It's been a longtime dream of mine to be part of gallery shows, so when I was asked by the owner of The Bottleneck Gallery (http://www.bottleneckgallery.com) to be part of the 30th Anniversary tribute show for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sponsored by Nickelodeon and curated by the multi-talented CHOGRIN (http://chogrin.tumblr.com) I was very grateful for the opportunity. Since the show was in Brooklyn, NY I thought what better way to celebrate reaching the goal of my first gallery work, then a trip out to the big city for the opening night of the show. This was also my first trip to NYC! So it was a double dream come true to be involved with, plus the bonus of the theme being TMNT which I have been a fanatic about since my childhood (watching the cartoons and collecting the toys). So when it came time to create the work, I was HIGHLY inspired.
After putting together some sketches for several concepts, I ran them by my toughest and most cherished collaborators. My 3 kiddos! Since they are all fellow TMNT fanatics, they were just as excited as I was about the project, and gave me motivating feedback as I illustrated. After finishing the main printed piece "Playtimes NEVER over" (above).
You can purchase the 20x20 signed & framed print here from the Bottleneck gallery (while available).
I still had a concept for a mash up flip book that my son was really excited about. So I decided to tackle that project too. Since my kids are big fans of the new Nickelodeon TMNT cartoon, I used those characters as the inspiration for the characters in the flip book.
I used the idea of a "Little Golden Book" format (hence the mutagen green spine) and illustrated 10 TMNT characters. I used the shape of a shell as the basis for the heads so they would all match up for the swapping action. Then once the pages were printed, I had them spiral bound so they could be easily flipped and mixed. The pages are cut in half, so you can mix up silly mutants of your own! My son wants me to continue the book with more TMNT characters, so I may continue work on a second edition.
You can purchase your own limited 15 book run, signed copy here from the Bottleneck gallery!
During the process of illustrating the TMNT art for the show, my 3 kiddos (son not pictured above, he was busy reading TMNT comics) were illustrating their own TMNT art all month. Which inspired me to put on a TMNT show for them before I left for NY. It was so fun to set up the show, discuss their art and inspiration, eat pizza, play with dad's ol' TMNT toys and watch the TMNT documentary "Turtle Power" (http://www.teenagemutantninjaturtlesmovie.com/turtlepower/).
A few highlights from our family show was my son's "installation" using his new TMNT action figures called "Grab my Foot", I thought it was hilarious, because he used a foot soldier. Clever kid. My wife also contributed a cute little hand sewn turtle which now brings a smile to the creative cave collection.
Before heading out for New York, I found this insanely sweet note from my daughter. She sure knows how to melt her dad's heart! I was gonna miss my lil' turtles, but they were really excited to see me head off on the adventure!
My youngest daughter asked if I would be able to tour the sewers in NY, thinking that I may see an actual TMNT lair. So I had to snap this shot for her when I arrived.
I was lucky to have my good friend/trusty sidekick/fellow illustrator/cameraman/batman fanatic along for the trip! Mike Heath is an insanely unique illustrator that creates epic photography/3D composited illustrations. Definitely check out his work here at Magnus Creative! We had a brilliant time exploring the city in our short visit, (my fitbit clocked 30 miles of walking in 3 days!)
Another main reason for my trip to NY was to connect with James from The Bright Agency (the incredibly stellar illustration agency that represents my work). We grabbed a few pints and burgers before the show to catch up, then he joined us for a grand night at the opening! It made me all the more grateful to be part of the Bright family and have experienced and encouraging agents like James who are passionate about supporting/coaching the many talented artists at Bright!
We arrived to a packed house, and a ton of TMNT fans wide eyed and admiring the plethora of talented artists work! Nickelodeon had provided a bunch of fun giveaways (all had been given away before we arrived) and the crew at Bottleneck did a brilliant job of setting up the show and getting fans connected with the work. I was absolutely brain boggled over the unique concepts that over 75 artists created to capture the TMNT world! You can check out all the work up close here at the TMNT show page
You can also purchase work from the show here at the Bottleneck site
Bonus treat of the night was meeting and chatting with my friend Barbara Perez! You may know her from the En Voyage book she helped create with fellow illustrator Lissy Marlin. Barbara is a wondrously creative writer and savvy NY dweller! You can check out snippets and stories on her site. Highly recommended!
I grabbed these amazingly creative lil' plushes by the uber-talented Mizna Wada! My kids had seen these on a show preview and said I should not come home if I didn't have these with me. The 4 will make wonderful coworkers in the creative cave when they arrive.
I also nabbed a set of these SUPER unique lenticular prints by my friend and always clever creative Andrew Kolb!
The trip was a smashing success and I absolutely fell in love with the city, people and creative community in NYC! I look forward to the next trip back to continue to explore and soak in the inspiration.
During the flights I was reading the Jim Henson biography. He has always been one of the greatest sources of creative inspiration to me since childhood, and as I read about the way he consistently dreamt big and followed his passions, I arrived back home ready to continue pursuing my own creative dreams in bigger and more passionate ways. I hope that you feel the same flood of inspiration in your pursuits too!