Shower curtain for Urban Outfitters; Jamie LaPorta, art buyer.
Mother Jones, for an article on the bounty of summer tomatoes by Barbara Kingsolver; Tim Luddy, art director.
Cover for Our Lady of Alice Bhatti by Mohammed Hanif, Random House UK; Suzanne Dean, art director.
Cover for The Kings and Queens of Roam by Daniel Wallace for Simon and Schuster; Cherlynne Li, art director.
A promotional mailer for The University of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA.
Campaign Spotlight: Gina & Matt
Not just studio mates, Gina Triplett and Matt Curtius are mates away from the drawing board as well, creating eye-catching illustrations for a range of clients including top ad agencies BBDO, Duffy & Partners, Sandstrom Partners, Siegel + Gale and Deutsch Design Works, among others, to Chronicle Books, Rizzoli, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, the New York Times and Whole Foods.
Their colorful style—think Dutch still life meets the psychedelic ‘60s for some illustrations—intricate patterns wrought with a dash of whimsy and compelling hues make you want to inhabit the vivid, happy world they portray. A world full of flowers, insects, and animals, including 10-year old Boston Terrier Wes whose perky face adorns a pattern they call “Terrier”.
Gina hails from rural Minnesota, and Matt grew up outside Philadelphia. Gina’s parents were teachers, Matt’s mom was a secretary, and his dad built ships for the Navy. “The common denominator was they were very supportive, and instilled in us a strong work ethic,” Matt explains. “Gina’s dad has always painted for fun, and would paint with her as a kid. My parents are very self sufficient, building, repairing or making everything imaginable. My dad once bought a surplus mail truck and converted it into a camper for us to go on vacation. It had a house-style screen door in the back, somewhere between The Beverly Hillbillies and Sanford and Son. They saw things like this as thriftiness, but looking back, there were elements of expression and independence in there too.”
They both went to college at MICA (Marilyn Institute College of Art) in Baltimore and met there in ’93 when he was a sophomore and Gina a freshman. They have been living and creating art together ever since, settling in Philadelphia. Along the way they have garnered awards from The Society of Illustrators, American Illustration and Communication Arts. Gina was chosen as one of Print magazine’s 20 Under 30 New Visual Artists and her work graced a cover of the now (sadly) defunct Step Inside Design.
Matt divides his time between illustration and teaching and was recently promoted to Associate Professor at the University of the Arts.
They have also renovated two Philly homes, the current one a Federal style, maintaining the home’s vintage character while creating colorful and beautifully designed rooms that accommodate their aesthetics and busy lifestyle. Working with his father, Matt has done most of the remodel work, and the home is decorated with their artwork and that of their celebrated illustrator friends.
There seems to be no end in sight to Gina and Matt’s artistic and personal collaborations. Their Quail Salad shower curtain for Urban Outfitters is a sophisticated modern version of a 19th century botanical still life. (I’m considering hanging one on a rod above my bed as an improvised fabric headboard). Gina has branched out into fabrics and rugs but there is a whole world of products out there that could be licensed with their distinctive and appealing designs.
Matt Curtius took the lead and provided the answers for our Q & A over the Memorial Day weekend, while juggling family activities with five-year-old daughter Juniper and ten-month-old son Levi.
To see more of their work, visit www.ginaandmatt.com, www.sturgesreps.com.
Q: What motivated you to begin drawing and making art?
A: This one's tough. For both of us, it always just seemed like the way things would be. I think we each felt like we needed to escape something, and art was the way we'd do it. Not an escape from our families of course, but an escape from the social constructs we saw around us. It sort of worked.
Q: Were you one of those children who could always be found sketching?
Q: Who or what were your influences?
A: We ate up art history courses in college. Our early paintings were attempts at sorting through our love of painters as disparate as Sigmar Polke, Ben Shahn, Franz Kline, Cy Twombly, Al Held, Bridget Riley, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Hokusai, John James Audubon, Martin Johnson Heade, Jan Vermeer and Dutch painting in general.
Of course we loved illustration at that time too, and were influenced by the seemingly subversive stance of people like Henrik Drescher, Dave Plunkert, and Melinda Beck.
Nowadays we draw a lot of inspiration directly from nature, from the things we're reading, and from relationships with friends.
Q: How did you develop your style working together?
A: During college and directly after college we shared a series of small live/work spaces. We spent more than a decade working on top of each other during every waking hour before we even blinked and thought of another way of living. Through this came a natural understanding of the way the other person thinks and creates. We’d talk out ideas that would work for one of us, like suggesting, hey you should do this.
