• Posted on November 19, 2012 by cmykuser

    "Hopeless in the Mist"

    Sarah Lee has a penchant for ancient folklore, rituals, and mythology from around the world. Her illustrations reinterpret these narratives through a whole new lens. We were inspired by Sarah’s art after her illustration “Hopeless in the Mist” was published in CMYK’S Pro Showcase in CMYK Vol. 53 (Summer 2012).

    Sarah is a San Fran based artist and recent Art Center College of Design alumni. She is currently working on new art for her show at Giant Robot 2 in Los Angeles this January. She received her BFA in Illustration, but we are also excited to share her sculpture series of animals covered and made of eggshells. We got in touch with Sarah while she was traveling in Korea to discuss her style and inspirations:

    Hi Sarah, I’m glad we could get in touch while you’ve been traveling Asia. Where have you been and where are chatting with us from?

    Hello. I’ve been traveling through Mongolia, China, and currently in Korea.

    "The Meeting"

    How have your travels influenced your illustrations?

    While taking my final term in Art Center College of Design, a teacher told me that traveling around the world would stimulate new ideas and creativity from your brain’s pocket, and here I am.

    My pieces all have a story rooted from different folktales, legends, myths, and moral stories from different cultures. While traveling these three countries, I’ve learned a lot about various cultures. Observing how the people live, and some insight into their religions. I’ve visited many shrines, read many stories about their gods, and saw many ancient artifacts. New ideas that will later translate into my illustrations.

    "To Manhood"

    What’s your background?

    I am Korean, born in San Francisco and raised in different parts of the bay area. I grew up watching a lot of Animal planet, Discovery channel, and the History channel. I have a love for animals and ancient history, which later combined became my current illustrations. I am also raised in a Christian home, so the Bible became an important resource for my paintings. What’s also neat is that my mom used to be a traditional painter, so DNA happened and I was destined to become an artist.

    "Who did it?"

    Your illustrations evoke distinct narratives. What is the narrative of the “Air Pirates” series?

    If you flip to the History channel and watch long enough, you will without a doubt come across a war documentary. I love watching war movies or any action movies with a battle scene whether it’s an ancient Roman war, modern war, Star Wars or kung fu war. Almost all war movies are the same, it’s a power game. The opposing sides both want to gain more power than the other side. So in the series “Air Pirates,” I’ve decided to make my own war between two opposing tribes. I’ve created these two tribes from dissecting myths and legends from different existing countries. With these creatures I’ve decided they should meet as rivals in an inventive battle scene in hot air balloons. I wanted to do a fusion of traditional tribal war mixed with the modern day era.

    "Air Pirates" (Series of 3)

    What type of media are we looking at? What’s your favorite to use?

    Everything is usually some sort of mixed media. I generally use whatever I can find and it depends on the time allowed for each piece.  Acrylics and inks are definitely a favorite.

    The detail and texture in your illustrations are immaculate.  How did you develop such an eye for detail?

    I just become obsessed with mark making. The same pattern of mark making becomes a form of meditation and it relaxes me. After constantly researching and sketching rough sketches; the details then becomes the fun part and once you start, you don’t want to stop.

    "Batify" (Series of 3)

    Where do you find inspiration for such epic narratives?

    Roman myths and legends, the Bible, different folklore and moral stories from around the world. Books on different tribes and how they lived and what they believed in, different religious beliefs and rituals, the third world countries, and traveling.


    Do you remember the first artist that profoundly influenced you? Do you have any current muses?

    I admire Henry Darger’s work.

    What is your typical process from initial idea to completion?

    I would usually doodle a character, and then place him in a story inspired by my own experiences or from my gained knowledge of different cultures. After setting up a story, I would start sketching in a rough sketch. I usually then scan in my rough drafts and move them around in photoshop to the right composition, and then get tighter with my drawings from there till the ideal finish.

    (Ink on paper from Sarah's sketchbook)

    What’s the story behind your 12 piece series titled “Broken Home?”

    At first, I wanted to create all the zodiac characters, but then I started to drift off and painted other animal fused humans that weren’t included in the zodiac circle. The zodiac signs were said to be god’s chosen animals and they were designated a specific year, so each year is a different zodiac animal to be celebrated. It seemed a little unfair for the rest of the animals that weren’t chosen in the zodiac circle, so I painted them as royals. They deserve some attention too, and I plan to add more to the royal circle later in the future.

    "Broken Home" (Series of 12)

    I see you also experiment with sculpture. What’s the story behind your series of animal sculptures?

    These sculptures on the surface are covered and made of eggshells. I've used white and brown chicken eggshells, quail eggshells, and duck eggshells. I've used all the eggshells I could get my hands on. I've wanted to juxtapose the idea of animals that are typically born from hard armored shells with that of more fragile eggshells. In a way the eggshells also ask the view the age old question of. "what came first the egg or the animal?"

