Several years back, I worked for a company named TivoliToo. While there, I had the opportunity to work on a lot of fun projects. I like how I was able to work with other talented artists to create fun and interesting sculptures!
One such project was a totem inspired sculpture that incorporated animals native to Minnesota. The sculpture sits at the MSP Airport at a store called Minnesota State of Nice. They sell clothing, souvenirs, books and a number of good gifts!
I think the sculptors and painters did an incredible job! They are truly talented!
The Switch: Electricia started out on Kickstarter and was successfully funded! For those not familiar, Kickstarter is a crowdfunding site where backers can donate to make creator owned projects a reality. As soon as different levels meet their funding, higher levels unlock and act as an incentive to encourage more crowdfunding. The excitement from being funded wasn’t the end for Electricia, shortly after, Dynamite soon picked it up and published it!
What was my role with this book? Keith and Tom needed back up! They were both working on a number of other projects all the while working to complete this one. The back up they needed was a colorist! Tom was going to be the main artist for the whole book including colors (he did the first ten pages and the original blue cover), but a 90 page book isn’t a small endeavor! I came in to help meet the deadline so publishing could go on as planned!
I learned a lot from working with Keith and Tom on this project. They are great to work with and we’ll see if there’s a sequel in the works!
Pick up a copy at your local comic book shop or through Dynamite or Amazon!
I have created illustration and design for a number of projects. One particular type of project I have been doing more and more of is customized artwork and graphics for T-shirt and merch!
Friends, family, clients alike have worked with me to make their ideas into a reality and something memorable to share! Shirts and clothing for group gatherings, team sports, nostalgic reasons — whatever it may be!
Below are a few I have worked on recently.
CSP Gang 2020
Here’s a cartoony graphic I created for a friend’s horse riding group. The art represents an inside joke that only those who were there and ride horses may understand. I am not going to try to explain it because I am sure something would be lost in translation. It was funt to try to capture expressions and illustrate something challenging.
The Sun Drive Inn – Tom Senko
My cousin surprised her husband with a gift of an illustration of a few of the classic cars he owned from years gone by. The Sun Drive Inn was the place to hangout and to drag race!
I had fun trying to get the feel of an old poster and mix that with the feel of Auto Show art.
Sun Drive Inn – 28th & Central Avenue NE, Mpls. Circa 1954
Est.1954 by Warren W. “Bill” Nelson (RHS June, ’46), partnered with Ray Truelson (RHS June ’46) in a drive-in restaurant called the Flat Top Drive-Inn in the late 1940s. After his first success, Warren later opened the Sun Drive-Inn on Central Avenue in Northeast Minneapolis. It became the place to go in Northeast Minneapolis where the Sun Burger was popular with the crowds. Few will remember the early days when Warren would hire country western singers to sit on the back fence and play on sunny Sunday afternoons. Many, though, will remember the Sun in the 1960s with the lines of cars snaking through the lot and the drone of the many V8s on Saturday nights. People also came to see the billboard featuring original art work by local artists that reflected the turbulent times. It has been many years since the Sun has been in operation.
Every year part of my family does a fall tour where they pay their respects to those who have passed on and then enjoy the company of those still here. I think it is a great idea to pay respects and teach the young ones about family that they didn’t get to meet while creating new happy memories!
I have been lucky to be commissioned to do artwork for a regular comic book convention fan who is a great guy and friend. He is also a Judo competitor and I am sharing some of the art designs I created for him. Judo characters inspired by Street Fighter art representing a couple of Judo throws! Tomoe-Nage and Kata-Guruma
I think I speak for a lot of people when I say one of the many things that have been missing from our lives during the pandemic is LIVE MUSIC! Seeing live shows are a lot of fun and a way to unwind after a stressful work week.
As I think back to seeing live music, I am reminded of a couple illustrations I did for some great local bands!
Pat Higgins and Darren Hensel are killer musicians that play in a few bands but teamed up to do a fun side project called HIGGINS & HENSEL. They are an acoustic duo that plays everything from the 50’s to today. I also designed their logo on their poster!
Pat has been a friend since we were in high school. He got a hold of me in 2018 to do some promo art. He wanted an eye-catching illustration that they could use online and to post in various venues with upcoming dates of shows.
It was fun to create because he wanted me to make it wacky so people would stop to look at it! I did caricatures of them riding T-rex dinosaurs while playing guitars in superhero outfits while they were chasing ice cream cone people and the T-rexes were shooting lasers out of their eyes! Pretty wacky if you ask me!
Darren is in a band called WHISKEY STONE and wanted to do a similar thing. WHISKEY STONE consists of Christina Rayne (vocals), Zach Spicer (drums, vocals), Jeff Lungstrom (bass) and of course Darren Hensel (guitar,vocals).
For WHISKEY STONE, the poster has Darren dressed as a Canadian Mountie playing an electric guitar with super electrified strings, Christina as a superhero with a tambourine blazing on fire as her chickens fly through, Jeff playing a melting cheese bass guitar while dressed in a top hat and tux…on his upper half and Zach shirtless but wearing Zubaz and a hat like a stuffed animal mascot they bring to shows and his drum sticks are glowing like magic wands!
Back in 2010 I was contacted by The Minneapolis Club to do artwork for their pub. The Minneapolis Club is a private club located in downtown Minneapolis. It is a historic institution that has existed since 1883. Many big name locals have been members of this elite club.
