I worked on a CD cover for Born Anchors. It never really made it to completion, so this is it's last manifestation. The colors, concept, and type are not mine. This is kind of a sad job for me. I like the guys in the band, and the music, and I wish that the concept they wanted had worked out, but it didn't. I was not creatively active on this assignment, my role was more of "the hand." I just drew whatever the guy I was working with wanted and didn't really participate in the concept or anything. The comics style portraits I did on my own at one time in the process, they might become buttons. I like them a lot, even though they're certainly a departure for me. I've been playing around with a lot of different styles lately, and the projects that I've been conceptualizing have been all over the map. This was when I was thinking a lot about developing a comic book style. I'll be the first to admit a strong influence from Jamie Hewlett (Tank Girl, Gorillaz). Fun though. But yeah, the cover, not so much. I'm not sure where it went wrong, but it surely did.
This is a record cover for a Mexican hardcore band called Maladie It's got an Egyptian Death theme. Mummy, blue lotus, stars of the underworld. Good times. I got to do whatever I wanted on this one, and that's the way I like it. They did some of their own changes after passing it off, but I'm showing it the way I intended it to look. This is probably going to be my last record cover, at least for a while. I've finally finished all the covers I had committed to doing, and I don't want to do them anymore. They are labor intensive, and I don't get paid hardly anything to do them. If I got a decent offer to do one for a large label or something, that's a different story, but for what I'm making now it's just not worth the time and stress. I'm supposed to work on some drawings to go in the layout of a record cover, but that's a bit of a different beast.
I'm not sure where my next move will be. I have some editorial illustrations coming up, but if you haven't noticed, illustrations in magazines are waaayyy down. I don't think it's realistic to try to squeeze a living out of those alone. Possibly comics, or concept art. Maybe I'll hunker down in a master's program until the economic shit storm blows over. We'll see.
The art director from Nylon Guys gave me a second chance to do a nice portrait, something that was so challenging to me with the Wonkavision assignment. This time I had a week instead of a day, and the assignment was Richard Branson! A gift from the illustration gods! Portraits can be tough, but the face makes a huge difference. Richard Branson has a truly great face. It's very easy to do a likeness of him. I did many many drawings and studies of his face. At my first attempts were poor and uninspired so I chose not to show them here. The first painting was the really polished and colorful one at the bottom. I was really proud of it, and excited because for the first time I had done a painting that was un-creepy. I personal mile-stone. The AD was not stoked on it though, and said it was too slick. He recommended that I not try so hard, and make something darker. I guess it's better to try too hard than not hard enough. At first I was taken aback, but I quickly realized that it was not suitable for that magazine, and it was not like the work in my portfolio, so probably an unwelcome surprise for the art director. He recommended that I do something less literal, so I have the blue and green shapes based on his directions. I think they came out nice, and it was a good assignment. The blue version is printed on the last page of the magazine, on news-stands now.
http://rateyourmusic.com/list/opfer/_album_art__jeremy_forson This site came up in my analytics. It kind of blows me away that the record covers I've done have been chronologically tracked, all without me knowing. There's a few things missing, but it's still pretty impressive. Especially because I don't even remember when I put some of these things out, and some of them were never even on my site.
One of my old co-workers referred his friend at Reebok to me, and I got a little job out of it. Good times. They wanted something minimal, yet edgy enough to sell at a street-wear store. I feel like a did a good job of it. It was strange for me to be asked to do a straight up design job, no illustration required, but I was happy to take on a new challenge. I did the parts by hand, printing out a Reebok logo, cutting it out, and spray painting it. I think what makes me different from other designers, is that I took the time to do it by hand, while others might fake it. It makes a big difference visually in my opinion. I'm glad to be able to add such a notable client to my list as well.
Wow am I busy! On top of everything else, I'm having my first legitimate solo art show! I'm very excited about it. If you have the ability to come and show your wonderful face, I suggest you do so. It's part of Oakland Art Murmur. I'm hoping to have a good turnout. I bought a fancy Epson printer the day before losing my job, and I'm going to try to make the best of it by making some limited edition prints of some of my most loved paintings. They will be available at the gallery, assuming I don't run into complications. After that I'll have them available on the new website I have to make...it's on the list...which is very long right now.
