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Tuesday, May 14th, 2013


Emiliano Ponzi’s artful conceptual illustrations cross language barriers and cultural divides in their concise yet playful simplicity. The past year has been a momentous one for him, in addition to winning top honors from some of the industry’s most respected associations and exhibiting his work in a number of cities around the world, he has received international press, including a documentary about his work for Swiss television.

EP_NewspaperCLOCKWISE (from upper left): The Washington Post; La Repubblica;
La Repubblica; Le Monde; The Los Angeles Times; Le Monde

Emiliano’s illustrations can regularly be seen in the pages of The New York Times and other newspapers. His recent piece for the Sunday Book Review’s feature on Emily Rapp’s book, The Still Point of the Turning World, provides a somber yet beautiful treatment for the autobiographical story of a mother and her terminally ill child. Another unique piece (check it out – it’s animated) for the Opinion Page ‘goes green’ in response to a recent article about the economic benefits of a federal climate policy. Last year, The New York Times’ Manhattan office presented a solo exhibition of some of Emiliano’s most successful pieces for the newspaper. Curator and Art Director, Nicholas Blechman, said “These illustrations answer perfectly to the Munari principle, for whom the designer must be able to answer with humility and talent, the questions made by the society in which he lives.”

EP_NYTABOVE: All illustrations from The New York Times

His editorial work includes recent covers for Computerworld and the Pennsylvania Gazette, as well as assignments from The New Yorker, Runner’s World, More, and PCWorld. His illustration of two tanks takes a clever approach to the The New Yorker’s article about the battle between Amazon and traditional book publishers, while another piece for PCWorld’s report on ‘rescuing’ your data from Google features a superhero character, offering a solution that is both charming and witty. The illustration was also animated for the iPad edition of the magazine (see it here).

EP_MagazineTOP (from left): PCWorld; Computerworld; The New Yorker
BOTTOM (from left): The Pennsylvania Gazette; Entertainment Weekly; China Reform

Another project for UK-based shopping tourism company, Global Blue, had Emiliano illustrate a series of covers for their European shopping guides. The eye-catching Stockholm guide features a bold, graphic illustration that celebrates the cutting-edge menswear that Sweden is becoming known for. The series also includes guides to Madrid and Barcelona, Frankfurt and special luxury editions for Berlin and Rome.

EP_TravelABOVE: Shopping guides for Global Blue

One of Emiliano’s biggest recent assignments came from Italian publisher, Feltrinelli, who tasked him with creating covers for the Italian language editions of German-born American writer Charles Bukowski’s novels, poetry and short stories. Bukowski, famed for his gritty, explicit style of writing, depicted “a certain taboo male fantasy: the uninhibited bachelor, slobby, anti-social, and utterly free” said Michael Greenberg of The Boston Review. The illustrations Emiliano created needed to communicate both the titles and Bukowski himself and they succeeded in doing so. The series, which includes nine titles so far, has already earned Emiliano a coveted Gold Cube from The Art Directors Club 92, a Gold Medal from the Society of Illustrators of New York 59, inclusion in the American Illustration 32 annual and a front page feature in Italy’s largest newspaper, La Repubblica. Click here to see an animated video teaser for the series.

EP_ChildrensBooksABOVE: All illustrations from Il più grande fiore del mondo by Jose Saramago (Feltrinelli Kids)

Feltrinelli Kids, chose Emiliano to create the illustrations for Nobel Laureate Jose Saramago’s first and only children’s book, Il più grande fiore del mondo (or The Biggest Flower in the World). When describing his work for the book, Emiliano says “I [...] mostly worked with wide/empty spaces so children could imagine what they don’t see in my illustrations. There is a lot of ‘air’ in the book and some details represent fragments from my personal childhood memories, such as my grandma’s house floor or the t-shirts I used to wear when I was a little boy.”

EP_PublishingTOP (from left): Feltrinelli; Einaudi; Mondadori
BOTTOM (from left): Feltrinelli; Grove Atlantic; Mondadori

Another publishing project sprung from a New York Times editorial assignment. Originally appearing with the newspaper’s review of Francisco Goldman’s book Say Her Name, the hauntingly beautiful illustration was later licensed for the Grove Atlantic US paperback and UK editions, the French edition (Editions Bourgois) and Dutch edition (Lebowski Publishers). The touching memoir of a man whose bride dies tragically while surfing went on to win the French literary prize, the Prix Femina Étranger, while the illustration made the AltPick Editor’s Choice list.

EP_ProductPackagingFROM LEFT: Beer label for Portsmouth Brewery; Greeting card for Marian Heath; Calendar for Arcobaleno

A similar situation spawned a packaging project. Emiliano’s somber illustration of the infamous Russian empress, Catherine the Great was noticed by a brewery with an interesting project. Portsmouth Brewery’s annual ‘Kate the Great Day’ marks the only day of the year that the Great Russian Imperial Stout is available, attracting crowds from all over New England with many waiting in line overnight for a chance to sample what Beer Advocate magazine calls the “best beer in America.” The tongue-in-cheek illustration appeared on the beer’s label, as well as souvenir pint glasses and t-shirts.

EP_InstitutionalABOVE: Artwork created for Design Time, the main exhibition at the 2012 Beijing Design Fair

Emiliano had the opportunity to present his work internationally as part of Design Time, the main exhibition at the 2012 Beijing Design Fair. His illustrations provided the backdrop for the show which was conceptualized by Italian design studio, Migliore + Servetto, and showcased how Italian industrial design has embraced all aspects of everyday life. Emiliano’s work again took center stage in the Suspension of Disbelief exhibition at Rome’s Wunderkammern Gallery. His piece, Sunrise Hotel, was the result of a collaboration with Italian artist, Giacomo Benelli. Viewers were invited to peer inside nine of the hotel’s twenty-eight windows and witness the guests of Sunrise Hotel, from celebratory newlyweds to a woman scorned. In his coverage of Sunset Hotel, Rob Alderson of art and design blog, It’s Nice That, said “Emiliano has produced an extraordinary set of scenes glorifying in the seediest parts of society’s underbelly. With sex, death and neglect all present and correct this is an interesting project about the perseverance of private vices in an increasingly public society.” Other exhibitions included TOWNIES: An Exhibition of Illustration from the New York Times Opinion Blog and a display at the MoCCA Arts Festival in New York.

EP_GalleryABOVE: Artwork created for Sunrise Hotel, part of the Suspension of Disbelief exhibition Wunderkammern Gallery

Emiliano and his work were the subject matter of Sense and Sensibility, a short documentary from director Fabio De Luca for RSI, a Swiss television network that specializes in Italian programming. In the 7-minute documentary Emiliano discussed the unique texture of his digital illustrations, his thoughts on creativity and the universal appeal of his work. A selection of his most-popular illustrations were also animated for the film with Emiliano actually stepping inside and interacting with his work. He says “They were very interested in building a story around my job and the way I feel it. Not just a usual documentary but something more, a view that could show both the inner and the outer side.” Visit Emiliano’s website to to watch the video with English subtitles and to see some behind-the-scenes photos. Other press includes a recent appearance on Italian music television channel, DeeJay TV, and an interview on Italian radio show, RaiTunes. During the interview, RaiTunes live streamed a drawing demo by Emiliano online. See the video here.

EP_Press2TOP: Still from Sense & Sensibility, a documentary from director Fabio De Luca
BOTTOM (from left): Appearance on DeeJay TV; Live drawing for RaiTunes; Still from Sense & Sensibility

Click here to read our previous spotlight on Emiliano.
Click here for downloadable items – desktop wallpapers and a high-res printable letter sized promo.


Use three words to describe your style.
Universal, synthetical, easy to read.

In an ideal world, you would have an infinite amount of… ?

What are some of your interests and hobbies outside of illustration?
Nothing too odd: hanging out, reading, watching a movie, running.

What is your ideal assignment?
1. A narrative topic without many bonds
2. Great art direction that leads me in the right direction without being too imperative
3. A very good fee

What’s the best way to get over a creative block?
Smoking a cigarette on the balcony or distracting the mind and hanging out with someone.

What is your favorite part of living and working in Milan?
Milan is the only city in Italy where you can breath an international atmosphere. There are many people here I have things in common with. On the job side mostly the editorial and advertising industry is located in Milan so it makes it easier to interact with them. On the living side you could have some benefits of staying in Italy but with a look to the outside. It’s  a sort of bridge city.

Do you have a favorite movie?
I have more than one, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown by Pedro Almodovar, Annie Hall by Woody Allen…

How has the illustration industry changed since you became a professional illustrator? How do you see it changing in the future?
I guess that the references changed. I started around 2001 when the visual trend was more realistic. Illustrations on average were more detailed and naturalistic. Now vector based and flat images are mainstream and the border between graphic and illustration are thinner than in the past and illustration direction is more minimal. I don’t know what other subtraction will be possible in the future so I think that rather than being more synthetic it will simply change in other direction connected to the switch between a static illustration and a moving image.

What is your biggest challenge as an illustrator?
Last a lot, being able to interpret the audience feeling along the decades.

Your ideal vacation spot?
A place where I can unplug my mind, hopefully somewhere I’m not able to speak the language or access to the web.

Who are three artists you admire and why?
Fortunato Depero was a Futurist painter. He designed many of the greatest posters during the first decades of the 1900′s. His style and technique gave a new shape to the advertising industry helping to build modern imagery of applied arts. Edward Hopper was able to enter into the intimate emotions of normal people, daily gesture loaded with extraordinary meaning. I love his environments and scenes. David Hockney learnt all the lesson from the past and added the ‘pop’ culture and colors to his visions.

Best way to end a long day of work?
Three possible great ways:
1. Going out doing something interesting and exciting
2. A long walk in the neighborhood
3. Laying on the couch with a book or watching the TV zombie style

EP_AwardsTOP: Society of Illustrators 55
MIDDLE: Society of Illustrators 55; Society of Illustrators 55 / ADC 92 / American Illustration 32; Society of Illustrators 55
BOTTOM: PRINT In Motion; HOW International Design Competition; PRINT Hand Drawn Competition


Monday, April 22nd, 2013


A city girl with a rich imagination and deep talent, Bella Pilar moved from hometown New York to Sunny Los Angeles where she follows her passion for painting. Her whimsical, feminine artwork takes a traditional rendering style and pushes it to a pretty new place with fashionable and fanciful ladies who lunch, live life and take flight in artwork that is as fresh and fun as it is inspiring. Trained in fine art and fashion, her ties to the world of style began with a career in the fashion and beauty industry before diving into art, her true love. A prolific artist, Bella now brings her signature style to life with paint and brushes. Her artwork has wide appeal, appearing in advertising, books, magazines, and for fashion and beauty companies and retailers.

BP_PersonalWorkABOVE: Personal work

Fall 2012 saw a career-defining moment for Bella when she was tasked with creating the event artwork for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York City. With long-time client Papyrus as a proud supporter of the week-long fashion event, Bella’s luxe fashionistas appeared on press passes and the cover of the show schedule. A select few of Papyrus’ most fashion-forward greeting cards – many of which featured Bella’s stylish designs – were on display in the foyer at Lincoln Center. Attendees were invited to share their Fashion Week experience by sending their favorites to family and friends with Papyrus providing complimentary postage to anywhere in the world. Bella was on hand for ‘Meet-the-Artist’ signing event, saying “I grew up in a high rise on 62nd and Broadway… and cut through Lincoln Center to and from school… So having my artwork floating around Lincoln Center during the biggest fashion event in New York has a lot of personal meaning, it’s a piece of home for me.” Visit Bella’s blog to read more about her first Fashion Week experience as the featured illustrator.

