Shinola Detroit poster.
Shinola Detroit postcards.
Write A House project, writeahouse.org, client.
Mural for Trumbull and Porter, a rebranded boutique hotel in Detroit's Corktown neighborhood.
Personal work from sketchbook.
Don Kilpatrick III.
Artist Spotlight: Don Kilpatrick III
His print work is emblematic of Detroit’s “can do” spirit
Don Kilpatrick III switches smoothly from digital to traditional illustration styles for a variety of clients including Fortune, the Los Angeles Times, and the Wall Street Journal. He helped design the Olympic medal, torch, and official poster art for the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, and has received numerous awards from Communication Arts and The Society of Illustrators. His fine art work has been exhibited in New York, Philadelphia, and Miami. The Butcher’s Daughter hosted Kilpatrick’s first solo exhibitions in 2012 and 2013.
He received a BFA from Utah State University, and an MA from Syracuse University; in 2012 he was an Adobe Education Leader, and he has been involved in past ICON conferences as the organizer of the pop up bookstore featuring illustrators’ products.
He employs letterpress to great effect with his vibrant action-oriented designs. He’s also the head of the illustration department at Detroit’s College for Creative Studies. Last December UNESCO designated Detroit its first American “City of Design”, which will help elevate its can do businesses cropping up after a devastating downturn.
Don gives back to his community in artistic ways: He is a founding member of The Detroit Wood Type Co., and Signal Return, a community letterpress print shop in Detroit’s Eastern Market where he serves as a board member.
To see more of his work, visit www.donkilpatrick.com, www.morgangaynin.com/artists/kilpatrick and www.directoryofillustration.com/donkilpatrick
Q: How has living in Detroit influenced you and/or your work?
A: In so many ways! I moved here close to nine years ago not really knowing much about the area, and have grown to love it as much as my hometown. There is a never give up attitude and culture that has always been here in Detroit, and I was attracted to that. I was also very attracted to its authenticity and sincerity. There is also a distinct do it yourself attitude here as well that is a wellspring of inspiration for me. It has led me to expand beyond what I typically do as an illustrator and is expanding my work into new areas and with interesting people.
Detroit has always been a place where people have made things. A place where complex things are made year after year, and the knowledge base here is so rich that as a creative person or artist you feel as if you can make anything. In spite of all the challenges that we face here, we never give up and we are reinventing our city. It is an exciting time to be here, and I feel like I got in on the ground floor of something really good! If you have ideas, and you have the will power to see them through, this is the place to be right now in the United States if you are an artist, illustrator, or designer.
Q: Can you speak a bit about your work with Shinola, and what that company means for Detroit?
A: It was an honor to be asked by Shinola to illustrate and hand letterpress print posters for the grand opening of their Detroit retail store three years ago. I was able to see the poster through from initial rough sketch, carving the image in reverse into linoleum, and then printing it on my Vandercook style proofing press. Being able to work with an art director face to face can be a rarity these days, and I became good friends with him over the past couple of years. This close working relationship has led me to work on additional illustrated and designed pieces for them. On all of the work I have been personally involved with for Shinola, I have collaborated and worked closely with my graphic designer studio mate, and business partner, Joe Benghauser under the name of The Detroit Wood Type Co. Sometimes I wear the hat of an illustrator, and sometimes Joe wears that hat on the various projects we have done for them. We both pull prints together, and our partnership has added a rich dimension to my own work.
Shinola has been a positive force for good in our city. Their manufacturing headquarters is located within, and occupies a floor in one of the campuses of the college I have the privilege to teach at, The College for Creative Studies. They have easily tripled in size since they started here nearly four years ago, and employ many of my former students in various capacities, as well as employing Detroiters in their watch and leather good manufacturing facilities.
Q: What is your studio/workplace like?
