Rhinestones and Pickles

Nextbook.org home page, January 7, 2008

Tuesday’s story by Jessica Apple about her wacky-wonderful grandma required a wacky-wonderful illustration. And who better to do that, I thought, than Martha Rich, whose daily paintings at Freedom Wig are so . . . well . . . you just have to go look at them. I’d been wanting to hire Martha for months, but this was the first story to come up that I thought really needed her.

See the whole painting and read the story on the site: Repeating History.

I confess that I Botoxed the wrinkles on the woman’s face a bit—we received word that Bashy, the subject of the story, was in very poor health, so I thought a more tender representation was in order (though I’m sure this looks nothing like her, anyway—I didn’t ask for any reference photos).

If you’re in L.A., go see Martha’s show at La Luz de Jesus gallery. It’s up until January 27. And if anybody wants to buy me Good Girl Pie, I’d appreciate it.

Toast the new year with bubbly!

Happy New Year!

Here at my office, we’re celebrating with fizz, per tradition: our first story of 2008 is about seltzer.

Nextbook.org home page, January 2, 2008: Seltzer

Today’s illustration is by the delightful Vanessa Davis. I had to crop her drawing closely to fit it on our home page—and, of course, there’s that nasty brown stripe with the type over it—so do visit the story to see the complete piece: Eli Miller’s Seltzer Delivery Service.
Continue reading “Toast the new year with bubbly!”

All illustration, all the time

Nextbook.org home page, December 4, 2007: Hanukkah 1

Happy Hanukkah!

I hope you’re not getting sick of all these posts about illustrations, because I’ve got a whole week’s worth to crow about, and not a whole lot else. Nextbook.org is publishing a story about Hanukkah on each day of the holiday, and we decided to (a) get each one of them illustrated, and (b) have an image of a menorah (or, more specifically, a Hanukiah, as I learned yesterday—thank god for Wikipedia) on the home page, which will change each day as a new story is posted. Continue reading “All illustration, all the time”

Hot Hahn

Nextbook.org home page, 11/30/2007: Hot Rabbis

Through the magic of technology, even though I am "on vacation" I can happily inform you that today Nextbook posted this hot new illustration by Samantha Hahn, proprietress of the blog Maquette and frequent guest on Moldawer in the Morning, the Moldawer in question being her husband. Do go look at the version on the story page, as it differs from that on the home page in several ways (not least being its not having type slapped on top of it): The Girls’ Guide to Hot Rabbis and Tattooed Chefs.

If all goes as planned, Samantha’s second illustration for Nextbook will appear on Monday, so keep your eyes peeled.

Mr. Sunshine

Nextbook.org home page, October 8, 2007: Shalom Auslander

I was sick of posting the same two grumpy headshots of Shalom Auslander, who has a column on Nextbook.org and whom we feature pretty often, so I asked the valiant Aaron Artessa, who made such a lovely silk purse out of the sow’s-ear photos I sent him of Leonard Michaels, to draw us a grumpy illustration to accompany a podcast about Auslander’s new book, The Foreskin’s Lament. I love the little black rain cloud, which of course makes me think of Pooh. You know—wrath of God, Pooh, same thing.

If you don’t understand why Auslander has a rain cloud over his head, go listen to our podcast (where you can also see the illustration somewhat bigger) or watch the trailer for his book.

Nose Job

Nextbook.org home page, September 19, 2007

Vanessa Davis did this illustration for us months ago, and then the story got pushed to November for some reason. But then today’s story wasn’t ready in time, so at the last minute, the editors swapped this one in. I’m so glad it’s finally up!

I really liked the preliminary sketch for this and couldn’t imagine how the final illustration would improve on it. Well, I guess I’m just not very imaginative, because it improved a lot. You can see the complete piece on the story page. It’ll probably get knocked out of the main home page slot tomorrow, unfortunately.

(I know it seems like it’s all Vanessa Davis, all the time around here, but really, I am commissioning work from other artists.)

Creepaway Camp

Nextbook.org home page: July 30, 2007: summer camp

Back when I was first asking y’all about how you find illustrators, I stumbled across illoz.com, a cool portfolio site with some handy art direction tools built in. I signed up, and since then I’ve made a lot of folders in my illoz account, with lots of samples by people whose work I like. But not until two weeks ago did I find an artist whose work I thought would be the perfect match for a specific story.

story illustrator
is about a girl at camp, mostly takes place in woods draws a lot of girls in woods
is creepy can draw very creepily

I confess that I didn’t contact Sam Weber using the lovingly designed art direction interface on illoz.com, though it certainly sounds nice—

An art director account at illoz gives you the ability to initiate project assignments with any illoz portfolio owner. Sketches can be viewed here at the site, then commented on and approved. After that, final art can be downloaded directly from a portfolio owner’s personal area. The job can go from start to finish, right here at illoz.

I think the thing is, I’m a socially challenged geek to begin with, and I’d always rather contact someone through a structured form than by phone or e-mail, so I try to fight that tendency by occasionally picking up the phone, instead. Not that I picked up the phone in this case, either. But I did write a long, no doubt overly detailed e-mail directly to Sam, mentioning that I’d found him on illoz. And he wrote back! And he accepted the job! And he did it very quickly! And I love it! And it’s on our home page until tomorrow morning, and in the story indefinitely!

So, that’s my illoz success story.

The story Sam illustrated, incidentally, is by my colleague Ellen, and I think it’s really good. You should read it if you’re, you know, one of the few designer-types who knows how to read.

Zina Saunders draws (out) art directors

Steven Heller by Zina Saunders

What I liked about art directing, was that I love working with people and I love pulling strings and love finding artists. And I always liked typography, even though I wasn’t a great typographer. See, an art director can do it all. You can be an editor, you can be a designer, you can be a mover, you can shake things around, you can do formats; I just like the entirety of the process. But as an art director I never really loved photography; I was always much more involved in illustration. I always preferred it.

Illustrator Zina Saunders, who for some time has been posting a series of illustrations of and interviews with other illustrators, has now started working on art directors. Steven Heller is the first.

See also Zina’s several other galleries, and her websites ZinaSaunders.com and Overlooked New York. My favorites: Profile of James, the Super and An Ethnic Treasure Bites the Dust.

Illustration detail copyright © 2007 Zina Saunders. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

The lazy days of summer

Nextbook.org home page, July 2, 2007: Beach

I am so lazy that even though I knew for months that today’s story was in the works, and that the editors kind of wanted an illustration, I didn’t ever get around to commissioning one. Well, also, in my defense, (a) I rarely know what the podcasts are really about before they’re posted—the final edit wasn’t ready for today’s until after noon—and (b) there was talk of taking photographs of the kids who were in the podcast, and I thought I could do something with those. What we ended up with was headshots, though—I ran them inside the story, but they’re not very useful for the home page. Oh, well.

So all I knew was that it would be kind of a “What should kids read this summer?” piece. And I had a vague recollection of some beach scenes on Vanessa Davis’s awesome site, Spaniel Rage, so I dug around until I found the one I was thinking of. I’d been talking with Vanessa since March about various things: first, a three-page bat mitzvah comic from 2005 that we want to reprint, and next, a commissioned illustration for an essay. But neither of those pieces has yet been scheduled to run, whereas this one was urgent, so today some of her older work (this is from 2004) went up first. Go figure.

It’ll be on the home page only through tomorrow morning; then we’ll be posting a different summer reading piece (for grownups), with some of my usual brilliant Flickr-mining on the front. Why didn’t I use this drawing to illustrate that piece, which will be up for two days, over the holiday? Duh. Poor planning.