Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Excedrin Video Series

Worked with a great team at Weber Shandwick in their Boston office to create this video series for Excedrin, which highlights some easy "fast fixes" to make your life less cluttered or stressful. The videos can be found on the Excedrin website, and through the Youtube links below. We did a combination of marker drawing and stop motion effects, and yep, that's my hand...





Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Background Designs for Comedy Central

TripTank is a new animated anthology show on Comedy Central that combines an array of comedy writers, top notch voice talent, and diverse group of art styles into a half hour of animated sketch humor and weirdness. The team at Clambake Animation took on one of these animated skits "Dick Genie" written by Natalie Hazen and starring Kumail Nanjiani as Genie. For the background art I looked to bring to life a rich, fictional world for our characters to exist in, while at the same time trying to help elevate the story and humor. The background pictured below is the sleazy school janitor's closet where Billy and Genie have an encounter to discuss their plans.

Dick Genie Background Art by Chris Hsu.  Comedy Central TripTank


Monday, March 24, 2014

The Passenger Pigeon

Partly inspired from seeing the Audobon exhibit at the MFA a few times, and mostly inspired from seeing a Passenger Pigeon specimen yesterday at the Harvard Museum of Natural History, I took a stab at a science-style illustration of the famed extinct bird.

Passenger Pigeon Illustration, Chris Hsu

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Frontier Kids: Appleseeds Magazine

Had a lot of fun with this illustration so I decided to share it here. In the March issue of Appleseeds magazine the assignment called for a vertical full spread illustration to accompany some informational copy about what life was like for kids on the western frontier and what kind of chores it would have involved. We decided the image should of course depict many of the chores for boys and girls mentioned in the text (chopping wood, tending to animals/gardens, chasing vermin, etc.) as well as be something that would work in a long vertical format.

Anyone who knows me knows that I have a serious affinity for the era of American westward expansion. Really, I have an affinity for any era, but the old West stands out to me because of the visuals - it was untamed rolling landscapes of plains, mountains, grasslands, lakes, forests, and deserts engulfing the tiny people and families who endured the hardships in hopes of new beginnings. For this illustration, I wanted to go the opposite, meaning make the kids seem bigger than life against the landscape as if they're overcoming it rather than being defeated by it. Of course once you think about larger than life figures on the western frontier, you immediately think of Thomas Hart Benton, right??

I used Benton as inspiration for this assignment, especially in the way that he composed his murals around the hard right angles of architecture (see image below.) I knew I had to deal with a rectangular box of some sort in the middle of my composition, so it just made sense. From there it was just about adding a modern children's illustration touch to it to help bring to life the text.

Kids on the Frontier Illustration, Chris Hsu
Kids on the Frontier

Design and layout by Appleseeds Magazine


Thomas Hart Benton



Sunday, February 16, 2014

Animated Gif Test

File this under "Just Wanted To See What It'd Look Like"...

Pulled out an existing illustration and took it into photoshop's animation feature to see what would happen with some subtle movement to it (eye blinks, shadow flickering, sprinkling of the flakes, etc.)


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Charles Goodyear

Here's a cropped portion of an upcoming illustration of Charles Goodyear accidentally discovering the process of vulcanization. Experimented with using more crosshatching on this one than I normally would to give it that look that art reproductions had during the time of the Industrial Revolution.


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Habitat Skateboards: Stained Glass Series

I've always been a big fan of skateboard art, even going all the way back to the ol' famous Tony Hawk bird skull deck from the 80s. I remember being younger and looking at them and really liking the art, though I wasn't sure why. Even as I'm older now and have a trained eye for art and design I appreciate even more the quality of illustration that went into many of those old decks.