A: I usually do a lot of my painting at my home studio, and I now share a studio space in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood with my business partner, Joe Benghauser, The Detroit Wood Type Co., and this is located within an old Catholic middle school that had been abandoned before a mutual friend of ours decided to buy it and renovate it into a boutique studio and office space for a number of starting creative businesses. The building used to be just another typical blighted building that metal scrappers had gotten to, but by sheer determination and a lot of hard work, my friend has brought it back and made it even better. Our studio is a converted old classroom space and we have been there for a little over a year. Prior to that I had some of my presses and other related stuff here at my house and we would work the best we could remotely; Joe and I work on various projects where we employ our love of illustration, design and strive to use the various old equipment that we have in our space.
Q: Your use of letterpress and hand printing indicates a return to work that has more of a touch of the hand in it. Do you see this as an emerging trend for young illustrators who grew up with computer generated art?
A: I really do, and I strive to share what I have learned with students of the illustration department that I have the honor of chairing, as well as with others in my community. Letterpress and other variation and forms of relief printmaking are areas where high tech meets high touch, and people will always crave something that melds the time tested with the latest technology. We spend so much time being “alone together” these days, and the experience of letterpress brings people together. I am proud to have been a founding board member of Detroit’s community letterpress shop, Signal Return, which has become a crossroads of creativity and brings so many people together.
I feel that younger illustrators need to experience working with their hands, even if to bring that back to their digital work, and letterpress provides this. Not only producing carvings or the like, but also working on getting seemingly obsolete machinery put back to work again is something that we are somewhat disconnected from in 21st century life. This aspect of letterpress has a very Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance feeling to it. The experience of creating illustration then translating it into linoleum, wood, or polymer really is taking illustrators back to our disciplines’ roots. The process of letterpress enabled this finely applied art to be mass distributed and give individuals the opportunity to look at work that they had to once travel to see in public spaces.
Q: What is your favorite type of assignment?
A: Any type of assignment that challenges me, and pushes me to explore more possibilities in my artwork. I enjoy collaborating with others in making work that is meaningful. I really try to seek out opportunities to take on assignments that are going to have a positive impact on someone.
Q: I have to ask, why is the guy punching a bear? I want to know that story!
A: I wanted to illustrate something that encapsulated how I felt in 2008 and 2009. With the downturn in the economy, and other things happening in my life professionally I felt like it all was a big bear coming after me and really everyone at the time. It is my way of taking charge of the situation and meeting these challenges head on and punching them back.
Q: How do you balance commercial with fine art or public art projects?
A: This is always a creative challenge for me. I like having to be challenged this way, because it makes me think and be more engaged with the content of my work. I really strive to approach it all with confidence in my instincts and intentions for the work I am setting about to do. I have been very lucky to have collaborated and worked with all types of designers and others that believe in what I do as an artist and illustrator, and that makes this balance work for me.
Q: You’ve been actively involved in the industry with ICON, and with teaching at the College for Creative Studies. Where do you see illustration in the next decade?
A: This is the ever-challenging question! I see it continuing to evolve into areas where it once wasn’t as visible. One thing I have seen first hand in Detroit is how I have been able to introduce people to illustration who never really took notice before. I really am humbled to chair the illustration department at CCS, and my students’ entrepreneurial spirit has inspired me to evolve and look at what illustration can be.
I also see illustration continuing to be at the crossroads where high tech meets high touch. Sure, digital work will continue to be in a space where it is moving pictures and filling the need for tablets and the like, but it will also continue to be that unique art object or artifact that people will continue to commission and cherish. One thing that I hope will come about in the next decade is illustrators coming together on creating a mechanism for those of us in the United States akin to what ASCAP is for musicians. This will ensure that illustrators will be able to benefit more effectively from their hard work.
Current cover of Kim Jong-un for The New Yorker. Françoise Mouly, cover editor.
Eustace Trippy, cover for The New Yorker. Françoise Mouly, art editor.
Rolling Stone cover portait of John Belushi. Joe Hutchinson, art director.
Divergence 1 and 3, personal work, acrylic, 14" x 11" each.
The Four Seasons, acrylic on board, personal work, 40" x 30" each.
