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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Running with Supermodel Veronica Webb (part II)

video

To follow-up on my previous post, I recently received a copy of the video of myself running with Veronica Webb! Apparently, it was showing on airplanes or something, as well as was shown on Bloomberg TV... This was to prepare for the 2010 NYC Half Marathon that Veronica and myself were running for Harlem United. As I suspected, everything I contributed was edited out of the video (which is more than fine with me), but my friend Kelsey got to say quite a bit! I did, though, create the design of the team t-shirt that everyone is wearing. Check it out!

As a sidenote, I've signed up for the NYC Half Marathon, again, in March of 2011. I think the half marathon is becoming my favorite distance...

Runner's World Daily

Haha, crazy. I've been quoted in the Runner's World Racing News Blog. I've always wondered whether I'd rather be an artist for Runner's World or be featured as a runner... In two months I've sort of gotten a taste of both... Too funny.

Anyway, Front Runners New York made an, "It Gets Better" video in response to the recent bullying tragedies in schools across the country. As a member of the club I contributed and gave my message that, "Tomorrow's not going to be the same as today."

The video also features my good friends Dave, Gabriel, Janice, Kenyon, Megan, Beth, Linda, and Steve and their stories. Big thanks to Dave for pulling the whole thing together in just a few days, and to Runner's World for the support on an important issue!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

New Website!


If you've got some free time, check out my new website and let me know what you think. Unfortunately, Internet Explorer is not playing nicely. So, you will not be able to view it at its best in that browser (although, I'm working on it!). Hopefully, you're not using IE anyway. Safari, Firefox, and Chrome are so much better.

Still populating some of the projects. If I didn't post it, "as is" it would probably be another year before I'd have gotten it up. Only so many hours in the day...

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Runner's World: Is Less More?

This is huge for me. It has been a dream of mine to be published by Runner's World Magazine. And last month this (sort of) came true. In last month's issue of Runner's World I contributed a piece for their article "Is Less More?" an article on the future of running shoes.

I was shaking, I was so excited to get the assignment. The only catch--it was iPad exclusive. Which is super cool in its own right, but I'm still aiming for the magazine. At least I know they like my work over there and I'm not just killing tree by sending all those promos to Pennsylvania.

It's too bad I have to wait until Xmas to borrow my sister-in-law's iPad to see it...

Harlem United Artists

"Harlem United Artists is an outgrowth of Harlem United's Art Therapy Program. The art created expresses the thoughts and feelings of the artists and represents the power of art in the healing process. Proceeds of all sales will directly benefit the Art Therapy Program."

As you may, or may not, know I work full-time for Harlem United Community AIDS Center, a nonprofit that provides housing, healthcare, and prevention for the Homeless living with HIV/AIDS as Coordinator of Special Projects. Recently, I got to work on a very special project that just came to fruition. Now available are Holiday cards featuring art by five talented clients of Harlem United.

The Art Therapy Program, which is part of our Adult Day Healthcare, held a competition do create work to be featured by this project, as well as artwork for the label. Winners were chosen and the cards are finally in!

I was able to contribute my talents by laying out the front and back of the cards and working with the printer to pull together this first of a kind project at Harlem United.

Each boxed set contains ten cards, featuring five images (two cards of each images). Boxes are $10.00 each. Please email info@harlemunited.org for purchasing options. Proceeds of all sales will directly benefit the Art Therapy Program.

Say Hello to SneakerDry!

EXTRA EXTRA, Read all about it! SneakerDry keeps feet dry!

Back in June some friends and I debuted a new project. SneakerDry is an innovative product that every runner can use. How many times have you gone running and come home with soaking wet shoes? I can't count the times that on my run I encountered that unexpected monsoon, open fire hydrant, or puddle that looked especially splashy, only to return home with drenched, smelly shoes.

Don't Fret! SneakerDry is here to help. Before, it might take days for my shoes to fully dry out before I could run in them again. I dare not put them in the dryer--who know what shape they'd shrink into... Now there's a new solution. Just shove a few sheets of my trusty SneakerDry into my shoes and before I know it, I'm ready to go! And don't worry about paper waste; SneakerDry is completely recyclable!

SneakerDry first hit the scene in June as the program for the race program for the Front Runners New York, Lesbian and Gay Pride Run 2010. It was a big hit, providing useful information about the race, sponsors, and runners before the race, and then saving shoes afterwards.

