the news section

By "news" of course, we mean that which is new. Information, projects, ideas, that sort of thing. Maybe sometimes now and then you might find the "recent" and occasionally something quite "old" might find its way on to these pages. Possibly it could be in the form of an illustration, or perhaps I"m just behind the curve in some way. Enjoy.

a small part of Tinyville Town

October 21, 2015 | bookmark | Leave a Comment

Tinyville Town, Brian Biggs, city block, bakery, hotel

I start working on final inked art for the Tinyville Town series I’ve been sketching and writing all year. Three books due mid December. Before I headed out of the studio last night, I did a little practice drawing to get into the feel of the books. This series and the Everything Goes series overlap in places (cities, vehicles, people doing things and going places) but the aim for Tinytown is less Richard Scarry and more Sesame Street. Or Fisher Price. There will be a lot more of this coming up.

founding fathers

October 8, 2015 | bookmark | Leave a Comment

Tinyville Town, Brian Biggs, illustration

This is a statue depicting the founding fathers of Tinyville Town. The town was founded in 1830, when an English fisherman and a German goat herder each happened along the same rise along the Orange River at the same time. What this statue doesn’t depict is the simmering tension between the descendants of the German settlers and the descendants of the English settlers over who was there first. This issue has been the source of much consternation and many a dirty look for 180 years, and was the underlying cause of the Zwischenfall im Squaredance, or “The Fight at the Polka Hall” as the English refer to it, in 1945.
Tinyville Town is now a modern, diverse, and growing city. I’m writing and illustrating a series of books about Tinyville Town that will be published by Abrams Appleseed starting next year. So far they haven’t let me write the book about The Fight at the Polka Hall. Let’s cross our fingers.

Earphone Award!

October 7, 2015 | bookmark | Leave a Comment

audiofile, frank einstein, brian biggs, audiobook

I don’t enter many illustration awards competitions. So, consequently, I don’t win many illustration awards. And as an illustrator, I sure never thought I’d win an award from an audio magazine. So it was pretty neat the other day to get a package in the mail from AudioFile Magazine, which is a magazine about audio books.
There have been three books published in the Frank Einstein series, and each of them has a corresponding audio book. For each of these, I’ve trekked up to New York to a recording studio and recorded the robot parts from the books (Jon Scieszka reads the rest of the voices and the narration). I record these in character, with different inflections and personalities for the two robots, Klink and Klank, and then I take the resulting audio files and dress them up with some fun audio gear until they sound like robots. Or, like how I think robots should sound.
Fast forward a bit of time, and AudioFile magazine published a wonderful review of the first audiobook, Frank Einstein and the Anti-Matter Motor, and awarded us an “Earphone Award,” which even though it looks a lot like a certificate of participation that my kids get when their teams come in last place in sports, I’m very excited that the work got this recognition.

And lastly, if you read this far, you deserve to see this. Yes, I don’t just provide the voice of robots. I wear a giant robot head for video as well.

Williamsburg

September 1, 2015 | bookmark | Leave a Comment

I’m currently writing and drawing a book about a bridge for a pretty big series of books I’ll be talking about a LOT at some point. I’ve learned more about bridges and bridge engineering in the last three weeks than I thought I’d ever want or need to know.
Last week I was in New York, leeching off a trip Sacha had to take for work, and taking advantage of it to spend a few days meeting with some editors at Abrams and Roaring Brook. When we arrived at the hotel on Delancey Street, I noticed immediately that we were right at the pedestrian entrance to the Williamsburg Bridge. So while Sacha headed out early for her client stuff, and since I didn’t have my first appointment until noon, I spent that morning meandering to Brooklyn and back.

The Williamsburg Bridge is the bridge over the East River I guess I think about the least when I think about those bridges. (Don’t you have a list, in order, as well?) For me, it’s the Queensborough Bridge, otherwise known as the 59th Street Bridge first. Woody Allen saw to that. Second would be the Brooklyn Bridge, of course. It was the first bridge I walked across when I was 17 visiting NYC in 1985. Third would be the Manhattan Bridge, mainly just because it’s next to the Brooklyn Bridge.

Several years ago, the pedestrian and bikeways were redesigned and rebuilt, and now the Williamsburg carries more bicycles on any given day than any bridge in the world. I think every single one of them was crossing at the same time I was.

