It’s a big data world


April Montgomery at Computerworld Magazine is one of my favorite art directors and we have worked together for many years. She is one of the more collaborative Art Directors I work for and the project often morphs into something bigger depending on how the sketches work with her design. It often feels like improvisation working with April.

The above illustration was a sample she had seen and by coincidence it was the perfect metaphor for a feature she had about big data. April didn’t have available copy, but asked for ideas which could relate to big data. As the articles came in, many of the ideas made it to finals and the original illustration morphed into a spread. Much thanks to April for the collaboration.

Sometimes it seems like I get paid to have fun.

Here’s the additional spots based upon the main art:





Sketches exploring big data for potential spots:


And here’s a few of the spreads:






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Nautilus issue 28: The Year 2050

nautilus-2050-birds2Website Cover, Table of contents for Nautilus.


nautilus: 2050 treeThe year 2050 for Nautilus.


Nautilus_TOC_YangPrinted Edition, Nautilus.

Nautilus is a favorite client for many illustrators because of their fascinating long form stories and the excellent art direction from Len Small. Whenever Len calls, you know you will be pushed a little beyond your comfort level but the journey will be worth it. He had an assignment which he said was right in my zone: He wanted a curtain and table of contents image for the subject of 2050. Len said the art should not have the usual gadgets or robots depicting the future. He wanted a metaphor which suggested the present but also a world which is both familiar but different.

Len knows me well. This it the kind of conceptual challenge I love. We decided the perfect approach was two forests suggesting different worlds. In a stroke of luck, I was staying in a sleek modern apartment with a beautiful mountain forest during the project. It was the perfect environment for creating the piece.

Much thanks to Len and Nautilus for the inspiring project.

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Master and student

Watching many of my friends create covers for The Journal of the Norwegian Medical Association has been inspiring with a little bit of envy. Art Director Emma Dalby has created an impressive collection of covers and selection of illustrators from around the world. The minimal and tasteful design highlights the art and put pressure on the illustrator to pull off the cover. I had the good fortune of meeting Emma late last year while we both judged the Society of Illustrator competition.

It was a thrill when Emma called with the subject of mentor and student. She wanted something focused more on the relationship and less on the science or academics. Quite a few metaphors came to mind but Emma decided this was the most immediate. The passenger balloon metaphor suggested the idea of unlimited  potential and experience for the student who is lucky enough to find a mentor.

Much thanks to Emma for the assignment and lovely design.



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Genentech: The Issue With Tissue

This is part of a continuing series for Genetech’s site to help explain a variety of complex concepts. This series explains the issues researchers must consider when using tissue samples for research. Producer Nick Miller and the rest of the production team have done a great job a figuring out a process so we can digest and break down various biotech concepts for a wider audience. If you would like to see the series which uses limited animation please visit here.












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Rethinking Cities

A pleasant surprise popped in the mail the other day. “The Urban Imperative” for which I had done the cover had finally been published after a few years. This book was produced by the World Bank and it was one of those unusual cases where the cover art has been finished but the book went through many revisions before the final version. The editors, Edward Glaeser and Abha Joshi-Ghani requested an image which caught the energy of modern cities and older villages merging into one. Since it was a global study, the imagery needed an international feel.

This cover was denser than my normal work because we wanted to catch the energy of densely populated urban centers. In the end, it turned out to be one of my favorite covers for a book. Much thanks to Mihae Kim (AD) and the editors from the World Bank for a satisfying project.


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Your Money for the New York TImes

Fred Norgaard called with an exciting but scary project: he needed 10 illustrations over the weekend for a special section of the New York Times about your money. He provided a color comp pulling images from my site. I love when designers do this because it does help me understand the feel they want and it was clear Fred wanted something which popped off the page. There was definitely panic at the start because Fred pulled some of my strongest images for his comp. Since he wanted a variety of color schemes, it was helpful for planning the color sequence. I decided the dental image needed to have a dark background to provide a hub for the other images. Much to my relief everyone was thrilled with the final result and frankly, the color comp Fred provided was a huge help.