The product is still evolving as we develop ways that you can customize it for your own particular race and as we get it ready to sell in stores. Please feel free to contact me or Damian, SneakerDry owner/founder, if you're interested in using it at one of your functions at Damian@SneakerDry.com. The website is currently under development, where you'll be able to purchase SneakerDry, as well as, upload your own artwork to make your own custom SneakerDry.

I've contributed all the artwork for SneakerDry. Everything from the logo, info graphics, to the layout for the Pride Run. It's been a super fun project to work on, combining my interests in running and design.

Because of the popularity of the newspaper during the 50s, I've been relying on it for as my influence. I picked up one of those great Taschen Icons books (50s Fashion: Vintage Fashion and Beauty Ads) and thinking of (one of my favorite movies) The Incredibles for inspiration. I'm really happy with the result--a logo that can stand independently and work as the header for our paper. I used the typeface Las Vegas by the type foundry House Industries and allowed it to dictate the shapes I used for the rest of the logo.

The most fun part for me were the graphics to describe how to use SneakerDry. It was a real challenge to simply the step and come up with images to represent the concepts. The best part was stretching to draw in a style I'm not accustomed to. I love the little runner man at the end of the steps. I'm hoping the project allows me to create some more similar work. I've already gotten to draw a little biker man for the project, as those bikers have to deal with the same problem.


There's definitely more to come on this project. Please contact me if you're a race director and are interested in using SneakerDry at one of your events.

And remember, Dry Feet are Happy Feet!!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Illustration & Graphic Design Explosion!




So many things to blog, so little time. I've been procrastinating on posting so many different things. I'm months behind! This, I just had to share because I'm sooo excited. Sign-ups have begun at Long Island University Brooklyn Campus, where I will be teaching in the spring. I can't wait.

:)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Front Runners New York Lesbian and Gay Pride Run 2010


June is New York City Gay Pride Month and June 26th - 27th was Gay Pride weekend; and what a weekend it was! Once again this year, I was asked by Gabriel "Gabby" Celis the Race Director of the Front Runners New York Pride Run to design the logo, advertising and t-shirt (and program, which I'll discuss in another post) for the Pride Run, a 5 mile race through scenic Central Park.

This year was just as crazy an experience as last, working with the Front Runners New York (FRNY) as I created a dozen different variations of the ad for newspapers, magazines, and the web and was at the whim of the crazy sponsors who couldn't make up their mind if they, in fact, wanted to be sponsors, or not.

Despite all aforementioned craziness, everything turned out great! I heard rave reviews from Front Runners, sponsors, and publishers, alike, on all the ads.


The real standout from the event was the race t-shirt. President of Front Runners, Rob Lennon, pushed the team to support getting a super-slick tech t-shirt for this year's race. It was a risky move, as lots of money can be lost on a high-ticket item by the club if the race isn't well attended, but it really paid off. I was able to create a really nice design to match the quality of the shirt and it was a success. Everyone loved the shirt and for the first time, they actually, completely, ran out of shirts before the race. I was told on numerous occasions racers offered to pay for an additional shirt, because they loved it so much.


Of course, people will always say nice things to the designer, who is also their friend, but the proof was on race day when an unprecedented number of runners showed up, ready to run, in the race t-shirt. It was amazing to see so many people wearing my shirt at the same time. I know this is going to be a shirt I'm going to see for years running through the park.


Imagery for the Pride Run is always difficult. There are a number of contributing factors that make the process a little extra special. The ad almost came as a "free pass" as the club decided to use an existing image I had created (see post on FRNY Annual Report 2010). The main difficulty is that the club is so darn welcoming! The ad needs to appeal to so many people -- fast, slow, women, men, butch, fem, fabulous, gay, straight, questioning, and everything in between!


The t-shirt is extra difficult, as well, as we want it to represent Front Runners, as well as not scare off anyone who might be a little skittish around the subject of sexuality (not to mention, the shirt was some pretty funky colors to start with -- who wears neon green??). With input from the FRNY Board, a perfect balance was achieved; a larger than life rainbow radiating over New York city and the park. It just so happens that the concentric semi-circles perfectly match the stripes of the adidas shirt. Could things work out more perfectly. I love it when these things just fall into place. With a little splash of FRNY orange here and there to make everything pop, viola!


