Feb 17, 2014

On writing and drawing stuff that matters

   My wife Megan is a writer. A damn good one at that. Last year we decided that we have been foolish to not collaborate on something together, pooling our efforts. It became obvious that we were both passionate about picture books and the story telling possibilities that we could tap into; the merger of visual storytelling and words is really thrilling to a couple of book nerds like us (moving is a pain in the ass in this family).

At the very inception of this collaboration i've had to do some serious soul searching about the kind of work I want to commit to. Having a baby will do that to you, it casts a harsh light onto your actions, framing them into the context of some future narrative that will take on it's own life in the mind of your child. You don't want to fuck around with that narrative. Your actions take on a lot more meaning and doing things because they are "cool" just doesn't seem like a very good reason to do anything.

So then theres our picture book. Megan and I agree that we are writing a book about the outsiders, the kids that want more out of life but aren't quite sure how to get it.

That description applies to the majority of the hispanic kids in this country right now. Kids that like me, are immigrants to this country who look to this culture to provide markers and cues as to how they fit in, cues that are not present in the tv shows, movies and, more importantly, the books they love. These kids are in a lot of ways left on their own to figure out and navigate an often actively hostile world.

But here is the thing: it also applies to little girls in Ohio who are not seeing strong female characters who are good at math and like Transformers.

It probably applies to you.

Diversity is a really loaded word, conjuring up shrill left /right political posturing. But the truth is that an increase in diversity only helps us to see deeper into ourselves as a people, acknowledging the similarities and differences that we all share.

I am really honored to have been awarded the Yuyi Morales Merit Scholarship by Hummingbird Literary thats allowing me to participate in an online workshop on writing picture books. They are really committed to increasing diversity in the field of children's publishing, which as it stands is in bad shape.

The more specific your story gets the more universal it gets. It's some sort of alchemical rule. Proven over and over.

Megan and I are working on getting this story really specific.


Jul 14, 2013

The Next Big Thing blog tour

I was invited to participate in "The Next Big Thing Blog Tour" by my fellow crit group member Gaia Cornwall! The tour is designed to bring awareness to authors and illustrators and the projects they are working on. They asked ten questions, so here are ten answers:

1) What is the working title of your next book?

But I Don't Want to Be a Zombie!

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

It seemed to appear fully formed one day out of the brains of my dear wife Megan, who happens to be totally afraid of Zombies herself!

3) What genre does your book fall under?

It falls under the "disturbing yet sweet picture books for kids who don't want to sleep ever again" category.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

I'd say the little nerdy kid from Jerry McGuire except that he's probably 40 or something.  Instead I'll say Asa Butterfield, because I just saw the trailer for Ender's Game.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Zane is afraid to tell his parents that he just wasn't cut out for this whole zombie business. How will they react when they find out that he prefers whole grains to brains? 

6) Who is publishing your book?


7) How long did it take you to create the illustrations?

Since it's a work-in-progress, were are still in the R&D phase where I'm exploring the design of the characters and setting--this will in turn determine how long the illos will take me.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

This is hard to say since there aren't a lot of zombie kid books out there, but it would sit nicely somewhere between Creepy Carrots by Peter Brown and Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich by Adam Rex.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
The feeling we all have as kids that your parents might not like you as much because you are different from them. I think this is a feeling all kids can relate to.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?

Well it's got zombies! And brains! Also, whole grains!

Jun 25, 2012

Firefly Fanartica and some Random Bits

After neglecting the awesome Fanartica Tumblr fo far too long I decided i'd jump into their Joss Whedon theme for June and do some drawings for an Imaginary Firefly Animated movie. I'd watch the hell out of that btw just in case if anybody out there can make that happen...

Random Skeletor Challenge with my colleagues Carlos V. Dustin D. And Clayton S.

Nother random Challenge with the dudes.


Apr 25, 2012

Rafa: Watercolor Study

As soon as I read Scott Fischer's Tutorial on mimicing watercolor through Photoshop I could feel my fingers itching to give it a try. 

   Co worker Mauricio pointed out that the Hipstamatic shot makes it look like a red pen. 

