ILLUSTRATION’05 THE JOURNAL OF CONTEMPOR ARY ILLUSTR ATION
$9.00 US / $11.00 CAN
05 CONTENTS: 2 A Letter from the Editor
4 Peter de Sève: A Question of Character by Daniel Zimmer 28
The Fantastic Visions of Marc Gabbana
The Art of Joe De Vito
by David Horn
by Tim Lasiuta
66 Joseph Csatari: “On my Honor, I will Do My Best” by Dr. Donald Stoltz
78 Book Reviews 80 Exhibitions and Events
ON THE COVER: Peter de Sève’s book cover illustration for The Bear Went Over the Mountain, Henry Holt and Company, 1997
05 WELCOME This is an exciting time for illustration. Flip through any of the latest annuals from the Society of Illustrators, Print, Communication Arts, The Workbook, American Illustration, or any of the others, and you will see as many different styles, techniques and approaches as there are individual artists. (And there are a lot of artists out there!) The industry is more creative and diverse than ever. As a former illustrator, I understand the unique challenges and rewards offered by this profession. To be successful in our current climate requires dedication and perseverance, a talent for self-promotion, technical skill, and a unique voice. There are many opportunities, but there are more hurdles to overcome and more competition than ever. Each of the many artists featured in this magazine has distinguished him or herself in this crowded arena, and has managed to excel in the face of market shifts, stock agencies, or plain old fashioned artist’s block. In our discussions with these illustrators, you will gain valuable insights into how they think, how they work, and how they deal with their daily challenges. I hope that this will be both educational and inspiring. One thing I’ve learned is that no matter how skilled or successful you may become, the quest for excellence is never-ending. Every quarterly issue of ’05 will showcase a diverse mix of some of the best illustrators working today. New faces will stand side-by-side with established talents. As well, we will work to explore areas of the illustration field that are often ignored by the mainstream design magazines and awards annuals. My hope is that we will present an unbiased view of the many exciting facets of this extraordinary profession. My thanks go out to the many contributors to this premiere issue, the advertisers who have placed their faith in me, and the brave souls who have subscribed or ordered copies and have been waiting for months on end for this to finally arrive. I hope all of you are as excited about this first issue as I am! Sincerely,
Dan Zimmer, Publisher
ILLUSTRATION ’05 Issue One, Spring 2005. © 2005 by ILLUSTRATION ’05. All text and artwork is © the respective creators or publishers. None of the material in this publication may be reproduced in any form without the written permission of ILLUSTRATION ’05, or the respective copyright holders. All of the images utilized herein are reproduced for historical and scholarly purposes only. Every effort has been made to provide factually accurate information. ILLUSTRATION ’05 is published four times per year. Single copies may be purchased for $9 postage paid in the U.S. Four-issue subscriptions are available for $36 postage paid in the U.S. Make checks or money orders payable to ILLUSTRATION MAGAZINE. For advertising information and rates please contact Daniel Zimmer at 314-577-6768, or email Dan@illo.us. Our address is: ILLUSTRATION ’05, 3640 Russell Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63110. We cannot accept orders over the telephone.
Peter de Sève, 2004. Photo by Gerald Forster.
Peter de Sève A Question of Character Interview by Daniel Zimmer
hether he’s illustrating covers for the New Yorker or designing characters for the latest computer animated films, Peter de Sève’s work demonstrates versatility in a classical style. His drawings hearken back to an earlier era, mixing impeccable draftsmanship with a rich sense of color. His dark humor and sense for witty characterizations has led him to become one of the leading character designers for such feature films as The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Prince of Egypt, Mulan, Tarzan, A Bug’s Life, Finding Nemo, Robots and Ice Age. In his 25 year career as a professional illustrator, de Sève has had work appear in just about every major American magazine you can think of including Time, Newsweek, Smithsonian, Premiere, and Entertainment Weekly. Born in 1958 and a native of Great Neck, New York, de Sève began drawing obsessively at an early age, and developed a love of comics and illustrated books. After attending Parsons School of Design in New York City, from which he graduated in 1980, de Sève began his career in editorial illustration, first as an assistant to the book designer/illustrator J.C. Suares. While in school, he was exposed to contemporary and 19th Century American and European illustration, a background that continues to influence his style. Other highlights of the artist’s career include designing posters for several Broadway shows, and winning a silver Clio award for his work on a Nike animated television commercial entitled “Destination Moon.” In 2002, de Sève received the distinguished Hamilton King Award from the Society of Illustrators—one of the industry’s highest honors. Today, de Sève splits his time between working as a character designer for Twentieth Century Fox (Blue Sky Studios) on the sequel to Ice Age and continuing to do covers for The New Yorker magazine.
Also in 2002, he had the opportunity to illustrate Mark Twain’s short story “A Murder, a Mystery, and a Marriage,” a previously unpublished piece by the famous American author. De Sève now lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife Randall and daughter Paulina, but commutes regularly to Blue Sky Studios in White Plains, New York, to work on his character designs. During a break from his hectic schedule, Peter sat down to discuss his life, career, and his views on the current state of commercial illustration. ’05: What set you on the path to becoming an illustrator? PETER: I think I was on my way to becoming an illustrator way before I knew what an illustrator was. As little kid, I was an obsessive doodler with a morbid imagination. I remember this cartoon character I created called Thumbellina, who was a tiny witch. These were stick figure drawings, very primitive, but they were sequential. She was always in the wrong place, like standing on a bowling lane in front of the pins, or taking a nap in a catcher’s mitt. Every strip ended with this cute little witch dying horribly. I found an old drawing I did when I was about 8 years old—I think it’s the oldest drawing of mine that I have—of a car going over a cliff. There’s a horizon where the waves meet the cliff, and scrawled at the top of the drawing are the words: “two people in car”, just in case you didn’t notice them falling to their death. In the next drawing, you see the cliff and the water, and down below there are sharks. Floating on the surface of the water is a fedora with a feather in its brim. (laughs) I was just a little kid when I did that, but that’s my sense of humor to this day, right down to that feather. It was very surprising to me, and almost shocking, to see how
“Tights, Camera, Action!”, The New Yorker, 1996
Advertisement for Metropolitan Transit Authority, Late. Again., 1986
similar the tone of it was to the work I do now. I realized then that I haven’t changed that much! (laughs) As far as early influences go, I loved comic books. I liked superheroes, but I loved monsters, and those I could find in the Warren magazines, with great titles like Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella. It was a fortunate period to be interested in comics because many of the Warren artists were holdovers from the E.C. days. E.C.s, or Entertaining Comics, were these great comic books published in the 1950’s before the infamous comic book code was enforced. These magazines were illustrated by some of the classic artists in comic book history— Frank Frazetta, Al Williamson, Wally Wood, Graham Ingels, and Jack Davis to name a few. The Warren magazines were where I first fell in love with Frazetta, and that has never really gone away. I know he’s easy to poke fun at now, with his paintings of barbarians and busty Amazon women—I admit, there’s not enormous depth going on there psychologically—but they’re still beautiful to look at. There is clearly such a love of drawing in his work. This is the thing that has always inspired me. More than actual painting, I’ve always been attracted to the “draw-ers.” I was fascinated by the Warren material, which was dark and gothic, but I was also into the D.C. comics done by some of the younger guys, like Bernie Wrightson and Jeff Jones, who were also heavily influenced by Frazetta and genres of art as well. Jones was a pre-Raphaelite fan, Wrightson went for gothic turn of the century work, and Kaluta was obsessed with art deco and art nouveau. It was, in a way, a great introduction to a larger world of art. Frazetta was still peaking, and Jeff Jones, Mike Kaluta and Bernie Wrightson were in their prime. Their styles were quite powerful to me. I imitated their work shamelessly, and there are still certain things that creep into my drawings— like “Hey, I remember where I learned how to draw that knuckle!”
“Eureka!”, New York Magazine, 1985
(laughs) I really do believe that we are a product of the work we grow up with, and that no one really develops in a vacuum. Somewhere along the line I also got wind of Arthur Rackham, Edmund Dulac, and Heinrich Kley; all illustrators from an earlier era. I had a huge yellow poster of about 20 vignette drawings by Kley pinned to the wall over my bed. I was kind of like those people who believe that you can learn French by playing audio tapes while sleeping. (laughs) After all these years I think about those drawings both consciously and unconsciously while working. It ain’t French, but I’ll take it. So, all of this to say that I had a taste of other things beyond comics before I went to Parsons (School of Design). ’05: Since you had drawn your own comic strips, did you consider becoming a comic book artist? PETER: Oh, I think I was pretty confident when I left high school that I wanted to be a comic book artist; I was pretty intent on that. My dream was to illustrate something ridiculous like a mix of Spider Man and Swamp Thing with a dash of Ray Bradbury. My childhood friend Jon Victor and I put together a comic book called Old Bones and Other Relics, a poorly printed, stapled together, black-and-white comic book with some really awful stories. I mean, I can’t speak for Jon—he was doing better work than me at the time—but I shudder to think of the strips I did for that. We were heavily influenced by Bad Time Stories (a comic put out by Bernie Wrightson) and now that I think of it, my dedication was to Wrightson. He was my hero. I think it bears mention that it was hugely important for me to have a compadre like Jon with whom I could compare work and, let’s face it, compete with. I would come over to his house to find reams of new drawings and paintings each time i visited, and it was an endless source of both frustration and inspiration. But then I went off to Parsons, and I was exposed to a lot of new
Book cover for The NY Public Library Collection of Mystery Stories, 2000
things. It was a good time for editorial illustration. The fabulous work being done on the op-ed page by Brad Holland and others was very inspirational. Those guys were stars and the work they were doing was compelling, both visually and intellectually. There was real thinking going on in those drawings. Part of what was wonderful about the oped was that many of those drawings weren’t done for specific articles, they were just submitted and then applied to an article. The op-ed page was the place to be seen in those days. ’05: What made you decide to go to Parsons? PETER: I went to Parsons in large measure because I had the good fortune of having an illustrator, Chuck Leise, as my high school art teacher. He had a deep love and respect for illustration which he shared with, then the chairman of illustration at Parsons, Murray Tinkleman. Chuck had met Murray at the venerable 1960s Cooper Studios and had stayed in touch. As the chair at Parsons, Murray had a traveling slide show that he brought to high schools trolling for new recruits. He did his presentation for my art class, and as he clicked through hundreds of slides of illustrations from the last century I thought, “My God, I know these guys!” It was thrilling for me. I remember that it crystallized for me, “I can do this for a living!” So I went to Parsons, and with Murray there, I felt protected. It was intimidating to go to an art school, particularly as a fan of illustration. One almost felt the need to apologize for it. After all, it wasn’t fine art. Half the people you met didn’t feel it was art at all.
But I never felt that way. I went in loving it and I came out loving it. I never thought twice about needing to paint or draw other things. My mission was to draw what I liked to draw, and that’s what I did. ’05: What was your overall impression of the school? PETER: One thing I’ll say about Parsons is I came out of it having done a lot of black-and-white artwork. I went into it being terrified of color because I’m mildly color blind. It’s not as bad as it sounds, certain shades of red and green and brown can really throw me. Or a purple that is really a blue with a hint of red is a problem because I don’t register the red part! Over the years I’ve become much more confident with color and have grown to love it. Color blindness doesn’t improve, but if you learn to memorize your pallete and always arrange it in the same way, the only thing left is to develop a good value sense. I’ve also had the good fortune to have a wife with a great sense of color who makes sure that I’m not painting green people. Sadly, I didn’t have her around when I was in Parsons, or right after I got out, so I moved forward slowly in my use of color. I look back now on my days at Parsons and feel some regret that I didn’t use that safe environment to experiment more. My impression of Parsons and art school in general is two-sided. I wouldn’t say that art school taught me everything I know, by any means. In fact, they didn’t teach me anything specific on how to do some things, and I was very frustrated by that. I could have used some basic nuts and bolts lessons in painting. But the truth is, I wasn’t a great student either, so I can’t lay it all in their lap. The idea of a step-by-step method of instruction was not really embraced, so I
“What a Croc!”, California Lawyer, 2001
Can-Can, Sketchbook, Editions Paquet, 2003
eventually had to learn how to paint in watercolor on my own. I was always sort of drawn to murky palletes, so I ended up doing a lot of mostly brown paintings with touches of color. I was like that for a long time until I got braver and I started to trust myself more. So, although I still have trouble seeing color, I have adapted to the use of it in my work. ’05: Have you ever thought about teaching? PETER: I have, but I think I’m way too selfish to teach right now. It takes a lot, even if it’s just one day a week. I think it would kill me, because I would have to be thinking about what I would have to do that day, and then the day would come and I would have to deal with that, and then I would have to deal with what they did and what they were going to do for the next week and so on. It’s just too much to occupy my feeble brain. It’s not that I have better things to do, I’m just a little too self-involved. I really admire people who dedicate themselves to teaching. Otherwise who would get kids like me, coming out of high school, excited about illustration? So I’m grateful that there are people who are willing to do the job.
But I do enjoy doing guest lectures, where—let’s face it— I go in and talk about myself for two hours. I visit schools quite a bit, maybe three or four times a year. And it’s usually very nice, the reception is great, and the people there are genuinely interested, for the most part. It’s not always the case. There are some classes I’ve walked into where the students are really jaded and that can be frustrating. Probably the best part about working with students is having the opportunity to work outside of my own bubble and see other people’s points of view and varying approaches to their work. It’s always eye-opening to see how someone else would solve a problem. ’05: I wanted to ask you about the development of your “style.” By the time you left Parsons, you had done a lot of drawing. Was your style sort of fixed at that point? PETER: I’m actually a little embarrassed about it, because you could look at the drawings that I brought to my college portfolio review and you would easily tell that I did them. They were sort of fantasy oriented and more puerile than my work now, but they were fanciful and caricatured and a little dark. What I liked to draw then I still
Book cover for Dealing with Dragons, Harcourt, 2002
“Batman, The Musical!”, Entertainment Weekly, 1999
like to draw now. Fat moustached people and weird birds, people in old suits, dragons, robots, Victorian furniture—it was all there in one form or another. So it’s a little embarrassing. You won’t see this fantastic arc in my work, I don’t think. ’05: Was it easy or difficult for you to break into the field? PETER: Because I was still very nervous about the color, I started small and with black-and-white work. There was still somewhat of a market for black-and-white illustrations, and I was doing them for many of the endless streams of computer magazines that were out then in the early ’80s. The PC had just been born, practically, and that age was dawning. There were lots of magazines desperate to make what they were writing look interesting—and they needed that more than anything. There seemed to be a pretty decent amount of work there, and I did every possible permutation you can think of on a business man and a computer. We called them any-guy jobs and it always required the typical pinstriped, 30-year-old white male and his computer all regurgitated time after time in the form of one visual metaphor after another. ’05: Did you have a rep at that time? PETER: I only recently have signed with one. There’s an animation studio in New York called Hornet run by a former Blue Sky (Ice Age) person named Michael Fedder. He represents me on a nonexclusive basis, and only for television commercials. But earlier on I never felt like having a rep was truly necessary. In the beginning I was getting such small jobs that splitting the fees with someone just didn’t seem practical. Also, the lack of color in my work was keeping me from getting bigger clients, I think. I was still finding my way. It happened very organically: I started off doing these small black-and-whites, and then I got small color pieces, and on the strength of those I started to get larger pieces, full pages, and then covers. And that’s when things started to break open for me, when I became more confident with the
“Tunnel Vision”, The New Yorker, 2002
Book cover for Royal Scandals, Penguin Putnam, 2002
color. It would be very difficult to have a career as an illustrator only doing black-and-white work. After I graduated, I become an assistant to J.C. Suares and worked as his gofer. After about a year and a half, it became obvious to him that my heart wasn’t really in it, and it was crystal clear to me that it was time to get really serious about illustration. I made the leap and started to go after the work full-time. My work with J.C. was a good thing for me, although his style of illustration and mine were so unrelated that there wasn’t a lot for me to learn from him drawingwise. But I did have the opportunity to see someone run his own studio, and run it very well. It was a beautiful place; he worked out of his home, and he was doing covers for the Atlantic Monthly and designing books. He always had a lot of plates in the air, and I got to stand there and listen to him telling an art director that the piece was almost done, and he was actually just putting his pen to paper. (laughs) You know, seeing him handle it all, it was very valuable. For anyone starting out, if you can be an assistant or an apprentice of some kind, it’s worth it; it demystifies the whole process. For example, I didn’t even know how to present a picture to an art director. So it’s a great thing to be able to stand over somebody’s shoulder and see how they do things. There are so many artists who I would like to watch at work, because I could learn a ton. ’05: How has the computer revolution changed your business? PETER: You wouldn’t believe what a Luddite I used to be, but that’s certainly changed. I’m sitting between a huge Apple flatscreen, and to my right is the largest laptop they make. It’s like Star Trek in here. I came into the computer age kicking and screaming, mostly because I couldn’t imagine what it could possibly offer me, and also because I thought it would be a huge distraction (I was right about that!) But in terms of convenience, and in terms of it speeding communication and filing recorded drawings and images, it’s been incredibly useful.
