Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Rest In Peace, B.B.

B.B. King, 1925-2015
Colored pencil drawing with black Prismacolor VeriThin and regular Prismacolor black. Colored digitally.

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Million Dollar face of early 20th Century Sports: "The Flying Dutchman"

Number nine, in no particular order, of my Baseball Greats drawings.
With a face and body like it was hewn from the stone walls of the coal mines of his home town of Pittsburgh, Johannes Peter "Honus" Wagner, was a gritty leader of the early generation of Baseball greats. One of the first five members to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, Honus, or as his Mother, and later fellow players called him, "Hans," is considered to be the best shortstop ever by baseball historians. It's hard to compare the game today with what it was in the late 19th and early 20th Century, but, considering the "dead ball" era of the game made runs much harder to come by, Honus Wagner compiled a lifetime batting average of .329, with 3,430 hits, 1,732 RBIs, and 722 stolen bases. He was the first to ever steal second base, third base and home consecutively in August 1899 under a new rule differentiating between advanced bases and stolen bases. He also played, and played well, into his 40s. If you are not a huge baseball fan, you've probably still heard the name.
Like how his very rare, "T206" early baseball cards are selling for hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars recently at auction. The Honus face most, including myself I must admit, are familiar with, is that of a natty young, dark haired man on the 1910-1911 tobacco cards that he didn't like. Thats how they became rare as not many were made or distributed. Long before the first 1936 Hall of Fame induction, he actually refused to send his portrait to a "Hall of Fame" for batting champions because, in his words, his performance in the previous season's World Series in which his Pittsburgh team lost to a Christy Mathewson and Cy Young lead "Boston American's" was "..too bum last year." He even went on to say "I was a joke in that Boston-Pittsburgh (1903) Series", and "What does it profit it a man to hammer along and make a few hits when they are needed only to fall down when it comes to a pinch? I would be ashamed to have my picture up now." (He and his Pittsburgh team would be redeemed in the 1909 World Series, beating the Ty Cobb lead Detroit Tigers.) Refreshing character and honesty not often seen any more in the world of professional sports. Last I heard, "2.8 Million Dollar" character. Not bad for the son of German immigrants from the mines of "The Burgh."

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Importance of Being Ernest-ly Happy

 Number eight in my ongoing Baseball greats drawing series. Once again, my History Channel "This Date in History" daily calendar made it clear who the next subject would be. On this day 45 years ago, May 12, 1970, at the "Friendly Confines" of the Cubs home, Wrigley Field, Ernest "Ernie" Banks, aka "Mr. Cub," (and "Mr. Sunshine,") hit his 500th home run, becoming only the ninth member in the history of the game to do so. (And he did it, fittingly, against my Atlanta Braves. side note: Hank Aaron, served as best man at Ernie's third marriage as well) I hate to admit, although I loved the history of the Cubs franchise, and respected their incredibly loyal "Cubbies fans," I didn't know much about their most famous players. If there is a picture for how to play America's sacred pastime, look up Ernie Banks pictures online. The epitome of pure happiness and joy. What a great way to start my day. RIP, Ernie, (he passed in January of this year,) and thanks for your shining example of the true spirit of sports. An apropos quote from the self made man himself: "You must try to generate happiness within yourself. If you aren't happy in one place, chances are you won't be happy anyplace."....and: "It's a beautiful day for a ballgame... Let's play two!"
It's a beautiful day indeed, Ernie. Thanks for your wisdom.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Horse before The Man

Even casual fans of Baseball are familiar with Cal Ripkin Jr., “The Iron Man” of Baseball, however, many forget the man whose record he broke, Lou Gehrig, “The Iron Horse.” Until of course they hear about the rare disorder that bears his name: “Lou Gehrig's Disease,” or “ALS.” Tragically, the disease ended his career at age 36 in 1939, and his consecutive games streak at 2,130. His consecutive streak, in my opinion, has even more meaning in that he played the last seasons with the disease probably already present, but, undetected. All the while continuing to amass records. He hit a career .340, hit 493 home runs, won a World Series six times, and was an All-Star seven times, to name just a few. If you ever want to see a grown American man cry like a baby, watch with him the Baseball movie classic: “The Pride of the Yankees,” starring Gary Cooper. You even get a great peak at the actual Babe Ruth, playing himself. The unassuming grace, determination, and dignity that Gehrig played his entire career was epitomized by what became known as “The Gettysburg Address of Baseball,” at a sold out Yankees Stadium on July 4th, 1939.

Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.
When you look around, wouldn't you consider it a privilege to associate yourself with such fine looking men as are standing in uniform in this ballpark today? Sure, I'm lucky. Who wouldn't consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert? Also, the builder of baseball's greatest empire, Ed Barrow? To have spent six years with that wonderful little fellow, Miller Huggins? Then to have spent the next nine years with that outstanding leader, that smart student of psychology, the best manager in baseball today, Joe McCarthy? Sure, I'm lucky.
When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift—that's something. When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies—that's something. When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter—that's something. When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so that you can have an education and build your body—it's a blessing. When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed—that's the finest I know.
So I close in saying that I might have been given a bad break, but I've got an awful lot to live for. Thank you.” Clips from speech on YouTube

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Mister Clemente's heart

 A stand out player. Twelve time All-Star. All around class act. Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame posthumously after his tragic death. Born in Puerto Rico, he was involved in charity work every offseason for those in need in the Caribbean and Latin American countries. Tragically, he died December 31st, 1972 while on the way to one such mission.
To aid the victims of an earthquake in Nicaragua. Also, a Marine Corp Reservist who trained at Parris Island, SC, Camp LeJeune, NC, and in Washington DC.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Williams for Wednesday

The next in my series of Baseball greats, Ted Williams. Rather than just refer to him as the nickname I knew: "The Splendid Splinter," I've copied and pasted the many deserving nicknames he acquired over his illustrious career: Nicknamed "The Kid", "The Splendid Splinter", "Teddy Ballgame", "The Thumper" and "The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived", Williams is regarded as one of the greatest hitters in baseball history.
A little something for the Beantown fans.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Ty Cobb, the Georgia Peach

Ty Cobb, the "Peach" that played like a tiger.
Another in my series of Baseball greats.

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Hammer, Hammerin' Hank Aaron

Another in a series of Baseball greats. This one is personal. Being from Atlanta, I was fortunate enough to get to see a lot of Braves games. The most memorable of all will be Hank Aaron hitting home run number 715 to break Babe Ruth's very long standing record. I was just a kid, but, I will never forget my Dad's voice, seemingly before the crack of the bat: “There it GOES!,” then, standing in my seat and clapping and cheering for what seemed like hours. Many many years later I had the honor and pleasure of meeting Hank in person. He showed the same humbleness and dignity in simply shaking my hand as he did for his 21 years as a pro player.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Historic Day, not just for American Baseball.

On this day, April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson played his first game for the Brooklyn Dodgers, becoming the first African American to play in the Major Leagues. I had already finished the rough sketch for my next drawing in the series of American Baseball greats, when I woke this morning to see my "This Day in History" calendar. Nuff said! Time to change gears a bit and render a different drawing! Again drawn around 14x17 and colored in Procreate on my iPad.

The "Say Hey Kid," Willie Mays

The next in a series. The talented Willie Mays. I'm having some fun now! Slowly starting to get on a roll. Hand drawn around 14x17 with Prismacolor and Col-Erase pencils, then picture taken into Procreate on my iPad and further colored.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Happy Spring, Happy Baseball!

Happy Spring, Happy Baseball! ...The Babe. The Sultan of Swat. The Bambino. Quite by coincidence today I realized while working on this drawing, that one year ago today, April 8th, I had posted about Hammerin' Hank Aaron breaking Ruth's home run record on this date in 1974.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Happy Birthday old friend.

The Eiffel Tower opened on this day in 1889. I was lucky enough to get a Rick Steves tip and landed in this "room with a view" in the Hotel Dela Tour Eiffel, so, had to do a sketch. Circa 97. (If you look closely at the sketch caption, I believe the room number is there as well for those of you who might want to check out the identical view in person some day!) Also included are a couple of unpublished poster ideas.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Annual Report Illustrations

Sonoco is a global packaging manufacturer corporate headquartered in a small town outside of Columbia, SC. If you've ever eaten chips, bought ground coffee or mixed nuts, ridden in a car, bought gum, perfume in a gift package; (I could on and on,) your path has crossed that of a Sonoco product.
When I was approached by Carolyn D. Johnson from their Corporate Communications department, on referral from Brian Murrell at local agency, AdCo, I'm not sure I knew what to expect. The first job was to depict a car cross-sectioned to reveal the many products they manufacture from their Protective Solutions division, called Tegrant Corporation. Working with Lauren Myrent out of Chicago, the job went well, with only a few revisions, and they were happy with the final result. I do create vector, more technical illustrations on occasion, and I am known to be versatile, so, even though all of these products were new to me, I dove right in, and was ultimately happy with the final results. Lauren was also easy to work with and professional. Before that project was even completed, I was contacted by Carolyn again about another project. “Thirty plus illustrations of many products I am generally unfamiliar with....In two weeks time?.....for the annual report of a 5 billion dollar corporation?...GULP!,” I thought to myself. Not only that, I had to receive and shoot reference for all of them before I could even begin. Yikes! I was grateful for the business, no doubt. I had been suffering from a major case of the "Slows" for way too long, so, I was anxious to work on another, even bigger, project, with this newfound client. Once the initial look was settled on, after a bit of experimentation, I finally was able to dive into the nitty gritty. On a job this scale, three quarters of the time is spent on preparation and design, so, the actual illustration sits in the wings until everything is ironed out. Fortunately, everything went well. Carolyn was professional, detail oriented, organized, and a pleasure to work with. I just received the printed pieces today, and was happy to see all of the hard work In Print! Thats the ultimate satisfaction of print work, you get to hold a physical piece in your hands, whilst considering what it took to get to that point. (You can even smell, or taste, the “package” if you like! Yum!)