Fast forward to the modern day...I still love skateboard art and design. I recently stumbled upon this deck series by Habitat - whose designs I'd always admired for their palettes, vector work, and attention to detail - but this stained glass series really stood out to me. Looking further into it, I realized it was actually made in stained glass by an artist named Jessie Cundiff and her crew of glass artists, then photographed for use on the board format. Really engaging use of shape and color, and a great example of old world techniques merging with modern technology. In my opinion they look even better together as a series. I look forward to one day hanging these up side by side in my studio.





Thursday, January 2, 2014

Ken Griffey Upper Deck Rookie Card

Ahhh, the nostalgia of baseball card collecting. I remember when Upper Deck first came out it was considered high end because it had the fancy hologram on the card. And remember how everyone thought seeing young Ken Griffey Jr.'s smily face appear from behind that foil cover would be the key to their retirement??  It was like winning a mini lotto.  If there's one thing we can learn from the 90s, it's that anything that claims to be a collector's item will never actually ever be a collector's item in the decades that follow. Yes, that means you too, comic books with the chromium variant covers....

Friday, December 27, 2013

Fun with Animation

Just messing around with some animation


Squiggly Lip Sync from Chris H. on Vimeo.

Animated gif. If it's not automatically animating, then it probably looks like a weird still drawing...

Sunday, November 24, 2013

West Coast Visit

Just messing around today with a quick doodle while watching football...always like sketching in a style I wouldn't normally, just to stretch the creative muscles. I'm about to go out to Southern California with the wife for a week so I guess I was trying to channel some of that sunny, laid back California-ness too that I remember. Haven't been there since 2007, and the first thing I'll want to eat is probably In-N-Out. First though, I'm going to stop into Cleveland for a holiday reunion with my ol' American Greetings friends. Good times.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Red Sox World Series Champions 2013

Compiled a team portrait after the finish of the World Series. Didn't go to any of the games but I did go walk around Kenmore Square and Fenway before the start of Game 6 just to sort of check out the energy, since I'd never been anywhere that has hosted a World Series. There was so much excitement in the air, kind of reminded me of college at UF on the mornings and afternoons before the big games, which at that time were vs. Tennessee or Florida State.

Prints are available if you're interested!

Recently also discovered a cool blog that collects interesting sports-related design run by graphic designer Tim McCarthy called HEYSPORT. Check it out, there's a lot of really good creative design that goes into sports and sports branding that you probably didn't even realize. Also for you basketball afficionados there's DOUBLE SCRIBBLE (ahh, a nice reference to a game from my childhood...thanks Konami) a Tumblr blog that collects basketball illustrations and sketches.

Red Sox World Series Champions, Chris Hsu

Thursday, October 10, 2013

"Play Me I'm Yours" in Boston

You see a lot of typical street art installation project (especially ones that involve blank animal statues that are hand painted by local artists and placed around cities) but this one is unique because it is so interactive. For a few weeks about 70 pianos are placed all around the city of Boston, with each one uniquely decorated or painted. So far I've only been able to spot a few and the ones I saw were mostly uprights, except for this grand outside the MFA.



The first time I came up on it I decided to just sit there nearby and observe. I noticed that people were either playing or stopping to listen...but it didn't matter which one they were engaged in, the point was that everyone was engaged, and that was what made this different than your typical street art installations that you tend to see. And I was surprised to find that more random people on the street are able to play piano than you would think. This piano was not too far from the New England Conservatory, so of course you'd get the occasional student prodigy sitting down to play a few tunes, but for the most part it was just average joes and janes of all ages sitting down to play that one or two songs that they knew. People played Fur Elise, and people played Paul McCartney songs...people played and people listened. And people really enjoyed listening too. I mean after all, we see things like guitars, saxes, violins, and drums played on buckets outdoors all the time...how often has anyone ever seen a full sized piano just sitting on a sidewalk?

I did sit down to play a few times since I come to the MFA frequently, though it'd been a while since I'd been around a piano on a regular basis. Played my favorite Chopin nocturne, the one in E flat and played what I still know of Maple Leaf Rag. It's too bad this isn't an annual thing, I doubt anyone would have any complaints if it were.

