Back to School

Growing up, I missed out on a lot of those traumatizing childhood experiences charitably described as "character-building." Never broke a limb, never had braces, never broke a limb while struggling to detach my braces from the braces of my first kiss. Never saw Mac and Me.

And I never had to ride the school bus. So my entire understanding of how they operate is as follows: A) their wheels go round and round, and B) they are fueled by the ear-abusing shrieks of their delinquent passengers.

Little wonder, then, that when I got the assignment for The Normal School's Spring issue with the co-themes of "cutting class" and "4-H club," the first thing that came to mind was a bus stocked with clamorous farm animals. It's pure coincidence that both school kids and barnyard animals are ecstatic Beliebers.

The issue's on newsstands now, so if you like quality literature and goats, snatch this up ASAP!


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No Bologna

Not to be outdone by December's book contract news, January has slapped me in the face with yet another dream come true.

Each year at the Bologna Children's Book Fair (the industry's most important professional fair), the organizers set aside exhibition space to show off artwork of illustrators from around the world. At some point during the four-day event, the fair attendees–publishers, art directors, illustrators, etc–amble their way to the gallery, so it's an incredible opportunity for the selected artists to reach an international audience.

It's not easy to get in, however; last year, 2,685 illustrators submitted work, and only 72 were selected. Similar numbers this year, with my illustrations from  Mel Goaté and the Purple Velvet Tuxedo padding the stats. Considering the stunning work being submitted just by my friends, I thought the odds of my musical goat stirring the hearts of the judges were slim.

And maybe they were. But that didn't prevent the judges for selecting my work to be featured in this year's exhibition!

That's right, publishing professionals from around the world are going to be subjected to my terrible puns, and there's nothing they can do about it! They'll even suffer through them again in the Bologna Annual illustration book. And if you think my gags are painfully obscure in the Western Hemisphere, say a prayer for poor Japan, because the exhibition is also touring four Japanese museums. Soon the whole world will know the true meaning of "Bleat, Bahhh & Beyond"!

But seriously, this is a true honor. Every time I look at the illustrations from the book, I remember the endless months I spent detailing each little element, getting the woodgrain right on the victrola, making sure the county fair food glistened with the adequate amount of greasy glory, sitting motionlessly for hours in what could only be described as a pun coma as I devised names for barnyard musicians like Marvin Bray and Pjork, etc. I had no higher aspirations than getting a good grade in my MA course. Obviously, Mel Goaté had bigger plans.

So if you're attending the fair this year and see a tall, lanky Yank with a perpetual look of shock on his face, stop and say hi! Hope to see you there!


Remember, you can always find me on EtsyTwitterFacebookPinterest and Instagram!


Cover song

The final piece of the puzzle before I head to London for my class's gallery show at Foyles Bookstore. For the book cover, I wanted to strike a vintage chord without going too far overboard. I'm no Saul Bass. More of a Saul Guppy.

I also wanted to introduce Melvin himself, give a sense of his personality before the story even begins. Hey! What a fun-loving, musical goat! Who's also ambidextrous! Huh. Okay.

For the strictly-hypothetical published version of the book, I hope to have the purple area of the tuxedo cut out, exposing a small part of a completely purple and velvety hardbound cover beneath. I'd also hope the sunburst design surrounding the tux would be stamped in gold foil, and that the book itself would be sprayed with some sort of consumeristic pheromone that would force anyone within a 10-foot radius to buy a copy. As long as we're in the realm of the hypothetical here.


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At last, the big day arrived!

[click for larger image]

Two days ago, the final assignments for my MA were submitted to my professors. After a year and a half of dedicated study and work, I'm left torn between being super excited about finishing, and feeling a little lost. I have been wanting to get an MA in illustration ever since I left my undergrad, and have spent the last seven years researching programs, applying to them, and saving towards tuition. All that work and dreaming, to have it all over. Feels bittersweet.

Also feels like Heimliching out a half-chewed wad of broccoli. After 70+ hours a week in my suffocating studio, I can breathe again! I can go outside! I... I can walk! I CAN WALK!

And I can finally go birdwatching again!

And eat out!

And play games!

So much to do!

Then why the heck am I on the computer? ADIOS!


Remember, you can always find me on Twitter and Facebook!


Shop talk

Just in time for Christmas, here's the final version of the sketch I posted a few weeks back. I'm sure many of you can empathize with the condition these goats have found themselves in. Just wish I had the foresight to give one of the goats a canister of pepper spray.

Initially, the goats were to be surrounded by logos for the various stores they patronized, but I found the logos cluttered up the page too much (plus, I wasn't a huge fan of how they turned out). If the book ever gets published, I'll instead include them as a pattern for the front endpapers, with Melvin's favorite album covers patterning the back endpapers. In the meantime, here's a sneak peak.