Milton Glaser

Here’s a little something for your Monday (or any day, really), courtesy of the great Milton Glaser of “I <3 NY” fame (and the also great Steven Heller).

glaser_

Posted in art

Are You, like, into Math?

gastown_72Here’s the latest reportage drawing I did at Gastown, it’s really one of my favourite places to draw in Vancouver. I tried to include as many iconic symbols that represent Gastown as I could – cobblestones, bricks, the beautiful Victorian lamps, the Flatiron-esque building, people eating and drinking, the statue of Gassy Jack, the metallic chains and posts, and the gorgeous Vancouver fall foliage.

A stranger stopped to watch me draw as I carved the cobblestones on the ground and laid bricks on the buildings. She asked me if I was into math because she thought my drawing was “clean and precise”. I thought most random strangers would’ve said my drawing was spontaneous or messy, so that was a very flattering and interesting thing to say, it totally made my day!

01 02 03 04

Aidan Koch Interview

Most of the people I know who draw comics would tell you the same story: they grew up reading comic books and learned to draw by copying their favourite panels of their favourite comics obsessively. After a while, they began creating their own characters and stories, and the next thing you know, they became adults and making comics has become a part of their lives. I have a hunch that’s not exactly how it went down for today’s special guest Aidan Koch.

solitary.gaze

Several months ago, a friend of mine pointed me to Ms. Koch’s work. Although it was unique and refreshing, I regret to say that it didn’t wow or dazzle me at first sight. It wasn’t until later when I began working on My Eurydice that I developed a much deeper appreciation for the intense emotional quality and delicate sensitivity in her comics.

Aidan has graciously accepted a 5-question interview to help us spread the word about her peculiarly wonderful world of art. Let’s hear what she has to say!

 

Your take on the medium really stands out from what the world’s comic readers are used to seeing. What are some of your qualities that separate you from other comic artists?

Koch (K): I guess I just didn’t approach comics as ‘comics.’ Its true I never really read them growing up, except for some manga. The constructs and characteristics normally associated with the medium were just something I was not familiar with. So when I started putting my drawings into panels and sequences I just did it using intuition as a guide. As much as I’ve been building my style and approach, every comic I start ends up working totally different. I’m always interested extending the language I apply and learning new ways to make comics.

 

What made you decided to create comics? What are some of the characteristics to this medium that appeal to you?

K: I mean, it was kind of accidental that I began creating comics. I was making zines with a lot of drawing and text already, so they just kind of morphed into sequences. This really felt like the ‘next step’ in the work I was making. There’s an inherent dynamism to the medium that I think is generally underutilized. The audience is given a set of images which they process as connecting or related be-it in relation to time, story, or subject. The possibilities   and outcomes of this arrangement are infinite! I guess its just so much more engaging than single image art to me. I still do a lot of that, but it always feels like it has less heart than my sequential work.

 

It seems you are very practiced when it comes to drawing from life, but when it comes to comics, be it the characters, the dialogues, the emotional qualities, or even the actual drawings, how much of it is extracted from life?

K: Probably quite a bit, but in a really understated or abstracted sense. I often work with the ideas of isolation, self reflection, and nature, all of which are very very personal to me. I suppose I would say I use the themes from my life but not necessarily in any particular events or characters. My characters are more representational than as I imagine whole people with set backgrounds and histories. I tend to approach comics with the necessity to convey a tone over a ‘story.’ As for direct depictions, I regularly use photobooth on my computer to get positions for people and objects and plants that I own! I think visually, one could easily connect them to the environments I surround myself with.

 

What / who are your artistic influences?

K: I am a real sucker for classical beauty: impressionism, the figure, landscapes, marble statues! As for comics people though, I’ve found such an amazing group of inspirational peers, people like Ward Zwart, Anthony Cudahy, Blaise Larmee, Austin English, Martha Verschaffel, Johnny Negron, Ines Estrada, Lala Albert, Jason Overby, Dunja Jakovic, oh god, the list goes on…

 

It’s not easy making a living as an artist (especially one that makes comics). What do you aspire to achieve as an artist, and what can our blog readers do to help you get there?

K: On a very basic level, I’ve been operating as a self-employed person for almost two years, though I’m often confused on how I’ve managed. Though its often left me financially insecure, I can’t imagine losing this freedom. Certainly I hope to maintain myself at a larger scale than ‘breaking even’ but also I just want the ability to think and craft and develop my art on my own time. Comics are very consuming and though I’ve done a lot in the past couple years, I’m definitely hoping to expand my focus and do bigger more elaborate projects and stories. For anyone who hasn’t, check out my books!

 

And there you have it! Many thanks to Aidan for making this happen. If you haven’t already, make sure you check out her website: http://aidankoch.com/!

Art Spiegelman Lecture

Last afternoon I had the pleasure of attending a lecture featuring celebrated comic artist Art Spiegelman (of “Maus” fame) in conversation with Bruce Grenville, senior curator of the Vancouver Art Gallery. This event served as a highlight to kick off the retrospective exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery while Spiegelman gave insights to pivotal works and moments of his career.

Very often, cartoonists go through extensive troubles designing each panel meticulously, as if the comic is a Swiss watch, only in the end to cover up trails of their blood, sweat, and tears with a tone of nonchalance as they tell their stories. This is to ensure that the readers are submerged in the storytelling as opposed to being distracted by the mechanics that make the stories work. It was thus a wonderful and rare treat to get a peek beyond the facade of Spiegelman’s carefully designed machines as he explains his thought process and reveals the blueprints to the most important and memorable works of his career.

During the lecture I whipped out my not-so-smart phone and made some finger doodles – for your entertainment 🙂

Spiegelman

The vastly knowledgeable and opinionated Spiegelman was also very charming and funny.  I admire his ability to draw from literature and fine arts out of his wide range of repertoire. Being able to see the works of a prolific comic artist was a very inspiring experience for a younger artist like myself.

Spiegelman2Spiegelman conversed casually with Grenville as they went through a series of slides.

After the lecture Art Spiegelman came back out to sign some books. I giggled like a school girl as the Pulitzer-winning author drew me his iconic character!

02172013180

Plastic Dynamism


Happy belated New Year, everyone! I hope y’all had a grand holiday. I had some time off from work and was able to go home and see my family and get some rest, and now I’m ready for an awesome 2013 🙂

I stumbled upon this little video uploaded by the MoMA today of one of my favourite artists from one of my favourite art movements of the last century.

Umberto Boccioni and the Italian Futurists have been a huge influence of mine. Check out a couple of my older illustrations inspired by Plastic Dynamism:

 

 That about wraps it up for today. See you soon!

A Relaxing Afternoon at Vancouver’s Japanese Garden

Happy Labour Day weekend! I have worked very hard this summer and was looking forward to enjoying some time off. It’s a perfect opportunity to visit Vancouver’s Nitobe Memorial Garden. What a gorgeous day it was and the sun was hitting the garden in the most marvellous of ways. I pulled out some watercolour and crayons, and spent most of the afternoon asking myself: what would Wolf Kahn do? Check out some of the paintings and drawings from today:

What I like most about this garden is how the views change from season to season. I visited the Nitobe Garden frequently earlier this year, working on a comic short. Think of this blog entry as a preview, because this new comic is about to be featured on Urban-FairyTales.com soon!