BP_FashionWeek2012ABOVE: Artwork and photos from Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week

This past February, Bella returned to New York to celebrate Fashion Week for the second season in a row. Her posh cover girls appeared on the show schedule and press passes again, and on the sought-after VIP tote bag. She was commissioned to illustrate a custom-designed, foil-embossed Papyrus greeting card for the Mercedes-Benz-sponsored event, and was on hand to sign cards at the Papyrus display in Lincoln Centre. When she worked in New York as a makeup artist, Bella spent many seasons doing makeup in Bryant Park (where the shows were held until recent years). “It’s very cool to have my hand in it again, years later,” she says, “it feels like I’ve come full circle.” Visit her blog for sketches and some behind-the-scenes photos.

BP_FashionWeek2013ABOVE: Artwork and photos from Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week

Bella illustrated her first greeting card for Papyrus only a few short years ago, and she has since risen to the top. Her artwork has become a signature offering at Papyrus and it was a collection of her greeting cards that was chosen for a spring end-cap display in Target stores across the US and Canada. Profiled in the ‘Behind the Card‘ section of Papyrus’ website, Bella’s illustrations are described as “sophisticated and feminine,” known for “exquisite, exotic and chic clothing, joie de vivre and refinement.” With cards that celebrate life’s momentous occasions like the birth of a child to the smaller pleasures of great friends and fabulous shoes, Papyrus has introduced Bella’s artwork to millions of people across North America. In addition to the many greeting card designs she has illustrated, over the years she has created art for gift bags and boxes, notepads, limited-edition prints and figurines, and a canvas tote bag that was featured in a recent episode of the CBS sitcom, 2 Broke Girls.

BP_PapyrusABOVE: Greeting cards, stationery and gift bags for Papyrus

With ad and marketing work for Tiffany & Co., Bloomingdale’s, Timex and Target, Bella has been able to appeal to luxury market and mass market consumers equally well here in the US. Overseas clients aim for high end consumers when working with her, including trendy Hong Kong department store LCX, Italian retailers La Gardenia (makeup) and La Perla (luxury lingerie), and the Middle East’s first online fashion magazine, Savoir Flair. She recently illustrated for Rosato Collections based in Spain. Specializing in luxury holiday wear, the atelier featured a chic beach goddess on shopping bags and tags. Editorial clients include Elegant Bride, Glamour, Marie Claire, Connecticut Bride and VIV Magazine in the US, Vogue Mexico, Vogue Latin America and L’Uomo Vogue overseas.

BP_AdvertisingPromotion2LEFT: Rosato Collections / TOP RIGHT: JAFRA Cosmetics / BOTTOM RIGHT: V.swish

Earlier this year Bella illustrated for JAFRA Cosmetics’ Stronger Together 2013 National Conference and Leadership Meeting. Her illustration of fashionable sales associates from coast to coast was set against a modern skyline dotted with lankmarks. It appeared on the conference website and an exclusive tote bag for conference attendees. This was her second time illustrating for the direct sales company, having created artwork for their 2011 ‘Sparkle with Success’ incentive promotion.

Over the past few years Bella has licensed her art on an impressive array of products. Andrews and Blaine has produced magnetic bookmarks and several puzzles featuring some of her best-loved artwork, including seasonal releases for Halloween and the Winter Holidays, a trendy series of four fabulous fashionistas, and a 1000-piece, glitter-embellished World Traveler panoramic puzzle with more debuting in months to come. Santa Barbara Design Studio released keychains, wood art-blocks, velveteen ipad and zipper cases, and wineglasses. Other products include quilting fabrics, device skins, children’s apparel, stationery and toys including a magnetic doll set for Mudpuppy. The European stationery company, The Art Group, has licensed Bella’s art for a series of square-format, embellished greeting cards in the Netherlands, and she will soon have new products and licensees in the Australian market in addition to greeting cards with publisher John Sands.

BP_Licensing2TOP: Andrews & Blaine / BOTTOM LEFT: Andrews & Blaine / BOTTOM RIGHT: Santa Barbara Design Studio

The influence of her two young daughters has motivated Bella in the last year to dedicate a portion of her work to a younger demographic. “I hope to inspire my little girls,” she says, “since they inspire me.” Last month (March 2013) saw the launch of Bella’s BP Girl™ art brand which joins her Bella Pilar™ art brand. First licensed under the Toys R Us label Totally Me!, the debut collection consists of two lines – ‘Sweet Tooth’ and ‘LOL’ – perfect for the text savvy tween with a sweet tooth. Each line features neoprene and tin lunch boxes and a range of back-to-school stationery items that include spiral notebooks, writing pads, diaries and magnetic bookmarks. The products are available online and in Toys R Us stores. Visit Bella’s blog for more product photos.

BP_BPGirl3ABOVE: BP Girl™ for Totally Me!

Bella has been illustrating book covers for both a middle reader and young adult series. The Wishcraft Mysteries series (Penguin), written by Heather Blake, follow Darcy Merriweather, a young witch with a knack for solving murders. The series currently includes three titles, It Takes A Witch, A Witch Before Dying, and The Good, the Bad, and the Witchy. The Petal Pushers series (Scholastic), written by Catherine Daly, follows four sisters – Delphinium, Rose, Aster and Poppy – on a string of adventures after their grandparents leave them and their scatterbrained parents in charge of the family flower shop. The series includes four titles, Too Many Blooms, Flower Feud, Best Buds and Coming Up Roses.

BP_PublishingLEFT: The Wishcraft Mystery series for Penguin / RIGHT: Petal Pushers for Scholastic

While she has a busy painting schedule and a very full family life, we’re proud of Bella for finding so much time to help out worthy causes. She provided her glittery ‘Cocktail Girls’ to Japanese shadow box artists for a Spring 2012 exhibition and auction benefiting the Ashinaga Charity, which helps children orphaned by the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. In honour of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, she partnered with a shopping centre in Temecula, CA to create a tote bag with 100 percent of proceeds going to a local children’s home. Bella has helped the Junior League of New York by illustrating invitations for their annual spring and fall house tours, which provide a glimpse inside some of Manhattan’s most stylish homes while raising money for local New York charities. And of course Breast Cancer Awareness Month, for which she has teamed up with Papyrus on an annual basis to illustrate cards and other products (last year, the Chic Warrior Princess card), with funds from the sale of each card donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

BP_CharityWork3FROM LEFT: Chic Warrior Princess for Papyrus / Junior League of New York / Temecula Shopping Center

To see more of Bella’s work, along with behind-the-scenes images of her illustration process, visit her blog at

Click here to read our previous spotlight on Bella.
Click here for downloadable items – desktop wallpapers and a high-res printable letter sized promo.



How has your work changed since you first started illustrating? How do you see your work progressing in the future?
I have never tried to change my work intentionally. However when I look back on it over the years, I realize it has changed on it’s own, organically, unplanned. And I am guessing that with out trying, again, it will continue to slowly change and evolve in the years to come. Lines get stronger or lighter. Girls proportions get more, or less, exaggerated. Hemlines rise and fall. Color palettes change with the moon. It’s all ever changing.

A genie grants you three wishes. What do you wish for?
1.To not need sleep. I hate the part of the night where I have to stop working, and go to sleep. Very frustrating.
2. To be able to sketch and paint quicker so that I can get out all of the ideas that fill my head just waiting to be painted. Never enough time.
3. For my artwork and ambition to inspire my two daughters to go after their own dreams and think big.

What is your ideal studio like?
Lots of light. Lots of space. And a large lounge area – which would include cozy seating with lots of pillows, stacks of art books and magazines, bowls of candy and chocolates all about and an espresso machine (with a barista please!) for midday lattes.

What is a typical work day like for you?
If it’s a sketching day – I go right to the coffee shop and camp out a few hours, sketching to good music and the casual chit chat with friends that pop in for their daily fuel. If it’s a painting day, I’m in my studio with public radio chatting away at me. My work day comes to an end once I go pick up the kids at school but once they are asleep, it’s back to work for the night time shift. I tend to paint and sketch by day and then computer and office work by night (photoshopping or emailing, planning blog updates, web research, etc).

What’s the best way to get over a creative block?
Sit at my coffee shop, people watch, and flip through magazines. This always does it for me.

What is your biggest challenge as an illustrator?
Painting men. Which is why you don’t see them much in my work. When I am asked to paint men for an assignment, I usually find myself in a great state of anxiety. But it’s a challenge, like any other, and I usually overcome… best I can.

Do you have a favorite movie?
I can watch Cabaret over and over and over again and again.

You can only take three things to a deserted island. What do you take?
Sketchbook. iPad. Chocolate. Can I take four things? Add an ice latte.

What’s your guilty pleasure?
Late night online Etsy jewelry shopping (love!) when everyone in the house is asleep.

Who are three artists you admire?
My husband and our two daughters are most admirable and inspiring to me. It’s non stop creativity here. Our home is like an arts (and crafts) factory. I admire their relaxed and unexpected way of creating. I try to let their free flow form inspire me. I wish I could pick up the paints and just paint something loose and unplanned and not on top of a planned out sketch as I always do. I admire them for being so open to creating without a structured plan in place. My final illustrations have a soft free flow look but the steps I take to create them are quite structured and mapped out.


Monday, March 4th, 2013


Working from his quiet home studio just outside the Belgian city of Bruges, Pieter Van Eenoge paints. He paints the familiar and the surprising. He paints the lush and energetic, and the quiet repose, and he paints it all very, very well. Whether they are serious, witty, or subdued in topic, his unique attention to composition and sophisticated color choices create work that feel modern and innovative, yet with a classicist twist. Simplification of characters and facial expressions means emotions are neatly captured, something well sought after in the field of illustration. The human form is treated tenderly when needed in one image, and boldly in another, all while maintaining Pieter’s distinct visual look and feel. His work has been noticed by tastemakers in Europe and this side of the Atlantic as well. The smart and well-curated Nobrow published his Doppelganger illustration in a recent edition, and two of Pieter’s pieces will appear in the glossy Snoecks 2013 Almanack alongside short stories by Sam Byers and Jon McGregor. The 550+ page annual almanac features the best in international literature, photography and art. His first US assignment came from one of the finest art directors at The New York Times, who noticed his work while judging an illustration competition.

