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Summer 2009

Volume 04

Editor : Anne Telford


Portrait of Jorge Colombo by Daniel Blaufuks.

Jorge Colombo’s New Yorker cover.

Jack Rabbit
New York City’s famous Katz’s Delicatessen.

Colombo’s drawing of the Empire State Building.

Campaign Spotlight: Jorge Colombo
Digital Finger Painting.

Giving a whole new meaning to the term “finger painting,” New York City-based illustrator Jorge Colombo produced the June 1st cover of the venerable The New Yorker magazine using the Brushes mobile painting application on his iPhone. He painted the cover in less than an hour. The $4.99 application records all of your actions, which are stored in a .brushes file that can be downloaded directly from your iPhone or iPod touch via Brushes’ built-in web server. The hue/saturation color wheel allows infinite color choices, including transparency, and several realistic brushes and the extreme zooming feature allow artistic flexibility.

Jorge Colombo was born in Lisbon, Portugal in 1963, and moved to the United States in 1989. (“It's pronounced ‘George’, by the way—it's not a Spanish name,” Colombo explains.) Since 1998 he has lived in New York City with his wife, artist Amy Yoes, who like her husband alternately employs painting, photography and film in her work.

Colombo has variously been the art director of Chicago’s, San Francisco magazine, and Jungle Media in New York City. He began working on digital videos in 2003, starting with one-minute movies and evolving into longer projects. His keen eye captures the colors and personalities of a city and its denizens, with affection and humor.

Earlier this year when he purchased his first iPhone, he started to make drawings on it, culminating in his technologically revolutionary New Yorker cover. Colombo finds that it’s easy to work in the dark, using the phone’s lighted screen, and he does not use photographs for reference, but rather works on site, often standing in front of storefronts that he finds compelling, such as the Strand bookstore and neighborhood eateries. Although he has found it a bit of a challenge to draw outside in the cold, he works quickly and believes that this type of art creation will not long remain a novelty. It’s just another tool in his artistic arsenal.

Q: What motivated you to begin drawing and painting? Were you one of those children who could always be found sketching?
A: My brother and I were always sketching. Being Europeans, our first inspirations were graphic novels of French/Belgian origin, which were often quite sophisticated. (We never really got into the American comics tradition.) And during my short-lived stint at a fine-arts school, I realized I was more interested in commercial, published art, rather than the exhibition circuit and the commerce of originals.

Q: What was your previous relationship with technology, vis-à-vis your illustration work?
A: When it comes to photography, to movies, to design, I live and die by the Mac—I hate to remember my pre-digital years. For drawing, not so much; I always found the ergonomics of a Wacom tablet (draw here, look there) flawed, so I avoided it. In recent years though, I started coloring my line drawings in Photoshop, not so much for speed as for color intensity, but that was it. Most of what a computer does could always be done by hand, although not as quickly; the things you can not have in real life—and I deeply appreciate—are "Save As" (create five versions with a few clicks, compare and choose) and "Undo" (make a huge mistake, revert to the right way!).

Q: What gave you the idea to draw using your iPhone? (I have to say, I am still trying to demystify some of the regular features on my iPhone, so I find it all the more impressive that you’ve created art on yours!)
A: Everything feels confusing at the beginning then it's just a footnote: We no longer discuss early instances of desktop publishing or pioneer camcorder work, we're past that. The same will happen with iPhone art: it'll be just one more tool. In my case, I saw on Flickr the beautiful iPhone sunsets of Stéphane Kardos, so when I got my first iPhone in February 2009 I jumped at the chance to use Brushes myself.

Q: Can you speak a bit about the Brushes app and the technique you used to create the cover, and your other iPhone drawings?
A: The great thing about Brushes is, it doesn't try to do too many things. It's a wonderfully restrained instrument. Even with the 800% zooming capability, it's still a bit dodgy to work on details or precise lines, so I resorted to a style based on broad strokes and color layering—the app's strengths, basically. Part of an artist's job is always finding the way to take the best advantage of the tool.

Q: If we can create art on cell phones and instantly send it to a client, how do you think this may impact the illustration field? And, what might be next?
A: A lot of illustrators can finish a piece by hand faster than I can on my iPhone, it depends on their style. And you can't actually send a hi-res from the phone yet: a crucial conversion step requires a Mac. But the big revolution took place years ago, when the Internet became a standard tool for illustrators and clients. Hyperlink replaced drop-off, PDF replaced the fax, FTP replaced FedEx... And Google Images changed our lives: when I'm not drawing from life, I use it all the time. In that sense, being able to create a spot or even a cover on an iPhone may come in handy—technology has helped deadlines become much speedier—but it's probably just a footnote.