Here’s the final layout:

Your Money for the New York Times

And here was the comp:


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Free your mind

Michelle Furman, art director for American Teacher magazine called requesting a series of illustrations for a feature about reimagining technical education. The article was the challenge to rethink the role of education and realize there was much untapped potential. The theme of breaking out of boundaries became the theme for the illustrations using a butterfly as a metaphor for potential. Michelle specifically asked that the metaphor be carried through the series and it turned out to create a nice flow through the series. Who knew that butterflies would one day be something I enjoyed drawing?





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Ghosts in the mobile machine

Computerworld Magazine AD Stephen Sauer called with a fun project for a series of spreads about mobile security. Security is always a fun subject for me because it usually comes down to facing or avoiding fears. Since this project was for an online publication, bold colors seemed perfect and the background was kept very simple to give the designer options for working with type.

I have a nice relationship with ComputerWorld and they always seem to select my favorite sketches.

Here’s the art:

cw security 1cw-security-3 cw security 2 cw-security-4

And here’s the final spreads:

cw-spread-1 cw-spread-3cw-spread-2 cw-spread-4

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Training day for Sphere Magazine (Hong Kong)

Working for Hutchison Whampoa’s Sphere Magazine is a huge undertaking for an illustrator. You are asked to illustrate the cover plus a series of illustrations for 2 to 3 articles. Besides creating a series for an article about cities of the future, I was also asked to create  a series for an article titled, Training Day. Since the article was about training to prepare for any disaster, my inspiration was loosely based on monster movies from Japan. I always loved how everyone ran into action in uniforms and safety helmets when the alarms went off. Since the client had concepts for the illustrations, this was a way to make it work with my style.

Greg Crandall, publisher of Hong Kong Media, is a friend of many years and we were both excited to have a chance to work finally work on a project. It was almost like we were playing make believe at work.




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Cities in the sky

It has been a good year for working on assignments requiring multiple illustrations and when long time friend Greg Crandall called with a request to illustrate the entire issue of Hutchison Whampoa’s magazine, “Sphere” I quickly said yes. Greg is the owner of Hong Kong Media LTD and we have history  going back to the 80’s. We both worked with many of the same magazines born during the tech boom so it was only natural the assignment would be about designing cities for the future. Much to my delight, they requested a Jetson’s like approach to the art. Once again I was more than happy to comply.

It’s not often you get a request to indulge your childhood pleasures.





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Football stickers for ESPN

John Korpics at ESPN and I go back to Washington DC days working for Regardie’s Magazine in the late 80’s. Since then we have played many rounds of golf together and as a team have never won a match. It is an unblemished record we are still proud of today. He asked AD Chin Wan to call and request stickers for an ESPN fantasy football league which opened up this year. The timing was perfect because I was wanting to create a series of stickers. Football was also my favorite sport as a child and probably my best team sport. You wouldn’t think it but as a tiny Korean running back in Oklahoma, nothing made me happier than breaking off a run and pretending I was in the NFL .

Not only was it a perfect project, John had the perfect art direction. He asked me to go a little nuts.

Much thanks to John, Chin, and Neil Jamison for making it happen.

To download the app and stickers from either iTunes or Google Play visit here. My team is called the Super Crushers. (Inspired by The Crusher from Bugs Bunny)

Espn fantasy football The Super Crushers

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The structure of language

Coming from a family of scientists, it’s always exciting to when Scientific American calls and even better when the subject is about language. In my book, language as a subject matter is fertile ground for ideas. Patti Nemoto had a fascinating series of articles. The first article dealt with a study finding bilingual people have more empathy in their native vs second language while the second discussed the structure and rhythms of language. It was fascinating learning about how languages were developed and how humans innately have a common understanding about structure.

Much thanks to Patti and Scientific American for a fun and creatively satisfying project.







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Genetech: The Trouble with Trials

Producer Nick Miller from Weber Shandwick called with an interesting problem to solve. Genetech has a few research articles on various subjects and was trying to find an illustrator who could catch various concepts regarding biotechnology in a fun yet informative manner. This was the first time to use an illustrator and requested the art be two color using colors from Genetech’s design bible. The colors had to be used as solids at 100 percent.  The art was to be used for presentations on the web and conferences.

Being limited in colors turned out to be a blessing in disguise and was a wonderful chance to interpret my approach in a more graphic manner. Inspiration came from retro instructional videos with animation which I loved as a child.

