December 22, 2009

the view from bernal hill. gouache, 2009. the result of a home cooked meal,
a long conversation, whisky and the best company a person could ask for.

i honestly thought i'd be able to get to this sooner than december twenty second, but here we are. the year has been a marathon, the last three months a sprint: work has been heavy, friends have been inviting, trips have been taken, projects conceived and completed. the sad thing is how little of all this i've been able to share; let me offer a few things now:

there's been terribly little drawing beyond days and nights at pixar. our film is kind of kick ass though, and so is my crew and so is our work. it's been an inspiring encouraging experience, where drawings ideas and even songs end up on the big screen. it'll be a few years before it all comes out, but i'm excited to see the fruits of our labour in a theatre.

hong kong, briefly, was incredible. the most non-western western city i've ever seen; bladerunner. i visited family and ate and talked about eating and walked around looking at food stuffs for the better part of two weeks—a most satisfying adventure. from intimate bowls of congee to the city's premiere power restaurant, through wet markets and dry markets and supermarkets, harvey nics and the wilds of central's back alleys, endless expanses of casino in macau, and endless expanses of ocean cliff trail on lamma island, this was definitely a trip to remember.

i turned 30. quite the event, if i may say: a depression era party staged in a depression era house. a month of recipe research, test cooking, and graphic design. i had a screenprinted poster and recipe cards made to compliment the meal and commemorate the event. brains were stewed, fish pickled, corn chowdered, tripe stuffed, and calve's feet halved and jellied; bread was baked from cans, ice cream and butter were served fresh, sodas were made from organic materials. a fire pit braced us from the cold december air, and in the morning we sat on the porch and drank tea. bring on 31.

a visit to the french laundry. it is a miracle. everyone on earth should get to do this once in their life. i had first read about chef thomas keller years before moving to the west coast, and his philosophies on craft and leadership have helped guide my life and career. in anxious anticipation, i waited years for the right moment to go, and i feel i couldn't have chosen a more perfect time. the experience far exceeded anything i could ever have imagined; it is without a doubt one of the most remarkable experiences of art and craft i have ever had the privilege of sharing. there was the day i got my job at pixar, the first time i ever saw new york, and this incredible evening.

these are the big motions, the ones i can elaborate on, and even then i feel a little shy. there have been other things too: thanksgiving survived, books proposed, posters designed, beaches sojourned, lectures attended, hands shaken, long walks taken and the like. but how much can i write? let me wish you happy holidays and promise to come back in 2010 with some drawings to share, hm? until next time.


October 13, 2009

hong kong

explanation to come //


October 09, 2009

in the street

if you can't tell, my fasincation with new york city is endless.

i'd like to start a series of intermittent posts on ways of seeing the city, of things that have enriched and expanded my experience of the place, of examples of other people's deep love for it. it makes sense that such a stimulating, challenging, beautiful place has inspired so much great work.

let's start out with a film. here, photographer helen levitt brings to life the subjects she was most famous for celebrating: the common inhabitants of the city in their daily lives.

"the streets of the poor quarters of great cities are, above all, a theatre and a battleground. There, unaware and unnoticed, every human being is a poet, a masker, a warrior, a dancer; and in his innocent artistry he projects, against the turmoil of the street, an image of human existence." h.levitt j.agee

this film is about street life: brief moments of conversation, couples gently engaged, people and animals, the elderly scolding, but mostly the young at play; it's a small city here, but alive; these are images of life. the filmmakers capture moments of the most honest behaviour, managing to make the smallest gestures beautiful. whether it's a toddler running furiously down the street, a woman walking with a mop swinging loudly, or someone idly looking out the window, dragging from a cigarette, levitt and agee manage to pinpoint moments of pure unconscious action.

watching this, i'm reminded of edison's actualities but here the camera doesn't hold back, an objective observer of the city's happenings. and whereas edison's brief documents celebrate bridge openings, theatre shows, automobiles and busy avenues, 'in the street' we take the point of view of children, of parents, of hangers-around. we become active participants in the games, someone walking through the crowd, someone sitting on the stoop. the camera is mobile here, intimate; right in the middle of the action, wandering as our eyes would. and seldom are people merely strolling, no, this street is full of activity, this is where everyone is looking, sitting by, leaning out the window to see what's going on.

there's something about the celebration of the everyday, of the overlooked, that i really admire. when you're in new york there's a sense that everyone has a story, has a real life—a struggle and a joy and a journey; that's why people go there. i feel like this film really supports that idea, captures it: that, of the millions of inhabitants in a city, each one is important, interesting and beautiful. it's a nice thought, and one i'm glad they've left us.

October 06, 2009

September 30, 2009

slow and steady wins the race



there is an attraction to those who play by the rules and break them at the same time. i think that my love for SASWTR is borne of my love for their rigorous fun: in deconstructing and reconstructing the clothing we find most common, SLOW AND STEADY question form, material and class distinction.

what we're left with is simple clothing re-imagined and the divisions we draw through our systems of value made crystal clear. anyway, the stuff also looks cool. please visit SLOW AND STEADY WINS THE RACE.

