Saturday, July 31, 2010

artist spotlight: ballookey klugeypop

Once again, it's down to the wire with the Artist Spotlight, but the monthly Q & A is indeed here, with one day left in July to spare. Man oh man is summer zooming on by, huh? Well, enough of the small talk, 'cause I've got a treat of an interview for you, with an artist they call Ballookey Klugeypop. She belongs to the Moleskine Exchange I'm in, she lives in LA and makes some beautiful, dreamlike images. Check it out and enjoy!

1. Q: What first made you want to become an artist and illustrator?

A: I remember exactly the moment. I was in 2nd grade, and this kid next to me drew a horse on notebook paper. Like all girls, I loved horses, but my family was really poor and never had the money to buy posters, books, stickers, pee-chee folders... all those things girls get at that age that have horses on them.

It was a total revelation for me that one could draw one's own horse.

I was like, this guy doesn't even care about horses! It didn't occur to me that it maybe took some study, observation, talent or skill. I just started drawing. And then he laughed at me because my horse's fetlocks were absolutely absurd.

2. Q: How would you describe your style to people?

A: I'm crap at actual drawing, but I'm pretty darn great at graphic design, so I think of my work more as graphic art. Most of the time, rather than setting out to paint or draw something, I think of a THING I want to make and then design it. If that thing requires an illustration of some kind, then I make that illustration, but my usual mode is thinking about the thing.

So, lots of vector art and the inclusion of typography. I make poster art, trading cards, stickers, iPhone wallpaper… Art though? Maybe sometimes.

Oh. I was just proofreading this and I realized that my favorite stuff to create is exactly the sort of colorful ephemera I didn't have as a kid. My dad always did tell me I could make my own!

3. Q: What inspires some of your subject matter?

A: I'm inspired to draw things like that original horse: Things I can't have, or wish I could have. Environments or places that I wish I could be in. I'm always trying to recreate a scene from a dream I just had, re-draw something the way I wish it was, or craft a vignette that I could crawl into. I almost never succeed, but that's usually what I'm thinking of. Lush hillsides, moonlight, and flowers.

4. Q: Any artists or illustrators alive today who make you pay attention?

A: Number one, my friend Lee Bakofsky ( He's the first person I ever met who could actually paint. Works of art. I really love what he does and it's so inspiring to actually know a real person who's an actual artist. I feel embarrassment over my own attempts when I see his stuff, but also he serves as physical proof that humans actually do art. Of course, he's actually gone to art school…but I don't let that keep me from trying.

Jonathan Ball of Poked Studio ( it crept up on me, but one day I realized I had more of his pieces in my house than by any other artist. I love his use of a variety of digital media, and his vector art is a level of complexity that I wish my own were at.

Audrey Kawasaki (, of course. I used to draw figures a lot more than I do now, but I got discouraged by the fact that I would draw a portion of a person and be really happy with it, then I'd try and finish it and end up ruining things. She's had the utterly brilliant idea of only doing the best part. F#@k the rest of it! YES! Why didn't I think of that? Because if I'd done it, the first time someone challenged me as to why my figures had no arms & legs, I would have caved. I would have been embarrassed and decided I was Doing It Wrong.

I love the graphic posters of Michael Paukner ( He makes graphic designs mapping out crackpot theories and wacky mythologies that are SO gorgeous - right alongside some about actual, you know, science!

Tara McPherson (

Buff Monster (

Catalina Estrada (

David Lanham (

d'Holbachie Yoko (

Alberto Cerriteño (

Oh gosh, there's so many. I'm going through my iPhoto album dedicated to other artists, and it's all precious gems.

5. Q: What's your take on the art scene out your way?

A: The what now?

I'm SO not involved in any scene. As far as I'm concerned "the scene" is something I peer at through the Internet. I go to the occasional show where one of my friends is involved, or Crazy 4 Cult because I'm lucky enough to live in the city where it happens. This is the extent of my involvement in the local scene. I have no idea if it's vibrant, frustrating, fraught with controversy, or the land of opportunity with mentors and craftsmen willing to teach you a thing or two.

6. Q: What bugs you most about the art and/or illustration world these days?

A: Oooh, nothing that I'm aware of, but again, it's not something I'm a part of. I'll tell you what I LOVE about it. That any person who wants to can set up shop online and there's no barrier to entry for someone who just wants to share their work with everyone and there's lots of opportunities for them to try and monetize it. I love that I don't have to settle with MAYBE a 99¢ postcard of some obscure artist's work - I can usually buy a nice giclee right from them.

7. Q: Your work is very detailed and looks as if lots of time and energy went into it. How would you describe your own personal working methods?

