Monday, October 19, 2009

Shepard Fairey admits to wrongdoing

It is a shame that artists have to worry about how much to change their image from a reference photograph when making their own work. I can understand both sides of the argument over copyright.

The photographer wants to be credited (and paid) for the use of his good work. Meanwhile, his photo is probably the only link between the celebrity and the artist. I have to give the illustrators a lot of credit who can make an effective likeness of a celebrity AND avoid infringement. Some say the artist must change his image at least 10% from the reference photo (if it is not their own property). Apparently, according to the Shepard Fairey/Associated Press case, using a Photoshop© effect and coloring the image in psychedelic, patriotic colors does not count.

Those that can combine several photos together into one mashup illustration that communicates a perfect likeness are the real heroes in illustration! Believe me, it is difficult to do. Makes me nervous to use Google© Image search again.

Check out the latest in the Obama© campaign portrait image lawsuit from the LA Times.©©©

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fight the Flu!

Of course the flu and H1N1 Swine Flu is on everyone's mind this fall. I just read yesterday that an H1N1 vaccine was just approved by the FDA. Media are reporting today that H1N1 vaccinations could begin as early as October 1st. Health Departments across the world are making sure everyone is as informed as possible on flu prevention and vaccination programs. My local Health Department put together this very helpful Web site with specific information targeting any group you may feel connected to. I designed and drew the round category buttons on the left side of the home page. I'm so proud to know my graphics are part of communicating something of global importance. Take a look and help us all Fight the Flu!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Illustration Friday- wrapped

The princess wrapped her arms around her kitty cat, but it wasn't clear who had saved who.

Monday, August 17, 2009

New cover

Here is one of the latest things I've been working on at the City for the Park Board. I came up with this updated cover design and template for a quarterly catalog of everything offered by the Springfield/Greene County Parks system for the Fall 2009. I did some ads for them recently using a similar style to this masthead so thought I'd do a little rebranding of the Park advertising. They love it so far. We'll see how far we can take it.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Illustration Friday-Tango

This illustration was for a regional lifestyle magazine for an article about an after hours secret ballroom dancing club. The art director said she wanted it more sexy than the first sketch I showed so I steamed it up with half-closed shades and a style taken from old pulp fiction romance novels. Thanks to AD Tiffany Barton for this exciting addition to my portfolio.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

T-shirt store open for business

I have a few items available for purchase on my brand new markAmontgomeryZazzle site! This site is so fly because you can customize the shirt/trucker hat style, color and size to fit your beautiful body. What a great service! I will update you when I add designs – I have a couple awesome ones in the works. Thanks for visiting, friend!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Norman Rockwell inspiration

One of my favorite stories my dad read to me growing up was Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Living in Missouri and visiting the family farm in the northern parts made an instant connection for me. But what stands out in my head when I think about Twain's masterpiece are the illustrations showcasing key scenes in the story. I later found out that the art was done by Norman Rockwell and I've been hooked (along with the rest of the country) ever since. I enjoy Rockwell for his humor and storytelling. The viewer can put together a whole story from a single image without needing a caption. What makes these so memorable is the background work and composition Rockwell did before the finished piece. To really appreciate the details and composition, check out several posts I ran across on Today's Inspiration. My work couldn't be picked apart so cleanly I'm sure. Much Illustration today is pretty simple, quick and to the point. Probably not stuff you would want on your wall, but back in the 40's, they took a lot of pride in their painterly efforts. I'll bet the computer had something to do with the change.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Trends in logo design so far this year

Came across the Web site, Logo Lounge over the holiday weekend that shares results of a constant study of logo trends. They list and show examples of types of logos going back to 2003. To me, this can either serve as great inspiration or show me what to stay away from when creating an identity for some company. It's nice to see what others are doing, but you also want to make an original mark for the client– so staying away from "trends" will hopefully make a lasting identity that won't have to be updated every five years. Really interesting to see the breakdown of the logos they have collected. Nice logos too! I think my Brownfields logo from last year fits in with the recycle logo trend. Who knew?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

History of the praying hands

One of the classic images from my childhood and in the world of art is the praying hands. I never really thought about why we fold our hands when we pray (especially in public or in the presence of children). It is just something passed down as tradition I guess. I figured bowing our heads was to show reverence like you would in front of any king, and I suppose closing our eyes is just to help the one praying to stay focused on the one they are praying to. The praying hands actually has a lot of symbolism that I found most interesting on Steven Heller's blog for Print Magazine.

