Ted McGrath works in the Pencil Factory, a floor below Josh Cochran’s studio. Upon seeing our general interest in sketchbooks, Cochran insisted we come down and check out McGrath’s epic volumes. He’s got a weirdo, stream of consciousness style to his books that is absolutely brilliant. The pages are compiled like an overflowing hamburger of awesomeness, literally bursting at the seams.
Given the hallucinatory nature of McGrath’s work, it can be difficult to see how his style translates into work for clients such as The New York Times, Globe Investor, Business Week and Men’s Health. A look through McGrath’s PORTFOLIO SITE shows exactly how the madness of the sketchbook can translate into slightly less mad, but still vibrant and impressive editorial work.
Source: Ted McGrath
Kinoko is the moniker under which illustrator Kristine Evans creates her colorful, lively worlds. Kinoko met up with us in Manhattan last thursday to visit Milton Glaser’s studio. Before the meeting she let me take a look through her sketchbook. What I found was quite promising and very exciting. I can’t wait to see what comes out of Studio Kinoko in the very near future.
More from Kinoko on her FLICKR.
While she doesn’t have a studio space at The Pencil Factory, illustrator Jillian Tamaki is a frequent visitor to space. Her husband, illustrator Sam Weber has a studio on the floor below Josh Cochran’s.
Tamaki stopped by Cochran’s studio to chat with us about illustration, sketchbooks, art education and the art of marketing yourself in an increasingly changing editorial market. Tamaki demonstrates a great range in her subject matter and illustration approach. Her ability to capture the natural world is impeccable. Her illustrations perfectly capture that childlike sense of wonderment at the little joys of the world. I was fortunate enough to get the chance to look through her work sketchbook. I would definitely frame the first piece, even if it is only a thumbnail. Be sure to spend some time looking through Tamaki’s amazing portfolio.
The last day of the trip saw us venturing east into Brooklyn. Much has been said comparing the boro to Southeast Portland, and I could definitely see it. Our destination: The Pencil Factory. Many creative luminaries have their studios in this old (you guessed it) pencil factory converted to work-lofts, including: Ted McGrath, Jessica Hische, Jennifer Daniel, Grady McFerrin, Sam Weber, and our gracious host Josh Cochran.
Cochran has a playful style that utilizes expressive linework accented with fields of color. His work has a stream of consciousness, fresh from the sketchbook feel. Upon closer observation it becomes clear the care that goes into his renderings. Josh Cochran has been one of my favorites since I first discovered his work a couple years back. We were lucky enough to get the chance to flip through some of Josh’s sketchbooks and look at some original drawings. Many thanks to Josh Cochran for inviting us over to The Pencil Factory and taking the time to show us his work. Be sure to check out his SITE.
Cochran teaches Drawing for Illustration at Parsons:
Tomorrow, a glimpse into the sketchbook of Jillian Tamaki.
As a design student at PNCA, I often felt like I had the mind of a designer with the hands of an illustrator. I felt conflicted; should I focus on one field or the other? Milton Glaser stands out as one who really makes no distinction between the two. His work is an iconic part of our collective visual language. He says “drawing is thinking.” I’ve really taken those words to heart and they’ve helped me reconcile my illustrative tendencies into a cohesive practice of design thinking. We got the once in a lifetime opportunity to sit down and ask a few questions of one of my all time heroes of the graphic arts.
The man is still sharp as a tack. At 82 he is working with a productivity that could put many of us to shame. He never believed that less is more, just enough is more, as he puts it. He doesn’t think of the different disciplines of design that he dabbles in as unrelated. They’re all a part of his life experience, so essentially they are related.
On the topic of art he says that if it’s utilitarian, it’s not art. Art is integral to our survival as a species. The big job in life is determining what is real and what is not. The purpose of art is to make us attentive to what is real, to open our eyes to something we may not have seen otherwise. It’s easy to sense the passion for what he does in his words. He urges us to always keep an open mind and never cease to be astonished. Making a lot of money should never be your primary drive. Everything in life eventually comes full circle. Sitting in the presence of my hero, it makes perfect sense, at least for the moment. In the 45 minute meeting we receive enough insight to fuel us for quite some time.
