I appreciate art in most any form and have a profound respect for artists who are masters of their medium. I’m inspired daily by young creatives who are discovering new methods of expression as they develop the skills needed to ideate and execute their designs. In a world that is overwhelmingly digital, I still feel it’s important to initiate ideas in analog. A lot of my tools today may exist in the cloud, but I still find my pens and sketchbook satisfyingly grounding.

Surly Commission

I was contacted by a Surly representative in mid-April asking if I would be interested in contributing to a North Dakota Surly launch poster. The commission was to help celebrate what is unique about our state in an edgy, non-traditional way as part of Surly Brewing Company’s distribution launch into our great state. Myself and two other artists (“Punchgut” – aka Matt Mastrud – and Nathaniel Navratil) were selected to contribute to a commemorative three color screen printed poster that will be distributed at select locations. After accepting, I had a week to come up with a rough sketch of an idea and another week to complete the finished art. Because I was assigned the western third of the state, I chose themes and images representative of western North Dakota. On Wednesday, June 8, I will be in Fargo with Matt and Nathaniel to help sign the finished posters at Surly’s Art Release Party at the Hotel Donaldson. It should be a lot of fun.
FirstFinal_Surly surly-nd-art-release-poster-low-res-5_27a

Lord of the Rings


Everyone had a first job. If you were ‘fortunate’ enough to work in the food industry, you understood the word ‘hustle’. I never did labor in the kitchen, but bussed and watered tables during lunch and dinner rushes at a local sit-down restaurant. It didn’t take long to learn that working hard and being pleasant to people were lucrative skills in life. Getting great tips from the wait staff certainly reinforced this lesson.

Angry Leprechaun

This aggravated little ginger is just a snapshot of a side project I’m doing for a good buddy of mine. I already feel like I’m spoiling a surprise by showing this much, but I wanted to see what color would do to my rough sketch of the concept. Aye, the bloke’s already threatened me with the bizness end of a shillelagh if I keep running me mouth aboot it.

Meritorious Achievement

I probably shouldn’t consider it such a huge deal, but I do. Every year I have the unique privilege of teaching some eager graphic design students the rigors of vector drawing. Drawing primitive shapes (circles, rectangles, polygons) with geometric precision doesn’t present many challenges, but the crucible for most recruits lies with learning the notorious pen tool. I can lecture, demonstrate and share war stories, but in the end nothing will teach them how to use this indispensable tool faster than practice, practice and more practice. After drilling them on some routine vector drawing exercises I can usually assess how well they grasp the basic concepts they’ve been taught. It might be hokey, but I almost want to invest in some embroidered merit badges emblazoned with the pen tool, so that when they reach that pinnacle moment of achievement – drawing efficient vector paths with prime point placement, articulation and accuracy – I can present it to each of them as a milestone accomplishment.

Drawing on Reading

Author Jim Karn and I visited with Northridge Elementary fourth graders today about the process of writing and illustrating books. I had the opportunity to illustrate Karn’s book, Little Jimmy’s Life on the Farm Stories, and lately he’s been very active about sharing and promoting it. I’ve been fortunate to attend a few readings with Jim and talk to audiences about the creative process I used to create the illustrations.

Today’s visit was extra special, and really only happened because of a very insistent fourth grader – my youngest son, Chase. He’s been begging me to visit his class for months and has been boasting to all his friends about the work I do. Some days I really take for granted what I am blessed and able to do but on days like today I’m humbled at how proud he is of me. I thought it was fitting to show the students how proud I am of Chase and his love of reading by sharing prints of this illustration. Though I never once told the classes that the boy in the illustration was Chase, everyone assumed it was and he became quite the celebrity. Needless to say, it was quite the experience. I’m glad he encouraged me to do it.

Labor is work


The Labor Day holiday has been an opportunity for many working Americans to celebrate the ‘final’ weekend of summer with an extra day off. So, it seems like cruel irony that many will be working tomorrow when the rest of us are blessed with another day to enjoy. My hat’s off to all those that view their work, not only as a means to provide for themselves, but as a dignified way to serve others. In a day and age when a strong work ethic seems to be in short supply, it’s a real blessing to witness others truly excelling at and taking pride in their work.

Digging in for the fight ahead

It’s inspiring to see what can be accomplished when a community works together. For the past several days, countless citizens of Bismarck and Mandan have volunteered their time (and backs) to filling millions of sandbags in an effort to save homes and neighborhoods from the impending flood waters of the mighty Missouri. Only time will tell if our efforts are enough to overcome this summer hardship. More prayers and sandbags are needed, so please help if you are able!