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Design process and the labor of love that is a single print

In my 2D design classes, I often try to convey the idea the design is not about having a perfect first idea and then running for tools to put it together. Rather, it is a progressive, incremental evolution that involves options that may appear, disappear, split off to become new work, or change drastically from one version to the next until one has the final “finished” piece.

Well, this is easy to preach, but being a visual artist I find it often better to show…

The piece for today is an image that like many of my ideas began with a sculpture.


This little fellow sat on my desk for a series of sketches. From the beginning, he seemed like some sort of worker or engineer. The original conception had him interacting with some sort of computer monitors..

Supercharge_01 Supercharge_02 Supercharge_03 Supercharge_04

Now the first sketch already brings in the phrase “Supercharge!” Notices that it disappears from future sketches..

Now the next set of sketches significantly changes the scene. I now bring in an emplacement, rather than a set of monitors.

Supercharge_05 Supercharge_06 Supercharge_07 Supercharge_08 Supercharge_09

The phrase “Supercharge your Defenses” now appears. You also will see a conception of images like what one might find as details from a technical manual, within a structure of mechanical lines and edges.

The actual structure itself is based, like the featured figure, on a sculptural model. In this case, the un-surfaced model that you see below:


Now the next phase involves making some choices about the items in the boxes. We see a sketch here, as well as a preliminary render and a redraw in illustrator in for the appearance thereof..




Now here we see where I had been experimenting to reckon how to best integrate these graphics.

Supercharge_11 Supercharge_12

And then I had a very auspicious meeting with a friend of mine. In a separate post, I mentioned my friend Ian Wells, a fellow illustrator and designer with a very keen sense of composition. As I showed him some of my initial renders from the computer and sketches, he had three strong observations:

1.) The piece needed more depth, more lead ins to engage the viewer.

2.) The mechanical border was indeed intriguing, but it could actually serve as the basis for an entirely different piece.

3.) Rather than have the images of the emplacement parts with hard borders, what if the were instead a holographic display that implied rotation in space?

This is the sort of dialogue that is absolutely crucial. In my classes, I tell my students that it is very easy to become attached to one’s own designs, to the exclusion of other options or the failure to recognize certain weaknesses. Having folks who can give honest and informed feedback is essential, and in this case it made a tremendous difference!

I immediately got to work sketching..This was what came forth..


Note the arc form of the graphics, and the colorful ethereal quality at work.

I completed the final illustration in August of 2015, and had it printed that month. A week later it was accepted into the Warwick Museum of Art’s Open Juried Annual show, and this December it was accepted into the East Greenwich Library’s juried “Winter’s Eve” show.

Here is what the final piece looks like:


I present this lengthy account because I want to share the sense of how much work and process goes into the act of creating artwork with a design sensibility.

Many beginning artists labor under the false conception that great art should simply spring forth like Athena from the Head of Zeus. Rather, if one sees the process of creation as a journey in which there are sidetracks, detours, and even splits in the road to be explored, this can ultimately be a very effective and rewarding working method.

And what of those first sketches with the monitors? Well they indeed have spawned an entirely different piece of art, as yet to be revealed!..

And a special custom project for a friend: Project L-10

One of my good friends and fellow illustrators, Ian Wells, has long shared with me his encyclopedic knowledge of comics, animation, science fiction and movie poster art. I now call him my “culture dealer” because when I visit, he always manages to find new “must see” comics, movies. TV and animation series and other wonderful stories. He himself is a very skilled illustrator and designer (RISD Illustration Dept.) and he works in Adobe Illustrator Vector graphics as well.

A few years back, he asked me if there was a way to realize one of his illustrations as an actual sculpted form. I thought this would be a marvelous challenge, and so I set to work using my found object assemblage skills accordingly. I presented this to him on his birthday, and I am pleased to say that he was quite happy with the results!

Finally back to work!

I’ve been more than busy this past year, but I finally was able to buckle down and get some much needed updates on this site. Looking at the top navigation, you’ll see a number of exciting new features including galleries of my sculptural work, my vector illustrations, and even an explanation of my basic work and process!


Now that I have been able to get the ball rolling, I hope to be able to continue updating the site with more fun material from both past and present, as well as some hints of future plans and projects..

So stay tuned!

A new Beginning

A New Beginning…

When I built my original web site, years ago, the original layout and design was created in the year 2000, with Dreamweaver 3. This was back in the days when Macromedia still was the author of the Dreamweaver, Flash, and Shockwave web programs.

At that point in time, there were a number of challenges in web design. Most folks did not have high speed access, and so web design needed to accommodate a 56k modem. Compounding this, the dominant browser at the time was Internet Explorer 6, which was seriously lacking in functionality.

As a result, I created my web site using standards that are now woefully out of date, including Web Slices (to speed image downloads) . I was also using image files for my text, as it was a right pain to try and format HTML text back in the day so that it would display with any consistency.

As you likely know, this was before CSS became a regular web feature.

Added to this, I underestimated the degree to which my web site would need to grow to accommodate new material. Adding pages became a serious endeavor, particularly with the rudimentary navigation structure I had in place.

It was a functional site, but over time it became a derelict property, like an abandoned museum with exhibits still locked in dusty cases.

Fast forward to a week ago, when the hosting service had some sort of problem, and they were forced to take down the site for a day.

At that moment, I had a choice- Should I re-upload the whole mess, or was this an opportunity to do something new..something I had been telling myself for the past three years that I need to do?

If you are here reading this, you can see what my choice was.

So what my master plan is, is as follows:

I’ve found for the past couple of years that social media has been far more effective for sharing my art and news than having a static site.
I still want to have a solid site as a steady resource, but I need time to build it properly. Thus, I shall for the time being use my Blog as the resource for my artwork and progress. This lets me work on the back end of my site without subjecting visitors to a veritable constellation of broken links and unfinished rooms.

I hope that folks will visit me here as I post news and updates from various social media channels.

The adventure begins!

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