Artist Spotlight: Anita Kunz, O.C., D.F.A.
A love of anthropology and zoology informs her art
There are few awards that Anita Kunz has not received from Canada: she was inducted into the Royal Canadian Academy of the Arts in 2007, voted one of the 50 most influential women in Canada by the National Post, and garnered a Lifetime Achievement award from the Advertising and Design Club of Canada and an Honorary Doctorate from the Ontario College of Art and Design University. Not to mention that in 2010 she was appointed as an Office of the Order of Canada, the country’s highest civilian honor, and in 2012 she was the recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal of Honour, And that’s not even counting all the awards from Communication Arts, Society of Illustrators, and more.
Her client list is stellar and staggeringly long. From 1988 to 1990 she was one of two artists chosen by Rolling Stone magazine to produce a monthly illustrated “History of Rock’n’Roll” end paper, and she has produced cover art for many magazines as well as 50 book jacket covers.
Anita has lived in London, New York, and now resides in Toronto, where in her spare time she rescues feral cats in addition to other good deeds.
Many years ago I judged a Los Angeles Society of Illustrators show and my fellow judges (illustrators all) and I had a spirited debate about one particular work. We all thought it was a piece by Anita, but it was a blind judging and we didn’t want to award work that was a copy of her style. It all hinged on the shape of the fingers! We petitioned to know the artist’s name, and thankfully it was Anita. I was deeply impressed by my colleagues’ detailed analysis of this one telling feature in her paintings.
Anita’s own delicate features reappear in various works, and her women all have a touch of Botticelli about them. There is a subversive sense to her work and her attention to detail is impeccable. Her work is immediately recognizable and impactful.
To see more of Anita’s work, visit www.anitakunzart.com.
Q: What is it like to be the most highly awarded illustrator in Canada?
A: Well that’s a very nice thing to say! There are actually lots of amazing artists in Canada. I think we may be unique in that we are influenced by the great American illustrators and also the great Europeans. And we are such a young country, and almost all first or second generation immigrants, so our influences are quite vast and varied.
Q: What is your studio space like?
A: I have a third floor renovated attic space. The ceilings are high so it seems airy despite its small size. The one critical thing for me is lots of light. I had a few skylights installed so I have lovely available light most of the day.
Q: How do you approach an editorial or cover assignment?
A: I do two separate things these days, illustration and fine art. The editorial work is always very specific so I always get as much information from the art director as possible regarding the parameters of the job. I usually do several sketches and add lots of written explanations of what I’m trying to accomplish so the art director has more to present to the editors. I consider editorial illustration to be much more collaborative, and my fine art is much more personal.
Q: I know you do a lot of volunteer work with animals in Toronto, how does this inform your work (or life)?
A: Well I’m a huge animal lover and anthropology and zoology are my biggest interests. I think we can be an amazing but also often brutal species. I also think we underestimate the consciousness of animals. Anyway, I do volunteer work with feral cats. They’re ubiquitous in downtown Toronto. I began volunteering when I began noticing them and realizing how much they were suffering particularly in the frigid winter months, so I felt compelled to do something. My fine art in particular often examines how closely linked we are in terms of DNA with other species, and that’s a continual source of inspiration for me.
Q: You often capture the essence of animals and transmogrify them with human attributes. Did you have lots of pets as a child, or draw animals?
A: I remember drawing horses a lot as a child. I think a lot of girls do! We didn’t have a lot of pets but we always had at least one dog. I’ve never lived without at least one animal. I always think that if I ever won the lottery I’d buy a big farm and open an animal sanctuary.
Q: What do you most want to convey to your students? What’s the best professional advice you ever received?
A: I’ve compiled a list of 9 tips for creative success for students (it’s still evolving). I don’t think that we really got great advice back in the day so I want students to learn from my experiences and mistakes. They are:
• Work hard!
• Embrace self doubt!
• Remove toxic influences
• Nurture your uniqueness!