PVE_InstitutionalABOVE: Illustrations for the Cultural Centre De Spil’s 2010/11 seasonal brochure

Pieter was born in Belgium but spent most of his childhood in Cologne, Germany. He earned his degree from the Sint-Lucas School for Arts and Science in Ghent, Belgium, where he studied graphic design before switching to illustration. While he mentions past interests that range from carpentry and playing drums to restoring his 1938 home, he finds that his illustration work and interest in the craft of painting consumes most of his attention. At the moment he is most inspired by fauvist painters, such as Henri Matisse and Kees Van Dongen, for their use of color. Interested in the Flemish and German Expressionists Gust De Smet, Constant Permeke, Jean Brusselmans, George Grosz and Otto Dix, he has learned much about technique and composition, and his love of contemporary graphic design, illustration and a comic driven esthetic have drawn him to Ever Meulen, Joost Swarte and Chris Ware’s work. He paints with acrylics and explains his work – “I started with gouache” he says, “because I was a bit afraid of acrylic paint drying too fast and destroying my brushes. Now I feel very comfortable, and where I needed three days in the past, I can now paint a simpler illustration in little less than a day at times.” He uses a lot of layers, something he learned from the painters he studies, saying “Layering colors is playing a chord instead of a single note!”.

PVE_PersonalABOVE: Personal work

Pieter has worked with a variety of clients from the publishing, advertising and corporate sectors primarily in Belgium, the Netherlands and the UK. His most recent editorial projects include pieces about memory for Cava magazine and saving for teenagers for financial newspaper, De Tijd; another piece for Weekend Knack explores the links between introversion and creativity while a piece for Scoop looks at the benefits of new hires learning from older, wiser employees.

PVE_Editorial2TOP: Cava Magazine / BOTTOM (from left): Scoop Magazine; De Tijd; Weekend Knack

Well suited to publishing and children’s literature, Pieter has has illustrated a number of children’s books for publisher De Eenhoorn. His illustrations for 2011′s ‘De dokter en het leger van Davy’ (The Doctor and Davy’s Army) written by Dutch author, Edward van de Vendel, earned him the plum 2012 Boekenpluim Prize. Each year the coveted prize is awarded to two Flemish children’s books that feature exceptional illustrations. He also illustrated ‘De poppen van oma’ (Grandmother’s Dolls) by Flemish author, Brigitte Minne, which tells the story of a grandmother and her treasured doll collection. This year will see the release of ‘Karina schildert’ (Karina Paints) by Dutch author, Frans Lases, which features illustrations Pieter describes as “a bit of modernism, a tad of post-modernism and a dash of post-post-modernism.”

PVE_PublishingTOP: De dokter en het leger van Davy (De Eenhoorn)
BOTTOM (from left): Karina schildert (De Eenhoorn); De poppen van oma (De Eenhoorn)

Pieter has strong ties to Belgium’s arts and cultural community and has illustrated for several local festivals and events, including posters for the City of Genk’s May 1st festivities and Twinkelweek, a children’s festival organized by the Cultural Centre De Spil in Roeselare. Most recently he was commissioned by, an association of Flemish book publishers, to create the 2012 Boekenbeurs poster. Boekenbeurs is held each year in Antwerp and is Europe’s largest book fair. The poster received an Award of Excellence from Communication Arts and appeared in their 53rd illustration annual. Click here to see ‘in progress’ sketches and painting. He also illustrated for the Flemish Public Library, creating a series of posters where children search for a hidden fly character in a number of festive scenes.

PVE_PostersTOP (from left): 2012 Boekenbeurs for; Twinkelweek for the Cultural Centre De Spil
BOTTOM: May 1st Festivities for the City of Genk

Earlier last year Pieter was asked by the the Bokrijk Open Air Museum to create a large scale illustration for interactive use in the museum. The piece is based on the classic children’s game Game of Goose, an early board game similar to Snakes & Ladders. The final installation measures 5 x 3.5 meters and hangs in a 200-year old barn situated on the museum grounds. Craftsmen and interpreters dressed in period costume demonstrate what life was like in rural Bokrijk and demonstrate use of the game. The installation received wide acclaim, gaining attention across the Atlantic and resulting in a Gold Medal in the Institutional category from the Society of Illustrators (NY). It will also appear in the Society’s upcoming Illustrators 55 annual. Visit Pieter’s blog to read more about the project and see the art in situ.

PVE_MuseumABOVE: Installation piece for the Bokrijk Open Air Museum

Pieter has lent his talents to a number of recent advertising and institutional projects. To ring in 2013, he illustrated a series of New Year’s cards for the boutique European communications agency, Omygod. His work for the literacy foundation, Stichting Lezen, included creating a series of bookmarks that were gifted to 3000 contacts and partners during the holiday season. He was also commissioned by the Cultural Centre De Spil in Roeselare to create the marketing materials and visual identity.

PVE_PromotionalTOP: New Year’s card for Omygod
BOTTOM (from left): Bookmarks for Stichting Lezen; Newsletter cover for the Cultural Centre De Spil

In addition to being awarded the 2012 Boekenpluim Prize, Pieter’s work has been recognized by the Society of Illustrators (NY), Communication Arts and 3×3. Phantoms of Wing, a personal series created for exhibition, received a gold medal in the ‘Gallery’ category of one of 3×3′s competitions and annuals, while a Cultural Center De Spil illustration received a merit award in the ‘Editorial’ category. Pieter’s work has also been published in several art and design books, including The Big Book of Illustration Ideas 2 (Duncan Baird Publishers), Fresh 3: Cutting Edge Illustration (Daab Media) and 200 Best Illustrators Worldwide (Lurzer GmbH).

PVE_AwardsTOP: From De dokter en het leger van Davy (De Eenhoorn), winner of the 2012 Boekenpluim Prize
BOTTOM (from left): Phantoms of Wing, winner of 3×3 Gold; Autumn Leaves, winner of 3×3 Merit

So, what does the future bring? He’s writing and illustrating a new children’s book, working on a graphic novel, and producing a screen print for sale this summer. And someday, a sound proof shed in his garden so he can blissfully bang away on his drums without raising hell with the neighbors.

Pieter currently lives in his hometown of Bruges, with his lovely wife, two sons and their cat.

Click here for downloadable items – desktop wallpapers and a high-res printable letter sized promo.

PVE_ChildrenTOP: Illustrations for the Cultural Centre De Spil’s 2010/11 children’s brochure
BOTTOM: Posters for the Flemish Public Library


What’s one tip you have for other creative professionals?
If you see something good, keep your eyes open, if you can’t say something good, keep your mouth shut.

What’s the first thing you do when you’re stuck on a project? What are your best sources of inspiration?
I just keep on squeezing my brain until something comes out. But books help too. And art. And sketches from old commissions. And a good night sleep.

In an ideal world, you would have an infinite amount of… ?
I’d like to turn that question around and ask myself: “So, Pieter, how about a lot less…” and I would yell “Stuff!” Yes, stuff. You know, that pile of paper on the desk, the hundreds of toys all over the floor, shoes in the kitchen, clothes on all the chairs and even more toys on the stairs. I’m not saying our house should look like the ones in a magazine, but sometimes I have this feeling we are living in a Shurgard storage container… ;-)

Use three words to describe your style.
Color, humor, odor

What is your favorite part of living and working in Bruges?
Most of my friends and family live here, almost everything is a walk or bike ride away and there is art on every corner of the street. Living is pretty easy in Bruges!

Do you have a favorite movie?
There are a few movies that punched me in the stomach (Seven, The Mosquito Coast, Into the Wild…) and tickled my belly (almost every Monty Python and a lot of ‘Frat Pack’ and ‘Team Apatow’ movies), but nothing has beaten the Back To The Future trilogy so far.

What are some sites you have bookmarked in your browser?
REBLOLOLO ( – crazy art, photos and ephemera.
FACEBOOK ( – it gets lonely sometimes in the studio…
VOID ( – more art, more photos, more ephemera!

What is your biggest challenge as an illustrator?
To put the image I have in my head on paper in a reasonable amount of time and learn something along the way so I can do it that little bit faster next time. I see myself as a growing painter, still figuring out techniques and colors.

Do you have a sketchbook? How do you like to keep track of your ideas?
I use a little notebook for ideas and images that pop up in my head, but you can hardly call it a sketchbook. Now that I think of it, I have never used a real sketchbook…

What’s your guilty pleasure?
Chocolate. But why should I feel guilty about it, right?

Who are three artists you admire and why?
Italian illustrator, painter and comic book artist Lorenzo Mattotti. His use of color is flawless, he can switch from acrylics over pastels to black ink and you still know it’s him and he keeps on surprising me after all these years.
Henri Matisse, my all time favorite painter. I just can’t stop looking at his work…
And my fellow countryman Brecht Evens, who is taking over the comic world by storm and is one hell of an illustrator as well.

Best way to end a long day of work?
If long means ‘at midnight or later,’ I just drag myself to bed. Which is easy actually, since my studio is right next to the bedroom. But I enjoy some loud music, a hot bath or a movie too when there is still some time left.M


Wednesday, February 6th, 2013


Toronto-based illustrator Graham Roumieu has worked with an impressive number of publications throughout North America and perhaps he has his offbeat – and often irreverent – sense of humor to thank. He has a unique ability to take the mundane and make seem it less so, eliciting laughter with a piece about cellphone roaming charges for The New York Times or the environmental benefits of a strong beaver population for The Atlantic. Whatever it may be, it’s working, with regular assignments from The Wall Street Journal, The Globe & Mail, The Walrus, and Real Simple Magazine. 2012 saw a weekly spot with Josh Martz for The Globe and Mail (see all of them here) and a regular lifestyle feature in Canadian Business, offering unexpected solutions for life’s little problems, such as using a pencil to fix a stuck zipper and tin foil to sharpen a dull paper shredder.

NewYorkTimesTop: Inheriting Travel Points
Bottom from left: Roaming Charges While on Vacation, Robo Right to Speech, Happy New Years from the Future

In addition to editorial and publishing illustration, Roumieu has worked on a number of successful print and online ad campaigns and websites, including an out of control squid character for HP’s “Ink Amnesty” campaign, peer pressure illustrations for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada’s “Early Bloomers” campaign, and OOH work for the “No Peeking Event” launched by Sears. He completed several online commissions in 2012, including The Walrus Laughs, a digital project from The Walrus Foundation and Stella Artois, where members submitted and voted for the funniest videos, images and prose. Other projects included the website for writer and producer, Kathryn Borel (, and another for Two Hours North (, a Toronto-based travel services company. For the 2012 holiday season, he created a series of illustrations for North American ad agency, The Hive. The illustrations were part of The Silent Night Playlist, a tongue-in-cheek project aimed at offering some much-needed respite from the stress of the holiday season. Users could download the playlist and enjoy some much-needed peace and quiet with silent tracks such as ‘Shortbread Baking’ and ‘Snow Falling: Extended Mix.’

OnlineProjectsTop: Illustration for The Hive’s Silent Night Playlist
Bottom: Illustrations for writer and producer, Kathryn Borel

In the past year a number of products debuting that featured Roumieu’s artwork, including a tote bag for long-time client, The Walrus, and a series of greeting cards for Whigby, debuting at last year’s New York International Gift Fair. Toronto-based business, Good Egg, also commissioned him to illustrate a tote bag for them, later inviting him to create a mural for their Kensington-market storefront. The quirky kitchen supply and gift shop have been long-time fans of his work, carrying his books and a selection of original, framed watercolors. Their website boasts “We’ve erected a shrine to local writer-illustrator Graham Roumieu at Good Egg. We… welcome you to visit the shop to pray to the artist known as Roumieu.”

