Monday, December 20, 2010

No. It's conformity that killed the cat.

My most standards, recycled homebuilder Dan Phillips seems like the quirkiest guy in the room ... until you hear him talk about his guerilla construction philosophy. Then, you realize he's the sanest man on the planet.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

And now for a little North Polarization

This cartoon originally appeared in an earlier Synonumb post, but fits here too. Click the image to enlarge.

My wife and I are Palm Beach County Floridians who have friends in Alaska. On several occasions, we've had the good fortune to travel across the continent and see how the other half lives. It's quite different.

During the brief few months of spring and summer, Alaska explodes with the cycle of life, death and renewal. It should be no surprise that this is also deeply ingrained in culture of Alaskans. Many of them mount expeditions to net copious amounts of salmon and hunt deer, caribou and moose. All of these require special licenses. 

Having a successful hunt requires a great deal of preparation and effort, and one doesn't always come away with the prize. But when you do, it provides the healthiest meat anyone can put in their mouths. Stocking up also helps defray ever rising heating fuel costs during the long winter months.

In particular, it is hard to bag a caribou. They usually can only be reached by packing deep into the wilderness. If you manage to find, and then have the skill to kill one, you must then pack hundreds of pounds of meat back out — definitely not like a trip to the grocery store.

That's why this recent very popular blog by Aaron Sorkin on the Huffington Post is the pot calling the kettle black. Infinitely more "snotty" than Sarah Palin's defensive quip, it is utterly hypocritical. But worse, it is blatantly designed to increase polarization and perpetuate intolerance toward the diversity of American's culture.

I'm not a big fan of Sarah Palin, but she is an Alaskan. Heck, a lot of Alaskans don't like her politics or her grandstanding either, but the last thing they would criticize her for is bagging a caribou.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

How To Explain It To Your Parents

This video from Dutch designers Lernert & Sander is one of a group of nine conversations where Dutch artists explain their work to their parents.

In this case, Arno Coenen tries to explain the artistic statement behind his beer brewing to his father. It is a clash of subversive ideas vs conformity, passion vs reason and then ultimately degenerates into the intransigence of the familial power structure.

I find it utterly delightful ... laughed out loud in parts, because it reminds me of conversations between my son, Adam, and I so much.

12 minutes with subtitles. Watch it in full screen mode for readability.

How to explain it to my parents - Arno Coenen from Lernert & Sander on Vimeo.

More of the series How to explain my parents from Lernert & Sander can be viewed on Vimeo.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Leslie Nielsen not Drebin for me

No doubt about it. Leslie Nielsen can be thought of as the American Peter Sellers. He earned his place in comedic hierarchy by playing clueless characters in spoofs like Airplane and the Naked Gun series during the latter part of his career.

But I'm sorry. Every time I see a Frank Drebin clip, my subconscious mind won't let it pass without recalling this film. It must have made a big impression on me at an early age. I guess Nielsen will always be Commander John J. Adams of the United Planets Cruiser C-57D for me.

Given Nielsen's obvious dry sense of humor, I'd bet they had a blast on the set while making Forbidden Planet ... especially the way it reeks of 50's-era veiled sexuality.

It's interesting to note that the film seems to have made a big impression on Spielberg as well. This trailer is remarkably similar to the opening titles for Star Wars.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pilgrims and Indians Cartoon for Thanksgiving Buffet

I did this cartoon for the Royce Hotels in the mid-1980s. It ran in newspaper ads for Thanksgiving day buffet promotions in various hotel restaurants.

The Royce Hotels were a chain of upscale suite hotels run by West Palm Beach, Florida based Servico Corporation. They were mostly located near major airports and geared for the high-end business traveler, but also featured high-energy nightclubs and upscale restaurants that pulled customers from the community at large.

Back in the days of mostly black and white newspaper advertising, grabbing attention and getting traction from an ad could be difficult. I often used humor and a little extra white space to great effect. You can check out more of my designs for Servico Corporation here.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

For your listening pleasure

Creative people are usually multi-talented. Here's a guy who was a RISD graphic design student when he started a little band.

Monday, November 08, 2010

We suck lizard squeezings

Editorial cartoon animator Mark Fiore's story is the perfect parable of artistic insight and courage. He stopped doing traditional editorial cartoons for the San Jose Mercury News in 2001 in order to present Flash animated cartoons on his own Web site.

Who knew that this could be a path to success? Well, most of us did, but few took the risk.

Just nine years later he became the first cartoonist to receive the Pulitzer prize for a submission that was entirely comprised of animated editorial cartoons.

BWT, our whole lives and all of our fortunes are entirely based on the sucking of lizard juice. Who knew? Well, most of us do. But typically, Mark Fiore was the first to clearly articulate it.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Rolling Stone gathers no respect

Rolling Stone guitarist Ronnie Wood typically gets no respect from the press or critics when it comes to his visual art. The usual attitude (conceit) is that he doesn't deserve serious consideration because he is looking to trade on his name.

