Tuesday, December 20, 2011

PlanSponsor: Patrick Groenendijk

 I illustrated a portrait of Patrick Groenendijk for PlanSponsor Europe. Patrick is the CIO of a Dutch co-operative private road transport pension scheme Pensioenfonds Vervoer. Read the article online.

Patrick Groenendijk by Graham Smith
The article's theme is change, and how this investment officer adapts. Art Director, SooJin Buzelli chose a sketch with dramatic clouds blowing ahead of a storm to represent the interview.

"Everything needs to change in order for things to remain the same." Patrick Groenendijk

Following the theme myself, I changed the way I usually illustrate portraits and inked this one at almost triple the print size. See how big the original inking is next to the magazine and my sketchbook? It was fun to draw that big.


Above are some details from the illustration. I create the backgrounds by any means possible, using  ink, acrylic paint, brayers, brushes and different types of paper and printing techniques. To me, changing the way things are created each time, keeps things fresh and in discovery mode.


Monday, December 19, 2011

Another sketchy weekend

Friday at Cosmos Cafe

Friday night in La Mesa, California outstanding guitar performances by Michael Lille and Andy Lund from Taylor guitars, rocked Cosmos Coffee Cafe. I sat down in the back with a chicken salad sandwich and black cherry soda (not pictured) and my sketchbook - and drew the room while acoustic harmonies soaked into the room.

Saturday at Tibet House
My friend, Rima Fujita is an artist and activist. We went to the Tibet House the next day, to learn how she was inspired in a dream to help Tibet. And to buy her book, "Save the Himalayas" which she gracious signed for a house full of her admirer's.

The Dali Lama wrote the forward to "Save the Himalayas" and gave Rima a special recognition at the peace summit in Japan. Through her organization, Books For Children, Rima has donated over 12,000 copies of her books to schools for Tibeten children in exile. All the proceeds from her books go towards supporting education in Tibet. Helping Tibet is Rima's life's work and she will not accept a penny for it.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Kim Jong Il - Death of a Dictator

Kim Jong Il - Graham Smith
Kim Jong Il, 69, died from a heart attack today after "dedicating his life to the people." The North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il was the son of Kim Il Song, the founder Communist Nation and had been in power since 1994.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Restaurant Sketchbook

Coffee at Conrad's Diner in Glendale.
A while back, I started a new Moleskine sketchbook and decided it should have a theme. Since drawing and eating are two of my favortite things, I decided to fill the Moleskine with drawings done in solely in restaurants. That's it, above, with the coffee drawing. The Restaurant Sketchbook.

If you have gone out to eat with me and wondered, this is a collection of what I was scribbling in my sketchbook, while stuffing my face...

Pizza Port: Highway 101, California.
China Max: Dim Sum
A giant "Pho Warehouse" in Orange County.
Dim Sum on the Patio
Waiting for a table at Toshi.
Sake and seaweed salad at Toshi
Seared Ahi, green tea and sushi at Wa.
Dawn drinks tea at Thai /Chinese Cuisine.
Teresa and Andrei at Saigon City for Pho
Kitchen: I do have one.
Throw down at China Max
A very late night sketch: Conrad's
You can get anything at this diner - 24 hours a day.
Pho Hut in Glendale
Cotija's in Santee - picking up Menudo for Vinnie.
Tajima: We'd hit this place for spicy noodles after life drawing.
Picasso's for tapas: Hillcrest, San Diego.
Dawn preps a Thanksgiving feast while I draw.
Tofu House: brings you hot tea in a can!
Saigon Star for BBQ pork chops and rice.
Cafe Venti: Drawsome! Sketchbook Sessions
Sushi Roku in Santa Monica.
Another China Max throw down!
Cafe Venti: Drawsome! Sketchbook Sessions
Cafe Venti: Drawsome! Sketchbook Sessions
Cafe Venti: Drawsome! Sketchbook Sessions

It's fun looking through the old sketchbooks at the drawings, seeing what we ate, who sat at the table, what it looked like and remembering. I just noticed there are a bunch of places I eat at all the time, but never seemed to draw... too busy eating! I'll bring my sketchbook next time.