A: Some pieces are I guess, detailed, but I would say not in comparison to those whose work I admire. I do tend to like my more detailed pieces and I wish my efforts were even more detailed, but alternately, I think I'm a fair hand at a minimal aesthetic.

All of my work comes down to essentially the same method: Get idea, obsess about it for whatever length of time until I get a chance to work on it. Could be hours, could be months. Sketch idea so I don't forget about it. When I have a bit of time, usually on the weekend, hole up in my office and work on it until it's done, or I reach a spot where I feel good enough about the idea to leave it and spend time with my poor husband. I usually work on a piece as much as possible in Adobe Illustrator, but sometimes I finish them in Photoshop if needed. The nice thing about working in the computer is that I never have to be done. I can always go back and re-work something if I feel the inspiration.

None of my work is so detailed that it really impacts how much time it takes. I can just get into a real zen mode with things like that. I put on a Netflick or a Recoil album and just do what needs to be done. By far, more energy and time are wasted by people admiring the problem rather than just buckling down and getting it sorted.

8. Q: Any good books you're reading lately?

A: I'm finding Sherlock Holmes to be surprisingly readable and delightful.

I'm knee deep in the skeptic's trifecta of authors: Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and Carl Sagan. I know they probably aren't everyone's cup of tea, but I unreservedly recommend Sagan's Cosmos, and The Demon Haunted World: Science As A Candle In The Dark to anyone. Sagan's work is such a treasure and joy to read.

I'm also trying to find time to read The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson before I see the movie. I hate seeing movies before I've read the book. And I'm catching up with Neil Gaiman. I didn't get into his work until maybe three or four years ago, which is actually a delight because that means there's a nice backlog to keep me busy for a while.

9. Q: Any grandiose or small plans for the art of Ballookey Klugeypop?

A: Just trying to keep making it. One of the reasons I joined up with Moleskine Exchange was to change up the way I work. I hoped it would challenge me to create new pieces each month and work more in traditional media - making actual things rather than digital files. And if I wasn't 100% happy with the way they turned out in the books then at least I'd have the beginning of an idea for something I could bring into the computer and rework. That's exactly what's happened, so at the moment, I'm working on nearly a dozen spinoff pieces based on Moleskine work. I'm going to have to gather them together and send off prints to everyone who allowed me to experiment in their book! :)

I'm also finding a lot of satisfaction creating graphic posters based on music tracks and albums that I love. I did a series based on Depeche Mode's Violator, that I'm really pleased with and I'm working on a series of Recoil-inspired ones now. The supply of inspiration for this project is endless, and is supremely enjoyable: listening to favorite albums over and over pondering just the right imagery? Yes, please!

10. Q: Ballookey Klugeypop - tell me more about this name, if you could please?

A: My husband says it sounds like Jack Klugman and Iggy Pop had a love child.

Ballookey Klugeypop came from a book I read as a kid. I can't remember much about it except she was a girl who was digging in the dirt with a spoon and possibly found elephants? I only clearly remember her name because my dad spent a maddening but probably character-building amount of time getting me to sound it out instead of just telling me how to say it. So I feel it's been with me a long time, it suits the type of artwork I do, and I guess the book is somewhat obscure because I've never found any reference to it on the Internet.

When I first got onto the Internet in a social way, back in 1994-95, I had the prescience not to use my own name right at first. This didn't stop me from picking up a weirdo stalker online, and since then I've remained reluctant to use my real name in online forums unless I'm really familiar with the crowd. In recent years, companies are increasingly doing searches on current and prospective employee's names to see what they've been up to and it's really NOT my intention to frighten off prospective jobs with my anti-Twilight rhetoric.

I guess what I'm saying is that I have a circle of trust, and the Internet isn't in it, LOL! René Magritte wrote something along the lines of "An object is not so attached to its name that one cannot find for it another one which is more suitable." My real name is not a big secret, just an ungraceful blob of consonants. Ballookey, on the other hand, is fun to say, fun to type, and looks cheerful in just about any font.

Ballookey blogs , Flickrs and has a shop as well!

Friday, July 30, 2010

sketch dump: 7/2010

Q: Why do I draw? A: Because I like to draw.

There are days, however, where drawing is the last thing I want to do, though I think about drawing often. The drawings above are from the DC area sketchbook exchange I belong to. Some were done outdoors in lots of heat, others indoors. I love the book I was working in - perfect, 5.5" x 5.5", square sketchbook with beautifully textured paper, and lots of it. I can't recall the name at the moment but saw a bunch, in different shapes and sizes at a great little arts & crafts shop in Akron, this size for only ten dollars. I also decided to include five of my favorite Splotch Monsters from this month as well. It was a tough choice, having to choose from roughly thirty - my average number every month. One of them is even a collaboration between Kris and I. Can you guess which one it was?

