come to my talk in Detroit on April 9, free and open to public

I will be coming to Detroit next week.
Lecture at College for Creative Studies on Wednesday, April 9 is open to public, so if you are in Detroit or near by area, please come stop by!

Wednesday, April 9, 6:00PM
Walter B. Ford II Building, Walter and Josephine Ford Campus, College for Creative Studies
(presentation was made possible by generous grant from the Japan Business Society of Detroit Foundation)

Thank you Donald Kilpatrick III for all the arrangements, and print awesome letter press posters.
Looking forward to seeing you there!


last days to see Society of Illustrators Book & Editorial Show (and silver medal!)

The second of the two-part annual juried exhibition at the Society of Illustrators is closing on Saturday, March 1.
I am happy to announce that my kids book Barbed Wire Baseball  was given Silver Medal in the book category, which is a second medal this book has received from the Society of Illustrators.
Some spreads from the book are shown as well as 5 other images that were accepted into the annual.
If you are in New York and  have some free time this weekend, please go stop by to see the show before it closes.
Visitor information can be found here.

Silver Medal was awarded to Barbed Wire Baseball, AD: Chad Beckerman, publisher: Abrams (below is a spread from the book)

Hana Sasaki Grows a Tail cover image  publisher: A Strange Object
Spring Snow cover image  AD: John Gall, publisher: Vintage 
above and below are two of editorial illustrations I have collaborated with AD SooJin Buzelli, publisher: Asset Inernationaldouble page spread illustration for Green Source Magazine, CD: Francesca Messina, AD: Heather Haggerty, publisher: McGrawhill

Taschen publishes 100 Illustrators – The biggest players in the highly competitive field of illustration –

German-based design publishing giant, Taschen has just put out 100 Illustrators a jumbo two hard-bound book in sleeve box. I am honored to be a part of this gorgeous box set among with 99 other illustrators who’s beautiful works are represented in here.
As soon as the book came out right at the end of December, it was already chosen as Huffington Post‘s The 30 Best Art Books of 2013 among numerous other recognition and press.
You can read more about it, and purchase the book on Taschen webstore, Amazon or order from bookstores near you. Available world-wide in multi-lingual edition of English, German and French.
Big thank you to Taschen, Steven Heller and Julius Wiedemann for including me in this book.

thank you for Gold Medal. Society of Illustrators 56 Annual Exhibit opens

Society of Illustrators’ annual juried exhibition ILLUSTRATORS 56 opens this week (January 7) in New York City. This is part 1 of two exhibitions, and the next exhibit opens in February. 
I am honored to have two pieces accepted in this show, one of them will be receiving Gold Medal.
The medal winner is Sketchtravel exhibit poster for Kyoto International Manga Museum in Japan, art directed by one and only Dice Tsutsumi. Please read more about Sketchtravel project Dice has started here.  I am extremely excited that I was able to take a small part in this amazing project, and rewarded with a medal. Thank you judges and thank you Society of Illustrators.

Another piece accepted into the show is recently completed YES! mural in DUMBO, Brooklyn, in collaboration with Sagmeister and Walsh. Since I won’t be able to bring the mural to the museum, I will be showing large original ink drawing I have created as the preliminary drawing for the mural.

Opening reception and award gala will be on Friday, January 10. More info and purchase your ticket here.  The exhibit runs until February 1st at the Society of Illustrators Museum of American Illustration. Please come stop by to see this year’s winning art works.

Last but not least, big shout out to SkinkInk Fine Art Giclee Printing and One Stop Framing Shop for accommodating tightschedule and doing an awesome job in preparation for the exhibit.

thank you all. 2013, year in review.

2013 is quickly coming to the end. And I want to thank you all, friends, family, clients and those of you who support my work though I may not know you in person or even live in the same country. A few years ago, I started seriously thinking about who I want to be as an artist and to keep growing.  The more I thought about it, the more I realized I had to come out of my comfort zone and to branch out and try out things that I have not done before. I feel very fortunate I was able to work on projects I could not have imagined on working a year before. None of them were easy, to be absolutely honest. But because they were not easy, there was this feeling of accomplishment I get whenever I was done with each project.  I am not athletic, but it is probably how those mountain climbers feel when they reach the peak. photo by Giorgio Arcelli