• Not working can be just as important to creativity as working
• Be kind and stay humble
• Remain a student for life and stay curious
• Stop trying to be perfect
• Use your art for good and always give back.
Q: Where do you see illustration in the next decade or so?
A: I see huge changes and influences from the worlds of comics and graphic novels, sci-fi and fantasy, gaming and fine art. I love the new mashups between the disciplines and I think that will continue to evolve. Storytelling will always be important and I love to see how the new technologies help the arts morph into new and exciting areas!
Q: You travel a lot, for work and for pleasure. Do you keep sketchbooks when you travel? Where will you go in 2016?
A: I do not keep sketchbooks, but I have boxes wherein I keep bits of paper with sketches, paper souvenirs and other ephemera.
I hope to travel a lot this year. I think that travel is absolutely the best education. My new favorite place is Barcelona. I’d love to go there again this year, maybe with a stop in Madrid. But honestly I’ll go anywhere new!
Mark McGwire, for Sports Illustrated.
The New Yorker titled this one, “Carlos Danger”.
Putin on the Couch for Reader’s Digest.
Advice in a fire, Reader’s Digest.
New York Times Book Review cover. Alcoholic Authors: Hemmingway, Berryman, Cheever, Carver, Tennessee Williams, Fitzgerald.
Personal piece, Philip Larkin and Bob Dylan go antiquing.
Artist Spotlight: John Cuneo
His work is sometimes NSFW, but always hilarious
John Cuneo labeled a compendium of his work published by Fantagraphics, nEUROTIC, a sobriquet that pretty well sums it up. He seems to be drawn to human foibles and peccadillos, and his work featuring social gatherings can best be described by Arthur Conan Doyle’s quote, “Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent.”
Cuneo’s work appears in most major publications including Esquire, the New Yorker, the New York Times, Garden & Gun, Entertainment Weekly, Mother Jones and Town & Country. He’s racked up 11 Society of Illustrators medals, and in 2011 he received the Hamilton King Award. Last year he was one of 7 illustrators featured in the Delaware Art Museum exhibition, State of the Art: Illustration 100 Years After Howard Pyle. He's been the subject of a Communication Arts feature and his work appears in American Illustration and Society of Publication & Design annuals as well as many magazines and satirical publications abroad.
In person John is shy and unassuming, the opposite of his drawings that often picture frenzied party scenes or bedroom foibles. His drawings of animals are hilarious and insightful, being that they are often imbued with human traits and expressions. It’s clear that he is most comfortable observing human nature with a pen in hand. Something we’re all the richer for.
To see more of John’s work, visit www.johncuneo.com, or drawger.com/johncuneo/ or check out the eponymously titled collection published by Goya: LP View Series
Q: Your powers of observation must be astonishing, given the level of detail in your drawings. Do you draw from your imagination or do you use reference materials?
A: I mostly just make things up. But often I will have to research some specific element or object; a certain animal, a kind of vehicle, what a bagpipe actually looks like. Using photo reference can make for an awkward visual transition, it can look obvious and jarring in my stuff, but I'm getting better at incorporating it into my stew of a style.
Q: OK, I have to ask: Did you draw dirty pictures as a kid? You are such a great draftsman; I imagine you drew all the time.
A: Yeah, I was one of those "drawing kids". Also played a lot of basketball, (which I like to think helped mitigate the "hunched over, frantically scribbling nerd" image, but still…). But no, not dirty pictures. I remember some classmate telling me he was jealous, because "you can draw a naked woman anytime you want to see one". I was such a moron—it hadn't even occurred to me. (Without photo reference, I'd have been lost anyhow.)
Q: How did you get to be the guy that draws weird fetishes for Esquire?
A: I did some drawings for creative director John Korpics at Entertainment Weekly. He liked my sketchbooks, which had a good deal of nakedness and tumescence. When he took over at Esquire, he assigned me to the monthly Sex Advice column. I think it went on for 9 years.
