michael

The Wertzateria Redbubble Shop : we're live

I ruv roo.

I ruv roo.

Exactly one year ago we adopted this 56-pound ball of pure energy named Blue. The photo on the left was taken by Amanda Jones about a week after we had adopted her (for a cover shoot for The Bark magazine), and we were still getting to know her. We still are. She is affectionate, exuberant, lovely, goofy, and frustrating. You know: a puppy. It's lots of work (naturally). Well, (as my dear Grandfather once said) Blue is two years old now. It's time that she get herself a job. Since she has no thumbs, she's going to have to get creative. To pay for her care and feeding (read: trail walks), I've started a redbubble shop featuring some of my designs. I've ordered a few of the products, and I'm happy to report that the quality is top-notch. Peep some samples below.

Montclair Mural: all done!

Dear Friendlies, I had the pleasure with working with Ron Rifkin at the Design Office and Daniel Swafford from the Montclair Village Association in creating street banners and this mural dedicated to sweet little Montclair Village in Oakland, California. Yesterday was the dedication ceremony. More about the mural (and the kind folks who made it happen) here.

Here's the completed illustration. This image was used for banners that were (and are!) flying over Montclair.

This is Pam Consear from Rare Bird and the Skyline High Art Club, who spent weeks and weeks painting the mural.

Ta-daa!

Guess who came to the Dedication Ceremony? That's Daniel, Ron, and I, plus Oakland Mayor Jean Quan and Councilmember Libby Schaff.

La Costa Perdida

Friendlies, the new Camper Van Beethoven record is out today, and it is, indeed, a goody goody. The package design and illustrations were done by yours truly. You can stream the whole thing here, and you can buy yourself a copy here. I recommend getting a "hard copy" of the CD, since that will give you the full sensory experience of owning the record (as opposed to having these little pop gems lost in the "shuffle" of your playlists).

Go ahead, treat yourself. Buy the CD from your local music purveyor, wait for it to arrive, pour yourself a frosty beverage, put the CD on, find a comfortable place to sit and listen, and relax. Listen to each track carefully, noting your physical reaction to each song. You might get distracted. That's ok. Sit back down, and listen to the next track. And so on. See? Feels good, right?

Do you know Camper's older musics? You might start with Popular Songs of Great Enduring Strength and Beauty. This is a good collection. If you like that one, you're ready for Cigarettes and Carrot Juice, a box set of their early records. Key Lime Pie is another favorite. Listen, it's all great. Trust me.

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You'll find me at The Rickshaw Stop on February 16.

xm

wertz on wwword

Dear Friendlies, there's a new Friendly in our midst. Lucy Sisman (who has an incredibly impressive roster of print clients) is working on a great literary blog called wwwword, and she asked if I'd like to be interviewed for their blog. The result? One of the nicest pieces of writing about my process to date, and an in-depth look at the creation of A Dazzling Display of Dogs.

See for yourself.

Thank you, Lucy!

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

Dazzling Dogs Release Recap

Frenz, I'm totally overwhelmed by the positive response - we packed Diesel Books! It was SRO! We also sold out of copies of A Dazzling Display of Dogs (but not to worry - if you want a copy, you can order one here).

For those of you who braved the rainy weather and [maybe even] came out with your kids on a Wednesday night - I thank you! I hope you had as much fun as we did. Thanks also to Tricycle Press (this is, sadly, one of the last books they will publish), Suki and Andy for the music, and Loriana and Carolee for helping out and setting up. Thanks to Betsy Franco for making the trip to Oakland, and to Diesel Books for being so accommodating. If you're in the Bay Area, go buy your books there! It's a great shop.

Here's a little video that Michael Zelner shot (thanks Michael!):

What's next for the book? Well, The Mutts are going to be recording these songs for real sometime soon. Betsy and I are going to be making a book trailer or two for the two books we've published together thus far. There are also rumblings about another collaboration. Stay tuned.

xm

A Dazzling Display of Dogs on shelves this week!

Friends to the Four-Pawed: my second picture book, A Dazzling Display of Dogs (written by Betsy Franco - yes, that Betsy Franco), has been released and is available at your local bookstore and online. We're super excited about it over here, and hope you'll get yourself a copy!

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The book release party has been set for March 23, at Diesel Books here in Oakland. Andy and I will probably, as with the Curious Cats opening, embarrass ourselves in front of you. Just to let you know.

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Here's a great review from School Library Journal:

Starred Review. Grade 1–5 - This follow-up to A Curious Collection of Cats (Tricycle, 2009) is dazzling indeed. Each of the 34 poems features a different animal, most of them engaged in true dog behavior. From farting in the car to wheezing and snoring while sleeping, these pups are funny and lovable even when they're being annoying. The verses and the book's design are beautifully matched. In "Emmett's Ode to His Tennis Ball," the text is enclosed in a circle held firmly in the dog's mouth. It begins, "Slobbery, sloppy, slimy, sphere—oh, tennis ball, I hold you dear…." Like the poems, the pictures are funny and dynamic. The pages are definitely full, yet careful use of color, typeface, and detail means they never look chaotic. A note says the pictures were started in pencil and then finished using monoprints and Adobe Photoshop. Overall, a delight for kids, their adults, and maybe even their beloved canine companions.—Lauralyn Persson, Wilmette Public Library, IL

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Sadly, 'A Dazzling Display of Dogs' is one of the last books that Tricycle press will publish. I am so grateful to my editor Abigail Samoun for making this book happen!

xm

singing/signing at kepler's books tomorrow!

Hi everyone! Andy and I will be doing another "singing" and signing of A Curious Collection of Cats tomorrow at Kepler's Bookstore in Menlo Park, California. Andy and I will be performing a few of the poems in the book (singing and playing uke), and author Betsy Franco will be doing a presentation about how the book was written. Should be a hoot! If you're in the area, come on over and say hi and get a book signed. Fun for kids (or for the eternally young).

What: 'Singing' for a Curious Collection of Cats

Where: Kepler's Books, Menlo Park 1010 El Camino Real Menlo Park CA, 94025 (650) 324-4321

When: 11:30 am, Sunday June 28

Here's a little video from Diesel Books in Oakland:

xm