As I'm sitting here writing this, I've suddenly started remembering all of the events that have occurred in the course of this project. It is epic. I painted the Space Corpse piece intending for it to be the cover, but the band was not so into it, they wanted something more epic, but just then there was some debate about whether I would be doing this cover at all. They were talking with Ferret Records about putting the album out, and they have an in-house illustrator who does their covers, so they weren't sure if the label would help to pay me. Then there was a huge fiasco with the Poison the Well (PTW) tour poster. PTW is signed with Ferret, and Blues saw my post and asked The Label owner about it and.....it was a rough couple days I don't really want to get into, but it was nasty. The guy from Ferret was nice though, and PTW had nothing to do with it, but their manager was considerate too. Anyway, then Blues decided that Ferret was not a good fit for them, and I was back on the job. The final Heavy Sci-Fi painting is by far the longest I've ever spent on a piece. It looks good, the band and 1912 records (who is releasing it) is pleased, but man am I glad it's finished. Painting geometric shapes was much more taxing than I imagined it would be. They had to be so precise, and even though I gave myself some room for it to look hand drawn, it was still taxing. I've been going to a lot more Gallery shows in the city lately, and I think the level of finish I've been seeing is what inspired me to spend so long on this painting.
Heavy Sci-Fi is an elaborate concept album, which in some ways made my job easy, because there was a long and elaborate story behind the lyrics, but it also made my some difficult, because not all of the story was clear from the lyrics. We worked it out relatively painlessly, but it was almost like doing illustrations for Lord of the Rings based solely on the overview printed on the back of the book.
The economy finally hit home for me. Just after the worst week on Wall Street of all time, I was laid off from my full-time Flash job. I can't say I'm happy about it, I liked my job. The agency has lost one of it's biggest clients, and advertising in general is being hit hard by our tough times. Clients cut advertising budgets first, and work had been slow for months. I can't say I'm too surprised.
I'm going to take this opportunity to try to make a break in my career as an artist. I've been turning down jobs recently, but now it seems I'll have the time to do them after all. I'm curious to see if what was keeping me from being a full-time illustrator was my full-time job. I'll have to put my skills to the test. If you have a need to artistic services, you know how to contact me.
Every-so-often a student contacts me for a presentation they're doing on an artist. This is my little interview.
Blair: How did your interest in art start and form?
Jeremy: That's a tough question. I really don't remember because I've had a love for drawing since I was a small child. I think I showed talent from an early age, and I started to do it more and more because of the positive responses I would get. I remember once in kindergarten a kid drew Garfield on the chalk board, and I was so jealous. I've always been incredibly competitive about my drawing skills, so whenever I saw a drawing that I thought was better than something I could do, I would go into a drawing fury for days, or be totally crushed if it was well out of my league. I still do that sometimes.
Blair: What are some of your objectives or purposes for your art?
Jeremy: In my art I often try to show a part of a story that makes people want to know the whole thing. Like a single frame from a movie, taken at a peculiar moment. I don't want to spell everything out. Sometimes people tell me what they think my paintings are about, and they're wildly fantastic. Way different than what I had in mind while making them. I like that. That's my best work in anyway. Some pieces are more of a quick read. Especially many of the commissioned illustrations.
Blair: What do you believe defines your style?
Jeremy: I try to play with opposites a lot, I want to keep things balanced. If I feel like the subject to too macabre I might paint it pink to even it out. I don't know what defines my style honestly. I don't feel like I have one, but other people can always tell what's mine. I see a lot of blogs where people talk about my work, and the optimal word seems to be "creepy." The problem is that don't think my art is creepy, and I don't want it to be. Sadly, I think that's where true creepiness comes from. It's not something you can do at will because it will look contrived. The fact that it's unintentional only makes it more unsettling. I often feel as though my hand is possessed, and it corrupts my drawing ideas into the dark images that fill my portfolio.
Blair: Any challenges faced when creating?