Product2From left: Tote bag for The Walrus; Cat & Helen greeting card for Whigby; tote bag for Good Egg

Roumieu was commissioned to create a series of illustrations for philosopher John Perry’s book, The Art of Procrastination: A Guide to Effective Dawdling, Lollygagging and Postponing, for Workman Publishing. The book explores something called “structured procrastination” – a phenomenon where one manages to complete a number of smaller tasks as a means of avoiding another, larger chore. The witty illustrations can be seen at the start of each chapter, demonstrating the various ways people engage in the “art of procrastination,” from watching cat videos on YouTube to artfully stacking billy clips. He also illustrated the covers for a series of books by politician and author, Shashi Tharoor, for Penguin India.

WorkmanPublishingAbove: Illustrations for The Art of Procrastination by John Perry (Workman Publishing)

Another recent book project, Highly Inappropriate Tales for Young People for Random House Canada, is a “kooky collaboration” with renowned Canadian author, Douglas Coupland of international bestseller Generation X fame. Coupland contacted Roumieu after becoming a fan of his Bigfoot books and it didn’t take long for the project to begin taking shape. Composed of seven hilariously improbable tales with characters like Donald the Incredibly Hostile Juice Box, Hans the Weird Exchange Student and Brandon the Action Figure with Issues, the book is not really intended for children. Roumieu says “I guess this would be R-rated. [Although] I don’t know whether one juice box stabbing another juice box in the head with a bobby pin necessarily constitutes R anymore.” The book has received great reviews with talk of a sequel being batted about. Michel Basilieres of the Toronto Star says the tales “match perfectly the loose, surreal and imaginative images Roumieu revels in. It seems as likely that the stories were written to match the images as the other way around.” Click here to read Communication Arts’ glowing review for Highly Inappropriate Tales and here to read even more praise. You can watch an animated trailer for the book here.

InappropriateTalesAbove: Illustrations for Highly Inappropriate Tales for Young People by Douglas Coupland (Random House Canada)

In all he has authored and illustrated six books: 101 Ways to Kill Your Boss (Plume), Cat & Gnome (Blue Q Books), and his cult classic Bigfoot series. In 2003, Roumieu published the first in this series of Bigfoot autobiographies, In Me Own Words: the Autobiography of Bigfoot. Written from the perspective of a jaded, egomaniacal ex-legend whose hobbies include terrorizing forest critters and composing screenplays, the books Me Write Book: It Bigfoot Memoir and Bigfoot: I Not Dead (Plume), have quickly become a cult favorite. Bigfoot’s antics have inspired readers to write Bigfoot songs, make Bigfoot dolls, and even bake Bigfoot cakes. The very hairy leading man has thousands of followers on Twitter, where he regular charms fans with sayings like, “Secret to great smile is use Lee Press On Nails as veneers” and “Wearing two sashes and a cummerbund. It just feel right.”

GlobeMailAbove: Home Porn
Bottom from left: Crazy Cat People; Sinister Canada; Queen

Bigfoot’s charm stems from a stubbornly juvenile outlook that is by turns abrasive and endearing. In one chapter, Bigfoot admits that his less-than-eloquent speech patterns made him the target of bullying in high school. His confession accompanies a flashback of teenage Bigfoot tearing down the opposition (literally) at a high school debate. A decapitated head lies on the linoleum as two recent amputees cower in a pool of their own blood. Red ink, smeared and spattered throughout the page, vividly relays the relish with which Bigfoot dismembers his competitors.

Roumieu’s wildly energetic, and sometimes gleefully gruesome, brushwork sometimes seems at odds with his underdog sensibilities. In a recent interview, he says, “I think I have a tendency to gravitate to subjects that are sweet, naive and innocent in nature because it gives more impact when I inevitably throw them into situations that are bizarre, human and dire.” With Bigfoot, Roumieu has combined all of the above, producing a creature whose displays of ego rival only his bouts of crippling insecurity.

Magazines2Top: The Wrong Wedding Singer for American Way
Bottom from left: Hecklers for Print; Leave It to Beavers for The Atlantic; Unreliable for Institutional Investor

Roumieu’s 101 Ways to Kill Your Boss has been universally applauded and published in many countries worldwide. Imagine eviscerating your boss with a giant laser pointer, quitting your job via ninja courier service, laying a trap by way of urinal guillotine. Roumieu takes office politics to the next level with increasingly extreme tactics for boss-icide. His illustrations find the bizarre and the funny in even the most mundane office environments. Linked together by a deep yet twisted look into the human psyche, Roumieu’s work continually surprises viewers with its insight and its ability to elicit gut-wrenching laughter.

AwardsRealSimpleAbove: Illustrations for the Real Simple Guide to Social Media Sites for Real Simple magazine

His work has been honored by American Illustration, Communication Arts, Society of Illustrators, Applied Arts, the HOW International Design Awards, the Advertising & Design Club of Canada, the Coupe International Design Competition, the SPD Spots Annual, and the National Magazine Awards. Most recently, he received a merit award from The Art Directors Club of New York for the Real Simple Guide to Social Media Sites for Real Simple Magazine. The series, which was also chosen for inclusion in 2012 Print Regional Design Annual, takes a comical look at the world of Facebook and Twitter, offering tips on navigating them both. In January 2012, his novelty Twitter feed for Bigfoot was named one of HOW Magazine’s Top 10 Websites for Designers. When he’s not illustrating, Roumieu teaches at OCAD University, Canada’s largest and oldest art and design school.

Click here to read our previous spotlight on Graham.
Click here for downloadable items – desktop wallpapers and a high-res printable letter sized promo.


How has your work changed since your days as an art student? How do you see your work progressing in the future?
If someone were to look at all of my work over the last ten years or so, I think they’d see a steady growth of technique, thought, and personality. As for the future, this work has been a part of my life for so long now that I can’t imagine engaging and understanding the world through means other making pictures, so I hope that it is always very much a part of what I do day-to-day. And through continuing to do that, I hope to continue to get better – hopefully in ways I couldn’t possibly imagine now.

What’s the first thing you do when you’re stuck on a project? What are your best sources of inspiration?
Getting up and moving around and doing something else and talking to people or reading pretty much will solve any blockage quickly. Or, imagining that if you don’t get the work done everyone you know and love will die horribly. I don’t actually use this technique, but if you are having troubles, try it. It might work if you aren’t heartless and lazy.

In an ideal world, you would have an infinite amount of?
Awesome dance moves, perfect for any occasion or non occasion. FYI I am a terrible dancer.

Use three words to describe your style.
Best I got?

What is a typical work day like for you?
Pretty standard and disciplined, actually. Morning coffee, check email, read newspaper, maybe eat breakfast, shower, dress, sit at my desk, draw pictures, write stuff or do paperwork, maybe break for lunch, more afternoon work, bits of domestic household fixing and washing if needed which sometimes helps my thinking, and then my day is over, and what I do on my own time is no one’s frigging business (greyhound track, eat pizza in parking lot, fall asleep in park).

What is your ideal assignment?
Oh I love all sorts of different challenges that come with different assignments, so I can’t say one is better that the other. Unless they come with challenges that make me hate the world. Those assignments are the worst.

What is your favorite part of living and working in Toronto?
The giant hawk that perches himself on top of the CN Tower every day and makes everyone frightened. He keeps things real. I can’t believe it doesn’t draw in more tourists.

Do you have a favorite movie?
Being There

What are some sites you have bookmarked in your browser?
Jillian Tamaki’s Super Mutant Magic Academy
New York Times
Atlas Obscura

What’s the best and worst part of being an illustrator?
Upside: Usually my Pictionary opponents run out of the room sobbing.
Downside: Usually my Pictionary opponents run out of the room sobbing.

You have 24 hours to live the life of one fictional character. Who do you choose?
R2D2. Gets to be a part of amazing things, really doesn’t have to do much.

Best way to end a long day of work?
Skipping in circles giggling and clapping with delight as someone sprays me with Champagne.


Tuesday, December 11th, 2012


Inspired by the humorous and hip, Jungyeon Roh’s vigorous line brings life to scenes that course with dialogue and the honesty and intensity of nature. Not afraid to address the gritty, grungy or gross, she is equally capable of capturing intimate scenes as well as expansive ones filled with detail and context that honor a sense of place. Overt gestures make a statement in her work, whether they’re connected to hip Brooklyn-ites, butchered pig’s heads or sassy tufts of animated soy in a mushroom amusement park of vegan heaven.

FROM LEFT: YouTube Europe; Facebook Asia; Cleveland State University

Born and raised in Seoul, South Korea, Jungyeon moved to the U.S. in 2006 to study at New York’s renowned School of Visual Arts. She earned her BFA in Illustration and Cartooning in 2009 and went on to complete her MFA in Illustration as Visual Essay in 2011. She currently calls the Upper East Side home and considers New York the best city for artists to live in, saying “New York always makes me work harder. It is full of cultural icons and I find myself creating something new from these influences.”

FROM LEFT: McSweeney’s Lucky Peach; Bloomberg Businessweek; Plansponsor

A recent graduate, Jungyeon has already made quite the name for herself. She was named one of PRINT magazine’s 2012 New Visual Artists, winning praise from some of the industry’s biggest talents. Josh Cochran, her thesis advisor at SVA, says “There’s a certain sense of intensity to her work that feels surprising. I think she gives off a different persona in person, but she is definitely not afraid to get down and up close with a lot of her subjects.” Jungyeon has received two gold cubes and a bronze cube from the Art Directors Club, a silver medal from the Society of Illustrators of New York, and a silver medal from the Society of Illustrators Los Angeles. Her work has been recognized by numerous associations and publications, including Society of Illustrators L.A., Print, Altpick, Communication Arts, American Illustration, CMYK, 3×3 and Creative Quarterly.

TOP: Society of Illustrators 52, Creative Quarterly 18, CMYK 49
BOTTOM FROM LEFT: Art Directors Club 90th Annual Gold Cube; Communication Arts 52, American Illustration 30

PRINT Magazine says “she uses a Crumb-esque style that makes commonplace scenes seem almost grotesque.” There is definitely a comic-book style to her work and it is not surprising Jungyeon sees herself as a visual storyteller, saying “drawing pictures is my autobiography.” With personal subject matter ranging from Korean public bathhouses to failed relationships, Jungyeon is not afraid to tackle subjects that others may shy away from. “I’m from a conservative culture, so it can feel really embarrassing, but I just keep doing it anyway,” she says. “I’ve been always honest not only in my work but also in my life. I shouldn’t hide anything for my work, so then people could share the feelings from my true-based stories.”

ABOVE: Selections from Miss Eggplant’s American Boys

True stories and honest emotion have led her to be inspired by song lyrics as well, a personal series based on Estelle’s hit American Boy song resulted in a handmade limited edition book. Sharply humorous, she cast herself as a voyeuristic newbie, even more distanced from the song’s ‘Boys’ by her guise as a girlish eggplant. The series struck a chord, winning a number of awards and honors, including an ADC Gold and a SILA Silver, among others. The complete series can be seen here.

