Friday, December 19, 2014

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Jules Feiffer

I just read "Kill My Mother" the new graphic novel from Jules Feiffer, a tribute to Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain and all things noir, in beautiful sepia washes and that wonderful loose, loopy Feiffer line. Great work, and inspiring- the man is 85 years old, for God's sake.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Monday, September 22, 2014

Afternoon Sketch

Edward Hopper

Before Edward Hopper became famous as a fine artist, he worked as an illustrator-for-hire. We saw an exhibition of his commercial work during a visit to the Norman Rockwell Museum over the summer.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Seems Like Old Times

Working on a pinup, listening to Benny Goodman, drinking a Coke. I think I was born in the wrong era.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


Well, it finally happened: My beloved Koh-I-Noor Technigraph 5611 Lead Holder disintegrated irreparably, mid-sketch. Doubly sad because this all-metal version is no longer in production; in 1995, Koh-I-Noor, now owned by Chartpak, began manufacturing the Technigraph with a flimsy and all-but-weightless plastic barrel. I'm scouring ebay for a full-metal replacement. In the meantime, goodbye old friend.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Another fun little spot to accompany AtBuffalo Magazine's informal poll feature. This month's question- do you use online dating apps?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Stop Trading Ivory

Despite a 1989 worldwide ban on ivory sales by CITES, the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, poaching of African elephants has increased dramatically in recent years, with an estimated 22,000 killed in 2012. According to data presented by CITES at the 2013 African Elephant Summit in Botswana, up to 20% of Africa's elephant population could be wiped out over the next ten years if poaching continues at its current rate. Find out more at

Friday, May 9, 2014

Lunchtime Sketch: The Bare-Chested Boulevardier

Here in the Queen City we know that the surest sign of Spring is not the robin or the crocus- it's the Bare-Chested Boulevardier, the free-spirited stroller who peels his shirt at the first sign of warm weather. Proud and resolute, undeterred by dull convention, undaunted by the benighted (and be-shirted) passersby, he ambles on, freedom incarnate, a de-flanneled flaneur. Saunter forth, good sir! Your blinding torso is a beacon of hope to the fully-clothed multitudes, your doffed Metallica T-shirt a banner of liberty!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Death of a Salesman

One of our illustrations for the upcoming season at the Irish Classical Theatre Company.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Hello, I Must Be Going: Time Travel Spot

I recently completed a spot illustration for Becky Farnham at AtBuffalo magazine and thought it might be fun to show the process behind the finished piece. The illustration accompanies a recurring feature: an unofficial (and fairly whimsical) poll of 100 UB students. The question for this issue: If you could go forward or backward in time, what would you do? The results were pretty evenly split, which got me thinking that it might be fun to show the same person encountering himself as he uses a time machine to travel to the past and to the future at once. I was reminded of a Warner Brothers cartoon I saw years ago, which featured two sheepdogs passing each other coming to and from work, and of the Marx Brothers "mirror scene" from Duck Soup- for some reason I find the idea of symmetry and mimicry inherently funny and appealing. 

The first step is to get the idea out of my head and onto paper- I start with a very loose sketch, a doodle, really, which shows the basic concept. This is an in-house sketch; simply a reminder of the idea- it's not meant to be seen by anyone but me (and, of course, my loyal blog readers). The time machine is inspired by one described in a science fiction story I read as a boy- a gleaming metal ring.

 The next step is a refined sketch in which I figure out the placement and proportion of the characters and the level of detail. This spot runs very small, so I try to keep the detail to a minimum. As for costumes, I'm a great believer in cartoon cliche: I put the"past" guy in a Fred Flintstone leopard-skin tunic and the "future" guy in a gleaming white uniform. Just for fun, and to play up the contrast/symmetry, I add a club and a raygun. This revised sketch is scanned and sent to the client, and fingers are crossed.

I get lucky once again- the client approves the sketch, so I open the the scan in Illustrator and begin "inking" using the pen tool. 

Once the illustration is digitally inked, I open it in Photoshop and airbrush in color and shading, and use the eraser tool to "fade" the characters as they step through the ring, suggesting that they're emerging from another era. Done! 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Prince Charles

Another piece from years ago- this caricature of Charles, Prince of Wales, Duke of Rothesay, Duke of Cornwall.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Carl Sagan

More history: our wonderful client Rebecca Farnham stopped by to drop off some of our original art from years ago, including this Prismacolor sketch of Carl Sagan.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Inkwell Studios is called Inkwell Studios because when we started this little enterprise back in the late 20th century we actually used ink- with pens, brushes, sponges, scratchboard, rolled onto linoleum blocks, spattered with old toothbrushes- and also because so many of the illustrators we admire are ink guys: Charles Gibson, T. S. Sullivant, A. B. Frost, Alex Raymond, George Herriman, Wally Wood, Ronald Searle, Al Hirschfeld, Robert Crumb, Ralph Steadman and on and on. We still keep a bottle of Dr. Ph. Martin's Black Star on our desk, even though most of our work is now finished using an electronic drawing machine.

The illustration above was one of our first self-promotion pieces, from the days when we were shamelessly aping Michael Schwab. Hand-inked, lettered with presstype and individually colored using an aerosol can device that attached to the tip of a Design Marker. A bit labor-intensive, as it turned out; we probably mailed three of these at most.