Live Cartooning at Crocker Art Museum

Sacramento! Who said I would never be back? 

Crocker Art Museum, Super Nice!

Crocker Art Museum, Super Nice!

The Teen Self Portrait show opens at Sacramento's Crocker Art Museum, Thursday April 17th. In case these youngsters are not satisfied with just one 2D rendering of their glowing visage, I will be on hand, drawing live. I will be joined by one of my favorite San Francisco cartoonists, Donta Santistevan

  • Thursday, April 17, 2014
  • 5:00pm – 7:00pm
  • Crocker Art Museum (map)

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This could be YOU!!!

Doggies in Jalopies

If you live in San Francisco's Nob Hill or Pacific Heights you may have recently noticed a guy "leering" at your dog, maybe even taking pictures. Well I can't account for every weirdo out there but if it was me you saw behaving that way, I can explain. I was merely looking for inspiration for my newest series, Doggies in Jalopies. These little hellhounds will be showing as part of Less is More, a group show at 111 Minna Gallery. The show opens Friday, April 4th, 5pm- late.

Howl I Get Through??
-The Process

These guys are all done on Claybord. Claybord is basically a scratchboard without the black layer on top. It lets me add ink and paint then scratch, scrape or sand it away wherever I like. Here are some pictures showing my process for working on this addictive surface. 

I start with a basic pencil sketch using a Col-Erase (violet) pencil. Any pencil will do. This is just my favorite. It doesn't smudge or get reflective like graphite can. 

Then I use watered down India ink to add tone. It doesn't look like much because at this stage because I'm just adding a middle tone to work up (or scratch away) from. I would use Dr Ph Martin's Watercolor dyes or maybe watered down acrylics at this point if the piece were to be in color. Trying to color in artwork AFTER the lines have been laid down is a pain and doesn't really work so well. This is the kind of cool stuff you learn by hanging out in Skinner's studio. 

After scratching away at some background elements, I add line work and dark fills with India ink. I have to be careful about timing when I scratch or add ink so I don't scratch away at the work I want to keep. There isn't as much room for changes and improvising like there would be with standard painting. Check out the tail I had forgotten about and added in at this point, over some scratchiness. Those scratches still show through a bit. Oh well.

I keep scratching to create white line details and I add black line work until it is done to my satisfaction. Notice on his muzzle, you can basically erase if necessary. I decided those marks weren't helping. 

Hey! I just saw something I had planned to fix. Oh well, artwork is never finished, just abandoned, right?

Yahoo! Poster Illustration 2014

I was recently asked to illustrate the poster for Yahoo!'s Master Inventor ceremony for the third consecutive year. Yahoo! chocks up a lot of patents. This yearly event recognizes the most innovative software engineers within the company who develop these patentable technologies. This job is a worthy challenge because patents and software engineering isn't as easy to pin down visually as say, a White Stripes show. Plus there's the challenge of getting the likeness of 8-12 engineers who live all over the world. 

For this year's poster, my concept was to do something inspired by 80's electro-pop acts and imagery, specifically, Kraftwerk. The idea was to recall the excitement for computer technology that accompanied this time in musical history. 

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I put together some quick instructions for getting reference photos which were sent out to everyone being recognized. When I got all the photos back I laid them out in Photoshop, trying to keep perspective and their (estimated) heights in mind. 

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Then I Google Image searched "Mens suit," etc. to find dressed up bodies that loosely matched the engineers' bodies and poses. If you're wondering, I think this is fine because I didn't use any specific details of these pics. They just helped me flesh everything out in my mind. Photoshop's distortion tools helped with this step too. 

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Using as many layers of tracing paper as necessary, I drew all the dapper dudes (Yes, women are recognized too. This year, not so much). For a job like this I have to use my lucky pencil, a violet Col-Erase. Yes, I drew hands for no reason. 

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With the pencil drawing done and scanned I created the line art in Adobe Illustrator. I have to say thanks to Clay Butler for his Youtube tutorial on "inking" in Illustrator. Last year's poster was created with real-life ink on illustration board and colored in Photoshop. I went the vector direction this time because the folks at Yahoo! may ask me to re-arrange, or otherwise change the caricatures. Creating the final piece in Illustrator makes changes a lot easier. 

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Under the line art, I added another layer for basic shapes to fill out the suits and create some highlights bringing out the guys faces. Add some basic shapes and titles and Boom! the poster is ready to print. 

Thanks for reading.

Bizarro Sketch Night - A Benefit for Jamie Baker

It's Bizarro Sketch Night!

I've posted a couple times about my friend Jamie Baker. He's one of my best friends and had a tough year. Well, I have rounded up some of our favorite Bay Area artists, cartoonists and animators to give him a boost. Tonight we are all getting together at 111 Minna Gallery to create art with our "Bad Hand." for Bizarro Sketch Night. We will all put aside our egos and make some imperfect art. It will be fun.  