As far as the race itself, things went pretty well for me, too. It was a hot and humid day for a race in the park with 73° weather and 71% humidity, but I managed to have a decent race. As always, I went out too fast (5:05 first mile) but then was able to (or had to) slow down to finish with a 5:20 average pace and a PR of 26:44. Of course I'm happy with any PR I can get, but I had set a goal of a 5:15 pace for the race. So, I guess I'll just have to try again next year.

In the overall results I placed 11th and finished as the first Front Runner, winning the Steve Gerben Award. You can find the full results on the New York Road Runners website, as well as some great pictures.

Overall, it was a great race and a great weekend. After the race (and before the race), I spent lots of time with Front Runners celebrating. Sunday was the Gay Pride March as well as more celebrating. It was truly a great weekend, and I'll remember it every time I see one of those great race t-shirts. :)


For more information on Front Runners New York, visit their website, and maybe I'll see you at a run!


Special thanks to Da Ping Luo, Ted Paszek, and NYRR for photographs.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Super Family



You could say this was a Super-fun piece to create. A friend of mine asked me to create a family portrait for his partner for his birthday. The whole thing was very hush, hush, as it was a surprise.

Their family consists of their two, twin (adorable!) sons and them. The only instructions I was given was make it big (3'x5'), so it would fit their large wall, make it focus on the boys, and to do something fun. It was also hinted that the birthday boy had a thing for comics, which is why they thought of me as the creator of this piece.

With that in mind, I was a little nervous about creating something they'd like. That much freedom gives a lot of places to mess up, but I was assured they trusted me, and didn't even want to see sketches before I began the final piece. I knew exactly what I wanted to do, though, and I just prayed they'd enjoy the idea.



I was nervous throughout the creation of the whole thing cause of issues of size, using watercolor (a very unforgiving media), and not to mention I had to get four likenesses! You could say the whole piece just "flew" by, though, once I got started. For fun, I decided to take some pictures as I worked. Half way through, I decided it would be fun to turn them into an animation. As I wasn't planning this, I have to apologize for the lack of clothing in some of the stills. Now you know the perks of working from home...

It was a really fun piece to work on. I'm so happy to have had the opportunity. I was also lucky enough to be able to visit the piece at it's new home.



Sunday, June 6, 2010

Letter from a Long Lost Lover...


Dear Blog,
Sorry, it has been so long since I have written you. I have been very busy and have much to share. I promise to keep in better touch. Hope you are doing well. I miss you.

Sincerely,
John

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Supermodel Veronica Webb

I just went on a four mile run with supermodel Veronica Webb in Central Park! I have such a random life! Honestly, I only knew vaguely of her beforehand, but now I'm so impressed. Not only does she have an uber-impressive career as a model(the first black supermodel to receive an exclusive contract from a major cosmetics company!), writer and actress, but she's such a beautiful (I'm talking on the inside here) person.

Why did I run four miles in the park with a supermodel, you may ask. I say, why would I turn down the opportunity?? Turns out Veronica is also running for the Harlem United Community AIDS Center's Team Apollo in the New York City Half-Marathon this Sunday. She came out to run with me (well, actually Kelsey, our coach) to discuss running tips for the race, running in NYC in general, and to give a little pep-talk to our team as we prepare for the big race. As assistant coach of the team, I just got to tag along and add my two cents into the conversation. Honestly, everything I said will probably be edited out, as I can't put two word together on camera.

That's right, I said on camera! She brought her film crew out with her. She's cooking something up for t.v.! So in the (hopefully) near future I will be on t.v. running with Veronica and Kelsey!

Aside from starstruckness of it all, the four miles (inner loop, 72nd to 102nd) we ran were really nice. The weather was an amazing 60 degrees, the park was friendly and the conversation was fun. We went a nice easy pace as we're all tapering for the half on Sunday and also so the camera crew could keep up in the bike drawn carriage. It was especially entertaining as we went up hills and the cameras struggled to keep up.

All-in-all, it reminds me what I love so much about running. I'm talking about the friendship and adventures it brings. I've said it before that I love running because I love the people I run with. If it wasn't for great friends and running, I wouldn't find myself in such goofy/fun situations.

Anyway, if you don't know about Veronica Webb, I suggest you look her up. She's beautiful!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

New York City Half Marathon 2010!


The New York City Half Marathon is this Sunday! I can't wait! It will be my third half-marathon and so, it will be the first that I have a strategy. My training has been pretty good, the course is pretty nice, and suddenly rain is out of the forecast and 50-60 degree temperatures are pretty wonderful! It's going to be a great day.

