The Inner-Spring Workings of a Killer

Conversation Gone Awry: Dinner With the Youngest/Vocabulary Skills Edition:

“So how was school today?
“OK. We talked about a lot of stuff in Technology.”
“Like what?”
“Do you know what ‘patricide’ is?”
“I’m not certain that I like where this is headed.”
“It’s when you kill your Dad.”
“You want dessert? Maybe a car?”
“…and there’s matricide.”
“Or mattress-cide. But that takes a lot of planning and upper body strength. I mean you can’t be too covert carrying around a California King… or better, a QUEEN-SIZE, and then snuffing someone with it, and running away. That would really confuse the cops, though. ‘Detective, we’re stumped. All of these victims appear to have been suffocated by something heavy, but soft.'”
“OOH! ‘But they look comfortable. No pressure points.'”
“Yes! We need an ’80’s cop one-liner… ‘I guess his sleep-number came up.'”
“‘The best AND worst night’s sleep EVER.'”
“BETTER: There’s a copy-cat murderer who is dragging around an old Craftmatic Adjustable bed. He gets caught quickly, though. Those are heavy, I’d imagine.”
“Why not just use a pillow?”
“This guy is too crafty for that. He tailors the mattress to the victim. ‘This bastard here… He’s getting futon-ed.’ Maybe his grand finale is dropping a sleeper sofa from a roof…”
“You’re weird, Dad.”


The New Wave of Chick Flicks

Oh, Hollywood, when will you learn?

NO ONE wants to see a classic movie like Ghostbusters ruined by changing it all up to become some all-woman buddy movie, as evidenced by the deafening silence in theaters. You re-make, re-launch and re-define everything until the life is sucked from it time and again, and we the viewing public take the brunt of the abuse.

I’d suggest pulling out of these cluster-fucks once and for all, and not subjecting us to any more “creative” torture. Please don’t even consider casting Tina Fey, Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy and Jennifer Lawrence in Band of Sisters. Or thinking along that line,  Rosie O’Donnell as Henrietta Hill in Goodsisters, or skipping ahead into The Godmother: Part II starring Angelina Jolie. Dirty Harriet starring Sandra Locke, or Kate Beckinsale in the relaunch of Lethal (But Stylish!) Weapon. Jennifer Garner and Janeane Garofalo in a comic team-up relaunch of the Charles Bronson Death Wish series (could even go all wicked witch/fairy princess-like and make it about a fantasy wish of death OR an empowering film about a female extreme sports junkie in true Hollywood bullshit fashion), or a Smokey and the Bandit relaunch with Sandra Bullock and Catherine Zeta-Jones and Queen Latifah (with Lena Dunham and Gabourey Sidibe as a mixed-race, plus-size, same-sex cop duo)… Or dare you cross the line into sacred territory and completely ruin Caddyshack by making it a feel-good, all-female Summer romp starring Jodie Foster, Jane Lynch, Meredith Baxter and Sara Gilbert, in which the main plot centers around liberal talking points and female empowerment, set against the backdrop of the Bush Presidency. The Diva Dozen could be an ensemble musical which is anchored by the return to the big screen of Lindsay Lohan, while the more eco-sensitive classic chase scene from Bullitt could have a bio diesel-powered Volvo pitted against a Prius, but filmed somewhere relatively flat, like Kate Hudson.

Again, Hollywood, these are not pitches. It’s time to go home and rethink some things. What do you say?

Laying it Out There

Far be it for me to dump on a dream, but no matter how good the food or service or atmosphere, I’d imagine that the hardest part of opening your own artisanal grilled cheese sandwich restaurant would be realizing that you’d never really have any “regular” customers.

A Forgotten Pioneer

I am appalled at Google’s lack of a doodle celebrating the birth of one of history’s finest inventors on this, the fourteenth of July. Not even a simple tip of the Silly Boobs Trucker Hat could be posted to honor Richard “Kewpie Dick” Delahanty, inventor of the aforementioned head wear, the “Junk Drawer Thing-a-Matron 1000” (shown here), and the ubiquitous Banana Seat.

Little is known about his early years, excepting for a rumor that he was the orphaned, unplanned child produced as the result of a tryst between Bella Lugosi and Frida Kahlo. Raised in the basement of a radio repair shop by Romanian immigrants, he learned to speak English by listening to Abbott and Costello, and taught himself to read by using discarded telephone directories, which granted him an encyclopedic knowledge of the city’s inhabitants.