Been going to Drawing in the Galleries a lot lately, have a lot of sketches I need to scan for my records. Still working on big sheets of paper with the broad side of a pencil...I think this was a 5 minute pose if I remember correctly. As you can see I totally abandoned my first gesture, just didn't get the right feeling, so I started another one right next to it. Turns out they look kind of cool next to each other now.



Usually before a sketch session I'll walk around the museum to get inspired by something. I stumbled into this little exhibit in the American Wing of a show of works by an artist named Lois Mailou Jones, who I'd never heard of. Born in 1905 and trained at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (back when they actually still taught traditional art) she apparently did all kinds of art ranging from intricate pattern design to oil painting and even commercial book illustration, all of which were on display. Excellent work. There were a couple charcoal portraits she had done long ago hanging in the exhibit, below was my favorite one.



Monday, September 23, 2013

Summer 2013

We recently wrapped on a project this summer, something we all had a blast working on and can't wait for America to see. I was holding up a picture of what the project was, so for the sake of network confidentiality I covered it up for the time being. We had a great crew too...from left to right: Jeff Beckman, animator; Owen Watson, animator; Matt Wagner, video editor and effects; Chris Hsu, backgrounds and art direction; Zoe Abbett, animator (not pictured: Chad Hanna, storyboards; Julia King; producer, Jordan Scarborough, audio intern.)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

MFA Drawing in the Galleries 9.4.13

For this session I tried going on a bigger sheet of paper (18x24) and basically drawing with my arm instead of hands and fingers, and using the side of the pencil. This sheet was all one-minute poses.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Knowing Your Client

Business editorial illustration about getting to know your clients ahead of time before meeting them. As with most business principles, it's easier said than done!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Dvorak on a Plane

Why doesn't this kind of stuff ever happen when I'm on a plane? Playing the finale from Dvorak's American string quartet...

Saturday, May 18, 2013

David Beckham Retires

Hard to believe today was the last game of Beckham's 20-year playing career - end of an era no doubt.  It's rare to see an athlete transcend pop culture beyond galactic standards, while actually being a significantly, relevant player.  And when you look at clips of MLS from 2007 before Beck's arrival there were just a handful of amateurish-looking teams playing in paltry college stadiums or vacant, oversized NFL arenas with depressing, faded yardage lines.  It was fun, but not many people took it seriously.  Investors, sponsors, casual American fans, and foreign players just kind of wrote it off as minor league in a major way.  To say Beckham had nothing to do with the rapid growth and global interest in MLS over the next five years would be delusional.

It's fun to be able to say I saw him play live once - when the Galaxy played here in New England back in 2011.  To commemorate his last official professional game, I did this quick portrait today.

David Beckham Illustration by Chris Hsu

Friday, May 17, 2013

Orlando Weekly Cover: May 2013

For the cover illustration in this issue of Orlando Weekly, I was asked to bring to life a simple concept: a headshot of a really excited guy with paint splattered on one side of his face and a mini golf course on the other. There's really a whole slew of ways one could go about illustrating that, so as you might imagine I had some fun with this one.

"FRINGE" refers to The Orlando International Fringe Theater Festival which is a "14-day-festival that is founded on the concept of offering 100% unjuried, 100% uncensored, 100% accessible theatre, music, dance, and art to all types and ages where 100% of the box office ticket sales go directly back to the artists within The Fringe. The Orlando Fringe is the longest running Fringe Festival in the United States, celebrating 22 years as “Orlando’s most unique cultural experience”.

Orlando Weekly Cover by Chris Hsu


(special thanks to Nathan F'in Smith for snapping this pic for me down in Orlando)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

NBA Playoffs 2013

Some drawings while watching the playoffs...stay tuned, I'm probably going to do some other teams.


















Friday, April 19, 2013

Boston Marathon Week



Wow, what a week. We got 'em at 67 Franklin Street! So strange to see Watertown in the national news like this........