Opera CD cover, Sony music, 1998
I remember not long ago having to take a photocopy of a drawing and sending it over by FedEx or courier. I also remember when the fax machine came in and it was amazing sending pictures over the wire. It was unbelievable to me. But I haven’t faxed a drawing in years. Now I scan them, email them, and get instant feedback. As far as actually creating pictures on the computer, I still haven’t done that. I would miss the original; having the actual piece in my hand. The character design that I’ve been doing has gotten me into creating hybrid images, where I take the drawing, scan it, and then color multiple versions that I print out. I remember working on Manny from Ice Age, and I was able to keep the parts of the drawing that I liked and then work up 10 different trunks or tusks until I had what I was looking for. I have friends at Blue Sky who make beautiful paint-
ings completely on the computer, and it’s a perfectly valid form of artwork. They are bringing every sensibility to the screen that they bring to the canvas. In animation though, you don’t have time to wrestle with drying paints, so the computer makes all of that a lot easier and faster. ’05: How has the response been to your website? Do you get a lot of feedback from it? PETER: It’s really unbelievable. I’ve gotten fan mail from Europe, India and China, and the other day I got something from Korea. It’s pretty wild. The website has been a real boon to me. I used to always have 10 or 15 pre-arranged packets of samples ready to send out whenever a prospective client was interested. The packets consisted of my pages from the Workbook and American Showcase, and might
Book cover for The Bear Went Over the Mountain, Henry Holt and Company, 1997
Book cover for My Life and Times by Frank Harris, Knopf, 2000
include any current article about me. But when they call me now, invariably they’ve already seen the website and that’s sufficient. It’s a huge jump from where it was even five years ago. Back then, showing work exclusively on the web wasn’t practical. Today, art directors have completely embraced it and have been drawn into the convenience. As a result, I almost never send out sample packets anymore.
’05: Do you still advertise in the Workbook or in the other annual artist’s directories? PETER: I’ve always been pretty assiduous about advertising and entering the competitions: Communication Arts, Spectrum, and the Society of Illustrators especially. Last year, though, I forgot the Society of Illustrators and that was a blunder, because that’s a year of work
that is now out of date and out of the eye. I learned a long time ago, from speaking with older illustrators, that no matter how well things are going, people will forget who you are in a year or two if you don’t remind them that you’re still out there and kicking. And it’s partially because the turnover in art directors is tremendous. All of the new people coming out of art schools don’t know you from beans, and
you really have to maintain your visibility in the market. You can’t get complacent. ’05: Does it ever bother you working with younger or less experienced art directors? PETER: I haven’t run across it in a way that I can really recall. It’s hard to say without sounding egotistical, but generally I’m treated
Call For Entries Poster, The Society of Illustrators, NYC, 2002
very nicely and with respect for my ability to conceptualize. People call me and for the most part they let me go after the idea for myself, and don’t heavily art direct. It makes sense, because my work is the idea plus the drawing in equal measure. Ideally, that’s what you want to bring to this business—not just pretty pictures. Even if they’re bad ideas, they’re still your ideas. ’05: Did it take you awhile to build up the reputation of being an idea man, where your clients were coming to you for your concepts and not just for your style? PETER: I’d like to think that happened pretty easily. It’s a little “chicken and egg,” where somewhere along the line I began to trust myself more, and to push harder, and to be more clear about what I felt was
the idea that would make sense coming from me. Occasionally I’ll get a call from someone who will say, “Well, we have this idea...” and I’ll say, “You know, if I did it that way it just wouldn’t look right.” If it’s not from my point of view I turn those jobs down. It took me a long time to trust myself and to realize that I actually did have my own perspective. And I think that’s a really important thing to discover about one’s self and one’s work. ’05: Do you ever suffer from writer’s block or artist’s block? PETER: What time is it? (laughs) I mean, you name it. I occassionally have periods of supreme blankness, but the ideas eventually come. They don’t always come fast, but they get here sooner or later. ’05: What is your opinion on stock art?
The Emperor’s New Clothes, Starbright foundation, 1997
Finn McCoul, Rabbit Ears Productions, 1996
Finn McCoul, Rabbit Ears Productions, 1996
PETER: I never liked the idea of displaying my work as stock. To me it’s like a morgue, or a Sears catalog of drawings. It’s like saying, here is a collection of drawings that are so generic you can use them for whatever you want. I’ve never been into the whole concept for mostly egotistical reasons, I just never wanted to see my work appear that way. There’s also the prevailing notion that in many ways your stock art is competing against you. You’re providing illustrations in your style at a third of your own rate. ’05: Has the growth of stock art affected the volume of your freelance work for magazines? PETER: I hardly do much editorial illustration anymore, so I can’t really say. I think I would be doing o.k. with it if I were still putting myself out there. I’ve been in the business now for over 25 years, so hopefully that would ensure me some amount of work. But I know one thing that is affecting the volume of work is that there are far more illustrators out in the field than ever before, and from what I can tell there are a lot fewer magazines. When I first got into the field there were so many more magazines and places to get published. Niche magazines were all over the newsstands, and I worked for a lot of really weird places. I had steady gigs at places like Working Mother, but drawing an attractive working mother gamely juggling her infant and her attaché over and over became a descent into hell for me. (laughs) But it kept me alive, and so did Field and Stream and Golf Digest, Forbes, Business Week and many others. Some of them are still publishing, but many of them aren’t. The business seems much harder now. Interestingly, though, I think we’re on the edge of something new and things might be changing. With the computer and with new publishing techniques, it is possible to crePoster for Scapin, Court Theater, Chicago, 2002
“I hove him out of the balloon!”, interior book illustration for A Murder, a Mystery, and a Marriage by Mark Twain, W.W. Norton, 2001
“Ugly Americans”, The New Yorker, 2001
Horse, Sketchbook, Editions Paquet, 2003
ate artwork and beautiful prints that are lithograph quality that you don’t have to take over a printing press to create. That might dilute the market by making prints less valuable, or it might create a new market, I don’t know. At the same time, it allows people to get their artwork out there and sell it. I was listening to the radio today and there was a story on about someone who was developing this glue strip for book binding. He was also developing a tabletop device that would allow you to bind a book at home. The new printers are fantastic and they were talking about how it might become this revolutionary thing that would enable people to make extremely limited run books at home. It’s ironic to me after all the sturm und drang that technology hasn’t replaced the book, but in fact it might make books more readily available. By allowing you to print them on demand, it would mean that a book would never really be “out of print” anymore. ’05: Was your transition from editorial illustration into the film and book cover illustration work a calculated career move, or was that a result of market forces? PETER: I don’t think any of my career moves have been consciously made. It’s all sort of flowed organically from one thing into another. I just started to get the character design work, and I started to feel like the editorial illustration work was not only very tiring, but it doesn’t really have a shelf life. You put your best work into it, and the next week or month, the magazine is gone. That can be a little exasperating after a couple of decades. Doing book covers is much more satisfying. A book will usually stay around for a few years, so you have the opportunity to do something with a longer life. Also, the artwork isn’t just dropped into a grid or a pre-designed template. Book covers are often beautifully designed and produced so each one can be special and unique. Every now and then I will take an editorial job. I just did a piece for the New York Times
“Art and Leisure” section, and it was great because it was a cover and a big color piece, and there was an opportunity for me to have fun. And that’s been my criteria, actually, for all of my jobs now. Happily, after being in the trenches for so long, you get to pick your jobs after awhile. That’s what I’m able to do now, knock on wood, so I pick the ones that are going to be fun and the ones that I’m going to come out of with something I’m proud to show. It isn’t always the case; I’ve done plenty of clunkers, but I always try to see every job as an opportunity. That’s the challenge, and part of the appeal of doing illustration— the problem solving. And part of the problem is not only solving what the article is about, but also how I can create a metaphor or an image that is really satisfying to me. It becomes this game, and I still enjoy it. ’05: Tell me about winning the Hamilton King Award for 2002. PETER: The illustration was for “A Murder, a Mystery, and a Marriage”—a short story Mark Twain submitted to The Atlantic in 1876 that was essentially forgotten and remained unpublished until recently. So when they decided to publish the story, I was approached by Bob Weil at W.W. Norton to do it! I created a cover and five interior full color illustrations for the piece. I won the award for a picture of a crazed man throwing H.G. Wells out of a hot air balloon. ’05: Tell me about your work for the New Yorker. I know they are very particular about their cover images. PETER: They are. When Françoise Mouly [the art editor] first called me, she asked if I’d be interested in doing a cover. I said of course, and she said, “Here’s the idea.”And I thought, uh-oh. She described the concept and it was simply wrong for me. It was not the kind of cover I’d always imagined doing for them, and I realized that however I handled this moment, it would set a precedent with her, me and the New Yorker. So I said,
A Murder, A Mystery, and A Marriage by Mark Twain, W.W. Norton, 2001
The New Yorker, January 24, 1994
The New Yorker, July 17, 1995
“No, thank you.” It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do as an illustrator. I told her that of course, I really wanted to do a cover for them, but I just couldn’t do that one. Luckily she seemed to understand, and soon after, I submitted a sketch that I liked—and she liked—and that’s been the framework of our dialogue ever since. We have debates over almost every cover, and sometimes she wins, and sometimes I do. Ultimately, though, I won’t proceed with an image if I don’t feel confident about it. I think it’s important to stick to your guns, particularly on a New Yorker cover. Because in the end, it’s your name on it, and you’ve got to take full responsiblity for it. ’05: How many covers have you done? PETER: I’ve done over 20. And I’ve struggled over every single one.They’re very important to me. ’05: When was your latest cover published? PETER: It was in December. It was a yoga cover. Françoise and I had our traditional dicussion over the image. I presented it as a woman in a lotus position, only she’s quite intense…her teeth are clenched and her biceps are flexing, and she’s taking her yoga very seriously. Behind her on the window ledge is a little bird, singing sweetly. I also did a version with a tiny little fly buzzing by her head. Françoise preferred the fly. I really regretted showing her that version, because I wanted the little spot of color with the bird, and I thought there was something funnier about the bird. I really liked the juxtaposition of this beautiful little symbol of nature, and this intense New Yorker who wants to kill it because it’s messing with her chi. But I can see now that graphically Françoise was absolutely right, because the tinier the annoyance, the better. And it paid off. ’05: Maybe the fly was a little more “New York” than the bird. PETER: Possibly, although we do actually have birds in New York, too. I saw one a few weeks ago.
The New Yorker, December 8, 2003
’05: Tell me about your work with the films, and how that all began. PETER: One day I got a phone call from a fellow named Roy Conli, who was producing The Hunchback of Notre Dame for Disney. It was surprising because as far as I knew, Disney never went very far afield for preproduction work; they always worked inside the studio with the artists they had trained. But because Roy wasn’t so entrenched in the Disney studio method—he had just come out of a theater background and this was his first animated film—he called me. He had seen an Irish folk tale called Finn McCoul which I illustrated for an outfit called Rabbit Ears. On the strength of that he asked me if I would like to design characters for The Hunchback. I thought, yeah, the costumes, the grotesquerie and the mood would be a perfect fit for me. I thought it would be a great opportunity to do something in an entirely different medium. After presenting a lot of drawings to the co-directors, Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale, I began to get a very strong feeling that a lot of the design on the picture had already been set. Other designers had been drawing Quasimodo for months, and the directors had already fallen in love with those designs, so I had to fight to get them to pay attention to mine. I got a very distinct impression that I had come to the party too late. Looking back, I think I had some influence here and there in the film, but not as significantly as I would have liked. But it was a great start, and for several years I found myself working on one film after another. I worked on Prince of Egypt, Emperor’s New Groove, Tarzan, A Bug’s Life (I had a lot to do with those grasshoppers!) and Finding Nemo. With each of those films my involvement began and ended with drawings on paper, and I had no further involvement in the process. Ice Age was a completely different experience. It was being created in White Plains, New York, instead of LA, which was fantastic because it’s only an hour away from me. Thinking back on it, I’m not sure that I knew exactly what I was getting into at the time. I was pretty sure that whatever this thing was, it probably wasn’t going to be very good. (laughs) I just couldn’t imagine that something this big was being done in Westchester. Anyway, there were a few other designers who were also pitch-
Drawing from Sketchbook, Editions Paquet, 2003
This page: Preliminary sketches and original cover artwork for The New Yorker, January 19, 1998. “Through the Park, James.”
© Twentieth Century Fox, 2005. All Rights Reserved.
Diego, Sid and Manny, a still from Ice Age, 2002
ing in work to develop it, but slowly they seemed to fade back in the picture, and I realized that I was alone there. I worked for months generating hundreds of drawings before I realized, hey, wait a minute, I’m designing all of the characters! And not only that, but I also had a kind of control and authorship that I hadn’t experienced before in animation. On previous films I would be sent the story, and a breakdown of the characters. Then, I would send them the drawings and we would go back and forth like that for months, and nobody ever asked me to come out and work with the sculptors to oversee the look of the characters. It was always, “Thanks very much. Bye!” (laughs) No matter what project I was on—Tarzan, Prince of Egypt, A Bug’s Life—it was always the same story. But on Ice Age, because it was a new studio and there were no established precedents, no one seemed to realize that they were doing it in an unusual way. So it evolved into a really unique opportunity where I had the chance to see my characters appear on the screen the way I had intended them to look. Of course, there are some characters in the show that don’t work—characters that came along early in the pipeline before I knew how far I could go with them. The truth is, given the time, I would still be tweaking them all! Chris Wedge directed the first Ice Age movie, and he trusted me enormously. Having his confidence behind me allowed me to get things done that I haven’t done at any other studio. This new movie, Ice
Age 2, is being directed by Carlos Saldanha, who also co-directed the first one. Because of all our prior experience together we were able to hit the ground running when production began. We didn’t have to spend an enormous amount of time feeling around for the tone of the story and the look of the characters. With that established already, I simply had to come up with the most fun prehistoric creatures I could think of, or I should say, that I could find. When I came into the first meeting, I was intent that we should take advantage of the fact that we own the Ice Age and no one else is doing Ice Age creatures. I wanted every character to be something that no one has seen before in an animated film. I did a lot of research through books, the web and of course, The American Museum of Natural History. Although it’s a cartoon, I wanted the creatures to be based as much on existing fossil evidence as possible. My hope was that a paleontologist could go see the film and recognize the species of each character. ’05: So once the pre-production phase is done, do you continue on to work with the animators and the modelers as the rest of the film comes together? PETER: Yes. I work shoulder to shoulder with the modellers, supervising the sculpture in clay and then the modeling in the computer. You know, you can work on a model for months and months, between paper and clay. And after that, there are weeks and weeks of it being modeled in the computer. During the whole process the character is in a kind of crucified, zombie pose, and the facial features have to be pretty neutral. After awhile you wonder whether the damn thing is any good or not. But then the riggers and
“Manny” maquette, from the film Ice Age. Sculpture by Michael Defeo.
Images © Twentieth Century Fox, 2005. All Rights Reserved.