Jeremy: I have many challenges to face when I'm art making. For one, I'm almost always too tired because of a sleeping disorder. I try to power through it. I have to spend a lot of time sleeping, so I don't have very much free time to draw. I'm not a full time artist, I have a full time job, and it makes it very hard to do as much art as I'd like. Also, it seems to be impossible for me to make something that isn't creepy. Every painting starts in my mind as a lovely thought, and is corrupted by the possessed hand. This is debilitating to my illustration career, which requires me to be somewhat versatile. The real money in illustration is in advertising, and there's not too many campaigns who's objective is to give thousands of people the creeps. I could try to adapt to a more commercially digestible style, but I wouldn't be happy. Instead I'm moving towards doing more gallery shows.
Blair: What is the concept behind "Snowman?"
Jeremy: Sometimes I suddenly have an odd idea, and it strikes a chord in me so deep, that I cannot ignore it no matter how random it seems. "Snowman" is one of those pieces. I always try to draw these ideas because often it makes sense to me later. I realized after I made this drawing that this is a very personal piece, and the snowman is actually me. At the time I was completely shut-down emotionally due to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder following a gun robbery. An ice-man. I was also struggling with making the transition from college to full adulthood. I felt like this, a child trapped in an snowman's body.
Blair: What is the concept behind "Fridge?"
Jeremy: Some pieces I still can't explain, but there's something about the imagery that resonates for me. "Fridge" is one of those. I get stuck creatively, like anyone else, and I have many tactics to overcome it. Writing is one of them. I write about the subject I'm trying to illustrate, or just free-flowing sentences; whatever comes out. "Fridge" came from a short story, or poem I guess, that was about having a see-though girlfriend that lived in my fridge. I thought it was brilliant at the time, but I'm not confident in my writing, so I don't share it with people. It was probably total crap, and the product of a bout of mental illness, but I still like the drawing I did to accompany it.
Blair: What are your hopes for the future?
Jeremy: I hope in future that I'll be making a living as a well-repected artist. I think that's it really. I'm single-minded about my future. That has been my goal my whole life.
I got another email last week from Wonkavision saying they needed a bunch of illustrations and I asked for one called "The Punk bible." They have kind of a mass email/grab bag system for illustrations. They wrote back and asked if I could do the Josie Outlaw makeup one too, and said that they had to be done in like 4 days. Pretty tight. I didn't get the stories for another 2 days, so I had a day to do them both. It was hard, but not impossible. I find that what tends to suffer most in a tight deadline is the idea. I take about 2 weeks to work out ideas and compositions, then it usually only takes a day or two to do the painting.
The Punk bible ended up actually being "The Rock Bible", which I was surprised to learn was co-written by Patton Oswald. Either way, it was well suited for me. When I read the article all I could think was "Motorhead." When I think "Rock" that's what comes to mind, so I built the piece around it. I finally made the investment and got 2 Kolinsky sable brushes. One is an Isabey #5, which I used for both of these, and the other is a Raphael #6. The brush is incredible. It's worth it if you use a brush to ink. If you use pens, I think you should just use a nice brush, you can get more precise details than a micron 005, and you can use super black waterproof India ink.
The other illustration is about Josie Outlaw of the AKA's. She started a make-up line called Red Letter Girl. Unfortunately, that was about the extent of the article. This was a really hard assignment for me, but I like that. The Rock Bible piece was obviously my element, but having to draw something in a positive light was more problematic than I thought it would be. I've been thinking about this one a lot. This assignment involved drawing lots of things that I'm not strong at: It had to be positive, she had to be alive, a likeness, I'm not good at drawing women, and it had to have a lot of bright colors, which is really hard to do. I feel like the drawing was strong, but when it got to coloring it, the variety of colors made it all seem disunited. I like to work with a limited palette. I almost never paint flesh tones. I don't care for them, and I find it hard to work that tan into the color scheme of a painting. Plus a believe that it's much more interesting the the skin is a different color; it helps to build a more fantastical world. I need to work of these problems something fierce because I'll never be able to make a living just doing record covers. I also did vignettes for some reason, I never do vignettes and that's a compositional challenge of it's own. It's hard to deal with all that white too. I enjoyed the challenge, and I think it will help me develop a style for this kind of work.
