Let Us Compare Technologies

Reader's Digest UK

Reports of the death of print have been wildly exaggerated…

I’ve been saving this little nugget, waiting for the right time to put a leash on it and take it out for a spin. It’s a snazzy page spread from the 75th anniversary issue of the British edition of Reader’s Digest, featuring an illustration by yours truly for a brisk, acute article examining the pros and cons of Kindles vs. printed books. (If you’re curious about how this assignment came to be, I invite you to read a post I wrote back in late January.) Feel free to click on the spread to see it bigger.

Reader's Digest UK spread

Not entirely sure if you can even come across this edition here in the US, but a few weeks ago I was delighted to find three copies of this issue in my mailbox; which had made the trek across the pond, courtesy of the Royal Mail and art director Martin Colyer. (Many thanks once again, Martin.)

The entire issue is a joy to look at, with a compact but smartly designed format and terrific production values. It once again proves that print is alive and kicking; and it demonstrates how it still has plenty to offer when talented graphic designers and art directors make the most out of the tactile attributes and visual dimensions of the medium.

Kafka in the Funny Pages

Comics, Personal work

For close to five years now, I’ve been wanting to do a comics adaptation of Franz Kafka‘s short story A Fratricide. It was one of those projects that I kept pushing into the back-burner due to lack of time (and a secret fear that I would fall embarrassingly short of doing it justice). During three weeks this past February, I finally gave in to temptation, and I’m pleased to say I’m quite content with the results.

Here’s the 8-page, mostly wordless adaptation in its entirety, starting with the first page at the top. (Feel free to click on each page to see it bigger.)

Comics adaptation of "A Fratricide", a short story by Franz Kafka.

A Faulty New Tribe

Illustrations, Reader's Digest UK

It’s been a relentlessly busy January, but there have been some exciting projects cooking all month. The cream of the crop of so much creative activity has been my first overseas commission from none other than the British edition of Reader’s Digest.

Art Director Martin Colyer assigned me to illustrate a witty, no-holds-barred article/love letter to printed literatures by novelist A. L. Kennedy, titled Kindles Will Never Beat Proper Books, to be published in the March 2013 issue of the Digest. Here’s the visual solution by yours truly…For "Kindles Will Never Beat Proper Books", an article in the March 2013 issue of Reader's Digest (UK edition). Art Director: Martin Colyer.

A Cure for Deja Vu

Personal work

Drifting Close To Home (personal series): Hope For New Beginnings

I’m very pleased to finally be able to share these eight watercolor paintings, which have taken me the better part of a month and a half to complete. They are the flesh-and-blood, rosy-cheeked incarnation of a series of black and white drawings I worked on back in October, which I posted and wrote about on a previous blog entry. (So if you get a burst of deja vu when looking at these, I’m the one to blame for that.)

Drifting Closer To Home: Conditioned Welcoming

With these series, which I’ve decided to title Drifting Closer to Home, I’ve tried to tackle the ordeals, perils, and reinvention of sorts that human beings go through when they leave their homelands to start life anew in a foreign country.

Before And After the Flood

Illustrations, Wall Street Journal

This pen & ink and watercolor drawing just came out in yesterday’s edition of The Wall Street Journal. Always great to work with Mark Tyner, the Art Director of the Sunday page.

The article by Carolyn T. Geer (which you can read in its entirety by clicking here) deals with how to protect financial records from a natural disaster, focusing  on the recent devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy here in New York and along the East Coast. Really worth a read, even more so considering we could all benefit from this information next time Mother Nature decides to throw a temper tantrum.

Drifting Closer to Home

Personal work

I recently decided, in a determined attempt to increase productivity and explore new visual ground, that I would do one finished drawing a day; regardless of how busy I am or where life decides to take me. Just make some time to take a plain white sheet of paper and a pen, and “take a line for a walk”, to quote Paul Klee. No self-editing allowed until an idea is fully represented, letting common sense go on vacation, and intuition and curiosity to take hold. And let anything (anything at all), trigger a concept or notion and let the line do its thing.

As with any course of action where parameters are loosely set, I had no idea how unexpected the outcome would be. I certainly didn’t even suspect these presets would quickly lead me to some of the most personal drawings I’ve ever done.

October, You Are Too Kind

Illustrations, Wall Street Journal

It’s both a pleasure and a privilege to contribute to The Wall Street Journal, and this is my second commission from them, which was just published both in print and online yesterday in their Sunday edition.

The article is about all the great pre-holiday deals and discounts available in October, from cheaper plane tickets to toys sales for the kids; with additional insider’s tips for saving money. You can read it here.

I love the challenge of having to synthesize a certain amount of information into a very small space. I made the original drawing the same size as the printed size –only 3 1/2  by 3 1/2 inches– to ensure maximum clarity. Spot illustrations can still have an impact and a strong presence on the page, depending on how well composed/designed they are. Since I sometimes tend to include too many elements in my images, this gives me the chance to try to distill an idea to its bare essence. Needless to say, it’s an ongoing challenge that I look forward to keep improving on.

Mark Tyner, the art director of the WSJ page, is straightforward, attentive, and helpful, and makes sure the whole process goes by in a breeze. Many thanks for the assignment, Mark.

Of Celluloid Mice & Tumbled Soup Cans


Hot off the press! (Well, antique desk, to be accurate.) Just finished a poster for a screening of short films at Millennium Film Workshop. My wife Rachael curated the event, which will take place this Friday in New York City’s East Village (come one, come all!).

The films deal both directly and indirectly with pop culture icons and pop references, and are little gems of light on celluloid by a stellar cast of both seasoned and up-and-coming experimental filmmakers.

It was a lot of fun to work on the poster and being art-directed by my dear wife. It took a while to come up with the right idea, but after many, MANY meandering pencil scribbles and playing with different vague ironic concepts, I arrived at this:

Poster for a film screening at Millennium Film Workshop. Art Director: Rachael Guma.

Blown Covers

Illustrations, New Yorker/Blown Covers

For the past month and a half, I’ve been contributing to the Blown Covers blog curated by New Yorker art editor Francoise Mouly and her daughter, TOON Books editor Nadja Spiegelman. Through the blog, they run a weekly New Yorker cover contest with a different topic announced on Mondays. Every Friday, they feature the winning entries on the blog, along with a slideshow gallery of all the contributions.

This is the fourth time I’ve had the honor of making it into the Runners Up list, which is usually comprised of 12 entries. This has been my highest position yet, coming in at a not-too-shabby #2 (!!!). This past week’s topic was Back to School, and this is the runner-up entry in question: