Tuesday, September 20, 2011

His Dark Materials

Lyra Silvertongue

This is Lyra, the heroine from the 'His Dark Materials' trilogy written by Philip Pullman. For those who have read it: I imagine this image takes place sometime after the events in third book. 

I loved how unpredictable these stories where. It's not like reading Harry Potter, where you're constantly being reminded of every other fantasy book you've ever read. (Lord of the Rings much, lady?) Let me append that statement by saying I've read and enjoyed all the Harry Potter books... and I should probably say something about imitation being the best form of flattery... It's just I found His Dark Materials to be a more unique in it's vision. No deja vu to speak of.

It really wasn't my intention to attack on Harry P here, so I'll drop it cause there are other better reasons why you should read these books. If you're a fool for stories about gods and myth that's a good start, because Lyra is essentially a modernish Eve that helps save the world from the rule of a false god. What I like about Philip Pullman's take is that she isn't portrayed as a negative mother-of-all-sin Eve. Instead the Fall is seen as a positive, and that's a beautiful thought. It reinterprets original sin and the fall from grace as a great moment that brought consciousness, knowledge and love to beings in all worlds. (yes, plural.) I love that it turns the guilt and regret you're expected to feel on its head to become a desirable event that made us the wonderfully curious and complex creatures we are. Eve mother-of-all-knowledge! (P.S. Sexy-time is awesome.)
The world is so exquisite with so much love and moral depth, that there is no reason to deceive ourselves with pretty stories for which there's little good evidence. Far better it seems to me, in our vulnerability, is to look death in the eye and to be grateful every day for the brief but magnificent opportunity that life provides. - Carl Sagan
You don't have to dig theology to get swept into these books though. It's a fun coming of age adventure like so many great stories. It's about embracing curiosity and wonder, and living life the best way you can. Which is a universal theme anyone can enjoy.

I wanted to share a couple of things that influenced me while working on this illustration... simply because they're cool. This is a statue I found while flipping through a massive volume of religious art in architecture at the bookstore. I liked the color, the texture, the aged gilded goodness... even the break neck angle of Mary's head. With those eyebrows, I can only assume this was the result of a Vulcan neck pinch. I'm also just assuming that is Mary, because I was an idiot and didn't write down the name of the book or the name of this piece. This is a cell phone shot... and on a second trip to Powell's Books I was unable to find it again. If anyone recognizes this please let me know!

Another fun resource was this tumblr blog called Ye Olde Fashion. While trolling the archives I saw this summer dress from 1912 and could picture an older Lyra wearing it. I imagine she would have a simple style with 'Gyptian' (gypsy) influences.

That's all for now. This was a personal project, hope you enjoy it.

*EDIT: This image is now available for purchase on Society6.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

As You Like It

As You Like It - a play by William Shakespeare

Here is another illustration based off of a Shakespeare play and made specifically for SubPlot Studio. This time I went with the comedy As You Like It. It seems I really needed to lighten the mood after delving into deep, dark Titus. 

Mix laughs, love, cross-dressing and mistaken identity together and you have the basics of the play. Plus, As You Like It has the wonderful female lead, Rosalind. Focusing on her wit and awesomeness really made up for the sadness I felt over the empty symbolic shell of Lavnia in Titus Andronicus. Also keep in mind this is a Shakespeare play... and it would be a incomplete without a healthy dose of banishment. So Rosalind, of course, gets banished. (baniSHED!) She then disguises herself as a lovely shepherd boy, names her new identity Ganymede, and wreaks sexy-havoc in the Forest of Arden. From that point on every man, women, and tree falls in love with her. him. them. er. well. anyway. Everyone falls in love with Ganymedalind. I mean Ganymede. what?

My experience with As You Like It has been a short and recent one. I saw it performed by the Kentwood Players at the Westchester Playhouse in LA. It was directed by my friend, the multi-talented artist and karaoke machine, Jeremy Speed Schwartz. He asked me to read a couple lines with some folks of superior talent. We were then recorded and our bits were edited together to make us look like botox-riddled, caffeine-drunk talk show hosts (à la Talk Soup.) Perhaps not the most traditional introduction to As You Like It?

