New York Times

On Christmas Eve, I received a call from Art Director Peter Morance at the New York Times to do a job for him - actually, two - the first one being due this past Friday. The other piece will run next week. I just got part two of this story so I have to get on it.

The story was about people who have a heart issue called 'a-fib' which can be lethal if not taken care of. You can read the story here:  "With A-Fib Rhythms, Higher Odds of Stroke"

Alien Implantation

"Alien Implantation" | 11"x14" | Mixed

"While she was amused thinking she would have a virgin birth, she started to accept the reality that it was actually an alien implantation."

What can be more beautiful than a pregnant woman...and spaceships? Could it be the Baby Jesus? ;o)

A personal piece I've been thinking about for a while. I've also been thinking about adding more graphite to the final product. It's only something I've toyed with in the past and have been building up the guts to do it in a real way.

I hope everyone has a wonderful and happy holiday and I will see you in 2014!

Vancouver Opera

With Tosca opening this past weekend, I am honored and privileged to present, after nearly a year under wraps, my paintings for the Vancouver Opera. The operas are Tosca, Albert Herring, Don Giovanni and Don Carlo. I would like to thank Doug Tuck and especially designer Annie Mack for making this experience exciting and wonderful. I didn't know much about the opera so I had to take a crash course on it but also study the performances that I was going to work on. After hours of watching DVD's they sent me and getting schooled in the history and meanings from Doug, I dove into the project with a newfound respect and excitement for the artform.

To create a single image from seeing such intense operas is quite daunting. Trying to encapsulate the mood and the subject matter in one image from operas that provide unlimited visuals isn't very easy. I am grateful that Doug and Annie were there to talk out the possibilities of each image and pare it down to one solid piece of art that hits the heart of the piece. It was a wonderfully collaborative effort.

A couple of months ago, there was an added angle to this project when the Vancouver Opera decided to create TV spots for Tosca and Don Giovanni. An animation studio in Vancouver, Giant Ant, did an absolutely stellar job taking my original painting for Tosca from the files I provided them to create a powerful 15 second spot that blew my mind. Don Giovanni will begin production in a few months.

Below are a fraction of the sketches I did for the project. These were the one's that I sent the client.

As you can see, Tosca and Don Carlo were the pieces that we went back and forth a couple of times discussing exactly what they were looking for. I think they felt those two performances were the most important because Tosca is a powerful opera that opens the season and Don Carlo is an elaborate production that the Vancouver Opera hasn't put on in 30+ years. The Albert Herring and Don Giovanni work, they felt I got it right in the first round and selected from these initial sketches.

One of things Annie wanted to do which is different than past posters is include the text right on the art with the art being a separate entity. In the past, the art was either completely separate from the text or composed with the text as part of the art. I initially didn't feel too good about that as I want to compose the art in its proper space and let the designer work out how to deal with text. In this case, there needed to be monstrous space in the art to accommodate the type.

I decided that if this was the case, then I wanted to do the lettering along with it. Annie was excited about that and let me have free reign with the type and listened to some suggestions. You can see in these sketches that I was thinking about the text as I was composing some of the ideas. I was getting a feel for the type of lettering I wanted to do.

Originally, I wanted the text to be a sort of script. Annie and I deduced that we needed to make sure it was legible and we were worried that script would be too problematic so I went with a print-style version. I do wish some of these layouts came to fruition though. The center sketch wth the two eyes in the top row I thought could have been interesting.

Here is a selection of finished drawings that I used for the paintings and a sort of color treatment and layout option for Don Carlo that ended up being a direction that the rest of the posters ended up being designed.

All pretty much stayed the same except for Albert Herring. About a week ago when Annie was finishing up the layouts for the posters which were only just finalized (nearly a year after these sketches), Annie realized that Herring wasn't going to work. So I did some of my digital magic to pull the head and hat off the art and recreate the background to make room for the lettering and information.

Here is the collection of final posters with the final type. I don't think there is too much of a need to show all the lettering studies. In a nutshell, I used pencil, charcoal, ink, ink stopper, chopstick and other 'pens' to write the titles over and over...and over again. When I found two or three for each opera that I felt best convey the opera but that could work collectively together as part of a series, I sent selections to Annie to choose from.