Character studies for Scrat, for the film Ice Age, 1999
animators get their hands on them and breathe life into them. I never get over the thrill of seeing my characters get animated. After the modeling I remain and help to develop the colors and the textures, and to offer notes as to what the fur might look like, such as how the stripes on the Scrat’s tail would appear and whether the hair should be spikier or fluffier. And that’s great, because color and texture are such a huge part of the character. I also confer with the riggers and animators on how these characters might move, or what their facial expressions would look like. The entire film is a colossal effort by about 200 people, and the final result is always greater than the sum of its parts. For a character designer it’s a dream come true to work on something this size. To have this crew of geniuses and all this technical fire power geared to making these creatures look the best they can be is an amazing thing to experience. ’05: When you first started working on Ice Age, was the funding already in place, or were you creating material that was being used to pitch the film? PETER: Ice Age was floating around at Fox even before it came to Blue Sky. Lori Forte, the producer on both films, had been shepherding it through the development process since it’s infancy. Originally it was a 2D project that Don Bluth’s studio was going to animate, then it finally fell to Blue Sky. Ice Age was Blue Sky’s first animated feature, and Fox was in new territory with this kind of film. If opening night was not a big night, there was a strong likelihood it would spell the end for Blue Sky. So you can imagine how relieved people were when the numbers started to come in. It was a surprise hit. Nobody expected that, least of all Fox. Unfortunately, they dropped the ball in terms of licensing and merchandising. They had
just come off the debacle with the remake of Planet of the Apes, which was heavily merchandised, and they took a beating with that. So no toys were made, much to my disappointment. Well, there were a few plush toys, but they were dreadful. I should add that for the next film, they are going to do some amazing toys. ’05: If they had made toys, would you have received any residuals? PETER: Everything I’ve done in film has been work for hire, and I knew that going in. Until I come up with a property that is mine, that’s the way it’s going to be. I had a little more leverage this time around with my new contract, and although it’s still work for hire, there are other compensations that make it very worthwhile for me. ’05: When you first began creating your characters, did the actors or their voices play any role in helping you to shape the drawings? Did you know which actors had been cast for the film? PETER: Not at all. In fact, the opposite was true. I would say they based their performances to a large extent on what the characters looked like. For instance, it’s pretty clear that John Leguizamo chose Sid’s lisp because of that huge overbite I gave him. When I first heard Leguizamo’s impression of Sid, as I was walking by one of the editing rooms at Blue Sky, I heard that voice and I thought, “Oh God, that sucks.” And it just shows that I don’t know everything. Once I heard more of it, and saw it cut with animation, I could see I was dead wrong, I think he did a phenomenal job. ’05: Have you ever tried your hand at any of the animation yourself? Have you worked with any of the tools or messed around with making a scene? PETER: You know, it’s still so foreign to me. I’ll stand over the modeller’s shoulders as they push points around and rearrange geometry, and I hardly know what the hell they’re doing. It is occult
Rendered version of Rodney Copperbottom from the film ROBOTS, 2005 © Twentieth Century Fox, 2005. All Rights Reserved.
Book cover for The Underground Man, Penguin USA, 1997
to me. They are sculpting and and animating with a mouse… it’s nuts! I think I might be able to learn to do something in 2-D animation, but I just don’t have the patience. I remember this animator at Dreamworks wanted to see me try to animate. So he set me up with a lightbox and some paper, and with something that he had started, and I just couldn’t do it. Thank God there are people who like to do that stuff! ’05: How far along is the sequel? What stage are you at right now? PETER: I can’t say too much except that we are well under way, and I think it’s going to look amazing! Keep in mind, Blue Sky has produced an amazing film in between the Ice Age movies called ROBOTS, which will be opening any minute. They’ve learned a hell of a lot and Ice Age 2 will benefit tremendously from that. ’05: Did you work on that film? PETER: Briefly, and only on the main character, Rodney. ’05: What is your next project after Ice Age 2? PETER: Ice Age is wrapping up for me, but I hope to continue to work with Blue Sky Studios in the future, and have even been talking with them about a project of my own. Beyond that, I’m open to anything. ’05: I love the sketchbook you published recently with the French publisher Editions Paquet, and I wonder if you have plans for a larger book on your work sometime soon? PETER: I get that question more and more these days and the truth is, I’m now ready to do one. I’ve had a few possibilities in the last couple of years, but they never came together in just the right way. You only get to do a book like that once, maybe twice, in a career and I would want it to be done just right. ’05
A new hardcover sketchbook collecting over 200 of Peter’s black and white drawings is now available from Editions Paquet in France as well as Stuart Ng Books and Bud Plant Comic Art in the U.S.
All artwork in this article is ©2005 by Peter de Sève, unless otherwise noted. For more information on Peter, please visit his website at: www.peterdeseve.com.
Marc Gabbana in the studio, 2005
The Fantastic Visions of
MARC GABBANA Interview by David Horn
A number of the fantastic paintings reproduced in this article are not, technically speaking, illustrations. Though they may look like covers of science-fiction novels or magazines, many of these works are actually fine art paintings—expressions of Marc Gabbana’s highly personal futuristic visions and fantasies. While Marc’s career has included work for some of the world’s largest advertising agencies, toy companies, and more, it is his portfolio of personal paintings that has led him to his latest and most fulfilling work as a conceptual designer for the film industry. Marc has lent his talents to some of the grandest Hollywood productions in recent memory, from the Star Wars prequels and The Matrix franchise, to The Polar Express, The War of the Worlds, and many more. He has worked on a bewildering number of blockbuster films in the past few years, yet while his plate is full with the day-today work of creating movie magic, his fertile imagination continues to move forward. He continues producing new paintings for himself, and is confident that one day soon he will have the opportunity to create his own films or a book of his own characters and stories. We sat down with Marc recently to discuss his evolution as an artist, and his unique career path in the field of conceptual illustration. ’05: Tell me a little about where you grew up and how you first became interested in art. Marc: I was born in France in 1966 and I lived there for 11 years until my family moved to Canada in 1977. We lived in a small farming community, a very peaceful, pastoral setting, very rural with a population of only around 3,000 people. I had an ideal childhood with a lot of time spent with my family enjoying the outdoor life. I would explore forests and caves with my friends, swim, play soccer, all the good stuff. The color gray did not exist in my life there. I started
The B-Monster, 14 x 18, gouache
drawing when I was around four or five years old. I was not very serious about it at first but my parents encouraged me. They were always buying me new art supplies, so I stuck to it and seemed to excel at it. In 1977, my dad wanted to move the family somewhere with better economic opportunities, so we moved to Ontario where we had some relatives. It was quite a culture shock for me as I had to learn to speak a new language and adjust to life in a big city, but it was a very exciting time as well. ’05: What sort of things first inspired you to draw? Marc: They published some pretty cool comic books in France that I would look forward to seeing each week. One of the main ones was PIF; it was about a dog and a cat, and it featured work by Moebius and some of the other great French artists of that time. Asterix and Lucky Luke were also incredible in terms of the detail lavished on the artwork. Those were hardbound books and I collected them like little treasures. At the time I had no idea that I would end up in this field, but those images always stuck in the back of my mind. Most of my other friends didn’t draw that much, but I had other interests back then so it didn’t really bother me. Art is pretty much of a solitary pursuit anyway. ’05: Tell me about some of the highlights of your emergence as an artist over the years. Marc: Well, I studied art and drafting all through high school— partially on the advice of my dad who encouraged me to take architecture and design classes because he thought it would help me to get a good job when I graduated. I found some of the coursework to be semi-creative, but I soon discovered that I excelled at art quite a bit more. I enjoyed the freedom and creativity of being able to draw or paint whatever came into my mind. So all through high school I continued to study both art and architecture, and when I
Detroit—Next Exit, 14 x 24, gouache
finished high school I was offered a four-year, tuition-free scholarship to architecture school based on my portfolio and my grades. That school was Lawrence Institute of Technology in Southfield, Michigan. I went there for a year and then I decided to transfer to the Center for Creative Studies, which is the biggest art school in Detroit, known mostly for its industrial design program. It’s where all the top automotive companies come and recruit their car designers, and they have a very strong illustration department as well. It was a grueling yet very fulfilling program. ’05: What were you preparing yourself for in terms of a career? Marc: After two years, I declared my major in illustration and then this little voice inside me told me to start doing sci-fi work on my own time. It was what I really wanted to do ever since I was a little kid filling notebook sheets with monsters and spaceships. What really brought it home to me was when I read about Ralph Mcquarrie, one of the original artists who worked on the Star Wars films. I realized that you can make a career out of doing fantasy art. I started to see the potential commercial applications of the kind of work I enjoyed producing. I decided to aggressively beef up my sci-fi portfolio while still doing as much pure commercial art as I could to pay the bills. There was no movie industry where I lived in Canada, so I had to try and find a way to make my work known out in Hollywood. ’05: At what point did you decide that you were going to concentrate strictly on freelance assignments rather than going to work for someone full time? Marc: While I was attending school I landed an internship where I went to work for a graphic design studio, and I became completely immersed in this working environment for an entire summer. It scared the hell out of me! I vowed then and there that I would never be employed in that capacity again. Places like that do not put a premium on imagination. That’s why I decided to do most of my work in the advertising field—to pay the bills while I was trying to get my sci-fi work noticed. My incarceration in the work-force taught me a lot about discipline and meeting deadlines, as well as the ability to communicate with clients and work with other creative people, so I guess it wasn’t all bad! ’05: Tell me about your commercial art career. Marc: During my third year at the Center for Creative Studies I
decided to start freelancing, and by the time I graduated the following year I had enough clients to keep me busy full time. Most of my work was for local Detroit-based ad agencies doing a lot of automotive related paintings for the major manufacturers. I was also hired to create ads for K-Mart and Domino’s Pizza, so I kept pretty busy. I really don’t remember ever turning down an assignment during that time; I was just happy to be painting and seeing my work in print. I was happiest doing big paintings for posters and car ads rather than line art for K-Mart flyers, that’s for sure. ’05: How did you promote yourself as an artist? Marc: A few years after I graduated I began placing ads in American Showcase and Blackbook, and started to receive a lot of calls. It was an opportunity for me to get my work seen not only outside of Detroit, but by people other than your typical ad agency art director. The best part was that it gave me a forum to showcase my sci-fi artwork. I would occasionally include some of my more elaborate car paintings, but mostly it was my sci-fi work that got the most exposure. Once I started focusing exclusively on my sci-fi work, there was no looking back. ’05: Have you always preferred creating finished painting to doing sketches and comps? Marc: Absolutely. I always saw things in a very cinematic way. What school taught me was the technique of how to lay a painting down. The finished painting is always the most satisfying part of the process to me. Most of the paintings I did for my portfolio back then were horizontal, in a cinematic format. I always wanted to work for the movies. ’05: Did you want to do fantasy book cover illustrations? Marc: I had always admired fantasy book covers by Michael Whelan and other illustrators, and I thought at first that I would like to do that, but I never had the opportunity to present my portfolio to any of those publishers. I was always busy enough with my advertising work. Also, I figured if a client was telling me what to do in the advertising field, I didn’t want a client telling me what to do in the fantasy art field as well. ’05: Tell me about how you broke into Hollywood working on the Spawn movie. Marc: I was visiting with a friend of mine in California back in 1996
Blow!, 14 x 18, acrylic. Cover for Amazing Stories magazine.
Funny Boy is Dead!, digital
and by chance I happened to meet Mark Dippe, who was heavily into computer-generated graphics and actually helped design the water creature in The Abyss and the “T-1000” terminator in T2. He worked for Industrial Light and Magic at the time. Later, when he was just starting to pitch his own movie, Todd McFarlane’s Spawn, he remembered me and called and asked if I would be interested in designing some of the costumes. He subsequently had the film greenlit by New Line Cinema with a $40 million budget, which I think was a record at that time for an independent production. I didn’t want to move to Hollywood at that time, so I started doing some design work long distance via fax and FedEx. ’05: What kind of stuff were you designing? Marc: Well, he sent me a copy of the script and a couple of copies of the comic book. At first he just wanted me to work on Spawn’s suit, because in the comic book it was pretty much just a black leotard, so I had to come up with what every muscle and every little detail, from his belt buckle to his chains, looked like. I designed all of his weapons and showed how they would switch from inactive to war mode. All that work was done initially as marker and pencil drawings. Mark knew exactly what he wanted, yet there was still a lot of freedom, so whenever I had the urge to try something new he was very open to it. I found the whole experience to be very educational and rewarding. ’05: Were there any designs you did that did not end up making it into the finished film? Marc: Oh yes, a lot of the stuff I came up with was pretty far out, like chainsaw belt buckles and wrist rocket launchers, and there was just no way to include those due to budget constraints. That was really the first time I encountered that. I suddenly realized, “That’s right, somebody has to pay for all of this.”
’05: Did you enjoy being a small part of such a large project? Marc: It seems to me that movies are one of the key art forms of the 21st Century. Once a drawing is done, someone has to build a model, then it’s filmed, sound effects are added to it, and suddenly it becomes a reality. For me, being a part of that process is very fulfilling. When Mark first approached me for Spawn, I told him that I had no previous film experience, and he didn’t seem to mind at all. As long as you can bring a creative vision and something exciting to the table, they have other people who can put it into the big Hollywood machine and make it work. There are so many talented people out there, and everybody is so specialized, that if an artist has an original vision they will greet him with open arms. ’05: What happened to all of your original artwork for Spawn? Marc: The original artwork for that movie is owned by the studio, so I don’t have any of it. Almost all of the work I’ve done for the films I’ve worked on has been on a “work for hire” basis, so even ideas that are not used are still technically owned by the studio. When I design things I try to stay very, very close to the script. ’05: What was your reaction when you saw the finished movie? Marc: I liked the movie. I was really proud of the fact that my designs were up on the screen, so I guess I had a certain amount of bias. As far as some of the effects go, I think they fell a bit short of my expectations, but that’s to be expected when you’re working with a finite budget. For example, there was a scene with a motorcycle that was pretty cool in the movie, but the motorcycle didn’t come off quite as intense as I had designed it. Seeing my drawings come alive on the screen was a feeling I will never forget and never get tired of. ’05: Do you worry at all about what happens to your ideas and designs once they leave your hands?
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Graffiti, 10 x 12, gouache
Marc: The nice thing about working on major Hollywood films is that you’re not working alone. You’re working with a team of creative and talented people, and once my designs get approved they go right to the computer effects guys or the modeling department and I’ve learned that there are a lot of talented people working in the business who love their jobs as much as I do. It’s not scary at all for me to send my designs into the next step of the filmmaking process. It’s actually kind of fun and exciting. ’05: Tell me about how you got involved in working on Star Wars. Marc: I was contacted by Doug Chiang, the concept art director for Episode I, whom I had met a few years previously at ILM. He asked me if I would like to show my portfolio, and I was thrilled at the opportunity. I actually came in on the tail end of Episode I, so I really didn’t do too much work, but I’m really proud of the designs I did for the interiors of the underwater city, Otoh Gunga. They wanted me to move and work with everyone at the Skywalker Ranch, but I really wasn’t ready to move from Canada at that time so I did all my work on that film long distance. ’05: How was your work for the Star Wars films rendered? Marc: All of my concept work for Star Wars was executed in markers,
and most of them were in black-and-white because George Lucas likes to evaluate all of the designs in black-and-white so that color has no influence on his decisions—at least at the inception of the image. Working in black-and-white was an interesting experience for me in that it allowed me to work much faster and to not have to worry about mood on top of the design, so I was able to focus all my efforts on what the scene looked like, what the architecture looked like, and the basic construction of all the sets. Once the designs were approved, Doug would start doing paintings or the guys would start building models in 3-D and then do matte paintings. My job as concept artist was to come up with the original ideas so I never did any finished paintings for Star Wars. ’05: How were your assignments given to you and where would you end up getting your ideas? Marc: When Doug assigned me to design interiors for the underwater city, he sent me a collection of his exterior designs, some preliminary sketches of interiors, and some photos of the actors from inside the sets that had already been built. That was my starting point. After I determined the actual dimensions of the room it was really all up to me. I did a ton of sketches and different approaches for the
Eat Led, 19 x 14, gouache
design, and the one that ended up on screen was very far removed from the very first sketch I did. In the film the bubble cities are floating in the middle of the ocean, but in my original sketches I had coral formations growing from the bottom with weirdly-shaped houses attached to them so there was a real evolution from original concept to finished design. George would typically like certain aspects of certain drawings and that would give me a new direction to proceed in. It was definitely a build-up process. That’s the biggest difference to me between advertising work and film work; in advertising there is one final image and you’re done, whereas in film work the images are constantly changing and evolving. ’05: What is the sum of your work for the Star Wars films? Marc: I worked on Episode I—The Phantom Menace, Episode II—Attack of the Clones, and I had to turn down Episode III because of other opportunities I had. But some of my unused spaceship and environment designs from Episode II will be used in Episode III—Revenge of the Sith. ’05: Tell me about your work on Episode II—Attack of the Clones. Marc: I worked on lots of architecture, robots, vehicles, and storyboards. I think there were five planets in that movie, and I worked on all of them. I also designed landing platforms, the Naboo spaceport, spaceships, interior and exterior designs for the water city, the interior of Dextor’s Diner, the waitress droid, the rickshaw droid on Tatooine, the Emperor’s secret lair on Coruscant, and many others. ’05: So you weren’t really typecast as an architectural designer, or a spaceship designer? Marc: No, not at all. That was the great thing about it; Doug would just throw something my way and I never really knew
Aprönstrings, 18 x 18, acrylic. Cover for Sounds of Death magazine.
