design

your moment of zen : illustration resources and whatnot

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Vegas in Space

Friendlies, come along on a weird trip to a planet without men!

If you know me at all, you know that I have a special place in my heart for Phillip R. Ford's epic drag queen space adventure Vegas in Space starring the ever-glamourous Doris Fish. You can imagine my thrill when I was asked by Peaches Christ herself to create a commemorative poster to celebrate the 25th anniversary of this sparkly gem of a movie. Nat Swope from Bloom Press and I decided that neon colors were a must (see below for the final print).

San Francisco is the city where New Wave will never die. Generations of inspired weirdoes flock here to hot glue things to other things at 3 am. If you listen close (even now) you can hear the neon ghosts on Market Street singing. Vegas in Space is truly a magical gem of a film, a sparkling time machine, an anarchic mishmash of glitter, glamour, and girlinium. Thanks to Peaches Christ for bringing it back to to the big screen, and for asking me to participate.

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For the film’s 25th anniversary, Frameline, in association with Peaches Christ Productions and Troma Entertainment, is proud to present a fully fledged celebration of the movie that took us to the stars. Featuring an accompanying pre-show with Vegas in Space cast and crew in person, including director Phillip R. Ford, Miss X, Ramona Fischer, Lori Naslund, Timmy Spence, Kate Guthorn, Silvana Nova, and Connie Champagne! Get your tickets here.

This movie took nine years to complete. Phil Ford documented the entire production here.

I have a weird history with this film: in 2007, artist Jim Winters and myself made a set of prints of the legendary Doris Fish. The wood-frame screens (there were several!) were found in a box on the streets of San Francisco. I believe that Doris herself made the screens, and they found their way into Jim’s hands. With Philip Ford’s blessing, Jim and I created a set of prints using the screens and some spraypaint and donated a set of the prints and the screens to the GLBT Historical Society in San Francisco.

Here they are:

Glamour first, Glamour last, Glamour always,

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Ellingson & Wertz at Mule Gallery, San Francisco

Hey Everybody, I'm excited to announce that I will be showing along with illustrator (and mensch) Josh Ellingson at the first-ever show at Mule Gallery in the lovely North beach district of San Francisco from January 20th through February 26. The opening is on February 5, from 6-9 pm. This event is part of North Beach's First Fridays gallery walk. Join us?

Josh Ellingson & Michael Wertz Jan 20th-Feb 26th, 2016

Opening Feb 5th, 6-9pm Mule Gallery 80 Fresno St. San Francisco, CA 94133

I'll be showing a bunch of the Some Wags prints : see below. All prints are framed & ready to move. We'll also have a small collection of unframed prints for sale.

See you there?

xm

Interview: Nat Swope, Bloom Press

This month's interview is with Nat Swope from Bloom Screen Printing in Oakland. Nat was kind enough to give us an interview (in between running his shop, teaching classes, and little league with his kid). Nat and I work on a few projects a year together for clients who need multiple prints, and he always does an amazing job. Q: Hi, Nat. How are you?

Doing fine, thanks.

Q: How did you first learn to screenprint?

My aunt Mary, who is an artist and art teacher, gave me a rudimentary introduction to it. I had already figured out stencils, cutting frisket, so screen printing made sense. A little bit later I got a job printing shirts. That's how I learned about production, on the clock. I didn't go to art school. I was into photography so exposing screens photographically was pretty exciting. This was the late '80's/early '90's so I caught the tail end of paste up before computers really came into play, which I always thought was helpful later on. Most art departments back then were still using copy cameras and rubylith. But the short answer is I learned how to screen print the same way you learn how to do anything: by doing it over and over again. The other thing that really accelerated the learning process was printing for other people. It led me down a lot of roads I would never have gone down had I only been doing my own work. Getting a glimpse into other people's processes has been invaluable.

Q: What about screenprinting gives you that special feeling inside?

Screen printing is a bit like assembling a puzzle and I like that. I like graphics and flat, clean color. I like paper. If things are going well it can be meditative and rhythmic. At this point though it's really about the people I'm working with. I've been lucky to work with a lot of people I genuinely admire.