I started off much the same as Scott, scanning a piece of Watercolor paper and doing a sketch in blue ballpoint pen. I scanned and multiplied my drawing onto the watercolor texture and soon after that things got rapidly out of control. 

I probably should have kept track of the changes but its tough when your trying to create both a sense of spontaneity and control. I used a combination of all of Scott's techniques then filtered it through my own penchant for unsharp mask and layer blend modes (overlay) This was fun, but it wasn't any more efficient or immediate than actual watercolor. Now it's time to go find a nice, thick piece of illustration board and dust off the old Brandes water color method...

Feb 1, 2012

So This Is A New Year

Baraka done for a quickie challenge with the ever talented posse of Carlos V. & Gavin G. 

Whoa it's already the 2nd month of 2012, an appropriate time for a mini art dump. Most of these were done in between assignments, or when i just felt like doodling on the ol' Cintiq or ipad.

Lots has been going on in Casa Lacera, I can't wait to talk about it here on the blog in the near future. But first there are going to be be some changes to the blog format, in an effort to keep me blogging more regularly about the many art related things I love. I'm going to shift the focus a bit to highlighting artwork and artists that have influenced me and my sense of aesthetic over the years. I want to also focus more on technique and art tips. Feel free to email me with wither questions or suggestions for articles!

 In the mean time I hope these various noodlings will tide those over who need tidings.



Aug 25, 2011


After the war, left-over Stark Tech was strewn across the battle fields of Western U.S.  Few knew how to make it work,  fewer still were brave enough to try. 

One man did.

 The Iron Man wanders the wasteland between Reno and Las Vegas amassing a rag tag group of engineers and tinkerers, together they scavenge for Stark Technology and are said to be building an army. The Eastern tribes whisper rumors that he is Tony Stark yet others wonder if the suit works at all...

Another mashup via Carlos Villagra...The Avengers MAX! 

Aug 19, 2011

Rogue: 90's Xmen Challenge

UPDATE: Phoenix for Diego

Thanks to Netflix I can now watch any episode of X-men the animated series. This combined with Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 should give you a good sense of what I wasted my time watching/playing in my misspent youth. I tried channeling a little of that into this piece, an imaginary X-men game where they simply updated those eyepoping 90's costume designs. Carlos V. did a fantastic, sleazy, Gambit that you should totally check out.



Jul 15, 2011

John Carter of Mars

Back in 2007 I was working at American Greetings alongside some extraordinary illustrators and creative thinkers. Back then the Sketch-o-rama blog was a way to vent the creative steam that builds up when your working on say...Care Bears or some such.

We had just heard of the Disney/Pixar John Carter of Mars deal and were psyched at the prospect, so much so that we all did our take on the fearsome Tars Tarkas ( James Groman and Carlos Villagra )

I opted for a longer leaner look for the Thark, less muscle bound than the iconic Frazetta

It seemed to make sense that a 15 foot tall alien will be intimidating regardless of how ripped they were and it helped reinforce a sort of tribal theme I felt tied in well nicely with Burroughs description of the Tharks in "A Princess of Mars".

It was so much fun that I did a few MORE drawings to get the designs out of my system.

Variations on a theme. I moved the tusks from inside the mouth to the outside of the mandible and gave him a ridgy spinal protrusion to balance out the larger, engraved tusks.

I remember trying to find an approach that was true to my vision of the character at the time.

And this is the important part: While that vision might change, it's important to infuse as much of your art with your personal spirit and vision. In the end it's all that matters and will make your art stronger and vastly more appealing than anything conjured up to please someone else.

I spotted this image in a sneak peak article on io9:

                                                                 Tall skinny Tharks!!!

And then this screengrab of the very excellent trailer released yesterday:

I was lucky enough to meet Iain McCaig, Concept Artist, Master Storyteller and all around Force of Nature at this years' Illustration Master Class. During his presentation he talked about working the John Carter of Mars movies. THREE times with THREE different directors.

Ultimately he and his uber talented daughter, Mishi, also worked on this Disney Pixar version.