Here is the quote that I found interesting:
"One symbol that we all know, yet doubtless rarely think about because it is so invisibly common, is the ubiquitous gesture of prayer. Where did the joining of hands come from? It might surprise you to learn that it does not have a religious origin. It is not signified in the Bible. And it was not even part of the Christian tradition until the 9th century. In Hebrew and Christian custom, spreading of arms and hands toward the heavens was the prevailing sign of devotion. In The People’s Almanac, David Wallechinsky and Irving Wallace wrote that the joining of hands “leads back to men’s early desire to subjugate each other and developed out of the shackling of hands of prisoners! Though the handcuffs eventually disappeared, the joining of hands remained as a symbol of man’s servitude and submission and his inability (or even lack of inclination) to grasp a weapon.” They added that Christianity adopted “the gesture representing shackled hands as a sign of man’s total obedience to divine power."

Friday, June 26, 2009

Movies that I found entertaining the last year

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
The Sting
Enter the Dragon
Legend of the Drunken Master
Kung Fu Panda
Nick & Nora’s Infinite Playlist
The Terminator 1
Son of Rambow
Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Unforgiveable Blackness
The Elephant Man
Genghis Blues
Stella season 1
Hot Rod
Carnivale season 1
Déjà vu
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Inspiration from the past year

Yesterday was my birthday and I thought it would be fun to compile a list of things that inspired me over the last year. This will stretch out over a few days of posts. First, I listen to a lot of music and it is one of the biggest inspirations to me. Creativity begets creativity – that's in the Bible somewhere isn't it? Maybe not, but it's true nonetheless. Not all of these musical artists are new or of the same genre. I just might have discovered them this year or found myself listening to ALOT of their music. The above illustration of Norwegian musician Sondre Lerche for Paste Magazine is by an artist named Yuko Shimizu. Yuko's talent for line, pattern and storytelling has shown me possibilities for my own work. But I'll save artists for another posting. OK here we go:

Anything Sufjan Stevens sings or produces
Regina Spektor – Russian-born pianist/singer with many influences from her Jewish heritage to the Bible to New York street talk
Brett Dennen – singer/songwriter who sings about social injustice
Sondre Lerche – jazzy rocker pictured above; scored music to "Dan in Real Life"
The Fray
Chris Thile – Mandolin player/genius from Nickel Creek and Punch Brothers
Switchfoot/Jon Foreman – always surprises me. Looking forward to owning JF's collaboration with Nickel Creek guitarist Sean Watkins on "Fiction Family"
Crooked Still – cool bluegrass band made up of a cello, standup bass, and banjo with Alison Krauss-sounding singer
Wynton Marsalis – best trumpet player and jazz educator ever. Loved him since jr. high.
Radiohead – I can't stop listening to their album "In Rainbows"
William Elliott Whitmore – white folky blues singer from Iowa who plays banjo. Doesn't sound white
Robert Plant Alison Krauss – album Raising Sand is a collaboration of genius
U2 – new album was OK, but they are great over all. Non-music work is inspiring as well
Bart Millard – from Mercy Me with two jazzy solo albums called "Hymned" and "Hymned again"
Panic! At the Disco – "Pretty Odd" reminds me of experimental Beatles song structures
Miles Davis – Man, this guy recorded a lot of stuff
Arturo Sandoval
Band of Horses
– not real horses
Andrew Bird – not a real bird, but he whistles
Dr. Dog – Beatles-esque modern rock. Not a dog.
Modest Mouse – Probably not a rodent.
Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele – nice ukulele work. Dare I say magnificent?
Jeremy Larson – Amazing musician who lives just up the street from my office
Mute math – invades my mind constantly
Mates of State – Husband/Wife duo. She gets a lot of sound out of the keyboard and he pounds the drums
The Real Tuesday Weld – good music from the Nick & Norah's soundtrack
Flight Of The Conchords – hilarious jokesters, have a show on HBO about trying to make it in NYC as musicians from New Zealand
Bela Fleck – Saw this banjo player in concert at Christmas with some real Tuvan throat singers
Ray LaMontagne
The Classic Crime
Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin – band from Springfield making a splash nationally
Gummerman – local guy who works in Big Mama's Coffee shop. Doesn't have a full album, but he's good
Punch Brothers
Unforgiveable Blackness Soundtrack – Wynton Marsalis scored this masterpiece about the struggles of the first black heavyweight boxer
Louis Armstrong’s Hot 5’s and 7’s – this is some of the first jazz Satchmo recorded

