Archive for the ‘new work’ Category



Monday, June 13th, 2011

mudpuppy dinosaur puzzle

A project I did for Mudpuppy was published just recently. It’s a 12-piece puzzle featuring those famous and extinct relatives of lizards (or birds if you adhere to those theories), the dinosaurs. T-rex, Brontosaurus, Stegosaurus, and Pterodactyl each make an appearance here.
Go get yours at your local favorite toy shop, or if that doesn’t work, get it on the internet.

mudpuppy dinosaur puzzle
mudpuppy dinosaur puzzle
mudpuppy dinosaur puzzle
mudpuppy dinosaur puzzle

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

Yesterday I showed the process leading up to the cover of Everything Goes: On Land. Without further ado or brouhaha, here’s the final cover of the book. Click the image to see it quite a bit larger.

The cover design had to be indicative of the work that’s in the book, and I do believe it is. Cars and trucks, bikes and motorcycles, buses, construction vehicles, trains, and whatever else made it in the book and on this cover. Vehicles going this way and that way, all kinds of people riding and driving them, and even a friend’s blue and white striped Mini Cooper.

Once the final sketch was approved, I use that as the basis to create the inked drawing. I usually try to create my illustrations to the exact size that they’ll be printed. Everything Goes is going to be a big book — twelve inches tall and ten inches wide — so this was no problem. I draw the illustration using a big lightbox on nice Strathmore 500 series bristol with watered-down india ink, and use white gouache to carve out areas and add details.

If you take a look at the close-up image below, the wheels of the train, the white outlines of the train windows, the railroad ties, and the wing of the small black bird are examples of where I paint the negative space, or the white areas. When I inked the drawing, the area under the train was solid black. This part of the process is easily my favorite, as it’s a real joy to see these details appear and everything come together.

You may also notice that there is no type on the black-and-white line drawing. This is because when I do work like this I always draw the type and add it digitally.



Once these are all complete, they get scanned into the computer where I use Photoshop to color everything and piece it together. When it’s complete, I save it as a TIF file and send it to the designer at the publishing house (Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins in the case of Everything Goes).

Everything Goes: On Land is scheduled to be released on September 13. I’m currently working on book two of the series, which is called “In the Air,” and which will be published a year later. Lastly, “On the Sea” will come out in 2013. I don’t have the covers sketched for either of these two books yet, but they will be similar in idea and business to “On Land.” And of course I’ll post here about them when they’re ready to make their way into the world. Stay tuned!

Monday, June 6th, 2011

The first book of the Everything Goes series, On Land, is scheduled to be published on September 13. It’s high time I start writing a bit more about this book. The fine folk at Balzer+Bray (an imprint of HarperCollins) have given the go ahead to show the cover. So I thought that I’d start with a bit of a tease before I pull cover off the cover, so to say.
The idea for Everything Goes is “lots.” Lots of everything, going. Lots of cars and trucks and trains and bikes and motorcycles, and then in the second and third books, lots of airplanes and helicopters and balloons and rowboats and tugboats and ocean liners and sailboats and you get the idea. I may have written this already, but mixing a little of Where’s Waldo and David Macaulay with a lot of Richard Scarry was generally the idea going into this project.
So to that end, I knew that the cover was going to be busy and jammed with a little bit of everything that is in the book. But beyond that idea, I didn’t have much.

I started out by drawing what I figured would be a decent basis for the illustration. This would be a traffic jam. Just a mass of vehicles with which I could set into a 10 inch by 12 inch frame and start working.

I used this sketch for the basis for the first sketch.

And then used it as a take-off point for a second sketch. These are the two I first sent to HarperCollins.

Generally, it was agreed that this is a good start. I was asked to try and show different kinds of vehicles that were in the book, like trains and bikes. And the type wasn’t working, since Everything was reading as Every Thing. For the second round of sketches, the background illustration was starting to fall into place but the type still wasn’t working. I’d became slightly obsessed with getting the type to work as a sign, like a billboard or on the side of the truck.

My editor believed that the treatment for “Everything Goes” should be something that would work on all three books and not necessarily be tied to the illustration itself. I squirmed at this suggestion, though of course she was correct. I knew it was 5% too clever to actually work. You can see the illustration getting a bit more refined as well.

After some prodding, I worked up some sketches for the “logo” as we started calling it.

Now, we were getting somewhere. Here’s how the sketch looked with the logo in place.

This is the sketch that got approved, though the logo still went through another round of changes. As a technicality, I made one more iteration of the cover sketch, just to nail down the details before I started inking. Below are the final illustration sketch and logo sketch that led to the artwork, which I shall reveal tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

A friend of mine asked me to contribute a sign for her son’s school in Brooklyn. They have a spring carnival every year in which they have these hand made signs and then they auction them to benefit the school. I’ve been looking for an excuse to do some collage work again, as it’s been a long while since I made those race cars and the work is the most satisfying kind of creative process I know.

So of course I said heck yeah.

This is 18 inches square and is made with collage and acrylic paint.

PS 39 clown

Monday, March 21st, 2011

I know you haven’t heard from me. It’s not you, it’s me. I’ve been busy. I know, I know, you’ve heard it before. I use it as an excuse way too often. I know what you’re gonna say. “Just a quick post? A card? Just text me and let me know you’re okay.”