Battlebots Poster, 18 x 36, acrylic
what I would be working on from one day to the next, so it really kept me fresh. We had to turn out most of the work very, very quickly, which was another reason we worked mostly in black-and-white. ’05: How was your design work transformed into the final images on the screen? Marc: George wanted as much design work done as possible so they could decide how much of a set would need to be built, and how much of the film would need to be shot against blue screen or green screen so that ILM could insert the effects shots later. Most of my work was used as a guide for matte paintings or models, some of which were actually miniature sets the size of entire rooms. The miniatures ended up looking far better than anything they could create in CG because they could control the lighting and atmosphere on the miniatures. Believe it or not, it’s actually cheaper to build miniature sets than attempt to render some scenes in CG. It can take months to do a scene in CG, whereas you can build a model and shoot the scene in just a couple of weeks. ’05: What was it like for you working at the Skywalker Ranch? Marc: It was an awesome experience for me since I had been working in isolation for so long. To be in that kind of environment was very inspirational. The first time I visited the art department on the third floor of the Skywalker Ranch, there were hundreds of models that had been built based on all the designs that we had been doing, and it was a very tangible thing for me to see. ’05: How happy were you with the finished product? Marc: I was totally enamored with the finished film from a design standpoint, and since that was the extent of my involvement, I was very happy with my contribution. ’05: Tell me about how you got involved with your next project, The Matrix. Marc: Well, I had just finished working on Star Wars and was about ready to head back to Canada, but I decided to visit Robot Wars Poster, 18 x 24, acrylic
Titanium Bone, digital
Gigantor, 17 x 28, gouache
a friend in Los Angeles and he was working on The Matrix and told me I should show my portfolio to Owen Paterson, the production designer for the second Matrix film. I really wasn’t looking for work after all the time and effort I had just put in on Star Wars, but I called Owen and he said he would love to meet with me. A few days later I walked into Larry and Andy Wachowski’s studio down in Venice, California, and I told Owen that I would love to show him what I had been working on over the previous many months on Star Wars, but I had signed an airtight non-disclosure agreement. He understood completely and he asked me if he could keep my portfolio overnight, but he also asked me during the interview if I would be interested in working on The Matrix. Like I said, I really wasn’t looking for work, but it was an opportunity that I just couldn’t turn down. ’05: What was your contribution to the film? Marc: Larry and Andy loved to see paintings and final illustrations that looked as close to the final image in the film, so it was a lot different for me than working with George Lucas on Star Wars. The first assignment they gave me was to design the Keymaker’s cell in Reloaded, so I started doing marker sketches, working very closely with Owen and the brothers, Larry and Andy, getting feedback and refining my work. The art department consisted of 12 artists, and each one of us had our specialty, but we also worked on projects outside of our specialty, so it was very interesting and challenging. I did everything from storyboards to finished paintings to designs for robots and spaceships. My second assignment was to visualize what the interior of Zion would look like, and I was able to look through a lot of preliminary design work some of the other artists had done. My job was to bring all of the designs together and showcase the set in its full glory.
’05: Was it fun for you to be doing finished paintings again after doing so much black-and-white work for Star Wars? Marc: Oh yeah, although the color scheme for The Matrix was mostly warm, cool grays, so the paintings weren’t quite as colorful as some of my portfolio pieces. The painting I did for the interior of Zion ultimately served a lot of purposes. It showcased for everyone working on the film the mood for this particular scene, but it also went a long way in establishing budget, as far as how much of the set would have to be built, how much blue screen work would be needed, how many miniatures would need to be built. The paintings I did for The Matrix were like detailed roadmaps to show each department working on the film exactly what the scope of their task was. After doing specific designs and paintings for each scene we would also do a lot of storyboards, and the storyboards that I did were actually very small, detailed paintings. On a typical day I would sit with Larry and Andy in their office and they would read me a couple of pages from the script, and I would do small thumbnail sketches based on their descriptions, and they would give me feedback as to what they wanted right on the spot. Once I had a good sense of what they wanted, I would finalize each storyboard shot with pen, markers, and paints. ’05: When did you begin painting digitally on the computer? Marc: Around the time I was working on The Matrix I finally bought a computer and started training myself in the various programs I wanted to use. I was interested in painting with the computer pretty much the same way I had done traditionally. I still wanted everything I did to look like a Marc Gabbana painting, as opposed to a Photoshop painting using a lot of Photoshop tricks to make something look cool. I spent several years learning the programs, and I actually did
OB-GYN, 18 x 13.5, gouache. Illustration for OB-GYN magazine.
What is Life About?, 14 x 18, acrylic. Album cover art for the band Lesser Known.
The Swiss Army Monster, 14 x 18, gouache
Blue Spider, 12 x 24, gouache
a few paintings for some of my advertising clients on the computer. I wanted to be as proficient with the computer as I was with paints before I did any of my portfolio work that way. Looking back now it doesn’t seem like such a big deal, but at the time when you’re looking at a totally different medium it’s very, very daunting. I never took any formal classes—I just purchased Photoshop and started reading the manual and experimenting on my own. Now the interface is totally seamless with what I do, so I can switch between pen-and-ink and Photoshop effortlessly. ’05: Are there things that you can do in Photoshop that you just can’t do with traditional mediums? Marc: Yes. In fact, I haven’t painted with actual paints for the past two to three years, although I draw and use markers all of the time so my drawing skills are still sharp. Photoshop is great. You don’t have to breathe in all that paint for one thing. But I think the main advantage when you’re working for the motion picture industry is that corrections are so much easier. In Photoshop, I keep different elements on layers and I can turn layers on and off and check out all the possible permutations of the finished work. This would be impossible to do with traditional painting. Photoshop and Painter have become standard tools in the industry. ’05: Tell me about The Polar Express. Marc: I did hundreds and hundreds of sketches for The Polar Express, which I would then scan and paint on top of in the computer. Eventually my designs were translated
into 3-D and used to build virtual sets. Once the set is built inside the computer, you can move the camera around inside the environment with great ease. ’05: This film has a very original look to it. Marc: The evolutionary step in this movie was that the 2-D images we created in Photoshop ended up being identical to the final frames of the film. This was the first time that there was virtually no difference between what I created in Photoshop and what ended up being on the screen. Our job was to design the look and feel of the film. The snow looks real, the buildings look real, the lighting effects are photorealistic, everything is still stylized to a certain extent, but it was our job to determine what the level of stylization would be. We had certain color palettes that repeat. We had certain styles that we kept using over and over again. What was really amazing about working with all the other talented artists was how consistent our work would look from scene to scene. This is obviously important to the flow of the film. There’s a lot of synergy going on in a project like The Polar Express. There’s a certain visual style that we invent, and that becomes our guide throughout the project. ’05: Was there a strong effort to bring the illustrations of Chris Van Allsburg to life with this film? Marc: Absolutely. In fact, a lot of our paintings were exact copies of Chris Van Allsburg’s pastel illustrations. We consciously tried to stick very close to the source material, but Bob Zemeckis wanted us to take things so
X-Mas card, 2004, digital
Exterminatrix, 10 x 18, acrylic. Below: Preliminary sketches for the final illustration.
much further that there was a lot of opportunity for stretching our creative abilities. One of the things that gives this movie such an original look was the use of motion capture, which is a way of capturing the actor’s movements and using that data to apply those movements to computer-generated characters. Tom Hanks would play a scene, and then the motion capture data would be used by the animators to make the scene look as real as possible—even though the movie is highly stylized. The filming of the actors took place on very minimal sets built out of chicken wire and plywood, with locators to show where the edge of a door was, or how high a desk was. Armed with our paintings, the directors and the actors would actually be able to see what a finished scene would look like, as opposed to playing against a blue screen and waiting six months to see the results. The actors were all dressed in black leotards with dots all over their bodies, and certainly had their abilities severely tested by the process. On top of the paintings we did a lot of animatics, which are rough sequences that show exactly where all the actors are in a given scene, what kind of lens the camera has, exactly the kind of motion the camera is going to be programmed for, how much of a set is going to be built, etc. These are all done months and months in advance, so that the actors and everybody involved in shooting these scenes are totally aware of what’s going on, and what is going to be expected of them on set. ’05: And now you’ve begun work on War of the Worlds, directed by Steven Spielberg. Marc: Doug Chiang’s new studio, Ice-Blink, which consists essentially of the same team that worked on The Polar Express, got the opportunity to work for Steven Spielberg on War of the Worlds. It was a very smooth transition since we had all been working together for a
while, and it was fun to go from working on a happy Christmas movie to a cutting edge sci-fi film. It’s great for me to be part of a dedicated team, because I feel that we can make any project that comes through our doors look like gold. Our skills are always expanding as we learn from each other. I’m learning stuff from guys who are matte painters from ILM—some guys just graduated from school a few years back— we have a whole range of talent and experience at work for us and it’s such a blessing to walk into that room every morning and know that we’re going to be working on something really, really cool as a team. ’05: Have you had a chance to meet Steven Spielberg? Marc: I had an opportunity to show some of my paintings to Steven Spielberg and the producers in a meeting in LA, and it was great. ’05: I’m sure you’re under strict orders not to talk about the specifics, but can you tell me anything about the movie? Marc: I can tell you that the movie is on a real fast track and that I think they’re anticipating a Summer 2005 release date—and this movie was only started a few months ago. ’05: Has your work on all these films inspired you to create your own projects? Marc: Very much so. I look forward to having the time to work on my own projects; write and create my own illustrations and designs. There are so many images and ideas constantly coming into my mind, and I feel very inspired to capture and convey them in a way that would be ideally expressed in the form of a movie or a book. ’05 — © 2005 by David Horn All artwork in this article is ©2005 by Marc Gabbana, unless otherwise noted. For more information, please visit Marc’s website at: www.marcgabbana.com. David Horn is a cartoonist, creator of the comic strip ZON, and the publisher of ANVIL magazine. He is currently at work on a children’s book.
& Out-of-Print Books on Illustration & Comic Art Over 6000 Books in Stock! Peter de Sève Ronnie del Carmen Claire Wendling Left and Right: Illustrations from Claire Wendling’s Drawers 2.0.
Stuart Ng Books PO Box 13212 Torrance, CA 90503-0212 (310) 539-4648 email@example.com
Dawn of the Gargantuans, 10 x 18, acrylic. Below and Right: Preliminary sketches for the final illustration.
The Submarine Nursery, 10 x 18, acrylic. Below: Preliminary sketches for the final illustration.
Headinâ€™ Home to Hades, 10 x 18, acrylic. Below: Preliminary sketches for the final illustration.
From KONG: King of Skull Island, DHPress, 2004. 5 x 9, graphite on paper
©2004 DeVito Artworks, LLC
The Art of
JOE De VITO
©2004 DeVito Artworks, LLC
by Tim Lasiuta
In Joe De Vito’s 20-plus years working as a professional illustrator, he has illustrated literally hundreds of paperback covers in every conceivable genre—from romance to fantasy and science fiction. His many accomplishments have earned him coveted gold and silver medals from Spectrum Fantastic Art. In his work with D.C. Comics— one of several major comic book houses he has lent his talents to—De Vito has created masterful images of Batman, Catwoman, Spiderman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and others. His work has also been collected into trading card sets for Friedman Publishing Group, which used 90 of his fantasy art images; the Art of Star Wars Galaxy; and several others. In the realm of magazine publishing, De Vito holds cover credits from such titles as Mad magazine, Amazing Stories, and Prehistoric Times. His contributions to the sculpting world include resin statues of Tarzan, Superman, Doc Savage, Wonder Woman, The Hulk, and a classic statue of King Kong for the Merian C. Cooper Estate. Currently he is finishing a fine art sculpture of the Madonna and Child that is twice life-size, and is working on designs for the 70-foot-wide site where it will be erected. De Vito has worked for the movie, television, and toy industries for the likes of New World Pictures, Hasbro, and Kenner, and created many design drawings for the dinosaur toys of Jurassic Park II. He has sculpted various wildlife-themed collectibles for the Bradford Exchange, and paleontologically-accurate dinosaur sculptures for Saurian Studios. His first book as both author and illustrator—a lushly visual prequel/sequel to the original 1932 novel, King Kong, called KONG: King of Skull Island—was just published by DH Press. Famous monsters, superheroes, supervillains, dinosaurs, romantic
From KONG: King of Skull Island, DHPress, 2004. 17 x 25, oil on board
couples, Alfred E. Neuman, theology, and wildlife all have found their place in De Vito’s work. After graduating with honors from the Parsons School of Design in New York City, Joe has added to his painting skills through his association with the Art Students League, and to his anatomical studies with John Zahourek. Always willing to learn, and always willing to experiment, DeVito has blossomed into an artist of incredible skill. Although mindful of the technical nature of his craft, he seeks to reach beyond that and reflect elements of the soul to create complete works of art. ’05: Every creator, be it in art or literature, has had a calling to their craft. Joe, what initially inspired you to become an artist? Joe: There is no short way to answer that one. I guess if you understand a person’s beginnings, it may be easier to understand their art. I was born into a close-knit Catholic-Sicilian family living in Hell’s Kitchen, New York City. Both my mother and my older brother, Vito, were very artistic. I had an uncle, Joe, who was both a priest and an artist (athletic as well; he occasionally gave boxing exhibitions with his parishioner, Jake LaMotta, to raise money). And when he visited us he often worked on his oil paintings. He would talk to my brother and I about Leonardo, Michelangelo, and art in general as well as give us drawing lessons. Our home was full of statues and icons. There was also this deep, dark basement, filled with mysterious sculptures and old artifacts my uncle would collect. It had tons of cobwebs and old machines like table saws. It had the dank smell of brick and dirt. ‘City dirt’ smells completely different than ‘country’ dirt. When I was little, it all contributed to a strong sense of mystery and wonder.
