June Updates + New Comics

This month I returned to my old Fashion Institute roots and freelanced at Juicy Couture sketching handbags for Juicy + Cole Haan. I also assisted with summer 2015 concepts; what fun! Here are my sketches of some older items (can’t show anything unreleased).

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I have been completely obsessed with Game of Thrones, and since Sunday was the finale, I made my own comic countdown. I also used this as a great excuse to return to drawing weekly comics, just for fun. You can follow my comics on Tumblr here: artsparrowcomics.com.

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In addition to Game of Thrones comics, I started drawing character portraits again. Below is Tyrion Lannister, one of my favorite characters in the series, while the background birds I borrowed from my own unfinished Arya painting.

Tyrion_artsparrowSome more really great tours on Apartment Therapy. Katie Osborn (below) who I have freelanced for as a designer + illustrator with The Office of Katie Osborn; working together in the very same home office I photographed.

027AT_Katie_027 Designer Carlos Fernández (below) of CreoCreo Studio has interior design skills that took my breath away.

“carlos’ loft is a visual playground that is
full of surprises; it’s like the willy wonka factory of interior design.”

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And who could forget James Bolenbaugh back in March? His apartment is an absolute masterpiece, and I’m also proud of the portrait I shot of James that reminded AT commenters of a painting.

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My logo design package for Studio 88 (ie. Principal Architect, Argiris Giorgou) is now complete. Argiris hasn’t officially launched his new branding, so I can’t show the logo just yet, but more design to follow. So here is a random sketch + gouache palette that have nothing to do with anything:

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My Interview with 7 Contributors of “The Big Feminist BUT” for Slice Magazine

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I was honored when the editors of Slice Magazine asked me to interview 7 contributors of The Big Feminist BUT. As a feminist and artist myself (including my own comics), I appreciate that this conversation was engaged in the illustrated form and hope to see it continue into more voices for the future. Check out the interview here on Slice’s A Word About Writing. And here is an art sample from Gabrielle Bell, involving her Mom & Valerie Solanas:

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Gabrielle, your story is so rich and complex; I loved it so much. I have a friend who thought everything you wrote was true – verbatim. How do you balance truth with fiction, especially in a story that is rooted in historical events?

I didn’t worry too much about messing with history, at least not until after I’d finished the story. I tend to worry about upsetting people I’ve used in my story only after I’ve done. While I am in the grips of storytelling, it doesn’t occur to me that someone might take issue with it. It wasn’t easy though…continue reading

cover © 2013 Joan Reilly; comic sample © Gabrielle Bell

A Merry Copic Christmas

I ♥ art supplies! This year I asked for Copic Markers (since the few I had were all dried out) + non-photo blue pencils, but I never expected to receive as many I did. The first time I learned about Copics were from Tim’s brother Mike Mucci, and no pen or marker have been the same ever since. I am now armed with a 6-Piece Skin Tone Set, 6-Piece Gray Tone Set, and a surprise Black Ink Pro Wallet. I will never stop drawing!! Thank you so much to Tim, Mike & Sandy. xo, artsparrow

photography © 2012 Andrea Sparacio (artsparrow), except for last photo © Copic Markers

Jugs & Capes: Radioactive Dirt Candy

I had to miss this month’s Jugs & Capes. Life got in the way and I never read it in time, even though the book was my suggestion.

R a d i o a c t i v e  is a biography about Marie & Pierre Currie, written & illustrated by Lauren Redniss. While I did not make Sunday’s meeting, I finally picked up my copy at the library and I’m super excited to finally dive into it. The illustrations and design of the book are simply beautiful, reminding me more of Maira Kalman than a comic book. Illustrated books that appeal to the adult demographic which mix gorgeous typography and drawings are definitely my soft spot. Just look at these stunning layouts.

So while I missed the comic ladies of J&C for September (and their ever-awesome food spread), I attended the graphic novel launch party for Dirt Candy: A Cookbook, coordinated by Amanda Bullock (Jugs & Capes creator) at Housing Works Bookstore.

“Amanda Cohen’s crazy story of building a restaurant from the ground up to its currently being one of the hardest-to-get reservations in New York City—all illustrated as a brilliant graphic novel.” (check out the book trailer here!)

Onto the food! Free booze, free appetizers, free giveaways. Too good to be true? We didn’t think so at first, up until the rest of Manhattan showed up to grab some free veggie cuisine. For all the trays brought out to the crowd, and despite being super early, here are the two little bites that Tim & I got to sample (left, Popcorn Pudding: salted caramel corn, and right, Pepper Appetizer: smoky red pepper mousse, yellow pepper soup, jalapeño chips).