I am extremely pleased with this series and speechless of the honor to be able to create work for the Vancouver Opera. I've already been getting nice notes from folks up in Vancouver who have seen the Tosca posters and advertisements. Good luck to the opera and the new season and thank you again Doug Tuck and Annie Mack for your trust, wisdom and the wonderful experience.

SF Weekly Process Film

Painting the SF Weekly Cover from Scott Bakal on Vimeo.

Recently, I've been able to do a better quality render of the process video I did some time ago for the SF Weekly cover that was housed on the magazine's website. That version is pretty blurry.  It's still soft because it was filmed as a test at a low quality and I really didn't expect it to go public but it is much better overall. If you haven't seen it before, here it is!

Hippie Chic at Boston's MFA

Both when I lived in New York and now starting my fifth year in Boston I am fortunate enough, somewhat by accident, to live near museums. And some pretty good ones. The Boston Museum of Fine Arts or the 'MFA' as it is locally called, is an impressive museum. When I moved here they just started expanding the footprint to add more galleries to show more art. The construction has been done for a few years and the exhibitions have not disappointed.

This is a panorama of one of the new areas at the MFA which contains a restaurant, a Chihuly 'column' which was commissioned by the museum when they had an exhibition of his work here a few years ago and down the stairs to the left or the right is the major special exhibit gallery. I had some lunch here in the cafe area and my main purpose here was to see the Hippie Chic exhibit in another part of the museum. I wanted a quiet day walking around a museum looking at art and thinking. I need that sometimes.

I am not a fashionista but I really enjoy fashion. I was probably more into it when I was in my 20's and being a bit more experimental. I wore weird things every now and again and accessorized with various colored hair. Over time, I just paired down my closet to your basic 'New York' black and blue fashions. Jeans and t-shirts and the like. Being an illustrator and living in the studio more and more over the years, fashion didn't really remain a necessity. I think I am trying to change it now.

This show peaked my interest because I've always loved the 60's era and loved the clothing from the 60's and into the 70's. In the 20th century, it was probably one of the most boldest time for fashion - and initially created by kids - the alterna-counter-culture of the time, it was really experimental. I think that's what I love about it most of all. Unfortunately, much of the fashion in the show is a reaction by high-end fashion designers to what was going on.

The bright colors and patterns I saw reminded me where some of my influences came from with my own art. While I love dark and black - the other side of my brain loves color and different combinations of odd colors. This show certainly fed my head with loads of ideas and thoughts not only about color but fashion and how much I saw the 60's in todays fashions. Patterns, boot cut pants, knee high boots, hair styles - I wonder if people realized that this era is still very much prominent in today's street fashion. At least that's what I see. I've actually noticed that the 80's ideals in fashion are starting to come back more and more. That scares me. ;o)

While the fashion here is a high-end version of what was actually being worn, it still inspired me on many levels with my artwork and other personal projects I work on. The largest inspiring moment for me with this show is the fearlessness to create. This is really some odd clothing. Fun. Expressive. Unapologetic.

Wouldn't we all like to be fearless in our work, whatever it is we do? Our fears hold us back from creating the work we want to - and need to. The fear is simply an insecurity in what others may think about what you end up doing. I say, wear that funky dress or jacket - makes those funky marks and allow the accidents and experiments to flow and expect failure but also expect something new to emerge. I found if I keep this attitude while working, the results are satisfying.

The exhibition is a smallish show and there could be so much more added to the show - but as it is, it's a wonderful peek into what fashion used to be but can certainly be inspiring for the now. And there is a great soundtrack in the gallery while you are there!

Hippie Chic at the MFA.

Lecture at WCSU

I will be giving a lecture to the Masters Program at Western Connecticut State University September 26th. I look forward to meeting and working with all the wonderful artists there for the day!

Creative Quarterly No. 31 + 32

I am honored to have been included in the newest issue(s) of Creative Quarterly. Two works I did for Irene Gallo at Tor.com and a series I did for the United States Air Force were printed.