We both always liked the idea of utilizing drastically different marks in a painting as a method of creating visual contrast and conceptually reaching in different directions. I began screen-printing Gina’s drawings onto canvasses. I would then paint on them and still considered the work my own. Gina had been churning out a lot of illustration work and was looking to mix things up, so she started to do more, drawing and painting on the canvasses with me.
We did this first as just an outlet, not entirely thinking of what to do with them. The first opportunities to present themselves were galleries, so we showed in Brooklyn and here in Philadelphia. This led sort of organically to illustration work that connected to the work we'd done independently. An art director would come to an opening and then hire us for a job, or we'd license the images for products. Gina had been repped by Frank Sturges for a couple of years at that point. He took us on, and that led to more illustration as well. The whole idea originally was to do something neither of us was doing already. That's the unknown quotient that gets built right into the process of working with another person, and we wanted to capitalize on that excitement.
Q: Since you are a couple, how do separate work and family time?
A: Five years ago, the answer to this would have been, what family time? Since having kids, it’s helped us to recognize the existence of weekends.
Our lives are still wrapped around art, and it's what we talk about nearly all the time. Deadlines are the same, where we're hyper focused and able to utilize our studio time pretty efficiently. Independent work was the thing we seriously grappled with producing after kids. During any time we had away from commissions and the family at the same time we had to allow ourselves license to explore avenues without a guarantee of them leading anywhere. That's sort of the basis of a studio practice. This was a tough mindset to get into at first with so many things vying for attention—illustration work, kids, I also teach illustration at University of the Arts. We eventually came back around to it, carving out time for exploration.
Q: How did you develop your color palette?
A: It’s largely intuitive at this point. Every once in a while I’ll geek out looking at some old color theory, Munsell Color System or [Josef] Albers’s Interaction of Color or something. Gina draws from the history of decorative art quite a bit too, referring to books like Owen Jones’s classic, The Grammar of Ornament, for color combinations among other things.
Q: What is your preferred medium?
A: Most of what we do is in acrylic paint and ink.
When we first started collaborating I'd under paint in acrylic and finish in oil. As soon as the idea of deadlines came into play I realized this was a really bad idea. Gina beats her paintings up, running them under the faucet, sanding them. We were pressed on a deadline and I was picking little bits of sanded acrylic out of my oil glaze with the tip of an X-ACTO. I swore off oil paint and promptly got a call to repaint one of our existing oil and acrylic paintings in the proportions of a snowboard. The job was important: Our first snowboard job, but I wasn't going to go back. With a little experimentation I was able to get the same wet on wet and glazing properties from acrylic, and I think I pulled off a convincing reproduction. Since then, acrylic paint has come a long way, and it's become even easier to get it to act like oil paint.
In some senses, we like to pick up new materials and see how they affect our existing lexicon, but we both have our tried and true materials we rely on. Thanks to a misinformed sales clerk at Pearl Paint, Gina once became convinced her brand of ink was going to stop being produced. I rode my bicycle to every art store in Manhattan, clearing the shelves of the stuff, and riding home with a backpack full. [It] turns out there was a supply chain blip, and they started importing it again a few months later. Until then though, New York City had to do without black Windsor & Newton ink.
Gina uses a Cintiq and Photoshop, mostly for combining traditionally generated elements, but maybe someday for more direct input. I sometimes paint in Photoshop and sometimes use masks to noodle with our traditionally painted colors. For surface designs, we build up pattern files in either Photoshop or Illustrator.
Q: What is your sketchbook process?
A: You know those Tupperware under-bed storage containers? Well we’ve got a stack of them as high as Gina full of vellum and copy paper drawings—that’s sort of our sketchbook. In school the sketchbook was such an important outlet for working through things and figuring out how to react to the world. Once we started working, we felt less of a pull to collect all of it together in that format. We might just be coming around to a point where it comes into play again.
Q: What is your favorite type of assignment?
A: The best assignments have a push and a pull effect. The client has a good understanding of what we do emotionally and conceptually, and has a vision for how it can be applied in a new way—a way we would not have considered if the job hadn’t taken us there.
Q: What is your process for an editorial illustration?
A: We’re probably pretty conventional in this regard, well, except that there are two of us on this end. We’ll get the art direction and article from the client, and we each mark it up on our own. Then we’ll thumbnail on those notes and compare ideas. We’ll pick our favorites and take about three to tighter sketches. Sketches happen in a combination of graphite, ink and Photoshop. I think we’re on the relatively tight end of the sketch spectrum, but in a lot of ways I wish we didn’t have to be. I guess there’s an element of selling romanticism or whatever it is that people come to us for. Client feedback comes through, and one of the sketches goes to finish. Sometimes that means one board that’s passed back and forth, and sometimes it means a couple of surfaces being worked on simultaneously in our two studios with Photoshop bringing them together. Depends on the deadline.
