Archive for the ‘Teaching‘ category


15 Circles


Quick illustrations inspired by an idea generation exercise assigned to Japanese and American students by Niigata College of Art and Design graphic design professor Mr Koizumi.


James Gurney’s Color Gamut Masking

Every winter, I have the pleasure of teaching a course named Introduction to Illustration during RISD’s Wintersession—a condensed academic term in January and February—with an exciting mix of Freshman, non-Illustration majors and graduate students. While this course is predominantly conceptual, I occasionally assign technical exercises to be executed in class, among which an experiment with the inspiring painter/illustrator James Gurney’s gamut masking technique. I find that applying this method is highly effective for students to develop a sensitivity to color’s relative nature and to address the difficulty of simultaneously working with tone, chroma, temperature and intensity. I thought that I would share some nice results by this year’s students, who have the freedom to select a favorite image of their choice to reproduce in a new color scheme.


A color gamut mastercopy of a J. C. Leyendecker painting, by Freshman Kiana Shakeraneh.


Freshman Cindy Shin’s color study of an illustration by the talented Kali Ciesemier.

To learn more about this technique, do visit James Gurney’s wonderful blog.

Mark Siegel at RISD

RISD students and I were honoured to greet Mark Siegel, pioneering editor of First Second Books and acclaimed author/illustrator of graphic novels and picture books (Sailor Twain, Boogie Knights, Sea Dogs, To Dance…). Mark held a workshop offering invaluable tools and insight to students for their creative life and presented a lecture at the RISD Museum’s Michael P. Metcalf Auditorium.


Mark, directing a workshop to the students of Paul Karasik’s CoMix class.


Poster for the lecture, adapted from the beautiful original cover of Sailor Twain designed by Colleen AF Venable.

Katherine Streeter Presentation at RISD

Today, the students of my Introduction to Illustration class and I had the special pleasure of welcoming the prolific and masterly illustrator Katherine Streeter. Katherine is traveling from New York to instruct a course about Collaged Images, in an adjoining classroom, and kindly took the time to drop by for a chat and presentation of her inspiring work. What luck to have such a talented neighbor this winter!

Katherine Streeter presenting or original artwork and tearsheets to students

PS: I just realized that, in a delightful coincidence, Katherine’s visit occurred precisely a year since Victo’s.

2013 Japanese Art + Culture Travel Program

From May to June 2013, I was the instructor of a month-long art program in Japan with my colleague Len Thomas-Vickory. Len and I instructed 15 students from the Montserrat College of Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, travelling to Niigata, Tōkyō, ÅŒsaka, Kyōto and Nara, teaching Woodblock Printmaking and Journalistic Drawing courses in partnership and collaboration with the wonderful faculty of the Niigata College of Art and Design, Montserrat’s sister school.

Traditional Woodblock course instructed by NCAD's Abe Sensei.

Traditional Woodblock course instructed by NCAD’s Abe Sensei.




The Death of Neil Armstrong

A year ago today, astronaut Neil Armstrong passed away at age 82. In days following this sad news, I gave my Illustration Concepts course’s students the assignment to create an editorial illustration about this event. As we discussed various ideas and possibilities for this assignment, I felt compelled to create an illustration myself, displayed below.

Death of Neil Armstrong

I had a surreal vision of an American flag half-mast, in a silent, quiet display of respect for the fallen astronaut. I also drew a variant, with bouquets and flowers slowly floating due to the moon’s gravity, which contribute to the supernatural atmosphere of the image. However, I feel as though the added iconography may detract from the effect of the half-mast.

Death of Neil Armstrong

Pen and Ink, 2013

TEDMED Portraits

As a member of RISD’s Illustration Department faculty, I have recently participated in a large-scale collaborative illustration project for the TEDMED 2013 Conferences, art directing and creating illustrations for publication on the conferences’ printed book programs, banners, and various other types of display at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. In addition to the exciting challenge of creating artwork in a wide variety of media, it was a joy to research and learn about the accomplishments of the conferences’ diverse speakers, whose dedication is an inspiration to creative individuals, and with whom we as visual artists share a common curiosity.

The illustration making aspects of the project were led by department head Robert Brinkerhoff and involved fellow team leaders Fred Lynch, Mary Jane Begin and Kelly Murphy.

The Portraits

Economist and Harvard Business School professor Michael E. Porter is an authority in competitive strategy, applied to economic development, industry, ecology and health care. Unlike specialists who study these various elements in isolation, Mr Porter’s research is holistic, analyzing these components as parts of a unified system. I depicted Mr Porter in front of a “war map” to illustrate his expertise as a strategist as well as the connections between all of his areas of study. On a symbolic level, the green color of the background represents health and is an allusion to a non-profit organization founded by Mr Porter, ICHOM, while the color of his tie (mauve) is a nod to the Harvard Business School.


Andrew Solomon is an award-winning writer on politics, psychology, society and arts, who has contributed to publications such as the New York Times, New Yorker and many more. Mr Solomon’s latest book is Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity, which tells the stories of families dealing with exceptional parent-child circumstances, often perceived as handicaps or obstacles: children with autism, dwarfism, prodigies, criminality and more. After extensive reading of Mr Porter’s writings, I chose to illustrate his message that this diversity in identities is what unites us, by drawing the author in front of a chain of paper people, which paradoxically vary in sizes and shape, in a surreal manner.


Nota bene: Mr Solomon’s portrait’s colour scheme was altered for the printed materials, for the sake of stylistic consistency with other works in the exhibit.


Illustrations displayed as banners. Ashley Atkinson’s portait was created by Kelly Murphy.


The theme for the 2013 Conferences is “Unexpected Connections,” and artists sought to work in a variety of styles and media to portray this diversity. I led a team of 4 students to create 2 portraits of speakers each. Below, illustrations by the talented Ellen Alsop, Yoora Chae, Suzanne Geary and Alison Rutsch.


This project was additionally a wonderful opportunity to work with Alexander Isley Inc., which was responsible for the creative direction of the conferences’ visual materials. Below, a photograph of a meeting with RISD teams, TEDMED and Alexander, as well as an overview of the 58 portraits of the conference speakers.



Victo Ngai Presentation at RISD

My RISD Introduction to Illustration class and I had the honour of receiving the visit of Victo Ngai, whose talent is rivaled only by her work ethic. Victo’s presentation was remarkably eloquent and insightful, prompting words of appreciation from the students every single week till the end of the term.


Above illustration © copyright Victo Ngai. All Rights Reserved.


King of the ILL

King of the ILL 2011

King of the ILL is a character design tournament in which tag teams designed by students from the Montserrat College of Art face each other in a juried competition. The 2011 edition, organised by Kelly Murphy and I, is judged by an all star jury of artists and designers, Ann Smith, Cutter Hutton, Paolo Rivera, Scott Campbell (“Scott C.”) and Willie Real.