Monday, December 17, 2012


This blog was meant to be a resource for any student of the communication arts, where visual problems are encountered, and solved, on a continuing basis.  The posts were intended as a source of inspiration and information about graphic design, illustration, visual art and creativity in general.  The work of at least one photographer was featured as well as several other artists whose work is not commercially-based, including a couple of street artists, a painter of miniatures, a papercut artist, and a creator of kinetic sculpture, among others.

This was also intended as an online location to feature the work of our students in the Visual Thinking class at Pennsylvania College of Art & Design.  The class was divided into three sections because of the number of students and was taught by myself, Pam Barby, who also contributed to this blog, and Bob Hochgertel.  Pam and Bob are the Graphic Design and Illustration department chairs at the school, respectively.

Our class was made up of sophomore design and illustration students and was meant to be an introduction to visual problem-solving.  Some of our projects were more commercially driven while others were not.  The projects were designed to give the students a taste of things to come, when they will focus more intensely on their chosen fields of study.

I was happy to see that some of our posts were influential on some students' work, and I can only hope that those of you who have been following along have enjoyed the posts.

As our semester has ended and the Visual Thinking class has come to a close, I will be posting much less frequently on this blog.  Please check back and visit from time to time.

Thanks and credit goes to all the artists featured on this blog as well as the many online resources that I was able to use for reference. Also, thanks to Pam Barby for contributing.

I'll sign off (temporarily) with a small collection of my own work...

Michael Fink

See my other blog HERE.

Visual Thinking Project 5

Students in the Visual Thinking class at Pennsylvania College of Art & Design have recently completed their final project for the semester.  For this project, students were required to visit a local farmer's market and redesign a sign for one of the stands.

Consideration had to be given to the type of product that was being sold, the audience, the stand itself and its surroundings, the shape and dimensions of the sign, typography and art.  See project specs and student work below.

Michelle Henry

Hailey Anuscavage

Art Trophe

Kyle Brightbill

Alexandra Doms

Rachel Tress

Graphic design students in Pam Barby's class were required 
to create ancillary print material in addition to the sign...

Samantha Mongelluzo

Stephanie Choy

Brandon Cook

Cory Fodor

Kyle Newkirk

Jason Holley

Thanks to one of my students, Jason Herr for introducing me to the work of Los Angeles artist/musician/illustrator Jason Holley, who teaches at the Art Center College of Design in Pasedena California. Holley's work is often made up of images painted on paper, cut out and collaged together. When a client returns an illustration to him he often peels his favorite images back off of it to re-use in personal work or other illustrations. For this reason, most of his illustrations survive only in reproduction. This history also contributes to the aged and 'dirty' quality of his work.

See more of Holley's work HERE.

See the work of Jason Herr on his Tumblr page HERE.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Illustrator of the Week: Lane Smith

LANE SMITH was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma on August 25th, 1959. His family moved to Corona, California when he was three, but spent the better part of every summer back in Oklahoma. "My family would take the old Route 66 highway. I think that's where my bizarre sense of design comes from. Once you've seen a 100-foot cement buffalo on top of a donut-stand in the middle of nowhere, you're never the same."

"A lot of reviewers have misidentified my technique as airbrush or dyes or even egg tempera. I think this is because it almost looks as if it was sprayed with paint with little dots of color and texture visible. Actually, my work is rendered in oil paints. I paint on board, building up several thin glazes of the oil, sealing them between coats with an acrylic spray varnish. This not only dries the oil instantly, but also causes a chemical reaction between the oil and the acrylic. Normally, it would be a mistake to combine two opposites like this and in fact it was a mistake the first time I did it, but I liked the results. I'm a big fan of artists who play with surfaces. I love texture and grunge. The trick is to know when to stop. Sometimes I keep adding more and more layers until I've ruined the piece. Usually I stop when the painting starts to look interesting. Then I go in with a fine brush and add details, lights and darks, etc. It's a laborious process, but it's unpredictable and it keeps me interested and surprised."

Lane's work has appeared on the covers of The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times Magazine, The Boston Globe, Sierra, American Bookseller, The Progressive, Time, Newsweek, Mother Jones, and Ms., but he is most noted for his childrens book illustration like his work on The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales.

Read an interview with Lane Smith HERE.


Derived from the French word "coller"( to glue), collage is a technique where the image is made from an assemblage of different parts, from various sources, to make a new whole. Although collage may have first emerged with the invention of paper, in China, it really became an art form in the 20th century.

Cubist painters like Braque and Picasso introduced collage into their works as did the Surrealists and DADA artists. Collage and photomontage techniques were also used by Bauhaus designers in the early 20th century.

Today, collage and photomontage are used frequently by a number of illustrators, most notably by Janet Wooley who creates her images digitally...

Another illustrator who uses collage is Walter Vasconcelos...


Here is an array of collage images from various artists and illustrators:

 For more information on collage, please visit the Collage Art website.

Visit the collage page of by clicking HERE.