sign up FALL 2015  / Volume 28

Character created for Wonder With Oreo campaign.

"Owl of Infinite Knowledge", 36" x 30", acrylic on wood, 2013

Artist Spotlight: Jeff Soto
Jeff Soto brings his surreal imagery and street cred to help rebrand Oreo’s cookies.

Informed by his early graffiti work as a young teen, Jeff Soto infuses every project with dynamic composition and vivid color. The painter, illustrator, and muralist’s distinct subject matter (owls factor heavily) and saturated palette define both his personal and commercial work for clients including Sony Music, Warner Bros., Entertainment Weekly, The Village Voice, Esquire, KidRobot, BBDO, Saatchi & Saatchi, Pearl Jam, Alamo Drafthouse and Def Jam.

He brings a modern sensibility to his fusion of surrealism and street art. He has created large-scale murals in many locations, adding his work to the cultural landscape of cities like Los Angeles and Detroit.

“Most of my visuals come from free writing and drawing, dreams, and other Surrealist techniques. I have a long-standing love of landscape painting and have been working it into my compositions for decades,” Soto explains. “Nature is one of my biggest inspirations, especially the purple-blue hills and mountains of Southern California. The compositions can be busy and chaotic because that is how my life and thoughts are. I enjoy playful randomness as well as traditional illustrative rendering. Graffiti was and continues to be a factor in my work.”

Soto adds a surreal edge to his colorful solutions to rock posters (Phish, The Melvins), and conventional products like iconic Oreo cookies that got a facelift with advertising incorporating illustrations from 10 different illustrators and studios. His playful characters with their antlers and big happy face smiles give the childhood staple some street cred.

He has exhibited his work widely, most recently in a solo exhibition, Nightgardens, at KP Projects/MK Gallery, Los Angeles.

The California native lives and works in Southern California with his wife and two daughters.

Visit Jeff Soto at,,

Q: Are you an Oreo’s fan? What was your thinking behind the approach? 
A: I grew up with Oreos and my kids love them. I wanted to create a fun world filled with cookies, rainbows and my characters rolling around on skateboards. The main character is made up of clouds, bubbles and crystals that are delicious and edible. The whole painting is like a moving playground that my kids would like to look at and get lost in!


Six Color CompsThe six original designs done in 2002.

Artist Spotlight: Michael Doret
His Summer Harvest stamps for the USPS define the season with their bold palette and retro lettering.

He might not be a household name but unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years you most likely have seen Michael Doret’s work. His cultural stamp is wide: He counts Major League Baseball, the NBA, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Warner Bros., Universal Studios, all the major US advertising agencies, Time magazine, Taschen Publishing, Playboy, and Capitol Records, among others, as clients. Doret opened his own design business shortly after graduating from The Cooper Union in New York City in 1967. He has since relocated to the West Coast, and lives and works in Hollywood with his wife illustrator Laura Smith in a vintage Spanish home in the Hollywood Hills.

Under the umbrella company Alphabet Soup, he has branched out from one-off lettering solutions to designing fonts, sometimes adapting styles that were originally done for lettering projects as well as creating completely new font concepts such as Steinweiss Script, based on the calligraphy of Alex Steinweiss, credited as “The man who invented the modern album cover”, and one inspired by the winter constellation, Orion.

To see more of Michael’s work, visit

Q: Your Summer Harvest stamps have a great story behind them. Can you explain the long road to fruition (no pun intended!) the project took?
A: In 2002 I was contacted by Richard Sheaff (one of several outside art directors that the USPS hires for stamp design) and was asked to design and create art for six stamps with a fruit and vegetable theme. I was not asked to design a set of six related stamps, but rather six individually designed stamps in different denominations, and they were all to be fruits and vegetables that were native to the USA.


Time of their LivesTime of their Lives for Los Angeles Times, LA Affairs, Wes Bausmith, art director.

A Pss de DeuxA Pas de Deux for Los Angeles Times, LA Affairs, Wes Bausmith, art director.

Artist Spotlight: Barbara Kosoff
Barbara Kosoff’s mixed-media assemblage style adds grit and vibrancy to her editorial work.

In her career Barbara Kosoff has transitioned through graphic designer and art director to illustrator and fine artist. Eschewing computers, she creates mixed media and assemblage works on paper that are imbued with dynamic colors and appealing textures, often drawn from nature.