Genetech and Weber Shandwick loved the approach and the process flew once we figured out the best way to explain biotech concepts to my non biotech head.

If you would d like to see the animated version of this presentation please visit here.

slide1 slide2 slide3 slide4 slide5 slide6 slide7 slide8 slide9 slide10


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Happy happy happy

One of the pleasant surprises this year has been the steady stream of assignments with multiple illustrations. I really enjoy the chance to develop and idea so it creates a mini story or look. SooJin Buzelli had an assignment which required a cover to be used as an opener plus a few inside pieces for an article about Financial advisors have learned making their clients happy will attract more clients. For the cover, the idea of flocking birds in a playful palette seemed to hit as right. As usually happens with SooJin, she also agreed it was the best approach.

In the art imitates life approach, I literally finished selecting a financial advisor before receiving this assignment. It was a relief to know my new advisor was doing all the things recommended in this feature.

This was the cover and opener for the feature.


How the unknown can be explained.


Diversifying explained.


Keeping people on track for their financial goals.


How to use social media to keep clients informed.


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Summer guide for Dallas Morning News

Art director Michael Hogue called with a fun project to illustrate the entire summer guide for children for the Dallas Morning News. Illustrating the different activities made me realize my parents did a really good job in the summer of keeping me out of their hair. The summers were full of many of the same programs children do today. Marilyn Bishkin was the design director for the project. Hopefully Dallas residents will enjoy the guide.


Dallas-guide-2Cover art for guide and guide inserts. Below are samples of the spreads for the guide.






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Every which way

It’s been a very fortunate year for series. Quite a few assignments this year have been for multiple illustrations. My favorite part of doing a series is getting a feel for the project and finding a “voice” which connects the illustrations but still offer enough variation. This series for American Educator magazine was for a feature titled “The Mind Shift in Teacher Evaluation”. It is about a rethinking of the process of teaching and the profound effects the shift has on education. I used arrows as a playful approach to represent this “shift in direction”. Thanks to Michelle Furman, AD for letting me take a fun approach to the feature.







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100 Minicards for Moo + Interview with Rockpaperink

Editor Emily Potts called with a fun project to create a custom set of 100 mini cards with rounded corners for myself as part of a campaign by to have creatives from many disciplines showcase the possibilities of their mini cards. It is amazing how easy it is to customize cards these days and it was fun collecting, reediting  and cropping images from past work to create a cohesive collection.

Here’s an interview with Emily on Rockpaperink about the cards.

Client:  Editor: Emily Potts





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Lucia di Lammermoore (Milan)

Hélène Le Cannu from TITA (an advertising agency in Milan) contacted me for a fun project for La Scala In Famiglia which is a series of performances meant for children. I was asked to create an image for a piano accordion style guide for the opera, Lucia Di Lammermoore. The main concept for the art is Lucia as a tour guide guiding the audience through the opera. To make this idea work, I approached the composition with characters and elements as toy figures in miniaturized set. It was also fun to finally see my characters with facial hair. Much thanks to Hélène and TITA for a fun project. Dario Pianesi, AD

Poster and Guide for Lucia di Lammermoore. Agency: TITA srl (Milan)

Poster and Guide for Lucia di Lammermoore

Poster and Guide for Lucia di Lammermoore



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Eat and run

It was a pleasant surprise earlier this year when Jeff Fabian of Kinetik called with a calendar project for the National WIC Association. Every year they produce a calendar focusing on nutrition and exercise for families.  Jeff and I both are VCU graduates who worked together at the start of our careers. It was nice to connect with an old friend on a project that does a lot of good.

Design firm: Kinetik, Creative Director: Jeff Fabian, Designer: Joanna NG.

NWA calendar: february

NWA calendar-january

NWA calendar-september

NWA calendar-april


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Morningstar Advisor Magazine

Morningstar Advisor Magazine is a favorite client for many illustrators. When you are hired, they are using you to be the look for the issue. You are assigned a cover, spread and 4 sections in the magazine, usually with a theme tying the issue together. Risk was the major theme which should be in any illustrator’s wheelhouse because risk is really about fear that may or may not be controllable. Alex Skoirchet, AD.

Morningstar Cover: risk


Morningstar: Risk


Morningstar: black swans


Morningstar: liquidity

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