If I remember just one thing from our encounter with Milton Glaser, it is this:
Just enough is more.
Today we ventured away from the city today over the Hudson into New Jersey. The railway took us through a swampy mire of rusted-out metal and discarded warehouses covered in graffiti. Though inspiring in a way, I wouldn’t want to spend too much time in this are, for fear of getting picked up by the Mob, or starting to glow from the ample pollution. After an hour on the train we ended up in a picturesque slice of the Garden State. Here we were met by our contact Jon Connor, who works in the web marketing department at art supply giant Utrecht.
He drove us about another hour into rural New Jersey, which wasn’t too different from rural Oregon. We ended up at a quaint red house in the township of Milford; behind which was the studio of the great Joe Ciardiello. Many, many thanks to Joe for inviting us into his studio.
Joe has produced work for the likes of Capitol Records, ESPN, Esquire, The New Yorker, New York Times, Playboy, Rolling Stone, and Sports Illustrated. His style is instantly recognizable to anyone who has picked up a magazine in the past decade. He works primarily in the art of portraiture, capturing the likeness of notable folks with a lively conture, accentuated by hatching and watercolor where it matters. Quite frankly the man works out of a dream studio in an idyllic country setting. I’ll let the images speak now.
Tomorrow we visit the the legend in his studio: Mr. Milton Glaser.
The first full day here in New York and we’ve already seen so much. We’ve encountered more people that have illustrated a cover for The New Yorker than you can count on two hands. If the purpose of this trip is to gain insight into the business of illustration, then we got that in spades today.
We started out the day with a brief visit to the Art Students League of New York. They had a showing of great figure drawings in the second floor gallery. From there we ventured over to The iSpot headquarters, where we met with Dave Tabler, the manager of portfolio sales. Over a sushi lunch we chatted about the current state of the illustration market, and what illustrators can do to market themselves. Essentially, the old guard needs to catch up with the new tech, because the days of waiting for the phone to ring are long since past. The modern illustrator needs to be much more proactive, creating there own content, as well as responding to current events happening in the world.
After lunch we took a quick cab ride over to the studio of illustrator Marcellus Hall, on the outskirts of Chinatown. We sat and chatted with Marcellus for a bit, exchanging sketchbooks, discussing differences in approach. His studio, like many illustrators, was located in his apartment. He had a great view of East Broadway from his studio window. I know how a view like that can help with the creativity. Marcellus has illustrated two New Yorker covers in his career. His work really speaks for itself. I must say though, his character studies and depiction of street life are spot on, and crackle with that energy we all try to capture in our work. Really stellar stuff, take a look:
After visiting Marcellus, we made our way over to Soho, where we spent and hour or so. We then made our way underground, purchasing Metrocards to take advantage of New York’s legendary subway system. Our destination was The School of Visual Arts, for a lecture on the future of illustration, moderated by the venerable political illustrator Steve Brodner. More on the lecture to come. Beforehand, we slipped into a pizza pub around the corner and I was able to sneak in some sketchbook time:
The lecture at SVA focused on the new direction that the field of illustration is headed. Is the editorial market continues to dwindle, new avenues are opening up in video, product design, the web as well as app graphics. The panel consisted of a quarter of young-gun illustration grads from SVA. I’d previously encountered the work of two of them: Mickey Duzyj and James Blagden. The format of the lecture was interesting because it was the old schoolers who were listening intently to the words of the new talent. It’s a constantly evolving world out there, illustrators must think beyond te printed page. You must create your own content and be an entrepreneur at the same time. With the right attitude and motivation, it is possible to stay ahead of the curve. Hearing this really confirms what I’ve felt for awhile. Now back to the drawing!
Tomorrow we visit the amazing John Ciardiello in New Jersey.