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

How to reduce your PSD files size using Photoshop

Ever needed to send a layered Photoshop file over email? The file is often way too big so I usually end up burning a CD or flattening and sending a jpg for proofing. If the need is great, I might use an online Web mail software like Here is a very helpful blog on how to shrink a normal PSD file for regular emailing. Thanks Chris for letting me know about this simple trick.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Saw this video on the Little Chimp Society's site. This is truly what graphic designers and commercial artists go through. It wouldn't work in other professions. "The above video is from Scofield Edi­to­r­ial and is bril­liant and so true to the envi­ron­ment we cur­rently work in!"

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

I hope you all have a tasty and fun Fifth of May! Not too fun, you have to work tomorrow. I will be celebrating by taking my son to swimming lessons and (hopefully) munching on some tasty tacos.

I painted the image above for 417 Magazine a few years ago and I love the colors and the inking of the senorita so I like to bring it out once a year. You may see it again next May. I like the hand-drawn feel, but I've always been bad at patterns so if I were to do it again, I would employ the help of my Mac for a little more consistency in the Mayan flare. Oh well, it still puts me in the mood for a fiesta! Arrrriba!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Art bike

I've been working hard on a unique project this week – decorating a bike for the Ozark Greenways nonprofit group. There will be 9 art bikes being displayed around downtown Springfield kicking off Bike, Bus, Walk to Work Week. We have a monthly First Friday Artwalk with all the galleries downtown so this is all in conjunction with that. My bike will be at the Good Girl Art shop on Walnut Street. It's in the middle of the store in a small room of pet portraits. That place is always packed so hopefully the bike and Greenways program gets some attention. This is kind of the inaugural year for this event, but Lori from the Greenways office told me they hope to grow the event to more artists next year.

I was glad to have help with this one given the short notice (four days). My co-creator is graphics guru Bruce who I work with every day down at City Hall. He did the photo collage in the center of the bike and I did acrylic paintings for the wheels. It took both of us a lot of time to figure out how to piece our idea together for "A Night on the Town," but I think it came together nicely.

If you get a chance on this rainy weekend, stop by Springfield and Good Girl Art to see it in person. Circumstances prevented them from organizing an auction or voting for this year, but this may be a possibility for future years. The bikes should be on display for two weeks. Now that this is done, maybe I can catch up on some sleep! Enjoy!
Currently listening to Dashboard Confessional – "Dusk & Summer"

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Been so long

Music I'm listening to: Jeremy Larson-"Salvation Club" and Sufjan Stevens-"The Avalanche."
It's been a busy month and a half. Brochure designs and health concerns have kept me away from you. I now work half for the Springfield Parks Department and half for the City's Public Information Office. Should be some interesting projects involved. Today I shot photos at the Farm Park for the Park's first annual Easter egg hunt. My 2 year old son and I both got a little sunburned- ouch. Thanks to my brother for hanging out so I could concentrate on taking photos.

