Saturday, September 20, 2014

One Cool Kitty-Kat

Drawing an Ocelot

Prints, posters, stationery cards, and signed fine art reproductions  
are available for purchase in my Etys shop at:

Ocelot. 11x17" Ballpoint Pen and Ink wash

I recently visited our local county zoo at Van Saun Park in Paramus, New Jersey which has an Ocelot in captivity, and as soon as I saw it, this amazing looking animal had "draw me" written all over it! Beautiful patterns cover this small cat. Also know at the dwarf leopard, just a perfect nickname, the ocelot looks very much like a domestic cat, but with an amazing patterned fur coat that resembles a jaguar or leopard. So when I started sketching out a composition I really wanted to capture this crossover between domestic and wild animals. I love how house cats patiently sit in a position staring at something intensely, and at any moment they snap out of that trance and pounce with incredible speed. So i decided to try to capture that moment right before they jump! 

Living throughout South and Central America Ocelots have been sighted as far north as southern Texas and Arizona. Ocelots were killed in the Hundreds of Thousands for their fur and were classified as "vulnerable" until 1996 when they were protected. They are now considered "least concern" due to these conservation efforts. They are nocturnal and very territorial. Ocelots have been know to be kept as pets, and Salvador Dali being the most famous owner traveled with his pet Ocelot named "Babou". 

Salvador Dali and his pet Ocelot "Babou"

Here are some photos taken during my drawing process

Here's the finished drawing

Prints, posters and signed fine art reproductions are available 
for purchase in my Etys shop at: 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

52 Blue

Illustrating a digital story by Leslie Jamison

and my journey through the publishing business

Prints, posters, stationery cards, and signed fine art reproductions  
of my work are available for purchase in at:

"52 Blue" by Leslie Jamison. Published by the

When I received a tweet from Gray Baltran asking if I would be interested in illustrating a wonderful story called "52 Blue" by a Leslie Jamison, an American novelist and essayistI was trilled. Gray is a designer at The Atavist, which is a Brooklyn, New York bases digital publisher. He needed 11 drawings done in a little over a weeks time, and I was a couple days away from bringing my son, Harrison, to college for his Freshman year at Emerson in Boston. Not only that, I had to bring my daughter Jenna back to college for her Senior year a week later. I knew I was going to be swamped, but absolutely loved the story and subject matter and agreed to do it. I think it's those times, when you are challenged and under pressure that your true love for creativeness takes over.

After reading the manuscript, and adoring the story, I woke the next day and consumed myself with whale reference material. By the end of the day I had finished my first drawing and started on two more. And after just a week I had finished 11 drawings, sent them all to Gray and two days later the book was published and available for download. A production speed unimaginable a little more than a decade ago.

The drawings for "52 Blue" spread out on my dinning room table

It's still amazes me, being a Creative Director myself for almost 20 years, how technology has quickened the task of book creation and revolutionized it's process. OK, let's time travel back to 1987. I started out in the publishing business first landing a job as a photographer's assistant in a book packaging company called Rebus Inc. It was my Senior year at Parsons School of Design and after working for 2 years at a photography gallery called "Sander Gallery" in Soho, NY as an gallery assistant, the gallery suddenly closed. I was out of a job, but the Gallery Director, named Valorie Fisher, knew of an in-house photographer who had just loss his assistant and needed a new one. She told me I had the job if I wanted it. But I had no photography back ground except one fundamental photography class at school. I showed up for the interview and after a few minutes of questions by the Photographer, Steven Mays, he knew I had no experience whats so ever with the goings on in a photography studio, but he gave me a chance an hired me. It was a very exciting position, building sets for photo shoots, helping set up the photography equipment, working with prop stylists, makeup artists, test kitchen recipe developers and art directors for the publishing companies art department. The majority of our work was recipe books, so a big perk was eating all the extra food that the test kitchen chefs cooked of the food photographs.

My major at Parsons was illustration. I took one class on book design in my senior year and really enjoyed the process of creating a book. So when ever I had the chance to talk to the Art Director, a woman named Judy Henry, who ran the art department at Rebus I would. Now remember, this is still 1987. Everything done at that time for book production and layout was pre-computer. We are talking rubber cement, stats, x-acto knives, and t-squares. I loved the buzz of that eras art department. There was a certain kind of energy, collaboration, smell, and fun that has been lost since the computer took over. I don't mean to sound like an old timer, I thoroughly enjoy the easy at designing and doing production on a computer, but there still is a part of those good old days I miss.