TOP FROM LEFT: The New York Times; The Village Voice; The Stranger
BOTTOM: The New York Times

Jungyeon’s style lends a sense of humour to her editorial assignments as well. A cover for New York mainstay, The Village Voice, depicts Facebook-founder, Mark Zuckerberg, as an evil giant restrained by the townspeople for their article, Rise of the Facebook Killers. It was selected to appear in the American Illustration 31 Annual. Another recent piece for the Columbia Journalism Review had Jungyeon illustrate an amusing map called the ‘Celeb-O-Matic,’ a tongue-in-cheek guide for journalists seeking access to Hollywood’s elite. Other editorial clients include Bloomberg Businessweek, Columbia Journalism Review, McSweeney’s Lucky Peach, The New York Times, Orange County Magazine, The Stranger and Willamette Week.

ABOVE: In-store signage and promo material for Kiehl’s Since 1851

Jungyeon has a growing but impressive list of international advertising clients, most recently illustrating for Kiehl’s Since 1851. In 2003, New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg, declared November 12th ‘Kiehl’s Day’ in honour and recognition of their ongoing contributions to the community. Since then Kiehl’s stores worldwide have joined in the celebration, making significant contributions in their own communities to commemorate this special day. Jungyeon’s illustrations could be seen on Kiehl’s in-store signage and promo materials in stores worldwide. International clients include Facebook Asia and YouTube Europe.


ABOVE: Personal work

An avid runner and yoga enthusiast, Jungyeon is inspired by health and physicality in her work as well. While she appreciates the planning and precision that the silkscreening process requires, it was her desire to keep moving that initially led her to printmaking. “Silkscreening is very active and requires a lot of energy,” she says. “I’m like an athlete-illustrator!”.


Food is a recurring theme in Jungyeon’s work and was the subject matter for two handmade books. ‘Today is Sushi Day’ follows a group of female sushi masters as they teach Americans how to properly eat sushi. It received a Gold Cube at the ADC 89th Annual Awards and a Silver Medal from the Society of Illustrators 52. It was also recognized by American Illustration 28, the 3×3 Illustration Annual No.6 and Creative Quarterly 16. The complete series can be seen here, and a personal project connected to it that was created for the Whitney Museum of Art’s Comic Zine Party. In H.O.T., Jungyeon illustrates advocacy for the environmental and health benefits of a vegan diet. The series received a Bronze Cube at the ADC 91st Annual Awards and appeared in the Society of Illustrators 54 Annual.

Click here for downloadable items – desktop wallpapers and a high-res printable letter sized promo.

TOP: Selections from Today Is Sushi Day
BOTTOM: Selections from H.O.T.

Q&A with Jungyeon Roh

What are you reading/watching/listening to right now?
I’m listening sounds of the movie Ice Age from the television.

What is your favorite part of living and working in New York?
Upper East Side. I’ve been living here more than four years now, and it was one of the best choices I’ve ever made after I came to New York. It is also home to Museum Mile, close to central park and the most peaceful and safe part in Manhattan. I also found the best yoga studio here, but the only thing U.E.S needs is opening Whole Foods at 86th street!

What’s one tip you have for other creative professionals?
Enjoy your life outside of your studio (work), be thankful what you have, and fall in love with learning.

What three words best describe your style?
Humorous, cheerful and playful.

What is a typical work day like for you?
I tried to work as full time, 10am to 6pm and off for evenings and weekends. I have lots of things to learn outside of the studio, but it’s hard to keep the regular schedule since I’m a freelancer.

How has your work changed since you became an illustrator?
I used to paint on wall-sized canvases in Korea, and did endless printmaking while I attended at SVA, but now I’m drawing by hand and coloring by digital for illustration jobs.

What’s the best way to get over a creative block?
Go to hot yoga and try to do headstand.

You can only take three things to a deserted island. What do you take?
An apple, passport and brush pen.

What is your ideal studio like?
A studio where inside is my own silkscreen and digital equipment and outside is a swimming pool or beach where I can jump right into the water after finishing jobs.

What are some sites you have bookmarked in your browser?
I don’t really bookmark any sites.

In an ideal world, you would have an infinite amount of… ?
Mom’s food.

Best way to end a long day of work?
Taking a hot shower.


Tuesday, November 6th, 2012


Sweet raven haired beauties and sylph-like figures stand against their surroundings in Yelena Bryksenkova’s thoughtful illustrations, equally admiring the beauty of nature and the beauty of the man-made. Landscapes become pattern-filled as their textures rise to the surface, with each leaf and petal carefully drawn. Even an elephant’s hide takes on extra pattern and form in her hands. A tidy serving of prints and decoration rendered in the finest detail are inspired by textiles, tiles and folk arts. This sea of intended and unintended repetition is tempered by thoughtful compositions with tattooed ladies, tea cakes and doilies, and the most seductive interiors – we want to own the rugs she illustrates, and the ‘artwork’ in her artwork.


ABOVE: Personal work

Judicious use of rich, sophisticated colors within neutral palettes bring the subjects into focus and tell the story, whether it’s grounded in today, years long past, or the imagination. Each viewing reveals a detail previously unnoticed – a Beatles poster at the bedside, tiny terrariums, paper lanterns, and more than one toy elephant. A little bit folksy and a little bit whimsical, Yelena’s illustrations leave you with a warm smile and a desire to see more.


TOP: Poster for Fogli Volanti (Italy); BOTTOM: Personal work

Yelena was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, but emigrated to the midwestern United States at the age of 8 and settled in Cleveland, Ohio. She earned her BFA in illustration in 2010 from the Maryland Institute College of Art after spending a semester studying overseas in Prague at the Academy of Applied and Decorative Arts. After a brief stint in New York City that she says “made her restless”, she moved to New England, where she currently enjoys a calmer existence in New Haven, Connecticut. Life imitates art as they say, and Catherine Gaffney of art and design magazine, It’s Nice That, notes that her characters “often appear to exist in states of meditation or relaxation.”


TOP FROM LEFT: Baltimore Bride; Bust Magazine; Baltimore Magazine
BOTTOM: Illustrations for Lone Wolf Magazine

Yelena is inspired by the Neoclassical and Rococo art movements, as well as Indian miniature painting, textiles and folk art. She credits her time in Prague for her “appreciation for precious, friendly and quietly beautiful things.” Yelena’s toolbox includes a micron pen and Leningrad cake watercolors and Amy Ng at Pikaland says “she handles the medium so very well. Her tiny detailed brush-strokes and patterns add such a wonderful, textural quality to her work.”


ABOVE: Illustrations for Fairytale Food for Random House UK

Yelena created a series of beautifully lush illustrations for the book Fairytale Food, released earlier this year by Random House UK. Written by Lucie Cash, the whimsical cookbook features recipes inspired by classic fairy-tales, such as ‘Princess and the Pea Soup’ and ‘Hansel and Gretel’s Gingerbread’. Other publishing work includes a series of covers for Dorothy Publishing Project and Dalkey Archive Press. Yelena’s editorial clients include The New York Times, Baltimore Bride, Bust, and St. Louis magazine. She also recently illustrated a sweet short story called The Human Zoo for the UK children’s magazine, Anorak.


ABOVE: The Human Zoo for Anorak Magazine (UK)

Yelena contributed artwork to Chronicle Books’ recent The Where, the Why, and the How, by the talented Julia Rothman, Matt Lamothe and Jenny Volvovski. The book is a fascinating combination of scientific text and gorgeous artwork, pairing 75 artists with 75 scientific thinkers as they aim to solve some of science’s biggest mysteries – from what came before the Big Bang to why pigeons bob their heads when they walk. Yelena’s piece about the Peppered Moth, a scientific marvel that has changed color in response to London’s industrial pollution, was so well-liked by the book’s authors and publisher that it was chosen to be featured in the animated trailer for the book. See it here. Her illustrations have also been featured in a number of art and design magazines. Her portrait of Mata Hari and her illustrated guide to casting a love spell have appeared in recent issues of Toronto’s Lone Wolf, a unique literary fashion magazine.


FROM LEFT: Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead for Dorothy, A Publishing Project;
The Review of Contemporary Fiction
for Dalkey Archive Press;
The Where, the Why, and the How
for Chronicle Books

Yelena says girls are among her favorite things to draw and she partners this love with the inspiration she finds in textile prints to create the patterns she uses throughout her illustrations. Inspired by the Fall/Winter collections of Ada Zanditon and Orla Kiely, her work has appeared on New York fashion blog StyleLikeU and Amelia’s Magazine online. Amelia’s Magazine is a must-see website for upcoming independent and ethical fashion designers. Last year they released the limited-edition book Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration, featuring Yelena’s illustrations inspired by Yorkshire-based knitwear designer, Izzy Lane.


FROM LEFT: Illustration inspired by knitwear designer Izzy Lane for Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration;
Illustration inspired by Orla Kiely’s Fall/Winter 2011 collection;
Illustration inspired by knitwear designer Izzy Lane for Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration

Yelena was commissioned to created Elephant Dreams, a 12×12 inch print on stretched canvas for the retailer Urban Outfitters. While the print is no longer available, there are plenty of others to choose from at her online store and through the innovative and affordable A variety of e-reader cases featuring Yelena’s designs are available form M-Edge.


ABOVE: Elephant Dreams for Urban Outfitters

Yelena’s painting, The Three Black Princesses, will be exhibited in The Enchanted Forest: Celebrating 200 Years of Grimm’s Fairytales in London, November 29th through December 7th, 2012. Earlier this year, she collaborated with Amelia’s Magazine to create an illustrated house for an exhibition called Up My Street at Coningsby Gallery in London. The piece was sold at silent auction, with proceeds going to Shelter, a UK-based charity aimed at helping the homeless. Recently, Yelena joined illustrators Leah Goren and Tuesday Bassen to form the tongue in cheek Sad Girls collective. They, along with a handful of “sad-ish and girli-sh” contributors, just released the first issue of the Sad Girls zine, with more issues planned for the future.

Click here for downloadable items – desktop wallpapers and a high-res printable letter sized promo.

Q&A with Yelena Bryksenkova

What are you reading/watching/listening to right now?

I’m reading Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84, Lemony Snicket’s Who Could That Be At This Hour? and a new Russian edition of Tove Jansson’s complete Moomin tales; finally watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer fifteen years after everyone else; listening to Beach House, Saint Privat, Mazzy Star and The Clientele.

What is your favorite part of living and working in New Haven?
I’ve always wanted to live in New England, and I’m happy that I made the decision to leave NYC for a smaller town with a slower pace of life, while still remaining close enough to travel back frequently to meet with clients and friends. I think New Haven is a little gem with much to be discovered, but the city feels finite enough for me to be able to really know it one day.

What’s one tip you have for other creative professionals?
If your work is warm and inviting, the kind that makes people smile, it makes it that much more special if you present yourself accordingly when meeting other creative professionals.

What three words best describe your style?
Detailed, nostalgic, quiet.

What is a typical work day like for you?
My work day is fluid and unscheduled; I compose to-do lists and cross off tasks throughout the day, drinking cup after cup of tea all the while. In the morning I usually check and answer my email and package prints that I’ve sold through my Etsy shop, which I take to the post office shortly afterwards. I like to take a walk to clear my head before I sit down to work on sketches or paperwork, which take up the bulk of the afternoon. I start on final illustrations in the evening and often work until the small hours.

