Thursday, November 8, 2007

Silkscreening 4: Red Rooster

Another one from the (sadly, now-finished) silkscreen class, this was for Red Rooster, a self-described "Urban Country" band. I tried to come up with some imagery that would suggest that seeming contradiction, and I quickly hit on the idea of some kind of farming implement in an incongruous urban setting. Tractors are neat looking, so I picked a tractor.

As originally visualized in my head, this concept involved about six colors—an orange and red tractor, green grass, blue sky, grey buildings and black shadows. My experience with the Randy Bandits and bird silkscreens taught me that less is more in silkscreening, at least as a beginner—the more colors, the more obvious the registration problems. So I scaled it down to two colors, which actually works better, I think, as it puts more emphasis on the band name and the flame detail on the tractor (as you'll see below).

I did a quick search for tractor images to find reference for a drawing, but I had trouble finding a tractor that captured the down-home vibe I was looking for, from the angle I wanted. So I had to reference different parts of different tractors to build my final Frankentractor. I won't link to the various reference photos, because a couple of them were Corbis images and for all I know even using them as reference might not be kosher, but the body of the tractor is primarily drawn from an antique tractor which was clearly built before rubber tires were invented, the back tires are from a high-tech modern tractor that otherwise looked more like some kind of tank, and the front wheels are drawn from some otherwise anonymous tractor.

I also decided to try a new shape for these, both for variety and to emphasize the height of the cityscape. I already had some 14" x 17" paper, so I made this design 7" x 17", which meant it fit two to a sheet. As an added bonus, this meant the Red Rooster folks got twice as many posters as anyone else (sorry, other band friends!).

Speaking of which, I knew I wasn't quite happy with the cityscape in the background, but the deadline for my free hours at the print shop was looming, so I sent this "sketch" over to the band for their thoughts:

They liked it, but asked for a couple revisions—first, they asked if there was some way to make it clear that they were a band and not, say, an off-broadway play. So I suggested adding a short tagline, as we had done on the Mr. McGregor ("Trailer-Punk Trio") poster. They sent over a couple of options, of which "city-fried country" was the clear favorite, so I added that in underneath the band name. They also asked if there was some way to include a rooster in there somewhere, so I added one as kind of a logo on the front of the tractor. Finally, I got around to redrawing the cityscape, and realized that the windows just weren't going to work—they created some odd problems of scale, and ultimately just didn't look good. So I lost the windows and added some good old fashioned schmutz, and sent the following to the band:

Luckily, they liked it, and all that was left was to print the thing, which went pretty smoothly, all things considered. As a two-color job, this was pretty forgiving, and this was definitely my most consistent print run yet. Here's a scan of one of the final prints:

For more information on Red Rooster, visit their website at:

Friday, November 2, 2007

Silkscreening 3: Mr. McGregor

I just delivered these to the band this morning, so now's as good a time as any to blog them...

This is the second in my series of silkscreen poster giveaways for friends' bands. Mr. McGregor describe themselves as a "universally acclaimed and locally admired trailer-punk-trio from Brooklyn. They write their own songs and carry their own equipment. They play about a dozen songs in half an hour. Once they’ve finished their set, they break down their stuff in under five minutes or your money back.”

Since I was doing these for free, I didn't really want to get into a prolonged sketching/approval process. But I had two ideas for this that I liked pretty much equally, so I sent both over to the band. The first was my attempt at Art Chantry doing the Marlboro Man:

The second was heavily inspired by a poster Paul Sahre did for the Soho Rep, plus the awesome shirt that Maury's wearing in the photos on their website (this isn't quite that shirt, as that shirt lost something in translation to drawing, but it is "inspired by"...)

The band chose the first one, and I set to work printing 'em. Here's the final product:

Proving again that I'm still getting the hand of this silkscreening thing, you'll notice the ink overlay effect looks a little different than I anticipated in my sketch, but I think it still works. Also, you can't really tell onscreen, but that goldish color is actually metallic gold ink, which looks nice and shiny in person. All in all, this was a much more forgiving design than the Randy Bandits poster I did earlier, and I think it came out pretty well, all things considered. I've got two more of these "practice posters" to finish up this weekend, before my studio hours at the printshop expire...

For more info on Mr. McGregor, check out their website at

Thursday, November 1, 2007


I've decided to try to participate in DrawMo! this year. What's this "DrawMo!" you say? It's a month long daily drawing project organized by my friend India, kind of as a response to things like NaNoWriMo ("National Novel Writing Month"). It's open to anyone with the inclination, and you can learn more about it here.

So here's my first quick drawing, and I should stress that the goal here is quantity, not quality:


(And before anyone asks, yes, that's my accordion, and no, I can't really play it. I only know two songs—"Born in the USA" and "My Hometown." (Springsteen's synthesizer years translate well to the accordion, apparently.))

Anyway, I won't clutter up this blog with too much of this stuff, but I figure I have to make a little bit of a fuss here at the beginning of the month so I don't punk out two days in. I haven't done any drawing without a specific goal in mind in years, apart from little doodles, so this is going to be a challenge...