Q: Can you describe your studio environment?
A: Gina works on the third floor of our Philadelphia townhouse, and I share a storefront studio a few blocks away with our friends Martha Rich and Andrea Cipriani.
Michelle Hinebrook, Glint, 2013, acrylic on canvas, 72 x 48 inches.
Tower, Section XII, with Early Proposal for Finial, 1937, Edward Warren Hoak. The Getty Research Institute, John and Donald Parkinson architectural drawings for design and construction of the Union Station, Los Angeles, 1910–1991 (bulk 1934–1939).
Bill Plympton, still from Cheatin'. Graphite and digital. Release date 2015.
Exhibitions of note nationwide.
Koi No Yokan II
Through July 26
6205 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA
According to the site www.betterthanenglish.com, Koi No Yokan means: “The sense one can have upon first meeting a person that the two of you are going to fall in love. Differs from ‘love at first sight’ as it does not imply that the feeling of love exists, only the knowledge that a future love is inevitable.”
Koi No Yokan II, a group exhibition featuring the work of Michelle Hinebrook, Tanya Batura, Rachel Roske, Kristen Schiele, and Colette Robbins is co-curated by New York City curator and artist Colette Robbins and gallery director Kevin Van Gorp. 101/Exhibit’s second iteration of the annual summer invitational continues to explore new relationships with artists in flourishing states of practice, either emerging or mid-career. The exhibition will be accompanied by a forthcoming full-color 46-page catalog. According to the gallery: “Each artist will occupy their own section of the gallery in order for the viewer, being cognizant of the call at hand, to compare and contrast the artists’ responses. As five different answers to the same criteria are presented, the casual show attendee and the aficionados of theoretical underpinnings alike will share in the opportunity to gain greater insight into various forms of contemporary artistic process.”
No Further West: The Story of Los Angeles Union Station
Through August 10
Los Angeles Pubic Library, Central Library
630 W. 5th Street
Los Angeles, CA
This exhibition examines the architectural design and cultural politics of the historic station that has inspired many artists through the decades. The exhibit is free and open to the public during regular library hours. A series of related events will be held in conjunction with the exhibit.
Los Angeles Union Station is a celebrated architectural icon and a symbol of the city's early-20th-century aspirations. Completed in 1939, Union Station centralized rail travel in Los Angeles and, before the rise of air and automobile travel, was the primary gateway into the city. More than a historic artifact, it is now the vibrant centerpiece of the region's evolving transportation network.
Organized by the Getty Research Institute, the exhibition features beautifully rendered architectural drawings, photographs, and other archival material that illuminate the contentious 30-year process of creating the station's eclectic, distinctly Southern Californian architecture.
(The Los Angeles Conservancy leads tours of Union Station on the third Saturday of every month. For information and reservations, visit the Los Angeles Conservancy www.laconservancy.org or call 213/ 623-2489.)
Icons of Animation: William Joyce, Peter de Sève, Carlos Nine and Bill Plympton
Through August 16
Society of Illustrators
128 E 63rd St, New York, NY
The Society celebrates the work of four iconic illustrators—Peter de Sève, William Joyce, Carlos Nine, and Bill Plympton—with an exhibit featuring the original illustrations from numerous movies and shorts.
The Art of Greg Spalenka by Greg Spalenka
The Book of Trees, Visualizing Branches of Knowledge by Manuel Lima
1,000 Dog Portraits From The People Who Love Them by Robynne Raye
A brief review of notable titles and inspiring monographs.
The Art of Greg Spalenka by Greg Spalenka
176 pages, hardbound, published by Titan Books London
three versions are available and range in price from $45 to $195
($195 version includes one signed print and other premiums)
For the last 32 years Greg Spalenka has been making beautiful images for a wide range of clients. This collection covers every aspect of his stellar career from his early days at Art Center to the present, including unseen personal pieces and photography. Spalenka’s work has appeared in concept designs for films such as The Golden Compass, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and in images for major American publishers of books, magazines, newspapers and comics (many of them award winning). Greg’s paintings are romantic and sensual, with flowing lines and rich colors. His philosophy is encapsulated in this quote: “I am committed to empowering truth and the art spirit within all.”
