Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Support Education and Art!

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, here's a chance to support education and add some art to your home! An Evening with G.K. Chesterton features a performance by Chuck Chalberg as well as a silent auction with art from Ted Schluenderfritz, Ellen Price, and myself. You can own the original drawing from The Well and the Shallows! Come join us this weekend!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Two recent DVD jackets

Not quite out on DVD yet, but the jackets are done! For the "Joseph" DVD, I was trying to make the title look carved out of wood in Photoshop. It failed, so I ended up carving it for real on a piece of scrap wood.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The hap hap happiest writer

A sketch of Evelyn Waugh. He loved kittens*, babies**, and the films of Shirley Temple.***

* possibly a lie
** definitely a lie
*** well, yes, another lie.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Curé d'Ars Today

A design for the re-release of this book, first published around 25 years ago.

Friday, July 17, 2009

St. Raymond of Penafort

You may be asking, if you saw my post at SmallPax today, why Dominican Saints are so awesome. The answer: I don't know.

Anyway, here's St. Raymond of Penafort. According to legend:

Aside from his scholarly pursuits, Raymond preached with untiring zeal to the Jews and Moors (Arab invaders of Spain). He also acted as spiritual director for King James of Aragon and Saint Peter Nolasco, whom he aided in founding the Order of Our Lady of Mercy (Mercedarians) for the ransom of captives from the Moors.

King James valued Raymond so highly that on several occasions he sent him on missions to the Holy See. At one time, however, he stoutly resisted Raymond's admonitions regarding chastity, and a miracle was required before the monarch consented to reform his life. This miracle took place during a visit to Majorca on which Raymond had accompanied the king in the hope of strengthening Christianity there. They had been on the island only a short time when Raymond discovered that the king was involved in a sinful love affair with a woman of the court. The king refused to listen to Raymond's protests, and when Raymond threatened to leave the island, the king threatened with death anyone who would give him passage.

Thereupon, or so it is said, Raymond spread his cloak on the water, set up his staff as a mast, and, having rigged up a corner of the cloak as a sail, boarded this miraculous "boat," setting his course for Barcelona. He arrived there the same day, having covered 140 miles in about six hours. A great crowd assembled at the waterfront witnessed the end of this marvelous voyage, which inspired numerous conversions.
Read more here. Though it isn't official, I would say he is the patron saint of windsurfing, having originated it.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Half-hour cover: A Short History of the World

A Short History of the World by J.M. Roberts is a pretty good overview of history, which mostly consists of peoples and nations beating the crap out of each other.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Mick Wiggins

I was introduced to Mick Wiggins' art via the cover to My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell. The Caustic Cover Critic has an interview with him--he does this great retro-looking art in Photoshop using a mouse. Sort of a high-tech luddite, in a good way. Check it out!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Half hour cover: The Metamorphosis

Stupid Blogger compression makes this look chock-full-o'-artifacts, so clicky for better view.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Half hour cover: The Human Factor

A novel of espionage by Graham Greene, The Human Factor is one of his typical later (1970's) spy books that (sort of like John le Carré) shows a weariness with the Cold War. It concerns double-agents and secret government-sanctioned murder, among other things. Codes sent by the number of times a telephone rings figure into the plot, and so into my design.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Half hour cover: The Golden Age

The Golden Age is the first book in a trilogy by John C. Wright. The paperback that I read had a cover that (I thought) inadequately portrayed what the book was about, which is a semi-humorous sci-fi novel set in the far future in which people are normally surrounded by computer-generated imagery instead of reality. The sun and Neptune figure into the plot, as do masquerades, so I put these on the cover.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Half hour covers

The other day, I was inspired by this post on the Book Covers Blog. From now on, when I finish reading a book, I will do a quick cover, no more than 30 minutes spent on it. It's a fun exercise so far, and helps keep the design skills working when in between projects.

This first one is Hadrian VII, by Baron Corvo, a flamboyant English eccentric. It's basically an ode to his own awesomeness and how great he would be as Pope. In the novel, a thinly disguised version of himself is elected pontiff and wreaks havoc in the Church (usually while chain-smoking).