While cleaning in one of their attics they came across a book called Amiable Libels – More than One Hundred Sketches of Minneapolitans by Francis Marion Wing (Frank Wing) and Charles Lewis Bartholomew.
The book Amiable Libels – More than One Hundred Sketches of Minneapolitans was just that! A book full of inked drawings of famous or prominent Minneapolitans. For the pub artwork, they wanted to take some copies of Mr. Wing’s art of Minneapolis Club members from the 1916 era and have me create art of the present day members.
I was honored to be asked and humbled to say the least. I was amazed with Frank Wing’s work! He was a true draftsman. There was no way I could do him any justice but it was my job to do my best!
Below are some samples of Frank Wing’s artwork. (I had scans of only a few pages for my reference.)
Here’s a few samples of artwork I created.
I learned a lot from doing this project. I am not sure if the art is still hanging in the pub but I was glad to have been a part of it.
In 2018 I was asked by my talented friend Lili Payne Lennox if I could help with a sketch for a mural for her client at Rosedale Center. A newly designed food court was being created and she needed art of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox eating some ramen noodles. I created a sketch and she painted it and, in my opinion, made it even better!
The mall liked the art and wanted to theme a children’s play area using local tall tale characters, Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox! Lili connected with me once again to create more artwork! She worked with other talented artists (like local muralist, Tina Yager) to create a fun place at the mall for parents and children to play and engage in Paul and Babe’s story! They created oversized props to accompany panels that had my illustrations and a story. I used a limited color palette because Lili and her team were using wood panels with colored stain to obtain the look they wanted.
Paul Bunyan and Babe Art for Little Loggers Play Area
Photos of the Play Area
It was fun to collaborate with other artists to create a fun unique place for family’s to hang out! 🙂
In 2017-18 I illustrated a book called A CORPORATE REFUGEE BARES ALL: CHALLENGES FACED … LESSONS LEARNED by FRANK FREEDMAN. What I think is cool about that is Frank asked me to do the book because I had done some illustration work for him years ago. The truth is, he was my first freelance client back in 1998/99. He wanted the artwork to be like I did all those years ago. I have grown quite a bit as an artist and didn’t want to match my amateur style. I tried to emulate and update it for the book.
The book is about when Frank worked as a medical device consultant and all the interactions and experiences that went along with his long career. Each story offers up incites and humor. Frank is a great guy! I actually met him and his wife Marsha and their daughter doing improv classes at Stevie Ray’s Improv Company.
Check out some of my favorite illustrations from the book below.
I also made a promo video for Frank’s book to help him promote it.
Halloween is one of my favorite times of the year! I enjoy seeing the joy kids have dressing up and going trick-or-treating! Well, not so much this year… People of all ages, wearing fun costumes and hanging out! Again, maybe not this year. 2020 may not be good all around for get-togethers but adapting to find ways to enjoy the holidays in this new normal is possible. People can enjoy decorations while social distancing and wearing a mask is normal at Halloween!
I worked at a company from 2015-2017 where I designed holiday decorations and various products. I still sometimes do work for them as a freelancer. Seasonal Specialties is located in Eden Prairie and you will see a lot of their products in stores like Target, Menards and CostCo.
I saw that Target has some products I help develop in stores for Halloween and Christmas! For Halloween I made an illustration of a scary skeleton ghost that is used in a projection decoration. I have others I have done you can see HERE! (Middle of the page.)
This cool plasma skull was another one that is still being sold! I definitely have one in my studio!
This cat decoration is fun for Christmas! I don’t know if you figured it out but I love cats!
I can share other products I have worked on in the future. It makes me happy to see my art and designs in stores but even more to see them projected on people’s garage doors or sitting on their front steps!
2020 has brought some good things! I was contracted by Our House Productions to work on artwork for Big Brother on CBS. I feel very fortunate because it is my four season in a row working with them! In addition to creating some of the art for the BB Comics challenge I also do concept art for other challenges on the show when needed.
For BB Comics, I get briefing for each person I am to do a cover for along with some reference material, such as house guest photos. I have become a fan over the years and I TiVo each episode! I get additional reference of house guests from my TiVo recordings. I work off of my Wacom Cintiq connected to my iMac Pro. On the screen for the iMac Pro I put up all the reference and I sketch in Photoshop on the Cintiq.
First I like to start with a head sketch of the house guest because to me, the likeness is the most important part. After I get a likeness, I do a super quick sketch of the body situation and theme. I start refining it by adding a new layer and drawing on top. I may do this phase a few times.
After the sketch is mostly there I email to the producers to take a look at it. I then wait for their feedback and address any notes they have.
Once I have the approval I will start inking. I have been enjoying inking in Clip Studio Paint. I like the options of variations in the brushes they have. The action is good to as far as tapering and leaving a clean edge.
I bring the cleaned up art back into Photoshop and lay in flat colors. After flat colors are done the real fun starts! Rendering the highlights and shadows and adding textures!
After putting on the BB Comics seal, the title and tagline, it is time to send to the producers to get any final adjustments. Once approved, I email the PSD file and any/or other file types they might like. ALSO, if they need me to make a “B” version of the comic (the variant cover to throw off house guests) I will make tweaks or additional at this point generally.
If you haven’t seen Big Brother and are curious about it, Season 22 has two weeks left but you can see episodes on CBS.com