The Art of Greg Spalenka, Visions From The Mind’s Eye is beautifully designed by Jeff Burne in full color and features metallic inks. The pages will transport you into the lush and fantastic world that Spalenka creates with his mystical and luminous paintings. To view the book options or to order, visit spalenkablog.wordpress.com.
The Book of Trees, Visualizing Branches of Knowledge by Manuel Lima
208 pages, hardbound, published by Princeton Architectural Press, $29.95
OK, I will admit that in my family I am called the Lorax because of my deep abiding love of trees, so this title appealed to me on one level and then revealed so much more. The Book of Trees follows PAP’s critically acclaimed bestseller, Visual Complexity, the first in-depth examination of the growing field of information visualization. Author and data viz expert Manual Lima examines the more than 800-year-old history of the tree diagram, from “…its roots in the illuminated manuscripts of medieval monasteries to its current resurgence as an elegant means of visualization.”
Tree diagrams suggest strategies for representing data across many disciplines including science, law, economics, sociology, geneology, and linguistics. Examples of early conceptualizations of heaven and hell, kinship diagrams of kings of France and West Virginian mountaineers, and even analyses of recipe ingredients are featured. For illustrators who enjoy maps and diagrams, this book is sure to be both resource and inspiration.
1,000 Dog Portraits From The People Who Love Them by Robynne Raye
320 pages, softbound, published by Rockport Publishers, $25.
“Some of our greatest historical and artistic treasures we place with curators in museums; others we take for walks." — Roger. A Caras, Animal Welfare Activist
Published this last April, after the resolution of the long-running copyright infringement suit undertaken by Modern Dog against some big-name infringers, this book is a joyful celebration of the beloved canine companions of Robynne Raye’s and Modern Dog’s illustrious friends. The book acts as a study guide for canine style. The chapter called “Can You Draw A Beagle?” is something of an inside joke as during their copyright infringement case, one of the prosecution attorneys insinuated that there were only so many ways you could draw a beagle. Obviously, this individual lacked the creative thought processes of the artists whose work here is joyful, loving, funny, and captures the personalities of man’s (and woman’s) best friend. From terriers to mutts, and every breed in-between, dogs are drawn, collaged, and painted in as many styles as there are breeds shown.
A few hot breaks to check out while surfing the net.
www.artguidenw.com — A comprehensive online guide to Seattle art and the Pacific Northwest art scene. Check out links to galleries, museums, artists, cultural events and more. Download the 2014 issue of Art Guide Northwest.
www.agnj.org — The Arts Guild New Jersey has announced a call for artists for NEXUS, an international juried exhibition, to take place this fall. Submission deadline is July 3rd.
www.illustration-magazine.com — Available now is Issue #44 featuring the work of one of my favorite pulp magazine cover artists, Walter Baumhofer (Doc Savage).
www.standforthearts.com — Americans for the Arts Action Fund is the largest arts advocacy organization in the nation, dedicating 100% of its time, money, and political clout to advancing the arts and arts education in America.
www.artmediaagency.com — Art Media Agency has re-launched its website, and has announced the launch of a personalized newswatch service aimed at art market professionals.
Featuring over 180 blogs from artists and their representatives.
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Featuring blogs from medical illustrators.
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Publicity for Self Promotion
Maria Piscopo www.mpiscopo.com has been an art/photo rep for 25 years and is based in San Francisco. She writes magazine articles for industry publications such as Shutterbug Magazine and Communication Arts and teaches marketing and business classes at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Her workshop “Taking Charge of What You Charge” is popular at industry meetings and conferences. Piscopo is the author of Graphic Designer’s and Illustrator’s Guide to Marketing and Promotion and the 4th Edition of Photographer’s Guide to Marketing and Self- Promotion, both published by Allworth Press (www.allworth.com).
The article below is reprinted with Maria’s kind permission. Maria is an old friend from my CA editor days, and her advice is always on the money. To get noticed, you have to put yourself out there. But in today’s plugged-in world, to truly get the results you want from your press materials, make sure that you also include a web address. Many publications or online newsletters (hint, hint) will also accept electronic releases with low res images, they make listings much easier for harried editors. Spend a few minutes doing online research and create your own database for publicity; check back in periodically to see who has moved where—journalism is a peripatetic field!
Getting To Know You: Publicity For Self-Promotion
Public relations is one of the most excellent tools for self-promotion. Simply defined, it is getting people to know your work (and know of you) through the media. You will buy this exposure with advertising but in today's new marketplace, the name recognition and credibility from publicity can give a cost-effective boost to your ads and sales efforts. With a little planning and research, you can easily add publicity to your self-promotion plan.