I am so excited about the race, that I couldn't help but make some art about it! This is what I came up with on a 3 hour train ride I took about a week ago. I definitely could have added more to it, tightening it up with some details, but I'm really happy with where it's headed. I know I'm not going to have anytime before the race to add anything, so, it was post it now, or post it never... It definitely has some elements that I'd like to incorporate into some new pieces and I love the energy. Maybe someone over at New York Roadrunners will see it and ask me to work on next years ads... hint, hint!

The entire image was created in Adobe Illustrator. Usually, I'd add some hand-drawn and scanned elements or some textures, but there's not much opportunity for that on a train... Hopefully, I'll get some time to finish up the piece, and perhaps I'll post it with the results of my race... in a few months.

I'm not just running the race for myself this time. I'm running for Harlem United Community AIDS Center. Harlem United is a wonderful organization providing Housing, Healthcare, and Prevention to those living with HIV/AIDS, regardless of race, socio-economic status, or sexual orientation, many of whom wouldn't have access otherwise.

Their mission doesn't just end there, though. They not only treat their clients' physical needs, but their emotional, social, and spiritual as well. Truly a noble organization and one that is a model of its kind.

Please help and please donate to my page to help continue their quest!

I hope to see you all on the course on March 21st and thank you for your donations!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Michael Phelps


So the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics have started! Yes, I know swimming is a Summer Olympics event, and that we won't be seeing any of Michael Phelps this time round (except he still seems to slip into commercials here and there...), but I created this piece a few months ago, and now seemed like the most appropriate time to post it. If I had to wait two years, I'd probably have lost it and it'd never see the light of day. And who's going to complain about looking at Michael Phelps, anyway?

It continues the portrait series I've been working on (Obama, Britney, Armstrong...) and it also continues the experimentation I've been doing with combining rendered and vector elements. Originally, I planned to draw a school of fish swimming with/fleeing from Phelps with the same attention and detail I rendered the swimmer. Last minute, I decided to try something a little different. I like the way the fish become more of a pattern upon the piece. Ideally, I'd like to have screen printed the fish directly on top of the original piece, but I don't have the facilities or nerve to do that...


Here's the original drawing, too. I've chosen to include it just so you can see how little I'm actually doing with photoshop. Everything tonal is done by hand. I basically just fill in large areas with color (background-aqua, phelps-peach; etc). The fish I drew on a different sheet of paper, scanned and then traced in Illustrator. The drawing is really doing the "heavy-lifting" of the piece. The color/computer aspect of the piece is really simplistic.

And since this blog is about my running also, I should also mention that this post is also extra appropriate to post since tonight is my first night of swimming for cross-training. I've got my speedo and cap all ready, wish me luck!

Anyway, Happy Olympics! Maybe I'll get a portrait of Apolo Ohno done in the next fourteen days...

Friday, February 12, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!


Happy Anatomical Valentine's Day! I know, I know, I can hear Mom already... "Why do you draw such weird things?? Why would you draw that for Valentine's Day? Your childhood was okay, right?" Yes Mom, it was quite lovely, thank you. I don't just have love in my heart. I have it streaming through me, head to toe!

This is a piece I created or a friend. It was for a box set of Valentine's cards. Sadly, she couldn't use it. Turned out another friend did a similar image of a skeleton and turned it in first. Completely different, if you ask me, but oh well.

I'm really happy I did this image, though. I think it turned out quite nicely. I even like the original ink drawing. I'm thinking of getting it framed. I have enough of my own art on my wall, though. Maybe I should give it to my Valentine to put on their's. Would you be my Valentine? Okay, okay, enough cheesiness for one post.


Front Runners New York Annual Report Cover Sketches

Just a few posts ago, I revealed the cover image for the FRNY Annual Report. In the post I mentioned, I created several sketches for project that I really liked. Well, in honor of the unveiling of the Annual Report to the club, I've decided to share with you the rest of the sketches!

Above is the sketch that most caught the attention of the club. They really thought it best caught the spirit of the club with the togetherness, diversity, and of course the rainbow. I really liked the idea for this image, but honestly the rainbow doesn't stick out as much as I would have hoped in the final. I really think I got caught up in the intricacies of the drawing and forgot to focus on the color shift. Looking back I see ways I could have emphasized it more, but hindsight is 20/20 and deadlines are even faster than me.

