2012 has been probably the most rewarding year for me professionally, bringing so many great, fun, humbling and challenging projects and so many opportunities to explore different styles of art and design. I wrapped up WORLD ON A WIRE and started THE QATSI TRILOGY for The Criterion Collection, three theatrical one-sheets including posters for two of the most acclaimed films of the year in HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE and ELENA, designed several prints for Spoke Art and the Castro Theatre including two for Wes Anderson movies and one for the new greatest film of all time, a few more for the Belcourt Theatre including their Hitchcock and Bresson retrospectives, a design for the Japanese release of Bresson's FOUR NIGHTS OF A DREAMER, a print for the Nashville Film Festival, three album covers including my first soundtrack cover for Death Waltz Recording Company, a book cover, a restaurant logo, three pieces for the Nashville Symphony, gig posters for Hotels and Highways, Mia Dyson and Natural Child, and countless other posters and projects that I fit in just for fun.

As of press time, my top ten films of the year are as follows, not having seen DJANGO UNCHAINED, ZERO DARK THIRTY, RUST AND BONE, THE KID WITH A BIKE, or OSLO AUGUST 31ST...



For the first time, I watched over three times as many older films as I did new ones, and thus had the most rewarding film-watching year of my life thus far. My top ten older films I saw this year were L'ARGENT (and every other Bresson film), THE DOUBLE LIFE OF VERONIQUE, POSSESSION, DAISIES, YI YI, ORNETTE: MADE IN AMERICA, MELODY, CLOSELY WATCHED TRAINS, BLACK JACK and ETOILE.

I haven't kept up with enough new records to list my favorites of the year, but Melody's Echo Chamber, Daniel Bachman, Zac Clark, Mia Dyson, Four Tet and Tame Impala got the most play on my turntables in 2012.

Getting ready to finish out this marathon year with my fourth-annual New Year's Eve concert with My So-Called Band, the Ultimate 90's Experience. Thanks to all my clients, friends, bandmates and family for such an artistically inspiring year, and I look forward to another one in 2013!



This December 26th, the Belcourt Theatre kicks off a 23-day, 24-film Alfred Hitchcock 35mm retrospective, and this 18x24" limited edition screenprint will be for sale on site. Four colors on light grey French paper. Signed and numbered edition of 50. Happy holidays and enjoy the fest!



My latest print for Spoke Art and the Castro Theatre commemorates the screening of one of my favorite films of all time, Stanley Kubrick's EYES WIDE SHUT. I've always wanted to create a design for this movie and was pretty excited when the opportunity came up. This 18x24" six-color screenprint is now for sale at Spoke Art in a signed and numbered edition of 100. Along with two prints for THE SHINING by Joshua Budich and Brandon Schaefer. One more print coming next week and then it's a wrap for 2012!


LABYRINTH artist proofs

A few artist copies of my LABYRINTH screen print for Spoke Art and the Castro Theatre are now up in my shop. 2 colors with a GLOW IN THE DARK layer. 18x24". Signed and printed at Kangaroo Press, Nashville, TN. And stay tuned for a new Castro print dropping on Monday!



In my work for Criterion I've had the chance to work on several dream projects-- from daunting classics like Tarkovsky's SOLARIS and Criterion's first Chaplin release MODERN TIMES to new discoveries like HOUSE that are now among my favorite films. Films by Demme, Assayas, Shindo, and Fassbinder. But getting to work on Godfrey Reggio's QATSI TRILOGY was really my number one dream come true; KOYAANISQATSI has always been a film I'd put in my own personal Sight and Sound list of the best films ever made, and I've always fantasized about it-- along with its counterparts POWAQQATSI and NAQOYQATSI-- being in the collection. The process of designing a package for Reggio's trilogy was daunting, fun, and it evolved in a way I didn't at all expect.

When I first heard through the grapevine that these titles were in the works at Criterion, I did something I've never done before but have always wanted to do: I spent a night designing a mockup treatment for the entire box set, printed out the images, glued them to my THREE COLORS TRILOGY Blu-ray set (I later purchased a replacement), took some quick photos, and sent it all over to Criterion, unprovoked.   (click all images to enlarge)

These films have meant a lot to me for quite a while. My dad, an artist who kept up well with 80's avant-garde trends, first introduced me to both KOYAANISQATSI (taped onto VHS) and the music of Philip Glass, who would score all three of these films. I later came to POWAQQATSI through Glass's soundtrack, and in college, I saw NAQOYQATSI at an NYU screening with Reggio and Glass in attendance, while I was studying there in the Cinema Studies department. Being as familiar with the trilogy as I was, I eagerly re-watched all three films in that one night and took new notes considering the themes that needed to come through in the design. I wrote my own outlines of the films to help better process the films' narratives (though they don't have any dialogue or characters, they are in a sense narrative films), and doodled some ideas for possible cover solutions and title treatments.