After drawing somewhat consistently now for the past four or five years, I finally feel like I'm actually learning to draw again. I was looking back at some drawings from about four years ago and was surprised I thought they were any good. I ended up throwing most of 'em in the 'ol recycle bin. I remember when I could draw very well, back in college, when we would go three times a week, four hours at a time, not including outside projects. We used lots of charcoal then - a messy but excellent drawing medium. Drawing with pen is a whole other ball game, and it's taking me a while to get it. I know I've said this on my blog before, but it always amazes me how so many people who don't do art think the ink flows magically from talented artist hands onto the paper as a picture perfect image. If only that were the case. Perhaps that is the case with a more practiced hand. I probably should document all the failed attempts - the numerous crinkled up papers, tossed in the bin after a couple of hours at a time trying to get an Illustration Friday prompt right. No, it doesn't sound like much fun at all, this drawing stuff. But part of the fun is that challenge, and knowing that by the end of the project, you have created something that is your very own, from your hands and mind - you made something that you can be proud of and communicated something beyond mere words, be it humorous, serious, happy or sad.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

vegetative state

Kris' mom forwards a lot of jokes our way, via e-mail. Many of them are very funny, including the one below, which I had to post:

Last night my wife and I were sitting in the living room, talking about life... In-between, we talked about the idea of living or dying.

I said to her:

"Dear, never let me live in a vegetative state, totally dependent on machines and liquids from a bottle.
If you see me in that state I want you to disconnect
all the contraptions that are keeping me alive, I'd much rather die."

Then my wife got up from the sofa with this real look of admiration towards me...and proceeded to disconnect the TV, the Cable, the Dish, the DVD, the Computer, the Cell Phone, the iPod, and the Xbox, and then went to the fridge and threw away all my beer!!


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

devo: "that's good", "gates of steel" (live)

Since I've posted a lot about my recent visit to Akron, Ohio, I thought it would only be right to dedicate my next music video and song posts as a double dose of my favorite band from Akron, Devo. Originally, like everyone, I heard "Whip It" as a kid. It got heavy rotation on MTV, when MTV was still good. Still, even as a kid I wasn't too crazy about the band, and probably, like a lot of people wrote them off as gimmicky. Truth is, while their outlandish outfits and theatrics drew attention to the band, it had, at least for me, overshadowed their genius lyrics. "Whip it", for instance was about the conjuring of inner-strength and self determination to get past and rise above any problem that remains an obstacle in life. Devo certainly know something about that, growing up in the Akron, Ohio area in the 60s and 70s and seeing too much human regression and, as band-leader Mark Mothersbaugh put it, "de-evolution" all around. Hence the band's name. One person who got it early on was former Black Flag singer and spoken-word king Henry Rollins, who, as a troubled youth, found strength in Devo's songs. The band went on to gain a strong cult following to this day, and with eighties-style music in full swing again, find themselves once again very much in vogue, with a new album and tour for 2010. Devo could care less about trends though, and have always paved their own paths, while their dedicated fan base have always been supportive. I really didn't fully grasp the power of this seemingly (and many times intentionally) silly band until I heard their live LP, "Now It can Be Told, LIVE at the Hammersmith Palace" played in its entirety one late night, on the radio in 1988. Later that week I bought the cassette and have since worn it out. Above is the video for one of my favorite Devo songs, "That's Good". The video was considered too risque at the time for MTV, though, if anything it's quite silly and a good example of Devo's healthy sense of humor and absurdity. It aged well too! Below is a brief example from their "Now It Can Be Told" live LP - a fist pumping version of "Gates of Steel". Enjoy!

If you want more of this Devo stuff, check out this new little interview with Devo lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh. If you haven't been following the band in a while, you might be surprised at what Mark's been up to these days.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

double love

There are many good and a few not-so-good things about my home, Leesburg, VA. I remember when I moved out here almost a decade ago, I'd occasionally see a little sticker sporting a fox-like symbol on the rear bumpers of some people's cars. I thought, wow, people must really like foxes out here, or perhaps they belonged to some interesting, secret organization. What I discovered is that these people belonged to fox hunt clubs. At first, when I heard about these clubs, I thought it was hilarious. Really, people still do that AND pride themselves on it? Get a life! Well, to each their own, right? Then I learned more about the reality involving the brutality of the "sport" that you will rarely see or read about on the websites for these groups. Seeing these stickers on the backs of cars makes me wonder how anyone could feel good about themselves, partaking in this strange behavior for the sake of some kind of status that no reasonable person could care less about. I'm hoping that eventually people wake up in these parts, let go of this ugly past "tradition" and move on, like they did in the UK, where fox hunting is now considered unethical and banned. Sir Paul McCartney fully backed the ban, saying “When the cruel and unnecessary ‘sport’ of hunting with dogs was banned, I, along with the majority of the British public, backed this historic victory for wildlife. The scenes described in this report of how animals were hunted down and savaged with dogs for fun before the Hunting Act 2004 was passed are simply barbaric and shocking and should remain a part of Britain’s past, not its future.”