I proved to myself I can draw for kids too:
I have mostly created images for grown ups for last ten years, and I understand some publishers were scared of me (?) because I am quite aware some of my works can look risqué. Nobody offered me to do kids books till I got contacted by Chad Beckerman of Abrams. Chad wasn’t scared of my work. My first kids book Barbed Wire Baseball came out in April.
It was one of the hardest projects I have ever taken on for sure. I am used to making one image per project, then move on. For this book I worked on and off for about a year and half. During the busiest time before the deadline, I suddenly lost my hearing from stress, and had to run to ER because it was a long weekend and my doctor was not around.  Luckily, I was OK, and now I have the contacts for some of the best ear doctors in New York along with a book that bare my name.

designed something that got painted on an 80 foot wall:
To push you to the next level, the best you can hope for is to have someone who you trust and respect who pushes you harder than you would normally do by yourself. Makes sense? Everyone who has ever worked with or studied under Stefan Sagmeister all say he is an amazing collaborator / art director who pushes you to where you have not gone before. It is always extremely exciting, and scary as hell at the same time. I had worked with Stefan twice before (and the second project is not out yet. Possibly in 2014), and that was always the case. He asks me things I have never done and not sure I can do, but he comes to me confidently believing I can do it, and then I get to work. I had spent chunk of the summer working on this mural project now you can see in DUMBO, Brooklyn. This was also the first time the fully colored illustration I had created only served as a ‘sketch’ for the mural painter Coby Kennedy, who single handedly paint both of the two walls in just ten days, all 160 feet of them. Well, it was a challenging project for me, but Coby should definitely get most of the credit. (and of course Wade Jeffree for being an amazing designer)
photos by Daniel Greenfeld

animation REALLY is a never ending work (but there is a reward waiting):
I mostly stayed away from animation projects in past, and after finishing one now, I have to be honest that I will most probably keep the same position except very few exceptions where I would strongly feel that I want to take on that project knowing what awaits me. Animation REALLY is a TON of work. Along with art-loving friends, I had worked on short 2D animation projects when I was in high school (yup, long time ago), so I knew how it goes, but 3D animation was a completely different beast that was just as, or even more time consuming.
For 2 minutes short animation film project for Italian fashion brand Trussardi, which just got released in Tokyo in early December, I spent most of September working 12-14 hour days every day, working on character designs and elements that goes into the film. I honestly thought I would not survive. I miraculously did, thanks of Rovina Cai, who is the most level headed, calm, ultra fast and super skilled coloring assistant god has sent me. (I mean, seriously, and I am not even sure if I believe in god, and I still say this, so this is major.)
It depends on how you count…, but I probably worked on close to 100 illustrations, if not more, in about one month period. But after seeing the finished animation, I knew that the work was even harder for the animators. It is quite a magical moment to see my drawings moving, in a way I have never done by myself. Kudos to the animators. I have higher respect to you now, more than ever.

Sarajevo and Bogotá made my head leveled and allowed me to grow up a bit more (+ amazing new friends)
I recommend anyone to travel, especially to those places where you don’t think of as typical tourist destinations, where you don’t know so much about. I guarantee the experience is richer.
I didn’t get to travel much when I was younger, so I am now catching up. I almost never say no when I get invited to foreign trips, most of the time workshops and/or lectures. I was so lucky this year brought me to places I  have never thought I would visit. In April, an illustration conference brought me to Bogotá, Colombia, then in October I found myself in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina for a design conference. (If any organization anywhere have interest in having me over, contact me directly anytime!)

I learned about power of students, and pain of the war in Sarajevo:
After close to 20 years, Sarajevo is still recovering from what the war has done to the city and its people. Not many things are working quite well (museums are closed for last two years, not enough heat is provided in the winter, no water at night, bullet and grenade marks are all over the building facades), but the students at Akademija Likovnih Umjetnosti (Academy of Fine Arts) are focused and enthusiastic, they have organized their own design conference called SOS Dizajn Festival which started in 2012. We worked a lot, laughed a lot, and also cried a lot (during the war tour of the city and hearing the locals’ experiences during the war time). Experience was rich and dense though I only stayed there for 4 and half days.

No, Colombia is not what you think it is:
Please don’t think of Mr. and Mrs. Smith or Colombiana, when you hear the word Colombia. I can guarantee those are Colombians’ least favorite Hollywood imagination of their country of all time. (Just like we think Karate Kid 2 is totally messed up and wrong). No, it is not dangerous. No, Bogota is not a small town in a jungle, and people are warm and friendly, design is booming, and it is quite an amazing experience, I guarantee it.

and…. I am not afraid of video camera anymore!:

So…., thank you all again very much. It was tough at times, but it was a year full of great experiences that made me grow slight bit more as a person, as an artist. Wishing you all very happy and prosperous 2014, filled with fun, challenge and adventures.
cheers to you all,

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays.

