Awesome weekend with Anita and Sam!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sam Weber and Anita Kunz, two of the brightest stars in the illustration universe, absolutely dazzled us this weekend at SCAD-Atlanta.

The awesomeness kicked off with Anita showing her amazingly smart and beautiful work from her associations with some of the biggest names in publishing, as well as her thought-provoking and provocative personal work. Her mantra was to always say something in your work, to make your voice be heard, because illustrators have the power to not only reflect the world we live in, but to affect it as well. I've always been a fan of her work, but now I'm a fan of the woman.
Sam followed Anita's very tough act with his own sumptuous work. For such a young man, his art is that of an old soul, with a truth, wisdom and beauty that is rare and precious. The images are hauntingly beautiful, and the thinking behind them is as multi-layered and textured as his art.

After their lectures, the floor was opened for a casual Q&A, and it was time well spent for everyone.

A few friends dropped by as well; Laura Coyle made it in to the lectures, as did Kelly McKernan, a friend and student from Kennesaw State, seen here chatting with Sam and Anita. And a few students made it up from Savannah, but Career Day was Friday in SAV, so only the hardcore fans made it up to ATL.
We had a great, crazy dinner at RuSan's afterwards. I will post no photos of that here, however;)
Friday was set aside for every visiting artists' favorite part of any speaking event; demos... NOT! It's nerve wracking and logistically tedious, but these two were amazing, and their pieces were actually quite good.

The main component of Anita's trademark style is her drawing; no tracing, not much reliance on reference, but just getting in there and drawing your subject from memory as much as possible. Don't rely on someone else's photograph to give you your vision- you have to do that yourself through your drawing. The painting part is all her own technique, and Anita still uses the Pelikan pan colors she's used since her uncle gave her a set when she was a little girl.

Kat's got a new BFF, aww.

In the early stages, the foreground elements of the piece are covered with a couple of layers of liquid masking fluid, then the background, in this case a night sky with stars and planets, is quickly painted in with acrylics. When the acrylics are dry, the masking fluid is pulled away in a big, stretchy sheet of rubber, revealing the white illustration board underneath.

Anita works primarily with pan watercolors on Crescent 100 board. Her technique involves building up the tonal variations using layers of cross-hatched dry-brush watercolors, then tinting the forms with a wash of color, dry-brushing more shadows and form shapes, then tinting again. It's a methodical building up of color and value, and can't be rushed or short-cut.

Not sure what Sam said here, but it must have been a hoot.

After a very nice lunch at Wolfgang Puck, Sam set out 20 or so originals.

After all the drool was cleaned up off of his artwork, he set into his demonstration.

Here, Sam is asking forgiveness for what he knows will be a humiliating disaster. Julie just wants him to get on with it and stop making excuses.

Sam did a skull image; it started as a light drawing on Fabriano 300# hotpress watercolor paper. He then covered the drawing with commercial high-tack frisket film (the kind you use on metallic surfaces), cut out the skull shape and removed the frisket from the skull area. He then mixed up a batch of Golden fluid acrylics in a warm, neutral tone. He wanted the skull to look broken and distressed, so to create breaks and fractures, he used liquid masking fluid (as did Anita) to mask a few edges of the skull. When the fluid was dry, he rubbed it a bit to make it less perfect, to create rough, ill-defined, organic shapes and edges that could be enhanced to look like fractures in the bone.

The next step is where his mojo comes into play; he creates a very organic, textured middle value on the skull that will simulate the pits and imperfections that all natural things have. He does this by doing the equivalent of a monoprint - dabbing that neutral acrylic mix onto the skull, and then placing the waxy side of the frisket's backing paper over the wet acrylics and rubbing the backside of the backing paper with his hands and fingers. The aim is to create irregular, textural qualities in the surface before starting in on the details. It's a trial and error process that often works but sometimes goes horribly wrong, necessitating a fresh start. In this case, it was acceptable, but not ideal in Sam's discerning view.
He then removes the frisket and starts in with watercolors in subtle variations of color and value to push and pull the values in very specific places to enhance the form and establish a logical light source. Once the value structure is established and the form reads well, he uses opaque gouache to pop a few highlights and create a convincing, dimensional form.

The piece is typically about 75% complete at this point, and that's when it's scanned and brought into Photoshop for the color corrections and finishing touches.
He showed how he uses Multiply layers to enrich the shadows, and Color Dodge layers to brighten the lighter tones. He uses the channels palette to create very precise tonal selections to shift color and value as needed to create the almost translucent surfaces he's become known for. No specific secrets will be revealed here, however ;-)

Saturday was Portfolio Review Day, and many students were wise enough to crawl out of bed to absorb the words of wisdom from our visiting artists.