Stangely (and unintentionally) our hands mimic one of the spreads from Radioactive.

The crowd got a little feisty once the free food came out. Below is just a snippet of the insanity, even though this photo doesn’t do it justice:

Since I couldn’t capture the craziness, I’ll leave you with my own drawing that pretty much sums up the food experience in one panel. (Or, because all NYC roads lead back to Seinfeld, think George Costanza pushing through the crowd in The Fire, only this time to snatch up some seriously delicious morsels). Enjoy!

photography & zombie comic © 2012 Andrea Sparacio (artsparrow), Radioactive illustrations © 2010 Lauren Redniss, Dirt Candy: A Cookbook illustrations © 2012 Ryan Dunlavey, book by Amanda Cohen & Grady Hendrix

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U P D A T E  The photo below was emailed to me by Grady Hendrix from Dirt Candy! I call it “The (zombie) view from up here.” I also found myself in the crowd, just in case you were wondering:

Jugs & Capes: American Born Chinese

For our August Jugs & Capes meeting, we decided to read something light & summery: Printz & Eisner award-winning graphic novel American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang. A majority of the group felt that they “almost loved the book” (<–thanks to Oriana for coining the phrase!) but perhaps Yang’s character of Chin-Kee’s was a bit of a drawback. We wondered whether this over-the-top sitcom stereotype was necessary, much like Long Duck Dong of Sixteen Candles or Mr. Yunioshi of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and didn’t find his scenes as interesting as the others (ie. first love & monkey kings). Could Chin-Kee have been played more subtly? Realizing this overstated character was created for a purpose, we still wondered if the Young Adult target audience played a part. Most of us also agreed that the ending was a little abrupt, though we did love the art and humor.

And speaking of overstated, ever since our book club moved from weekday nights to Sunday brunch, we have been enjoying some seriously delicious & well-themed food spreads. Special thanks to Amanda Bullock for picking up those yummy dumplings & den den mein at M. Noodle in Williamburg.

One of my favorite pages (below); Jin’s expression is priceless!

Last but not least, this is how we artists drink: Exquisite Corpse games + free shots! Thanks to Sam (of Lady Jay’s) for contributing with me & Miss Laura Lee. The rest are hanging up in the bar. xo, artsparrow

book images © Gene Luen Yang & First Second; food photography © Oriana Leckert & Amanda Bullock

Marina Abramović, Spirit Cooking & Eating Your Fear With A Spoon

Marina Abramović is a huge celebrity in the art world and she’s everywhere these days; bringing performance art to the mainstream at MoMA in 2010, her Moscow retrospective in 2011, biography/play in England entitled The Life and Death of Marina Abramović starring William Defoe, and now the HBO documentary, which premiered at Sundance this year. I had the chance to revisit my experience of The Artist is Present in person at MoMA (2010) by attending Film Forum tonight alongside a Q&A with filmmaker Matthew Akers. This behind-the-scenes documentary reopened so many memories, ideas, and the intense passion I initially felt seeing her show a few years back. I also had the privilege of seeing the film with fellow artist friend Jasmina Tomic, whose Dad went to school with Marina back in Serbia and had so many awesome stories to share over drinks afterward. A M A Z I N G. I highly recommend seeing this in the theater! Chills ran through my body for all 105 minutes of the film, while I secretly texted myself reminder quotes like “artist has to be warrior!” Watch the trailer by clicking on the movie poster below:

Marina_Abramović_3Marina_Abramović_3I have written and deleted countless posts on Marina Abramović in the past, partly because she viscerally moves me right to the gut; thoughts feverishly racing and emotions far too complex to articulate properly into words. She both inspires and scares the sh*t out of me. I could never know enough about her, but I can tell you that she makes me look deep into myself as an artist, continually challenging me to dig even further. After seeing her in person a few years back, I knew my life was never going to be the same again.

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Marina Abramović’s art explores the limits of physical and mental endurance. She has eaten an entire raw onion, outer skin and all. She’s filmed herself aggressively brushing her hair repeatedly saying “art must be beautiful; the artist must be beautiful”. She screams for 45 minutes straight until she loses her voice. She has a standoff in Rest Energy at bow and arrow point to which she could reasonably die if her partner, Ulay, slips or lets go [watch the performance piece here]. Smacking, pushing, pulling, scrubbing and swimming in bloody animal carcasses, laying with a skeleton on top of her naked body, inhaling/exhaling giving life to the weight death. In Rhythm 0, she invited her audience to use a variety of objects to interact with her in; feathers, make-up and weapons as dangerous as loaded pistols and sharpened knives.