Just for fun, I posted the drawing above of some cartoon characters I did for the Health Department. They may appear on a kids health Web site someday when they finish it. I think these guys are too cute to keep locked up in my computer. I've been working on some illustrations for a new animal magazine called TAME. Will hopefully post those soon. Happy Easter!

Monday, February 23, 2009

I want to thank the little people...

The Springfield Advertising Club hosted the 30th annual ADDY Awards Saturday, February 21. I had 4 entries, 2 from work at the City of Springfield and 2 of my own freelance work. The City, of course, did not pay for my personal entries in case you were keeping close tabs on Springfield's financial problems. Anyway, it turns out that 3 of my entries won ADDYs! My wife sat patiently through nearly 3 hours of awards mostly given to Noble & Assoc. She was such a trooper. We decided next year I should enter stuff in the categories they announce at the beginning of the ceremony.

The piece that won for the City was a logo I made for the Brownfields program. It is an EPA partnership-type of program that can assist developers clean up abandoned gas stations or other industrial waste land to make it safe for new construction. Like recycling the land. Hence the arrows and building in the background. The "B" is for Brownfields of course.

Another winning entry was an illustration of Sufjan Stevens (Soof-yawn Steev-inz) that I did as a part of my self-promotion packaging. He is my favorite indie folk/rock musician. He plays banjo, guitar, piano, clarinet and probably every other instrument known to man and comes up with these extravagant arrangements that pay homage to Michigan, "Illinoize" and swans with some religious undertones. Or overtones, I don't know. In his "Illinoize" tour, he was onstage wearing wings and some kind of boyscout uniform while his orchestra of "Illinoizemakers" wore butterfly wings. I painted him with those wings communing with nature/Creation, specifically a robin which is Michigan's state bird. I use this illustrated portrait on postcards that I send to magazines. I think it's time for another mailing.

The third winning entry was my stationery I made for mailing out with these promotional cards. I hand-painted the edges of some paper and envelopes and worked my "M" logo into it. Of course my business cards were also a part of the package.

Now that you see all these together, can you tell what my favorite color is? Maybe I should branch out to other colors of the rainbow. Anyway, it was a successful evening and I expect to be doing even better (and colorful) work in the coming year, so stay tuned.

Monday, February 9, 2009


I just got word today that "some" of my work will receive ADDY awards. "The ADDY® Awards is the advertising industry's largest and most representative competition, attracting over 50,000 entries every year in local ADDY® competitions. The mission of the ADDY competition is to recognize and reward creative excellence in the art of advertising.

Conducted annually by the American Advertising Federation (AAF), the local ADDY®
Awards is the first of a three-tier, national competition. Concurrently, all across the
country, local entrants vie for recognition as the very best in their markets."

So they called earlier today as a bit of a teaser to get me to buy a ticket to the fancy awards banquet. Well, it worked. I'll be taking my lovely wife again this year, Feb. 21, and I will let you know which entries won. I'm so excited!

This is how I envision the Keep on Truckin' T-shirt. The shirt will be a "Tarheel" blue. I'm now looking at brands and cost of shirts. Did you know there is a company that makes bamboo shirts? Also there is an organic cotton to cornsider. I don't know, I'll have to consider the look and feel of the shirts too. I want people to actually wear the shirts. Maybe I'll get the ones made of human hair donated from the beards of Tuvan throat singers high in the Himalayas. Fairly traded of course. I'll weigh the possibilities.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Eagle Tshirt design

Music listening to: random playlist-currently White Stripes.
Here's another T-shirt design I want to print. I can't quite figure out what words to put in the banner. Can you help? I WAS thinking clever - tongue firmly in cheek, but I slept on it and now am thinking maybe something philosophical like what you'd see on a tattoo or something. Possibilities: FAITH HOPE LOVE, TRUTH EQUALS FREEDOM, TASTES LIKE CHICKEN, BANNERS KILL EAGLES. Just joking ... but maybe. I am torn. Any better ideas? Please give me your two cents! I am meeting with the T-shirt printing gurus at Czar Graphics today to see how they can help my designs become wearable. Wow, I feel like a real entrepreneur (French for "business man").