HealthLeaders: Portraits of the Editors

Ed Pruitt - Editor of Healthleaders

Jim Molpus - Interim Editor of Healthleaders
 Ed Pruitt and Jim Molpus are the Editor and Interim Editor at Healthleaders magazine. I was commissioned to illustrate their portraits for the Editor's Letter page by award winning Art Director Doug Ponte.

You can see the size of the drawing and the kind of pen nib I use to draw with. The bigger thick to thin strokes are drawn with the pen nib in the standard position. The really thin lines are drawn with the pen nib held upside down, using the thin, forward edge of the nib's foot.

Each person is drawn quite a few times until the portrait is figured out. I spread the inked portraits out on my desk to decide which best suits the assignment.

The Editor's portraits were destined to print small, so I illustrated the portraits about twice the print size, which was still pretty small. I have to be "hold-my-breath" careful when drawing small portraits, where the thickness of the line makes a big difference.

Sometimes, I think my nose is going to touch the paper, I get so close to the work. This is what the drawings looks like from that perspective!

Ed Pruitt: Detail, Black Cat India ink and General's non-repro blue pencil: Graham Smith.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Interviewed by an Art Student - Joanna Eberts

Every so often, art students ask me questions about the process of illustration for their class projects. I'm not sure that drawing things and putting them on the internet qualifies me to answer these questions. But, I am always thrilled to help (and confuse) aspiring artists with off-the-cuff quips and unrelated anecdotes. Over time, I have compiled a folder full of these interviews. Here is one from an aspiring illustration student, Joanna Eberts.

As part of a class during my senior year as an Illustration student at RIT, we were told to interview successful illustrators whose styles we liked. I had seen Graham Smith's work a good year prior to this and knew right away I wanted to ask him some questions on the business of Illustration. It was a fun experience and I learned a lot. A year later finds me a happy graduate with a job doing art every single day, no doubt in part thanks to good advice and anecdotes from one dedicated artist. - Joanna Eberts

1. When you get a commission for a new piece, what is your process from start to finish? Brainstorming, Thumbnails, Comps, etc.
I wrote a blog post about that, check this link out...

     Rat's Life: How to Draw a Cover for the SF Weekly

2. About how many hours do you put into one illustration?
As many as it takes. Schedules often dictate how long you can spend on each phase of illo development. When the Art Director calls and wants to see something in the am, or next week or in 3 months, you know what you have to do. Every great illustrator I know works until it's perfect, however long that takes.

3. What medium do you prefer?
I love them all. Colored pencils. Anything you can draw with, really. I like washy, liquidy kinds of paint, like watercolor, ink and guache. And collage. Love glueing and taping things. Also, I am never without my fountain pen.

4. How would you describe your style?
I have a drawing based style. It's representational and realistic. Subjects tend to treated heroically or demonically, combining drama with draftsmanship. It is stream of consciousness style, layered over logical structure. Beauty within imperfection. Wabi Sabi.

From my website ..."I draw traditionally with pen and ink to create energetically hand-rendered, emotionally charged portraits of musicians, celebrities and things of interest, using rich, organic textures and deep, earthy colors. I finish illustrations digitally, to client specifications."
From a review..."This guy’s stuff is great. It has a noir-like quality that could’ve come right out of the pulp fiction haydays of the 30’s and 40’s, but it still feels utterly modern. And unlike many graphic novel illustrators today he knows not to overdo it. He let’s us into the eyes or his subjects, shows us their wrinkles, and crooked smiles. He builds the character not through pyrotechnics of color and form, but through human emotion."

5. How did you cultivate your style?
My drawing style is an extension of my personality. Yin and Yang. Balance. An energetic, emotional line over a solid underdrawing. Traditional materials with digital finish. Opposites. I think a lot of illustrators personalities match their drawing styles.

6. Do you have any influences, if so who or what?
Parson's life drawing teacher, illustrator and master draftsman David Passalaqua inspired myself and a generation of artists, in a guru like manner back in the day. He's gone now. Is missed.

Egon Scheile, Leonardo da Vinci, Picasso, David Hockey.

7. What do you do when you encounter artist's block?
Ideas can come from the act of drawing. You don't have to have an idea before you start drawing. Just start drawing and something will come. You have to trust that it will. Your subconscience will bubble to the surface with ideas you didn't know you had.