Wow, 2 posts in one day. I just finished this personal painting. I've been doing less band artwork lately to focus on personal projects. This painting started out as an exercise and turned into a really nice piece in my opinion. That almost always happens, where the paintings I'm just doing for fun are the strongest, but this time I painted it on a loose surface instead of in my goddamn sketchbook where I can't even show it. The surface is something I made for the Blues "Snakepit" album that I didn't use. This painting looks much better in real life. Like I said, I wasn't expecting it to be anything but a fun painting, so it's not primed correctly or anything to facilitate better scanning. The result is that it scanned HORRIBLY and I spend a bunch of time trying to make it passable. Healing tool = Awesome. Raw canvas reacts strangely in the scanner, plus the triple thick crystal clear varnish I finished it with was reflecting badly off the edges of the cut canvas. I have a problem where I do my best work on terrible surfaces, I'm sure that it's because it's less intimidating, and I feel less anxious about messing it up. My most popular painting is on a flooring sample and man, I wish it wasn't.
This was much painterly as far as process then most of my work. No sketches, no preconceived composition. Just exploration of the form, color, and medium. I painted this back and forth several times, and although it was tedious, it looks richer and I learned a lot. My plans for the future are to do more gallery work. I feel like I'm better suited for it, so expect to see more personal paintings like this.
A couple months ago I got an email from LAB81, an Italian design company trying to break into the ever-so-popular PVC toy market. They asked 40 artists and designers to do these toys for a show that will be traveling around Italy. It sounded fun, and new, so I said yes. Everything went smoothly until I got to actually painting the figures (meaning that drawing out my ideas of paper went well). They're made of clear PVC(vinyl) and are slightly flexible. I wanted to write a blog chronicling the process, but I ended up running into so many problems that I forgot what I did. Mostly, the acrylic paint wouldn't stick at first, I just thought it was the material, but now I'm wondering if there was a lubricant on them to ease release from the mold. So I spray painted them with primer, and it just remained endlessly sticky. The acrylic I put over it too, it just wouldn't dry. So every time I touched them with paint on my hard it stuck, and if they touched anything else, it stuck. the paint also rubbed off at the slightest touch. I painted one, then the paint started cracking so I had to start over and strip off the acrylic with rubbing alcohol, then the spray paint with turpenoid. I painted these things so many times; really frustrating. Also, my roommate's cat decided to gnaw on one of them. I tried to repair it, but you can still kinda tell. This was a difficult challenge and I learned a lot, but think I'll stick to 2-D for a while. One thing I leaned is that there's a huge community of toy artists and toy collectors out there, I didn't realize the scope of it. People are dead serious about it too, they even commission artists to paint toys for them.
The theme of the show is love and hate. I decided to make the hate figure have a little love and vice versa because I don't believe in those kinds of absolutes.
I don't remember when I did the art for this record, it was a while ago that's for sure. It seemed like everyone had seen the actual pressing except for me. Today I got a care package from Hex. It's a truly fine release that I'm proud to have my name on. The record itself is a hefty (180 gram?) one molded from translucent cream and red vinyl. I didn't have any part in that, and I didn't know it was going to be on colored vinyl, but I like it a lot. Also seen, some other goodies thrown in. This is sort-of a standard package from an indie record company when you do art for them. It's nice.
Then there's a really sweet wheat-paste I saw in China-town that just happened to be on my camera as I was importing photos.
Another shirt design for Graf Orlock. This one was a bit of trouble. I worked closely with Alan from Graf on ideas, mostly because their shirts tend to be concept based, and I'm realizing that I don't have a lot of strength in that realm. I'm good at making things look cool, of conveying emotion, or being creepy, but there's never really a punchline. I can't describe my art work, it doesn't sound cool, you just have to see it. I was originally going to draw Conan slashing up terminator machines. I drew Conan and 1 1/2 machines before quiting. It was coming out horrible, and the machines were taking me forever to draw. I knew it would be a challenge, but it was too much for me. Conan also didn't look like Arnold, and his face was drawn for too small to really get a likeness. I was going to post it here, but I decided that it's just WAY too bad for anyone else to ever see. So, sometimes you have to realize that it's not working, and cut your losses. I had one night to do this shirt left. I went home from work, got dinner and an energy drink (which I've been drinking a lot of lately) and went home to sink my teeth into this. Let me tell you about this energy drink called Venom. If you HAVE to get things done, drink one of those things. Holy crap. And I don't want any of you guys shaking your heads about my energy drink consumption. I have a legitimate sleeping disorder, which I used to take ADDERALL for, so this is much better in my opinion. Got to get that surgery, damn.
