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Noir: Andrew S. Allen’s “The Thomas Beale Cipher” January 28, 2011

Posted by leskanturek in Animation, Class Discussions, Film, Narrative, Noir.
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Instructor Peter Hamlin e-mailed me about a wonderful piece of noir animation by Andrew S. Allen,  ” The Thomas Beale Cipher“. Take a look .

Jon Vermilyea Spills His Guts: Class Visit October 4, 2010

Posted by leskanturek in Artists, Comics, Guest Visits, Narrative, Printmaking.
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Monday, Sept. 27th  Illustrator-self publisher-silk screener Jon Vermilyea came to class to show his work, talk about his influences, his process and to offer advice.  Our class was joined by Peter Hamlin’s concepts class and Veronica Lawlor’s drawing in motion class along with other visitors, so  a good crowd were present.  Jon brought a variety of his work and started right off with some tee shirt designs.


A few  books Jon worked on were passed around and Jon spoke about connections he made in school and how that lead to self publishing. Jon attended SVA for cartooning. He also talked about the importance of school as a place to experiment and try different ways of working without the fear of failure.  Embracing opportunity seemed to be a theme of Jon’s presentation.

The fact that he self-published, created an animation music video  for Animal Collective (http://vimeo.com/2616231) silkscreened prints and has a tee shirt line among more traditional work like comics is fairly signifigant and one of the reasons I asked Jon to stop by.  Jon generates his own projects and I think does so with a lot of integrity .

(above) Jon walks us through his Venom cover redo.


(above) The Animal Collective box set illustrated by Jon designed by Rob Carmichael


(above) Jon explaining color choices on the Mothman screenprint for the Giant Robot (San Francisco) show One Hundred Beasts that ran for the book Beasts! Book 2 published by Fantagraphics.

Thanks again for stopping by Jon it was great.  Here is a link to Jon’s site www.jonvermilyea.com/

Visual Thinking and Literature May 9, 2010

Posted by leskanturek in Books, Narrative, Student Post.
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Post by Rachel Tonthat


One of the most fascinating things for me is the intersection between art and literature. This can most commonly be found in the realm of comics, but I have been interested in artists and writers who move between genres or redefine them.

My best friend had the recent opportunity of interviewing Salvador Plascencia who I believe is an example of an unconventional thinker.

Salvador Plascencia is the author of the novel The People of Paper, a book that amazes me in terms of the relationship between the story and the actual physicality of its vessel (one of my other obsessions being the symbiotic relationship between stories and bookmaking). The story is set in El Monte, a small town which finds itself in a struggle against an invisible enemy they call Saturn, which is later revealed to be the author himself. Their war on Saturn is a war in which they try to reclaim their town for their own, learning to hide their thought and thus erasing them from the pages of the book. In first edition of the novel, words are physical cut from the pages of the book as the people rebel.


What I find so remarkable about his system of writing is that it is a very visual process. Each chapter is encoded using circles and dashes, and his manuscript is laid out in a sketchbook with the different shapes and sections. Though he is not an artist, the way he writes is visual.

In one of his quotes he states,

“I do think that the way we materially see the novel has a profound effect on the way we construct narrative. If we understand the novel as a single column of prose spread over five hundred pages—so one block of text per page—the stories and paragraphs we write are in a very real sense just conforming to this arbitrary guide. From a production and design perspective, it makes sense to streamline—eliminate multiple columns, push out the woodcuts, standardize the fonts and sizes. You can move the novel from site to site much easier this way: a near automated process from hardback to pocket paperback to e-book.

Somewhere along the evolutionary line of the novel, we opted for faster flips of the page over a more varied typography. We opted for velocity… I’m interested in the reverse: in a writing that sticks to the page and brings the reader closer to the pulp that they are holding. Novels where the paper is the site of the novel, not just some container.”

Not only is Plascencia’s visual process interesting, the way that he is looking to reuse the design of a book to interact with the reader seems like a crucial point for us as illustrators and designers. This concept could be easily applied to fine art, comics and even advertisements with incredible possibilities. Often I believe it is easy to become complacent with the tools we are working with, when, as Teen showed us, paper can almost speak its own.

Salvadore Plascencia’s interview in the Nashville Review is definitely worth reading. I would rather not take the photos of the original manuscript from the site, as I feel that might be an infringement of something.


Gretchen Van Lente from Drama of Works Visits October 16, 2008

Posted by leskanturek in 3-D work, Artists, Class Topics, Guest Visits, Narrative, Puppets, Visually Cool & Relevant.
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Monday October 13th saw the class not only play host to a lot of Frankenstein puppets or is it a pride of puppets? A clutch? (see the post: Assignment of Frankenstein! for pics of student’s puppets) we also were graced with a visit from Drama of Works (DOW) Artistic Director, and one of it’s founders, Gretchen Van Lente.

Gretchen’s background started with a BFA in illustration, and a BA in Liberal Arts with a concentration in theatre. Gretchen showed an interest early on in mixed media often utilizing both 2-D and 3-D elements in her work.

A visit from Gretchen is a performance in itself as she animatedly speaks about her work while interjecting her talk with demonstrations of puppetry. Gretchen’s artistic passion was inspiring as she presented a

(Above) Scenes from DOW productions of (left) Doubting Dorothy, (Middle) curiouser & curiouser, (Right) Sleepy Hollow

wonderful powerpoint slide show of productions DOW has staged such as; Doubting Dorothy (a version of the Wizard of OZ story), Doctor Faustus, The Ballad of Phineas P. Gage, Titus, The Sid and Nancy Punch and Judy Show, Curiouser & Curiouser (Alice in Wonderland), and Puppet Kafka among others. Gretchen and DOW have maintained an international presence traveling to Puppetry Festivals from Finland to Bali and

(Above) Gretchen demo-ing the bug used in Puppet Kafka which was created out of an overturned basket.

points in between. While traveling Gretchen has had a chance to view a number of different forms and traditions of puppetry. DOW, and Gretchen, favor a “McGyver-esque” approach to narratives and puppets.

(Above) Gretchen holding up a mirror. The image on the mirror (here a hand), causes an ethereal, distorted version of the drawing to appear on objects the reflected light falls on.

Any object that can be manipulated in some way can be used to further a narrative according to Gretchen, so DOW productions tend to utilize traditional puppetry along with the experimental all in the same production.

Puppetry is at a natural intersection between 2-D and 3-D illustration, animation, graphic narratives, in short all the elements that are seen in the new venues that have opened up for illustration in the last few years. View DOW’s collaboration with GH avisualagency on a shadow film for NOKIA which plays on a giant screen at Heathrow airport in London. Also take a look at Dave McKean’s work. McKean was aware very earlier on of this intersection as evidenced not only by the mixture of traditional media and 3-D in his Sandman covers but in his graphic novel The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch by Vertigo. His collaborative film with Neil Gaiman, Mirror Mask was a natural progression of the melding of all these disciplines.

Puppetry, with it’s rich history of traditional craft and experimentation is another branch of a tree also occupied by illustration. Like illustration puppetry has a background of drawing inspiration from literature. Both disciplines utilize some of the same skill sets because they share common goals. I’m hoping that Gretchen’s visit not only inspires potential puppet creators but also influences and expands students notions of the possibilities of illustration.

Thanks for speaking in class Gretchen!