Q: You’ve had more varied experience than many illustrators, given your work as a graphic designer and photographer. Which discipline do you prefer, and do you find that your background as a designer influences your illustration work?
A: I always prefer the one I'm working on the most at the moment. But I tend to get restless, so it's good to have a quick escape valve and (sort of) switching careers on short notice.

Q: Do you draw inspiration from the different environments you’ve lived in?
A: I love cities, more than anything. Any city can be inspiring, but the main ones I've lived in—New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Lisbon—have spoiled me, they all offer such rich aspects. But the game is to find interest in things most banal.

To see more of Jorge’s work, visit Each week a new iPhone drawing by Colombo will be featured on

Cathie Bleck, Detail of Mythic Voyage, 9 x 12, inks and kaolin.

Installation from Lost&Found at Spring Design & Art.

In the Summer Camp Tent (detail), 2002. Pencil, crayon, ink, pencil, 20 x 26 in collection of John and Joyce Price, Seattle..

What's Hanging
Exhibitions of note nationwide.

Group Exhibition: Cathie Bleck, Don Fritz, Jenn Porreca
Opening August 8, through September 5
Artist reception: August 8, 7-10 p.m., Cathie Bleck will be attending from Columbus, Ohio
Billy Shire Fine Arts, 5790 Washington Blvd., Culver City, CA

Through June 30th, Tuesday-Saturday, 12-7 p.m.
Spring Design & Art, 126A Front Street, Dumbo, Brooklyn, NY (between Pearl and Jay St.)
A look at varied interpretations of the theme of Lost&Found, in design and art, from the literal to the abstract.

Annie Pootoogook
Through January 10, 2010, the museum is free and open every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Thursdays until 8 p.m.
Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian in New York, the George Gustav Heye Center, One Bowling Green, New York City (across from Battery Park)

Renowned Inuit artist Annie Pootoogook is known for her stark portrayals of social and economic realties within her home community of Cape Dorset, Nunavut that provide an intimate glimpse into a little-known world. The exhibition features 39 drawings, and was organized by the Illingworth Kerr Gallery at the Alberta College of Art + Design, Calgary, Canada.

Sketchbooks: The Hidden Art of Designers, Illustrators & Creatives

Seymour, The Obsessive Images of Seymour Chwast

Book + Art: Handcrafting Artists’ Books

Underground Classics: The Transformation of Comics into Comix

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

Sketchbooks: The Hidden Art of Designers, Illustrators & Creatives, by Richard Brereton, published by Laurence King Publishing c/o Chronicle Books,, hardbound, 240 pages, 250 color illustrations, $30, offers a voyeuristic look into the sketchbooks of a stellar roster of artists including Peter Saville, Mark Todd, John Hendrix, and Henrik and Joakim Drescher. The illustrations are complemented by interviews detailing how the artists use these vital tools of the trade and how their sketches relate to their finished works. You just may be inspired to crack open a new notebook and start drawing.

Seymour, The Obsessive Images of Seymour Chwast, Introduction by Steven Heller, Essay by Paula Scher, published in April 2009 by Chronicle Books, 272 pages, hardcover, $40. This indispensable book offers a small window into Seymour Chwast’s staggering body of work. Despite his 77 years, he seemingly lives to draw and continues to produce original and insightful work. Steven Heller’s thoughtful introduction accompanied with an interview of Chwast, and an essay by Chwast’s wife, esteemed designer Paula Scher, combine with a wealth of images to form a vibrant portrait of the artist.

Book + Art: Handcrafting Artists’ Books, by Dorothy Simpson Krause, published by North Light Books, softcover, 144 pages, $24.99. Drawing examples from more than 50 books artist Dorothy Simpson Krause has produced over the last decade, this book provides a wealth of information to help stimulate creative inspiration—perfect for the DIY set. Topics range from tools and materials to paper choice, alternative presentations and traditional and digital ways to incorporate words and images. Note: Through July 31, Book + Art can be ordered from North Light’s MyCraftivityStore for $15, using the code BOOKART.

