Merry Christmas

The First Noel

I've posted this several Christmases before and it's always worth posting again: The First Noel, a small Golden Book illustrated by the brilliant husband-wife team of Alice and Martin Provensen, 1959.

You can view the book in its entirety HERE.

The First Noel: pp. 5-6

The First Noel: pp. 15-16

The First Noel: pp. 17-18

The First Noel: pp. 21-22

The First Noel: back cover

Here's to a very Merry Christmas to you and your family.



Peeping Covers

Well, would you look at this! How about a peep at the covers for the two new books that I illustrated for Chronicle Books to be released next May 2012? Yes, you read that right - not one, but TWO new books:

New York, Baby!

San Francisco, Baby!

This is the start of a fun series aimed at the traveling baby and/or toddler - a way of looking at each of these iconic cities through their eyes. I had such a fun time working on these books! Hope you can see my enthusiasm through my artwork.

Check out the first mention of the books by Elizabeth Bird of A Fuse #8 Production on the SLJ blog the other day: Librarian Preview: Chronicle Books (Spring/Summer 2012)



New Sketches from New Books

Well, hello there. I'm finally poking my head out from the long sabbatical I've taken to share some sketches with you. Character sketches done for two books that'll be released by Chronicle Books in May 2012. I'm quite happy with the final results - the final designs have some slight changes made to the eyes. The books are the beginning of what we hope will be a continuing series focusing on young kids (toddlers or younger). It's been a long road from start to completion, but the final results I think are wonderful. Very happy with everything (and I just so happened to see the color proofs earlier this week!). So, take a gander! (Click on each to view larger.)

SF Girl sketches 1

SF Girl sketches 2

NY boy sketches

SF Family sketches 1

SF Family sketches 2

NY Family sketches


Saul Bass's Henri's Walk to Paris to be reissued in February

Okay, so this is big news to those of us who collect neat old children's books: Universe (the wonderful imprint of Rizzoli who reissue the marvelous "This Is..." series by M. Sasek) are reissuing one of the rarest children's books out there (well, at least in the circles I hang out in): Henri's Walk to Paris by Leonore Klein and illustrated by designer Saul Bass. As far as we know, it's Bass's only venture into children's books, and it's a doozy: incredible, bold colors, with glorious use of type and design. The best way to check out the book is by visiting Grain Edit, from a post in 2007:

Saul Bass -  Henri's walk to paris c1962

Saul Bass Henri's walk to paris c1962

Saul Bass - Henri's walk to paris c1962

Saul Bass - Henri's walk to paris c1962

Saul Bass - Henri's walk to paris c1962
(All images via Grain Edit.)

Based on how Universe has printed up the Sasek series, I have no worries in quality and color for Henri's Walk. Looking forward to ordering it come February 2012!


Summer Vinyl Fun

Summer is in full swish here in the great NW! I know that most of the country is getting cooked right now, but here in Portland it's been hanging around the mid-70s to low 80s. Very nice. Anyway, let's put on some cool, fun records, shall we? Yes, let's.

Good Time Jazz
The Firehouse Five plus Two: Good Time Jazz (sometimes listed as "Part Two"). Illustrator listed as "Le Goullon." Even though liner notes say: "During 1950 (when the eight numbers on this LP were recorded)...", I've been told that the LP was probably packaged and released in 1953.

Musicians listed:
Danny Alguire: coronet
Harper Goff: banjo
Ward Kimball: trombone
Clarke Mallery: clarinet
Monte Mountjoy: drums
Ed Penner: tuba
Frank Thomas: piano

The Firehouse Five plus Two was a dixieland jazz band that played around the LA area (and beyond) from the late 40s on into the 70s. The band is of particular interest to us animators mainly because most of the members worked at Disney at the same time - most particularly, Ward Kimball and Frank Thomas, two of Disney's "Nine Old Men." Clark Mallery and Ed Penner also worked there, while Harper Goff was an art designer for several movies (for instance, THE THING).

Big Moments
Big Moments LP, 1955. Cover illustrated by the awesome Gerry Gersten.

The dude is still alive at 84! Did caricatures for MAD Magazine, NY Times, TIME, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, you name it. You can always tell if illustrations like this are done by serious artists or not. Here, I can tell by the way he draws the arms, faces, the details in the clothing, dresses, etc. Very intricate linework that can't be duplicated by anyone with lesser talent. Believe me, I've seen some illustrations (like in vintage cook books) that look pretty pathetic. Here, though, Gerry does some wonderful work that's upbeat and lively.

Stars and Stripes Forever
Stars and Stripes Forever (1954). I know I'm a little late on the July 4th thing, but it's better late than never, right? Very Jim Flora-ish, it's illustrated by Ed Sorel. Interesting to see such a different style than what Ed's usually known for.