You don't get publicity just because you are talented. You get it because you ASK for the recognition by 1) submitting your press releases and 2) entering any and all award competitions. A second benefit is the additional promotion pieces from reprints of any publicity. You can use these to mail or distribute to clients to supplement the promos from your marketing plan.
How To Submit a Press Release
The press release is a standardized form of communicating some "newsworthy" item to the editors of publications. Upon evaluating your press release, the editor then decides whether or not to publish your story. THERE ARE NO GUARANTEES. The value of publicity is the acceptance of your submission by the media and the "third party" endorsement this creates. You start with a media list (list of publications) that is up-to-date with the name of the editor. It is a good idea to call first and ask for the name of a specific editor that deals with business press releases like yours. Be sure to include magazines, newspapers and newsletters read by your clients, your community and your peers.
For example, client media would be publications like Adweek or Communications Arts. Community media is your local newspaper and your peer media would be the publications other creative professionals like yourself subscribe to. Pick and choose your media list carefully. Send your press release to publications that use releases for editorial content and are respected in the community. If you are not sending out regular press releases, you're missing out on the chance for referrals, reputation, credibility and some great reprints! All it will cost you is the time to write the release and the postage. You don't pay for the publication of your release. Here are some examples of "newsworthy" items that could generate a press release to the media:
1. You relocate or open your studio
2. You add to your staff, get a rep or stock agency
3. You celebrate the anniversary of your firm
4. You finish a job that is special or interesting
5. You win any kind of award or get into an exhibit
6. You expand with additional services for clients
7. You participate in a community service project
8. You are elected to an association board of directors
9. You install new equipment or upgrade facilities
10. You give a lecture or teach a class
The news must truly be worthy and of interest or value to the publication. Blatant self-promotion that advertises your work will not be accepted and reduce your credibility with the editor. Never call and harass the media or their writers about being included in a feature article. Your best bet is to keep in touch by mail, fax or e-mail and they will call you! The more often you submit, the more likely you will get published.
Use the press release standard format. This format is specifically designed to be read quickly and give the editor an immediate sense of your news. It includes all the facts (who, what, when, where) in the first few sentences without flowery descriptions or adjectives. Double spacing allows the editor to write on the release, adding comments or editing notes. The date, your name and the phone number at the top are required information and the ### mark at the bottom indicates there are no following pages. Always write in the third person and don't forget to enclose a photograph whenever possible!
Don't forget that publicity comes from any type of award, juried exhibition or publication of your work. It also gives you a wonderful opportunity to write a press release. For maximum benefit, the announcement of your winning entry or exhibit can then be incorporated into your next direct mail or advertisement.
It is important to remember you are NOT SELLING ANYTHING with your publicity efforts. Your objective is to increase exposure to your clients, their awareness of your services and your chances of getting a call from your ads and promos.
Start today to incorporate public relations in your self-promotion plan. Research all of the publications that accept press releases and award entries that will bring you recognition. You can plan to use publicity to help promote your creative services!
A new section devoted to illustration-centric products
Princeton Architectural Press (www.papress.com) asked acclaimed designer Louise Fili to develop a line of gift products to include a set of two-tone pencils like the Italian ones she adores. Using her trademark love of vintage design, all things Italian and favorite red-and-black palette, Fili designed an eye-catching box full of versatile, handsome No. 2 pencils—perfect for drawing, and for perennial editors like me! These pencils exude style but take confidence—no erasers. 12 double-sided pencils, $13.95.
Gary Baseman in front of his Birch Forest installation from last winter’s Miami Art Basel Week.
Baseman Continues Global Domination
Los Angeles, May 27, 2014: Epic Rights, a full-service global branding, licensing, and rights management company, has been named global licensing agent for contemporary, celebrated painter, illustrator, video and performance artist, animator, TV/movie producer, curator, and toy designer, Gary Baseman. The announcement was made today by Epic Rights’ CEO Dell Furano and Baseman.
Epic Rights will implement a comprehensive licensing strategy to develop the Gary Baseman brand based on the artist’s illustrative works and family of characters launching with Toby, Creamy and The Wild Girls. The primary program will be broad-based, targeting adults 18–35-years-old, and featuring product categories that include apparel, accessories, home décor, stationery, collectibles, and publishing. The Gary Baseman licensing program will focus on character development, weaving in the humorous, ironic and surprising attributes of the human condition while celebrating the beauty of the bitter sweetness of life. The products will reflect the fantastical feel of Baseman’s art, capturing the importance of friendship, the beauty of innocence and the impish and mischievous devil in all of us.
If you have received an award, published a book or have other exciting career news, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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