Archive for January, 2009


Below is the homepage for the the Peanut Corporation of America that has been busy shipping salmonella contaminated peanut butter out to kids around the country. First thing I learned, this stuff has nothing to do with the tasty pink fish abundant here in the Pacific Northwest. That would be Salmon Peanut Butter. Which doesn’t harm you at all when you eat it, but it don’t smell good…

It turns out that the company has a long history of producing tainted food. That the company has done little to nothing to repair its peanut processing facilities (maybe the holes in the walls should be closed up) and MOST AMAZINGLY that they proudly proclaim (as a corporate tag line on their homepage) that they are – “Processors of the World’s Finest Peanut Products” They must be using an alternative definition of the phrase, ‘world’s finest peanut products’. That tag line might work if they were manufacturing weaponized peanut butter for covert activities, (“Your orders Secret Agent Trill. Slip the terrorists 3 peanut butter snack crackers and get the hell out!”)  but nothing is fine to me about ignoring health and safety guidelines, in order to make more dollars no doubt, repeatedly until people die because of it.

They may not have repaired their facilities, or used proper hygiene  in preparing their products, or complied with the legal testing methods for food preparation, but someone in marketing had the good sense to add that tag line. Good job!

I hope the ‘America’ they reference so proudly in their companies name doesn’t lose more 5 year olds to the deadly products they shipped out.


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Recently I have received quite a few emails asking about how I use Photoshop in my work. A few people expressed great surprise that my work is digital. I’ve heard that before. Over the past few weeks I have had a few people asking specifically about my techniques.

I sent a quick list of things I have discovered while working the past 7 years almost completely digitally. But I am not a big fan of technique discussions as they overlook the most important aspect of image making, having something to say and doing it in an individual way.

Photoshop is a wonderful tool because you can create new ways to work with mediums and elements. I don’t try and ‘look’ like watercolor or oil or anything in particular. If you really love the way oil paint looks, you should learn to use oil paint. The same goes for watercolor. I’m not saying you can’t take techniques from those mediums and develop them in Photoshop. But just mimicking them exactly seems pointless. I like the fact that I get to create a complete mess and you can make this mess without paying a high price if you decide to change your mind. Layers and masks are great things. And let’s not undervalue the good ol’ UNDO!

I will share one thing I do with my work. I tend to collapse layers every so often. Sometimes when it isn’t the most convenient! This forces me to redefine areas and redraw things. It keeps the image from being too clean, too perfect and too antiseptic. Digital painting offers you the ability to control every aspect, every line and outline and too often when I look at digital work I can see ‘layers’. The edges aren’t organic. They’re not emotional at all. That’s just my taste. I like the freshness I get by collapsing layers and basically starting again from with an image I’ve committed to.

Below is a small section from a large painting I am working on. It’s narrative (of course) but I am playing with some new techniques and methods. It’ a big piece, over 3 feet wide. Plenty of room to make mistakes.


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One of the spreads from a book I recently finished illustrating (The Book that Eats People, John Perry – Tricycle Press) has been included in the SILA (Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles) Illustration West 47 show. (I think that’s the right title!)

That image will be on the SILA Illustration West website when the show is launched and a large print of it will be on display in the gallery portion of the show.

Needless to say, once you view the art below you will see that The Book (as mentioned in the title) isn’t always such a nice book. A little dangerous to have around. (BTW the typography is FPO). The final painting was done in Photoshop with plenty of scanned, collage elements. It was based on a rough sketch done on good ol’ fashioned paper and pencil. The book imagery is made up of more than just the narrative story elements. The book  itself is made up pieces from other books (and people!) that the book has consumed in it’s hungry lifetime. It presented a cool opportunity to have the book be made up of all sorts of different illustration styles and imagery.

I’ll post more about the book as we get closer to the release date.


The Book That Eats People

Tricycle Press.

author: John Perry

illustration: Mark Fearing

art direction: Betsy Stromberg/Abigail Samoun

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This is an in progress painting for a project I will talk more about soon. It started off as a doodle, and I casually started painting it just for fun. But this project slowly developed and the painting seems to fit it perfectly. Painted in Photoshop from a quick sketch.


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