Here's a photo that helped inspired me:

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Titus Andronicus

SubPlot Studios invited me to take part in designing a theater poster to sell on their shiny new website. Their main goal is to make quality and affordable poster designs available to theatre companies, high schools, and other professional venues that might otherwise not have the funds to create unique designs to promote their shows. By doing so they hope to support the performing arts in our communities and schools, while working with an array of talented artists along the way.

Here is a direct link to the poster: Titus Andronicus. If you scroll over the image you will get a feel for how fully customizable it is.

I got to choose the play, which was a pretty nice incentive. There were many great plays on the list that I would have loved to work on, but when I saw Titus Andronicus was available I felt like it was one I just couldn't pass up. It's a play I studied in college, and I remember feeling struck by it then. The blood? The animal references? How could I pass that up?

There is so much going on in Titus Andronicus, and you could hardly claim any of it to be pretty. It's considered one of Shakespeare's most violent plays, and often is looked down on as being nothing more then shock and awe. Though it is crazy violent, I find it incredibly interesting. Revenge and betrayal are the blatant themes, but the more interesting ones (at least to me) involve gender, race and power. I don't think you can capture it all in one poster. Well... maybe you can but it might make you sick, and I was looking to make something simple, striking and not terribly vomit inducing.

With so many themes to pick from I decided to focus on the character I dwell on the most and the part of the story that strikes me hardest: the rape and torture of Titus's daughter Lavinia.

Lavinia is used as a symbol of Rome, where the story takes place. Her rape is compared to its fall. Her attackers described as tigers and wild beasts. Titus even says, "...dost thou not perceive that Rome is but a wilderness of tigers? Tigers must prey, and Rome affords no prey but me and mine." Wild animals, hunting, and dismembered body parts (particularly hands) are mentioned throughout the play, and were other aspects I chose to highlight in the illustration.

I'm going to indulge in some personal thoughts on the play from here on out. It's a brutal topic, so if you don't wish to feel incredibly depressed you may not want to read on. That being said, if you don't mind some heartbreak and upset, please read on and let me know your thoughts.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Rink Rash

Some portraits for the good folks at RinkRash.ca A Canadian site dedicated to Roller Derby! I think their name pretty much sums it up.

Rink Rash: The nasty red burn a skater gets on their skin after falling on a skating surface, while playing roller derby. Rink rash is often worn as trophies and is something skaters are proud of.

Since these are their contributor page portraits, I lifted the color scheme and distressed circle designs directly from aspects of their website. This seemed like a great way to keep things cohesive. I really dig the way their site is designed, and I'm pleased with how the portraits fit in!

The neck tattoo was greatly inspired by the work of tattoo artist Chris Cleen. He has a great, sexy and retro/classic style. Very bold, with lots of women spontaneously springing out of roses. Anyway, I thought that this tattoo style would really fit with the roller-derby-badass aesthetic.

You can check out his work here.
In other news: I'm living in Oregon and it's lush and bloody amazing.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Werewolves - written by Paul Jessup / illustrated by Allyson Haller

If you are going to the San Diego Comic-Con this year, be sure to stop by the ChronicleBooks booth (1506.) They will be selling my book, Werewolves, amongst other illustrated wonders!

Chronicle is offering some super deals on their website for those of us who are missing out on Comic-Con this year. Use the code COMICCON11 at checkout and receive 25% off + free shipping on Werewolves and other titles.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Joanna Moody - Pocket of Treasures

Joanna Moody - Pocket of Treasures

I recently had the pleasure of designing and creating artwork for the CD sleeve of acoustic songbird Joanna Moody. This is her first full-length release, self produced with lots of time and dedication. Please check her out, get songs, or order your copy directly at her site on Bandcamp.

One reason I loved working with Joanna was her complete openness towards the project. She described the general feelings she wanted to provoke, often speaking about the paradoxes she aspires to express within her music: sophisticated but quirky, sweet with a darkness, beauty with an edge. Then she shared her songs with me for inspiration.

On the left is the chosen sketch. I started by creating a few logos, and then moved on to the art. This may seem a little backwards, but worked out just fine!