So when I got my change to jump ship from being a photo assistant to an designer in the Art Department I took it. Rebus' art department at the time was large. Two Art Directors, 4 in-house designers, junior designers, and freelancers who came and went. These were the days that book design and creation took up to a year from start to finish. Each spread was hand created, with hand cut typography and pictures painstakingly layed out on boards with rubber cement. I started out as a junior-junior designer that worked in the stat room making ruff images to size that would be layed out on spreads with type to eventually become book pages. Slowly I worked my way through the ranks earning positions as a junior designer, to a designer, to assistant art director, and finally to Art Director of the company. Though the company has been sold and changed names many times, I'm still there 30 years later as the Creative Director. A legacy that few people can claim today in the ever changing and fast paced world of the New York publishing business. 

So there's a little history of my stumbling into graphic design and the publishing business. I feel in a way I've gone full circle. From graduating with a BA in illustrations, to working as a designer and art director in book publishing, to now illustrating digital books online. Something I get great joy out of doing. 

I know this post was much longer than most. If you got this point, thanks so much for taking the time to listen. And please excuse any typos or bad grammar. I'm no writer and make no claim to be. I'm just an artist that wants to tell his story. And remember, always be creative, no matter what it is you love to do!

Here are photos from the Atavist's website and within the digital book.

The Atavists Homepage with "52 Blue"

Descriptions of the Book on the

Some of my illustrations within the digital book

The credits page of "52 Blue"
I'm very proud to have been asked to be a part of the project

An email ad for the Book

One of my drawings from the book on

A grouping of images from the book.

Thank you to Gray Baltran, Leslie Jamison and The

Prints, posters and signed fine art reproductions of my art
 is available for purchase in my Etys shop at: 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Whale of a Tail, of a New Jersey Tale

Drawing a Humpback Whale

Prints, posters, stationery cards, and signed fine art reproductions  
are available for purchase in my Etys shop at:

Humpback Whale. 11x17" Ballpoint Pen and Ink wash

I live in New Jersey, and when you think of New Jersey whale watching just doesn't come to mind. Cape Cod, Maine, Southern California, and Hawaii are the places where you go to see whales. But recently whale sightings have increased off the New Jersey coast. Especially humpback whales are being sighted much more often this year than in prior ones. There are reports that say it could be because of cleaner waters that have encouraged huge rises in fish populations which whales feed on. This is such great news! I hope this continues and New Jersey becomes the next whale watching destination.

Here's an article that you can read with more details about the increased whale sightings off of the New Jersey coast. Btw, Great White Shark sightings are up too off of NJ. Fantastic news!

I love whales and always have since I was a kid. And strangely I haven't drawn them at all. But recently I had the opportunity to illustrate a non-fiction story by Leslie Jamison called "52 Blue". It's a story about the Loneliest whale. You can read it on The Atavist website here. I did 11 drawings which run throughout the story. It was a wonderful assignment and really made me enthusiastic about drawing whales. So after I finished the project I jumped right into drawing a humpback whale. Humpbacks whales have a special place in my heart. I had the amazing opportunity back in the late 1980's to dive with humpbacks while I was visiting my brother Tony who lived in Hawaii at the time. We were scuba diving off the coast of the Big Island of Hawaii when Humpbacks came upon use on a dive. I'll never forget the sounds they made. This was one of my top 10 life experiences.

Here are a couple of Humpback whale facts. They grow up to 62 feet long and can weight 40 tons. They are endangered with the world population at 80,000. They migrate up to 16,000 miles a year. They can live up to 50 years.

In this drawing I wanted to capture a feeling of peacefulness. My humpback is just floating and isn't moving at all. My whale is completely calm, with the reflection of the water all over him. I think this will be the first of many whale drawings I do. They are such magical looking creatures! Thanks as always for looking.

Here are some photos taken during my drawing process

Here's the finished drawing

Prints, posters and signed fine art reproductions are available 
for purchase in my Etys shop at: