The Ruffled Crow

Animation, Art, and Other Shiny Things

Tag Archives: Art

Vikram Madan – Seattle Artist

just be yourself lil reaper vikram madan

Lil’ Grim Reaper. Who knew Death Itself could be so cute?

I don’t recall where on the internets I came across the Lil’ Grim Reaper, but I recognized it immediately when I read an article on local Seattle artist Vikram Madan. I also recognized one of his Mini-Murals I’d seen on the back of a street sign here in Seattle.

To describe his work as whimsical is correct, however would be off by a magnitude or three. Mr Madan’s work makes you want to invite the monster under the bed and the skeletons in your closet out for a spot of tea and a heart to heart chat.

invasion of the happy dancing robots

Happy Dancing Robots. Probably my favorite of Mr Madan’s work.

Granted, some of the character models do remind me a bit of the “Love is…” comics of the 1970s, but the situations and stylish rendering absolves all. And Mr Madan really pushes the limits of his style, including in materials and venues.

One of those venues is Public Art. Park murals, utility boxes, poles and pianos. Even the edge of the stairs to a dance studio. Mr Madan has brightened up a lot of things and places around the greater-Seattle area.

Attack of the Space Needles. Fell in love with it and picked up this print. I will never look at the Needle the same way again, and I see it almost every day.

I have a love for street art. In planning for my upcoming trip to the UK this summer, I’ve got a full day in Bristol (home of Banksy) and a half-day scouting London’s street art. Mr Madan’s public art is a great addition to Seattle’s flourishing art culture.

Mr Madan’s public stuff is close enough to me that I can just stop by when I’m in the area and cover them all pretty easily after a fashion. I’m looking forward to it.

To learn more about Seattle artist Vikram Madan, check out the great article by Lisa Edge over at RealChange, or stop off at Mr Madan’s website. If you do that, I warn you, expect to spend some time. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Philippe Druillet

druillet lone sloan cover

Cover art for The 6 Voyages of Lone Sloan

Philippe Druillet [english link] spent his childhood in Catalonia on the Iberian peninsula of Spain, moving back to France when he was eight. Beginning his artistic career as a photographer, he didn’t start selling his drawings until he was 22 and soon took his most famous character Lone Sloan to the French comic magazine Pilote.

Pilote also introduced us to Uderzo and Goscinny‘s Asterix and several artists that I came to know from the pages of Heavy Metal magazine including Moebius and Bilal.

Like Moebius, Druillet is another of the founders of Les Humanoïdes Associés that subsequently published Métal Hurlant and it’s American sister mag, Heavy Metal. Also like Moebius, Druillet’s work showed up a lot in the early issues.

Druillet Ouro3 173 May 1978 HM Cover

Cover Art for Heavy Metal’s May 1978 Issue

His stories can be somewhat inscrutable; many of his panels might have no text or dialogue and then one will have a large text box full of tightly-packed words.

Story aside, what I’ve always loved about his stuff has been the mingling of eastern, art deco, and art noveau complexities all with a savage, martial demeanor. Rather than small-scene windows into the story, Mr Druillet’s art is wide-angle and complex often given to huge vistas and grand architecture. It’s also not uncommon for his characters to be biomechanoid in some fashion, and his architecture to be rather organic – something akin to HR Giger’s work.

Here are just a few of my more favorite illustrations of his:


From Druillet’s illustration of Michael Moorcock’s Saga of Elric the Necromancer

druillet fire




HR Giger

Hans Rudolf Giger died yesterday from complications arising from a fall. He was 74 years old.

Emerson, Lake, and Palmer - Brain Salad Surgery album art.

Emerson, Lake, and Palmer – Brain Salad Surgery album art.

The first time I saw the art of HR Giger, I didn’t know it. It was the cover of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer’s Brain Salad Surgery album. Even though it was about their best album, I liked the cover better.

The next time was on the cover and in the pages of Heavy Metal Magazine. The June 1980 issue, to be precise. HM had been running ads for Giger’s Necronomicon for a while, but that issue had a full spread of his art.

I don’t think I need to say much about his work in Alien (and other movies) and his subsequent success except to mention the Oscar he won for the movie and his induction into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 2013.

Thankfully there is a HR Giger Museum in Gruyères, Switzerland and, even better, the website has an online virtual tour. Worth the ‘walk’.

June 80 issue with the HR Giger gallery. Made me a lifelong HM fan.

June 80 issue with the HR Giger gallery. Made me a lifelong HM fan.

His ‘Biomechanoids’ were both unsettling and sensuous, mixing death and eroticism. Giger’s art reached into our little Freudian souls and dragged out hidden fantasies, bloody and wriggling.

His most distinctive stylistic innovation was that of a representation of human bodies and machines in a cold, interconnected relationship, he described as “biomechanical”. His main influences were painters Ernst Fuchs and Salvador Dalí. He met Salvador Dalí, to whom he was introduced by painter Robert Venosa. He was also a personal friend of Timothy Learyvia

The art world lost a genuine surrealistic master in H R Giger.

Here are some of my favorites of his.

Necronom IV - The inspiration for the Alien

Necronom IV – The inspiration for the Alien

Alien Pilot

Alien Pilot

Dune IV - artwork from an unproduced Dune movie (Frank Herbert)

Dune IV – artwork from an unproduced Dune movie (Frank Herbert)

The Spell IV from Giger's Necronomicon

The Spell IV from Giger’s Necronomicon

Landscape XIX

Landscape XIX

Alien artwork, 1977

Alien artwork, 1977

Star Wars Watercolors – Terry Cook

Unlike the re-imaginings of Star Wars characters in old world Japan that I’ve posted, Terry Cook went the fine art route and painted them in watercolor. And I do mean ‘fine art’ as the artist has rendered these portraits skillfully enough to rate display on the best wall of any home or gallery.

Darth Vader

Grand Moff Tarkin – an often overlooked character

Boba Fett

Master Yoda

Imperial Storm Trooper

C3PO and R2D2

You can find all 11 prints at Terry Cook’s website.

Star Wars Samurai – Classic Ukiyo-e

In a re-imagining akin to the Chris Felker art I posted a couple weeks ago, New York graphic artist Steve Bialik created a series of Ukiyo-e-style (浮世絵 “pictures of the floating world”) prints of Star Wars characters.

You can find more of Mr Bialik’s work at his blog STEVAPALOOZA!

Darth Vader

Jabba the Hutt

Boba Fett


More of this series under the fold. Read more of this post

Maneki Neko, The Beckoning Cat

Gotoku-ji Cemetary watercolor by Mister Kha

The legends surrounding Maneki Neko are many and varied. The bones of the old narratives appear placeable in history, but much that wraps them have their roots in Japanese folklore and tradition. (as well as occasional, simple, voracity)

The legend I prefer takes place during a dark and stormy night at a monastery near Edo, Japan (now Tokyo) in the year 1615.

Gotoku-ji temple was very poor. The monk had barely enough food for himself and a cat he had taken in, Tama, but he made do, tending the monastery and following his path as best he could.

Ii Naotaka

Ii Naotaka

After splitting  a particularly meager meal, the monk said to Tama, “Your companionship means much to me, but I can not assure you a good meal. You should not starve with me, but find yourself a home worthy of your company.” The cat, of course, did not reply, but went to sit in a window of the temple as cats are wont to do.

Outside in the rain, Ii Naotaka, second son of Ii Naomasa, hereditary owner of Hikone Castle, was returning from the Battle of Tennōji. With the storm worsening, Ii Naotaka and his men took refuge beneath a tree. Looking around he saw the cat in the monastery window. It’s paw raised, the cat seemed to be beckoning the Daimyo to take shelter in the small temple. As he approached the monastery, lightening stabbed down and split the tree that he had just been standing beside. He surely would have been killed had he remained by the tree.

The urn purported to contain the ashes of Tama (Gotoku-ji Temple)

Welcomed in, Ii Naotaka found the old priest to be wise and kind and devoted to his path and his companion Tama. To repay the cat and priest for saving his life he became Gotoku-ji temple’s patron. When Tama died, the cat was given a place of honor in the temple cemetery, where many important members of the Ii family are also buried, and the first Maneki Neko statue was created in his memory.

Today, Gotoku-ji temple is still open for worship and attracts visitors from all over the world.

But the story of Maneki Neko is far from over. Read more of this post

Jean Giraud aka Moebius

Today’s extra post is to mark the sad occasion of Jean Giraud’s passing.

From Inside Moebius – a self-portrait surrounded by some of his characters

Born in Paris in 1938 his artwork really began impacting the comic market in the 1960’s and has been compared to the Nouveau Réalisme (new realism) style becoming popular at the time. In 1963 he adopted the pseudonym Moebius (english link) for his sci-fi work and just over a decade later, along with Dionnet, Farkas, and Druillet, (a couple other artists i’m a huge fan of) founded the French magazine Metal Hurlant which we know and love here in the US as Heavy Metal. (here’s a link to my post about HM mag)

Metal Hurlant issue 1 cover

It was his art and stories that hooked me and started my 30-plus year love affair with Heavy Metal magazine. (Druillet’s art helped alot, but his stories were a bit more avant-gard and hard to follow)

Moebius was pretty prolific and also created art for Marvel comics and various films over his over half-century career. For me, his two most important works were the Arzach and The Airtight Garage art.

While I’m certainly saddened at his demise, I truly appreciate his contributions to the art and comic world. Here are just a few of his wonderful illustrations.

The Hunter

The Airtight Garage


Heavy Metal Moebius cover. I probably have this one packed away with my old HM issues

Poster for his ‘Multiple(s)’ exhibition. I think this is a good example of how his style incorporated Art Deco and Nouveau styles to brilliant effect


An evening with “Moebius” moderated by Animation Director John Musker was an exclusive special event held at the CTN animation eXpo Nov 20, 2010. For more information about this session visit:

Birds on Paper – Paula Swisher

Birds on Paper is a series of drawings by Paula Swisher. While the title is technically correct, the ‘Paper’ part doesn’t fully describe the medium. The paper is the pages of textbooks, preferably ones with graphs.

We’ve all doodled in the margins, maybe even “enhanced” a picture, but Ms Swisher’s work takes it up a notch.

Reminiscent of natural history text illustrations, it feels appropriate, especially as the figure often takes cues from the page it’s drawn upon.

Paula Swisher is currently a professor of Communication Design at Kutztown University […] She enjoys straddling the two worlds of the creative and the technical. The hand-drawn mark, grid-based design, and info graphics are all things that keep her excited.


She has a few different collections and collaborations up at her website, but Birds is my favorite.

S is for Sparrow

Blue Ink Pen Implementation

Silhouette Juxtaposition

The Normal Cardinal

More of Paula Swisher’s work at

Currently Historical – Andrew Pinkham

There are many a photographer’s nightmare and horrific pictorial evidence that describe the Family Portrait. It’s unfortunate that even the animals that share our life and home are not spared the indignity.

Enter Andrew Pinkham.

This ongoing project not only draws on my technical knowledge, but also on my childhood influences. Painters such as George Stubbs and John James Audubon impacted my work in a big way. These historic influences are offset by my modern day means of fabrication. These photographic portraits are mostly done on location with minimal post production work afterwards. I want to challenge beliefs of what we think of as historical or authentic, whether it was made yesterday or hundreds of years ago. To blur the lines of time and to engage the viewer in how we interpret history itself.

His portraits evoke the rich, dusty stillness found in old photographs and turn-of-the-last-century textbook illustrations. This isn’t simply antique tinting the picture, by any stretch.

Taco and Hoagy

Taco and Hoagy

While there is certainly some color work done to mimic film chromatics of a time and the aging since, Mr Pinkham also pays close attention to the setting, lighting, and focus we instinctively recognize as from another era.

Deep-scene painted backdrops, perhaps the subject is lit just a little too brightly, perspective is just a tad off kilter. The details perfect an image out of time.

What is particularly compelling is his choice of subject in this recent series of portraits; animals.

He has given human-subjected photographs the same treatment to nice effect, but they just don’t quite have the other-time-ness the animal series does to my eye.

You can see more of this series at Andrew Pinkham Photography or visit Mr Pinkham’s blog for an excellent overview of his work.

(yes, that was a dog picture. an unusual occurrence, i know, but don’t let it throw you. here’s an extra cat, if that’ll help)


Little Panels of Macabre – John Kenn

John Kenn is a Danish kid’s TV writer/director when he’s not parenting his own set of twins. In whatever spaces of time that are occasionally and accidentally left over he is also an artist of little panels of Gorey-esque macabre.

I can just hear my Mom saying "See? They're more scared of you than you are of them"

My favorite:

I wish this were me under the bridge. Unfortunately, many of life's monsters still end up finding me...

One of his latest:

This is certainly from the realm of fantasy - every parent knows that the monster is *inside* the pram

If the art itself isn’t cool enough for the heathens among you then I should probably mention that his canvas’ are Post-It Notes. Yep, office supplies…

Mr Kenn shares about a handful of drawings per month and his website has sketches going back almost three years. Make sure you have a good hour or more when you visit for the first time, you’ll want to get through the whole gallery…

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