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Marina Abramović is willing to suffer any length for her art; how much was I willing to suffer for mine? I lived most of my life in fear, deep from the emotional core right down to the petty fear of a Brooklyn waterbug. Here is this artist, pushing herself to what seemed like impossible limits, and I can’t handle a bug phobia? As I walked around and absorbed each piece in The Artist is Present exhibition, tears streamed down my face as if I was eating the raw onion myself. Eat the fear, I heard myself saying. Eat. It. Up.

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One of the translations repeated during the onion video was “I want to not want anymore.” I wrote it on my hand and clasped my partner’s hand until our fingers went numb (photo below)

Recently I fell in love with a piece at MoMA’s Print/Out exhibit entitled Spirit Cooking, written by Marina Abramović and produced by Jacob Samuel. After decades of permanence art, Abramović has very little printmaking experience, so it was interesting to me (as someone who works heavily in print) to see what she came up with. “The artist chose to make a cookbook, writing a series of “aphrodisiac recipes” that serve as evocative instructions for actions or thoughts. To allow the artist to create the accompanying etchings in a manner consistent with her body-oriented practice, Samuel prepared the plates with soft ground so she could scratch directly onto the surface with her fingernails and encouraged her to work with spitbite, using her own saliva with nitric acid to paint on the plate.”

Through this inspiration, I decided to create my own Spirit Cooking and what it personally means to me and my art. Watch the video here:

Final note to self: stay for long periods of time at exploding volcanoes. Eat your fears by the spoonful.  Be a warrior.  Live life.  Make good art!  I’ll leave you now with this comic here:

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The Artist is Present: sitting with Marina Abramović (page 1):

comics_marina_AndreaSparacio_pg1rvThe Artist is Present: sitting with Marina Abramović (page 2):

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all images are © René Habermacher, MoMA, Jacob Samuel, Marina Abramović / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn; except for clasping hand photo & above art-video & comic illustration © 2012 Andrea Sparacio (artsparrow)

Inside The Portrait Studio: Chicken With Plums

Last night I attended Marjane Satrapi in Conversation with Francoise Mouly at MoMA, followed by a screening of Marjane’s latest film Poulet aux Prunes (Chicken with Plums). Unlike Persepolis, Chicken with Plums in a mostly non-animated feature-length film, although it blends live action, painted sets, and small bursts of animation like visual poetry.

Similar to Amelie in its magical realism, I was pretty smitten with the artistic style of this movie. So smitten, in fact, that I was able to overlook a few of its flaws (like lengthy montages that could have been shortened). The storyline is dark, but mixed with incredible humor, much like Marjane herself (who I am pretty darn smitten with as well!) She admitted how happy she was to be on the stage of MoMA talking to us, much like any art student at heart. “Growing up, I always heard MoMA this, MoMA that,” she confessed, “and now I get to be part of it, if only for a day.”

Marjane humorously revealed that before becoming an artist she wanted to be a #1. “private eye,” only to discover that it entailed “spying on cheating spouses” more than being Sherlock Holmes, and #2. “head hunter,” which she had mistaken to mean “bounty hunter,” finding out after the interview that she had it incredibly wrong. It was only then that she became #3. an artist. Ta-da!

(above) Francoise Mouly & Marjane Satrapi; (below) directors Vincent Paronnaud & Marjane Satrapi.

Marjane also confessed that she originally didn’t want to make her first movie Persepolis into a film; the idea had been proposed to her instead. In order to make it difficult for the studio to say yes, she requested obstacles like hand-drawn animation (over CGI because it will “eventually look too dated”), black and white, etc., but they ended up agreeing to all of it without the blink of an eye. Good thing too, because I ♡ Persepolis! Although it’s always interesting to hear behind-the-scenes of any artistic process.

Speaking of which, here is my own artistic process on drawing Nasser-Ali (actor Mathieu Amalric) inspired from the film Chicken with Plums. My sketches (above) Staedtler Non-Photo Pencil, and (below) Copic Multiliner Brush Pen. 

In the end, you’ll wish cigarettes weren’t so bad for you. Movies (especially French ones!) make smoking look totally glamorous with animated smoke clouds; a romantic filler during life’s little pauses.

ink illustrations © 2012 Andrea Sparacio (artsparrow); movie poster © Celluloïd Dreams, press photos © Reuters