And now, to end this post on a good note, an ACTUAL Jim Flora cover! Checkit:

Memorable Music From the Movies
Memorable Music From the Movies (1956). Illustrated by the one, the only Jim Flora.

Sometimes you just never know with these covers, since I've seen many who would rip-off of Flora's work (see this one for example). However, just found out that this is, indeed, a genuine Flora cover. Here's a list of his covers, in case you might have one in your collection. You never know!


Very busy busy

Been very busy lately, working on two books at the same time (a third, even, for a short while!). There's so much I'd love to talk about and share with you, but because of papers signed and so forth, I have to keep my mouth shut until the proper moment. I promise it'll be worth the wait. The late nighters are getting to me, however. Gallons of coffee has been consumed, and I'm only halfway done. Oh, well! In the meantime, I've updated my postcards to pass out, thanks to my awesome agent, Jennifer Laughran. The front features one of my favorite illustrations, Speaking in Color. Here's the back (click on image to see a bit larger in Flickr):

New postcard back

Self promotion is always a tricky thing. A great deal of artists I know hate to do it, or are just too busy to figure out a decent way to do it themselves. I'll be talking about this particular subject, along with a bunch of other things having to do with freelancing, being an artist and illustrator, children's books and publishing, as well as making the transition from full-time to freelance on the blog soon. All of this will be discussed just as soon as I finish up these books and get a few nights of decent sleep. So, stay tuned!

By the way, if you have any questions in regards to what I've mentioned here, or if there's something you'd like to talk about on this blog, drop me a comment or email (see profile page or my website) and I'll bring it up in conversation. Until then, I'll just go ahead and head back down to the basement.


Listener: Wooden Heart

Listener "Wooden Heart" from Nathan Corrona on Vimeo.

A rare opportunity when visuals match the raw tone and spirit of the music and words perfectly. Shot and directed by my brother-in-law Nate. Music by Listener.

Watch it big. It's worth it.


Interviews With the Ward-O-Matic

It's been a nice thing to say that I've been busy lately. Busy a LOT, actually. It's a good thing to be busy, yes. But I didn't plan on having several different things going on at the same time. Multiple deadlines and overlapping schedules are not my speciality. However, I've been able to manage it to a certain degree. It's just that I have to pull a few all-nighters or wake up at 4 in the morning in order to stay on top of things.

In the meantime, I'm happy to say that I've been asked to do a couple of interviews, which is always a good thing in and of itself. Shameless self-promotion, right? Never hurts. Plus, it helps when you dress up in a chicken suit.

Firstly, I was asked by Scrawl Brawl to be interviewed for their podcast Chat With a Brit. You can check out the (yes!) audio interview here: Chat With a Brit #8: Ward Jenkins. Amazing how modern technology is these days: three people conversing via Skype from two separate countries. Good guys, that Blazel (the Brit) and Victor. It was a lot of fun. Thanks for having me, guys!

Secondly, I was interviewed by the folks at Pinterest, the site where you "pin" images and things that you like, similar to an inspiration board. Not unlike a Tumblr, but not like it either, Pinterest sports great design and a clean overall look that's very appealing to me. Occasionally they'll interview some of their "pinners" on their blog, and they approached me right when I was deep in the muck of three projects going on at once. After hitting several deadlines, I finally answered their questions and now you can read the interview here: Interview with Ward Jenkins.

Actually, there'll be more. I know! How awesome is that! Seriously, I'll be interviewed by a few of my favorite blogs that I feel really encapsulate the midcentury vibe as well as the thrifting culture - definitely something that hits close to home for me. I'll be sure to let you guys know about these interviews when they're up as soon as possible.

Before I let you go, here's something I did for the Washington Post (it was one of those deadlines I had to hit last week). I had a lot of fun with this one! Always love the travel stuff. This one was about the resurgence of the travel agent:

Washington Post Travel cover

Okay! Back into my dungeon and hit these deadlines as they're fast approaching. Will reconnect soon.


CHICKS RUN WILD Photo Essay Contest

Chicks Run Wild Photo Essay Contest

How do you RUN WILD? We (as in, the writer and the illustrator of CHICKS RUN WILD) want to know! Teachers and educators, this contest is a chance for your class to go crazy and run wild! Send entries to Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen and you may win!

And if you're not a teacher, send this to one you know! Here's a downloadable version for you:

CHICKS Photo Essay Contest Poster BIG


Mr. Handlebar Mustache

Mr. Handlebar Mustache

To understand just why I would draw such a character, go to Seven Impossible Things and read up on the Drawing Duel illustrator Dan Santat and I participated in. If you create some snappy captions, there's a chance that you'll win copies of our books, signed even! And Tami Sauer's newest, as well!


The Chicken Suit

Yup. It happened. The chicken suit was acquired and promptly donned on a beautifully grey day in Portland this week. Portlanders, in case you're wondering who that was dressed up as a bright yellow chicken walking across the Burnside bridge or crossing the road (har!) in front of Powell's, or having a Maple Bacon doughnut at Voodoo Donuts, it was me. I'm an illustrator. I drew a children's book titled "Chicks Run Wild," hence the chicken reference. This silly stunt was part of a crazy promotion to get people to know about the book, written by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen.

I have to say, it was a lot of fun. Honestly, I probably would've worn the darn suit even if we didn't get 300 fans or friends on Facebook. But I'm happy to see that we exceeded our goal—a full week before the deadline! That's awesome.

So, here you go, Portland. Here you go Oregon. The United States of America. THE WORLD... Ward Jenkins in a chicken suit:

The Chicken Suit

My presidential pose
My Presidential pose.

Profile shot
My Profile pose.

About to cross the road.
Oh, hey. Look at that. I'm about to cross the road. IMAGINE THAT

Of course!
Why did I cross the road? To read Chicks Run Wild, of course.

Chicken admirers
Chicken admirers. Sadly, I wasn't Bieber.

The Chicken seated
It's hard work, this shameless promotion-thing.

Reading to the kids
This is my favorite part of the whole book-drawin' experience: reading the book to the kiddos.

Any questions?

The Chicken Man

In the library
I paid a visit to the library to sneak a copy of the book in the bookshelves.

The Librarian & The Chicken
The librarian totally caught me!

More photos soon. To see more check out:

The Chicken Suit on Facebook.
Chicks Run Wild on Flickr.

Now you know, I'm a man of my word.


Chicks Caught Out in the Wild

One the greatest experiences of illustrating a book is seeing it in the bookstores. The first time I saw my first book was so exciting - and to have my family there to experience it with me made it all the more sweeter.

The first time I saw Chicks Run Wild out in the wild was at A Children's Place, an excellent independent bookstore on NE Fremont - who "offer a wide selection of children's books for readers aged newborn to young adult." I was with Ezra, who was in a mood. He did NOT want to get out of the car. Too bad, bucko. You're coming with me.

Allow me to beam a bit as I share with you some photos of my first Chicks sighting:

First sighting of Chicks
Such a great little bookstore.

Next to Shark Vs. Train: awesome
Regarding the cover: I've never been a big fan of the bold blue with yellow & orange letters, but I do have to say it makes it hard to miss the book. That particular color combination is not evident in the book itself - I wanted to go with a more tanish/salmon-like color with bold red letters (which would better connect with the pages within), but sometimes you just have to choose your battles.

To prove I was there
It's in my contract to make this face when I see my book anywhere.

Ezra was in a mood
Ezra. Notice he's got his arms crossed, brooding. Oh, what a HORRIBLE dad I am, forcing my kid to go to our local bookstore! OH! the humanity!

Be sure to visit Chicks Run Wild on Facebook: I've been posting reviews (so far, very good!), photos (like these shown here), and sketches & artwork, etc.

And YES, the chicken suit is happening. Word on the street is that it'll happen this week.


Some Post-It doodles

I got the urge to do a few doodles on some Post-It notes the other day:

Some Post-It doodles

Sure, why can't kids drink coffee?

I love how Post-It notes offer you a tiny square area to do whatever you want. I tried to keep it quick and simple. Minimal erasing (if any at all). Just throw it out there, see what sticks.


Jules Verne: The Man Who Invented the Future

As I recuperate from several all-night work sessions because of three maddening deadlines, all within a week of each other, and before I start calling costume rental places asking if they have any chicken suits available, thought I'd share with you all some wonderful illustrations from this neato book on the futurist author Jules Verne. Considering that it's Mr. Verne's birthday today, consider this a little celebration for a man who stirred many an imagination with his wild and hairy stories, well over one-and-a-half centuries ago.

Jules Verne: The Man Who Invented the Future by Franz Born illustrated by Peter P. Plasencia ©1964 Prentice-Hall, Inc.

Jules Verne 1

A great book, with even greater illustrations by Peter P. Plasencia, who, as you may recall, illustrated the wonderful Space Alphabet book. I love seeing how Peter utilized the gouache to create various depths of field by the use of the subtle shades of grey. All the while, flattening the space within the composition. Superb work. Love it.

Jules Verne 2
Great use of flattened perspective here.

Jules Verne 3

Jules Verne 4

Jules Verne 5

Jules Verne 6
LOVE this piece. Fantastic composition!

Jules Verne 7

Jules Verne 8
This illustration accompanies the text that Jules Verne's works greatly inspired the explorer Richard Byrd, who flew over the Arctic (pictured here).

I know Verne is not an official "futurist" or "futurologist," but I'd like to think of him as such.

Actually, I'd love to become a futurologist, just so I can say, "I'm a futurologist." Sounds real nice when it rolls off the tongue.