Cosmic Hearse

So, as I mentioned a few posts ago my favorite historic site (it is actually technically a National Historic Landmark) in all of historic Philadelphia is Laurel Hill Cemetery, and in honor of their 175th Anniversary they are putting out a publication and accepting submissions of artwork and writing. I highly recommend the tours and programs at Laurel Hill. In addition to being full of cool monuments, it's situated along the Schuykill River which is probably the prettiest spot in Philly, is the resting place of many famous Philadelphians and has a few noteworthy and strange graves like one with a glass viewing window along the top, the movie prop grave of the character Adrian Balboa from Rocky Balboa (as a permanent fixture), a really amazing and famous one designed by Alexander Calder and my favorite grave that of Mrs. Catherine Drinkhouse Smith and her husband Professor Levi Franklin Smith who were both victorian spiritualists (and she was a medium!)

Anyway, this is my submission. The wreath is actually my favorite part and based mostly on victorian mourning art, hair jewelry and design. The center image is taken from a photograph I took at the cemetery recently, when I went on an exceptionally good, very long tour where they let us into a crypt! I'm pretty pleased with the whole thing, especially the wreath (I'm particularly into the mourning brooch), and it was really fun to be painting in full color again. I had wanted to do something a little more ambitious but I only had ten days to finish. I have some ideas for ways to frame the original which I might sell at some later point.

here are a few close ups:

As a side note, another really interesting (if you are a morbid creep like me) related place in Philadelphia is the Museum of Mourning Art which I visited and really liked. It's small but they have a really good collection of mourning jewelry, including one made from Abraham Lincoln's hair!

Paging Dr. Herbert West

So, I finally finished that Women record. It took way longer than it should have, mostly because I was dragging my feet and wildly distracted by the weather. I'm pretty pleased with how it came out. I used Microns to ink it instead of the brush I usually use, and while I definitely prefer the way my brush lines look, I needed to use pens for this because it was so much work and I drew it at such a large scale and pens are much faster (and reproduce a little better). I also used Photoshop, which I hate, to add the color because I understand that a true solid color reproduces much better in limited color printing, and I wanted to make things easier in that respect. I'm the first to admit when I'm being a stubborn cavewoman, and I can see how using photoshop for a few things can make it way more usable and printable. But man, I feel so much better when I'm actually painting something with my hands, and I feel like everything I personally do looks better when done by hand.
I'm actually really excited about how the back cover came out design wise and once again was excited to draw those tails.
I'm also pretty pleased with the lettering, which was basically what I did on the labels. It's supposed to look hairy. I really like doing hand lettering, though it can be frustrating and there's lots of room for stupid and hard to correct misspellings and errors (zack's "birtday" card is a very good example of this haha)

And here's a close up of a screaming rat face!
Oh and a word about the theme: after a lot of back and forth and changes of ideas the band wanted to do something Re-animator themed, with a dead rat and a syringe full of the green reanimation fluid (though I think the rat is actually from Beyond Re-animator) . I was delighted because I like rats and drawing rats (and anything gross with a million tiny hairs) and I love horror movies. The back cover and the labels were sort of vaguely rat king related. The sewn together rats on the front were an idea I had that came from a couple sources. Inspired in part by the mouse with a human ear grown on it, in part by the death of Chang and Eng, and also by an account in Stiff by Mary Roach, in which she describes a series of experiments where the head of a dead dog was transplanted onto a living dog and supplied oxygenated blood before brain death could occur. The transplanted head lived (for a couple days or weeks in different instances) an obviously tragic and confused existence on the live dog, and they occasionally even bit each other. Aside from that being an incredibly cruel account of Mengele-esque animal torture, it's a really good example of modern science falling squarely in line with true mad science. That is definitely an experiment Dr. Herbert West would have done.

I got started on the the Laurel Hill project immediately after finishing this one. It's basically a race against time at this point! 10 days to finish!!!


Return of the Rat (oh no no no no no no no)

Hey guys!

I know I haven't updated in a while, but don't think I haven't been doing SOMEthing. Right now I'm concentrating on one piece at a time, but like I said before took on waaay too much (for someone with a full time job). Anyway, I dont usually post photos or works in progress, but I wanted to make an update, and this cover is basically done. Something about it is bothering me though, and I thought I'd take a few days and get some distance to figure out how I can adjust it. Also all the lettering will be solid puke green when I'm done.
Drawing these rats (and feeding pizza crust to one in Rittenhouse Park last week) forced me to think a little more about their anatomy as you can see in this closeup. The hand on the left was my loose understanding of what a rat hand looks like, and the hand on the right is the one I drew after reference. I'm going to have to go in with white to fix the first one.
Also, I have always accepted the cartoonist shorthand for "rat tail" as seen in the simpler label rats of my previous post. It occurred to me for the first time that I wasn't actually clear what those horizontal segmented lines were mimicking and a closer look at a rat tail revealed teeny tiny scaled skin, not in any way broken into segments (which almost seem like a simplification of scales that look more like armadillo plates). What I settled on for my rats was actually a hybrid of the imaginary segments and the tiny scales, and the tails ended up being my favorite part of the whole drawing. While I do think working from your imagination is very important sometimes a little glimpse at the reality of nature reveals something way cooler that you can then build on.
Also of note I donated a piece to this which is opening tonight:
It's the framed original of the Bones of Sea Birds Cassette cover I did for Peasant Magik. You will notice there is no moon in the original. That was actually added on the computer at the musician's request.

Speaking of Peasant Magik, my friend Denis recently started a great blog where he photographs and interviews friends about their music and art and process. His first interview was actually with Sal about Peasant Magik records. While I often tell Sal that he is the grossest person I know, I rarely tell him that he is also one of the most inspiring (I don't want him to get a big head). He puts so much care and effort into every one of his releases and I have spent many a night folding and cutting covers with him and left knowing he had days and days of the same ahead. Check out Denis' interview and photos here: http://dissolvingintogray.blogspot.com/ (it will also be cross posted at http://nevernothing.com -another friends' photography site) and keep an eye on his blog for more interviews with a lot of the people who I show and hang out with here in Philly!