Underground Classics: The Transformation of Comics into Comix, by James Danky and Denis Kitchen, published by Abrams ComicArts,, hardcover, 144 pages, $29.95, looks at this movement that gave a voice to underground culture during the 1960s and ‘70s, when comics took on an “x” to tackle social and political topics like sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll and Vietnam protests. Robert Crumb was at the forefront of this movement along with Art Spiegelman, who along with their lesser-known colleagues such as S. Clay Wilson (with his brilliant anti-social Checkered Demon), Gilbert Shelton, Kim Dietch, and others are covered here. The book’s publication accompanies a major exhibition traveling throughout the U.S. and internationally, which began at the Chazen Museum of Art, University of Wisconsin-Madison (where it runs through July 12).

Good Surfing
A few hot breaks to check out while surfing the net. — I first became acquainted with Just Seeds Visual Resistance Artists’ Collective when my stencil artist neighbor down the street in San Francisco introduced me to Josh MacPhee, the founder. This group is dedicated to promoting the work—and ideals—of artists who make political statements and create messages of hope and solidarity. Check out compelling art from the U.S. and other countries and see the issues that influence these artists. — At first glance it might seem like this site for writers and editors wouldn’t be a good fit for illustrators, but there are many features that might well prove worthwhile. Take for instance their job listings, “Revolving Door” feature that chronicles the myriad moves within the publishing industry (good to know who you should be contacting!) and their online courses that cover such relevant topics as learning how to write a comic book or graphic novel—to go along with those illustrations. — The Society of Illustrators invites artists and publishers in the children’s book field to submit entries to their 29th Annual Exhibition of The Original Art. Founded by Dilys Evans in 1980 to celebrate the fine art of children’s book illustration, the show has been sponsored by the Society for the past 19 years. Entry forms are available for download by visiting their website; the deadline is July 29. Exhibition dates will be October 21 through November 28 and awards presentation will be given Thursday, October 22. — Since 1915, The Color Association of the United States has been an expert source for color forecasting, researching and archiving color. The New York-based organization offers educational workshops for both members and non-members, and their site has a treasure-trove of color-centric cultural news and information.

Industry Advice

I picked up the following information from, a journalist-created press release newswire I receive. The statistics cited about social media may prove interesting. Although on a personal note, I must admit that at present I am, for some inexplicable reason, unable to access my Facebook account, which is driving me crazy. If any of you out there have tried to “Friend” me, please bear with me! I vow to get to the bottom of this if I have to storm their offices in Palo Alto on my next Bay Area trip! That said, I believe Facebook and LinkedIn are great tools. Twitter, I’m not so sure about. Does anyone really care if you’re at the grocery store? Or at the local coffee house?

Social Media & Your Business Growth
May 4, 2009

» Using Social Media to Grow Businesses: A social media marketing industry report released by WhitePaperSource’s Michael Stelzner, titled “How Marketers Are Using Social Media to Grow Their Businesses” and sponsored by the Social Media Success Summit 2009, offers these insights into business development in a 2.0 world:

The top three questions marketers want answered in terms of social media: What are the best tactics to use? How do I measure the effectiveness of social media? Where do I start?

Marketers are relatively new to social media: 88% of surveyed marketers are using social media to market their businesses, but 72% have only been doing so for a few months or less.

Time commitment: 64% use social media for 5-plus hours weekly and 39% use it for 10-plus hours weekly. Business owners were more likely to use social media marketing (90%) than employees working for a business (81%). At least two in three participants found that increased traffic occurred with as little as six hours a week invested in social media marketing.

Top benefits of social media: The No. 1 advantage cited was generating exposure for their business (81%), followed by increasing traffic (61%) and building new business partnerships (56%).

Top tools: Twitter, blogs, LinkedIn and Facebook were the top four social media tools used by marketers, in that order. Specifically, Twitter is used by 94% of marketers who’ve been using social media for years, followed closely by blogs (90%).

Learning curve: When asked what social media tools they are most interested in learning more about, 58% said bookmarking sites such as Delicious. In this vein, 61% of those investing more than 20 hours per week in social media marketing are using social bookmarking sites.
Source: Michael Stelzner

Illustration by Edel Rodriguez


New York-based illustrator Edel Rodriguez has a new children’s book, Sergio Saves the Game!". The following link includes pages from the book, photos from recent events, reviews, and a video interview with Edel about his process of writing and illustrating kids' books.

If you have received an award, published a book or have other exciting career news, please email

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