Friday, February 27, 2015

Goodbye Funky, Fantastic, Fascinating, Freaky(?) February!

Having a “This Date in History” Calendar can be interesting. I wasn’t sure I’d be into it this year because last year it was a “Quote a Day” calendar and, at most, a quote is no longer than a couple of sentences, and the “Historical” variety is a lot of tiny type crammed onto a little day calendar page. Not something I thought I’d always be into reading early in the morning while my eyes were still adjusting. However, I’ve ended up spending the little extra time, and squinting, to read them, and I’ve found that my birthday month is quite fascinating. Or should I say Funky?...or Fantastic, or even Freaky? This art started out as a quick sketch of Abe and George and evolved into a whole little, (if not busy,) spot illustration. Can you find 13 fun, February facts eluded to here? Hint: the baseball represents two birthdays (yes, of ├╝ber famous baseball players,) and the syringe represents two world changing medical discoveries. The others are pretty obvious. Except maybe that thing on Abe's head. It might remind you of a character from an old classic movie based on a book series. Hope you had as fun and interesting February as I had!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween Hallelujah!


Or how to take a chance on creative spontaneity and trust, and reap the rewards.

I’ve had the privilege and honor
over the last many many years to have the opportunity to teach part time at the College level. Like anything in life, depending, sometimes it’s just a part time job. However, luckily for me, it’s been more of a pleasure than anything else.
This semester at The University of South Carolina is no exception. Thanks to professor Marius Valdes, who’s on sabbatical this Fall, I’ve gotten to teach an Illustration class at the School of Art.
(Thanks also to the Associate professor of Graphic Design, Stephanie Nace.)

I’ve felt really good about the students and class so far all semester, and their work and attitude has surprised me pleasantly. I have really looked forward to the class each week. Last night, on the eve of Halloween, my faith in Halloween, Teaching, and young creatives, and young people in general,
was not just polished and restored, but, given a much needed positive swift kick in the pants!

Hallelujah! I’ve wanted to do an “in class” assignment all semester and turns out,
this was the perfect opportunity. Between major projects, and before a class off for election day
on Tuesday; a great time to recharge and do something spontaneous and experimental.
It made sense to do a mask. Mind you, this was an in-class project to be completed
in the timeframe of one class period only, around 2 and a half hours time.
The students were given no advance knowledge of what the assignment would be,
just to bring various materials and supplies to class. Then, once class began, were told only
to create a mask of their choosing in the time allotted for class.
WOW! I was BLOWN AWAY by the creativity, variety, and personality of each and every mask!
(And believe me, from years of teaching and freelancing, I am known to measure my superlatives.)
The incredible thing was, that everyone, to a student, dove right in, unflinching, to complete the task.
They only stopped briefly for a slice of pizza halfway through. ; )

For me, lesson learned. TRUST is a key component in encouraging and lighting creativity.
Mutual trust. Too often, as professional creatives, we can be so focused on “project parameters,” that we lose the forest for the trees so to speak. Deadlines will always be deadlines, and difficult clients,
and more-than-challenging projects will always be a component of creative collaberation, which, in the end is a comprise. An honorable and necessary compromise. When the parameters are accepted and embraced, and the creative is set free to create, MAGIC happens!

Later that night, as I went through all the pictures I had taken from the class,
a tear in my eye, I welled with pride, joy, and just pure happiness from the results, top to bottom.
I also got a kick out of the uncanny synergism between the artists and their work!
And, there were no mirrors in the classroom! Way to go Garrison, Paige, Nicole, Rannah, Joseph, Kody,
Shawn, David, Matt, Erica, Vassil, Jennifer, Katherine, Karissa, Alex, and Jessica!!!
You’ve made me Proud!

Check out all of the rewarding results from my most excellent class here:  http://www.akinstudio.com/Hallomasks14/