The Q & A's were pretty explicit, but I wasn't allowed to draw anyone actually performing a sex act, so lots of visual metaphors and humorous exaggeration. I was given three or four reader's questions to choose from each month, and picked the one with the most potential and the least penetration. Showing nipples was a battle I eventually won, and it's a legacy I hope I'm remembered for.
Q: When describing your work the word irreverent comes to mind. (Or in the case of your recent take on The Wizard of Oz, a little twisted.) How do you describe your work?
A: As a comic or humorous illustrator I'm hired to be irreverent, to a point. Most of the magazines I work for don't want too extreme a caricature or too abrasive a scenario, for obvious reasons. My sketchbook and noncommissioned drawings are untethered from mainstream editorial restraints, and are consequently more graphic and personal. I really try not to dwell too much about the motivation there. I do know the process helps stave off depression, "industry being the enemy of melancholy" and all that. Someone once described that work as "a desperate cry for help”, but I'm doing okay I think.
Q: Who inspires your work? When I see some of the group caricatures, they make me think of George Grosz.
A: I didn't come up with any kind of real art education, so I wasn't at all familiar with that rich period of graphic social commentary. Now I'm influenced by all kinds of stuff, it's all online, and it's sometimes too much to absorb. I'm looking at less and less of other people's work these days, and finding inspiration from things I'm reading, or hunches I'm following. Among many other things, I worry about running out of time to draw.
Q: I love the Reader’s Digest piece of the couple sharing a bra to avoid smoke inhalation. You always manage to add a sexy note, or twist to each piece. Do you start out knowing what you will add or do ideas develop as you are working on a piece?
A: It's a very different approach depending on whether I'm doing an assignment or "working" for myself. Like it is for most folks, assignments begin with identifying elements or scenarios in an article that might make for an interesting visual juxtaposition and might also comment on, or reinforce, the editorial slant. I try be open in the sketch process and allow for those "twists" you mention to suggest themselves. If I have to settle for literally illustrating a scene from the story, my job then is to make as good and entertaining a drawing as possible.
A lot of my personal stuff just starts with a figure or two, or an animal, put down on a page. Just randomness—didn't Klee say something about d taking a line for a walk? [Paul Klee is quoted as saying, “A line is a dot that went for a walk.”] Sometimes the expression or pose will push a sketch in a direction that suggests an "idea" or something a little unorthodox. Other times I do have an idea in mind, and I just try and draw it as nicely as possible. The results are often repetitive, wildly inconsistent and rarely inspired, but one slogs ahead.
Q: What’s your favorite type of assignment?
A: I enjoy drawing my little animals and people. And caricatures are a good challenge. If I can get them in a room or some kind of environment and have them do something funny, I'm okay. The process is more difficult than the results might indicate.
Q: Where do you see illustration in the next decade?
A: On that issue, I feel I'm too insular and uniformed to speculate. I've had my head down, drawing alone in a room for 35 years. It's not exactly a carnival, but I hope the next decade allows for more of the same.
A brief review of notable titles and inspiring monographs.
Presenting Shakespeare: 1,100 Posters from Around the World by Mirko Ilić, Steven Heller
320 pages, hardcover, published by Princeton Architectural Press, $50
The name Shakespeare almost immediately conjures up images of a proffered skull or a bloody dagger. His tragedies, comedies, and unfailing insights into power, treachery, and betrayal are well known to fans of literature, theatre, and film after 400 years of exposure. Assembled here for the first time in a single volume, Presenting Shakespeare is a great resource for those interested in, or promoting, Shakespeare events. Work from a roster of international artists representing 55 countries is shown, including original theatrical flyers from the 18th century.
No less a theatrical luminary than Julie Taymor offers an introductory essay that places frequently employed design paradigms in a historical and cultural context. From star-crossed lovers to murderous rulers, every treatment of these immortal themes is shown to advantage in this handsomely designed book. It’s instructive to see the juxtaposition of styles used to render a common theme.
