Archive for the ‘Illustration’ Category

A Vision of Jazz

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

Jazz is_Pulsating_Crop_Web_2

It is Jazz festival season here in Rochester, New York. From now until the end of summer, almost every moment of our good weather season is rich with every sort of festival and celebration. As a designer and an illustrator this season has my mind working overtime and I get the itch to create posters for the events.

During the 1960s and 1970s, American festivals and concert events were branded graphically with posters and T-shirts. These were powerful pop culture works of art, and they publicly displayed the unique creativity and designs of a growing community of home-grown visionaries. Their illustrations, photography and the interwoven elements of classic and modern design instantly connected the audience and the event. T-shirts became wearable art, often worthy of gallery display. Event posters once sold for a couple of bucks out of the back of VW bus, now fetch outrageous prices for originals and decorate the walls in art museums.

The medium is still the message, and poster design extends the vision of the artist and the experience of the event – far beyond the reach of a single human or epic concert performance. It is a physical embodiment of our shared culture.

So why are we not making posters like that anymore? In truth, there is no good reason. In our rush to promote digitally, in an entirely disposable, delete-able medium, we often forget about the power of the long-lasting print medium. The well-done poster has collectible value because it has sentimental value. It makes a timeless emotional connection to a set of cultural values.

But there is good news! The open canvas for big ideas still exists. The ability to execute them graphically, beautifully and affordably is still within our power, and stronger than ever before. The opportunity for the confluence of words and images to create a moving, almost underground language to influence a generation is there for the taking.

Looking at the Rochester International Jazz Festival, I began to wonder: “What is Jazz? How do I define it? How do you define it?” In my role as a graphic design provocateur insists, I believe I can further this discussion with a series of posters combining images and words that elicit our true feelings on the subject, based around the statement/question: “Jazz Is…”

I asked Charley Myers, Copywriter at Large, to create a list of words to be used as motivation for the design concepts and begin to sculpt out the many facets of what this uniquely American musical form is and can be.

I invite you all to contribute to this concept. Send me a link to your personal defining piece of Jazz music. Share with me your thoughts and images of what Jazz means to you. Help me extend the series to include all the possible sub-categories of music that make up this uniquely American musical genre.

Jazz is Mellifluous – Poster size 24″x36″
Digital / Traditional



The Park Avenue Pakan Poster

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

Since I have both design and illustration skills, poster projects are a particular favorite of mine. For instance, I was the designer to officially initiate the concept of doing a poster every year for the Lilac Festival. I know, big deal, right?

I was honored to receive the commission for this year’s Park Avenue Festival Poster.

I always find it a bit tenuous when first engaging in such a project.
Grasping the type of concept the committee or board is expecting
is always an interesting process.

By simply asking for the strategy or brand description of what the festival really stands for, and WHO the perceived target audience is, wasn’t getting anywhere.

The other option for us designers is to simply launch into design concepts and rely on the group to discover the direction through the creative. I know, a little scary… and the long way to go.

I could go through a rationale for each of the different layouts shown here. Let’s just say I went from a people-watching theme, to an approach that includes all the tributary roads connected to the Park, to an approach suggesting the Park is the fashion center of Rochester. No luck. My layouts were sent out as PDFs, then send back rejected. It was tough being so removed from the process.

After thinking of a more traditional approach, two café scenes were developed.



Once the specific layout was approved, several pencils were developed
to get the right mix of picture elements desired.

Cafe-Scene-Pencil_2a  Cafe-Scene-Pencil_3

It is refreshing to begin to paint after all of that.

It is like starting fresh on the project.

The painting really helps me create a mood and almost tell a story.
The challenge was to incorporate all the asks by the committee and come up with a cohesive piece.



The result is a traditional approach, but handled like an illustrated cover of a novel.

The coffee cups are on the table, but who left them?
They seem to radiate a mystery.
Who are the people in the background?
What Victorian drama at dusk are they involved in?



Come to festival and find out!