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Red Book of Chinese Martyrs

This book, an account of recent martyrs in China, was first published in Italian. Here's the Italian cover:

The art director asked me to create an English language version of the cover, which I did.

After some discussion, it was decided that the English language version didn't flow well. So I make several comps. The shoe-shaped notes written in Chinese that feature on all covers are a testimony of what happened to a Catholic girl who was imprisoned. The notes were slipped into a priest's shoe and smuggled out. The girl is pictured on this next cover. After being released from prison, she was forced into marriage with a Communist Party member, and nothing more is known about her life.

After a few more drafts, we settled on this:

I was a little leery of it at first, wondering about the violence depicted. But after deciding to crop the faces of the Red Guards, which I felt made the cover more powerful (showing a faceless, oppressive government in action), I finished it up. The final has spot gloss on the lettering, and the back cover shows some of the victims of Communist persecution profiled in the book.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Manalive, the audio book

A while back I designed the poster for an upcoming film adaptation of G.K. Chesterton's novel, Manalive. One of the stars of the movie, Kevin O'Brien, did a dramatic reading of the text which will be coming out soon. Here's the mockup (note that I had the name wrong--Dale Ahlquist.) A pivotal scene in the book involves a revolver, and it opens with a large man scrambling after his white panama hat through London.

The London houses here were inspired by a book on early 20th century London that I picked up at a used bookstore a few years ago.

Pen and ink, colored in Photoshop.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Fra Lawrence Lew

Dominican Brother Lawrence Lew is a source of inspiration. Located at Blackfriars, he has managed to photograph many of the most beautiful churches and chapels in England, and during his travels has also photographed Rome, Lourdes, and other centers of Catholic faith and culture. His photography is on Flickr here.

As well as being a gifted photographer, Br. Lawrence also writes for The New Liturgical Movement.

I first used one of Br. Lawrence's photos for the cover of Faith and the Future.

With the new book, Handbook of Catholic Apologetics, the powers that be wanted a cover that illustrated a variety of concepts. After pondering for a while and creating a few mockups, I decided to revisit the rich trove of stained-glass images that Br. Lawrence had on Flickr. From there, everything fell into place.

The final cover is matte with spot-gloss on the images and lettering.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Well and the Shallows

The Well and the Shallows is a collection of essays by G.K. Chesterton. I worked on several ideas (lost now, since I worked on this book three years ago), but since we had published several books within recent years that used photographs of Chesterton on the cover, I thought I would try something different. Most caricatures I found had been used by other publishers as well, so I decided to try my hand at one. After a few tries, I came up with a caricature that the art director approved. The pen drawing (thanks to my trusty Microns) was then colored in Photoshop using a limited palette to imitate a book cover from the 1930’s I had found and liked.

This is one of the few covers I've designed that I still like.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Death of a Pope

The Death of a Pope is a thriller by Piers Paul Read, probably best known for his non-fiction book, Alive. It was pretty cool working on a book by him, as I've read a number of his novels and I've been a fan for years.

The book involves a plot against the papacy and a young British woman who gets involved in it inadvertently. I can't say too much more without spoiling the story!

I needed to have an image that conveyed a bit of the story without getting too involved. Once concept was a demon under the Vatican, or under the Sistine Chapel, with smoke. This didn't really work beyond the sketch stage without starting to look comical. One of the other ideas, shown above, was to depict a shadowy figure with a briefcase in front of St. Peter's Basilica. This looked a bit cliché when I did a mockup, like a paperback you'd pick up in the checkout line at Safeway.

I also did a number of mockups involving keys, one with a skeleton that I'm glad we didn't use since I just saw it on another recent book, and a few using imagery from Michelangelo's Last Judgement. But the one that was chosen after many rounds of reworking was this:

The final is a hardcover, with the title and author name embossed on the dust-jacket. The cloud imagery has a double meaning once you read the book. You can see a website I helped set up for it here.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


I've decided to start a design blog. You lucky people!

In the future, book covers, DVD covers, design process, art, etc. For now, one of my recent cover designs that I think came out fairly nice.