Head on over to peopleithinkarecool.com to listen to Alex's latest interview with Liz Reed. They talk about the new 50 States of Beauty Series, how Alex started Familytree, entrepreneurship, doing art shows, using art to raise money for a good cause and a lot more. You should definitely subscribe to the podcast to hear more great artist interviews, and also go to Liz's other website cuddlesandrage.com to see the sculptures and comics she makes! Big thanks to Liz for having Alex on the show!
Please note: this limited time donation collection has ended. Orders from 12/2/16 - 12/12/16 for Tennessee prints had a portion of proceeds donated to CFMT. We are grateful to those that supported this effort. We were hoping to raise even more, but we did manage to raise $420 for Wildfire victims.
Let's help those who have lost their homes, their livelihood or even loved ones. As you probably know, terrible wildfires have torn through East Tennessee this week. Many homes were lost, and residents were forced to evacuate.
I was born and raised in Tennessee and the area affected is only a few hours drive from my home. In fact I've spent many vacations in the town of Gatlinburg that was hit hard.
Classic 80's photos of my family taken in Gatlinburg. Nov 1986
That's why I've decided to help where I can. My Tennessee print is a depiction of the Smoky Mountains, right where the fires have torn through. So I can't think of a better way to help than to donate a portion of the sale of each print to help. For a limited time $15 of each sale of my Tennessee Smoky Mountains Print will be donated to the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee's Emergency Fund for wildfire victims.
My cousin Andrew Pearson is also a Tennessee native, and he is also donating a portion of sales from his company Foundry Fishing Which is a lifestyle brand for fly-fishing enthusiasts that sells shirts and hats. Please tag or repost to those you think can help.
I'll be on the road this fall attending a few different craft fairs and selling my new prints in person. If you live in one of these cities I highly recommend coming out to these events. They are always a blast and full of awesome creative stuff.
Sept 10-11 Renegade Craft Fair - Chicago
Oct 1-2 Crafty Bastards - Washinton DC
Nov 5 Crafty Bastards - Nashville
Nov 12 Art Event at The Grove - Franklin, TN
The next three weekends are going to be busy (just the way I like it)! Here's a quick rundown of what I've got coming up, and if I'm in your city I hope to see you.
Every month on the Adventures in Design Podcast, Mark Brickey and Mitch Putnam sit down and review the posters for the month that have been posted on the art blog OMGposters.com, and Mark chooses his top 10. For August my 111 Archer Ave print was named as no. 3, which is a huge honor! All the art is absolutely amazing, and I can't believe mine was named so high on the list. I think it was probably a mistake. You should definitely check out the podcast if you aren't already a fan. It's a great source of information on design, illustration, pop culture and the business of art. You can listen to the episode below, but make sure to subscribe on iTunes, or you can even become a Circle of Trust member of the podcast and get bonus content. Be sure to also check out OMGposters.com as a great resource for amazing art.
Enough swiping, tapping and clicking. There is an unspoken magic to the tangible, but it is far too often replaced by technological convenience. We want to encourage you to put pen to paper again: To sketch, write, create… something… anything!
Our new notebooks are made from recycled posters that had tiny printing mistakes. Maybe a bent corner, an ink drop, etc. So we cut them up, bound and folded them, and voila! Now they can have a new life. One that you can add your creativity to.
These notebooks make great gifts for someone else (or yourself). We suggest using them to document your next big idea, but they are also humble enough to use for tonight's grocery list.
So get one, or save a few bucks with an assorted pack of notebooks. These may not last long… these are a limited edition run.
September will officially be a busy month for Familytree! In addition to attending the Renegade Brooklyn and Crafty Bastards festivals, we'll also be at Renegade Chicago. In case you're head is spinning (like ours) here is the complete list of dates/festivals we'll be at next month:
Renegade Brooklyn: Sept. 12-13
Renegade Chicago: Sept. 19-20
Crafty Bastards: Sept. 26-27
Each festival offers a great selection of curated independent Maker goods and of course, a fun time for all.
We're excited to announce that we'll be at this year's upcoming Crafty Bastards Art & Craft Fair in Washington D.C. If you'll be in the D.C. area or need an excuse to go, the fair is Saturday, Sept. 26 and Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Union Market in Washington, D.C.