Can't wait to see it and congrats to all those involved in finally bringing this story to life.

Teaser Trailer

Jun 23, 2011

Robopocalypse/Venom sketches

A few bits and bobs. Both of these are sketch jams with Carlos V. Anyone else reading Robopocalypse? I'm loving everything about it so far.

Apr 20, 2011

Alien Guy: UPDATE

UPDATE: For those of you interested in these sorts of things here is my speedily constructed base mesh....

Quick lunch type sketch. Started off as a doodle and expanded into a quick Sculptris sculpt, then finally colored in Photoshop.

Apr 4, 2011

Mecaf, Monster, Lobster!

Spring/ Summer is slowly starting to claw and bite its way back here in New England, and it looks like this is going to be a busy couple of months for me. 

In May I'll be attending the Maine Comic Arts Festival, where I'll be sharing a table with fellow Illustration Ninjas, Ellen Crenshaw and Chad King

I wanted to paint an original illustration for the con and so it became excuse to draw a lobster monster and pirates!  Keep checking in for progress pics.

Then in June I'll be attending the Illustration Master Class. I can't properly describe how psyched I am to attend this star studded workshop so I'll simply whisper Boris freaking Vallejo....

Finally, August = The International SCBWI conference in Los Angeles. Megan and I have been busy working on a picture book that is very dear to us, and we can't wait to talk to and be inspired by fellow Illustrators and writers. 

Mar 22, 2011

Astonishing Assholes: Yuriko

Yuriko aka Lady Death Strike.

Check out some MORE killer Assholes by Karg, Ford, and Chris [a.k.a. KFC] Here.


Mar 17, 2011

Nausicaä Earthquake Charity Drawing

Hey everyone,

So I'm sure if your like me, you've been overwhelmed by all the gut wrenching news coming out of Japan.

I finally got tired of feeling helpless/hopeless. I'm auctioning off an original drawing with 100% of proceeds going towards the Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund. 

Click here to bid

Please take some time and check it out and bid.

If you're more inclined to donate directly here are a few verified charities:

Artists Help Japan via Dice Tsutsumi: 

Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund via 


 American Red Cross:

Anime and Manga Bloggers for Japan:

Thank you,


Feb 25, 2011

Harmony Drawing Pt.2

Harmony doodles done mostly to warm up. There is something intangible about the looseness of this little program that I love. Next step is to take one of these to a finish. Any suggestions on which?

Also if you have not already, do yourself a favor and check out the Muddy Colors blog. It's chock full of illustration, inspirationy, goodness. 


Feb 13, 2011

The Astonishing Assholes- Wolverine

Savage High School Dropout: Wolverine is the story of a young man whose principal interests are sex, ultra-violence, and beer

The Astonishing Assholes are the X-men by way of  Kick-Ass. As Carlos puts it: "The Astonishing Assholes is a reinvention of the X-men. Young, jaded assholes that have no purpose but to listen to loud music and smash a few heads. They smoke, drink and fuck. Everything your normal teenager does."

Make sure to check out Carlos's Beast and Gavin's Cyclops.



Feb 4, 2011

Couple of F.O.B's

What a ref!

These are a few drawing warm ups that got out of hand...

Jan 25, 2011

Lunch sketch

Fired up the ol' Alchemy during lunch today and this dude emerged all angry and stuff.


Jan 12, 2011

La Femme Bobba Fett

Yet another one of these challenge deals between Gavin Goulden, Carlos V. and myself. This was a lot harder than I expected. The idea was to take a Star Wars character and gender bend them. This is one of those instances where an idea popped into my head and I couldn't quite nail it down to my satisfaction.

But thats half the fun of exploring and trying something new, you're never quite sure how it'll turn out.


Dec 22, 2010

Trash Planet & WW-N: Samus Prints Now Available!

*Please note: all prints are only available for a limited print run, so get while they're hot!*

Prints are now available through Society6! Make sure to check out the banner on the right for Gallery quality Giclee prints on matte, smooth, 100% cotton rag, acid free archival paper (whew! thats a mouthful!) 

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