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Spring 2013

Spring is in the air, which means NBA playoffs are impending (c'mon Celtics), NCAA March Madness is over (what happened Gators??), Major League Soccer is in full swing (pick up the pace Revs!), and baseball has begun. I follow too many sports already to be able to get into regular season baseball - but I've always been drawn to the look and culture of baseball. Here I was just experimenting with a suuuper editorial style that I never really work in and just did a self-portrait as an old timey baseball player for the subject matter.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Clint Dempsey: USA vs. Costa Rica

In one of the strangest soccer matches I think I've ever seen, the USA played Costa Rica last night in Denver in a World Cup Qualifier in a freakin' BLIZZARD.  It wasn't so bad at the beginning but the it just kept snowing and snowing and snowing with no end in sight to the point where a lot of the players were sporting inadvertent snow afros.  Fortunately Dempsey scored early off an Altidore shot rebound before it got ridiculous because by the second half it looked like the ball was barely even rolling across the field. I did up this little sketch today to commemorate the game.

Clint Dempsey Illustration by Chris Hsu

Thursday, March 14, 2013

RISD Portfolio Review 2013

Clambake headed down to Providence today to RISD for the school's annual student portfolio review. Too bad no one wanted to talk to us!!

No, just kidding...clearly those are staged photos of Carl pretending that we're being completely neglected. In fact we had a packed day of meeting with a bunch of great students. RISD moved it into the Rhode Island Convention Center this year so it was way more spacious than last year's review. As usual, thanks to all the students who took the time to come sign up at our table and show us your work...you know who you are!



Wednesday, March 6, 2013

MassArt Internship Fair 2013

Took part in the Massachusetts College of Art & Design's internship fair today along with Carl Adams on behalf of Clambake.  It was a fun, informal setup and a good turnout for all sides.  Thanks to all the students that came by to say hi!

Afterwards I stopped into the MFA (conveniently next door to MassArt) and waited for the Drawing in the Galleries session to start later on in the evening. Had a few hours to kill before it started so I finally checked out the really cool old postcards exhibition that's going on at the MFA.  Below that are some highlights from a MFA session from a few weeks ago that I never got to posting.





Thursday, February 21, 2013

Drawing in the Galleries 2/20/13

Some highlights from my MFA "Drawing in the Galleries" session last night. Mostly 5 or 10 minute poses.

Friday, January 11, 2013

George Bellows at the Metropolitan Museum

The show so nice I went to see it twice.

While spending the holidays in the greater NY area, I learned that the Met has been hosting a special exhibition dedicated to the works of George Bellows, one of my favorite painters. I was especially excited to see this since Bellows isn't your typical museum headliner, certainly not the kind of name they're going to hang on a banner out front to attract the casual visitor. As you can see those honors went to Matisse, who I'm a big fan of, and Warhol (meh...) Pop art - once you've seen it once you've seen all you need to see. But let's get back to Bellows...

The first time I really noticed a Bellows painting was at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art a few years ago...a painting called "Cliff Dwellers" that immediately drew me in with it's amorphous, gestural figures, dynamic composition, engaging color palette, and narrative quality amongst many other factors. I had seen plenty of old paintings before that showed old, gritty urban life but something about this one seemed different. In person I admired the super textural quality of the surface and seemingly brisk swiftness of every single stroke. Didn't know much about the artist...assumed he was probably American based on the name and figured he worked in the early 1900s based on the subject matter.


Of course our Telfair Museum in Savannah has this great Bellows snow landscape in their permanent collection, but I never made the connection for a while for some reason that they were painted by the same person. I just remember always going by it and thinking, "Wow, this is a really cool painting" but there was so much sophistication to it that I just wasn't ready to see yet as a budding art student.
Last December I was in Cleveland visiting my ol' American Greetings friends and went to the Cleveland Museum of Art. While browsing around the gallery of American paintings I saw Stag at Sharkey's from a distance and exclaimed to my wife, "Hey! It's THAT painting!" I must've missed it somehow in my one and only previous visit to the museum while living in Cleveland. It's always exciting to see a well known painting for the first time in person, it's like spotting a celebrity.

