Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

Robots and Monsters

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009


John Martz originally posted this on Drawn! earlier this week, but I had to spread the love.

Please check out Robots and Monsters! A description per their site: is a charitable art project that matches goodwill and charitable giving with custom-made commissioned cartoon and pop art. Giving just a little bit gets you an original drawing of a robot or a monster of your specification sent to your door – and in the process, you get to sleep better at night, because you know you’ve just helped out a great cause.

Part charitable powerhouse, part experiment in collective creativity, and part underground pop-art gallery, we aim to change the world, one robot and monster at a time.

A donation gets you a rocking picture of a monster or robot, customized according to your keywords, and you get to help out a worthy cause.

It’s robots! and monsters! and ROBOTS! 


SPX 2009 Awesomeness

Friday, October 2nd, 2009


100% Road Trip Success.

After finding out Friday night that our roadmates were unable to make the trip with us, Josh and I piled in the car and made the drive after work. Getting out of town was exciting, what with the G20 wrapping up and traffic at a stand-still while the World’s Important People left Pittsburgh.

It was nice to wake up in Baltimore, especially when your wake up call is a jolly little adorable cockapoo. We had a nice relaxing morning, preaching the gospel of the One-Eyed Egg and getting our game faces on for the day’s main event.

SPX was in full swing when we got there around 1 pm. An SPX is a sight to behold. There’s about a bajillion people inside a giant hotel ballroom, and everything is awesome. Even the not-so-awesome stuff? Still awesome.

In a move that pretty much sums up our personalities, Josh disappeared to make 10 purchases right off the bat, while Justin and I made an initial sweep to get the lay of the land, then jumped back in to buy stuff. I did get to chat briefly with both John Allison and Scott C and I played a little with the knight. Scott C was kind enough to drive home my regret of not having business cards, because he politely asked for one. I tried to beam my information directly into his head, but I regret it probably did not make much of an impression. Alas.


Josh got about fifty pounds worth of goodies, and while I am Miss Frugal, the (Arnold)Sager household brought home some gems. I have Scott C’s Double Fine Action Comics Volume 1 and a print of his Tree Spirit.

John Alison’s Ghost is awesome. Of course it’s awesome.

Dustin Harbin’s Nutted is a mini comic that names a variety of ways to get hit in the nuts and it is about 100% delightful. I keep reading it over and over.  It is always funny when dudes get hit in the nuts. I am sorry… and also happy I do not have the referenced equipment.

I am slowly invading Josh’s pile, and Julia Wentz’s 2nd Volume of The Fart Party is damn good. I was glad to see she had a second volume, since Josh’s purchase of the first volume was our surprise favorite last year.


Josh and I have plans to get a table next year, so we’ll get a whole different perspective. Justin also broke down his first SPX experience — check it out! Vendors take note!


Also, if you find yourself in Baltimore for any reason, eat at Miss Shirley’s. So super tasty!


Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

Josh, Val and I went screen-printing last night. We were initially put off after some print-on-transparency drama, but we made it to AIR before the place became too busy. Josh made some shirts. If you have any nerd blood coursing through your veins, you can probably read it.



This is one of mine:


Don’t ask, because I don’t know. But I have a bunch of them, because once you go through the process of designing, burning, rinsing, drying, and setting up? You might as well make ONE HUNDRED OF THEM. Want one? $5 and it’s yours (plus shipping if I can’t hand-deliver). Request a color and I’ll see what I can do. Inks are silver or white.


Impossible Projects

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

misscleo.jpgWay back when, when we weren’t hunting bears in our bare feet in the overgrown and thorny wilds of West Virginia, I was continually exposed to commercials for the Psychic Friends Network, represented by the boisterous Miss Cleo. Her artificial Jamaican accent would shout out over her crystal ball about reading your tarot: You have to call now! Only 99 cents a minute! Is he cheating on you? You’ll never know unless you call! Limited time offer! 99 cents!

I am going to be Miss Cleo for a moment*, and predict my own future.

Around May, or very possibly before then, I am really going to hate myself.

The project that will rob me of my sanity? One illustration a week for all of 2009.

I came up with the idea over my Christmas-to-New-Year’s time off work. The plan? Buy a domain, set up a little Wordpress, quietly update and if, at the end of 2009, I was able to successfully complete it, perhaps I could have a little show for all the pieces. If nothing else, I’d have a hefty collection of 52 new pieces and there’d be solid high fives all around.

I told Josh my idea and he, in complete amazement and disbelief at the impossibility of the project, began hyping it up to anyone that would sit still long enough to listen. And after hearing him talk about how crazy it is over and over again, I’m now wondering if that kind of discipline is actually possible at all. But he’s gone and told people, which means I can’t fail now. Check out, and wait for me to crash and burn.

No pressure.