It's an honor for us to be invited to join the more than 175 talented vendors. See you in September!
There's nothing quite like a famine, starving children and an evil witch to set the scene for a good bed time story or art print, for that matter!
That's why we've included a more whimsical interpretation of the classic German cautionary tale for our "Hansel and Gretel" art print, illustrated by artist Shelby Rodeffer.
"I've always loved German cautionary fairy tales, like the Struwwelpeter, that walk the line between cute and creepy, Shelby said. With a cannibalistic witch and a cottage made of candy, there's really nothing not to like about this story!"
Shelby's take on the classic Brothers Grimm tale, first published in 1812, illustrated by Ludwig Richter in 1842 and made popular by the 1893 opera by Engelbert Humperdinck is inspired by gingerbread houses and the beautiful landscapes by artist Eyvind Earle.
Earle really knew how to make a flat image look expansive, Shelby said. I wanted to make something big like his pieces yet simple enough to work with two colors, so I was also looking at a lot of old textile illustrations like these."
Shelby's focus on the house details and typography work well with the mid-century inspired illustration style, which each original illustrated print in our Fairy Tales art print series adheres to.
I’m always on the hunt for new ideas. Little things that might spark an idea for my next illustration subject or maybe even a whole series of illustrations. It actually makes the world a more exciting place, when you are actively looking around to try and find inspiration in the ordinary. It forces you to slow down and take notice of your surroundings.
For me inspiration struck while I was teaching a college course on Typography. I had given my students the assignment of designing a series of book covers. While I was imagining the possibilities of how the students would complete their project, I started getting excited and almost a little jealous of their assignment. I wanted to work on it too! Which led me to the conclusion that I could do it, and it would make a great art print series, similar to Monster Friends. I immediately emailed a couple illustrators I had worked with before to gauge interest. They were both interested in the idea, but were a little too busy at the time to start right away. Which ended up being a good thing. I believe if we had proceeded when I proposed it at first, we would have rushed through the process. Not to mention for me my initial ideas always evolve over time. I think that time passing is a good thing, because it helps me to purify a concept. And this project went through a few evolutions along the way.
My initial concept was to create a series of art prints that truly felt like book covers of classic tales you could hang on the wall. I had settled on fairy tales as the subject matter, but realized that most of these stories are very short, and we often don’t know who the authors are. To me if they were going to be book covers then they needed all the elements of a book cover. I also realized that a good book cover series often is designed in a very patterned way with only small key elements changing from one cover to the next. Accomplishing that with a different artist working on each cover was going to be a challenge.
So I made the decision to change directions. Fairy Tales would still be the subject matter, but instead of making the art look like book covers we would go in a different stylistic direction. I felt good about Fairy Tales having a lot of visual inspiration to pull from, but I also wanted to put a twist on these stories we all know so well. That concept had worked really well with my Monster Friends series and I thought it might translate well here too. So I invited 3 artists to join me on the project, Lydia Nichols, Julian Baker, and Shelby Rodeffer. They all liked the concept and agreed to join the project.
What I pitched to them was this. Let’s reimagine these classic Fairy Tales, reinterpret them, and tell the story in a whole new way, by adding humor, changing the setting, etc. The idea that first popped into my head was Sleeping Beauty, but with Prince charming as a robot with chainsaw hands... ridiculous I know, but it made me laugh.
So I asked each illustrator to come up with at least 5 conceptual ideas of how to reinterpret a fairy tale of their choosing. We would review, and pick the concepts that seemed like they would work as an illustration. Everyone came up with some awesome ideas. Here’s a few samples:
Snow White - Shelby Rodeffer
Girl Gang vs. Girl Gang. Snow white and the witch are seated with their backs showing. The witch is wearing a denim/leather jacked with a back patch that says "BAD APPLE," Snow White is wearing a silk jacket that says "DA FAIREST"
Tortoise and the Hare - Julian Baker
Bicycle Race. The tortoise and the hair are racing on bicycles and we see the turtle casually crossing the finish line as the Hare is rushing up behind him. This could be great to play up the different bikes for their personalities. The Hare could be on a super sleek, extremely angular, racing bike wearing an aerodynamic helmet with his ears shot straight back and the Turtle could be on a totally laid back, upright, cruiser-style bike with a banana seat!