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Digital Live Art

For the last five weeks I've been spending my Saturdays at the Samsung demo booth at Valley Fair mall, Santa Clara. As the Sketch Artist, it was my job to show off the drawing capabilities of the Note 3 and the S Note app by snapping pictures of shoppers and doodling over them. After a few weeks I found that I got a better response from people if I skipped the photo and just drew a caricature.  

Drawing with a stylus on a hand-held devise takes some getting used to, but now that I've found a groove, I think the Note 3 is a nice tool for coming up with loose sketches and color roughs quickly. Also, the auto-sketching features in the Sketch n Draw app is pretty addictive.  

If you have a Samsung devise, you can join the Pen.Up art sharing community and see everything I made. Here are a few of my favorites. 

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Live Art, Live Free

(Rhymes with I've Tart, Give Me)

Well, I'm officially a "Live Artist" now. I'd better update my Resume T-shirt.

What is Live Art? It's really just what I've always done, but faster and in front of an audience. There are a few events coming up where you can get art from me, live on the spot. Oh and its all totally FREE!*

Thursday, December 5th, Goorin Brothers on Haight st.

Goorin Brothers is celebrating the anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition. This Thursday, Dec. 5th, 6-9pm, come out to the Haight street shop (San Francisco) and raise a glass of / to booze. Purchase one of Goorin's fine Heritage Classic hats, or one from my collection, and I will draw a portrait of you in your new hat. And yes, that counts as FREE art. First come first serve! 

Friday, January 17th, The Edwardian Ball, San Francisco

The Edwardian Ball is easily my favorite event of the year. And its coming up this Friday and Saturday, Jan. 17th-18th. 

Friday night I will be drawing portraits of attendees. Yes, buying a ticket for this amazing event and then getting a sketch from me at no additional cost counts a FREE*. 

Saturday night I will be there, dancing and cavorting with my lady.

Check out the Edwardian Ball artwork we put on shot glasses last year. 

 

Saturday(s), December 7th and 14th. 

Do you enjoy my app, Westify but wish I could add ridiculous artwork to your digital photos, instantly and in person? If you are in the South Bay Area on Dec. 7th or 14th, make your way to the Westfield Valley Fair mall and stop by the Samsung demo booth. It's right in the center of the mall, under the food court. I will be there all day, taking pictures on a Note 3 and adding weird doodles to them. Ask what we can print your customized portrait on! 

Also 100% FREE

I have another, very special live art event coming up, but this one deserve it's own post. More info very soon.

Here are some photos from a previous live art event, Ben Walker's Wheel of Wildlife at Zerofriends, San Francisco. 

 

Thanks for reading,

Ben

Hats from the Cutting Room Floor

Yesterday I posted an article about JB skating on my style blog, Grown Ass Geek. It's a short look at a fascinating world that not many people know about. Check out the full article to see How We Roll. Anyway, this reminded me that I had designed a flat-cap inspired by my love for roller-skating and the whole Jamskate/JB Skating scene. This design is one of a few that I presented to Goorin Brothers but didn't make the cut. So now from the cutting room floor, I present the Good Foot.  

I think this would have looked pretty classy out on the rink floor. Wool houndstooth fabric with a winged-skate embroidered on the side, oh man! My favorite detail is the little, faux pocket and pocket square sewn to the back. This is an homage to the folks at skate jams who keep a kerchief or towel in their back pocket to wipe away sweat. 

 

The other design that didn't quite have wheels is the Near and Far, my tribute to automotive innovations of the early 1900s. This was designed to look perfect on anyone currently driving Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Even the underside is remenscent of Chitty's red-spoked wheels. The top panel would be loft leather with my car full of crows printed (or maybe embossed!) on it. 

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Thanks for checking them out!

-Ben

Where Does Art Live, The Hand or Mind?

Where does "Art" come from? Is art something that only comes from years of practicing hand-eye coordination to make perfectly crafted marks, or does it come from our own ideas and the images that hatch in our "inner eye"? In other word:

Does Art come from your Hand or from your Mind?

The short answer is that every artists struggles to bring out what's in their minds, using their hand and the rest of their body to make the most well-crafted marks they can. The images, sculptures, pastries (sure) we make are a result of the relationship between our ideas and our hand. It's a mix between co-operation and a fight taking place between the concepts in our heads and our body's ability to make those ideas a reality.

But what happens when we are injured or our own bodies fail us? If you are snowboarding, fall and shatter your wrist, will you give up making art forever? If you suffer a stroke and can't use your "good" hand anymore, does this stop the ideas and images that form in your mind? They still have to come out somehow, right?

Creativity and its origins is something very hard for us humans to pin down. But I can't believe that the ability to create art just lives in one of our hands like some kind of troll under a bridge. If that hand-troll dies we have to give up on the idea of creating art? It sounds ridiculous because it is ridiculous. I think what makes a person an artist is the fact that they can't stop wanting to bring new things into the world. We will always manage to make our visions happen as best as we are able. When Marquis de Sade was imprisoned and had all his pens and paper taken away, didn't he continue to write with his own blood and poopies?  If you can relate, Congratulations, you are an artist.