How has your work changed since you became an illustrator?
Even though I work traditionally, I gradually learned to use some helpful Photoshop tools as the necessity arose – mostly to avoid certain tricky and potentially messy situations where there is a high risk of ruining the drawing with one wrong move. With every new challenge, I figure out my stylistic “notation” for subjects I wouldn’t normally draw, as well as shorthand for certain things like foliage or large groups of people.

What’s the best way to get over a creative block?
I call my mom and bounce ideas off her! I almost always have a solution by the time we hang up.

You can only take three things to a deserted island. What do you take?
My book of complete Moomin tales, a tin of loose tea and a lambswool blanket

What is your ideal studio like?
It has large windows with lots of natural light and hardwood floors. There are separate surfaces for everything: light box, scanner, cutting board and mat. My desk chair is pretty and easy on my back. The view outside is a wild rose garden with a place to take tea breaks, and beyond – melancholy, windswept moors.

What are some sites you have bookmarked in your browser?,,

In an ideal world, you would have an infinite amount of… ?

Best way to end a long day of work?
Making snacks and watching girlie movies with my roommates.


Tuesday, October 9th, 2012


Inspired by international vernacular, Catell Ronca’s use of striking hot colors, bold shapes and patterns reflects a window into the very global city of London, where she lives, and the many cities she has travelled to. Her art is alive with lush, vivid botanicals, environments rich with culture, and thought provoking characters that are gentle and playful, a little bit peculiar, and never lack a subtle sense of humor.


Above: Album cover art for Italian singer/songwriter Joe Barbieri (Microcosmo Dischi)

Her travels around the globe are a vital source of inspiration, she loves observing people on the streets and markets of London’s multi-ethnic neighborhoods (and listening to the various accents). She says “My aim is to reflect what I see around me using spots of color. I’m especially keen to capture the beauty of human beings in their everyday glory. But also, I want to be a visual journalist and document what I see in detail.” Other inspirations include antique shops, car boot sales, markets (even supermarkets), fusions of any kind, contradictions, and interiors. Deeply inspired by nature, her botanical illustrations “have the freshness and bite of their subject matter” says Philip Dennis from art and design blog Ape On the Moon.


Top from Left: Farzad & Saeed for Cricket Magazine; Potluck for Utne Reader; Farzad & Saeed for Cricket Magazine
Bottom: A Beautiful Day In Hell

Described as elegant, impressive and delicious, her artwork was featured in Nicole Vernon’s recent posting for the hip London art and design blog The Young Bloods, which went on to say “Her illustrations span a wide variety of influences – everything from psychology and nature to cooking and cats – and she has a distinctive sense of intelligent narrative and wit. Combine this with a delicious color palette and you’re getting close to understanding the charm and elegance of Catell’s images.” Upon viewing Catell’s work, Brown Paper Bag blogger, Sara E. Barnes, says “it is obvious that she has quite a bit to say. She does so in bold, loud colors and expressive gestures.” Chandra at A Stylish Little Lady says “The colorful illustrations of Catell Ronca are not only beautiful and filled with pattern, but allow you to globe trot around the world and experience a different culture and destination.”


From left: Studio Illegale (Marsilio Editori ); Musungo Jim & the Great Chief Tuloko (Penguin);
Den Trebenta Pallen (Studieforbundet Vuxenskolan)

Born on Christmas Day to French and Swiss parents in Basel, Switzerland, Catell now lives and works in London where she studied illustration and graduated from the Royal College of Art. In short order she received an impressive commission to illustrate a series of six postage stamps with the of theme of Britain’s multicultural society and cuisine for the British Royal Mail. With the Queen’s approval of her artwork, the stamps were launched.

Catell has illustrated for a wide variety of publishing clients for both novels and children’s picture books. Her work has also appeared in a number of art books, the most recent being Chronicle Books’ The Where, the Why, and the How. The book is a fascinating combination of scientific text and gorgeous artwork, pairing 75 artists with 75 scientific thinkers thinkers as they try to solve some of science’s biggest mysteries – from what came before the Big Bang to why do pigeons bob their heads when they walk. Others including The Exquisite Book (Chronicle), Drawn In (Quarry) and The Best of Cover Design (Rockport). “I find important that my style can be adapted to a variety of audiences, for children’s books as well as for adult literature or design,” she says. “A style is a bit like handwriting, you can’t force it to look a certain way and it will naturally evolve continuously.”


From left: The Where, the Why, and the How (Chronicle); Drawn In (Quarry); The Exquisite Book (Chronicle)

In addition to recent book covers for Skyhorse Publishing and Swedish publisher Studieforbundet Vuxenskolan, Catell has also illustrated for editorial clients that include the Guardian, Cricket magazine and Utne Reader. Her work appeared as cover art for Italian singer/songwriter Joe Barbieri’s album, Respiro (Microcosmo Dischi), as well as in the 2012 calendar for Italian charitable organization Arcobaleno. The organization (which translates to Rainbow in English) benefits families and individuals who are struggling to find employment. Catell and Magnet Reps artists Raquel Aparicio, Emiliano Ponzi, and Eleanor Grosch were asked to create images that portrayed the struggle of an actual person that has been helped by Arcobaleno. Catell’s piece, entitled Bin Man, shows a man in profile with dirt and other discarded items swirling around inside him as he gazes at other supposedly ‘normal’ people as they go about their daily business.


Above: Bin Man for Italian charity Arcobaleno

Her recent work for the The New York Botanical Garden included an animated tv spot as well as a number of other advertising and promotion materials. She has worked with a wide variety of clients in book publishing, magazines and newspapers, advertising and art licensing from the US, Britain, Spain, France, Italy, Switzerland and Japan. Her impressive list of international clients includes The New York Botanical Garden, Penguin Books, Princeton University Press, SpotCo, The Guardian, and Royal Mail.

Catell enjoys being able to guide the talent of future illustrators both young and old. She has taught illustration at a university in north London, as well a stenciling and rubber-stamping workshop for schoolchildren. Working with the 6-12 year olds was “great fun!” and she reveled in being able to experiment with another medium. Experimentation is vital to Catell’s art, working with ceramics as a means of personal artistic exploration. She advises other creatives to not “underestimate the human need for creative play and growth. Change and experiment, allow your creativity to have free reign.”


Above: Ceramic work, part of artistic personal exploration

Catell has a strong internet following being interviewed or showcased on numerous blogs, including A Stylish Little Lady, Ape on the Moon, Brown Paper Bag, Foggy Grizzly,, Lost at E-Minor and The Young Blood Project. She was recently featured on Jazz and Draw, a website that showcases musically influenced illustrations. Her striking portrait of the late Amy Winehouse was inspired by Just Friends, while another piece is inspired by Ethiopian percussionist Mulatu Astake, who’s music Catell calls “a great inspiration.”


From left: Mulatu Astake for Jazz & Draw; Virginia Woolf for Faber & Faber; Amy Winehouse for Jazz & Draw

PERSONAL WORK – Catell’s work has appeared in galleries all over the world, from London to Los Angeles to Israel. She has set herself to the task of creating a series of posters that visually document many of the fascinating objects exhibited in small museums around England, including the Henry Wellcome Collection in London and The Freud Museum in Hampstead. Both posters are available as prints from her online store.

Click here for downloadable items – desktop wallpapers and a high-res printable letter sized promo.


From left: Henry Wellcome Collection; Psychoscape; The Freud Museum

CATELL LOVES – Travel, she has been to: Switzerland, Italy, Spain, France, Scotland, Mongolia, Russia, Germany, Mexico, USA, Oman, Belgium, The Netherlands, Ireland, Hungary, Poland and Portugal. Color, coffee on a hot summer day, the dawn of each new season, the smell of cat fur, Purple Basil, Passion Flower, the Century Plant, artist Grayson Perry, collecting folklore ceramic bowls, blini with smoked salmon, The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai and Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer, cooking, and two sweet cats.

AWARDS – American Illustration 31, Association of Illustrators Images 30, Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles 49, Society of Illustrators of New York 52


From left: Ordinary for a group exhibition at Shenkar College in Ramat Gan, Israel;
Billy, Mandy & Grim for the Cartoon Network’s 20th Anniversary Exhibition

Q&A with Catell

What’s the hardest part of being an illustrator?
Keeping a solid routine, being productive without having a deadline

Best way to end a long day of work?
Leave the studio and go home and ideally cook a nice meal.

If you weren’t an illustrator, what would you be?
In my wildest dreams, probably a life coach or a linguist… actually, come to think of it, a one-woman band.

Do you prefer traditional media over digital ways of working?
I love the luminosity and physicality of ‘real’ paint as opposed to digitized color. Color looks good on the screen, but printed-out color can be a disappointment. I really enjoy it when I see the physical effect of paint on paper, the relief and the way the paper curls up a little. The subtlety of color will always look better in real than digital.

I couldn’t live without my computer and Photoshop but looking into a screen for a long time makes me tired very quickly. I have made a conscious decision to do my hand-rendered work in a different place than the digital work.

What is your ideal studio like?
A warm, big space with no distractions, no noise, a window that is just facing a tree or a field, an orderly desk and everything neatly in its place – exactly the opposite of my current studio.

Look out your window. What’s the first thing you see?
I see the guy from Webworks smoking his 10th cigarette and it’s only 9:30am.

What do you do when you have a creative block? What are your favorite sources of inspiration?
The best thing for me is to switch off the brain and just be creative and playful, not thinking too much. Doodling and painting in my sketchbook, just for the fun of it is great. It feels a bit like going back to being a child again.

You can only take three things to a deserted island. What do you take?
My bed, my glasses (even though I hate them) and my cat, Big Ernie.

A genie grants you three wishes. What do you wish for?
An assignment that involves botanical or food illustration
A state of the art kitchen with all the latest gadgets
To finally meet my spirit guide

What is a typical work day like for you? How do you portion off your time?
It really depends on the day. Normally, I get up around 7, have coffee, sit around, stare into space… then read some news stories, go for a run or a walk, then to the studio and concentrate for 3 hours. Go to town, go food shopping, home and cook, then back to the studio and work another 3 hours, have dinner and watch a documentary and/or work some more.

How has your work changed since you’ve become an illustrator? How do you see your work progressing in the future?
It has changed quite a bit as I love experimentation. I believe that one needs to grow, evolve and progress. However, the more I try out new things, the more I realize that perhaps I need to separate my art practice from my illustration practice.

What is one tip you have for other creative professionals?
Don’t underestimate the human need for creative play and growth. Change and experiment, allow your creativity to have free reign. But also allow yourself to consciously distance yourself from being creative and do other things instead that don’t involve ‘visuality.’ That way, your creative process and your vision will stay fresh, you’ll be able to better discern what is substantial and important in illustration as opposed to what is just pretty and decorative.


Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

This summer, we’re presenting a selection of our artists’ favorite books. From dark, to funny, to just plain strange, this summer reading list gives you a peek inside each artist’s life, likes, and literary predilections.

Disfarmer. “Local eccentric studio photographer Mike Disfarmer captured portraits of the residents in his town of Heber Springs, Arkansas from 1915-1959. His eery photographs were discovered after his death and are a record of middle America during WWI until the 50′s.”
Pip and Norton
by Dave Cooper. “This book about two scheming best friends is one of the funniest and most beautifully illustrated comics and one of my all time favorite books. Dave Cooper is a genius and an amazing painter.”
Geek Love
by Katharine Dunn. “This is not an art book but Dunn’s writing will paint beautiful mental images as you read. The story is about a family of side-show performers that breed children using a variety of drugs during pregnancy to create ‘freaks’ to perform at their show.”

