At C2E2 in Chicago!

I’ve been busy lately wrapping up a children’s book illustration project, but I’ve found some time to come to Chicago for one of the biggest comics conventions in the Midwest! It kicks off tomorrow, but I arrived a day early to visit a couple places that are non-comics related before I lock myself inside the convention center for the weekend.

I visited the Field Museum which had some amazing taxidermy:

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And some cool dinosaurs:

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And a lot more cool stuff:

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We also visited Navy Pier, but it was under construction and the weather is cold, so it was a bit of a disappointment.  The city itself is always great though:

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We got here early today and had to wait for a room to open up so I got to sketch around the lobby for a couple hours:

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I can’t wait for the convention!

Pictures by Jeff Bridges

This is probably the most unique book I own. It’s kind of a strange book since it’s a collection of work from a celebrity and not many celebrities moonlight as artists, and rarely are they good. Pictures by Jeff Bridges is a portfolio of some of the actor’s photos that he takes on set of his movies using a panoramic Wide-Lux camera. Bridges states he started these photos as a way to make mementos for the cast and crew when wrapping a film. He’s been taking these photos since his 1984 movie Starman and has been taking photos ever since. Quite a few of his photos, especially his more recent ones, can be found on his website at    jeffbridges.com. Which is good because this book ain’t cheap:

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Whoa

This book’s retail price (as listed on the cover) is $45, but since it is out of print, this book has become a collector’s item of sorts. Luckily, I got mine through Goodwill for roughly $40. Even though it is a used copy, it’s in good condition and the book holds up well.

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With cover sleeve…

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…and without. Not much difference.

The book opens with a  dedication to Bridges’ parents, a foreword by film-man Peter Bogdanovich, and a quick intro by Bridges’ himself, which briefly explains his interest in photography. From there on, Bridges recounts the films he has worked on in chronological order, each film is given their own sort of chapter. Some of the notes are written in his handwriting and some are typed.

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Notes like this!

These notes are honest little tidbits about the photo or are just some of Bridges’ zen observations. It feels like nothing negative has happened between these pages. Even though the photos are seem very dark or dramatic, this is actually a very positive, nostalgic book.

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I mostly got this book for the “behind-the-scenes” photos, and it doesn’t disappoint. After all, that’s pretty much the subject of the whole book, but I didn’t expect the photos to be so tasteful. Perhaps I expected something like a DVD blooper reel: all fun and shenanigans, but it is surprising how well Bridges captures the rarely seen beauty that exists when making a film, not just the beauty of the film itself.

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Hello Michelle Pfieffer

That’s not to say nothing fun happens in these photos. Due to the special panoramic format Bridges shoots in, he makes a fun series called Tragedia/Comedia  where he photographs an actor’s sad and happy faces in one exposure:

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Cuba Gooding sad…..Cuba Gooding happy

And of course, it is always exciting to see more from the movies you like, and I think most people would take an interest to this book just for the Big Lebowski photos alone:

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I love how this scene exists as a photo

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#selfie

These photos are gorgeous and they are printed in a format large enough to let you soak them all in. After all, they are all in panoramic format, so there is a lot to see. The layout is appropriate too, no photos are just jammed in the pages because there is room (which you think “of course not, that would be ridiculous,” but I’ve seen books do that). The whole book wraps up with a nice little chronological appendix so you can back track through the book to see movie specific photos if you so desire. The layout is pretty nice:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is a surprisingly beautiful book. I would of never suspected Jeff Bridges’ body of work to be this impressive. However, the book ends at photos taken in the early 2000s, so photos from some of his more recently popular movies, like Iron Man or True Grit are not included, which is a bit of a bummer because those pictures just sound like they would be amazing. Good news is that you can see photos from his current films and some from the book on his website jeffbridges.com including some of his other work, like his drawings. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in cinema and film, especially those interested in cinematography. I really enjoy this book and it is definitely one of the most unique in my collection.

Holy Moses

I feel bad.

I really do.

I haven’t written anything for a while and I’ve been putting it off because I’ve been busy or felt like I have nothing to say. Which probably isn’t fully true, but hey whatever. Anyways, I’ve been busy doing illustrations for a kids book lately, so yea I’ve been off the grid for a bit.

But I hope that changes! Quite a few changes have been happening lately, which led me to do a few things and one of them was simple enough: clean my room.

Not to difficult I suppose, but when cleaning, I realized how much stuff I’ve held on to for several years. Like books. Oh lord the books. I collected all of my books to put them on shelves and I realized that all of a sudden, I have a collection of sorts. A collection of art books.

Seriously, like 85% of the books I own are some sort of portfolio, art guide, or sketchbook. I found art books that I bought seven years ago that I amazingly still have and even a couple I haven’t even cracked open. How did I get so many?

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I guess it is because I grew up to be the boring type of person who asks for books on every gift-giving occasion. This holiday season my list is basically my Goodreads list. Art books are usually more expensive so I ask for those on these special occasions or just use whatever gift cards I get to buy them. It is a collection that is slow-growing, but its not a bad thing. I think having a large visual library is great and I’m planning on keeping it up, I’m just surprised how far I’ve gotten.

Plus I kinda feel like sharing my collection. It is always good to know books before you buy them. And while cleaning I found one of my favorite books: Frank Frazetta’s Rough Work.

Front Cover

Front Cover

Chances are if you have any middling interest in fantasy illustration, you’re familiar with the legend that is Frank Frazetta. I love his work, but I’ve only seen his finished pieces and I’m a person who loves to see a process. This book features what the title states: his rough work. And I’ll tell you right now, his sketchbook puts everyone else’s to shame:

These are sketches?! What?!

These are sketches?! What?!

Even for sketches, these pencils are well done and thoughtful; loose and dynamic. And best of all, this book has great pictures of these sketches. They are all printed clearly on nice, solid, glossy paper. This book is a bit small, but that isn’t detrimental at all. The sketches are of great size and quality so you can really study his work. Even his famous female illustrations:

Nice inks!

Nice inks!

Best of all, this book features a good selection of his work and isn’t limited to just pencil. This is truly a mixed-media sketchbook.

A process page

A process page

Thank god this book is in color! If these pictures were solely black-and-white, it would’ve been highly disappointing. HIs colors remain as fresh as ever on these pages. The book also features a few process images that reveal how Frazetta takes an image from sketch to final print. I love seeing how an image is thought through, altered, and finally completed.

Rough Works also has some less professionally-focused work and are just really fun pages to look at:

Bunch o'doodles

Bunch o’doodles

These sketches are uninhibited and actually show *gasp* mistakes! It kinda makes me feel good that even the best make eraser marks. Also the inside cover has this photo of the artist:

Aw yea

Aw yea

Seriously, how can you resist this book? It’s just a bunch of fun and beauty behind a book cover. A strangely puffy book cover, but that isn’t a big deal.

If you want to see some of the best fantasy illustration stripped down to it’s basics, you need to pick up this book. It is pretty easy to find and makes a good addition to any collection.