Jack and the Beanstalk - Lydia Nichols
Jack is playing the Beanstalk video game in which he must plant beans, climb the stalk, and try to surreptitiously steal from the evil Giant before losing his three lives. The golden harp is the coveted prize.
Aladdin 3000 - Alex Pearson
His “magic carpet” is replaced by a futuristic flying machine, and the genie in the lamp is replaced by some sort of futuristic device with a talking hologram that comes out of it. I imagine a cool mashup in the background of futuristic looking middle eastern skyscraper palaces (samurai jack-ish looking).
I’m really glad that we had a concept review process instead of jumping into drawing, which is how I normally start my collaborative projects. Although all the concepts were really quite good, and unique, I felt like they would be very hard to turn into art prints that people would understand as soon as they saw them. These concepts had stories to them. Which is evidenced by how we had to explain them just to each other. And it’s quite hard to tell an entire story in a single image. I think these concepts would make great cartoons, books, or another medium where the entire story could be told in its new form. But as an art print, it felt like they would feel more like a single frame from an animation. An animation of a story our audience wasn’t familiar with. I still think these original ideas are a lot of fun, but I decided they were too conceptual, and complicated to translate into an image that could be digested instantaneously by the viewer. And unfortunately in our scroll and swipe digital world, you need to be able to get your point across really quickly.
The concept that I thought would be following the format of Monster Friends, of taking a familiar thing and putting a unique twist on it, ended up being too complicated. So I decided to ask all the illustrators to pause their work, and take it back to basics. Instead of changing the stories themselves, we would interpret them in our own way through the use of our illustration style. We would keep the familiarity intact, but drawn in our own respective and unique styles. This I feel worked beautifully. There was still conceptual work to be done. How would you represent a familiar story in a way we haven’t seen it a million times already? Here are our early sketches.
As you can see I stuck with Sleeping Beauty, and tried a couple ways of representing the challenge the Prince had to overcome. I really like cutaways where you can see through an object. So I had the idea of seeing through the castle walls to the prince running up the stairs. But ultimately the other illustrators pointed out during our process (and I agreed) that my first sketch had a stronger composition. And communicated the ominous challenge of getting through the thorns better.
And here are the finished illustrations.
I’m really happy with how all of our illustrations turned out. Working with so many other talented artists is such a treat. It makes me work harder, and results in a better product. It’s great to see into your peers working process, and have them available to give you valuable feedback as well.
I’ve had a number of people ask me recently why I do collaborative series. They point out that I’m fully capable of creating a series myself, and that it would be faster and cheaper. Sometimes I’m not totally sure what answer to give them, except that it’s just more fun. I just prefer to work with other people. I’m an extrovert, but I work at home, by myself. To me working alone isn’t as motivating, and sometimes it’s just plain boring. People energize me, and these collaborations really energize me. I recently realized about myself that my creative drive is not fueled from within. I don’t have a urge to let creativity out as a form of expression like some artists do. My urge to create is fueled by others, and my ability is enhanced by their feedback and input.
So I hope you as a viewer, a visitor to this site, and maybe even a customer of my prints get something out of what I’m making. And if you do, please let me know! Shoot me an email, ask me a question, leave a comment on this blog or social media. Because you are my fuel.
This week our friend and collaborator Babs Tarr is in San Diego for the annual Comic Con. Babs has the distinct honor of recreating D.C. Comic's heroine, Batgirl, and we couldn't be more proud of her!
Before Batgirl, I had the distinct honor of collaborating with Babs on our poster series, "Retro Gals Mods and Rockers." This series was inspired by the British cool kids of the 1960s. Working with Babs was great fun! Her contribution to the series is the original art poster Retro Gals Rockers.
Working with Babs was great fun. She was so upbeat, it was infectious! Any bit of art direction I threw her way, she took to heart, and then came back with something even more awesome than I was expecting. It was also great to see her process. Her sketches were so loose and gestural, but the attitude and style still came through, even in the earliest phases.
