Sunday, December 16, 2012

Spa La La La La

New, for the Baltimore Sun. Art direction by Leeann Adams, with Jay Judge.

The article describes spa offerings in Baltimore designed to combat holiday stress. Treatments like "Hot Toddy for the Body" and "Chocolate Brownie a la Mode" are surely as delicious as they are relaxing. Yum!

Happy Holidays from VLI.

Here's to a peaceful 2013.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Original Art, Wonderful People

I spent this past Friday engaged in three basic activities: rushing to train stations, looking at beautiful children's book illustration, and meeting amazing people.

The day was organized by Ronnie Herman (that's the back of her lovely head in the photo, above) who has been my e-mail pal for many months. Ronnie is elegant and beautiful, inside and out. Representing children's book artists and authors after many years as an art director in children's publishing, she radiates wisdom. Also, she knows everybody. Meeting her in person was nothing short of delightful. Ronnie appreciates art, and is an advocate for artists. What's not to like?

Several illustrators from Ronnie's group The Herman Agency met Friday at the Society of Illustrators to peruse the Original Art Show, an activity which did not disappoint. My former student Joe Rouse works at the Society, so he was there, too. We spent a few minutes catching up. Joe is awesome as ever. NYC is treating him well.

I expected to see lots of glorious artwork, but it never occurred to me that I would be standing inches away from paintings made by Calef BrownGiselle Potter, and Jessie Hartland (this is her painting from Bon Appétit!: The Delicious Life of Julia Child), all names on my short list of illustration heros. I probably should have known that I would see their work in the show, but ignorance really is bliss. What a nice surprise! It was definitely a kid-in-a-candy-shop moment. I probably looked ridiculous, gawking as I was, but who cares. I also mis-buttoned my coat and knocked my own glasses off of my head while adjusting the strap of my bag. That's just me.

Between time spent at the gallery and at lunch after, I got to know these extremely bright and talented artists, all very cool people, and it was SO MUCH FUN: Paulette Bogan, Lisa Thiesing, Biljana AllyGideon Kendall, and his wife Julie Peppito. (Julie is a fine artist who also designs playgrounds; it was decided that she was the most interesting person at the table—quite an achievement. You should probably check out her stuff.)

If I hand't lost track of the time, I would have taken pictures of my new friends. As it was, I ran from the Society of Illustrators on East 63rd Street all the way to Penn Station at 31st and 7th Ave (on the WEST side), through the drizzle, dodging pedestrians all the while.

After picking up a treat from the Krispy Kreme donut stand for my son, I made it to my train with two minutes to spare.

All in all, a good day.

Monday, December 3, 2012

meeting Mauricio

Thanks to the wonders of technology and the world wide web, illustrators can live anywhere, which is fantastic! Our field is e-mail driven. I've worked with people all over the world, but have never even spoken to most of my clients; seeing them at all, even two-dimensionally, is rare.  

In the past three years, I have made art for ten books, all with a super nice guy named Mauricio. After countless Skype conferences and e-mail messages reaching into the billions, this past Saturday, we finally met in person. And for a brief moment, the earth stood still.

Mauricio Velázquez de León owns Duopress, a small children's book publishing house specializing in "innovative books for curious children." (Duopress is five years old this year, by the way. Happy b-day, Duopress!) Using the pseudonym "Puck," Mauricio writes books for kids, several of which I had the distinct pleasure of illustrating. He also wrote the book Twenty Soccer Legends, and is a regular contributor at Saveur Magazine.

Jet-setting M had a five o'clock appointment in NYC with IPG (Duopress's distributor); we planned to meet for lunch at two. I took the train south from snowy Saratoga Springs and enjoyed a chilly walk from Penn Station to bustling Grand Central, while he was on a train coming in from Baltimore. I got to see the lions at the public library and the windows at Lord and Taylor, and still had time to sneak in a little work at the end of a crowded bench at beautiful Grand Central station, before claiming a couple of seats for us at the Oyster Bar. M joined me shortly after, and we ate soup—clam chowder and split pea with shrimp, if you're interested—and wrapped things up over coffee at the Waldorf.

I got to see dummies of the books my newly three-dimensional friend was about to present to IPG—especially exciting, since I had a little something to do with most of them.

Was it worth it? I could write a book about all of the reasons why, but I'll give you the short answer instead: YES!