Workin' it...
17 July 2007

explore My friend Gary Davidson is the art director of an excellent magazine called Explore, the focus of which is outdoor life in Canada. It's one of my favourite mags, and not just because Gary frequently hires me to do illustration work (the smoking rabbit piece in my portfolio section is one example). I even have a subscription! So when he called me up about a month ago and asked if my girlfriend Karen and I would help him out by appearing as models on the cover of an upcoming issue, I enthusiastically agreed. He followed this up by saying "There's one small catch. Seeing as the cover story is How to make love in a canoe, you both have to be in your underwear". Hell yeah! A few weeks later, sporting spray-on tans (seriously) and with a good dose of carpé diem under our belts (so to speak) Karen and I accompanied Gary to the shoot at the Scarborough Bluffs. We stripped down to our skivs, got slathered up in body oil and, via the photographic magic of a fellow ACAD grad, KC Armstrong, now appear scantily-clad on the cover of the July/August issue. By the way, did I mention that Karen, aside from being super hot, is also an extremely good sport? I salute her gusto!

If that wasn't reason enough to rush out and buy a copy, this issue also features a collaborative feature illustration by myself and two of my best pals, Steve Wilson and Clayton Hanmer. We draw together on a regular basis, a three pitcher of beer-length event that has become known as "Pen Club", and decided to start a collective, ostentatiously titled Trio Magnus (ie. Latin for "The Great Three"). Seeing as Gary often joins us for Pen Club, he asked if we would consider doing a piece together for the upcoming issue. We agreed, of course, and the result (which I'll post in the portfolio section in the near future) is really cool. Props to Gary for his innovative vision, not to mention paying us to drink and draw...

So get out there, pick up a copy of Explore and add an eyeful of skin and beer-fueled illustrative mayhem to your required reading this summer!

The Shatner Show
21 June 2007

shatnershow After months of planning, my talented friend Janine Vangool has finally launched her ambitious project, The Shatner Show, a group show consisting of over 70 artists and illustrators (including yours truly) from Canada and the U.S, each of whom has created a portrait of William Shatner. It's showing at her store and gallery space, Uppercase Gallery in Calgary, so if you live in the area, you can check it out until August 31. And if not, don't dismay - you can enjoy the illustrated Shatner goodness in book form, also designed by Janine (I told you she was talented). Click here to take a peek at the book or beam up your own copy. Congratulations Janine!

Me on CBC!
14 May 2007

I had the wonderful opportunity last week to be interviewed on the acclaimed CBC radio show, Sounds Like Canada, by one of my favourite journalists, Mark Kelley. His friendly demeanour eased my nervousness about being on a live, national radio show, and we had a great time talking about diverse topics such as the Zimmer Twins' Emmy win, Canadian superheroes, Rex Murphy and Sasquatch. Plus, it was cool to have a glimpse inside the hallowed halls of the CBC as well as a bird's eye view of the soaring Barbara Frum Atrium with its green, lego-block tower. If you're in downtown Toronto, I'd recommend checking it out! Have a listen to the interview here and thanks to Kate Swoger for making it happen.

A Zimmer-worthy Emmy adventure
02 May 2007

emmyaward This just in: the Zimmer Twins won the International Interactive Emmy award! I'm still finding it hard to believe. Big congratulations and thanks to everyone at zincRoe - I was honoured to be our representative over in Cannes. Thanks also to Sandrine Pechels de Saint Sardos, our distributor at Bejuba, who was also at the gala and whose calming presence made giving an Emmy acceptance speech slightly less overwhelming for me.

The night started on a stressful note, to say the least. I was staying in Nice, about a 20 minute train ride from Cannes, and had planned to meet Sandrine at 7:30 pm at the storied Carlton Hotel where the gala was being held at 8:15. Upon arriving at the Nice train station around 6:30 pm, I discovered, to my horror, that instead of the regular Nice-Cannes train every 20 minutes, there were only two trains going to Cannes that night due to a train strike. Suppressing the urge to panic and completely lose my mind, I bought my ticket from an automated machine using Euro coins (seeing as all the tellers were closed) and waited, decked out in my suit and Converse runners with my super-uncomfortable dress shoes stashed in my shoulder bag. Around 7:25 pm, the train finally arrived, right around the time I was supposed to be meeting Sandrine. We had just started moving when we started slowing down again for the next stop. This proceeded to happen at every commuter stop between Nice and Cannes (seeing as it was one of the only trains that night), lengthening the journey by a precious 10 minutes...

Finally, around 7:55 pm, we made it to Cannes. The train had barely stopped as I burst out of the doors and started sprinting for the Carlton which was a good 10 minute walk away. Dodging expensively dressed people, palm trees and numerous tiny dogs, I ran down the sidewalk in the +20 degree heat, arriving at the Carlton right around 8:00 pm. To my relief, I saw the patio full of tuxedos and evening gowns, indicative that the gala hadn't started yet. So with a stitch in my side, I switched my shoes and stashed my runners in my bag (under the curious gaze of a few of the patio dwellers), composed myself as much as possible and strode into the Carlton, finding a very relieved Sandrine who had heard about the train strike and who insisted I have a glass of champagne to calm down. The ceremony started a few minutes later, and my head was still swimming when a beautiful Spanish starlet announced that there was a tie in the "Interactive Program" category bewteen Re-Genesis, a project from another Canadian company, Xenophile media, and the Zimmer Twins! So we all went up onto the stage, and after the guys from Xenophile had said their piece, I stepped up to the microphone and gave my little speech. And finally, once I sat down with a heavy Emmy statue in hand, I was able to start relaxing and notice the amazingly opulent ballroom for the first time.