She began her career in Los Angeles, working as an art director for RPA, Ogilvy, Saatchi and Deutsch among other agencies. Indulging in wanderlust, she moved to Paris and immersed herself in café society while doing freelance assignments for Galeries Lafayette, Oscar de la Renta, Disneyland/Paris and Euro RSCG, where her whimsical style and appealing palette delighted the French.

After her return from the City of Light she worked again in the agency world for top agencies and Disney, Warner Bros., Fox and DIRECTV. Kosoff has taught at Woodbury University, Otis College of Art and Design and is a frequent reviewer for AIGA student portfolio day.

Kosoff’s client list includes Warner Brothers, Honda, Disney, Fox, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, and she has created a stellar portfolio of illustrations for the Los Angeles Times.
Her fine art has been exhibited in a wide range of Los Angeles-area galleries.

When she is not working, Barbara draws inspiration from visiting museums, foreign films, sing-alongs with friends (she plays guitar), cooking (she just mastered a Country French Apple Galette) and she loves to tango. “There’s a huge community in LA, really all over the world there are Milongas (tango parties) and when I go to Paris too.”

To view more of Barbara’s work, visit

Q: How did you develop your mixed media style?
A: After working as a designer and being on the computer non-stop, I wanted to make art by hand so I started working with an X-ACTO blade, glue stick and charcoal paper. Cutting and pasting photographic images found in magazines and pop culture publications, paper bags, and other random sources, I then combined them with drawing and painting with oil bars. I started experimenting with these different elements and found it very satisfying. After I created this work traditionally, I realized I could use my computer in a new way merging my handwork with digital media. 


World Illustration Awards 2015

The Art of Illustrated Maps
The Art of Illustrated Maps
A Complete Guide to Creative Mapmaking’s History, Process and Inspiration
by John Roman

Good Books
A brief review of notable titles and inspiring monographs.

The Art of Illustrated Maps
A Complete Guide to Creative Mapmaking’s History, Process and Inspiration
by John Roman
208 pages, hardcover, published by F+W Media, $23.99

John Roman specializes in illustrated maps, architectural and technical art. The Boston-based map illustrator and professor of illustration for over 20 years, is also the author of the F+W Publications title 50 Markets of Illustration. While there have been many titles written about cartography, this book delves into the art of imagined or fictional maps, e.g., clever ones that show places and cities through the eyes of an artist. The book began life as an article titled “Illustrated Maps: The Creative Nonfiction of Cartography” but grew to book form through the suggestion of an editor at HOW.

Apparently our brains are wired to relate more easily to conceptual maps with their inherent geographical exaggerations. Ample historical and contemporary examples demonstrate this thesis.

The Art of Illustrated Maps is designed in four key sections. The first part explains the origins of illustrated maps throughout their 2,000-year history; the who, when, and where. Part two deciphers why our brains are able to so easily translate conceptual map illustrations. Part three is the “how-to” section, complete with demonstrations and step-by-step breakdowns of actual commercial assignments showing how illustrated maps are conceived, designed, and rendered. The final part is a showcase that displays what is transpiring today in the world of illustrated maps; a gallery of numerous contemporary map artists who share the author’s personal fondness for this unique art form, and who are playing a major role in molding the future of creative mapping.


PLAY Illustration Directory of Illustration Medical Illustration
PLAY! Illustration and Design
for Toys & Interactive Games

Directory of Illustration
Medical Illustration Source Book

Job Showcase
Dreamworks and Netflix
Chris Gall
Richard Solomon Artists Representative
Ashley Percival
National Geographic Books
Mesa Schumacher
GE Money Australia
Gregory Baldwin
Illustration Room
The Wall Street Journal
Amy DeVoogd
Mendola Artists Representatives

Smithsonian Museum of American History
Randy Glass
American Artist

Walter Foster Publishing
Maury Aaseng
Faber & Faber
Carrie May
Kids Corner
Lost Art Press
Jode Thompson
Three In A Box
Scotsman Guide Media
Dennis Wunsch
AIM magazine
Carolyn Ridsdale
Extinction Witness
Bryan Holland
Pete Pachoumis
Global Arts Muse Inc.
No Clubs
James Blevins
Defining Ideas
Barbara Kelley


Artist Blogs
Featuring over 180 blogs from artists and their representatives.
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Featuring blogs from medical illustrators.
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Blogs from illustration artists in the Toy and Interactive Game markets
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World Illustration Awards 2015
Industry Advice