Here's another font/sketch combo:

Once the cover was complete, the inside, disc, and trifold insert was created using elements from the illustration.
Here is the final product:

Thanks Joanna, for all your trust during the project!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

DIVA Magazine

None Upon Thars - DIVA

I recently created an illustration for UK based lesbian magazine DIVA. This art is for an article called "Gold Star Girls," that interviews 4 women on the notion of the "gold star."

So... what's a gold star girl? I had never even heard of the term until this article came along. Simply put, a "gold star" is a lesbian who has never had sex with a man. There's often a tendency to view a gold star as being the best kind of lesbian, and that they are somehow more special.

My brain couldn't help but make a connection to my favorite Dr Suess story "The Sneetches." Here are the opening lines to the story:

Now, the Star-Belly Sneetches had bellies with stars.
The Plain-Belly Sneetches had none upon thars.
Those stars weren’t so big. They were really so small.
You might think such a thing wouldn’t matter at all.

It shouldn't matter at all. Though a certain amount of awe is easy to understand. After all, who wouldn't want to be sure and confident in life and sexuality right from the get go? But, the impression I got was that the "Gold Star" is just another form of branding. Just another way to judge someone. What I love about the article is that it throws that label to the curb and gives it a good trample. (I make it sound harsh, but it seems Lulu Belliveau and the interviewees are more eloquent than I.) Each woman, coming from her own experience, made it clear that there wasn't anything wrong with being either or. We shouldn't put anyone on a pedestal because of their sexual behavior or experience. So forget about stars and whether you have one, or none, upon... yars.

My hope is that this illustration appears as confident, accepting and non-judgmental as the ladies in the article.

A fun technical aspect of making this illustration was composing it to fit in the unusual space that was predetermined by the designers at DIVA. Hurray for creative problem solving skillz.
I also played a lot with color before I came to the "not pink" conclusion. BUT IT WAS SO HARD. Cause, in pink, this girl looks truly-truly-truly outrageous.

Big thanks to Luciane Pisani for contacting me for this!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Erzsebet Bathory

An illustration I created during the trial period for another project. She'll never see the light of print, but I thought I'd share her here and spill some bloody historical details on you for funsies.

Elizabeth Bathory, or the "Blood Countess." A pretty gruesome lady.

Not a vampire, though sure to have inspired their myth, but a serial killer. A Hungarian noble women, born in 1560, to a family line known for it's cruelty; she was vain, privileged, and easy to anger. One of the more appalling details of her legend involves bathing in the warm blood of virgins to restore her youthful beauty. Her victims were young peasant girls and the daughters of lesser gentry spirited away to her castle with promises of work or higher learning. Her bloody-bath was never documented in any official capacity; based on the evidence recorded it's more likely she gained sexual thrills through blood and torture.

Though she was formally charged with the torture and murder of 80 young women, other testimony puts the number as high as 650. The number most likely grew due to time and embellishment. Much evidence against her was gotten through torture, so there's no telling what is true in this story or how much was skewed for political or religious purposes. On the other hand, the documented testimonies from survivors, the multitudes of missing girls and the evidence of human remains on her property is stunning to say the least. Once finally arrested, she was bricked into a small room in her castle and fed threw a slot in the wall until she died 4 years later in 1614. Whatever the truth may be, Erzebet's legend is a macabre one and she has gone down as the most prolific female serial killer in history.

If you really want to delve further into this bit of crazy-horrificness, I suggest this lengthy article on Crime Library, and of course wikipedia for the short of it. You'll find the story is always a little different depending where you look.
*nom nom nom*

The illustration is from the bloody vampire perspective. But I'm thinking it would be fun to do a more realistic portrait in the future.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Hangin' on the Telephone - Debbie Harry

I've been updating my website, trying to make the thing more functional. Hence no more flash. sorry flash! It's not that I have anything against you... it's just. everyone else does?

Above is a little illustration for the contact section. I ask you, who would make a better mascot for the telephone then 80's new wave icon Debbie Harry? No one. not one person or thing. With at least 2 hits based around telephone calls, she's got everyone beat. I'm looking at you Tommy Tutone.