Thursday, May 19, 2016

Abstraction as illustration.

I was pretty pleased with this. In an unusual and highly appreciated affordance of artistic license, the client allowed me to work with abstraction in the cover image for the magazine. The reason was that the concept was terrifyingly complicated: the theme of the issue of this journal was meeting the challenge of engaging parents/families communities in school leadership, but with an added emphasis on how plans may often come together, only to be collectively reviewed and revised, and ultimately result in a successful outcome—a higher level of community involvement with greater numbers, less distance and unified direction.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Cover Art.

"Bringing Transformative Family Engagement to Scale: Implementation Lessons from Federal i3 Grants"

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Colossus of Rhodes

Not sure why, but I have been thinking about the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World a lot lately. 
I decided to make this little picture and poem as an ode to the Colossus of Rhodes.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

La Divina Commedia, A Questo Punto.

I'm including below all of the sketches so far for my Divine Comedy project, simply a way to keep them in one place for a quick review of how it's coming along. It's obvious that in the earlier drawings I had no idea how to handle the text, but I later figured out a way to structure the lettering consistently, and I'm please with the effect. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Revisions, Revisions, Alas.

The client wanted a less chaotic concoction.

The top poster image is aimed at grad students, the second for undergrads. It's looking a little too tame now when it's supposed to reference the myriad stressors associated with student life at the Institute. The topmost design fiddles with scale and proportion a little.

I incorporated the spiral that will be used in a postcard/placard (bottom), identifying "safe places" to seek help on campus when things go south. In my mind this makes for a more unified campaign so I'm hoping they'll go with it. 

The last design was selected for the postcard, but I think the rejected design (the hand rising from the whirlpool) is stronger. 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Feeling Overwhelmed?

Sketches for a mental health campaign for MIT. 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Land of Ice.

Video from our short trip to Iceland in early February.

Illustrator as Public Intellectual.

Call for Proposals
Illustrators and all who study their work have long understood the importance of pictures to communicate ideas and shape opinion, and to possibly provoke the viewer in unpredictable ways. What should illustrators say in the public sphere? What forces limit the illustrator’s expression of thought? What are the key issues and debates around the communication of ideas through illustration? 

Organized and hosted by the Illustration Research Network and RISD Illustration, the 6th annual International Illustration Research Symposium invites proposals for papers, panels, round tables, and visual presentations on the theme of the illustrator as not only conveyor of established intellectual thought in the public sphere, but also as a vital, potent voice in public discourse and the author of content through independent provocation, seduction and persuasion. 

The Illustrator as Public Intellectual questions the common misconceptions that the illustrator’s mind and hand are wholly guided by editors, art directors, and clients; and that their work is subordinate to the texts they illustrate. This symposium proposes that illustrators are empowered as originators and purveyors of unique thought. 

The visual languages of the illustrator not only translate content, they transform it, indelibly inscribing ideas with force and conviction at the intersection of visual and verbal thinking. And yet, public exposition is dogged by inevitable challenges, including balancing profundity and accessibility, intention and misinterpretation. Papers may embrace or reject the concept of the public intellectual, while addressing relationships between communicative intention and audience reception.

The definition of illustration is open to wide interpretation by participants, but as a general guideline illustration may be provisionally defined as fabricated images primarily created to elucidate and communicate an idea, narrative, mood, information, and/or opinion through publication. Studies on the illustration of any era or place are welcome. 

300-word proposals for 20-minute academic papers and practice-based presentations are invited, and may address the following questions, or others that the presenter feels are warranted:

Studio Practices
• How do different forms, techniques, and materials affect attitudes, feelings, ideas and the legitimacy of messages?
• How is “thought” manifested in an illustration—how do creative and visual thinking processes comprise unique forms of cognition?
• What is the relationship between the canon of intellectual thought and illustrators’ methodologies?
• In what ways does an image embody a philosophy?
• What emerging technologies might further or hamper the intellectual reach of illustration?

Public Sphere
• How do ethics and social responsibility impinge upon illustrators?
• If an audience misinterprets an illustrator’s intentions, is the audience’s reading valid?
• What happens when the interests of the intended audience are at odds with the interests of a wider audience?
• What is the impact of technologies of dissemination, old and new, on audiences, creators, and messages? 

Creative and Intellectual Communities
• When, where, and how do illustrators participate in important political, social, and intellectual debates? 
• What is the intellectual community of illustrators and what challenges do they face, particularly in educating illustration students?
• Can intellectual partnerships between illustrator, designer, author, and/or publisher exist?
• What is the appropriate balance between an illustrator’s personal satisfaction and the client’s wishes, and what is at stake when a clash occurs?
• What are future directions for the field of practice as a forum for public intellectual discourse?

Email 300-word abstracts to by Monday, 1 June 2015. 
Proposals are blind peer- reviewed. Selected papers and presentations will be considered for publication in forthcoming issues of the peer reviewed Journal of Illustration. More information and submission details:

Keynote Speaker: Rick Poynor
Visiting Professor in Critical Writing in Art & Design at the Royal College of Art London

Recent Poster Designs.

Cartoons by Paul Karasik and Liza Donnelly

Illustration by Jackie Ferrentino 

Illustration by Christine Rujun Liu

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Bondage of Self.