The rest of the night was very enjoyable, albeit somewhat surreal for a prairie boy like myself. And upon leaving, we each got a cool loot bag (for lack of a better word) containing Emmy chocolates, a book about photographer Willy Ronis and two small bottles of Moet champagne. After a 72 Euro cab ride back to Nice (remember, no trains), I met up with my friend Steve Wilson who had accompanied me to France, and we each enjoyed a bottle of Moet on the pebbly beach beside the dark Mediterranean. Back at our hotel, not even the discovery of a large cockroach balancing delicately on the end of my toothbrush could ruin what turned out to be a truly unforgettable evening.

If you'd like to see a video clip of my acceptance speech, take a peek here.

Twin triumphs
30 March 2007

It's been an exciting couple of weeks for my animated project, The Zimmer Twins. At the beginning of the month, the project received an "Outstanding" Award in the 2007 HOW Interactive Design Annual, and then just a few weeks ago, it was nominated for an International Interactive Emmy Award, a fairly new branch of the Emmys which recognizes the best in TV programming and interactive content from around the world. Needless to say, I'm thrilled and extremely proud of everyone at zincRoe who made the project happen. And to top everything off, I'm heading over to the Cannes, France for the Awards Gala on April 18th. Someone pinch me!

Caveman love
08 February 2007

valentine2007 Check out this cool story, just in time for Valentine's Day: Ancient lovers

Happy holidays...
20 December 2006

... and best wishes for 2007! Hope you've all been extra good this past year, thereby avoiding lumps of coal in your stockings. And if you find that you've got Xmas cash to spare, World Vision and United Way are two very worthy causes and great ways to help someone in need. Go on - dig deep!

Also, I recently posted some new work in the gallery section (click on "SHOW SETS" and select "new group shows, nov. - dec. 2006") from a couple of fine art group shows I was part of back in November and December. Included in these were Skullfest, a Halloween show hosted by the Steamwhistle gallery in Toronto, Paperbag 02, a show about the art of the paper bag hosted by Madame Edgar in Montreal and Give A Little, a holiday show hosted by Magic Pony in Toronto.

Merry Saturnalia
29 November 2006

With my favourite pagan holiday now almost a month in the past, it's time to start getting excited about my second-favourite pagan holiday: Christmas! Well, I'm not so crazy about the commercialistic orgy or the endless stream of cringe-inducing Xmas songs permeating the air like a stifling, minty fog. However, seeing as December 25 was a big party for a host of ancient, pre-Christian cultures, including the Babylonians and Romans, it's good enough for me. If you've ever wondered about the pagan significance of holly, decorated evergreen trees and gift-giving or how the early Church managed to repackage and cash in on all this rich mythological real estate, take a look here.

Of course, the holiday season is a great excuse to have holiday art events, and I've got work in two upcoming shows: the Give a Little show at Magic Pony, which opens Friday, December 1 and the Paper Bag 2 show at Madame Edgar in Montreal which opens Tuesday, December 5. If you're in either town on either date, swing by the store(s) for an eyeful of wonderful art. Images will be posted in gallery section ASAP!

Skullfest!
31 October 2006

skullfest I love Halloween (or Samhain for you pagans out there) and everything that comes with it: drunk partygoers on the subway dressed as zombies, kids roaming the streets in search of candy, every other ad on TV featuring a jack-o-lantern or black cat and of course, those fake, cottony "spider webs" in every single window, be it retail or residential. Of course, Halloween is also a great excuse to have an art show, which is exactly what some pals and I are doing later today with our group show, Skullfest. If you're in the Toronto area, come on by the Steamwhistle Brewery tonight around 7 pm and check it out the wicked (and affordable) art! Lastly, here's a Halloween treat for you: my favourite spooky (and wonderfully craptacular) website, featuring a collection of sketches by people who have witnessed unexplained sightings of aliens, monsters, ghosts and other eerie, non-human entities. These drawings are completely terrifying! Enjoy, and have a happy Halloween! They Saw Them

Back from Berlin
24 October 2006

Well, I'm back in Toronto, have almost recovered from jet lag and am finally offering my summary of the pictoplasma conference. Better late than never!

Ah, Berlin - it's an amazing city, full of artistic beauty in both expected and unexpected places. For instance, I'd heard about the cutting-edge architecture, world-class museums and leafy boulevards. But what I found more interesting and inspiring was the abundance of street-art, stencils, stickers and doodles decorating the streets. In some places the stickers and posters were so thick they became beautiful, illustrative skins spread across sides of buildings or covering an alley wall from the ground up. Talk about a perfect place to hold a conference about character design, not to mention a wonderful source of sketchbook material!

The conference itself was a lot of fun and very inspiring. To be honest, I missed a good portion of the early presentations due to drinking with pals (as mentioned in my previous post) and, subsequently, sleeping in / recovering. However, the presentations that I did make it to really blew my mind. I found the work of Jon Burgerman, Ian Stevenson, Fons Schiedon, Shoboshobo, Studio aka, Friends With You and Doma particularly enjoyable. And of course, I must mention my fellow Canadians, Nathan J and Derrick Hodgson who both showcased some great new work.

In addition to enjoying the incredible visuals, I found it encouraging not only to see so many people gathered together to celebrate character design and share ideas but also to hear the various speakers describe how they had stayed true to what they wanted to do and ended up finding outlets for their doodles. For me, it drove home the importance of balancing professional work that pays the bills with personal projects that feed your soul. And if the two can be brought together, even better!

Will I go back to Berlin for the next pictoplasma conference? Hell ja! And this time, I'll be bringing stickers of my own to add to the mix.

handy stuff

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