    I wanted the animal to be made out of their origin, the egg. The eggshell of the egg is very weak and fragile, but it still shields and acts as armor for the yolk inside. Same goes for the animals I’ve sculpted. The crocodile, the armadillo, and the snake are all animals born with protective skin and armor. The armadillo is a weak animal to start with, and the snake is only dangerous when it grows to an uncontrollable size, but crocodiles are born strong.

    The twist on the crocodile was that I made it with two heads. I’m fascinated by mutated and deformed animals. These animals appear to look strong on the outside, but are actually weak and short-lived.  I’ve made my twin attached crocodiles appear strong, when in fact two headed crocodiles may never exist. Even if they did somehow survive, they can never grow that big.

    What is your advice to young artists?

    • Don’t be afraid of failures because sometime you can create happy accidents.
    • Make sure you enjoy what you’re doing, or it’ll just become work.
    • Tell your story in your art. Let me hear what it has to say.

    Interview by: Jacqueline Bon

    Posted in CMYK Magazine

  • Posted on August 25, 2012 by CMYK Magazine


    Here's a sample of the work being submitted by today's most enterprising art school students and graduates into CMYK's Top 100 New Creatives Contest. Deadline for designers, illustrators, photographers, art directors and illustrators: MONDAY, AUG. 27.

    Charles and Jazz Play the Blues submitted by Virginia Patterson, Illustrator from Auburn University

    Segway print ad entered by copywriting student Dhruv Nanda from the Miami Ad School, SF

    Singer songwriter poster submitted by Piet Aukeman at the Savannah College of Art & Design.

    "Brittan" submitted by photographer Anastasiia Sapon from the Academy of Art University

    Calling emerging and aspiring all Art Directors, Copywriters, Illustrators, Graphic Designers and Photographers

    Posted in CMYK Magazine

  • Posted on August 23, 2012 by cmykuser

    Suharu Ogawa is a Toronto based illustrator and student attending the Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD). As a contest entrant into CMYK’S Top 100 New Creatives, Suharu's illustration, Tightrope, was selected for publication in CMYK Vol. 53 (Spring 2012). We wanted to share more from the artist behind the unpredictable half-human half-animal illustrations. As it turns out, Suharu is as multifaceted as her illustrations. She recalls her love for illustration as early as kindergarten, after being kicked out of calligraphy class for refusing to convert to right-handedness. At age 18, she moved from Japan to Kentucky (to obtain a degree in art history and anthropology) and then California to work as a resource librarian. Now she’s happily pursuing her true passion for illustration with her left hand. We talked to her about her journey and distinct style:

    Posted in CMYK Magazine

  • Posted on August 13, 2012 by cmykuser

    The design of Sacramento City College student, John Conley, first caught our eye when he entered his portfolio into CMYK's Top 100 New Creatives - which resulted in John having a handful of his poster work selected for publication in CMYK Vol. 52 (spring 2012) and again in CMYK Vol. 53 (summer 2012).

    Behind his characteristically geometrical, textured, tricolor poster designs, John is a musician. His design has an aesthetic similar to his band’s late 80’s shoegaze drone with indie rock sensibilities.

    With a music and design style that go hand-in-hand. It's an experience comparable to drinking a cup of coffee alone on a particularly overcast day ― pleasant, yet contemplative. John’s creates freelance work under the name “blkbrix.” This is what he had to share:

    Can you fill in the blank? John Conley is...

    ...quiet, self-critical, stubborn, a perfectionist, creative, evolving.

    How’re you doing today? What is highlight of your summer?

    I'm doing well. Juggling a lot of projects (which is a good thing). For the moment, design is my side job. I also work full time at a supermarket called Bel Air. My goal is to be able to make design my full time job.

    As for a summer highlight, my band Desario played the San Francisco Indie Pop Fest. I've done the design for the fest the last 2 years as well.

    Can you walk us through your typical process?

    The two things that are always consistent are my sketchbook and research. When I'm working on gig posters, I listen to the bands I'm designing for. Sometimes I'll find
    a song or a lyric and base my design around that.

    I carry a small notepad with me most of the time. Throughout the day if I get an idea I'll make a quick sketch or a note. I've come up with some of my best design ideas using this method. Great ideas come when you least expect them. It's good to be prepared. The camera on my iPhone is also a great tool. I've got some great textures using the ProHDR and Hipstamatic apps.

    Were you always a designer, what is your background?

    I'm fairly new to design. I've been drawing ever sense I could hold a pencil and have been painting for years.

    I've always loved design. Buying records as a kid, I enjoyed studying the album covers
    just as much as listening to the music. I was really in British Heavy Metal in my teens. There would be many times when I'd buy a record just because I thought the cover looked cool. It didn't always pay off, some of the time it worked.

    Four year ago a friend was taking an Adobe Illustrator class at Sacramento City College. After that I was hooked. I started buying design books and evening design classes. In January I officially started doing freelance work under the name "blkbrix".