As I watched the films and took screengrabs, I happened upon four images that I felt could represent the three films and the trilogy as a whole. For a set of films so densely packed with incredible images, I surprised myself with the conviction that these individual shots could actually stand for the films as a whole. But they each played into a theme Reggio speaks about that I really connected with: the idea of taking the background of our world-- the scenery behind us that we take for granted-- and making it the foreground, and in doing so, transforming how we see and understand the world. To see from a new perspective the way in which civilization has overtaken the natural world, how modernization has transformed the purity of humanity and culture, and the death of the natural world as we have migrated into the digital world.  For the booklet cover I used an image from NAQOYQATSI of a skydiver in freefall over an abysmal cosmos, with the films' three "taglines" placed on top; These Hopi translations of the film titles are the audience's main entry point to the films' themes: Life Out of Balance, Life in Transformation, Life as War.

These cover images, I thought, each made their own unique abstract pattern, tying into Reggio's idea of presenting our world in a new perspective. And each, I felt, tied into the film's themes: The clash (and mirroring) of nature and civilzation in KOYAANISQATSI, the beauty and grace of indigenous cultures in POWAQQATSI, and the twisted virtual reality as presented in NAQOYQATSI. On the slip cover, another shot from KOYAANISQATSI shows our world at even greater vantage point, further abstracting our landscape into something new, where a city looks no different than a microchip.

My instinct with the typography was to re-brand the trilogy in a fresh way, respectfully setting aside the original bold, red title treatments in favor of a more 80's modern, Eno-inspired clean typeface, spread across each image in a languid, meditative presentation. I mocked up a couple of menus and the back of the box as well. Soon after taking a look at the images, Criterion let me know I got the job, and that we would work out the details. I was thrilled, but surely it couldn't be as easy as that...

I really liked this initial design, and would have been happy putting the stamp on it and calling it a job well done, but the team at Criterion always has a good instinct on when to keep pushing, exploring, seeing if there's something even better. After some further processing and meeting with the filmmaker, Criterion wanted to try using the original title treatments after all, so I put them over my original cover images. I was sad to let go of my original type, and missed how it felt going gently through the center of each image. The original titles were bold and blocky, and would be tricky to integrate into such open, abstract images. But I knew that through the process, we could find a way to integrate them in a satisfying way. I also would need to replace the slipcase cover with another image that served the same function but, having less contrast, could host the titles more legibly.

There was more brainstorming among the producers and filmmaker, and the thought came to pursue other possible images for each cover to make sure that we weren't missing something better. I thought the KOYAANISQATSI building shot was perfect, and I loved the other two images as well. All three reinforced the idea of abstract perspective (looking up, looking from a distance, looking from above), and as a bonus, I thought all of the colors looked great together. But in the interest of pushing further, I looked for other images that could work. Images from KOYAANISQATSI that represented speed and acceleration (something the building cover didn't really hit); Closer, more intimate images of the laborers in the opening of POWAQQATSI that embraced their humanity and their struggle; And for the slipcase, the idea was presented that we should really try using the petroglyphs seen at the beginning of KOYAANISQATSI as an icon for the whole trilogy. 

Reggio wanted to consider some imagery from the opening of NAQOYQATSI, so I looked at other options for this cover. One shot in particular echoed the KOYAANISQATSI building cover perfectly, representing a transformation from grandeur to decay. At this time we were also looking at new options from POWAQQATSI's opening, like this shot of the laborers hauling through a mud field that reflected the sky above. And we went back to the natural cave-wall tones for the slip cover, feeling that my more graphic treatment of the glyphs was too stylized. 

With the above spread, we all felt that we had arrived at a satisfying conclusion for the package. Already, it had evolved quite a ways from my original mockup. But just as we were settled on this, Criterion gave me the push to go even further and try all new covers that attempted something we had been avoiding: integrating multiple images on each cover. Did the single images, while representative of each film and interesting in relation to each other, really stand alone as individual covers worthy of their films? And could we not pay better tribute to Reggio's style by embracing the multitudes, the dream-like flow of imagery that defines these films' aesthetic? I knew that we had to avoid the dreaded Grid of Images, the obvious fallback solution for having too many great images to choose from. I've never been much for Photoshop trickery, collaging and layering, but I looked at this as a unique challenge to experiment in a new style that would hopefully avoid the usual cliches of multiple-image layouts. It turned out to be extremely liberating and fun, with interesting results coming easily that felt fresh, full of movement, color and energy.

The single-shot covers suddenly looked inert and dull. The new covers, which inadvertently created their own kind of triptych landscape, felt inspiring and exciting to everyone. With KOYAANISQATSI I could play with the overlaying of civilization on top of a natural landscape and with Reggio's images of acceleration. With POWAQQATSI I could capture Reggio's slow-motion embrace of people, their natural habitats, and the encroachment of modernization onto their world. NAQOYQATSI, itself a manipulated digital collage, allowed for even more experimentation, where I could integrate the decaying buildings, digital space, and machines of war into a virtual landscape at dusk. After a long process of carefully exploring every option for every cover, twice thinking that we had the problem solved, it turned out that a fresh start provided the best and quickest solution.

The DVD menus and booklet provided an obvious opportunity to simply present some of the trilogy's many great images and let them speak for themselves, while carrying over my collage style into the digipacks and Blu-ray menus (which were done in-house at Criterion, beautifully riffing off the cover styles). 