©2004 DeVito Artworks, LLC
From KONG: King of Skull Island, DHPress, 2004. 8 x 8, oil on board
Outside, the multitude of sounds and sights, both near and far off, always made it seem like something was going on, and my daydreams would fill in the blanks. I traveled many places without ever leaving my small backyard on West 43rd Street. ’05: Given your early environment, how did the world of wild animals and dinosaurs enter your life? Joe: I have always had an innate love of animals, both real and imagined. This was probably first sparked through illustrated books. As a kid in New York City, where the main form of ‘wildlife’ was the pigeon, these interests were pursued in esoteric ways. I found close observation of animals—living and dead—in fish markets and butcher shops to be fascinating. I was enthralled by all of these incredible creatures: lobsters, red snappers, squid, turkeys, lambs, pigs, chickens, whatever. When I thought no one was watching, I could not resist moving their fins, jaws, eyeballs, or anything else that wasn’t frozen or under water to see how they worked…I got yelled at a lot. Most of all, I loved going to the museums. Seeing the dinosaur skeletons and all the other animal exhibits was nothing short of wondrous. The backgrounds on most of those exhibits are extraordinarily beautiful. I also collected every toy and book I could find. A little later, my older brother began collecting Famous Monsters of Filmland magazines, and I couldn’t keep my eyes off of them. I
developed a fascination with the great monster movies, especially King Kong and Ray Harryhausen movies. The transferral of all these things into a desire to draw was instantaneous. I cannot remember not drawing or playing with clay. I was told I started drawing recognizably and consistently somewhere between the ages of three and four. ’05: It’s obvious that your love of fantastic creatures was nurtured early on. What drew you back to the ‘real’ world of animals? Joe: A second, extraordinary time in my life began when my family moved to Berkeley Heights, New Jersey. I was six years old. Suddenly, instead of concrete playgrounds, I was in the middle of fields and woods, with access to rivers and all kinds of different things. There were real, living animals to be seen. Most importantly, I met an incredible group of friends with whom I am still close to this day. It was culture shock of an extreme sort. It was a fantasy childhood. The first several years my friends—Joe, Ed, Ronnie, and Bug (the only girl we allowed in our group)—and I spent enormous amounts of time together. Someday I’d like to write a story about that town. No one would believe the characters that lived there. Telling stories was a favorite pastime. Besides what we would tell each other, Ronnie’s father used to scare the daylights out of us with tales of his encounter with the ‘Wooly Wookses’ and other adventures from his childhood that he swore were real. He had a
phenomenal imagination (unless he wasn’t kidding). This often took place while roasting marshmallows at night. And when it was time to go home, my friends and I would look at each other and then run like Hell to get home before we were ripped to shreds by one of those creatures. I’ll never forget it! Living across from a huge field, I discovered I was athletic, and sports took equal footing with art. My friends and I were outside playing constantly. We also lived down the street from the library, and I turned into a voracious reader. From gizmos to spacecraft, all things mechanical enraptured me. Well before my teens, I could describe virtually any warship, airplane, tank, or rocket in-detail, and started to create imaginary ones. I had a fascination with drawing cutaway views of all kinds of things from monster subterranean drilling vehicles to space ships. I also began to acquire a great interest in history, biographies, and geography (for some strange reason I loved to draw maps of imaginary countries and design port systems and land topography). I read comparatively little fiction; I was too busy learning about real things and people and applying my own imagination to them. ’05: Apart from dinosaurs, wildlife, and crafts of all sorts, did literature add to your gamut of influences? Joe: Eventually, yes. Instead of reading non-fiction in high school, I was drawn to classics, from Beowulf to The Great Gatsby. I became absorbed in many other genres, ranging from Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles and Hesse’s Steppenwolf to Richard Brautigan’s
In Watermelon Sugar. The main exception was that I became fascinated with theology, philosophy, and logic. I had an extraordinary teacher in that area, just at the time I began to ask those deep questions. In short, I began to grow into myself like everyone else. So, if you combine all of these elements, you have an outline of what turned me into an artist. ’05: Other than having an artistic uncle, what other factors made you finally decide to go into art school? Joe: Due to athletic successes in grammar and high schools, I did not progress artistically as I should have. But what made sense at 14 no longer made sense at 18. At the urging of my art teacher, Ed Havas, I picked up a paintbrush and oil paints for the first time in my senior year of high school. By that time my outlook on life had changed drastically, and art was the only thing I could imagine doing. But I had no idea of how or which way to pursue it. I felt hopelessly behind others who had progressed steadily throughout. I initially studied to become a medical illustrator, but circumstances forced me to get a job, so I went to college part time at night in the hope of finding a direction. At one point, I took part time classes in two colleges at once. I felt lost. After three years, I ran into a friend who was attending Parsons School of Design in New York City. She lined me up an interview two weeks before the fall semester started. I was lucky enough to get in, and graduated from there in 1981. ’05: With degree in hand, was that enough to gain your first paying job in illustration?
Io, 1993, 5.5 x7. Oil on board, personal work
Spectrum Poster, 1995, 18 x 22, Oil on board
Crystal Warriors, 1988, 30 x 40. Oil on board, Avon Books
Joe: Yes and no. Many asked what school I went to, but no one ever asked to see my degree; meaning the only thing that really mattered was what I could actually do. ’05: Isn’t it the art school that teaches you that? Joe: Again, yes and no. The first day of Parsons, I remember sitting in an auditorium with a few hundred people. The speaker said that only two of us were going to make it. So I thought, how good can these people be? Was I good enough? After a great deal of hard work, I found I was good enough—but so were a lot of other people. Surprisingly, that is not what I found the deciding factor to be. In my opinion, common sense was. My first year, I took everything. I had nine classes and I handed in nine different assignments each week. After the first one-and-a-half years, I began to see there was something wrong with that picture. While it was okay in the beginning, I realized it would not due if I had any hope of surviving in the real world. I began to run into trouble because I was working my way through college by waiting tables on the weekends. There was no time to work on my art outside of class and I started to fall behind. So I decided to cram all of my classes into three days a week, from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. I then had two full days a week to work on my art before the weekend. That simple decision set the tone for the rest of my career. As things turned out, I needed a three-credit class on a Wednesday night to make my whole plan work. There was a class in that time slot for painting paperback book covers. That sounded pretty good, I thought; especially since the instructor was the head art director of the hottest paperback company in the city at the time. He promised to take one student each year and give that person a job after the class was finished. I took the class and felt it was the most fun—and
potentially lucrative—opportunity I had had. So as often as I could I did one project, a paperback book cover, for all classes that gave assignments. The instructors didn’t like it. But, I stuck to my guns. To me it seemed logical: I would rather put nine times the effort into one project and do it great than than do nine different projects that were mediocre. The happy ending was that I had my first job the day after I graduated. That initial success led to a myriad of other opportunities over the years; all because I took a common sense look at my situation and then took steps to improve it. ’05: You mean the school would not have prepared you? Joe: I found what I needed to know, but I had to actively look for it. In an art school (and probably any other kind as well) that offers a curriculum and a degree, it is my opinion that there is an enormous amount of b.s. to sift through. An example of this is the lunacy of many art instructors who look down on a mastery of craft and serious anatomical study as though these pursuits put the ‘artist’ in a straight jacket. It is my opinion that those who worship at the altar of ‘creativity’ before mastering fundamental techniques are mistaken. What good is the most brilliant of concepts if what is in your head cannot be expressed by your hands? These things probably happen due to an infinite amount of human diversity and a school’s need to satisfy everyone. Eventually, it is incumbent on the student to make personal decisions; not based on what the crowd is doing, but on what works for him or her as an individual, and then seek out those instructors who teach in a way that they can absorb. ’05: So, after graduation, you went to work for Pocket Books, and your first published work was...?
House of Cain, 1986, 8 x 8. Oil on board, Tor Books
Paris. Oil on board
Joe: A book cover for a romance novel done in 1981. I never would have imagined it—romance novels? I was into all of the stuff I am into now, but that was where the opening was, so I took it. It turned out to be a great training ground. There is nothing more important than working with the human figure, and for the first couple of years, that’s all I painted, along with backgrounds that included a myriad of other subjects. When an artist is starting out, there is nothing like repetition. I painted all day every day. It really polished my skills after I got out of school. I attended the Art Students League and dabbled in the Riley Method of painting, which emphasizes a controlled palette, value relationships, and strong picture making. The latter two things are what it is all about for representational art. The method is similar to what the Golden Age illustrators like Pyle, N.C. Wyeth, and Rockwell used and is the same one used today by James Bama, Bob Maguire, Roger Kastel, and many other great illustrators. Unfortunately, I was forced to drop out of the League after a month because maintaining my freelance career made it impossible. Luckily, there was a book cover artist and portrait painter by the name of Ralph Amatrudi living in my apartment building. Because he followed the Riley method, Ralph was able to continue my education on the fly, and my professional painting schedule never missed a beat. After I got the basics down, I morphed things to fit my own personality and talents. ’05: You mentioned that as a youth you were fascinated with dinosaurs. How were you able to use your interest in dinosaurs to your advantage as an artist? Joe: In several ways. Serendipitously, dinosaurs are all the rage these days—in everything from kids’ books to movies. Knowing all about them opens up all kinds of opportunities. Because of this, I was hired by Hasbro to do many of the design drawings for the dinosaur toys of Jurassic Park ll. Being familiar with the variety of saurian forms
and understanding how they work as physical machines goes a long way towards creating interesting and convincing aliens, robots, and other sci-fi or fantasy related things. This enabled me to do a lot of conceptual work for television shows and other projects. In fact, I just finished my first book, KONG: King of Skull Island, where a lifetime of dinosaur related interests have come into play. This, in turn, will hopefully lead to a myriad of other things. Mostly, it is always to your advantage to pursue the things you enjoy, because it makes you happy! ’05: When did you start to explore your other interests at Pocket Books? Joe: A couple of years painting romance covers was enough for me. After I tested the waters of professional illustration, it was time to branch out into areas where I really wanted to be—those of the imagination in all its forms, both real and fantastic. Science fiction and fantasy book cover illustration was perfectly suited for that and complimented my love of reading. So I went to other companies, like Avon, Bantam, and Zebra Books in search of different commissions. ’05: Obviously, King Kong had been around since 1933. When was your first exposure to Kong? Joe: In the late ’50s to early ’60s, I don’t know if the movie was being shown anywhere. Unfortunately for me, I always saw it on television, and I watched it every chance I could. Any time that beeping RKO radio tower was heard at the beginning of a movie, everyone knew to immediately clear the path between myself and the set or risk serious injury! Since RKO made many movies besides King Kong, I was often disappointed. ’05: Your first exposure to the film must have been very earthshattering. Joe: When your memories are tied up in something like that, it doesn’t matter what technological improvements there are—the initial wonder of your first infatuation can never be surpassed. I still
Battle of the River Plate, 1989. Oil on board, Avon Books
Doc Savage The Forgotten Realm, 1993, 18 x27, Oil on board, Bantam Falcon Books
think King Kong is the greatest monster movie of all time. Merian C. Cooper’s story and movie were incredibly original and powerful. It is difficult to put in perspective just how unique that film must have been. Almost 30 years after its release, it changed my world; and I didn’t even see it in a theatre. Can you imagine what it was like seeing that on-screen in 1933, when movies were less than 20 years old? People were just getting used to talkies, let alone seeing what they never imagined. Willis O’Brien’s special effects work on that movie inspires filmmakers to this day. He was a genius. What I would give to have been there to experience the opening of King Kong! The Aurora monster models also resonate high on the emotion meter. I can’t count the number of times I built them when I was young. And when they were re-issued, I bought them all again. There are some great things available today. Some of the new toys, collectibles, and kits (particularly the Universal Monsters series from Side Show toys), are wonderful. But because of the memories involved, for me nothing compares to the original Aurora models and their painted box covers. ’05: I always loved the artwork on the boxes. They were real pieces of art; every single one. Joe: What I never knew about the model boxes—until I began painting the Doc Savage covers—was that James Bama painted the original artwork for all of the Aurora monster kits. Because of the memories they bring back, they are some of my favorite illustrations. ’05: Have you ever talked to Bama in person? Joe: Yes, just recently when he wrote a marvelous review for my Kong book. We had a wonderful conversation. He was as down to earth as could be, and being born in New York City as I was, we had an instant rapport. One of the Doc Savage fanzines interviewed me during my Doc
Savage days. I was asked if I wanted to change Bama’s version of Doc to my own. I said no; the main reason I wanted to paint Doc Savage was because I was so connected to Bama’s interpretation. Sometimes there is a fine line between being an artist and being a fan. He and I definitely have that feeling in common; much of his art flowed from what he loved as a kid as well. A few years back I was one of several artists to be interviewed by Paul Jilbert for his documentary, The Art of James Bama. I highly recommend it as a great tribute to an extraordinary talent. [The film has yet to be released commercially.—Ed.] ’05: Do you feel your work is similar to his? Joe: I would say he is one of many who influenced me. He is the ultimate craftsman who creates art very intellectually. He meticulously plans and uses photographic reference, which is then carefully rendered and reinterpreted with paint to capture his original concept. As a 180-degree contrast in influence, there is Frank Frazetta, who is an intuitive painter. Frazetta’s work is heavy on suggestion with detail only in key areas. He paints very quickly and mostly on the fly, often without any reference at all. To me, both approaches are equally valid. Some may say that it is the mastery of their respective techniques that makes them unique. But if you look at all the people who have tried to imitate them, you can clearly see it is far more than that. The bottom line is anyone can copy a technique; no one can copy a personality. As an artist, you’ve got to be yourself. ’05: With regards to Frazetta, do you feel you have anything in common with his art or his life? Joe: Unfortunately, I have never formally met or talked to him. I do know that we both have Sicilian blood in our veins and that, like Bama and me, he is originally from New York City. But that may be
Doc Savage The Frightened Fish, 1992, 30 x 40. Oil on board, Bantam Falcon Books
Doc Savage ©TM Conde Nast.
Doc Savage ©TM Conde Nast.
Battle Circle, 1986, 18 x 27. Oil on board, Avon Books
Watersong, 1987, 18 x 27. Oil on board, Warner Books
where the similarity ends. I have a feeling that the essence of what makes me tick is very different from what makes him tick. Make no mistake though, his art has greatly influenced me for years. ’05: How can two such dissimilar artists influence you? Joe: I’m influenced by everything I see. Bama and Frazetta are great in different ways and for totally different reasons. Stylistically, I think I fall somewhere in between. I tend to paint representationally, but I often paint with no specific reference at all. I have developed a love of detail but get bored with staying too close to photo reference. Additionally, I also sculpt as much as I paint and have branched out into other areas as well, such as writing. It is difficult to pigeonhole any art or artist. Regardless of the method, you utilize whatever helps you best express whom you already are. ’05: What motivates your art? Joe: That’s an interesting question. Like “Why did I become an artist?,” I don’t know how to answer it simply. As it pertains to me being an artist, I first need to ask, “What is art?” Here I do not think I can separate art from philosophy. In simple terms, for me it comes down to one elemental question: does God exist? The answer to this question informs my whole concept of art, not to mention reality itself. If the answer is yes, then for me art serves to reflect an objective Truth. If the answer is no, then art is purely subjective.
We can spend a few hours dissecting those statements, but the essence is this: with the former, there is a difference between art in its pure sense and creative histrionics; with the latter, anything goes. I choose the former. Based on that premise, what makes me tick as an artist in one way is delving into the wonder and the mystery in things, and then trying to communicate that in a way that helps others better understand me and visa-versa. Ultimately, regardless of the subject matter (and that could encompass anything) or the medium, it is important for me to do this in a way that does not purposely distort or manipulate in a negative way. My point is that at the end of it all, I believe there lies something very profound and not arbitrary. I believe all people, and artists in particular, have a need to create. Art is a unique and elemental aspect of self-realization. Although it mostly harnesses some form of tangible vehicle such as paint and canvas, its language is symbols, analogies, relationships, and ideas. That is the power of art—to physically express the intangible things that are essential to our well-being. I think the ultimate purpose of art is to feed the soul, not to poison it. I believe that true science and true religion have a common beginning and a common end; that they are two sides of the same coin. In that light, in my opinion art could be considered a third aspect of some cosmic triune equation—the edge of the coin, if you will. It straddles our psyche and helps to unite the two fundamental aspects of human reality: body and soul. ’05: Let’s switch gears slightly and talk about a specific period of your life. What led you to Doc Savage? Joe: Good idea—if we unraveled the mysteries of the universe here, I’d have to retire! (laughs) Somewhere around 1990 I remember being at Bantam Books in the office of my art director, Yook Louie. He asked if I would like to do this job, which turned out to be Doc Savage. I said of course, and that was it. As it turned out, I ended up painting the covers for the last seven Doc novels. Noted Doc historian and author Will Murray wrote the novels based on unfinished manuscripts by Lester Dent (the creator of Doc Savage). He and I worked together. It was the first time I had worked in conjunction with an author, and I think the conceptual collaboration produced some good art. I think we even contributed three Doc ‘firsts’: we showed Doc with a bathing suit instead of jodhpurs in Frightened Fish; we showed the villain with a smile on his face in Whistling Wraith; and on The Flight Into Fear we were the first to depict the entire crew in the main painting, in addition to having the first wrap-around formatted painting. For the last one, The Forgotten Realm, things went full-circle and I worked from an original Steve Holland reference photo taken by Bama in the 1960s. ’05: I have seen a couple of photos of Steve Holland, and he was an amazing male model. Joe: There was never any model like Steve. He was head and shoulders above anyone else. He moved a certain way where he was dramatic and balanced at the same time. I worked with him when he was in his 70s and still no one could touch him. He was an artist himself, so he understood what looked good. He kept himself in great shape. He may have been portrayed on more book covers than everyone else combined; countless more than the romance novel icon, Fabio (with whom I also worked once). ’05: Other than paperback covers, you have done sculpting. Was that part of your education at Parsons as well? Joe: No. In Parsons I spent all my time trying to learn how to paint. Although I loved modeling clay as a kid, I never really worked much beyond a few crude clay pieces because clay wasn’t as readily available as pencil and paper were. I fooled around with it while making props for some of my book cover paintings, but that was about it. I did not get a shot at doing it professionally until 10 years ago. I was given a
Lords of Creation, 1992, 18 x 28. Oil paint on board, Avon Nova Books
Museum of American Illustration at the Society of Illustrators
128 East 63rd Street (between Park and Lexington Avenues), New York, NY 10021 Gallery Hours:10 a.m.–8 p.m. Tuesday; 10 a.m.–5 p.m Wednesday–Friday 12 noon–4 p.m. Saturday; Closed most holidays www.societyillustrators.com firstname.lastname@example.org George Wilson 212.838.2560 • 212.838.2561Fax The SOcIety Of IllUstRatORs was founded in 1901 to “promote the art of illustration past, present and future.” An auction of original illustrative art, vintage and contemporary, is held annually in early December to benefit the Student Scholarship Fund. Original works from the Permanent Collection are occasionally made available for sale or trade. All proceeds are used to purchase new works for the collection. Artists include: George Wilson, classic paperbacks; Pascal, the New Yorker drawings; and James Montgomery Flagg vintage pen and inks. Contact the Society to be notified of these events. Pascal
Superman, 1999, 8”tall, cold cast porcelain, painted by Chris Ware, design by Alex Ross, Masterpiece Edition for Chronicle Books
©TM DC Comics. All Rights Reserved.