I've got no problem with folks getting dressed up and riding their horses around in the country. It's the fox killing that needs to go. It's rare that I've seen a fox in the wild, and unfortunately, it's usually when they're roadkill. To see one, or a family of foxes is a magical site. There's no reason for the lives of these animals to be disturbed and disrupted, especially for such a pointless purpose. There are people who are taking action to ban this repulsive behavior however. In the meantime, the drawing above was loosely based on a photo from the Summer 2010 edition of Defenders of Wildlife magazine.

*made for the Illustration Friday topic "double", mixed media in A4 watercolor Moleskine, 7/2010

things i love about akron, ohio (pt. 5): the good the bad and the ugly

My first impression of Akron, Ohio was pretty grim. Even though we dropped our luggage off at the hotel, and even though I've been there before, thanks to the trusty Garmin and a nonexistent Target, Kris and I found ourselves driving deeper and deeper into unsafe territory. By the time we saw a man stop his car in the middle of a busy intersection to pick up a busted hubcap laying on the road, and especially by the time we passed a building with a big sign reading "Felon For Hire", we knew it was time to turn right back around. Kris was impressed by my ability to spot a crystal meth addict a mile away however. The cozy confines of middle-class suburban living we were not in. Yet, not only a few miles down the road, we found some positive signs of life, with a beautiful university, shops, museums and performance spaces. While I've always been leary of the yuppification of urban environments, it was good to see some balance in this town. I wonder what might happen if the university no longer existed in Akron and thought about all the life it has given what could have been another Detroit. Yuppies, college kids, average Joes, junkies, thuggies, freaks and geeks all made the visit all the more interesting, and I hope to see this town, with a lot of potential, through the arts, education and culture, continue to grow and transform into something even more special than it already is.

See my Akron, Ohio Flickr set for more, and BIGGER views of our visit.

Monday, July 26, 2010

things i love about akron, ohio (pt. 4): akron art museum

Living near the DC area has made me a bit jaded about, and even hesitant to pay a fee to get into an art museum, since the excellent Hirshhorn, National Gallery, Sackler/Freer Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, and many more are part of the Smithsonian Institution, funded by the government and DC taxpayers. My frugality, when it comes to art museums makes sense but is also kind of ridiculous, considering some other great art museums in the DC area and abroad that are well worth the price of admission. I guess, in short, we're spoiled here in the DC area. This is the reason why the Akron Art Museum wasn't on the top of my list as things to see and do, while visiting the area. What drew me in however, was the structure itself - an amazing, award winning work of architecture that is, in itself an absolute work of art. So, being the art-junkie I am, like a bee to honey, I ended my casual photo walk and begrudgingly payed the measly seven dollars admission. As it turns out, that was by far the best seven bucks I spent on our entire visit. The photos here in this post only capture the main entrance and lobby of the museum, since no pictures were allowed in the museum's galleries. I understood this policy and respect it, because I ended up being surprised and delighted by the art on display behind those gallery walls.

I discovered quickly why the Akron Art Museum was world renowned. In addition to housing some major works by some of art's biggest names, there was a ton of great works by lesser-known artists from the Ohio area. It was perhaps the galleries housing works by the local artists that turned out to be my favorite, many of which, to my surprise rivaled the names and works we've come to know and love. In a sense, discovering these works by the likes of Roy E. Wilhelm, Raphael Gleitsmann, and Don Harvey, to name a few, was like stumbling upon a room full of hidden treasures. Their current rotation of new exhibits was nothing short of breathtaking. The film installation, "True North", by Issac Julien was like watching a beautiful, mysterious dream unfold, and with the extremely hot weather of late, was refreshing to view. The visuals and sound were truly sublime. Then there was the eye-opener photo exhibit, "Detroit Disassembled" from Andrew Moore. Much like Edward Burtynsky's "Oil" exhibit from last October at the Corcoran, DC, Moore's photos were monumental in scale and simultaneously beautiful and unsettling. Seeing these photos set off alarms in my head, which could be one of the motives behind this thorough, unflinching document of a dying city. The book for this exhibit, which ran for fifty dollars, was sold out unfortunately.

So, once again, little Akron, Ohio surprised me with this world class museum. Once again, the best seven bucks I spent in a long time, and it was only a short walk down the street from the Quaker Square Inn. Don't pass this place up if you're in or around the area.