*without the false advertising, lawsuits for fraud, multiple aliases and other various other untruths.

Art Wanted!

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

Looking for a reason to do some art? Have art laying around that you would like to show and/or sell? You should check out:


The art community went crazy last January when the gallery literally opened it’s doors to ALL artists who wanted to show ONE piece of THEIR own work. The line was out to the street. The gallery was filled completely from top to bottom and side to side with all mediums of artistic expression. And we vowed to do it again. So right after all the holiday hubub, we invite YOU to Zombo Gallery on Thursday, January the 8th from 5pm-7:30pm to bring YOUR PRICED AND LABELED ART to us. We will register it and hang it and have it ready to sell for the opening reception on Friday, Jan 9th from 6pm-11pm. The Gallery only takes a 20% commission on sales and is providing liquid refreshments for the evening. Artists can bring a snack or two. Don’t be shy, we need as much art as we can get! Closing reception and art pickup on Jan 30th at 6pm-11pm.

Josh participated in Zombo’s Ukelele Show in December, and Nathan Mazur’s Wee Beasties show was last spring. It looks like we’ll be back at it this weekend. Show up Thursday with a labelled and priced piece of work, and Zombo will fill the place top to bottom. Josh and I are both going to participate, and I really can’t wait to see the place all decked out with so much goodness.

Zombo’s is located at 4900 Hatfield St., Pittsburgh and awesome. Be there!

Pittsburgh’s City Paper Staff Picks 2008: goods & services

Thursday, December 11th, 2008


Pittsburgh’s City Paper has recognized WearPittsburgh’s “Whiff of Mediocrity” shirt as the Best Novelty T-shirt:

Best novelty T-shirt’s “Whiff of Mediocrity”
Mark Twain once said that the difference between the right word and the almost-right word was “the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” The task of plucking precisely the right term from the lexicon to describe something becomes more complex the more commonplace the thing is. So it would seem with the Pirates. Everyone’s familiar with the follies of our local batsmen — who are now on history’s backdoor step with a near record-setting string of losing seasons. But how best can we promote the nonsensical pleasure derived from undesirable notoriety? Local online clothing retailer WearPittsburgh answered the challenge in May with a line of shirts that will be hard to top: “Pittsburgh Baseball: the occasional fleeting whiff of mediocrity.” The shirt was designed by Pittsburgh graphic designer Rachel Arnold Sager (, based on an idea by Chad Hermann, author of the defunct blog Teacher. Wordsmith. Madman.

Show your support — for WearPittsburgh and the Pirates — here!

SPX 2008

Sunday, October 12th, 2008

I headed to Bethesda, MD last weekend to check out this year’s Small Press Expo (SPX). It was my first one, but it’s been around since 1997. The obvious focus of the show was comics and graphic novels (and that blurry line  line between the difference of the two being a subject of debate), but there were also illustrators, inkers, writers, publishers, etc there as well.

I attended three panels. One on comic criticism, which I’ll spare you my opinion on (I left halfway through). The second was on publishing comics for YA and children. While my manuscripts are prose, as opposed to graphic, the panel was nonetheless interesting and full of a valuable insight. The third was on Herge, a popular French comic artist that did a lot of work in the years surrounding WWII. It was during this third session that I discovered I am not sophisticated. Seriously, there is only so much you can say about how he pioneered the line.

There was contraband Diet Pepsi/Rum at the afterparty Saturday Night ($6 beer?!, you’re out of your mind!), a bodacious breakfast at Silver Diner, and a general good time with some friends I don’t see nearly enough.

The atmosphere of SPX was, for the most part, open and accepting, and there was a wide range of work in show — which is comforting to those of us aspiring to do anything in the art/story vein. There are rumors that Joe and Josh might get a table next year (and that there will be beards), in which case I would totally love to commandeer some real estate on that half table. Of course, that means I’ll have to execute the sketches I’ve got hidden in my sketchbook…

What the experience did, first and foremost, was spark the creative engine and get those gears turning. We bought tons of good stuff, which I’m sure I’ll review here once I’ve been able to devour it all. All and all - it was a wonderful way to spend the weekend.

Jeff Smith’s “Bone”

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

jeffsmithbonecvr.jpgIf you have any interest in the medium of graphic storytelling, this is one piece that should be at the top of your To Read/Own list.