Anita visiting with April Brantner

Lean, soaking in the wisdom from Sam.

Kat, showing Anita pictures of her dog Zeppelin when she should be showing her wonderful illustration work.

Kevin and Sam, waxing poetic about crazy monkeys and Marshall Arisman.

Not sure what Fernie and Anita are looking at...guess it's best the screen is turned away.

Sojung thinks that Sam's comments are just plain silly!

And, last but not least, Goñi is having his audience with the Master.

We topped off the trip with a Sunday Brunch at Mary Mac's, to send off our visitors from the Frozen North with a belly-full of Southern Hospitality; Blackened Catfish, Turnip Greens, Fried Okra, Sweet Potato Souffle, Fried Green Tomatoes, Pot Liquor and Cracklin' Cornbread, Sweet Tea and Banana Puddin'. Yum! Now we'll just lay back and listen to our arteries harden.

I can't say enough great things about our amazing guests, Anita and Sam. What a wonderful weekend having them here to share their knowledge and talent with all of us. It's so refreshing to meet people who are at the top of their game, and still are kind, generous, and humble. This business is full of great folks, but these two are off the charts. Sam and Anita, thanks so much. You both are welcome back any time.

Arts Forum Weekends are HERE!!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

February is an amazing month at SCAD-Atlanta. This Friday is Luba Lukova at 1pm in rooms 256 to 258 (the class rooms behind the hub), who is an amazing poster designer/illustrator that I've had the pleasure to meet, and she's terrific.
Then it's OUR TURN!!

Sam Weber is a true rising star in the Illustration community. His work is smart, beautiful and haunting. And this guy is just getting started.

Anita Kunz has won every accolade an illustrator can aspire to, and then some. She's been at this for some time and can speak to what has worked in the past as well as what newbies have to do to compete in this new world of illustration.

Each guest has a unique but valuable view of our chosen profession, which has morphed into a huge, scary, but potentially lucrative mix of traditional print-based work, new media, and gallery work as well. We've tried to cover all the bases here, and to miss it is to miss out on a LOT of great artwork and priceless information!

So, mark your calendars for the weekend of the 19th-21st. Anita and Sam will show their work and talk about their careers on Thursday the 19th from 5 to 9pm in room 347 (the Cintiq/Sequential Art lab). It will be small and informal, and space will be limited so come early for a good seat.
Friday the 20th is set aside for demos: Anita will be in 379 from 11am to noon, then Sam will go from 2 to 4pm.
Saturday the 21st is Portfolio Review day: Reviews will be from 10am to noon, and again from 2pm to 5pm. Sign-up sheets are on Rick's office door, room 381. The review times are filling up, so don't wait or you'll miss rain-checks!

Luba Lukova- Friday the 13th at 1pm

Friday, February 6, 2009

Poster NEW.jpg
Internationally renowned Graphic Designer and Illustrator Luba Lukova will be at SCAD-ATL as a guest of the Graphic Design Department. Her posters are thought-provoking and powerful both intellectually and graphically. Her lecture will be Friday the 13th at 1pm in rooms 256 to 258.
So, make plans to meet and hear Luba at 1 and then trek over to UGA later in the afternoon to hear Sergio Aragones of Mad Magazine fame. Sergio's talk begins at 5:30pm; see Prof. Mike Lowery about travel to Athens.

Sergio Aragonés coming to UGA, Feb 13 - Did I err?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Okay folks, it's time for a departmental field trip. Sergio Aragonés is coming to UGA's East Campus Feb 13, 2009!

From the invite:

Athens, Ga. – Sergio Aragonés, one of the world’s most-honored cartoonists and an early contributor to famed MAD magazine, will deliver the 2009 Jack Davis Distinguished Visiting Artist Lecture on the University of Georgia campus on Friday, Feb. 13.
The event will take place in the Lamar Dodd School of Art Building on UGA’s East Campus and is open free to the public.

Aragonés is by far one of my most favorite illustrators, having worked for MAD magazine (he does lots of strips and all of those little "marginals" - the bits around the other comic strips), and publishing his own comic, Groo. When Rick told me about this event, I reverted back to the Jr High version of me (same hooded sweat jacket) and said, "No Way!" Ask Rick. That happened.

So, I'm looking to see if anyone would be interested in joining me to take a trip over to Athens for some Aragonés goodness. In case you're wondering, yes, it is officially the field trip for my Humorous Illustration course. Those interested can make plans on their own, or can talk to me about hooking up with other students for a ride.

If you aren't familiar with his work, look him up!

Do you know of any upcoming events that would be great SCAD Illustration Dept outings? Let me know!