Q: Can you tell me a few of your favorite clients?

Too many to name and I don't want to leave anyone out.

(book by Michael Bartalos)

Q: When a new client comes to you, what do you ask them?

Can I see a file before we talk about cost and deadlines?

Q: What's your favorite kind of job to print?

Again, it's the people I'm working with that matters the most. I like seeing what gets them excited. Often the client is responding to something I'm not really thinking about. My concerns are usually technical. I'm in problem solving mode and the artist is usually operating on a more emotional, gut level--do I like how it feels?

Q: Is there a kind of image that is _not_ served by being screenprinted?

Well, it has to be designed with the medium in mind. It's a flexible process but it can be unforgiving. If you don't understand spot color and key line you're going to have a hard time. Not everything has to be simple spot and trap, like a coloring book, but if you don't at least understand those things you're in for a rough ride. Less is more. It's also a fine line between surrendering to the process and being particular about certain things. Choose your battles. It's good to aim for perfect but perfection is unattainable. And boring.

Q: I know you used to have a machine-run press, but you gave it up to focus on hand work. What about doing all your prints by hand appeals to you?

Autos are great and there is nothing inherently better about things made by hand. Part of what I like about screen printing is that it is mechanical and I do not fetishize the hand made. The machine just kind of turned my studio into a factory and I just didn't really like it. I have more room to maneuver in my small space now.

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Thanks again to Nat Swope. If you want to see some of the work in person (and take some goodies home as well), visit Bloom Press (2310 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland) on May 3 during First Friday.

(clockwise from upper left: Steven Harrington, Will Adler, Nat Russell, PoorNo Graphics/Homer Flynn)

Oakland Pride Poster

.. and when I say LOVE you best believe I'm in LOVE L-U-V. A one-color poster design for the Oakland Museum and Oakland Pride. I'll be with the OMCA's "mobile unit", teaching folks how to screenprint their own take-away posters at the Pride festivities. We'll be close to the intersection of Broadway and 14th. Come say hi!

Oooh, Sheila E. Love her.

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xm

Chris Rathman's Bead-A-Mation for La Costa Perdida

Wow. I'm stunned. Chris Rathman has taken the cover art I created for Camper Van Beethoven's La Costa Perdida and has done stop-motion animation with plastic beads to create this super-groovy video. There's lots of great CVB in-jokes that whiz by. You'll have to see for yourself. Behold:

Peaches In The Summertime - Camper Van Beethoven (Full Bead-A-Mation) from Chris Rathman on Vimeo.

Apparently, this took Chris six months to complete. Stunning.

By the way, have you checked out the artwork I did for the new record? Here's a taste.

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West Coast Passport Campaign : Hostelling International

Friendlies, recently designer Pete Friedrich from Charette Communication Design and I had a brain bubble: wouldn't it be cool if we created a Passport and a set of Illustrated Stamps so that when one travelled from Hostel to Hostel (along the West Coast) one could collect the stamps in one's very own passport? With enough stamps (and a few blisters - that's a long hike), one is eligible for a t-shirt.

Yes, this would be cool. And, if I do say so, they are. Very cool. Here's the stamps I created. And here's a bit about the campaign on the Hostelling site.

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... and here's the Passport cover.

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Neet, huh? This was a super fun job.

xm

The Long View : Art in Antarctica

My friend and amazing artist Michael Bartalos is taking part in a once-in-a-lifetime art project in Antarctica. Have a look see.

From the site: "Greetings and welcome to The Long View Project blog. My name is Michael Bartalos and I’m pleased to be designated the Academy’s first Affiliated Artist. I’ll soon be on my way to Antarctica on an exciting project at the crossroads of art and science, and you’re invited to follow along.

My ultimate objective is to create a very long piece of sculptural artwork using recycled materials from polar research facilities in order to raise international awareness of resource conservation and eco-preservation practices in Antarctica, and by extension, to promote and inspire sustainability worldwide. In the process, I expect to learn a whole lot about environmental issues, scientists’ lives on the ice, the history of polar exploration, and creativity’s role on the southern continent."

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