Originally self-published by Jeff Smith from 1991 to 2004, Bone is hailed as the longest running independently-published comic by a single author. Originally, there were 55 issues, released sporadically. These days you can purchase it as a complete volume that clocks in at a spectacular 1,332 pages. And every page is a work of art.

hoodedoneratcr.jpgWhen the three Bones - Phoney Bone, Smily Bone and Fone Bone - are run out of their hometown, they find themselves far from home and separated from one another in The Valley. We primarily follow everyman Fone Bone as he’s taken in by tough Gran’ma Ben and her (cute) grand-daughter Thorn for the winter. But as Spring blossoms, so does trouble: Thorn is having strange dreams, frightening Rat Creatures have begun to invade the valley, and a dragon has been spotted in the woods. They discover the mythic Lord of the Locusts seeks someone to release him from his ancient prison so he can destroy the world, a role he thinks can be filled by either Thorn or Bone’s cousin, Phoney. The barriers between the real world and the dream world begin to break down, and the discovery of Thorn’s mysterious lineage puts them in even more danger than before.

Smith weaves a tale that effectively combines fantasy elements like dragons, monsters, other worlds, and fate with lighter, comedic fare. The art reflects this juxtaposition as well - most of the characters are human, while the three Bones are more simply rendered, with big cartoon-y features and little clothes. Many of the human characters are still exaggerated, however, and I think that’s where Smith is at his strongest. Gran’ma Ben in particular is wonderfully expressive, despite having only lines for eyes and speaking primarily through her chin. His creature designs are straight-forward but fantastic, whether it’s a dragon, Rat Creature, or the cute baby animals. Emotion is poignant and subtle when it needs to be; action is always clear, expressive and exciting.

bonesample01.gifRarely does one truly find an author that is just as gifted at art as he/she is at storytelling. In every work of fiction it’s the story that is key, and sometimes graphic novels can get caught up in the “how” rather than the “what” when the author/illustrator are the same person. In Bone, they work well hand in hand.

I really can’t recommend it highly enough. I’ve read it twice, and I had just as much fun this time as the first time. I’m sure I’ll pick it up again in the future.

Bone is also being re-released in color, with the talents of Steve Hamaker adding some umph to Jeff Smith’s expert inking.

Cat on a Stick

Monday, January 21st, 2008

A new WearPittsburgh design was released last week. Behold:


Now, now, it’s not as horribly cruel as you think. “Cat on a stick” is the affectionate term used for a particular outdoor vendor that serves grilled kabobs to late night patrons on the South Side. Don’t believe me? Think I’m a horrible person for even participating in such a barbaric design? The owner of Cambod-Ican refers to his product using the exact same terminology. (link courtesy the fabulous PittGirl over at The Burgh Blog)

No cats were harmed in the creation of this design.

Screenprinting at AIR!

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

I don’t know where the suggestion came from (I suspect it was hatched by Joe and Jesse) but a few of us met at AIR on Tuesday night for a crash course in screen printing.

Per Joe’s suggestion, Josh and I stopped at Kinko’s to print my design on a transparency (only 81 cents!) and we were off. I also hear that you can print a transparency at AIR, but I since I had zero idea what I was in for, I figured I could at least sort of appear prepared.

The building is huge, and we camped out on the 3rd floor. Joe showed us the ropes, which I will poorly replicate here:

  1. Put your transparency on the giant table with bulbs under it. Put magic screen on top of transparency. Cover screen with giant black thing, then top all with weights.
  2. Click timer to 4 minutes. The bulbs come on with all the power of the sun, so scram so you don’t go blind.
  3. After light clicks off, spray the heck out of the screen. Exposing the magic screen to light hardens where ever your design isn’t, so when you spray the screen your design pops out. Rinse until bubbles are gone, spray with air, then chat while it dries in front of a fan.
  4. Lay screen in workspace, tape any holes and possibly the edges.
  5. Scoop that delicious ink on to the screen. AIR actually has some you can use, which is nice. I’ve been told it’s mostly gray, which is cool, but I was lucky enough to stumble onto some lime green, yippee.
  6. After putting your material under the screen, pull the fancy squeegee toward you and push your ink through your design.
  7. Lift screen. Squeal like preteen.


Here’s the original file in Illustrator. I had about a minute to throw this baby together and burn it to CD before I was going to miss my bus. It was just a thought bubble and skull at first, but I had like 15 seconds where I was just fiddling my thumbs — hence the horns and fang- mandible-things.

…and here’s the final art on my hat. I’m not exactly sure what it is that I’m thinking about, but rest assured it is sufficiently eeeevil. I did a shirt, too, which I figure will be appropriate to wear when I have a tummy ache.

The facility, AIR, was really great, too. According their website:

AIR is an artist-run organization that integrates the production of fine art printwork with innovative educational programs that explore the creative process. AIR provides print and imaging services to professional artists and educators. Our goal is to maintain an active and vital imaging laboratory that supports artists and facilitates creative activity.

And, via my personal endorsement: it’s righteous.

The staff was polite and helpful, and the three hours of fun we had only cost $5 since you pay by the screen. It’s open to the public from 7pm to 12am on Tuesdays. Plus, there were past projects hung all over the wall, which was really inspiring. Next week: two colors!