You can see The background ended up changing a lot (Really, there was no background before and simply, now there is one). This was my favorite development in the piece. I was happy to be able to incorporate the city and the park into the image. For me, the city and Central Park couldn't be more important to the club.
We meet every week (several times), race, host a race and generally escape from the city-ness in the park. The park is really integral to running in New York City and nearly any runner would agree to that. The city is also very important to Front Runners. Whether it is a First Friday social; a run across five bridges, along the waterfront, or down Summer Streets; or just the many great people from all walks of life, the city keeps everything exciting. There's just so much to see and experience running in the city.

These are the other covers I proposed to the club. I'm sure you can pick out the one that got turned into an interior page in the Annual Report (hint - #3). I'm really happy that I was able to incorporate elements from these into the chosen cover and the interior.

I was really excited about the image labeled #1. I had this really great idea to have the seasons (and outfits of the runners) changing with the seasons, but it wasn't chosen. I also was excited to get to draw so much nature, but I guess I'll have to wait for another event.

#2 I liked for it's simplicity. For those not in the club, it is a close-up of our team jersey. Really, it could be done with a photograph (OMG, an illustrator promoting a photographer!!), and I even mentioned this to the board deciding on the image. Everyone seems to really like the jersey/logo of the team and it makes us very easy to find in races. Seems like a good reason to have it as a cover... Simply iconic.

#3 and #4 where obviously used for the report. I've already talked about why I like them. Overall, I liked all the images I submitted to the club (if I didn't like one, why would I submit it as an option?).

I hope you're able to get a glimpse of my process from this. I know I occasionally get people asking me to share. I'm pulling together another post to share more of the process of anther one of my pieces. Stay tuned!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Crying Show (Extreme Makeover: Home Edition)


CLEAR YOUR CALENDARS FOR THIS SUNDAY, JANUARY 31, 2010! This day, (8:00/7:00c) my episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition will be airing, on ABC! Set your DVRs, VCRs, Tivos, tripods with a camera, or whatever you have to to be sure not to miss it!

Back in November, I was contracted to create a mural for a young girl who's into theatre. It was a rigorous process to concept, draw, ink, color, and email (yes, email!) the final result to be install in just ONE week. All of it was worth it, though, because I hear the house turned out beautifully!

Working for Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (EMHE) was truly and exhilarating experience. The show really does take place over a week timeline (assembly in 72 hours), making the sketch-to-finish process a major challenge. Although the project was stressful at times, I'm excited to have had the opportunity to work with EMHE to give a family the home of their dreams and I can't wait to see the expressions on their faces.

In case you miss it (and you better not) or you just want to watch it over and over again (better idea!), you'll be able to find it for all your viewing pleasure on ABC's website.

Oh, and I almost forgot; the special guest hosts are pretty spectacular!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Front Runners New York Annual Report 2010


Annual Report season is upon us. I was asked by my running club, Front Runners New York, to create a cover for their first published annual report, to be released in February. It ended up being a little more work than I anticipated; after submitting four concept sketches, I was asked to create two of the images, instead of one.

I was touched that all the sketches went over so well, but I was working down to the deadline to get it all together. The image above is the image for the cover and below in an image for the interior. I'm really happy the way they turned out; as I attempted a new technique.

Usually, I draw a piece entirely by hand and color it digitally. I've been working more and more on the computer these days (designing websites, layouts, etc.) and graphic elements have already begun to appear in my work. It was only a matter of time before I gave them a larger role in a piece. It seems like a such natural step forward for me.

The foregrounds are created the way I traditionally work, while backgrounds are created entirely in Illustrator (with the exception of a few added textures fo' flava). There's still a few kinks to work out in the process, (and I'm already looking at these pieces seeing how I could have done them better) but I'm really happy with the approach and am excited to work this way in the future.

I love the cover (above). The image wraps around the front and the back of the report, so that it is actually square. I was really wanted to make sure I made it a representation of both the city and the park, since they're both so present in each run we do. Since the background takes up such little space in the image, it was great to have a second image, where the opposite was true.



This piece was originally planned for the cover, also, but I think I liked it better as a landscape. It just had a nicer flow to it. The additional space for the roadway opened it up more and made it feel freer. I'll have to have to post the sketches so you can decide for yourself. It looks great inside the report, though. (I've been lucky enough to get a sneak peak of the whole report, designed by Sandi Rowe. I'd share it with you, but then I'd have to kill you...). Actually, the whole report looks AMAZING! I can't wait to get my hands on a physical copy. I'm so glad I could contribute this year.