Patternalia, An Unconventional History of Polka Dots, Stripes, Plaid, Camouflage, & Other Graphic Patterns by Jude Stewart
160 pages, hardcover, published by Bloomsbury, $25
I received this thought provoking book as a Christmas gift from my husband. Knowing that I have somewhat exhausted the literary offerings devoted to color, he felt I might be ready to move on to pattern—and he was so right. We are surrounded by pattern in our lives from the interior designs we choose, even down to our underwear and socks. Everyone knows what polka dots and stripes look like, but do you know their historical precedent?
Learn about the origins of the politically controversial kaffiyeh, checkered flags used at raceways around the world, and the precursors to ubiquitous military camouflage, just for starters. Author of the well-received ROY G. BIV: An Exceedingly Surprising Book About Color, Jude Stewart imbues her prose with humor, insight, and lots of cross-references making for a fun read. She writes about design and culture for Slate, Good, and Fast Company, among others, and writes a blog about color for Print.
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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 email@example.com 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
A new year has arrived, and with it, the hopes for a year of lucrative and interesting assignments for all. I am not given to New Year’s Resolutions: Who keeps them anyway, and who really wants to give up the occasional two fingers of single malt Scotch? Not me. I am inspired though by the idea of a clean slate, and better business practices. This will be the year I finally join Instagram. I am also determined to curate an illustration exhibition in the not too distant future. I am heartened by all the gallery shows that illustrators are having here in the U.S. and abroad. Many of my favorite illustrators are producing fine art work as well as commercial work, and there are innovative galleries in Los Angeles, Seattle, New York City, and many points in between that are championing great work. Etsy shops are full of hand-made products bearing original artwork, and pop-up shops offer new outlets. For example, the San Diego Main Public Library hosted a maker’s fair before the holidays including work from illustrator Susie Ghahremani of www.boygirlparty.com, among others.
When I checked www.luerzersarchive.com to find out their favorite prints ads of 2015, I was heartened to see that of the 10 ads that proved most popular with Archive’s readers on Facebook the majority were illustration-centric.
A venerable French comics festival has been marred by sexism. After the list of 30 nominees for this year’s Grand Prix d’Angoulême was announced, and did not include even a single female creator, 10 comics creators have withdrawn their names from consideration for this year’s Grand Prix d’Angoulême and called for a boycott on voting for this year’s list as a result. Along with Fantagraphics Books they have endorsed the French group BD Egalite [ bdegalite.org ] in their call to boycott the awards. I salute them for their stance.
A colleague shared a good artist resource, Drawing Den, an online collection of helpful resources and tutorials; drawingden.tumblr.com. Don’t visit unless you have a little free time, as you will likely find a variety of interesting threads.
ICON 9 is coming up this summer, July 6–9 in Austin, TX.
Visit www.theillustrationconference.org for more information or to register to attend.
I’ll see you there!
Carol Tinkelman pictured between at left, Leslie Cober-Gentry, daughter of Alan Cober and right, illustrator/educator Lisa L. Cyr, at an event the day after her husband, illustrator Murray Tinkelman received the 2014 Artist Laureate Award from the Norman Rockwell Museum.
Many of my illustrator friends on Facebook posted notice of the recent passing of Carol Tinkelman after a two-year battle with cancer. Wife of illustrator Murray Tinkelman, she was a champion of illustration, and a member of the Norman Rockwell Museum’s board. “Carol was a driving force behind Norman Rockwell Museum’s illustration collecting mission, and her passion was to help the Museum build its collection of original illustration art,” notes Museum Deputy Director/Chief Curator, Stephanie Haboush Plunkett. “She and Murray donated from their own collections extensively, and invited other artists to do so as well. Carol will be greatly missed.” Carol Tinkelman had been her husband’s partner in Tinkelman Studio since its inception in 1957. From January 2006 to August 2015, she was the Program Administrator for the Low Residency MFA in Illustration Program at the Hartford Art School, University of Hartford, of which her husband is Illustration Program Director, touching the lives of many in the illustration community. (Information from the Norman Rockwell Museum, www.nrm.org and Hartford Art School FB notice.)
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