Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Mentorship Program, Film and Videos

Hello everyone,

Only one month left of 2012. The year has flown by rather quickly. Looking forward to 2013 and the  challenges and rewards it will bring.

I began teaching my first course for the Certificate of Illustration program at Minneapolis Community & Technical College in early November. The class is called Introduction to Illustration. The students are eager to learn about the field of illustration and I am happy to get the opportunity to share my knowledge and expertise with them.  

In mid-November, I was honored to be awarded the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Mentorship Program. It is an award the society gives out every year to a promising illustrator whose work has reached a high level of quality,  but who could still use some guidance and feedback from an established local illustrator. The illustrator this year is Jennifer Emery, an experienced, successful artist who has produced numerous illustrations for advertising and children's books. According to the program, Jennifer will act as my mentor for one whole year, in which I can ask her questions and get her input on a continual basis, while I develop a plan on where I want to direct my illustration career for the future. I am excited to be able to get the opportunity to work with a talented illustrator such as Jennifer and learn as much as I can from her.

Below is an animated film I made years ago as a student at the Minneapolis College of Art & Design (MCAD). Being in the days before computer animation took over the industry, I created the film using the traditional technique of drawing each movement on clear sheets of acetate, which are called cells. Although rather amateurish and primitive, the film still has a certain charm about it. The inspiration of the "story" is based from the classic Warner Bros. cartoon, Duck Amuck, directed by the legendary animator Chuck Jones. Adding to the quirkiness of the plot, the music is from Phillip Glass, the modernist composer.  

Here are a few videos I produced fairly recently, in which I edited in my Mac through iMovie.  The first is called Cool Ride. The second is named Morning.

Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Texas, Hartford and Graduation

Hello all,
In mid March, my fellow MFA students and I gathered in Ft Worth, TX. Local illustrators, many of them successful and highly respected in the illustration industry, came to Texas Christian University to present their work to us. Some of these talented artists included Jack Unruh, John Collier and Bart Forbes. Meeting these individuals in person and hearing them talk about their work was fascinating and inspirational. On the Texas trip, at the Ft Worth Stockyards, I remembered there was a corral that held a number of Longhorns. Seeing these large beasts up close impressed me very much, so I decided to illustrate one after the Texas trip:

In early June I finally finished my MFA thesis paper.  The paper is called Tradigital: Merging Old and New. In the paper, I described my process of using a combination of traditional art-making materials (i.e. linocut printmaking) and digital tools (Photoshop, Corel Painter) to produce a distinctive style of illustration.  For subject matter I chose to illustrate scenes based on the story of Swiss legend William Tell. In addition, I created six iconic images of food and beverage that were entirely produced digitally, but still maintain a lino-cut print look.

Here is an example from each series:

William Tell

Iconic Illustrations

I graduated on July 20th. What I have learned in The Hartford Art School’s MFA in Illustration program has been invaluable to me. Being surrounded by such talented artists, whether it be faculty, guest presenters or fellow students, has made me a better illustrator and educator.


Saturday, March 10, 2012

New Work and Upcoming Texas Trip

Hello Everyone,

Spring is approaching, and warm temperatures are slowly beginning to creep into the air, at least here in Minnesota. Soon things will be green again.

I recently had the opportunity to create an illustration for the Writer Magazine. The piece was for an article on how poetry can be used to tell a story. For the article, a few examples of poems with a narrative were discussed. One poem was from Emily Dickinson called "I Heard a Fly Buzz". It is about a young woman dying in her bed as a fly buzzes around her room.  For the illustration, I decided to focus almost entirely on the fly by showing it crawling alongside the wall while the image of the dying woman is reflected in the vermin's eye. The scene contains a combination of mystery, sadness and beauty which properly fits the strange and rather macabre theme of the poem.  Here is the illustration:

On March 18th I will be traveling for the MFA in Illustration program through the Hartford Art School, University of Hartford, CT. This time to Dallas, TX for about a week. I am looking forward to meet local illustrators from the Dallas/Ft Worth area and hear them speak about their work and the field of illustration in general. It will be good to see my fellow students again and observe some of the culture of Texas (rodeo, barbeque, etc...).