Be sure to check out more of Bab's work!
"She sleeps: her breathings are not heard In palace chambers far apart The fragrant tresses are not stirred That lie upon her charmed heart" wrote Alfred, Lord Tennyson in his poem "The Sleeping Beauty" in 1830. But the famous British poet wasn't the first to bring the romantic tale of the beautiful princess, the sleeping enchantment and the handsome prince into the world.
The story of "Sleeping Beauty" actually dates back to 1697 by French author Charles Perrault and then later collected as an oral tradition by the Brothers Grimm. Of course, there have been many more adaptations from literature, visual art, musical theater and ballet to animation.
So it's not surprising that when I was researching a fairy tale to illustrate, my visual idea for "Sleeping Beauty" just clicked. Instead of focusing on the princess for my Sleeping Beauty print as so many famous illustrations and paintings do, I was inspired to create an illustration centered on another important character: the castle.
As with all my art prints, my process begins with a lot of research. I found a picture of the German Neuschwanstein Castle that became my main inspiration; coincidentally the "Sleepy Beauty" castle design in the Disney Parks is also based on this. With its dramatic towers, it's easy to see why the 19th century Romanesque Revival architecture of the hilltop castle is the source of inspiration for both me and Disney artists.
From there, for type reference I found a magazine clipping from a 1950s issue of Harper's Bazaar, which influenced the typography at the top of my illustration; I hand-drew all of the typography to give it a warm and old-fashioned feel.
"Sleeping Beauty" art print is part of our Fairy Tales art poster series that includes illustrations of other familiar and well-loved classic tales including Goldilocks and The Three Bears, Hansel and Gretel, and Paul Bunyan.
I'm super pumped to let everyone know that we'll have a booth at this year’s Renegade Craft Fair in Brooklyn! This will be my first time doing Renegade in Brooklyn (usually we only do Chicago) so this will be an exciting change of pace.
This year’s craft fair is set for September 12-13 and will be at the Brooklyn Expo Center in Greenpoint. I am excited to be among all the other awesome independent artists and makers. If you’re in the Brooklyn area, please stop by the booth. Although the art isn't free, the hugs are. And in case you’re wondering, yes, the craft fair is free to attend, so you have no excuse NOT to show up!
I love visiting NYC and Brooklyn, and I'm looking forward to seeing friends and hitting some of my favorite spots like the rooftop bar on the Wythe Hotel, Momofuku Noodle Bar, and Brooklyn Inn. And I'm sure I'll find some new favorite spots this year as well. Speaking of which, where else should I go while I'm in Brooklyn?
Turns out our favorite bear family started out as three bachelors. And our favorite mischievous blonde wasn't even blonde! Or young! She was an old, ugly woman. Somehow "The Story of the Three Bears," the original title of arguably the most popular fairy tale, isn't that intriguing.
But that's how it started with British author Robert Southey first publishing the widely told tale "The Story of The Three Bears," in 1837. From then the story evolved several times most notably in 1849 when author Joseph Cundall changed the antagonist from an old, ugly woman--he felt there were too many stories that centered on old, ugly women--to a pretty little girl. It wasn't until the early 20th century that this pretty little girl was named Goldilocks and the three bachelor bears became "Father, Mother and Baby Bear."
Early illustrations of Goldilocks and The Three Bears are quite serious and literal--no fun at all in our opinion. With our Goldilocks and The Three Bears art print, the goal was to find a fun, whimsical portrayal of the bears--not too serious like the original prints and not so too cartoonish like modern illustrations.
Like the other art prints in our Fairy Tales poster series, our Goldilocks poster, drawn by artist Julian Baker, is illustrated in our signature mid-century inspired style and features the orange and blue color palette.
I'm excited to introduce the latest Familytree poster series, Fairytales. This four-poster series is inspired by some classic fairytales: Paul Bunyan, Hansel & Gretel, Sleeping Beauty and Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Grab the whole series from the shop.
This series adheres to the Familytree signature style of a limited color palette and illustration reminiscent of the 1950s and 60s.
Each poster is 12x18 inches and is a two-color screen print of sky blue and burnt orange on off-white card stock, perfect for decorating.
