Illustration Concepts pt.1

  • Here are my week-to-week projects from my first semester Illustration Concepts class, taught by Calef Brown. It's pretty evident how much fun I was having. 
  • Week 1: Museum Inspiration 
    Bound, Too
    Medium: Photo+ ink and digital color
    For our first assignment, we were supposed to take inspiration from one of the pieces in the RISD museum. I chose a charcoal drawing by the German artist Rosemarie Trockel of two figures with faces drawn as crocheted loops. Trockel seemed interested in hybreeding the essentialist, Greenbergian definitions of different art mediums- i.e. drawing as a cursive tracing of edges- with women's traditional domestic work. I wanted, as a response to this highbrow/lowbrow conflation, to find some essentialist expression of illustration itself. Illustration is generally considered to be less self-aware than fine artwork- never critiquing its own materiality but existing as a self-contained world in a picture. I wanted to represent this turning-within, the elevation of idea and imagination over an artwork's physical presense, by depicting a face deep in reverie. I sought to elevate the illustrative line itself, and its power to clearly connect disparate ideas (the visual metaphor of stringing-together) as opposed to Trockel's aimless, compulsive markmaking. The hetereogeneity of the different objects drawn in this piece would become a theme I explored throughout the semester. 

  • Week 2: Two Figures Interacting
    Antimatter Einstein Meets Dimestore Picasso
    Medium: Ink and digital color
    This week, we were asked to create a piece with two figures, interacting in some distinctive way. I was excited because I hadn't come up with any new characters since elementary school. I wasn't quite sure where to start, besides the idea that the figures should be opposed to one another in some way, and then also be opposed to themselves. What I came up with were the type of characters you might find in episode 500 of an animated show, in which the bevy of evil twins and historical figures from parallel universe plotlines might reunite (due to the exhaustedness and creative impoverishment of the show's writers). I thought it was funny for me to be an utterly impoverished character designer before I'd even begun. I also liked how, as long as there was some logical consistency in the way the characters were represented, the viewer would apprehend them as character designs and not just weird drawings. I decided I didn't want to make artworks anymore but falsified artifacts from imaginary franchises. 
  • Week 3: Personal Memory
    My Dad, pt.1
    Medium: Photoshop
    This week we were called upon to create a piece about a personal memory. I decided to create a comic about my dad's childhood, which was infinitely more fascinating and abject than my own. I don't want to always rely on drawing to communicate my message, so I made the comic using Photoshop alone. I liked the challenge of using a colorful, glitchy net art style to communicate a personal narrative.
  • Week 4: Take on A Cliche
    Medium: Gouache on paper
    This project felt very much within my wheelhouse. The idea for this image came to me over the summer. I executed it in the style of a children's book illustration to get some practice with gouache. 
  • Week 5: Take on a Quote 
    All Great Events... Starring the Hoboclown Chex Mix© 
    Medium: Mixed 
    The quote I chose was by Karl Marx: "All great events in history occur twice: first as tragedy, then as farce."  I needed some new characters to flesh out the idea, but again, I was confronted with the impoverishment of my own imagination. I decided to co-opt another practice from fine artists, the of use a readymade. I took a pre-established archetype, the hoboclown, and cross-bred it with a pre-extant "cast" (the six different pieces of classic Chex Mix©) to create a diverse but unified set of characters. I then treated them as if they were Mickey Mouse or some other classic franchise character that appears in an unthinkable number of different iterations- as mascot, as graphic, as foodstuff, as the target of savage parody, etc. The captions are meant to open the images up, rather than pin them down. I also made this piece an issue in my ongoing webcomic, False Dogs. ( (P.s. I created all of these images from scratch in a single day!)
  • Week 6-7: Character Development 
    Medium: Ink and digital color
    This week, we were tasked with creating an original character. Muhlady popped into my head, more or less fully formed. Her tagline is "She Exists To Be Loved." (in comparison to the Hoboclown Chex Mix, who exist to be trampled, spat on and maligned). 
    Sketchbook Prep:
  • With the Muhlady comic,  I wanted to tell a story about how much I hate objects. Reaches's speech is loosely based on Socratic model, but making sense of it might be dangerous. The plot was subliminally influenced by "The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even" by Marcel Duchamp. There are 11 more episodes to come, so stay tuned!
    The comic:
  • Week 8: Limerick 
    The Woman Whose Eyes
    Medium: Oil on canvas, inkjet print and chains
    This week we were asked to illustrate a limerick by 19th century poet Edward Lear. I chose this one:
    There was a young lady whose eyes,
    were unique as to colour and size;
    When she opened them wide,
    people all turned aside,
    and started away in surprise. 
    I don't want to always rely on my representational drawing skills, so I decided I wanted to convey the limerick in terms of its interior relationships. I created five paintings which unfold in sequence based on the limerick structure. The rhyming scheme is represented by canvas size, and the convention of ending the first and last line with the same word is represented by two, bookending black canvases. Of the painting style of these works, I will say: If I was in the painting department I would be put in the stocks. But I don't care, I love the pop surrealist palette and will employ it liberally! Anyhow, to link the paintings back to the poem, I appropriated imagery of eyes from the illustrations of my peers (and my own work) to paste over the canvases. I thought that only through appropriation could I find an array truly "unique as to color and size". I expected this to cause some controversy, but for whatever reason, it didn't. Along with pre-appropriating my own work, I also tried to pre-commodify it by adding adorable tags to the bottoms of the canvases. (The mini queen strikes again.)
  • Week 9: Editorial Illustration
    The Zoo Grinder
    Medium: Ink and digital color
    For this assignment, we were asked to illustrate a pre-existing article. I chose "Why You Didn’t See It Coming" by K.C. Cole, which claimed that the way humans percieve scale in a logarithmic fashion (one billion seeming like several million, when in reality it differs by a factor of 100) often prevents us from apprehending the true magnitude of forces of change. For this reason crippling financial and environmental disasters always seem to sneak up on us. I thought of how the meat industry consumes resources on an unsustainable scale, given the great quantities of water, food, and land that go into producing even an ounce of the stuff. I wanted to tie this in to the exponential rise of climate change, resulting in a domino-chain of extinction that will ultimately spell our species's own demise- hence, the Zoo Grinder, and its product, the Zoo Burger were born.