Here is one way to do it. Draw many little rectangles on a page, draw something in each one. Anything. Nothing is thrown out. Everything is fair game. Even things seemingly unrelated. You are idea farming. The little rectangles that make you smile are the good ones. Here's another: Underline important words in the article to be illustrated. Illustrate each word all together on one page, allowing the pieces to interact with each other. Consider the relationships between your images.

If you are really toast. Contact your Art Director and ask for guidance. Send the AD your little rectangles. Say you got lost in the woods and need someone to shine a flashlight. They will help you. You are a team.

8. Where did your passion for drawing come from?
There are many artists in my family. Maybe it came from them?

9. What is you educational background?
Parson's School of Design. New York. BFA Illustration.

10. Outside of school what has been your biggest learning experience in relation to illustration?
Working as screenprint/textile designer in the fashion district of New York when I got out of art school taught me everything about trends, color stories, ideas, and working hard. We made at least 1-2 completely finished designs everyday. 16 x 22" By hand. No computer. Every 90 days there would be a new season and new colors and new trends, and we'd crank out 1-2 pieces a day based on that, and so on, until I'd completed over 2000 original works.

11. When you first entered the illustration business did you have any idea of what it would be like?
None at all. Still figuring it out, actually.

12. What is your favorite genre of illustration to work for, editorial, advertising, children’s books or other?
Editorial for the ideas and drawings. Advertising for the collaboration and better budgets.

13. What clients have you worked with?
Have a look in the sidebar of my blog. ----->

14. Who are some of your most recent clients?
Worth Magazine, Seattle Weekly, Brookstone

15. What did you do to establish the contacts you have now in the field of illustration?
Clients become aware to my work through advertisements in source books, online portfolios, my blog, website and by seeing published work and through my self initiated projects. I e-mail blast and I mail promotional postcards and sample sheets. I contact good matches directly. I network and get recommendations from other illustrators. Art Directors change jobs a lot. Create personal relationships. People hire their friends, and people they trust. So.... be friendly and trustworthy. Always deliver more than expected.

16. Is there a past job that stands out in your mind, if so why?
I got the assignment to illustrate first international cover of Paste magazine while in New York for my sisters wedding. When opportunity knocks, it's rarely under the conditions you imagined.

     Paste: Chinese Punk Rocker

17. What was your least favorite or favorite Illustration job?
I drew 42 pen and ink portraits in 10 days. I thought it was going to be easy. By the end, I literally cried and Photoshopped tear stains off the inkings. I can't tell if that was the best or the worst.

18. What‘s the best part about being an illustrator? And are there things you don’t like about your job?
The best thing is controlling your own destiny. Another good thing is collaborating with talented people, and learning about each new subject.

19. What is your opinion on the current illustration market?
It's changing. And within change, there is always opportunity.

20. What is the most useful advice you can give to a young illustrator?
Never let them see you cry! (kidding) (actually, not kidding)
Illustration doesn't have to look a certain way, it doesn't have to look like your favorite artist. Does happiness, artistic fulfillment or the respect of your peers comes from an illustration style calculated solely for profit? The only way to be truly original in illustration is to completely be yourself. Everything else has been done.






Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Life Drawing Workshop: Rouge, Rhythm and Flow

Rouge rocked the short and poses using wings, sheer fabric and a giant sword at the Life Drawing Workshop I teach at Sony Online Entertainment

To capture this winged angel's strength and beauty in these short pose demo drawings, I decided to emphasize the rhythm and flow of the pose.

I think a lot about how one form flows into the next, allowing me to simplify many complex shapes into one simple shape - emphasizing the gesture, not all the little details.

I like to look for shapes that rhyme visually, shapes that have similar features that repeat, and use them to create a rhythm in the drawing. The repetition of strokes or repetition of shapes creates organization and structure in a drawing.

To create a rich drawing vocabulary, you can contrast one rhythm structure against another to emphasize the illusion of space - just as contrasting light against dark creates the illusion of space.

Rouge the Winged Angel: drawings by Graham Smith. 18 x 24 inch Strathmore Sketch and Strathmore Premium Recycled paper. General's graphite stick 6b and colored pencils.


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