Man, do I owe you guys a lot of chatter. The trip was good albeit traditionally wearing but I come back a little lighter of heart, a lot inspired, and somewhat more confident in what I do, am doing, will do and how it all sits within the context of what we saw and engaged in last week. The hotel (Hotel Belleclaire--Bway and 77th Street) was fine, clean and inexpensive. My roommate and I split the bill of an economy room (shared bath) for 6 nights for $550/per person (with the taxes). There is another hotel between Bway and Amsterday (also on 77th) called "On the Avenue" Hotel. Worth some research. Taking the bus was a surprise and a delight insofar as ease, cleanliness, the Port Authority and the actual time it takes (plus it's cheap)--so I am thrilled with that new knowledge. Where did I leave off? Wednesday, right?
Was at the Society of Illustrators again. Much better venue for the smaller classes--very convivial and comfortable. Plus, the lunch is right there and as we often would run right up against the timing, convenient too. The Children's Book Illustration show was up. Beautiful work with a good range of everything from painting to collage, digital stuff. There was a lovely rabbit that had been constructed of painted paper that was simple and elegant. A great scratchboard rat. A Mark Summers type faux engraver did a lovely series of heads. One of the winners was a very graphic illustration of a teensie person mowing a sea of green grass in a deep wavy trench. In one of the trenches was a teensie weensie little green snake. There is an acrylic painting of a bulldog that is to die for. Plenty from the continual winner...but it was good to see some new hands and faces.
We had Neil Swaab, Peter Cusack, Al Lorenze along with a field trip to Penguin (which I missed due to having a conflict abutting that time). Neil Swaab is an inspiration. He is a SU undergraduate who has a syndicated comic strip "Rehabilitating Mr. Wiggles". Neil is not shy to put the hours in, to make opportunities happen for himself and by doing that, jumpstart his career and his exposure to new things happen faster. He is more than happy to pursue illustration even for low pay--as each job seems to foster the next and the next. I think he was one of the true inspirations of the trip. I love his attitude, his work and his technique of inking on bristol, scanning it in and using it as a basis for his work.He is passionate and knows that with effort comes opportunity and more work. He self published a book on Mr Wiggles. He also got a job as a graphic designer at a book publisher and spent a ton of personal time working up optional approaches to the work he was given to show that he could bring his smart point of view to these smaller young adult books proving his inate abilities making each project more fun by the clever twists he brought to the project. He handles type in a very whimsical, illlustrative way--not fearful of all the stuff we designers have drubbed into our thick heads. Neil is a star.
Peter Cusak is a lovely, passionate artist who speaks from the heart about his work, painting, France and ISDP. He has been changed by these experiences and is vocal in these experiences, the people who have influenced him and continue to do so. His work is extrordinary, beautiful and sweet like he is. His thesis work for SU were this amazing collection of paintings/portraits of people on the subway accompanied by writing and poetry that evoked the same spirit and pathos that the images do. Peter has just finished a commission from the MTA and all we can hope is that many many more come along to help move him to create more work that will lift our spirits and our vision of the world to be as sharp as morning sunlight. Peter should be taken on the road to promote the ISDP program as it is poetry to hear him extol the program, how it changed him, and how it "answered questions he came to the program with but now there are new questions". For me, it was reassuring that this itchiness continues. I figure that means we are all still alive. Peter is a delight and someone to watch out for.
The last artist for Wednesday was Al Lorenz. Al studied architecture undergraduate and a masters at Columbia. After three years of working in the business, left to do illustration. Check out his site for the work he did. He is also a very proud teacher who, in addition to showing us his work, showed us slides of his students at Pratt. Al is very direct and blunt--but endearing in his directness, his love of the work he does, the people he works with and his students. His projects are often multi year and he will have teams of folks (his wife, former students etc.) helping with the reference, the photography etc. to keep him drawing. He has a stack of books, puzzles, college maps, and architectural drawings that showcase a long and varied career.
A group of us had a nice and very lively dinner with Murray and Carol Tinkleman at a nice italian restaurant around the corner from the SOI, Brio. The Hartford program sounds like it's going great guns with a lot of hard tweaks from that of the Syracuse program in it's curriculum and support from the University. They both are delighted with their change, the students and faculty and the new places they are visiting as part of their travel portion of the program. The Beautiful Baby Show was a hit with a huge turn-out for the opening--also to both of their pleasure. It was great seeing them as it gave me some perspective, gave me the Hartford program to reflect and think about and put a lot of my thinking in a new context which is good.
I will give you Thursday and Friday tomorrow. The candlelight is dimming here, and I need to get back on the work train to keep it going and not get hit with it all at one time.