The Art Spirit by Robert Henri. “The quintessential teachings of Robert Henri – this little gem should be in every painter’s library. Pick it up, open to any page and be inspired by Henri’s gift to the artist student.”
I Love Tattoos
by Takahiro ‘Horitaka’ Kitamura. “The title says it all. If you love tattoos and tattooists that love tattoos, you won’t be disappointed. ‘Taki’ presents a visual journal of what tattooing is all about. Friends, family, great tattoos, respect for the past and good times.”

The Road by Cormac McCarthy. “Disturbing, horrific, and somehow hauntingly beautiful.”
The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins. “Really fun with a nice dark quality.”

Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth. “Recently I’ve been enjoying reading a book called Call the Midwife. It’s the true story of a midwife working in London’s East End in the 1950′s. Having just had a baby in East London, it had a particular interest for me, but it’s a very popular book and was recently made into a TV show by the BBC (but the book’s much better). It’s really startling how much life and medicine has changed in such a short space of time.”

20th Century Travel: 100 Years of Globe-Trotting Ads. “There is always a Taschen book on my list of favorites. And this is my latest fave. Travel through the history of travel ads. I am beyond inspired by the gorgeous colorful artwork filling these pages – the images, design, colors, its the total package. These colorful ads are filled with storytelling imagery that remind me how big the world is outside my little art studio. They will make you look at a train, plane, and automobile in a whole new light.”
100 Years of Fashion Illustration
. “Always one of my faves. Beautiful artwork to gaze over. And a fact filled blurb of info on each page. What a treat to look at the history of fashion presented this way. Each fashion illustration tells its own little story. It’s fun to see the progression of style and trends (fashion and art) over 100 years all wrapped up in one little book.”

Wait Until Spring, Bandini by John Fante. “This was strongly suggested by my mother years ago. I took it but I never read it until last year. It is the story of a poor Italian family who immigrated to an imaginary Colorado city. All the family members’ emotions are incredibly described, you can literally feel them on your skin. It’s a photograph of a wait where everything seems suspended but many things happen in the plot as the family waits for springtime so they can play baseball again. Touching!”
If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler
by Italo Calvino. “This is a great example of postmodern literature. The main character is the reader who attempts to enjoy the book but, because of different reasons, has to stop all the time and begin other novels. So it’s made up of many stories that just begin but never end. It talks about literature’s multiple possibilities. I’m curious to know how each story would finish. Brilliant!”
Metaphysique des Tubes
by Amelie Nothomb. “I did a portrait of her for a magazine so I looked at many pictures of Amelie on the web and I found that she wears a lot of strange hats. This book is a visionary description of a consciousness. The evolution of “the man” from just being a lost “tube” in the universe to human being who knows the word by giving a name to objects and people. Cathartic!”

“Last fall, I picked up 2 kids’ books that still resonate pretty strongly with me. If folks want to get in touch with their animal instincts they should give these a go.”
I Want My Hat Back
by Jon Klassen. “Beautifully brown and full of blank expressions, what’s not to love about this story of a bear going gumshoe and tracking down his misplaced hat.”
In the Woods
by Tana French. “And just in case folks want something to read for a couple weeks, I recommend In The Woods by Tana French. Sitting inside the head of an Irish detective as his wits deteriorate around him will make you appreciate the humor in the above two books even more.”

Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada. “A true story set in Berlin during the second World War. A husband and wife start a silent resistance by dropping anonymous anti-regime postcards. This book gives an extremely vivid depiction of how people lived under the Nazi regime. I could not put it down. The book was written in 1947, shortly after the second World War, which I felt could not be more a authentic account.”
The Inheritance of Loss
by Kiran Desai. “A complex story about the loss of Indian identity in a global world, the reality of Indian immigrants in the US, and the impossibility of love between faiths. It is written in the most beautiful sad and yet funny language. The author describes the Himalayas so well… one can smell it and feel it – reading this book felt like being in India.”

The Bet by Arthur Bradford. “One of my favorites is just a short story from a McSweeny’s but is probably the funniest thing I’ve ever read.”

American Elf by James Kochalka. “Currently, literally, on my nightstand: American Elf by James Kochalka. I’m not usually a fan of comics/graphic novels but these little slices of life can become quite habit forming.”
by Marian Engel. “*Spoiler Alert* Woman has, ummm, relations with a bear… but, it’s a Governor General Award winning book so that makes it okay.”
Interviews with American Artists
by David Sylvester. “Re-reading some of these interviews from time to time for inspiration.”
The Death and Life of Great American Cities
by Jane Jacobs. “Juuuust starting… Looking at this list I just realized that 3 of the 4 books have ‘American; in their titles… quite troubling for a Canadian.”

The Journey is the Destination: The Journals of Dan Eldon by Dan Eldon. “This book is very inspirational… beautiful, tragic and visual.”
Ad Boy: Vintage Advertising with Character
by Warren Dotz. “Love retro advertising… everything had a character back then.”
El Papel
by Ernst Rottger. “Inspiring work done with cut paper.”


Monday, June 4th, 2012


Raised on a small dairy farm in Indiana, Chris Sickels is the unstoppable creative force behind Red Nose Studio. His three-dimensional scenes are built to become two-dimensional photographs, so his work must combine multimedia sculpture with photography and illustration. His love of patina, the quality of a visibly aged surface, means that his work is exquisitely detailed, down to the faux rust of a motorcycle and the worn patch on a wool sweater. To top it off every ‘puppet’ has the signature red nose, which brings a rosy dose of whimsy to each expressive face.


A rough hewn charm distinguishes Red Nose Studio’s hand crafted puppets and meticulously detailed sets. The endearing figures are long limbed and top-heavy. His sets are built with wood, cardboard, twine, and found objects, all of which give his art its rough and tumble aesthetic, while his up-close-and-personal photography brings out the details in the craftsmanship, the texture of the hand-sewn clothes, and the subtle nuances of expression. Whimsical, fantastical, and otherworldly, Red Nose Studio’s work never fails to fascinate.


“I started making craft as a child, because we really couldn’t afford many toys. I made a little puppet sometime around 1996, his name is Raydon, he is the genesis of it all.” After a childhood of artistic tinkering, Chris found his way to the Art Academy of Cincinnati, where he learned a few of the tools of his trade – fabricating, sewing, and drawing. His interest in sculpture and photography developed later, and eventually merged with his art school skillset to shape Chris’s unique style. Today, he sketches his figures in his studio and bakes the polymer clay hands and faces in his kitchen oven. The walls of his studio are lined with hand-crafted puppets and knick knacks waiting to be incorporated into his next project.


Chris started out as a 2D illustrator before experimenting with 3D art. One of his first sketches for a 3D rocket man was rejected by an art director, but Chris decided to create the figure anyway for self-promotion. “What I was doing didn’t seem all that practical, like strapping a rocket to your back,” he remembers. But like the rocketman, Chris told himself “I’m going to try it anyway.” Seventeen years later, Chris’s 3D art has developed into an award-winning style and an eye-catching genre of illustration.


Chris always begins his process with a sketch. The drawing not only helps art directors see where the work is heading, but it is also where Chris fine-tunes his characters’ postures and facial expressions. When Chris moves on to crafting the puppet, he carries the details of the sketch over into the sculpture, paying careful and special attention to the face. He explains that, “In a lot of my pieces, the characteristics in the face are the soul of it. So the face is usually one of the first things to get done.”

“The objects take the pieces in different directions,” Chris says. “It’s not always in your complete control. So you have to work with the objects instead of trying to bend the objects to fit your idea.” There’s a spontaneity in his work that stems from this improvisation of objects, and by bowing to his obstacles, Chris is able to concoct new and exciting visual solutions. For one project, Chris designed a vacuum cleaner from a garlic press, a tire gauge, and the cord from an old electric skillet.


Chris describes his work, saying “The sculptures sometimes look pretty crude, or the stitching is really rough, or the buildings are painted really sloppily. They’re not poetic, there’s no rhythm to them, there’s no math to them like a good poem. But that’s how my work is. My work isn’t really graceful. It’s usually pretty awkward – like if the puppet moved, he’d fall off or he’d trip or he’d run into a wall. It’s a bit of beauty and a bit of awkwardness. And I think that’s kind of how I am.”


In 2004, Chris collaborated with Planet 10, an Indianapolis design firm, and Quality Printing, a local printing company to create the Red Thread Project. The book showcased the capabilities of illustration, design, and printing in a uniquely developed collaboration that utilized the creative faculties of all talents involved. On one page, the printer used a spot gloss UV for a scene involving rain. The slick coating emphasizing the wetness of the water and highlighting the quality of light reflecting off puddles of rain. The book also incorporated printing techniques like embossing, debossing, silkscreening, die-cutting, and spot-varnishing to enhance the viewing experience in synergy with Chris’s illustrations. The project won Best in Show in the HOW Magazine Self-Promotion annual and was a HOW Magazine Perfect 10 winner. “We see many join promotions,” commented HOW editor Bryn Mooth, “but this one works to an astonishing degree. Every component – the illustration, copywriting, design and printing – works in harmony It’s an enchanting piece, a real keeper, and it shows every participant’s considerable skill to maximum advantage.”


Red Nose Studio illustrations appear in advertising, magazines, books, newspapers, packaging, character development and animation. His advertising clients include AIGA, Frito Lay, Nickelodeon, Target, Pepsi, Neiman Marcus, Microsoft, Epson, Kraft, and IBM. He has also illustrated book covers for Tor, Scholastic, Osborne McGraw-Hill, and he is in the middle of illustrating his second children’s book for Schwartz & Wade, a Random House imprint. His editorial work, many covers included, has appeared in Computerworld, Business Week, The Boston Globe, Angie’s List, Forbes, The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Wired, and many others.


Chris’s work has been honored by virtually every industry award institution, including Society of Publication Designers, American Illustration, Communication Arts, and Society of Illustrators. His art has been featured in How, Print, Creativity and 3×3 Magazine, as well as in a number of art and design books, such as Taschen’s Illustration Now!. He has twice been honored with the Carol Anthony Grand Prize award from the Society of Illustrators 3-D Salon. Two of his short films, The Red Thread Project and Innards were selected to screen at the 2005 and 2006 Los Angeles International Short Film Festival.


Megan Lane Patrick, senior editor of HOW Magazine, stated that Chris “filters life through his special lens and transforms it into beautiful sculpture, and then an image,” and “Yes, he has a bit of a dark sensibility, but that appeals to me.” To read more about Chris, visit his blog at

Click here for downloadable items – desktop wallpapers and a high-res printable letter sized promo.

Q&A with Red Nose Studio

Can you tell us a little bit about how you create your puppets and your sets?
It all starts with the drawings, the approved sketch is the blueprint for what is built. The set is constructed through the camera viewfinder, this allows elements to be built to fit the 2D composition and keeps the building to a minimum much like a theater set. Materials vary, using whatever I have on hand to create what is needed. I like to use materials that have a specific texture, pattern or patina that allow image to have visual textures that go beyond traditional sculpture. To accommodate the size of the studio most figures are about 7 inches tall and the sets generally live on a 4 x 4 foot table. Most backgrounds are painted on large paper. Contrary to popular belief, most images take a minimum of 150 test shots to get positioning, composition, lighting, etc. refined for the final. Most of the effects are done ‘in camera’ on the set with minimal post editing.