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Monday, January 19, 2009

Wynton Marsalis

I did this painting in November of one of my all time favorite musicians. This one has been my favorite jazz musician since junior high when I was learning the trumpet - Wynton Marsalis.

Here's a little background:
Born in New Orleans into a Jazz family. He has done a ton of work through music education and is an expert in jazz history (appearing in the Ken Burns "Jazz" documentary). He is a virtuoso in trumpet performance, but also he is an amazing composer winning the Pulitzer Prize for Music, the first time it has been awarded for a jazz recording.

So the apple in my painting represents his involvement with education and even the worm in the apple is inspired to play music by just being near the guy. Mr. Marsalis is still an inspiration to me after all those years since junior high. I frequently listen to his music while I paint and I just recently picked up my trumpet again after letting it sit for 10 years. Check him out, maybe you'll be inspired too!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Keep on Truckin'

Music I'm listening to as I type provided by: Dr. Dog's album "We All Belong"
I tried something new with this T-shirt design (top) by drawing all-digital! I've used a pen and Wacom tablet in Illustrator before but it has always seemed cumbersome because it tries to fill in the strokes and I couldn't get the pressure sensitivity to work right. But I saw a Photoshop tutorial from a GoMedia enewsletter with some recommended settings and it worked beautifully.

The theme again came from my friend Adam for a T-shirt and/or bandanna idea for a church youth retreat. Originally we thought a retro '80s cheesy shirt would be fun, but after the Ascend shirt went over so well, I thought I would do something more fashion-oriented similar to Ed Hardy graphic clothing. Without the skulls and knives of course.

I started with the acrylic truck painting that I did last year originally for my 2-yr-old son's bedroom (which after I finished it thought it looks too scary for someone who's 2). Opened the file in Photoshop and made a layer over it and traced the basic outline of the truck using the Wacom pen and tablet. Then turned off the painting layer and filled in details with simple hatching marks. Made another layer and drew the banner and lettering freehand and then that was it. It's nice drawing with the pen tablet because you can also erase with the same pressure sensitivity so I ended up with a scratchboard effect. I'll have to play around with placement on the shirt and ink and shirt colors of course, but it has potential.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


This is a T-shirt I had made recently and am thinking of ordering reprints to start selling on my site.

This design is inspired by the poem "The Lark Ascending" by George Meredith (1828–1909) introduced to me by my friend Adam who likes words (and cameras). I had sketched several images to illustrate this idea from an octopus holding a balloon to a cheesy heart morphing into a bird, but this idea seemed most simple and direct.

Then came the challenge of how to produce the image. I decided I liked the imperfectness of the sketch with wings not quite in proportion and decided the only way to get the same effect while refining my sketch was to work in a medium I had little control over. So I made the bird out of paper that I carefully tore into a bird shape then used scissors to cut long, jagged cuts for the flight trail.

To make the one color ink look like the image was made out of paper, I wadded up a piece of the same paper and scanned it and traced it in Illustrator. I then placed it over the graphic to give it a kind of handmade texture that I would never be able to plan.

I really loved working with my hands on this one to make a simple image more appealing. All in all I think it has a generic positive message to keep looking up and rise above your circumstances for a new point of view. Anyway, I hope to get this available to sell soon. More to come.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Stuff Coming Soon!

I am planning on making t-shirts to sell from my Web site ( sometime in the coming weeks/months. Currently looking at a couple of options for a shopping cart. Working on translating my paintings to vector to take it easy on the screen printer. Do you have any requests for images that might look good on a shirt? Also coming up with designs and funny words to add to the mix. It's going to be a crazy ride, folks!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New business card

I had some new business cards printed up for the new year. 2009 is going to be a good year. I can feel it! I had a week and a half off of work for the holidays and thought I would get a lot of work done on some creative stuff. I finally did my last night of vacation. This blog is the result of my efforts. Hey, it's a good start.