My first drypoint etching. I clearly don't have the touch yet, but I really enjoyed it. I think a lighter hand would have been better here, especially in shadows and clusters of lines.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Lost Child in Print

Cover for Wes McNair's The Lost Child. Glad to see it in print. Please buy the book. It's a lovely, melancholy collection of poems about distant relatives in the Ozarks by the former Poet Laureate of Maine.

David Warner: Illuminated

A tribute to David Warner. Professor of History at RISD, who passed away in May 2013.

David's friends have assembled a collection of reminiscences and touching words about his indelible character, powerful sense of goodwill and his highly respected work as a medieval historian. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Important and Unread.

Running renders more universal the consciousness of very different people—traversing without prejudice occupations and political inclinations, age and gender. That's the most enjoyable social aspect of what is primarily an individual sport: running requires but one player, and yet it unites countless souls in the shared cadence of footsteps and breath, the rhythm of minutes, seconds and hours.  

Lately my running companions have included a postal worker, a librarian, a yoga teacher, a humanitarian aid researcher (who also happens to be my partner), a few college professors, a banker, a press agent, a physiatrist and two surgeons. One of the surgeons is the same age as me, transplanting kidneys and other vital organs for a living. When I am with him I think about how distinctly different our perceptions of the world must be. He has not only seen the inside of a living body—heart quivering, innards churning away—he has come to know intimately that secret world, slicing, sponging, suturing. I have not. If ever I have the occasion to cut into a human body, I am sure I will be a changed man. An invisible infrastructure of intertwined channels of swishing blood and densely packed organs and bones is animated beneath the skin, while we go about our business: sleeping, washing dishes, reading a book. This realm of knowledge and experience joins three others which seem inexhaustibly vast to me: the study of physics, the conundrum of educating of our children and the complex structures of philosophical thought.

*   *   *

I first saw a dead man on Memorial Day. It was a profound experience. I had spent the weekend in Boston with my partner and our three dogs, and was driving home to Rhode Island in the late afternoon on route 93. The dogs were in the back seat, piled on top of one another and sleeping off the weekend play. The traffic wasn't particularly heavy, but—typical of New England highways—there were plenty of us on the road, hundreds of people lamenting the return to work the next day, after a day of cookouts and badminton, woven lawn chairs and mosquitoes.

Cars were all around me, driving 60-80 miles an hour, when a motorcycle came racing up from behind on my left. He hot-dogged it a little, but not too much—weaving in and out poetically, enjoying the lyrical movement of the bike. The motorcycle was bright red, and the man driving it was well-covered in dark, thick clothing, because May can be cold up here. I said aloud, as I always do, "that guy's going to kill himself."  He disappeared quickly beyond the cars in front of me. 

Two minutes later traffic slowed abruptly, with everyone braking to a crawl. That's when I saw him. He was on his stomach in the middle of the highway, one arm stretched over head, and the other wrapped beneath, crossing his chest. The red bike peppered the asphalt in dozens of pieces. There was no blood. Several cars had pulled over only seconds earlier, and dozens of people were running toward the oncoming traffic. One man was in sandals and tee-shirt, suntanned and chubby. He was running as fast as he could, trying to steer clear of cars. His barrel chest jiggled beneath his horrified face. I had arrived only seconds after the crash, and the poor man was clearly dead, a whole life and world unknown to me had come to an end. I could only continue moving, because to stop would have caused even more pandemonium with three dogs in the back of the car. There were already many, many people on the scene, trying to know what to do. Several were on their phones with panicked expressions on their faces. A woman was crying.

The dead man's helmet was on, completely obscuring his identity. Mercifully spared a glimpse of his face, I nevertheless thought repeatedly about this awful moment over the next several hours, and into the next day. I began to scour the internet, googling succinct phrases: "motorcycle accident, dead, 93, memorial day, crash." Almost immediately I found a very brief report, which described little more than the superficial facts: a man had lost control of his motorcycle on Memorial Day on route 93 near Canton at around 3:30 in the afternoon. He was pronounced dead at Boston Medical Center. It was a red Yamaha. He was 33. I checked every day for a week, and learned no more. The police were withholding his name.

I sent an email to myself with links to the scant information I found. I labeled it "important" and left it "unread" to remind me to continue the search.

A little time passed and I stopped checking, going about my business. I forgot about him for a while but was reminded one day to continue the search. I found out his name was Maxim. I learned his last name too. He was from Kazakhstan. He must have been well-liked because a fund had been established in his name and thousands of dollars had already been collected. I found pictures of him with his buddies, posing in front of statues, sitting on a horse, sitting on his red motorcycle. Short-cropped hair, with a monkey on a beach. Thumbs up with a snowman in winter, and shirtless with a surfboard. Always smiling. Slightly crooked teeth, solid build. Happy.

I don't know why it felt so important to find him, to put a name and face on the heap of muscle and bone in the middle of the highway. It wasn't morbid curiosity and yet it had less to do with preserving his dignity or as an expression of sympathy than it did with longing to be connected to one another through the human condition. I first saw him in a moment of violent, chaotic death, and that alone wouldn't do. Our shared experience—his and mine—felt incomplete without learning who he was, what kind of life he'd lived and the unknown world he left behind.

Inferno I: The Purgatorial Mountain at Dawn