I'm really glad I started over, this came out pretty killer, and it didn't even take that long. One thing I know about myself is that I work well under pressure.
I'm going to be working on a 7" cover for Born Anchors and they want me to paint the band in the same style as my "Lipstick" painting. Naturally, I need to pull their likeness' out of it, which is an interesting challenge. I did this test yesterday since I'm waiting for some reference shots from them.
This was for Character of the Week on Conceptart.org. I'm trying to improve my character skills by doing this exercise. I'd like to do them every week, but I probably won't have time for the rest of the month. The character concept was "The Host" which as it was described is a Celtic folklore character who takes the souls of the dead. Part of the submission requirements were to make a sketch of an alternate version of the character.
Maybe somebody can shed some light on this situation. Every so often I get a request to do something, and I'm into it, so I say yes. I never hear from them again. I follow up to see what's going on with the project, and nothing. What is with that? It feels like I said a racial slur on national television and they want to distance themselves from me all together. I understand that some projects get killed, if that's it. Weird. I need to know people!
Hey kids. Big news is that my profile in Juxtapoz Magazine is finally out. I consider it a milestone in my career, and an honor. The painting reproduced well, so that's great after my disappointing reproduction in Spectrum last year (by the way, I didn't submit this year, which was probably a mistake). So I've been waiting for weeks to show this painting for SF Magazine. This was my best assignment to date. The article is about dark films in SF (which is perfect for me. right?), the due date was 2 weeks, and I was well paid. It's just the best imaginable job for me, and it fell into my lap through an email out of the blue. So I rocked it. I'm stoked of the piece I did, the AD was stoked; everything was awesome. I worked closely with the AD, Alejandro Chavetta on this, and he was just fantastic. He didn't tell me what to do, he just gave me a general idea about the direction he needed, and helped me flush out my ideas. Really, the whole thing was just great. I finished well ahead of the due date. This is a combination of painting and digital, that I feel came out showing the best traits of both. The only thing that bothers me about this painting, is that actual parks at night are way more spooky than this painting. I'll do another post with more about my process at a later date.
This was a commission for mctarty.com on the theme of "Scottish African". In spite on this being for an art director/writer creative team, all I was asked to do was "Scottish African". Pat Mckay is of Scottish decent, Feh Tarty is Liberian.Some projects are like that. I wanted to keep this one light, and since it was intended to be put on a white website, I made it a vignette. It feels very different from my normal work. I feel like I'm always changing things up, but this one's especially unusual for me. It's so unusual that I don't even know what to think about it yet. They were happy with it though. I'm not sure if it fits in my portfolio, so I don't think I'm going to put it on my site.
Oh yeah, so the tartans are Pat McKay's family's, Thistle is the nation flower of Scotland, and red deer are apparently common there. On the other side the leopard is part of Feh's tribe's folklore, the pattern is either Liberian or at least West African, I don't remember, and the flowers are pepper flowers, official flower of Liberia.
I have been itching to do more personal work, and be overall more prolific. This is the first of many (hopefully) person art works I will make. I had the idea a little while ago, and for some reason it strikes a chord with me. I originally wanted it to be a shirt design, but once I got going it started to have too many colors to be cost effective for me. Maybe though, we'll see. I didn't think it would come out so....emo. I thought it would be funnier, but in the end it seems sad. This is a common problem for me.
I made a Flickr account (http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeremy_forson/ or my SN is jeremy_forson) and I started uploading all my art on it, or at least the things I have shot or scanned. What I realized very quickly is that I have a lot of art that I do not necessarily want the entire world to see. So if you REALLY want to see all of the terrible old things I made, you'll have to add me as a friend on there. It's nice to have everything in one place that I can access from anywhere, and they're backed-up.