    What do you remember as your first “big break”?

    Seeing my work featured in CMYK #52 & #53 was fantastic! I recently did the cover illustration for the Sacramento based magazine, Sactown. It was their "Best of the City" issue.

    Textures seem to be a huge focus in your work. Is it for the emotion they connote, do you feel they advance the intended message of the visual communication, or is it purely for aesthetic pleasure?

    It's kind of all 3. I think part of it started by wanting the posters to look more like paintings. In my recent work I've toned down the textures a bit. Using them in a more subtle way. I'm sure the textures will come back. I'm starting to notice a cycle in my work.

    How do you arrive at your color palettes?

    I'm colorblind. People are often surprised when I tell them this. Seeing certain shades of brown and green or blue and purple next to each other are difficult for me to tell apart.
    My 3 main sources for color palettes are colourlovers.com , kuler.com and sampling colors from photo. Lately I've been trying to work with a limited color palette. Usually 2 or 3 colors.

    What is the appeal of geometrical patterns in your designs?

    I have always been drawn to patterns. I love clean straight lines, order and balance. I really enjoy creating abstract shapes using circles and squares. Most of the time I like to give myself limitations or rules for a project. This helps me stay focused on the design.

    What is your favorite typeface? I wouldn't mind killing off Brush Script. If you could exterminate a typeface, which one would it be?

    Berthold Akzidenz Grotesk is my current "go to" san serif typeface. I especially like the condensed and expanded versions. I also like to use Gotham. Both are very versatile
    and always look great. My favorite serif typeface is Mrs. Eaves.

    Exterminating a typeface is pretty harsh. (lol) There is comic sans, of course. Only because it has been so misused. I not a fan of Copperplate. Probably because I've seen it used so many times where it looked like it was just dropped in without any thought.

    What process do you use to gauge which typeface is appropriate for the band or event?

    It's usually trail and error. Sometimes it takes me just as long to find the right typeface as it does to design the poster. I'm very sensitive to the type treatments. I think about the message and readability. When I was working on the logo for Bacon Fest Sacramento, I ended up using a font called Duke from Lost Type. When I saw it, I knew it was the right font. I love when that happens.

    I hear you’re also a musician, what does your band Desario sound like? How does being a musician inform your design?

    I guess a good general description of Desario would be late 80's, early 90's British Indie. Some comparisons we get are Echo and the Bunnymen, The Smiths, The Wedding Present, and New Order.

    Music and design for me are very intertwined. Music is what led me to design. When I first started designing 4 year ago, I would practice by making flyers for friends bands and Desario.

    It's funny to look at some of my early work. I see so many mistakes and bad choices. One thing I've learned is you have to fail before you succeed. I've finally reached a point where I'm really happy and proud of my work.

    Aside from music, what’s something unexpected that influences your work?

    Coffee! Maybe that's not unexpected. Architecture, I think that goes back to my love of geometric shape and straight lines.

    I especially like the Fugazi and Crystal Stilts posters you created. What’s your connection to the musicians you produce flyers for? Do you find that your design clients tend to reflect your musical preferences?

    One of my Professors at Sacramento City College , Don Button "tagged" me in a Facebook post about a series of album covers using just geometric shapes and type. He said I could design circles around my peers using circles and squares. The Fugazi "Repeater" jazz cover redesign was a response to that post.

    Most of the time my design clients reflect my musical preferences. Crystal Stilts are one of my favorite new bands. That poster was really fun to make. I created the design for the Sacramento Electronic Music Festival this year. That was a great project to be involved with. I didn't listen to much electronic music before that project. Through the work I discovered some really cool artists and bands.

    What was your favorite design, can you share it with us? Why do you love it?

    One of my favorite projects was an album cover for the Bay Area band Girls & Boys. I had done some cover illustrations for the recording magazine Tape Op. Girls & Boys contacted Tape Op looking for a designer to work with and I was recommended. The band gave me total creative freedom with the cover design. It has some of the richest and detailed textures I've created. It was print with eco wallet package and matte finish paper. It looks great.

    For you personally, what makes a design powerful and effective?

    Good balance and information hierarchy, strong type treatment and simplicity. Sometimes it's one of those things you can't put your finger on. It just looks good.

    If you could learn one thing that you know now at an earlier age, what would it be?

    Trust myself and not be afraid to fail.

    Interview by: Jacqueline Bon

    Posted in CMYK Magazine

  • Posted on August 5, 2012 by CMYK Magazine

    [1 of 100 pieces published by aspiring artists in the new issue of CMYK 53, on-sale everywhere today]

    Yina Kim, illustrator
    California College of the Arts
    (San Francisco, CA)
    “An imaginary portrait of my math
    teacher, Gerald."

    [Enter your illustration work in CMYK's Top 100 New Creative Competition: 8.20.12]

    Posted in CMYK Magazine

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