Back to the present day...the Bellows show at the Met was great to finally see. As I mentioned before, he's one of those artists you really have to see in person to appreciate as you get up close and try to decipher the types of artistic decisions he was making in the span of a painting. I found myself most drawn to many of the landscapes on display, especially the ones of NY Penn Station under construction and some cityscapes...very engaging. His energetic brushwork really lends itself to bringing these environments to living, breathing, life. Also on display were some really powerful war paintings which I had never seen before.

And in a sort of "full circle" kind of moment all three of the paintings I had seen of his before and admired were collected together and on display as part of this show too. It's always enlightening when you can see an artist's body of work together, it gives you a better sense of what their overall vision of the world was.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

HBS

Recently did some freelance work for The Harvard Business School by creating a couple series of quick illustrations to accompany video lectures by Clay Christensen. This is just one illustration from a lecture about the theory of flight, and how it applies to business theories. Very interesting stuff actually...reminded me of my old days in business school in Florida.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Jay Cutler Emotions Guide

Something that came to mind as I was watching last night's Lions vs. Bears Monday Night Football game on ESPN (while simultaneously watching the presidential debate)...

Jay Cutler Illustration by Chris Hsu

Friday, October 19, 2012

"Three Cats and a Rat"

In this month's Appleseeds magazine I was given a fun opportunity to illustrate an old folktale where a swordsman and his friend try to employ cats to catch a pesky rat, though the first two cats turn out to be more high maintenance than they are skilled. The third cat, a plain tabby, uses patience rather than an aggressive approach to finally catch the rodent who upon release promises to never return.

The story mentions a swordsman and the art director suggested maybe a Spaniard, so right off the bat I channelled what I knew of old European painting as inspiration, especially in terms of using dramatic chiaroscuro, multiple figures in complex angled poses, and setting everything in a ambiguous, darkened, rural space. Then from there I tried to combine it all into a more modern palette and look. (AD and Layout: Joshua Banks)

In my first rough sketch for the big splash image, I thought it was important to focus on a high maintenance persian cat and emphasize that by showing the swordsman rushing over with a bowl of milk to appease it. The little blobs up top were supposed to be kittens holding a "Fight of the Century" sign as mentioned in the story, to build up the hype even more. After stepping back and looking at the sketch I felt it just showed a jerk of a cat but didn't tell anything about the relationship between the swordsman and the cat.

I decided I really needed to include a mouse hole to show the reason that the swordsman is cajoling the cat. But at the same time the mouse hole alone wasn't enough to show the gravity of the situation - that was where the friend from the story came in handy. I placed him waiting to pounce by the entrance, thereby suggesting that there was something actually pesky inside that hole that the cat wouldn't even attend to until fully fed. Perfect...except for the fact that the composition became incredibly left-heavy at that point.

With some tweaking of the figure I changed him to better fit my needs there, which were to 1) balance the composition and 2) support the narrative. This arrangement also had a unexpected benefit too, which was how the shape of the cat now looked like it was literally stepping on him, as if he was a slave to that cat. I thought it helped to subconsciously push that idea that this was really one high maintenance animal. Plus I already had a composition comprised of many "U" shapes in varying sizes and curves, so putting the friend in a big "U" helped to hold everything together and perpetuate the rhythm.

chris hsu illustration
Voila! Now I felt like I had a composition of dynamic implied lines and shapes that helped to tell the specific narrative, and I could finally move forward confidently with the rest of the character design, drawing, and painting. Below are the other two smaller illustrated spots that accompanied the story. I already decided early on that the rat was going to appear in both of those, which is why I never included it in the initial sketch for the splash image.