Goodbye for now!


Friday, December 23, 2011

Greetings everyone,

It's two days before Christmas and nine days before the start of 2012. May all who read this have a joyous Christmas and Happy New Year!...

In mid November, I traveled to Pasadena, CA for my MFA in Illustration program through the Hartford Art School, University of Hartford. As before, it was a delight to see my fellow graduate students again. We were able to have the honor of meeting in person local professional illustrators and viewing their work. Some illustrators of note were Gary Meyer, Scott Anderson, Joan Charles, Dan Quarnstrom, Kenton Nelson, Paul Rogers and Bill Robles. All of these people produce wonderful work and I recommend anyone to check out their websites. As an assignment for the trip, I created a portrait of tennis star John McEnroe on the cover of Sports Illustrated, but done in the style of illustrator Robert Cunningham whom was mentioned in Murray Tinkelman's class last July. I chose Cunningham because I really admire his application of strong, bold colors and dynamic compositions. Below is the assignment I created:

In late November, it was a real pleasure that I received an assignment from the art director at Christianity Today in Brazil. It was for an article about how people read the Bible in different ways. The illustration will be published in the February issue of the magazine.  Here is the final illustration:

This past Fall, I taught an Oil Painting class at the long-established Edina Art Center.  It went really well. All the students were cooperative and eager to learn from me the methods and techniques of painting in oils. Looking forward to teaching the next class at Bloomington Art Center starting in January. The course will cover children's book illustration.

That's it for now. Talk to you in 2012!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Summer News

In my last entry, I mentioned how busy 2011 has been so far. Well, the "busyness" continued into the rest of the Spring and through the Summer...

In July, I returned to Hartford, CT for two weeks to attend classes for my MFA in Illustration program. It was good to be back in Hartford to catch up with my fellow classmates and meet the first year students.  But I especially enjoyed attending two classes that were taught by group of well-respected and established illustrators. The first one was Digital Illustration, which was led by Nancy Stahl and Zina Saunders. The assignment was to design and illustrate the introductory and interface screen for an IPad game. I chose to create a target practice game with William Tell, my thesis subject, as the theme (gain points by shooting the apple off the son's head!). The final pieces came out really well and I received very good reviews from students and the teachers. After seeing my finals, both Zina and Murray Tinkelman, the program director, said my work comes across as very genuine and personal and not contrived. Shown below are the two final pieces for the game assignment. In the second week we had a class taught by Gary Kelly and Chris Payne. In the beginning, both illustrators demonstrated their technique to the class, then afterward the students could work in one of those techniques and create their own pieces. I chose to produce a series of monoprints, a form of printmaking that Gary Kelly demonstrated. A few examples are shown below. While in that class, I was also able to show my portfolio website to both Gary and Chris. They commented on a number of my illustrations and gave me much valuable feedback on how to improve. One thing they emphasized on was the importance of finding other successful illustrators, past or present, whose works resemble mine and learn from them.

Lastly, I had the opportunity to teach some illustration and fine art classes at two long-established local art centers, Edina Art Center and Bloomington Art Center, this Summer.  It was a gratifying experience to share my knowledge to the students and see their interest and enthusiasm while they worked on their assignments during class.


Introduction screen for Digital Illustration class

  Interface screen for Digital Illustration class

Monoprint from Illustration II class

Monoprint from Illustration II class

Friday, April 29, 2011

SCBWI Conference and San Francisco

Quite a busy 2011 so far!

In late January,  I returned to New York City to attend the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Winter Conference. The conference brought in a large number of children's book writers and illustrators from around the country.  It was very educational and inspiring to meet other creative people in the industry and listen to speeches by successful, well known authors and illustrators. The most beneficial attributes of the conference were three workshops that I attended.  These workshops, or presentations, were each lead by an art director from a prominent book publisher: Simon & Schuster, Viking (Penguin) and Little, Brown & Co. Each art director shared their professional knowledge and insight into the children's book industry. They also accepted sample postcards from the attendees who participated in these workshops.  While in NYC,  I took the opportunity to present my portfolio to art directors at a number of children's book publishers and received valuable feedback.

