Snarky Teaser

I was recently asked to draw a poster for Snarky Puppy's September 19-20 dates at Reggies in Chicago. This band is one of the most entertaining I've seen. They have so much fun playing their instruments and doing it really well. Their new music is really big and reminded me of the desert, so I thought I'd play with some scale here.

Here's a little teaser of my favorite tent I drew.


I'll be putting this bad boy up in the shop the day of the show. I'll do a more detailed process post and show how it evolved.

In the meantime, do the smart thing and buy a ticket.

Adam Busch at The Hideout

I recently was commissioned to draw and print a gig poster for Adam Busch's residency at The Hideout. I wasn't familiar with his tunes before I was approached, but when I heard his various projects, like Sonoi and his solo work, there was a lightness and warmth to it that made me think of going to the drive-in as a kid. I jumped on the chance to draw a poster inspired by drive-in signage.

I usually go pretty loose with my initial idea before I put any thing down on film or start cutting ruby, but for this one I held off until I knew 100% what the print would look like. I even used some Prisma markers to spec colors, and determine what shade of yellow I'd use for the overprint.

The drawing I showed Adam.

The drawing I showed Adam.

The original sketch with the finished print. Spot on!

The original sketch with the finished print. Spot on!

The importance of a solid concept.

I learned that it's better to tighten up the concept as much as possible before the print. Doing everything by hand means that I need to draw carefully and thoughtfully, considering every shape and piece of type and how it relates to the final print. There was even some math involved while drawing the type... but not too much because I didn't want to give myself a headache!

There's a fine line between being precise and being expressive, and this print successfully does both. I'm super stoked at how it turned out, and I even saw it living out in the real world at Reckless Records in Wicker Park!

The print living in the Reckless Records window at Wicker Park. Photo by llaureng.

The print living in the Reckless Records window at Wicker Park. Photo by llaureng.

On to the next one!




Working With My Hands Again

Over the past few months I've been feeling very restless. Not only did we move the entire CAD studio across town, but I've been doing a lot more design than printing. I've had to pick up the slack by taking on more remote clients. I can feel it mentally and physically.

Humans were not meant to sit behind a computer screen for 8+ hours a day pushing around a mouse. The computer is necessary for me to communicate with clients, dig for inspiration and stay on top of all things Idiot Pull, but it can be a crutch. Ever since I ditched the computer and switched to an entirely hand-drawn process, I feel less like a designer and more like a craftsman. I'm no longer tied to certain sensibilities I have as a graphic designer, freeing my mind and hands up to pour myself into print that I make.

There have been week stretches where I only used the computer for communication with clients and to look up source images to draw my posters. That week was the happiest I've been with my work in a long time. I was working 10+ hours a day just drawing and printing, but I felt more refreshed after those days than the ones spent hunched over a laptop.

Using my hands satisfies the innate urge to mold and shape the world into one that I more easily relate with. I'm able to create artifacts and contribute to the visual culture of my time.

I'm not saying that you should all throw your computers away and do what I'm doing, it's just not for everybody. I admire a lot of poster artists that use the computer to make their images, but it's not something I would ever copy. I'm interested in making images and marks with my hands so that I can feel each print run through me; from my brain, to my hands to the paper. I'm proud to say that a blank sheet of paper no longer looks like purgatory, it looks like a fresh start and I get excited just thinking about it.


Analog Screen-printing

The Computer and Screen-printing

I have some mad respect for the computer, in fact if I didn't have one I couldn't make a living as a freelancer. I came to find out a year or two after school that I become quite a zombie when I use it as my only tool of making day-in and day-out. A good friend of mine once told me that the computer is a good tool, but it can be a crutch. After CAD's printer broke, I decided to go at it with my hands alone so that I couldn't be tripped up throughout the process by malfunctioning technology. 

How to Do it Analog Style

Separating Your Colors with Rubylith

Rubylith is a film that you cut out to make a negative of your image. It's a sandwich of a fine film of red, or ruby, material and a film of transparency. Use a dull exacto-knife to cut your image out of the ruby. It should be dull because if it's too sharp you can cut through both the red layer and the transparency, causing you a lot of trouble when it comes time to register all the colors together. Think about cutting your film like this:

Whatever you want to print needs to be red.

Drawling Your "Keyline"

This method for printing is broken up into a few parts: the color separations and the keyline. The keyline is typically printed in black and is the "key" to tying all of the colors together into one cohesive poster, but you can use any color to print this you want. My "Papa" poster had no black keyline, just a blue eagle overprinted on some yellow to complete the print.

Use the finished keyline to cut and register your other colors. I just tape them on top of one another and cut, but make sure you have a plan for what will be what color. If you mess up and cut something out you shouldn't have, take your Thick DecoColor and fill in the area you messed up. 

All you need to do this is any type of heavier weight transparency and some paint markers. I use Deco-Color paint markers (pictured below) and sheets of drawing film.

DecoColor can be found at most craft/art stores. They come in 3 weights: Thick, Fine and Extra Fine. 

DecoColor can be found at most craft/art stores. They come in 3 weights: Thick, Fine and Extra Fine. 

The trick to the pens is pressing just hard enough to let the paint come out in a nice smooth stream. You shouldn't "sketch" on the film with these. 

I wait until I have all of the information from the venue or client until I start making my film. This prevents any unnecessary mistakes.

I used to go right to the film because I was getting too antsy, but I've learned it saves more time and makes the poster better if I draw the thing with pencil. I include every single detail on this pencil drawing. This way if you work smart, you can knock the film out in 1-shot.  

You Will Make Mistakes

 I find that this is the process with most room for error, so make sure your marker saturated the line enough so that you can't see any light at all coming out the other side. A good way to do this is on a light table. Below I are some examples of finished keylines and sketches used to make them.

It's inevitable that you'll trip up somewhere during this process because you're human. The only advice I have is to try, try and try again. You'll learn techniques that work best for you and your process. This is just how I do it. 


If you have any questions along the way, email me at and I'll do my darndest to answer it as best I can.