So here is a collection of the photos I took on the walk. I was fascinated with the pink color of the walkway against the grey and blue of the bridge and sky. It was morning, about 10am, and the light was fantastic. Last but not least was the graffiti. It was everywhere, covering nearly every surface, to the point where it became just texture.

The pictures were taken with a Panasonic Lumix LX7 and with my iPhone.

See them on Flickr here or click the photo below.

a walk across the Williamsburg Bridge

Illustrator Day

July 29, 2015 | bookmark | Leave a Comment

The Eastern PA SCBWI chapter asked me to speak and give a presentation talk at their Illustrator Day event on September 12. I’ll be talking about how I took an odd little manuscript by Mac Barnett and turned it into a picture book that will be published next year by Macmillan. I’ll also be signing books and standing around looking awkward.
If you are an illustrator within driving distance to Yardley, PA, I hope to see you there.

More info on the SCBWI website here.

children's book illustration by Brian Biggs

From “Noisy Night,” by Mac Barnett

5-year-old Klank

July 19, 2015 | bookmark | Leave a Comment

Abrams/Chronicle, who distributes the Frank Einstein books in the UK, just turned five years old. They asked a few of their illustrators to draw birthday cards to that effect. Here’s mine.

5 years KLANK

Greek to me

June 1, 2015 | bookmark | Leave a Comment

It’s fun getting the foreign editions of a book in the mail.

150302_greek frank_001

150302_greek frank_003

Ape, not monkey.

May 11, 2015 | bookmark | Leave a Comment

Angry Monkey
I drew a fun promo for Frank Einstein a couple of weeks ago for The Guardian, a newspaper in the UK. I always enjoyed those books by Ed Emberley when I was a kid, and this draws some inspiration from that.

How to Draw an Angry Monkey.

Enjoy!

fan mail

December 9, 2014 | bookmark | Leave a Comment

not_battery

I got this message this morning on the Facebook:

Hey Brian Biggs! We haven’t met, but my friend Amy Ignatow recommended your books for my daughter and she LOVES them. adores. Devours. Our car battery finally died today, and when my husband and I were talking about needing a new one, she just said “it’s not the battery.” (She always takes the not battery side of the debate!). I think it’s the battery. Anyway, thanks for the outstanding books.

And that’s just awesome.

Feliz Díos de los Muertos

October 29, 2014 | bookmark | Leave a Comment

Muertos

(Click the images to see them bigger. In some cases, much bigger.)
I was recently asked by Steven Malk, my literary agent at Writers House, to create a promotional card for the upcoming holiday. No, not Halloween. Rather, the Day of the Dead, or Díos de los Muertos. I actually volunteered for this — he is putting together a series of these promotional images for the lesser-known holidays. Arbor Day, Grandparent’s Day, and so on. When I saw Muertos on the list I jumped at the chance. I’ve long admired the work of J.G. Posada, whose wood-cut skeletons and other imagery I associate with the holiday.

8097112_orig

cyclists---Posada

diadetrans

Originally I thought I might even play with some printmaking techniques to pay a little homage to Posada as I make this image, but I quickly realized that with the looming deadline for the second Frank Einstein book, this would not be possible. I had to do what I do the way I know how to do it, and go from there.

I pretty much knew what I wanted to do from the start. The festive atmosphere of a Day of the Dead celebration is one that everyone should at some point experience. I don’t love the goofy goth-horror side that Americans have sort of adapted over the years, and I wanted the story told here to be less about the costumes and more about the idea of this old guy moving from this life to the next. I went through a few phases with the sketches but it came together pretty quickly.
Below I post various steps in the process, in order that I made them, and some details from the final art.

The first sketch -- just two guys.

The first sketch — just two guys.

I thought a background would be involved at first.

I thought a background would be involved at first.

Working out color stuff.

Working out color stuff.

The big tight sketch that becomes the basis for the inked art.

The big tight sketch that becomes the basis for the inked art.

Inked and scanned, ready for color in Photoshop.

Inked and scanned, ready for color in Photoshop.

trio_detail1

trio_detail3

trio_detail2

The printed card.

The printed card.

The reverse side with the necessary information.

The reverse side with the necessary information.

The printed card is only 4.25″ x 6″, so I’m sad that a lot of the detail of the line-work is difficult to make out. I’d love to print this thing bigger at some point. Maybe when I get the mythical screen-printing gear in my closet here set up and running…