September 28, 2009

the maryam nassir zadeh showroom

is this all over the internet already? i am in love with phillip low's lucite sculptures. is there anything as thrilling as pure crystalline color? sharp edges matched with brilliantly sauturated light? the maryam nassir zadeh showroom features many other amazing objects (including some beautiful arrows), but wow, these take the cake.

September 26, 2009

jim sherraden

"advertising without posters is like fishing without worms." the hatch bros.

opened in 1879, hatch show print is among america’s oldest and most famous letterpress shops. jim sherraden is its manager, chief designer, archivist and historian. above, he shares a century of hand set graphic design.

September 24, 2009

in ohio

maybe i'm always grumpy, but the issue of nationality came up in conversation tonight, and i was just not interested. what more is there to say of the differences between canadians and americans? what can i say personally?

it is interesting knowing that i'm a product of social conditioning, of toronto, of canada, yet... i tend to think of myself more a product of my childhood hobbies, drawing classes, the toronto film festival, the years i spent at sheridan, working in tv animation and finally, the time spent with girlfriends and best friends—specific things.

the people you meet, the experiences you have, and the lessons you learn are the real makers and breakers. while i'll admit that my life in toronto was leaner and cleaner than this in san francisco, i'm definitely expanding my horizons here. who knew one of my favorite weekends ever would take place in the heart of ohio? nationality aside, good peeps is good peeps. thank you americans! nick

September 22, 2009


this one's for you, kid.

September 19, 2009

September 14, 2009

levi's casting

earlier this year, while out for coffee, my friends and i were asked if we'd be interested in going to a casting for a levi's jeans ad. i said yes. it was raining and the cab ride was paid for, and i was terribly interested to see how all this worked, so we drove off, signed information sheets, got numbers and stood around and waited. we inched closer to the front of the line and then this is how it went:

first they photographed you from the front and sides, you know, to get a good representative view. maybe some closer shots, some farther back—i can't recall. the only thing i remember clearly were the last two demands: first, for the guys to take their shirts off. i did this and exposed the doughy front of my person for the photographic scrutiny of a studio full of people. next, "okay, now do something fun." which is a much more difficult request to fulfill than you'd think. my hesitant shrug was probably about as useful for them as my formless midsection.

anyway, i wasn't called back. i did however later learn that the casting was for a series of adverts featuring photographs by ryan mcguinley, youth photographer extrordinaire, and someone who's work i had been looking a lot at. had i known the shoot was for him, i would have stripped down to totally nothing, set off some fireworks and thrown myself out the window—you know, something fun.

what's interesting to me are the differences in the campaigns; that such divergent, contrasting photographs came from the same photographer, and that they both evidence his handiwork—intimate, casual, surprising compositions of youth in the wild; a feeling of unencumbered, free, independent fun—and yet are totally different in tone and storytelling. i do tend to think the wrangler ads are more successful—as ads and as photographs—but all in all it's great to see how one person tackles similarish problems in similarish ways and arrives at related but utterly different solutions. it's good to see some range, and it's interesting to deconstruct the ideas in the ads, in the photographs and see how ryan has used light, composition, environment and subject to tell us a story: about the optimism of america and the freedom of youth, and of the dark, primal, wild animal inside youth.

check out the photography of ryan mcginley.


September 01, 2009

the eyes of doctor t.j. eckleburg

"This is a valley of ashes—a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens; where ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke and, finally, with a transcendent effort, of men who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air. Occasionally a line of gray cars crawls along an invisible track, gives out a ghastly creak, and comes to rest, and immediately the ash-gray men swarm up with leaden spades and stir up an impenetrable cloud, which screens their obscure operations from your sight. But above the gray land and the spasms of bleak dust which drift endlessly over it, you perceive, after a moment, the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg.

The eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg are blue and gigantic—their irises are one yard high. They look out of no face, but, instead, from a pair of enormous yellow spectacles which pass over a nonexistent nose. Evidently some wild wag of an oculist set them there to fatten his practice in the borough of Queens, and then sank down himself into eternal blindness, or forgot them and moved away. But his eyes, dimmed a little by many paintless days, under sun and rain, brood on over the solemn dumping ground.." F Scott Fitzgerald

this is an illustration i made for Sarah Schmelling's new book of literary tomfoolery, Maidens Who Don't Float, released just a few days ago. it started as a feature on the McSweeney's website, and now New York Magazine is calling it highbrow and brilliant, and i'm calling it a pleasure to have worked on.

pick one up today!

////maidens who don't float
////the great gatsby
////sad f scott (he's always sad)
////my illustrations for the odyssey

August 23, 2009

August 18, 2009

August 15, 2009

August 09, 2009