Working on THE QATSI TRILOGY has been a highlight of my design career, and I'm honored to have had my original pitch considered, and then to have been allowed to explore further possibilities that pushed me in unexpected and rewarding ways. It was a long and unpredictable transformation from conception to completion, but I couldn't be more proud of the result and excited for fans and new viewers to discover and enjoy this trilogy of films-- films that I believe are profoundly important to our current global paradigm, not to mention aesthetically visionary and groundbreaking. KOYAANISQATSI cinematographer and time-lapse pioneer Ron Fricke earned great acclaim for this year's SAMSARA, a 70mm portrait of our planet that must be considered one of the great accomplishments in contemporary filmmaking. To see where this style began, discover THE QATSI TRILOGY from Criterion, out now on DVD and Blu-ray. Happy holidays, and enjoy!



This year I've been honored to create album artwork for some of my best friends and favorite artists. At the top of this list would be my good friend and former bandmate William Tyler, whose Impossible Truth LP will be released by Merge Records on March 19th. I'm very proud to share this album cover I designed for William. Look for more packaging shots here soon.



Brooklyn's Bottleneck Gallery and Silver Screen Society present ALTERNATE ENDING, an art show opening this Friday December 14th celebrating movie endings that never were, or that only exist in our imaginations. For my submission, entitled 2054, I've sent an edition of 100 Xerox prints in 9 shades of black-and-white ink on antique gray cardstock, depicting a scene inspired by Charlie Kaufman's original ending to ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND. They'll be a few dollars each. If you're in the NYC area please do check out the show, and read more about it here



I've put a few of my illustrations up at Society 6 where you can order top-quality art prints, framed prints, stretched canvases, cards, and even iPhone cases of these select pieces. Have a look here and pick something up if you'd like for yourself or a friend. 

And if you're still in the holiday shopping mood, a couple of my Wes Anderson screenprints are still available here in my shop. Cheers, and stay tuned for some exciting announcements soon.



A very limited amount of artist copies of my Wes Anderson prints for Spoke Art and the Castro Theatre are now up in my shop. THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS and THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU, both in regular and variant editions, all 18x24," printed at Nakatomi Inc. and signed by me. The ROYAL TENENBAUMS variant colorway in particular was selected for a Christmassy look, which reminds me, these will ship in plenty of time for the holidays! Get em here.



I''m heading over to Kangaroo Press to whip up these screenprints for the Belcourt Theatre's second annual 12 HOURS OF TERROR, an all-day horror movie fest Saturday October 27th from noon 'til midnight. I'll be there selling these screenprints that afternoon, so come down, see some horror classics, and pick up a commemorative print to spooken up your bedroom until next October. Get tickets here including a special bundle that includes a screenprint. 

Oh and follow this tumblr for a taste of what's in store.



Here is an illustration I was commissioned to create for the Japanese 35mm release of Robert Bresson's FOUR NIGHTS OF A DREAMER ("BYAKUYA" in Japanese). My first piece of art made specifically for a Japanese audience, I couldn't be more proud to be involved with this restoration of Bresson's most rarely seen (and uncharacteristically romantic) feature, coming to Eurospace theatres just after the esteemed retrospective of Bresson's films made its way around the US. This illustration, as well as the drawings below featuring some memorable images from the film, will be featured in the program book for this release. Learn more at Byakuya2012.



Another poster for The Stone Fox, for a show next week featuring one of Nashville's best rock and roll bands, Natural Child. I'm going to try to do these as often as I can. If you're in Nashville, check out The Stone Fox!


Design Bookshelf: GRAPHIS ANNUAL 72/73

Selected scans from Graphis Annual 72/73. Designers credited below each image. Click each image to enlarge. Remember you can pick up Graphis Annual: The Essential 1952-1986 for a great overview of these decades in design. Pictured above: cover for the graphic design magazine Gebauchsgraphik by the great Roman Cieslewicz (see more covers in this Aqua Velvet post by Sandi Vincent).

G. Leblanc ad, Dean Michalkiewicz / Chuck Wimmer / Ray-Domingo

Art Directors Club of Los Angeles newsletter, Don Weller

calendar illustration, Clarence Taylor / Claude Sanders

Cairnmiller Institute annual report, Barbie Tucker

book cover, Willi Baum / Jane Teiko

Clifton W. Karhu / Henry Steiner

Medicament & Environment booklet, Walter Baumann / Studio Rau

Bang & Olufsen booklet, Werner Neertoft / Vagn Henriksen

Naturwissenschaft cover, Erwin Poell (see more at Things To Look At)


If you're like me, your favorite beer is Guinness. And you'll want to head to this eBid search page where you can pick up any of these wonderfully illustrated Guinness staff magazines for around $5 each (except the one above, cause I just bought it). Sadly I don't know who illustrated any of these, except for the cover above which was done by André Amstutz, a British illustrator known mainly for his children's book covers for Allan Ahlberg, including a series of playful covers for their "Funnybones" series.