Industry Advice
Another way to be inspired

James Victore is a man of many skills—artist, designer, art director, author, motivational coach; one source called him a fire starter, which is perhaps the most accurate one of all. Victore says he “designs sexy, memorable work for brave clients, and teaches creative courage through life-changing talks and provocative workshop experiences.” I’ve seen him in action and know it’s not hyperbole. He’s the master of taking a good hard look at things and figuring out how to turn them on their head. He’s a fierce fast-talking art juggernaut who dispenses practical, unvarnished advice. Something we all could use in our modern world where every kid gets a prize. Subscribe at

Value Your Time
By James Victore

I’m gonna draw a hard line here, but that’s my job.

Giving away your time, giving away your work, working for free* and competitions where “the lucky winner will receive $1,000…” are all bullshit. They are bad professional practices that undermine your personal power and self-respect.


Anne Telford
illustration © Denise Gallagher

If you have a news item relating to illustration that is offbeat, fun, or inspiring, feel free to share it. Write me at with the subject line “As I See It”.


As I See It
A compendium of interesting things culled from a variety of sources, offered here for your delectation

It appears that coloring books for adults are all the rage. Our plugged-in 24-7 work ethos has caught up with us and now we need to sit down and color within —or outside—the lines. This time around the subject matter is decidedly more sophisticated than starfish or puppies playing. Chronicle Books ( has a plethora of titles that allow one to color favorite urban landscapes, whimsical patterns and shapes; there is something for everyone. Of course illustrators have sketchbooks where they can explore their ideas and inspiration at hand. For the rest of us less talented folks, these coloring books offer a meditative break from alarmist news stations and headlines. Time to sharpen those colored pencils. If this trend sticks around, it offers potential for illustrators to explore interesting subjects for a range of publishers of these types of books.

Few things make me as happy as good public art, murals in particular. As part of ongoing civic efforts to revitalize Detroit, the Murals in the Market project brought together over 45 local and international artists to paint murals throughout the city’s Eastern Market district ( In partnership with Eastern Market Corporation, 1xRun and Inner State Gallery curated and produced a 9-day event last month to activate the market’s art footprint. With talent as varied as Jeff Soto (see Artist Spotlight) Miss Van, Shark Toof, Meggs, and so many more, the market will be a sprawling outdoor gallery of dynamic public art and a cultural hot spot. It’s a win-win for the artists, and the community.

I’m excited that Peter Kuper has a new graphic novel coming out. Ruins is fictional, but based on his experiences living in Oaxaca, Mexico (2006–2008) with his wife and daughter, and with his deep interest in entomology, focusing on the migration of the Monarch butterfly as a second story thread. He beautifully captures the feel of life in Oaxaca at a time the area was going through an agrarian revolution. The 328-page graphic novel will be available this fall in English, French, and Spanish (SelfMadeHero publisher,

If it’s going to rain anyway, why not do something fun with it? That’s the philosophy of Peregrine Church, whose Rainworks are messages and art hidden around Seattle that only appear when it rains. The creator makes them “to give people a reason to look forward to rainy days.” Have ideas? He’s available for commissions, email Peregrine at See the map of where to find Rainworks:

Art San Diego 2015, a contemporary art fair that highlights an international slate of artists, will be held November 5-8 in the heart of San Diego’s Balboa Park in my hometown. In honor of the Balboa Park Centennial Celebration, the fair’s theme for its seventh year, is [META.MORPHOSIS]: 100 Years of Evolving Art. ASD has developed into a must-attend event for area art aficionados and also includes informative lectures, special events, and signature ASD programs such as Art Labs, Spotlight Artists, San Diego Art Prize Exhibitions, and LaunchPad.

I recently judged Lürzer’s Archive 200 Best Ad Photographers Worldwide competition. Viewing thousands of images online made me think about the judging process, the quality of the work and creativity in general. While refining my own thoughts I came across the following quote by designer James Victore (see Industry Advice) that neatly sums up what we should all be looking for in our own work, and in the work of others:
“Three things I search for in my work: 1. Beauty, 2. Simplicity, and 3. "Holy SHIT!" —James Victore

And speaking of judging, Communication Arts Call for Entries for their 57th Illustration Competition is open until January 8, 2016. Go to to enter.

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