©TM DC Comics. All Rights Reserved.
©TM DC Comics. All Rights Reserved.
Wonder Woman, 2001, 8” high, vinyl, painted by Joe DeVito, design by Alex Ross, Masterpiece Edition for Chronicle Books
Batman, 2000, vinyl, design by Alex Ross, Masterpiece Edition for Chronicle Books
©TM DC Comics. All Rights Reserved.
chance to sculpt a full-figure Doc Savage piece ’05: What did you sculpt while you were workby Bob Chapman, owner of Graphitti Design. ing on your King Kong book? From that time on I have sculpted constantly. Joe: I sculpted the Madonna and Child statue In fact, until I began work on Kong, I did very before I began on the book. I will put the little else but sculpt for about four straight finishing touches on it now that I’m done years. with my book, which is called KONG: King ’05: Four years is a long time to sculpt. What of Skull Island. It is a heavily-illustrated preelse have you created? quel/sequel novel about 65,000 words long. Joe: A whole range of things. I collaboratMy tale is carefully woven around Merian C. ed with Burne Hogarth and the Edgar Rice Cooper’s original conception that was novelBurroughs Estate to produce a Tarzan piece ized in 1932 by Delos Lovelace, slightly before based on one of Burne’s drawings; again for Cooper’s classic movie appeared. My book has Bob. That was a distinct experience that I will the full backing of the Cooper family and is never forget. I have also sculpted Golden Age the authorized addition to the original novel. versions of Superman and Wonder Woman, It will include somewhere between 35 and and other classic characters as well. I was 45 finished paintings and drawings as well as commissioned to sculpt international tronumerous sketches. phy awards for Land Rover Vehicles, and the KONG: King of Skull Island is a very nuanced Bradford Exchange has commissioned several story developed over many years, and is my wildlife pieces. Recently I finished a statue of first book as an author. I chose to co-write King Kong for the Merian C. Cooper Estate. the final version with Brad Strickland to make I’ve sculpted everything from little sure the writing was commensurate with the collectibles and figurines six to 12 inches high, art. Brad is a noted sci-fi/fantasy author with to a twice-life-sized statue of the Madonna and over 50 books to his credit. His expertise was Child which I just finished. The former were indispensable and it has been extraordinarily done for various companies and provided enjoyable working with him. The book is a great opportunity to hone my skills. The published by DH Press and should be in Madonna is on a whole other level. It will bookstores everywhere by the time this article be part of what is projected to be a 70-footappears. Superman, 1999, 8” tall, original prototype sculpture, design by Alex Ross, Masterpiece wide site that I am also designing. It has been It seems fate had me pegged to get my two Edition for Chronicle Books cast in a combination of marble powder and largest endeavors off the ground at the same resin. It is to be an outdoor piece, located at the Blue Army shrine in time; one in sculpture, the other in painting. I am thankful. Washington, NJ, and should long outlive me.” ’05: Being a King Kong fan, you must be aware that Peter Jackson is
Tarzan ©TM Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc. All Rights Reserved Supreme ©TM2000 Awesome Entertainment, LLC
Hogarth Tarzan, 1997, 15” high, bronze. Based on a drawing by Burne Hogarth for Graphitti Design
Tarzan ©TM Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc. All Rights Reserved
Land Rover Trophy, 1997, 24” high, bronze. Coyne Communications/ Land Rover International
Tarzan ©TM Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc. All Rights Reserved
Supreme Prototype, 2002, 8” high. For Dynamic Foces, Design by Alex Ross
Doc Savage vs. Giant Python, 1993, 9” x 14”, cold cast bronze, for Graphitti Design
©TM Richard M. Cooper, LLC. All Rights Reserved
©TM Richard M. Cooper, LLC. All Rights Reserved
The Cooper Kong, 2005, 14.5” high, cold cast porcelain, for the Merian C. Cooper Estate
remaking King Kong. With his track record on the Lord of the Rings, what are your thoughts on his tackling Kong? Joe: I have heard from my friend Bob Burns (a great 50s monster movie sci-fi effects artist, genre film historian, and memorabilia collector extraordinaire) and also read more of the same that Peter Jackson truly loves the original 1933 Cooper film and will throw his whole heart and soul into doing it right. As I have come to realize while working on my book, knowledgeable Kong fans are everywhere. It can be very tricky messing with other people’s dreams. All a person can do is treat the subject with the utmost respect, give it all they’ve got, and hope for the best. I am greatly intrigued to see what he comes up with. It is a dilemma of sorts. The original King Kong can never be duplicated because of its amazing intangibles: being the first of its kind, the influences and the memories it engenders are unique to it. There are also the tangibles—all of the ‘firsts’ it achieved: the first giant monster; the perfection of many animation and film techniques, etc.; the climax atop the Empire State Building (which had just been built); and all that it represented. I believe Max Steiner’s was the first full musical film score. It was the first rear projection…I could go on and on. It was all done by hand. And you couldn’t view a tape or a DVD at will. When a movie left the silver screen, you had to patiently wait and wait until it was re-released or finally appeared on television. You could not pause or rewind. Your imagination strained to retain every fleeting scene. The thrill was electric! A very different experience from the instant gratification of today. On the other hand, there is a whole new generation that did not grow up with it. They may never connect with the original because
it was made in 1933 and is black-and-white. They are less likely to care about the original’s aforementioned attributes, which are now either obsolete or taken for granted. They may never feel the wonder and mystery it inspired. As a Kong fan it is natural to want them to know how great the film was and to reintroduce Kong in a way the character deserves. The possibilities of what can be done by reinterpreting King Kong for the present generation must be incredibly enticing to a director like Jackson who was so inspired by the original. Having so successfully brought Tolkien’s world to life (something many others have crashed and burned trying to do), he has the resources to remake the movie itself. I would imagine if anyone could redo King Kong, he could. I think that many Kong fans worldwide are waiting with baited breath to see what he comes up with, and that movie fans of all stripes will be in for quite a thrill. ’05: Is that what you would have done if you were a movie director? Joe: Who can say? But being an illustrator, almost 13 years ago I took a decidedly different approach. My reaction was to expand on the Kong mythos by creating a book. My idea was to write a prequel/ sequel based wholly on the original 1932 novel. The stories are virtually identical, but there are some interesting, very cool differences. I sought to explore everything that was not in the movie. I wanted to delve into the myriad fantasies and mysteries the story of King Kong engendered in my mind since I was a kid, and hopefully do the same for others. ’05: Many veteran artists have said the industry has changed so much since they got their start. When they started in the late 1940s, you hung around a company and eventually got an assignment. If they liked your work, then you got hired. From when you started, to the
Lobo ©TM DC Comics. All Rights Reserved
©TM E.C. Publications Inc. All Rights Reserved
LOBO: Smokin’ Poster, 1993, 16 x 23, oil on board. For DC Comics
Catwoman ©TM DC Comics. All Rights Reserved
Big Bad MAD, March 1996, 17 x 27, oil on board. Cover for MAD Magazine
Catwoman Poster, 1997, 18 x 26, oil on board, composition by Jim Balent. For DC Comics
Fire on the Mountain, 1990, 18 x 28, oil on board, Avon Books
marketplace of today, do you think that breaking into the business is more difficult? Joe: I’ve found that if I was just myself and said what came naturally, things took care of themselves. An example is when I happened to be in an art director’s office and had just turned in a Doc Savage cover. During a conversation I mentioned that the only thing I missed about painting romance covers was painting beautiful women. He then asked if I would like to paint a book cover for Wonder Woman. Fortuitously, I had to get D.C. Comics’ approval before I could paint the cover. My portfolio review at D.C. was with Joe Orlando, and we immediately hit it off. What was supposed to be a 15-minute interview turned into an hour-and-a-half of riotous story telling. We talked all about art-, family-, and work-related anecdotes (Joe’s sense of humor was insanely funny!), and had a blast. It opened up a whole new genre for me, all because I was hanging out with my art director and made a comment. That led to a ton of work for D.C. and Mad magazine, and some of my favorite commissions in both painting and sculpture. ’05: How did your career change when you began to produce work for D.C. and Mad? Joe: In an unusual way. Up until that time, I was illustrating things of genre interest, i.e. science fiction novels and the like. But that is different than working with specific icons of your childhood, like Superman and Batman. It is a great deal of fun actually adding my art to the overall oeuvre of art created for such characters. There is something elemental about that which is very satisfying.
Although primarily a monster and sci-fi movie fan as a kid, comic books and Mad magazine were right up there with them. There is something so elemental about superheroes that in some ways it is difficult to imagine life without them. That is one of the primary reasons I became an illustrator, to take part in the things that I loved so much as a kid. I think working for D.C. was the first direct taste I had of that. Now that I am working on King Kong, I’m pushing the envelope even further. ’05: Many artists in the industry have started doing commissions just to survive. Is that something you have considered? Joe: Everyone’s situation is different. After all these years, I realized I wanted to create my own properties. Doing freelance is great, but I also have a strong desire to realize projects of my own. Doing this should certainly provide a larger safety net for my family and myself by vastly expanding opportunities. The creation of both KONG: King of Skull Island and major projects I am developing to follow on its heels incorporate much of the knowledge I’ve accumulated over the years. Although it is often extremely hard work and requires a great deal of personal investment, I believe the payoff will be more than worth it. I have never had more fun in my life! ’05 — © 2004 by Tim Lasiuta All artwork in this article is ©2005 by Joe Devito, unless otherwise noted. For more information on Joe, visit: www.jdevito.com and www.kongskullisland.com. Tim Lasiuta is a freelance writer from Canada. His book Collecting Western Memorabalia is available from McFarland Publishing of North Carolina.
Further Adventures of Wonder Woman, 1993, 18 x 28, oil on board. For Bantam Spectra
Wonder Woman ©TM DC Comics. All Rights Reserved
Wetware, 1987, 16 x 23, oil on board, Avon Books
Joseph Csatari in his studio, 1997
The Art of
JOSEPH CSATARI by Dr. Donald Stoltz
ate on an autumn day in 1909, an American businessman travelling in London stopped under a street lamp and took a small piece of paper out of his pocket. An unusually warm burst of weather had rolled in and met the cold wet streets of the city, creating a fog so dense that day turned into night and the police ordered street lamps turned on before noon. Traffic moved slowly and cautiously, and crossing a street was a dangerous adventure—especially for a foreigner. Searching out an unknown destination, William D. Boyce, a publisher and entrepreneur from Chicago, was looking for an address difficult to find in old London, and was completely lost in the pea soup fog. As he stood under the dim street lamp, frustrated and a bit nervous, not knowing which direction to venture, a young boy in a strange uniform suddenly appeared out of the mist and asked, “May I be of service to you?” Mr. Boyce, a bit stunned, showed him the paper and explained his dilemma. The boy saluted and said, “Come with me, sir,” and proceeded to lead him to the business office he was looking for. As was the custom in America, Mr. Boyce put his hand in his pocket and pulled out a coin, offering it to the boy. The lad promptly replied, “No sir, I am a Scout. Scouts do not accept tips for courtesies.” The man responded somewhat surprised, “What did you say? What is a Scout?” The boy proudly spoke, “Haven’t you heard of the Boy Scouts? We do good deeds daily, like the knights of old.” “Like the knights of old?” repeated Mr. Boyce. “Yes, sir,” said the boy. “Fifteen hundred years ago, when London-
town was surrounded by forests, strong brave knights in shining armor rode with their squires through the countryside helping people and protecting citizens, and doing a good turn daily was their practice.” “I am impressed,” said Mr. Boyce. “I want to learn more.” “Our Scout office is very near, sir. I will be glad to show you the way.” Mr. Boyce entered the building he was looking for and completed his mission in a short time while the young boy waited outside. Afterwards, again groping their way in the dense mist through the streets of downtown London, the pair found their way to the offices of the British Boy Scout Association. Here, Mr. Boyce was introduced to Lord Robert Baden-Powell, the famous British general who founded the Boy Scout movement two years prior. After the introduction, the young Scout saluted a farewell and disappeared into history. Mr. Boyce was so impressed with the general, the organization, and the events of the day that after his return home to the United States, an idea began to germinate in his head. On February 8, 1910, Mr. Robert Boyce and a group of outstanding, enterprising Americans gathered in Washington, D.C. to incorporate the Boy Scouts of America. Exactly half a century after Mr. Boyce met Lord Baden-Powell in London, two completely different gentlemen met for the first time in New York City, and the impact of their meeting was equally important and historic.
Prepared to Do a Good Turn, 2002. 39 x 48, oil on canvas. Commissioned by Boy Scouts of America.
Be My Valentine, 1991. 28 x 20, oil on canvas. Commissioned by Nabisco Brands.
Joseph Csatari had been art director in the advertising department of the Boy Scouts of America for six years on that momentous day in 1959. When he arrived at work that morning he heard news that made his heart skip a beat: Norman Rockwell, the legendary American artist, was coming to Scout headquarters that day. The same Norman Rockwell who started with Boys’ Life magazine two years after its inauguration and became art editor and painted the treasured Boy Scout calendar every year since 1925. Norman Rockwell, the man who painted the fabulous Saturday Evening Post covers that Csatari copied when he was a young boy, dreaming to be an illustrator. And now reality was going to meet the dream. His lifelong idol was coming. Norman Rockwell was born on February 3, 1894, 35 years before Joe Csatari. As a young boy he loved to sketch and took early art lessons. In 1912, at the suggestion of a teacher, he took some drawings to the offices of a fledgling new magazine called Boys’ Life. The editor of the publication, Edward Cave, had just finished writing a book on hiking and overnight camping, and was looking for someone to illustrate the pages. Cave examined Rockwell’s work and immediately realized that the young man not only had talent and enthusiasm, but was also inexpensive. Although Rockwell was not much of an outdoor enthusiast, he eagerly accepted Cave’s offer to work for Boys’ Life and to illustrate the hiking book. The book was published in 1913 with over 100 Rockwell drawings. In 1914 Cave wrote another book, “The Boy Scout Camping Book,” with 57 pen-
and-ink drawings by Norman Rockwell. Rockwell’s first-ever story illustration appeared in the January 1913 issue of Boys’ Life, and his first cover was printed in September 1913. Between that September and August of 1915, he did 12 covers, and each issue contained two or three stories with Rockwell illustrations. Over 200 illustrations appeared through the middle of 1916. Throughout the year of 1915, Rockwell was also busy doing advertising work for local merchants while he was producing covers and story illustrations for Boys’ Life. In 1916, many of his advertisers, several of his art school contemporaries, and a few of his teachers began to urge him to take some pictures to the Saturday Evening Post. The famous magazine was the most prestigious publication in the world, and a picture on the cover meant instant fame and fortune. Rockwell, always a bit shy and reserved, wasn’t sure he was good enough for a Post cover. After much coercion he packed up several paintings and took a train to Philadelphia to meet with the great George Horace Lorimer, the famous and revered editor. Mr. Lorimer looked at the paintings of the young 22-year-old artist and promptly offered to buy two of them, with the promise of future purchases. “Congratulations, Mr. Rockwell!” Mr. Lorimer exclaimed. “Please call me Norman,” the young man replied. “That’s fine,” stated the editor, “Call me Mr. Lorimer!” On May 20, 1916, Norman Rockwell’s first cover appeared on the
Making a Miracle-Gro Champion, 1988. 40 x 50, oil on canvas. Commissioned by Stern’s Miracle-Gro.