Jamie Baker, hard at work at Pixar studios

Jamie Baker, hard at work at Pixar studios

One of my best friends in the world is a hilarious and good natured cartoonist named Jamie Baker. I looked up to him long before he even knew who I was. Over the years we would check in with each other at Comic-con and all those conventions. Eventually the fates brought us together as neighbors, living just a block away from one another here in San Francisco. Last Christmas Jamie suffered a major stroke and lost use of the right side of his body. He is still working through the slow process of recovering use of his "good" hand. In the mean time, Jamie still has funny and charming tales to tell. He is not letting his current physical state close the door on his art and storytelling. So Jamie has been writing and drawing with his left hand, his "Bizarro hand" as he puts it.

This inspires the living shit out of me. None of us really know how long we have to accomplish the things we want to accomplish while we are here. Aside from not knowing when will die, we never know when some huge obstacle could suddenly stand in the way of us creating and contributing to the best of our abilities.

Somebody smarter than me once said, "limitations inspire creativity". What can you do in 5 minutes? What can you draw with this charcoal briquette on the side of a Winnebago? Frankly I find the challenge of getting my ideas out there, drawing something with my "Bizarro hand" (In my case, it's the right) fascinating. And the fact that I can try this out and then go back to drawing with my good hand really points out what a blessing today is for me. 

Alright, Jamie has to draw with his left hand right now. It's OK. He's in good spirits and he's coming up with stuff he never would have touched on if not for his present circumstances. After nearly a year of not seeing Jamie, I recently I had the chance to have dinner with him and his lovely lady, Julia. Like always we told off-color stories and compared notes on all of our current creative projects. Hearing about Jamie's writing projects and seeing his "Bizarro" drawings, I couldn't help but think, "What would my righty drawings look like? Could I still get my ideas on to paper? It's kind of a bad-ass challenge! I wanted to go home and try it.

And then I wanted to see all of my artist friends try it.

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Just for one night, can't we all just let go of our egos, accept the blessing that is our current health, and  see what we can create with our "Bizarro" hands?

Yes, we can.

January 9th, 2014 at 111 Minna Gallery, artists are invited to spend a few hours creating with their "bad" hand. Jamie will be there. I will be there. We will all have to set aside our egos and make some imperfect art. It will be fun.

The artwork we create will be pinned up and auctioned off that night. Did I mention that due to a snafu with Jamie Baker's health benefits, he is now left with over $120,000 in medical bills? All proceeds from Bizarro Sketch Night will go towards making even the tiniest dent in those bills.

I can't think of anyone more deserving of this help than Jamie. I hope you can join us.

If you would like to join us as a Bizarro artist, email me- Ben(at)BenWalkerArt.com

If you would like to have a drink with us and maybe bid on some Bizarro art from some of your favorite artists, please mark your calendars and join us Jan. 9th, 2014 at 111 Minna Gallery (21+), San Francisco.

Thanks for reading! 

Bizarro Sketch Night, A Benefit for Jamie Baker

Hats Off to Me!

This Friday marked the long-awaited release of my line of artist series hats. Produced in collaboration with Goorin Brothers, these three headpieces feature my illustrations and pattern designs.

The flagship hat is the Bestie, a "low profile" flat cap with a hand-drawn herringbone print. Two companion pieces were released as well: A flat-brim, wool baseball cap with my signature Armed Bear representing in embossed leather, and a matching, reversible beanie.

These designs are available at select shops and at Goorin.com. They are produced in very limited numbers (around 200 each).

Big thanks to everyone who came out to the release party at the Haight Street Goorin Bros. store! And be on the lookout for more of my designs, due out in time for Spring 2014.

 

Artist, Josh Ellingson picks up a beanie

Represent!

Represent!

Another happy customer

Me with the inspiration, Amanda Storey 

Announcing! I Am a Grown Ass Geek, You?

I am very excited to announce the official launch of my new style blog,  

Grown Ass Geek

This is a blog about a guy deciding to dress better and look good. I think it adds to a person's success. But I still love Hellboy and Rollerskating to Zapp n' Roger, so.... Learn from my mistakes and discoveries as I go from geek to Grown Ass Geek. 

 

All Ben Walker Apparel, Printed on Demand

Is your Bad Bear T-shirt looking kinda tired? Did you pass on picking up one of my Snake Oil Tees because you needed all your Comic-con cash to purchase a reproduction of The Terminator's arm?  
 
Good News!
 
All of my designs are now available at RedBubble. The quality and price of print-on-demand T-shirts (and hoodies!!) has really improved in the last few years. Remember those heat-pressed shirts that would always have an off-white box around the artwork and could only be printed on white Tees?! Guh. No thanks. But these look and feel great! RedBubble prints on American Apparel. So if you have worn my shirts in the past, these are same quality and fit you're used to.

And since RedBubble only prints the designs as they are ordered, I can play around with all kinds of new T-shirt designs that would have otherwise never left the confines of my sketchbook!  There are a couple new designs available now, like the National Machete Association logo and the new Ceremonial Jackalope Skull. More ridiculous images to come.