.

The work itself shows a maturity of someone who had studied illustration for four years, maybe even having a graduate degree, not someone who dabbled in fine art. Peter attributes this to a career-changing workshop given by Yuko Shimizu in Venice and more recently an online Tutormill session with Chris Buzelli and Marcos Chin.

He has recently made a concerted effort to make himself more visible in the marketplace, not only to potential clients but to the illustration community at large. He was overjoyed at being in the midst of the enormous talent pool that showed up at Thursday's AI Party and waded through the crowd to meet as many of his heroes as possible. He also came as a representative of a fledgling new illustration organization in Vienna, Illustria, hoping to share what he found with his compatriots back home.

Looking back on our lunch conversation it reminds me of watching a plant grow: you plant it, feed it, water it and it sprouts new growth, get's taller and begins to bear fruit. Peter is no different.

When I saw Peter's work for the first time I was convinced that he had been around a long time and that somehow I had overlooked him. I expected to be visited by a wise older artist, the wise part was evident and he comes off as much older than his years.

3x3 Illustration Annual No 7 - On Press

We're happy to report that the next 3x3 Illustration Annual is at the printer's and we expect delivery in approximately three weeks. Delivery in the States should be around the first of December, in the UK and Europe, by mid-December. All subscriber copies will be mailed directly from the printer.

The 564-page annual is double the size of last year's with a new layout, larger images and credits for the illustrator and art director on each page with full credits in the index. The redesign allows us to make most images full-page and to devote spreads to series of work by individual artists.

This year's cover artist is Alessandro Gottardo, aka Shout and our Educator of the Year is Massachusetts College of Art and Design's  instructor Scott Bakal. Scott is being recognized for his many artistic accomplishments as well as his devotion to students. Scott is on the Board of Directors at the Society of Illustrators in New York City and besides his position as Treasurer, he chairs the Student Scholarship Competition and Zankel Scholarship which are the largest illustration student competitions in the world. In 2009, he was also elected to the Sanford B.D. Low Illustration Collection as a Committee Member at the New Britain Museum of American Art.

The annual will be available on leading newsstands in bookstores in the US, Canada, the UK, parts of Europe and Asia. The annual will also be available this week for purchase online and through and after December 1. 

Cover artist Shout

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Design Leaders Slightly More Confident in 3rd Qtr

As a member of the AIGA I receive the results of a variety of surveys, this one is a positive one. Contrasting broader economic trends, the design industry confidence rises:

AIGA’s Design Leaders Confidence Index increased slightly to 98.99 from 96.13 in the third quarter of 2010, consistent with levels in October 2009 when it rose to 99.01. In rating the current design economy as compared to six months ago, 42.7 percent of the design leaders surveyed believed it was better; 47.2 percent about the same; and only 10.1 percent rated it as worse.

This relative optimism defies the broader trends in the economy. The Conference Board Measure of CEO Confidence, which was unchanged in the second quarter of 2010, declined in the third quarter. The measure now reads 50, down from 62 last quarter (a reading of more than 50 points reflects more positive than negative responses). Less than one third of respondents say conditions have improved compared to six months ago.

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index increased slightly in October, now standing at 50.2, up from 48.6 in September. The Present Situation Index increased to 23.9 from 23.3. The Expectations Index improved to 67.8 from 65.5.

Looking ahead in the design economy
Of surveyed design leaders, 57.9 percent estimated that the economy will be better six months from now; 36.8 percent expected it to be the same; and only 5.3 percent believed it would be worse. Only 15.6 percent believed the chances of hiring staff were worse now than on July 1, 2010; only 13.8 percent believed they were less likely to purchase hardware or software than three months ago.

The next Design Leaders Confidence Index survey will be conducted in mid-January 2011.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Desk Space Available in Push Pin Studio

Seymour Chwast has a desk space available in the 500-square foot Push Pin Studio on E. 9th Street in Manhattan. Bring your own computer but you'll be able to use the studio's printer and photocopier. Rent is $650/month. Contact Seymour at

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Hungarian Haiku

Istvan Banyai forwarded me the following as a response to this issue's cover that appears over there on the right:

13 drops of blood...even without the character on the cover says it all about illustration,
The moment before death,
The visible sign of:

the idea
the pain,
the argument,
the art director
the editor,
the colors
the composition
the after hours.
the changes
the stress
the smoking
the payment!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Victoria & Albert Museum Illustration Awards

The V&A Illustration Awards are held annually to highlight the best book and editorial illustration published in the UK in the previous year. Their aim is to encourage, recognise and celebrate high standards of creativity in the industry. The awards are free to enter and offer some of the most substantial financial prizes for illustration in the UK.

There are four different categories:

2011 Student Illustrator Award
2011 Book Cover Illustration Award
2011 Editorial Illustrator Awards
2011 Book Illustration Award

Entrants may submit up to three images of their work. All images uploaded must be in the JPEG format, maximum file size of 1MB and not larger than 900 pixels in width.

The awards are open to illustrators living in the UK or publishing within the UK Market. Work published in 2010 are eligible for this year’s awards.

Student Illustrator Award entries are encouraged from anyone who has attended an illustration course at any time during 2007 2009 or 2010. The brief is open. Students may submit material set as coursework by their tutors or they may define their own brief.


The winner for each category will receive £2,000 and a trophy. The overall winner of the V&A Illustration Awards will receive an additional £2,000.