Many of you may be off from school or work, and heading home to see your family.
Every year, I pick an image I created over the course of the year that is the most Christmas-y to post here as my online holiday card. This year, this odd Candy land image I made for DC Comics’ Unwritten (issu #53) is it.
So, those of you who celebrate Christmas, Merry Christmas to you, and those who don’t, well, still Happy Holidays!

Criterion Collection’s whopping 27 disk Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman box set

known for their beautiful collector DVD/Blu-Ray packagings, Criterion Collection has done it again. And this is epic. Whopping 27 disk 25 movie full box set of Zatoichi: the Blind Swordsman starring legendary Shintaro Katsu. The set came out after Thanksgiving, just in time for Holiday season.
What is the most exciting for illustration and comic fans is that the set comes with a fully illustrated booklet with 25 images done by 25 different artists. Beautiful box packaging was done by Ronald Winberly (below) Art direction and design of the package was done by Eric Skillman of Criterion Collection.

and, below is my contribution to film No.9 Adventures of Zatoichi.

I have also picked some of my favorite images from this booklet, so you can see how cool this box set really is. from top to bottom: Greg Ruth, Patrick Leger, Josh Cochran, Paul Pope, Sam Hiti and Benjamin Marra. (and can I show off that Josh, Paul, Sam and Ben are some of my very talented friends!?)

The set is currently sold discounted from Criterion store.  If you are in the US, you can still meet the holiday shipping deadlines. All the details, pricing and shipping,  please check Criterion website. 

Trussardi’s short animated film Sky Watcher is released

Just came back from Tokyo.
Main reason of this visit, first time in 14 and half years since I left there in 1999, was to attend Italian fashion brand Trusssardi‘s event at Two Rooms in Aoyama, Tokyo. The event was to release a short animated film SKY WATCHER celebrating 40 year anniversary of their famous greyhound logo.
The film was directed by James Lima, a big name in fashion film.  I was involved in the project as a concept artist, dedicating most of September and October to work on close to 100 drawings that were then turned into 3D objects then to an animation film.
The film was released on December 4 in Tokyo as well as at Trussardi flagship store in Milan, and can be seen online on Trussardi website and on YouTube

As an illustrator working in the field for more than ten years, I have recently been thinking about how to bring my work to the next level, to something more than just print media. To expand one’s horizon, one have to take risks of loosing a total control of one’s work, meaning, teaming up with third parties who take one’s images and create something completely new out of them. It is a scary thought, then again, without the risks and trust for teams of professionals who are good at what they do (in this case animation) there will be no progress.

Thank you creative director Gaia Trussardi, director James Lima, Tomaso Galli, Federica Salmerigo, Giulia Lupo, Trussardi Japan, Aaron Barr of BA-Reps,  and everyone on the team for giving me this rare opportunity. And, last but not least, thank you Rovina Cai who came into my studio almost every day to help me scan and color numerous drawings through out the process.

some of the characters and Milan City designs I have created that were later turned into 3D objects:

some scenes from the film:

you can watch the full film on Trussardi website and on YouTube

the whole event space in Aoyama was turned into Sky Watcher world (all the photos from the events are copyrighted to Trussardi):

from left: Gaia Trussardi, James Lima and me at the event

some press:
Vogue Italia  D Repubblica (Italy)  WWD (USA)  Embelezzia (Spain)

conversation with Tatiana Córdoba

2013 is coming close to the end. My life is never perfect, but I think I had a pretty good year. How about you?
One of the best part of the year was that I was able to travel to places I never thought I would have a chance to visit, and met some wonderful people along the way.

One of those memorable trips included a week in Bogotá, Colombia  in April to speak and give workshop during illustration conference Congreso Internacional de Ilustración. 
there I met a young, talented and enthusiastic illustrator Tatiana Cordoba, who had recently worked on a graphic novel about the life of Gabriel Garcia Marquez Gabo: Mamorias de una Vida Mágica.  We became good friends, and she took me around all around Bogota.

One quiet afternoon, Tatiana and I sat  in a cozy coffee shop slash book store located right near now closed bull fighting arena to have a conversation. She has recently published it both in Spanish and English, so I wanted to share with you. Also, some pictures I took during the magical trip to Bogota are posted here as well.
read the interview in Spanish here.
read the interview in English here.

Tatiana and me, in front of the cathedral, on a rainy day in Bogota