A love for technology and puns drove him to create such wonders as the Alligator, Suede, Leather and Snake Turtleneck Shirt (better known as the “Four-Skin Longsleeve”), a super-absorbent raft/submarine combo called the “Tampoon River Rider,” and a harness for people who enjoy having their legs humped by small dogs, the “Shin-Too,” in addition to the marvels mentioned in the opening. An eccentric in his later years, he collected and arranged Bazooka Joe bubblegum comics into epic tales of adventure, but sadly his life’s work was burned to the ground following an unfortunate incident involving a sparkler and flatulence display, attributed to his heavy drinking and strict diet of bean-based foods. He died of a priapism when he mistook a bag of small pills found behind a pharmaceutical test lab for ice cream sundae sprinkles.

My Hatred Has Spared Dozens, Perhaps More

Say what you will about “hate never solving anything,” but my hatred for Brussels sprouts has spared me many an unpleasant meal, and those around me many an unpleasant digestive aftermath. I’m a giver, after all.

The floor is yours, hippie.


Sit back and enjoy another “Conversation Borne of Extreme Misunderstanding of Terms and Conditions” or “Brian’s Wishful Thinking, A Ride Through Old Town on a Holiday Weekend” Edition:

“Look at that, will you? ‘Greatest Furniture Sale!’ That’s some lofty expectation.”
“What are you talking about?”
“The sign stretched across the street with the huge red letters proclaiming GREATEST FURNITURE SALE! and then repeated on every pane of glass on their facade. That’s some self-assurance, sale-wise. Good on them.”
“Maybe it’s in some proportion to the other stores right here in the neighborhood.”
“They’re the only furniture store in the neighborhood. That’s almost defeatist if you see it like that. We went from sixty to zero with that kind of local thinking.”
“What if it IS the greatest furniture sale then? What if you went in there and were amazed by it? Like the sort of a sale that becomes etched into the history of the town, eclipsing even the importance of the holiday weekend it was held.”
“Maybe they give you a blowjob.”
“That would be great. I’ll take the sofa!”
“Sir, this purchase includes fellatio. Would you like that now or…? And the sales guy is holding the intercom all ready to page someone over for ‘assistance’ and some customer is all deep in thought like ‘Oh! I could do this now OR maybe at delivery, but this stuff looks heavy, and what if they outsource delivery and some burly dudes show up all like ‘No overtime this week, so I’ll be providing the perk included with your purchase’ and that would be bad, so he’s all like ‘Honey, wait here,’ and then gives a thumbs-up to the sales guy and he pages ‘Destiny to End Tables. Destiny, End Tables for Greatest Sale promotional assistance, please!’ ”
“You’re implying that only men buy furniture.”
“This store IS in the ‘Heritage District.’ Also, you can’t really give a woman a blowjob. The fine print probably states this clearly. OK, in this new world order bullshit, maybe. Like Bruce Jenner buys a nice armoire and settee and…”
“…and we’re done with this conversation.”

Getting Technique-cal

Pencils to pixels

Over the past few months, I’ve been plotting and planning a video tutorial series, and getting that rolling. Wanting to make it as in-depth and as close to real-time as possible, it’s become a monster indeed.

The plan has been simple: Show the workflow, the art, the technique an all of the warts and whatnots that go into creating a rendering or illustration the “Problem Child Kustoms Way.” Suffice to say, it’s been a ton of work thus far, but very rewarding and eye-opening for me, both from a technical standpoint and as an artist. I’ve realized many key things about my work, as well as just how often I let a few f-bombs fly. Crazy how that can go.

how to render in adobe illustrator

I thought that it might be fun to show a few in-the-moment screen grabs from a couple of pieces here, as they represent a lot of what goes into these works. There’s a ton of hidden stuff and work involved in making vector art look like, well, not vector art. Not that the purpose of my technique or approach begins and ends with that in any respect… I enjoy the fact that I can use a program like Adobe Illustrator to continue creating, even after my hands have given out as they have. It’s a mater of holding on to the style I had developed before going digital, and the incredible tools afforded by the software to push it that next step. A melding of man, will and machine… Funny how those can come together so organically, while often being thought of as being so different.

Some pieces like this big rig tend to get very involved. While working on a segment highlighting graphics and paint, this particular illustration spent a ton of time under the microscope, not only for its very involved process, but because I had to make vector paths appear more like candy paint, with all sorts of transparent and translucent qualities, reflecting and refracting light. Fun times…


…and how it all comes together:


I had taken some time as well to show how to create realistic reflections using only the pen tool in Illustrator, which offers a lot of control when altering reality just a bit:

Reflections in Illustrator

And, of course, rendering from paper and pencil all the way through to digital:


…covering glass, paint, shading and more using only the pen tool in Illustrator (no gradient meshes, brushes or presets… Just hands-on dirty work).

vector rendering

Look for more soon, and be sure to check out my website at for more tutorials and sneak peeks. Thanks for looking in, and feel free to hit me with any questions, comments, suggestions…

Cropping With Ockham’s Razor

To be remembered one day is an unspoken desire of most people. It’s one of those little motivating factors that drive us to chase a dream of creating things, be it art or music or prose. After all, why throw it at the wall if you don’t want it to stick, or at least leave a mark, right? And if you couldn’t care less about that as an artist, you can rest assured that at least SOMEONE out there does, judging from the number of magazines and blogs and television shows that exist solely to document these works.
A late-night thinking binge took me down the rabbit hole, considering that today’s artists will be remembered or even rediscovered in quite a different fashion from those who came before. What’s odd is that instead of learning about me in libraries or museums, someone will find my life’s work via some internet search, scattered among loosely-related images and links chosen by some algorithm. A life I stumbled into, stumbled upon via a search routine designed to guide some randomly-chosen whim, and forgotten the instant that their search leads them down another rabbit hole.
It’s all very fleeting in nature, and I’m only just discovering the beauty in that with reference to reinventing one’s self; although there exists the possibility of such digital cataloging to create a whole other picture of oneself that stands in stark contrast to the that which we’d like to be remembered.
That said, I find it logical to believe the most successful artists of the future will ply their craft not so much in creating images, but managing their image. Live by the blade of the internet or die by underestimating its sharpness. Funny how that all works out.

Father’s Day in Perspective

A few thoughts on Father’s Day, if you don’t mind…
I have been blessed with one of the Good Ones. I’ve known a few people over the years who weren’t so lucky. Perhaps they lost their Dad early in life due to health-related incidents or an accident, or maybe the guy just didn’t stick around. Life can be pretty cruel like that, and my heart goes out to all of you who may be without your Father today.
I have been fortunate to still have mine around, and he’s close by. That’s awesome, and something I didn’t think too much about when I lived across the street from him (and you thought my life was like a sit-com in OTHER respects? You don’t know the half of it), or even when I lived under the roof that he and my Mom worked so hard to keep overhead. When I lost my Mom, I gained a new perspective on my father, and learned a lot about picking up the pieces and moving on, but still paying respect to those you lose. And hat perspective fit neatly into all of the lessons he’s taught me over the years, strengthening values and giving me a great foundation upon which to build the three young men that I’ve been blessed to be a a Dad to. And hopefully those guys go out and do likewise when the time comes for them to have children, with the added benefit of more colorful language and cool techniques for throwing phones and pencils. Scratch that last bit.
My father has been my number one fan, pushing me through dark times when my hands weren’t (and AREN’T) quite working right, and getting me to see things as they are, not some deary vision I tend to cloak over things from time to time. Perspective. There it is again. The man knows how to view things realistically, yet optimistically. While I tend to lean toward pessimism, I do often give pause to what he’d take from a given situation, and find myself calling on him for advice quite often to this day. He’s saved a lot of people some dental work, listening to and diffusing me when needed.
The man gave me a sense of the absurd, an appreciation for dry humor and fart jokes alike, and the knowledge of when to employ each. He’s taught me to go into a fight prepared, and when to act dumb enough to get away with something, or use that to lower and adversary’s guard… But to always fight fair, and even to fight only as a last resort. It’s not about winning for the sake of winning. Keeping things in perspective. I see a theme here.
I’m not proud that there are times when I get so busy that I’m short with him. I’m coming to realize that nothing in life is worth that, and if you haven’t yet done likewise, take pause and do so now. I’m lucky to have great advice, moral support or a dirty joke just a phone call or few miles down the road, and thank God that I’ve grown up just enough to know what that is worth. Perspective again.
That said, with Father’s Day coming up, you now know who to blame for this mess that is me… And that’s a beautiful thing, because if you see the both of us in one place, you can’t say that you haven’t been warned.
A Happy Father’s Day to all of you out there who have taken on the job of putting things into perspective for your kids, or who are gaining some from your own Dad presently, or even reflecting on that which he left behind for you.

“Survivor” Sounds Like a Stretch

The Ted Kennedy Collection promises to be a huge draw at next January’s Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale auction…

(cue rim-shot)

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