Saturday Evening Post—to be followed by 320 more over the next 60 years. In addition, he painted covers for dozens of other magazines and hundreds of story illustrations and advertisements. He also painted calendars, greeting cards, playing cards, and everything else from postage stamps to portraits to billboards. In all, his output over the six decades that followed exceeded 4,000 completed works, and many preliminary paintings and sketches. His fame was worldwide and his name legendary as America’s best-known and most beloved artist. Now he was about to meet his most ardent admirer—and future successor. Joseph Csatari was born on February 20, 1929, in South River, New Jersey, a working class blue collar town of less then 10,000 inhabitants. South River was a typical melting pot of immigrants from Poland, Russia, Italy, and Hungary. Csatari’s parents, John and Emma, immigrated from Hungary in 1912. They met in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and married there in 1915 in a tiny Hungarian church. Both were 22-years old. Shortly thereafter they moved to South River so John could work in the brickyards. By the time Csatari’s sister Julie and brother Steve were born, John was eager to find better-paying work. Jobs were hard to find and he heard the coal mines in West Virginia were looking for men with strong backs. So he packed his family and moved to Boonton, West Virginia. While there, Csatari’s mother gave birth to his sister Emma; she lived for only 18 months and then died of the flu. Saddened and homesick for Hungary, the family sailed back to Europe and settled in a small Hungarian farm town. They spent a year and a half in Europe, during which time another son, John, was born. Soon, John Csatari Sr. realized that the United States had greater opportunities for his young family than Hungary did. He told his parents and cousins that he would never return, and he left Hungary for good. The family moved into a tiny white shack in South River, but soon after, with savings from his brickyard job and a loan from the bank, John built a two-story house on Ziegert Street. Frank was born and died three months later from the measles. The youngest son, Joseph Csatari, was born in that house shortly after completion in 1929. Csatari’s older brother, Johnny, was the first in the family to show an interest in art. In high school he took private art lessons, but times were lean and Johnny had to give up his art hobby and go to work to help support the family. Young John noticed that his brother Joe enjoyed copying the pictures he had drawn and he encouraged his younger brother. “I was always fascinated by the fine art books my brother would bring home from school,” Joseph recalled. “I would copy some of the reproductions of the old masters. Then Johnny would offer critiques and teach me what he knew about drawing.” Joe had a tiny section of the family kitchen where he was allowed to draw. It was a window that over looked Daley’s Pond, where in the winter time he watched the ice skaters race on Sunday afternoons. He loved to copy pictures from his favorite magazine, National Geographic. He would sketch people from foreign lands in their native costumes, and as he grew older he would copy paintings from the old masters in oil. Most of his social activity was centered around the church. His summers were spent attending summer school there, and he worked after school at Weingartner’s Grocery. He also worked on nearby farms from six in the morning until mid-afternoon. He attended Lincoln Elementary School which was about a block away from his house. Teachers there were very influential in encouraging him to be an artist. In the fifth grade he was given an assignment to design and paint a mural on the wall of the school which was about 20-feet long. He was in charge of a whole crew of students who helped him paint the wall. The title of the mural was “I Will Pre-
pare Myself Today, for Someday My Chance Will Come.” His teacher’s name was Miss Mantel, who he still remembers as being a wonderful teacher who encouraged him with his art all through grade school. Following completion of elementary school, Joe continued on to South River High School where he became interested in sports. South River had a rich tradition in all sports and Joe went out for football and track; but he never lost his interest in art and continued to draw whenever he could. At about this time was when he developed a deep admiration for Norman Rockwell, who was entering the prime of his career. Rockwell’s pictures appeared everywhere, in schools, banks, business offices, and on dozens of publications. The young boy couldn’t wait to see an issue of the Saturday Evening Post so he could look at the Rockwell cover and reproduce it as faithfully as possible. During high school Joe saw an ad in a magazine for “The Famous Artist Correspondence Course” and sent away for the talent test and application. The school, located in Westport, Connecticut, was owned and operated by a group of the best illustrators who worked for the Saturday Evening Post. Included were Rockwell, Stevan Dohanos, Albert Dorne, Jon Whitcomb, Ben Stahl, Al Parker, and several others. The school was extremely successful and taught thousands of people to draw and paint—and millions to appreciate illustration. Following graduation from South River High School Joe enrolled in the Newark Academy of Arts in nearby Newark, New Jersey. His first year in art school was dedicated mostly to drawing from plaster casts in an anatomy class. It was very tedious and the young art student did not like the anatomy class. He remembers having a very good instructor named Mr. Knapp who gave the students a comprehensive course in human anatomy. He always felt that anatomy was fundamental when it comes to accurately drawing a human figure. And by the end of the first year he was able to draw a figure accurately from memory. Finally, he graduated into life class. Here, for the first time, he was exposed to a live nude model—which he thought would be exciting and the class would be bedlam. Instead the students were very serious and intent. Every morning they had to draw several poses which lasted from five to ten minutes. Later the poses became longer and the drawings more comprehensive and accurate. While at the academy Joe remembered that all the instructors were excellent; dedicated artists and teachers. He recalls Mr. Knapp and Mr. Pipinger, but remembers the instructor who inspired him the most was Professor Steven Juharos, a Hungarian. He taught fine art painting and was a masterful impressionist painter from Hungary. Joe got along quite well with Mr. Juharos because he spoke his language. The teacher had an ingenious way of demonstrating how to paint from life. He told the young student that his brush strokes were nice and bold and he should never smooth them away. “That’s what gives it life,” he said. Joe sometimes wishes today he had listened to his teacher more because now he works from photographs and his paintings demand photo realism. “Hopefully,” he says, “someday I will regain that impressionistic quality in my work.” In the third year of art school his funds were getting low and Joe applied for a scholarship. Because his grades were good he was offered a working scholarship where he could work after school and attend the school museum for a couple days a week, or he could take over teaching a painting class when the instructor was absent. He was surprised that the school had such confidence in him because some of the students were veterans and much older than he was. On one occasion he painted a portrait of President Eisenhower. The director of the school, Mr. Bogart, was so impressed with the painting that he made arrangements with the White House to present the picture to Mr. Eisenhower. Joe recalls that eventful day. “Wow, what
Spirit of Competition, 1979. 40 x 70, oil on canvas. Commissioned by Taft Broadcasting Co. and the Collegiate Hall of Fame.
Where Did You Get Those Eyes?, 1990. 22 x 28, oil on canvas. Avon Books
a day that was! Mr. Bogart and I were asked to wait in a small room outside a news conference hall. There we met the movie star, Ralph Bellamy. He took a cigarette and lit it with his swirl-around lighter that he used when he was playing a detective on television.” This was really exciting. Not only was he going to meet the president but he got to meet a movie star. “As we entered another conference room, I saw Mr. Eisenhower sitting alone. Apparently he had just finished a meeting with his Cabinet. He looked tired and seemed to be in deep thought. When we were announced, he stood up and I didn’t realize how tall he was. He immediately turned on that Eisenhower charm with a smile from ear to ear. You just couldn’t help but like the man. He was very impressed with the portrait that I presented to him and he commented on the flesh colors that I used. I thanked the President and told him how much I appreciated his comments, especially since he was an artist himself. Then he gave me that great big smile again. I remember years later Norman Rockwell telling me President Eisenhower had the most expressive face he had ever painted.” After graduating from the Academy, Joe began working for Westinghouse. He wanted to continue his education, so he applied to Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York to study advertising design. After a year at Pratt he found a job in the art department of the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America. He chose the position because of the possibility of someday meeting his boyhood idol. His first position was as a layout artist in the supply division of the advertising department. Within a few years he became art director with duties that included designing advertising and sales promotion material, creating cover illustrations, and making posters. By this time Norman Rockwell’s Boy Scout calendars had become the number one best seller for the Brown and Bigelow Company, the world’s largest calendar producers; and Csatari’s admiration for him was at its highest point.
Daddy, 1987, 21 x 27, oil on canvas. Cover for Pocket Books.
Because of Rockwell’s tremendous workload it became necessary for him to have some help in the idea department. A gentleman named Don Ross was chosen to assist the artist. But in 1969, Mr. Ross, who was responsible for creating concepts for possible Rockwell calendars and covers, left his position and Joe was asked to replace him. The paths of the two illustrators were about to cross. One morning in 1969, Joe recalls, “I had a call to go out to the main lobby. I didn’t know why. When I got to the lobby I couldn’t believe my eyes. There was Norman Rockwell! He was standing there with Mr. Harold Hadock, who introduced me to him. I was so excited. It just seemed too good to be true. We talked about painting and I asked him what kind of undercoating he used on his paintings, but in the course of confusion and excitement an answer was never forthcoming. Everybody in the Scout office wanted to see and meet Rockwell, shake his hand, and express their admiration for his work.” Joe stood in total awe and didn’t mind not getting an answer to his question. But, upon his return home, Rockwell recalled the conversation, picked up the telephone, and called a surprised Joe Csatari and gave him the answer, which turned out to be the same painting process as was used by the Old Masters. This initial meeting created an immediate bond of friendship and admiration between the two artists that lasted for many years. Following that day, Joe used to see Rockwell walking pigeon-toed and smoking his pipe as he passed by the window in his office. Rockwell was usually heading toward the Boy Scout Museum where his paintings were hung, and the two men would wave to each other. Joe remembers spending many hours in the museum studying the incredible artwork that charted the course of his career. Shortly thereafter Joe was chosen to assist Rockwell in coming up with ideas for future paintings. He was also asked to make preliminary rough sketches, and when they were approved, his job intensi-
Winter Camping, 1987. 30 x 40, oil on canvas. Commissioned by Brown & Bigelow for Boy Scouts of America calendar.
America Gardens with Miracle-Gro, 1988. 30 x 60 oil on canvas. Commissioned by Stern’s Miracle-Gro.
fied as he had to select models and bring them to Rockwell’s studio in Stockbridge, Massachusetts for a photo shoot. When Joe Csatari was first invited to Norman Rockwell’s studio, he was ecstatic. When he arrived at the big red carriage house studio behind the large white house just off Main Street in Stockbridge, he noticed a sign: “Artist At Work, Do Not Disturb.” But on closer inspection he discovered a paper note tacked to the door “Come inside, Joe. I’ll be out in a minute.” With his heart racing, Joe slowly opened the door and walked inside. Like a kid in a candy store, his eyes surveyed everything he could absorb. The shelves and walls of the one-room studio were covered with colorful artifacts and mementos from Rockwell’s world travels—African masks and spears, carvings, and paintings. There was a skull wearing a spiked German helmet, a replica of Ben Franklin’s first printing press, and multitudes of empty frames and rolls of canvas. Even an original Picasso drawing adorned the walls. On the easel was a huge painting of the Apollo II space team with 25 portraits of astronauts and technicians. Next to the easel was his famous bucket which he used as an ashtray. It was similar to the one that caused a fire that burned down his studio in 1942, when he dropped some hot ashes from his ever-present pipe onto some paint rags soaked with oil. Joe looked around the room like a movie camera, taking in all that he could survey, knowing Norman might walk in any moment. His stomach felt like it was filled with butterflies. Looking up just above the easel, Joe’s eyes became transfixed on a plaster angel holding a paintbrush that was hanging from the ceiling. Suddenly a laughing voice boomed from behind him. “I need all the help I can get!” Joe spun around and there with a glowing face surrounded by a halo-like cloud of white smoke from his pipe was the man himself—Norman Rockwell. For the next several minutes the two men spoke about painting, Scouting, and the studio with its great window that illuminated the room with bright sunlight. Norman then invited Joe to lunch at his country club with several of his friends. They drove in Rockwell’s green Chevrolet and on the way Norman recounted his early days
with the Boy Scouts and told how the organization and the magazine were responsible for his early success and continued good fortune. Norman told Joe that during his early days he was making an exorbitant salary of $50 a month for painting magazine covers and penand-ink story illustrations for Boys’ Life. He explained how in those days he worked from live models, but later because of time restraints and to save modeling fees he began to paint from photographs. He also told Joe about Louie Lamone, his man Friday who posed the models, got the props and placed them correctly, set up the cameras, and did the photography. He even told him about how he would do rough sketches which were submitted to the Boy Scout headquarters for approval before he started the oil paintings, and how on a few occasions the final painting had to be changed because there was an error in a uniform or badge. The Scouts were obsessed with exactness and perfection and were critical of the tiniest flaw. Shortly after their first meeting, Csatari began working with Rockwell, and the close relationship continued for the last eight years of Norman’s life. He became more and more dependent on his young protegè. Joe would come up with ideas, make preliminary and comprehensive sketches, get approval from Scout headquarters, pick the models, get the props. For the last two years of Rockwell’s life Csatari would make preliminary drawings for the final version and paint the fine details that Norman was either too tired or too shaky to do. On average, Boy Scout paintings, start to finish, could take as long as three months. On one occasion Joe came up with a concept that was called “From Concord to Tranquility.” He had the idea of posing two Boy Scouts, a cub Scout, and an Explorer saluting the American flag along with an astronaut, and behind them a Revolutionary War minuteman saluting the flag. The normal sequence of events followed—Joe made a rough sketch of his concept which was okayed by Scout headquarters, and Norman made a fine charcoal drawing which was also accepted. Over the next few months the completed oil painting was rendered and the picture was brought to Scout headquarters for final approval. At that time, someone caught a glaring error. The explorer Scout was dressed in a blazer and tie and not in the official uniform and was
giving a hand-to-head salute, which was not acceptable when not in official attire. From the past the voice of James E. West echoed in the back of Joe’s head. He remembered the statement of the chief Scout executive who demanded perfection, when he said, “The Scout figure must represent American boyhood at its very best. Boy Scouts with well-scrubbed faces must be shown in immaculate uniforms.” Joe knew that he had to tell Norman the bad news. No artist likes to go back and rework a painting after he has expended so many exhausting hours finishing it to his perfection. It wasn’t any different with Norman Rockwell. But Rockwell’s response to the news only brought more awe and respect to Joe’s mind. He took the photographs of the painting to Norman’s house and handed it to him and explained the problem. With a grimace, Rockwell conceded that it had to be done. He quickly spit on his palette and mixed in some white casein paint. “This will make it dry faster,” he said. Quickly, he whited out the saluting hand and sketched in the rest of the astronaut’s American flag patch the hand was hiding. Then he sketched in the hand over the heart. Joe tried to make some conversation while Norman worked, but the artist put his finger to his lips and said, “Sh-h-h-h.” He was concentrating. So Joe just watched as Rockwell performed his magic. In less than 30 minutes the painting was complete and Joe stood in total amazement and thought, “This guy is not from this planet. Such a task would have taken any other artist several hours.” In addition to the famous calendars and covers for Boys’ Life magazine, Joe and Norman corroborated on many other projects. One day he was sitting across from Rockwell in the studio and Norman was making rough sketches for the Scout laws which were going to be made into silver coins produced by the Franklin Mint. The two men were throwing concepts back and forth, ideas that would best describe the 12 Scout laws. The project was directed by Donald Walton, director of the Franklin Mint. Joe had met Don on several occasions; however, he never knew that Walton was working on a biography of Rockwell at that time.