In March, my fellow MFA students and I reunited again for an exciting week in San Francisco. We had the great opportunity to meet a number of talented and professional illustrators from the Bay area and hear them speak about their work.  We also participated in two field trips while in Northern California. The first was a bus ride to San Jose to see the large collection of illustrations owned by "Bunny" Carter, an instructor at San Jose State and the Hartford Art School. The illustrations, many of them created during the first half of the 20th century, were wonderful and inspiring. The second trip was to LucasFilm at the Presidio in San Francisco, where we were able to have a rare tour of the facility and see many of the authentic props and models used in various LucasFilm movies.  Murray Tinkleman, the director of the program, and a few of the instructors from the Hartford Art School also participated in the trips.  On the final day, we had the critique for the NYC trip assignment, in which the students had to create an illustration with a New York City theme. Below is the piece I produced, which can also be seen in the Portfolio page of my website, Studiofmtrauts.

In the last few months, I had the opportunity to teach a few illustration classes. The subject in both classes was how to illustrate children's books. It was a pleasure to share my knowledge to a group of students who were eager to learn. On the last day, many of the students commented that they enjoyed the class and learned much from it, for which I was happy and grateful to hear.  I am scheduled to teach more classes later this Spring and through of the Summer.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

New York City and Illustration Assignment

From November 14th to the 21st I spent a week in New York City for the MFA in Illustration program I am currently enrolled in. It was a very memorable time, reconnecting with fellow students and faculty while attending artist lectures and visiting various sites of the city.  One event, which took place at the Society of Illustrators, was the class critique for the assignment that was due for the NYC trip. The assignment called for the student to create a portrait of a famous figure living in the early to mid Twentieth century. The image was to be created imitating a style of an illustrator living during that time and show the portrait on the cover of a well known magazine of that period. I chose to portray Duke Ellington on the cover of Collier's magazine, done in the style of Robert Fawcett. Below is the finished piece. It received many positive reviews from the instructors and students and I was very honored by their compliments.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Back to School & New Greeting Cards

This past July, I officially entered the world of a graduate student as I attended the first classes at the University of Hartford to pursue my Master of Fine Arts degree in Illustration. The two weeks at the school were jam packed with studio work, lectures and social time with other illustrators.  I was able to meet many talented artists, including visiting illustrators, faculty and fellow classmates. The time spent there was extremely helpful in my professional growth as an illustrator. I'm looking forward to the trip to New York City in November to spend time at the Society of Illustrators.

The following are a few Christmas cards I made recently. They were created using linoleum-cut prints and digital tools. I don't make greeting cards very often, but it is fun to do it once in a while.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Personal works from the past

I created these works years ago. I recently dug them out and thought they would be interesting to share. They are symbols of my early days as a mature artist, at the time I was developing my own style by experimenting with various mediums.

"Lady with Earring"
Ink and marker on paper
A slick, mid-Eighties rendering of a sophisticated woman.

"Past Heroes" and "Whining Stein"
Woodblock relief prints
My first experience with relief printmaking.

"Self Portrait"
Acrylic on Canvas
A spontaneous, expressive portrait created in a medium I use very seldom today.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

First entry and summer book list

May 30th 2010, I am writing the first entry of my blog. As an illustrator, this blog is created to share my insights, observations, news, and my most recent artwork periodically. Hope you will find them interesting, fun and helpful.

Several books are piled up on my desk waiting for me to absorb in the next couple of weeks. 
"The Illustrator in America" by Walt Reed
"The Art Spirit" by Robert Henri
"Angels in the Architecture" by Douglas Jones and Douglas Wilson
"Show and Tell" by Dilys Evans

I look forward to sharing my thoughts about these books with you soon. My new website is ready to be launched any day.  And in the next few weeks, I am excited to experiment combining traditional and digital art mediums in my illustration work.  I am eager to show you the results.