Well, in my defense I have been updating my Twitter thing now and then, along with an occasional Dribbble and a Facebook update. Not enough? Okay, okay, I’ll try harder.

Everything Goes: On Land is done and at the printers, and the wheels have begin spinning within the deeper, darker halls of HarperCollins preparing to market and publicize the book. The I Can Read series that will accompany the books is in the works (which will be its own post one day — it’s a very odd and interesting process), and soon I have to start the beginnings of book two.
As soon as Everything Goes was done, I had to complete a long long delayed Brownie & Pearl book. This was book six of eight, so I have two more to do this year. Now I’m steamrolling through a book called The Boy Who Cried Alien, written by Marilyn Singer. This book first showed up in my life in the summer of 2007. It’s been through a few edits, a few editors, and then got hung up last year when I got buried in Everything Goes. Now it’s due in two weeks, and I’m laying low while getting this thing done. It’s a hilarious book and it’s been a lot of fun to work on, even if it has been for four years. I’ll post some more about this book as it’s completed and then as it nears publication as well.

two lost aliens

two lost aliens

These two images are of Dreab and Carlig, two aliens from the planet Yeah who crash land here on Earth. The language is their own, and the book includes translations.

This is Larry, who discovers the aliens and tries to warn the town. More to come. Don’t call me, I’ll call you.

Monday, February 21st, 2011

Referring to the maze posted in the last entry, and published in McSweeney’s The Goods. Click the image to make it bigger.

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

I’ve posted the illustration here previously, and now I can post the puzzle. And now you can go get it!

Outer Space puzzle
Outer Space puzzle
Outer Space puzzle
Outer Space puzzle
Galison/Mudpuppy commissioned this last year and released it this month. One side is colored by me and the other side is to be colored by you or your kids or friends.
This particular illustration was also just accepted into the 3×3 magazine children’s illustration annual, along with my #6 race car collage.

Friday, June 4th, 2010


Workman just published a new activity kit called Potato Chip Science, for which I drew the cover illustration. If you’re looking at the picture thinking “well Brian, your going insane, for that is not a book. It’s a bag of potato chips!” I couldn’t blame you. The packaging is meant to resemble a bag of chips, and in fact the bag is filled with plastic chips (something like those packing peanuts you get in shipping boxes). There is also a book of fun projects one can make with potatoes, as well as some of the materials you would need to do the projects.
Originally I was up for illustrating the entire book, but in the end they asked me to do the cover. Go out and get yourself this kit and spend the weekend making stuff out of potatoes!

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

Brownie & Pearl Get Dolled Up
Busy month, totally missed this.
The second book in the Brownie & Pearl series was published earlier in May. It’s called Brownie & Pearl Get Dolled Up, and within its covers the plight of little Brownie and her kitten Pearl continues as Brownie is forced to go to bed. Instead, she distresses her parents by playing dress-up — hilarity ensues!
As with the first book, this story is sweet like sugar and I think I used eight hundred shades of pink in the illustrations. Being a boy myself, it was kind of gross and I had to lay off desserts for a while.
If you’re not a boy (and even maybe if you are) you’ll love this book. It doesn’t have many words, but the words it has are the perfect words. Written by Cynthia Rylant, published by Beach Lane, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.

Brownie & Pearl Get Dolled Up
Brownie & Pearl Get Dolled Up
Brownie & Pearl Get Dolled Up
This illustration I just made yesterday. It’s for the fifth book in the series.
Pearl grabs a bite

Saturday, May 15th, 2010

Little Golden Books
Well it’s out, and now I can safely say that when I retire as an illustrator and spend my days on the golf links in Boca Raton, I will have illustrated a Little Golden Book. I’ve loved Little Golden Books ever since I can remember. My grandmother’s house had a stack of them that belonged to my aunts and uncles back in the 50’s and 60’s, and I liked the goofy stories and wonderful illustrations. At the time, I knew nothing of the legacy of these illustrators like Richard Scarry, Tibor Gergely, Leonard Weisgard, and Alice and Martin Provensen. As I grew up and went to college and became a designer, I forgot about much of the Golden Books.

It was only much later, while I was working on a poster for The Kids in the Hall in 2002, that I rediscovered these works. Mary Blair’s I Can Fly, Garth Williams’ Mister Dog, the Provenson’s Color Kittens, and especially Scarry’s Rabbit & His Friends were the inspiration for this poster.

[singlepic id=16 w=400]

Last year I discovered a book called Golden Legacy by Leonard Marcus. It’s a history of Little Golden Books, and I was about halfway through it when I got a call from out of the blue, that the editors of Little Golden Books would like me to illustrate a new book called I’m a T.Rex, written by Dennis Shealy. Needless to say I fell over and was stunned.

I love drawing dinosaurs but I hadn’t had a chance to draw dinosaurs for a book before. Sketches commenced. The T. Rex had to be fierce and angry but I wanted him to be kinda cute and funny as well.

I'm a T.Rex! cover sketch

The work went smoothly and just this last week, on May 11, it was officially “published” and released into stores. I got my copy on Thursday. And like I wrote, I’m pretty happy to be able to be part of the “story” of Golden Books now. I sure won’t put my book up there in the same echelon as the Scarry, Gergely, and Prevensen books. But at least it’s now sitting on the same shelf…

I'm a T. Rex!
My Little Golden Book: I'm a T. Rex!
My Little Golden Book: I'm a T. Rex!