Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Half of Volume One Online!

The last few months have marked a turning point for Isness. It finally has a living, growing presence in its temporary online platform.

I finally found the time to construct a monster jello mold for the upcoming cooking section. The idea behind it, is to allow my "domestic goddess", Nanna, to have a section in each volume where she can display her flamboyant post-apocalyptic/mid-century recipes. Her first featured creation is a giant jello mold, made from long-shelf-life products.
Jello mold inspiration from vintage magazines and blogs such as...
My search for an experienced helping had, brought me to The Jello Mold Mistress of Brooklyn Victoria Belanger, and I was delighted when she agreed to step up to the challenge. The process took two days, one for making the individual molds and another, after 24 hours of setting, to stack them, add finishing touches and shoot. It was pretty intense work and I was impressed with Victoria's ability to orchestrate all the complex measuring and timing involved.

Victoria Belanger, The Jello Mold Mistress of Brooklyn, with our completed creation
A first draft of the composite, as it will appear in this volume

This past summer's productivity was also enhanced by two talented, smart, and very personable interns from RISD. Julia Rosenfeld and Alec Stewart joined me and advanced graphics, Photoshop and illustration work. Alec focused among other things, on font design needed for the many mock-advertisements, taking logos and altering them while retaining their general look. Julia helped with Photoshop compositing and illustrated portions of a board game coming up in the children's activity section. 
Alec Stewart & Julia Rosenfeld doing great work and goofing around 

One of the tasks Alec worked on was drawing the architectural plan of the barracks-turned-home.
These will return in each volume. Each time a different room will be encircled on the floor plan and featured as an interior design spread, see example below.

Julia worked on many Photoshop images but also did some explorative illustration work for a gameboard spread, coming up later this volume, as a "children's activity".

I finally finished a very large, complex composite, placing the island diorama in the ocean. 
The raw diorama (about 10" long)

...and in the polluted, ocean off the Pacific coast, where the story takes place.

My latest page installment ends at page 114 where the fourth out of seven characters is revealed, torso first. Hunter is the oldest brother and we run into him while he's hunting on the far side of the island. Hunter carries more archetypes throughout the novel than any other character, but when we first meet him, he's in his... well, "Hunter" mode.

Some of the many garments I had Lee try on before we settled on the belt contraption.
Test shots were taken in B&W because we were planning on a B&W project...
Volume one is mostly exposition, setting the stage and introducing the characters and their predicaments. There are many hints at things to come: Objects that play a growing role as the story unfolds and dialog that plants seeds for developments ahead.

I hope that by next time I update this blog, the whole volume will be online and I'll be busy seeking a publisher and laying out Volume Two.

Thanks for stopping by,

& happy, healthy upcoming holiday season!



Sunday, June 21, 2015

Up and Running!

I'm delighted that I can finally invite viewers into the first pages of Isness. At the time of this post I have about 43 pages up and there are many more to come (page count for volume One fluctuates around 200+). It's going to be a busy summer as I race to get at least 10 more pages up every Sunday night.

The early pages, and in a way this entire volume, are an introduction to the characters, their predicaments and certainly to the particular language of this novel. Things that don't make sense yet, will come together later on as the plot thickens.

Stick around!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


Very infrequent posts means that my work goes mostly into the project itself. This is how I convince myself, and hopefully you, that a sparse blog is a good thing, in my case anyway.
It's been very busy for Isness the last few months and will get even busier in the next few, as I brace myself for finally presenting Volume one online. This is one year later than I recently thought, and four years later than I initially planned when I started the project.

Below is the cover, which minus a few tweakings is pretty much done and ready.

 Isness has 8 volumes. They are designed as issues of a magazine, including advertisements, activities and visual articles about cooking and fashion.

Although I've been preparing Isness for print and have been spending a lot of time figuring out paper weight and "signatures" and "paginations" (yes, I didn't know these print terms either when I started) I never intended to self publish and would rather wait and seek out a publishing partner as I continue to work. Meanwhile people can read Volume One online, get acquainted with the characters and the format and I will have a place to direct potential publishers to, instead of printing very expensive mock-ups that may end up in the dust bin.

For this type of work, which is supposed to provide that tactile, retro experience of a magazine, online publishing is a temporary compromise. The "real deal" will have pages of different textures, gatefolds and things you can cut out like paper puzzles.

The original campbell's soup ad followed by my post-apocalyptic version, made with miniatures and quinoa seeds instead of beans.

Another aspect I've been wrapping up is the landscape diorama. After years of having the large 4'x8' diorama take up the larger portion of my studio, i have begun to dismantle it. Every possible photo of this abandoned military outpost has been taken or will be taken in the next few months. Destroying it is both sad and cathartic. As the layers are exposed, I recall the long process of turning a mound of crumpled newspapers and plaster into an imaginary home base for my characters.



The little island-diorama, however, will not be destroyed any time soon and in fact it just got an extension and a tarmac as I realized that this is how these pacific military islands were used. My research of the era is not very thorough but I do try to avoid glaring, unnecessary inaccuracies. So tarmac it is.

 The new tarmac (and snow cap!)

Testing the new addition with the surrounding ocean added.

In a couple of weeks I will be joined by two talented interns from RISD who will assist me this summer in the effort to round up all loose ends for Volume One. After a couple of semesters scrambling to pay interns a minimum wage I realized that I just couldn't pull it off anymore. As good as my intentions are, I'm an artist who's been hemorrhaging money on this project daily for many years and cannot afford to pay. For this reason I am terribly thrilled to still have fantastic people come on board and I make it a priority to address their creative interests and do a lot of teaching as we work!

So stand by to read Volume One very soon. I'll make a big splash about it on Isness FB page when it happens!

All sorts of other updates will be on Isness Kickstarter Timeline too!


Happy Summer!