In the case of this recent article about losses in Wood's London art gallery Scream, the reporter asserts that Ronnie has "has developed a new passion for art." Nothing could be further from the truth. Wood was a student at Ealing Art College, considering a career as a theatrical set designer, before music intervened — first with The Faces and then The Rolling Stones.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Wood about his art over the phone in 2006 for an article in ValueRich magazine. His agent warned me that Wood doesn't like it when an interview is supposed to be about his art but all the questions end up being about the band. I assured the him that I'd keep it on course, but he needn't have worried.

Wood couldn't have been a nicer guy over the phone, and we hit it off right away. Halfway through the interview I realized the conversation had ceased to be an interview and was just two artists swapping ideas. He volunteered stories about his early days as a musician on his own. He seemed genuinely reluctant to finish the call when his wife reminded him they were late for a dinner date.

It turned out to be a great story. You can download it to read as a pdf file by clicking this link.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Starbucks meeting that lead to a really great job

During a prototypical napkin-scribbling meeting at Starbucks in the summer of 2003, I was contracted to help establish the publishing division of ValueRich, Inc. in West Palm Beach, Florida, and launch ValueRich magazine.

The nationally distributed Wall Street financial magazine introduced small-cap and micro-cap public companies to a readership of company executives, investment bankers, fund managers and investors. It also contained plenty of stylish and adventurous lifestyle material for its mostly affluent readers.

After producing the first two issues from my studio, I joined the company as Editor-in-chief of the publication and also served as its brand marketing creative director.

I just put a portfolio page up for the project on Behance. Follow this link to check it out.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Summer Illustration Special Prices

I just ran across this old postcard art from 2008 on my computer. And do you know what? In this economy, I'll still do these prices.

Click image to view full size

The Serendipity of New Technology

New technology and entrepreneurial ideas don't always follow the expected path when users get a hold of them. This Wall Street Journal video offers several good examples.

Just a few of the tidbits within:
  1. iPad is emerging as the go-to devices for working with special needs kids
  2. Young smart phone users are not using their phones to make calls.
  3. New phone etiquette: It's considered invasive and rude to call someone directly, text instead
  4. IE9 is taking an HTML5 path. Hmmm, isn't that what Apple iPad caught all that flack for?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Ze Frank on emotion and the Web

I first became aware of Ze Frank when he was doing his Web video show in 2006. He was a manic personality whose head filled the tiny video frame as he delivered witticisms with machine gun-like timing.

Frank was attracting a huge audience on the Web long before I discovered him though. He was given a Webby award for the best personal Web site in 2002, when few people even bothered to build personal Web sites.

The video show, by its own design, ended exactly one year after it was started, but Frank continues to keep his loyal fans involved by collaborating with him and each other in clever projects, and linking to other delightful stuff on the Web.

I find it interesting that one of the Web's earliest personalities is still one of its biggest phenomena. Frank is an artist. The Web is his medium. And the connection he has with his huge audience is an emotional one. 

There is a lesson in this for all of us who are furiously drawing flow charts that link Web sites, blogs, social networking feeds and Twitter, in the hopes of finding a magic combination that will generate a Network Effect. The technology itself is not a starting point. The Web is long on technology but short on attention span.

The secret for reaching people is still the same as it was pre-Internet. Ze Frank's success has always begun with empathy for his audience. This allows him to produce participatory performance pieces that build on the emotional connection to delight and fulfill.

His July, 2010 program is now featured on TED Talks, and he just posted it on his Web site. Enjoy.

Oct, 17 Palm Beach Daily News Editorial Cartoon

My cartoon, which appeared in today's edition of the Palm Beach Daily News (The Shiny Sheet). The issue is devoted to a preview of the upcoming social season and this year's Palm Beach Centennial Celebration.

We will of course be inundated this year with celebratory fanfare related to railroad baron Henry Flagler, who brought the railroad and the rich to Palm Beach; "architect" Addison Mizner who brought preposterous Mediterranean Rival buildings and "golden years" of high-society excess. But when you think about 100 years ago, most of the island was little more than a jungle ... and the mosquitos could carry off small animals and children.

You can comment about this cartoon on the Palm Beach Daily News Web site here.

You can order a print here.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Presidential Gleam in Donald Trump’s Eye

My Cartoonistry column in the Palm Beach Daily News today was devoted to Donald Trump's media blitz last Tuesday where he floated the idea of running for President over most of the broadcast and cable news outlets.

This is the second time that he's flirted with the idea. My cartoon from February, 2000 was included, and I tell the story of how things turned out for him that time.

I think he might be seriously considering running again. His television appearances followed almost the exact same script as 10 years ago ... except that he seems a little more outraged at the state of things in Washington. Plus, I mention a few reasons why toward the end of my column why he might be in a much stronger strategic position should he decide to do so this time.

Can't wait to find out. He is one of the most provocative and entertaining Palm Beachers I've ever had the good fortune to do cartoon about.