This is the fifth Familytree poster series in which I've collaborated with other artists on a whimsical subject. Once again we've got a great line up of artists that have contributed to this series including: Julian Baker, Lydia Nichols, Shelby Rodeffer, and of course myself, Alex Pearson. Stay tuned for more about my talented collaborators.
This week I had the pleasure of being on Adventures in Design Podcast with Mark Brickey Episode 200. It's "America's only daily morning talk show for creatives just like you". He brought me into the "Circle of Trust" for an honest and open talk about Familytree, and what I've been up to. I've been a fan of the show since it's inception in 2012, and it's provided me with a lot of creative and business inspiration over the years, so it was a real honor to be on the show myself. In case you're not familiar with the podcast or it's host, Mark is a designer, illustrator, and general loudmouth bad boy of graphic design. The show is about finding your way in the creative industry, artistic growing pains, and features interviews with tons of top talent from the gig poster world, graphic design, illustration, fashion, and more. During our chat we talked about my illustration style, why I like to work with other artists on my projects, some of the challenges and bumps in the road along the way, why modern movie blockbusters stink, and so much more.
You can also purchase an extended version of our conversation with bonus content by subscribing to the Circle of Trust. In the extended interview Mark and I discuss some more of the business side of things, including how I utilize Facebook ads, a key calculation I made that helped me change my business, and why I hired a Digital Marketing Strategist.
Adventures in Design website
Subscribe to the free version of the podcast on iTunes here.
Please Note: The Podcast is explicit. Mark uses "colorful" language, so you may not want to listen with Grandma or the kids around. Consider yourself warned.
I'm excited to be on the Adventures in Design Podcast on June 17, 2015. I'll be talking about creativity and the business of Familytree. Adventures in Design is hands down the best podcast out there on the topic of graphic design, illustration, entrepreneurship, and the business of creativity. Mark your calendars and subscribe to the Podcast in iTunes.
You can never have too many super-soft t-shirts in your wardrobe, right? Right! That's why we've brought back one of our t-shirt designs--the skull and crossbars. And this time around we've got women's sizes!
This weekend I'll be participating again in the summer Porter Flea Market. This is a fun Nashville pop-up event that features independent artists and designers. At this year's summer market more than 90 vendors will be in attendance, and no doubt it will be a rocking good time.
Each year I try to make it to a handful of events--it's great for me to get out of the studio and hang with both fellow artists and meet tons of people that are interested in what we do. As always, I look forward to seeing friendly familiar faces (you should meet these peeps too): shoutouts to MID, Meat and 3 Printing Co., Boss Construction, Steric Design, & Holler Design. I hope to make some more creative friends too out of this year's star lineup (lots of new businesses I don't recognize yet!).
If you're in Nashville June 5-6, you should definitely check out the Flea, you won't regret it. And if you do make it, be sure to come by the Familytree booth to say hi. I'll be the tallest dude with glasses there, and probably some sort of plaid shirt on (see above photo for reference).
We're happy to announce that we've reprinted--again--one of our most popular original art prints, "The Belafonte."
If you're not familiar with this poster, it is a 4-color 18"x36" screen print on 100lb bright white paper. The subject of the print, is the ship named the Belafonte, from the 2004 Wes Anderson movie, "Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou" starring one of America's greatest comic actors, Bill Murray as Steve Zissou, an oceanographer aboard the research vessel the Belafonte.
Needless to say, I am a bona fide Wes Anderson fan. So when I had the chance to create something for Spoke Art's group art show, "Bad Dads: A Wes Anderson Tribute," I quickly picked the Belafonte from my favorite movie.
The Belafonte turned out to be a great subject for a poster. As you can see in my making-of-the-Belafonte video, this was truly a fun assignment for me. I am kind of a nut for getting into tiny little details, and I love the "dollhouse" effect of The Belafonte cross-section in the film. That particular scene of the movie always stuck with me. So recreating it was a blast.
Spoke Art's group exhibition continues to be a smash every year. If you too are a Wes Anderson fan, be sure to check out the other contributions--from prints to paintings to sculptures--as well as my other Wes Anderson inspired original art print, The Grand Budapest Hotel.