Sometimes you use found objects in your art (buttons, gears, etc). Where do you like to go hunting for knick knacks?
It is almost a disease, I am always looking for stuff to pick up. Thrift shops, sidewalks, the recycle bin, my children’s broken toys get dismantled and filed into my junk boxes. One time I even bought a product of the shelf just to use part of the clear bubble packaging in a piece.

Photography is an important element in your work. What are some of the challenges and quirks that come with using photography as an illustrator?
The biggest quirk is that even though elements are hand painted and specific fabrics are used, the colors of those elements always seem to shift and change under particular lighting arrangements. That can lead to happy accidents, but can also lead to frustrating and unforeseen outcomes. In those cases you have to roll with it and figure out ways to make it work to your advantage.

Your sets can be quite elaborate, from urban cityscapes to beachside carnivals. What has been the most difficult set to create, to date?
This winter I was commissioned to create a scene with a large iceberg that was to be seen both above and underwater in the same scene. The tough part was finding materials that would give me the effect of ice and water without actually using ice and water. It required a large set probably 3 times the size I normally work, not that bigger is necessarily harder, sometime the simplest sets are just as hard as elements are harder to cheat when there is less going on.

How long does it usually take to create a puppet and build a set?
It all depends on the complexity and time constraints of the project. A puppet can be built in as little as 8 hours or much longer. Sets can also range dramatically. Illustrations have been completed in as little as 24 hours or as long as two weeks.

You’ve chosen to live and work in the cozy Midwestern town of Greenfield, Indiana. How does your environment affect your work, your schedule, your sources of inspiration?
I like to work alone, so being in a sleepy town is fine with me. I try to keep the schedule as regular as possible so hopefully my children will realize they had a father growing up. Greenfield can be a ‘little’ on the subdued side and I can understand that most folks would ask how do I draw inspiration from an uninspiring environment? Just last night some fella strolled by the house dressed all in white while strumming a guitar. Now I realize that in NYC that would hardly even get noticed, but when you put that guy in sleepy Greenfield, that juxtaposition can stir up lots of connotations.

You’re often asked to capture moments of emotion – surprise, fear, triumph, etc. What are your tips for sculpting emotionally expressive faces?
It all comes from the sketches, if the drawing has a gesture and expression to it then I use it to lead the sculpture. I am not a skilled sculptor, I cannot just ‘will’ a figure out of stone, so I have to rely on the sketch to tell me what to do.

Who are a few of your favorite artists and illustrators?
Tim Hawkinson, Alexander Calder, Alan E Cober, along with numerous peers who create work that drives me to better my own work.

How has the illustration industry changed since you became a professional illustrator? How do you see it changing in the future?
My first commissioned illustration was in 1995. No internet, websites, emails… I remember saving up to buy a $300 fax machine, because without a fax you had to use smoke signals. Using FedEx to deliver paintings done on a flexible surface for drum scanning. Seems like everything has changed. I have seen art directors loose their creative drive due to overreaching bosses and I have seen art directors flourish because of the trust and confidence that their bosses have in them. I have seen illustrators become hands and I have experienced that myself on occasion. I have seen the rise of the computer as the ultimate tool, I have seen the hand made rebellion against the computer and now I see that folks are coming around and seeing the computer as a tool and not an end. I have seen techniques come and go, but IDEAS are what always surface to the top. I was taught that the illustrator needs to be a content provider and not just a decorator…  even after 17 years I still believe that is where the future is.


Sunday, May 6th, 2012


Ana’s sweetly subversive works have provided visually rich narratives for multiple editorial, advertising, and publishing projects. She paints with oils, a medium that lends itself to rich and subtle colors. Her work, which often features animals and child-like figures, has a sweet but unsettling quality much like the fairy tales they seem to reference. Her beautifully rendered paintings bring powerful concepts to life, playing with recurring motifs like the myths of adolescence and the hazy boundaries of dreams, fantasies, and memories.


Born in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, Ana and her family moved to the U.S. when she was 6 years old. She has tried to incorporate these experiences in her art as much as possible. “My parents had saved my school books and brought them with us. They were filled with amazing illustrations of Soviet propaganda and I knew I had to use them in some way.” Ana dedicated her 2005 solo show Clubhouse Machination at La Luz de Jesus to the communist imagery in those books. Besides drawing from memories of childhood, Ana also seeks inspiration from her vast collection of photographs, which includes “fashion photography, pictures of dolls, animals, landscapes, movie stills and anything I come across on the Internet that strikes my fancy. I take pictures when I’m strolling through flea markets, museums, while traveling, to make sure I don’t forget a moment that might have inspired an idea for a painting.”


Ana’s clients include Diesel, Honda, BMG Records, and Mighty Fine. She has worked with publications like Rolling Stone, GQ, Men’s Health, Runner’s world, HOW Magazine, Spin, and Boston Magazine, and has illustrated covers for The Stranger and City Pages. Her work has graced posters for arts organizations such as Arena Stage and the Sydney Symphony, and she has worked on ad campaigns for Crispin Porter & Bogusky, Publicis Mojo, Saatchi & Saatchi, and Wieden & Kennedy London. Her witty series for the ADC Young Guns advertising campaign Young and Hungry used vivid images of mother ducks, pigs, and deer being eaten by their young to create a darkly humorous effect. The campaign went on to win an award in American Illustration 26.


Her creative process is loose and inventive. “When I sit down to draw, I rarely have an idea of what I’m going to draw. I start with the face and the narrative grows from there.” Ana believes that stepping outside your comfort zone is the most effective way to grow as an artist. “I was used to working very small and when I decided to paint on a larger scale, all the flaws in my drawing were amplified.” Ana’s critical eye allows her to fine-tune her talents, and her work grows more intricate and polished with each painting she completes.


Her love of painting animals has been noted in the press, in interviews with Juxtapoz magazine, Hi Fructose, Sour Harvest, Arrested Motion, and Ianyan Mag. Ana says, “Animals are universal. Any culture can relate to the animal kingdom, while only a small number of people can relate to the figures I paint. They’ve been used in fables, stories and painting since the beginning of time to portray human characteristics and behaviors for that reason. Aside from that, I love painting fur, hair, shine, feathers, etc., and these little critters provide me with an abundance of textures for my painting pleasure.” Ana’s cover for the book Jane and the Raven King is a great example of this – it features a cardigan-wearing cat detective and deftly captures the whimsy of the book’s retinue of magical animal characters.

Ana was one of the artists invited to Baby Tattooville, a 3-day event in Riverside, CA that provides a unique opportunity for serious art collectors to spend time with their favorite artists. Artists like Glenn Barr, Dave Cooper, Bob Dob, Brandi Milne, Shag, Amy Sol, and many others create work around-the-clock, allowing collectors to witness the creative process behind the artwork. At the end of each retreat, collectors leave with a grab bag of art created during the sessions, ensuring that no one leaves empty-handed. Ana’s work has been shown internationally at the Mondo Bizzarro Gallery and the Dorothy Circus Gallery in Rome, as well as the Fb69 Gallery in Munster, Germany. In the U.S., she regularly exhibits in a number of galleries, including Roq la Rue, Thinkspace, Subtext Gallery, Varnish Fine Art, La Luz de Jesus, and the eponymous Billy Shire Gallery.


A few years ago, Ana started a side project called Lunch Bunch. She and a friend bought an extra meal after her birthday dinner to give away on the way home. The person she gave the meal to made lasting impression, and a few days later they decided to make sandwiches and hand them out to the homeless in Hollywood. “Our first day was so heartbreaking and amazing at the same time, we knew we couldn’t stop at just one day,” she says. She continues to follow a route through Hollywood that accesses people who don’t live near shelters. The Lunch Bunch is now a group that uses art auctions to fund their work. Artists who have donated their work to auctions in the past include Shepard Fairey, Amy Sol, Scott Musgrove, Daniel Lim, Lola, Dan Barry, Joshua Petker, Peter Micocci, Loretta Gonzalez, Edward Robin Colonel, Sara Louise Tucker, and more.

Ana studied illustration at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. Her work has been recognized by American Illustration, Communication Arts, 3×3, Society of Illustrators Los Angeles, the Gold Ozzie Awards, and the Eckersleys Awards. In 2008, Ana was profiled as one of 20 rising artists under the age of 30 in Print Magazine’s New Visual Artist competition, a rare distinction awarded only to the most exceptional illustrators, designers, and fine artists.


To see Ana’s work, visit her Magnet Reps portfolio. Click here for downloadable items – desktop wallpapers and a high-res printable letter sized promo.

Q&A with Ana Bagayan

What’s one tip you have for other creative professionals?
Don’t ignore your subconscious, it’s only trying to guide you in the direction of the best possible outcome for you.

You often use animal imagery in your paintings. Why are animals so alluring to you as a painter?
A dog is a dog no matter where you come from. Everyone can relate to animals.

If you were reincarnated as an animal, which animal would you be?
A seahorse.

What is your ideal studio like?
I like a large, clean space to work. I don’t need inspiration or anything fancy around me, it distracts me from my thoughts.

What is your biggest challenge as an artist?
Becoming comfortable with my medium so that I’m able to paint exactly what I want to paint.

How has your work changed since your days as an art student? How do you see your work progressing in the future?
I think my work has always represented my being, whether I knew it at the time or not. If it looked like I was lost in my work, I was also lost as a person. I can look at my older work and know exactly what I was feeling at the time I created it and I think creatively releasing pain and negative beliefs is a healthy way to get past it. I’m more comfortable with who I am now so my work is all coming from a positive place. Now, creatively I feel free. Technically, there are still things I need to work on which will still be a challenge but that is part of the process and I embrace it.

What’s the first thing you do when you’re stuck on a project? What are your best sources of inspiration?
I think feeling stuck is an indicator that something is awry and you need to stop and honestly re-examine what you’re doing. That will automatically open up a new direction.

In an ideal world, you would have an infinite amount of…?

Your art seems to regularly turn to the themes of childhood, mortality, and mythology. How would you describe the motifs in your art? What draws you to these themes?
I think childhood represents freedom and open-mindedness at its purest. In that world, anything is possible.

A genie grants you three wishes. What do you wish for?
1. The ability to manifest what I need when I need it in the form of drawing. I was going to wish for a door that opens to what I need, but I think I should still have to earn it.
2. For everyone else to choose to follow their passion, there would be a lot less negative people around me.
3. Ability to teleport.

You grew up in Los Angeles, and you are heavily involved in the L.A. art scene. How has the city influenced you and your work?
My style has definitely come from the influence of artists in this scene, and for that I am grateful. That I was able to resonate with the energy here and light my flame with it early on. Now, I’m just on an exciting creative journey guided by my subconscious and I’m having fun with it.

What are some of your interests and hobbies outside of painting?
Baking, gardening, finding and listening to music, staring at the sky (looking out for ufo’s).