The Franklin Mint project was very important and memorable for Joe Csatari because not long afterwards he was given the honor of designing the sequel to this project, “The Scout Oath.” It was an exciting challenge for the young artist. He made drawings in a circular composition about 10 inches in diameter. These drawings were then sent to a sculptor who created the clay reliefs, also in 10-inch diameter. Joe was so fascinated by the sculptor’s reproduction of his drawings into relief form, and then into one-and-a-half inch in diameter metal molds, that his pride and confidence in himself greatly increased. Coins were issued in a limited edition and after they were produced the mold was broken. He used his son, Jeff, as a model on three of the coins which were entitled: “To Keep Myself Physically Strong; Mentally Awake; and Morally Straight.” He also used his nephew, Byron Breese, who posed for his first Scout calendar called “The New Spirit of Scouting.” The two men began working so closely together that they began thinking along the same lines. The theme for the Scout calendar was cooking. When Joe told Norman what the theme was, he began thinking of appropriate concepts. One was a group of Scouts sitting around waiting to eat while the cook was looking through a cookbook of his grandmother’s recipes. Joe thought the idea was terrific and one that would make a great Rockwell painting. The next morning while he was eating breakfast, Norman called Joe and told him his thought for the upcoming Scouting cooking theme was to show a Scout using his grandma’s recipe book to prepare a meal. Joe laughed with amazement when he heard the idea and when he showed Rockwell his preliminary sketches, both men were surprised. A color concept was created using both layouts, only to find out that neither would be used by the Scouts. It was decided to make the theme of cooking incidental to a troop camp picture called “Come and Get It.” By 1976 Norman Rockwell’s age was beginning to catch up with him. He was frail, a bit weak, and occasionally felt ill. On many days his declining physical stamina kept him out of the studio, and the pressures of his many commissions were of a concern to him. At that
Miracle-Gro Calendar: The Four Seasons of an American Gardening Family, 1992. 29 x 35, oil on canvas. Commissioned by Stern’s Miracle-Gro.
The Night We All Went to the Moon, 1975. 30 x 40, oil on canvas. Commissioned by Taft Broadcasting Co.
point Joe was asked to help him with a few of the paintings, and for the young artist the chance to work on a Norman Rockwell painting alongside the master himself was like winning a contest. Painting on the same canvas on the pictures “So Much Concern” and the “Spirit of ’76” with the man he idolized was a thrill beyond belief. He spent hours painting boots, hats, and insignias. He wanted to make them as perfect as he could. He loved sitting in Norman Rockwell’s chair at the easel, and was in his glory when Rockwell complimented him on his work. However, Norman’s style was changing and his paintings were becoming more impressionistic, and Joe had to be careful that he didn’t overwork a part of the painting which wouldn’t properly blend with the picture. On one painting he made the Scout’s boots too perfect, and when Norman saw it he quickly took his brushes out and corrected it to blend in with the impressionistic look of the rest of the painting. The 1976 calendar, “Spirit of ’76,” was the last painting Norman Rockwell did for the Boy Scouts of America. At the same time he was painting a picture for the cover of American Artist magazine commemorating the Bicentennial which took place that year. The picture of himself placing a happy birthday banner across the Liberty Bell was one of his last major projects. The following year, his health continued to decline while he worked on a few minor pieces. On November 8, 1978, Norman Rockwell passed away. After his death Joe Csatari was contacted by the Brown and Bigelow Company and he was asked to take over the commission of painting the annual Boy Scout paintings in the Rockwell tradition. Following the completion of his first Boy Scout calendar, Joe’s work started to get more exposure and his name became much more recognizable. He felt it was time to be a freelance illustrator, and after weighing the pros and cons with his wife Sue he decided to go for it. Sue realized his lifelong ambition to be an illustrator and was very supportive and encouraging. The first few years of being a freelance artist were quite difficult and getting sporadic paychecks was trying on both Joe and his growing family. He hired an agent, Joe Mendola, who had worked with him in the past and who had an agency in New York city. He began working on book covers for various publishers and advertising illustrations for several clients including many food and pharmaceutical companies. This, along with his contract with the Boy Scouts to paint one calendar a year, kept him quite busy. In a short time his work was appearing in the Saturday Evening Post, Time, Reader’s Digest, McCall’s, and many others. One of the greatest challenges in Joe Csatari’s career as an illustrator was designing a stamp for the postal service. He thought it was a great honor to be a part of history and to graphically express his heritage, and he was quite proud. However, designing a stamp had restrictions that were unlike any painting he had done. He had to work within the confines of a small area, about one square inch. Within these small dimensions he had to arrange the illustration, the title and text, the name of the country and the denomination of the stamp. He was also restricted by his use of colors and of course like the Boy Scout pictures the stamp had to be historically accurate. But like all challenges, the harder the task the more glory the triumph. Fortunately for Joe he met someone who guided him through this exciting new project. His name was Stevan Dohanos, the legendary illustrator who created several hundred covers for the Saturday Evening Post and many other magazines. He also produced a myriad of story illustrations, advertising art and many postage stamps. Joe first met Mr. Dohanos at the Society of Illustrators where he was the honorary president, and later he met him again at the American Hungarian Studies Foundation where he was Chairman of the Board. Joe Csatari and Steven Dohanos became good friends, and once again he felt extremely fortunate to know and work with a true American legend.
The first stamp designed by Joe was to commemorate the founding of the First Guide Program in the United States in 1929 by the late Dorothy Harrison Heustis called “Seeing For Me.”It was issued on June 15,1979. The second stamp Joe designed was the American Red Cross commemorative stamp, issued May 1, 1981 to mark the centennial of the American Red Cross. Today, Joseph Csatari still lives and paints in South River, New Jersey, with his wife and favorite model Susan. Susan has posed for many of his Scout paintings, advertisements, magazine and book covers and she even modeled as a den mother for one of Norman Rockwell’s paintings. As the Csatari family increases in size, Joe has even more models to choose from. He uses his son Jeff ’s wife Kathy, and his two granddaughters Katelyn and Lydia as models. Recently Joe has painted fishing and hunting scenes for Field & Stream and Outdoor Life magazines as well as Star Trek book covers including “Spock’s World”, “Letters to Star Trek” and “I’m Not Spock.” He also has done several book covers and portraits of film actor James Whitmore, former First Lady Betty Ford, and former New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor. He also has done advertising work for Nabisco Brands, Miracle-Gro, and Taft Broadcasting, and he also completed a painting for the College Football Hall of Fame, commemorating the first college game in 1869 between Rutgers and Princeton. ’05 All artwork in this article is ©2005 by Joseph Csatari, unless otherwise noted. For more information about Joe, please visit his website at: www.csatari.com. Dr. Don Stoltz first met Joe Csatari in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on October 14, 1997, when several of his paintings were on display for The Boy Scouts of America National Endowment Tour. Dr. Stoltz, who knew Norman Rockwell and wrote several books about him and his work, was delighted and honored to meet Joe Csatari and at that time a discussion ensued about writing his biography. Dr. Stoltz notes he heard the statement many times that genius only comes along once in a lifetime, and he is overjoyed that it has touched his life twice.
Bee in a Bonnet, 1990. 11 x 14, oil on canvas.
1776-1876-1976, 1976. 24 x 32, oil on canvas. Commissioned by Bell Telephone Company.
NEW BOOKS inside the business of illustration by steven heller and marshall arisman 240 pages, fc $19.95 softcover allworth press, 2004
This practical guide examines the business of illustration from two different perspectives: the illustrator’s (Marshall Arisman) and the art director’s (Steven Heller). The authors explore fundamental issues of today’s illustration business, including illustration versus “fine art” in the American consciousness; striking a balance between personal style and viable communication; making the most of promotional efforts, such as the portfolio, direct mailings, and juried contests; the pros and cons of professional representation; handling difficult price negotiations; and exploring a wide range of venues for illustration. The authors also provide insightful interviews with professional illustrators, art directors, and art buyers from various industries. With its engaging narrative format and informative sidebars, this book provides the insights and inspiration that every illustrator— experienced or just starting out—needs to succeed.
the ART OF GREG HORN Vol. 1 144 pages, FC $39.95 hardcover Image comics, 2005
Greg Horn has established himself as one of the leading contemporary artists of femme fatales for comics and games over the past few years. The cover art of Angel Warrior is striking and shows a marked growth in the artist’s technique compared with some of the more digital-looking earlier works in the book (i.e.: Return to Castle Wolfenstein). Of particular interest were the paintings of the Lebron James billboard and the 2004 Olympic Basketball Team. The backstory is interesting; however it is not with the art and you have to hunt for it since there are no page numbers throughout the book. The numbering on the contents page is off as well—perhaps some judicious editing should have been applied here. Horn’s step-by-step digital tutorial is short but insightful, and the final spread with the reference models is a nice touch. While this is not a comprehensive collection of his Good Girl art (you won’t find every Electra or Emma Frost cover here) there is enough to satiate any fan and give Horn a head start on Volume 2. — Review by Brian Kane
OLBINSKI Posters for Performing Arts introduction BY Richard wilde 144 pages, fc $50.00 hardcover Hudson Hills, 2004
This is the first full scale publication to celebrate the work of Polishborn illustrator Rafal Olbinski. Seamlessly combining painting, illustration, graphic design, typography and stage design, Olbinski has conjured hundreds of surreal, fantastic and memorable images
over the course of his long and varied career. In the 105 gorgeous color plates included in this volume, he demonstrates his exceptional ability to depict the world of performing arts and entertainment. This includes jazz posters for European festivals from the late 1970s, as well as dramatically illustrated designs from the ’80s and ’90s for opera, theatre and circus companies. Olbinksi dares the viewer to explore beyond the surface and seek out the often-overlooked surrounding scene. His gift of poetic humor draws us into a different universe, and forces us to use our eyes to participate in a marvelous world which is the true dimension of dreams.
Dumb luck: the art of gary baseman BY gary baseman 336 pages, fc $39.95 hardcover chronicle books, 2004
Gary Baseman’s distinctive work has been seen in many of the world’s largest magazines, from The New Yorker and The New York Times to Rolling Stone, Forbes, The Atlantic Monthly, and scores of others. Baseman’s mainstream work includes designs for the popular “Cranium” board game, and his Emmy Award-winning animated series, Teacher’s Pet. In many ways, he is defining a new breed of illustrator/entrepeneur, leveraging his success as an editorial illustrator and diversifying into the fields of toy design, animation and board games, to name a few. According to Baseman himself, his art inhabits “that muddy spot where the line between genius and stupidity has been smudged beyond recognition.” Dark and dopey, hokey and heartbreaking, his world is populated with freaky folks, maimed bunnies, weird wiener dogs, and anthropomorphic ice-cream cones that yearn and burn just like we do. Baseman’s particular genius lies in capturing those ridiculous and all-too-often appalling aspects of being human. This spectacular and beautifully designed new book presents the first complete collection of Baseman’s work, spanning more than ten years. The few brief essays allow the work to speak for itself, and his vivid and colorful illustrations leap from every page.
By Chris AchillÉos 128 pages, fc $19.95 softcover titan, 2004
Along with Frank Frazetta and Boris Vallejo, Chris Achilléos is one of the best-known fantasy artists in the world. His work ranges from Taarna, the famous heroine from Heavy Metal, through classic Conan covers and Amazonian women, to his most recent fetish paintings. This new book presents over 100 previously uncollected paintings from the past fifteen years: warrior goddesses, fantasy women in exotic settings and costumes, magnificent fantasy animals, and glamour queens galore. The book presents many of his most famous pin-ups as well as some of his work for role-playing and computer games. As Boris Vallejo states on the back cover, “Chris has come to take his place among the top fantasy artists in the world, a place he richly deserves. His attention to detail is second to none. His command of the figure is suberb.”
If you have enjoyed this magazine, you will love our other publication… ILLUSTRATION is a beautiful, educational, and scholarly journal devoted to the study of American illustration art. Published quarterly and printed in full color, each 80-page issue features the highest quality printing, photography and color reproductions available. For those with an interest in popular culture, commercial art and design, publishing history, or the collecting of original art, ILLUSTRATION is an indispensable resource—and the best source for new information on the illustrators of the past. Limited numbers of selected back issues are still available for purchase at the original cover price of $9.00, U.S. postage paid. 4-issue quarterly subscriptions are available in the U.S. for $36.00. All orders are shipped in durable, reinforced mailing envelopes to ensure safe arrival. Note that issues number 2, 3, 5, 6, 7 and 9 are sold out. ❑ YES, SEND ME ISSUES 13 – 16 for $36.00 postpaid. MAIL TO:
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EXHIBITIONS & EVENTS 47th Annual Exhibition– Book & Editorial Categories March 5, 2005 through April 2, 2005 The Society of Illustrators, New York The first half of the juried competition for the best in illustration for the year 2004, as selected by the judges at the Society of Illustrators. Over 400 artists are represented in this show. For more information, call: 1-212-838-2560 47th Annual Exhibition–Advertising, Institutional & Uncommissioned Categories April 9, 2005 through May 7, 2005 The Society of Illustrators, New York For more information, call: 1-212-838-2560 Building Books: The Art of David Macauley Through May 30, 2005 The Norman Rockwell Museum at Stockbridge Author and artist David Macaulay has demystified the workings and origins of everything from simple gadgets to elaborate architectural structures. A favorite with readers of all ages, this Caldecott Medal-winning artist is the subject of this exciting exhibition that takes an in-depth look at Macaulay’s artistic process and extensive body of work, including The Way Things Work, Castle, Cathedral, City, Mill, Ship, and Mosque. For more information, call: 1-413-298-4100 Contemporary Literary Comics: Selections from McSweeney’s #13 November 20, 2004 through May 22, 2005 The Cartoon Art Museum, San Francisco The Cartoon Art Museum showcases 25 of the most progressive and provocative talents in modern comics in its latest exhibition, Contemporary Literary Comics: Selections from McSweeney’s #13. McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern #13 is an anthology edited by award-winning cartoonist Chris Ware (Acme Novelty Library, Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth), designed as a showcase for some of today’s most groundbreaking publications. The McSweeney’s journal is overseen by Dave Eggers, creator of the alternative weekly comic Smarter Feller!, and author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, and How We Are Hungry. In his introduction to McSweeney’s #13, Ware writes, “The selection of material for this anthology reflects a good slice of the visible spectrum of self-produced comics currently extant: fictional, biographical, autobiographical, and the uncategorizable. All of the artists have in some way reinvented the language to suit their own particular sensibilities.” The work in the Cartoon Art Museum’s exhibition ranges from contemporary fiction and hallucinatory fantasy to searing autobiography and idiosyncratic commentaries on modern life and art.
Featured artists in this exhibition include Ware, Jeffrey Brown, Ivan Brunetti, Charles Burns, Dan Clowes, David Collier, R. Crumb, Kim Deitch, Julie Doucet, Debbie Drechsler, David Heatley, Jaime Hernandez, Ben Katchor, Kaz, Joe Matt, Mark Newgarden, Gary Panter, John Porcellino, Archer Prewitt, Ron Rege Jr., Richard Sala, Seth, Art Spiegelman, Adrian Tomine, and Jim Woodring. The exhibition also features original art by forerunners of these modern literary cartoonists: Bud Fisher (Mutt and Jeff), George Herriman (Krazy Kat) and Charles M. Schulz (Peanuts), plus a copy of Rodolphe Töpffer’s The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck, published in 1842 and regarded by some comics historians as “the first graphic novel.” For more information, call: 1-415-CAR-TOON
CO MP ETITIO NS: Communication Arts Illustration Annual Deadline: March 15, 2005 Fee: $25 to $40 http://www.commarts.com The best work in drawing, painting, collage, electronic, sequential and three-dimensional illustration. For more information, call: 1-650-326-6040 HOW’s 17th Annual Self-Promotion Competition Deadline: March 22, 2005 Fee: $30 for single entry; $50 for campaign entry; $20 for student single entry; $30 for student campaign http://www.howdesign.com Contact: Terri Boes For more information, call: 1-513-531-2690, ext. 1328 I cannot list a show, competition, or event if I don’t hear about it from YOU. Please send me notification of any illustration shows or exhibitions in your area, and I will post them in this section. Send your e-mails to: Dan@illo.us
The Art of C.F. Payne by Brian M. Kane Lettering and More with Leslie Cabarga by Daniel Zimmer The Art of Henk Dawson by Daniel Zimmer The Paperback Art of Sergio Giovine by Gary Lovisi …and much more!