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The Gilded Age of Sharpie

Sharpie is coming into its Gilded Age and illustrator Eric Rosner is leading the way. Eric has been an artist for more than 20 glorious years using Sharpie to shine the light on stunning Manhattan during its iconic period, its golden era, its gilded age. And we are more than a little impressed with what he can do with a Sharpie!

We had a little chat with Eric about his work, his favorite marker (spoiler alert: it’s a Sharpie!) and some of his most famous fans!

Eric Rosner

Tell me about yourself! Where are you from? Interests? Likes? Dislikes? Pet Peeves? Give us the good stuff! 

Hello, my name is Eric Rosner.  I am a New York artist specializing in illustrating the Gilded Age of New York.  I love to illustrate the old world of 1880-1910 Manhattan.  It was such an exciting period of science and discovery, progressive thinking, growth, epic architectural construction and unique forms of new entertainment.

I was born in Brooklyn and  grew up in Las Vegas.  I came back to NYC after college and have worked as a Director of Animation (2d/3d) at MTV, Nickelodeon and TVLAND for 23 years.

I love to explore the city looking for forgotten treasures…small relics from the glorious past of Manhattan.

What is inspires you to uncap what’s inside?

I  think that there are personal stories to tell about the old history of New York. I’m mostly interested in exploring the everyday tales of people from every corner of the world and from every profession who had come to New York to live a dream. I like to illustrate those moments in my art.

How do you use Sharpie markers in your work? 

I love my Sharpie!  I have tried using other brands but the road always turns back to Sharpie.  I think the ink lasts the longest and the feel is just perfect for me.

I search for reference photos of a 1880-1910 NYC structure or a scene that I want to illustrate.  A brand new Sharpie is just a perfect, constant line that is a deep black color. And then the magic just happens, simple as that.

Favorite Sharpie?  Why? 

Ultra Fine Point!!!  It’s just the perfect line for me.  I can get the details that I desire and perfect the style that I have been working on.

How would you describe your style? 

Hmm… not sure.  People say it’s very unique in its ornateness yet modern feel. To me it’s just my way of expressing motion and flow.  I try to bring power and emotion to a NYC building.  It’s a strong structure of might and an icon of what New York was, is and will be.  I want to express a sense of purpose in the buildings that I illustrate. These are architectural wonders that have stood for decades and housed people and ideas that changed the world.

How did you get started? 

I’ve always loved to illustrate since early age.  Although I’ve never thought anything special about it until during college. I just wasn’t loving my business classes and escaping into illustration was much more pleasurable and creatively fulfilling. When I moved to NYC I got my job at MTV, a new era of pop art was emerging.  I wanted to make a mark in New York.  I wanted to contribute in a way that the great artists of the city before me did.  So I started a series called “FREAK CITY”, which is a collection of faces from average New Yorkers who had strange and bizarre stories. I illustrated the faces and added various backgrounds which happened to included some of the glorious Gilded Age buildings.  It turned out that people seemed to be drawn to the building backgrounds so much that I’d concentrated on illustrating only the buildings. Then I just keep practicing my drawing skills literally every day.

You have come across some pretty famous fans of your work, do you have a favorite fan moment, famous or otherwise?  

Having Alec Baldwin as a fan and attending one of my shows was a true amazing moment this year.  I have also received wonderful feedbacks from friends and people who have become my fans.  I wouldn’t have continued doing this if not for such incredible outpouring of praise and support.

How do you decide what you want to tackle next, slash can you tell us what you ARE working on next?

I constantly search for inspiring images, buildings, people, vehicles…iconic and epic. When I find something that really strikes me, I draw it doing my best to give it a sense of grandeur and respect that it deserves.  We tend to glorify the future  and sometimes forget the past but it is where we all come from.

My next projects are going to be concentrating on Science and Space.  I want to create art that inspires people about the positive future that we all can have and achieve.  During the 40′s and 50′s magazines would predict great wonders that awaited us all and these images pushed the imagination.  I would like to contribute to the wonders of imagination and thought and help push the next generation even further.

Do you have a soft spot for one of your pieces in particular? 

One of my favorite illustrations is OLD NEW YORK BLOCK.  This was one of my very first successful art works created in the beginning of my obsession with the Gilded Age. It all started as I happened to venture down Broadway, between 33rd to 23rd streets.  I saw this incredible building on the corner, a relic from another time. And as I stood in awe of this 100+ years old structure, I was imagining all the people who must have occupied it , the throngs of ordinary and famous people who strolled up and down Broadway back in the day.  Mark Twain stayed at the Gilsey House on 29th st.  Edison experimented in his Nickelodeon stores just down the street. Tesla, who lived only a block away. Houdini, Oscar Wilde, Lucile Ball, Bob Hope, Winsor McCay and a list of endless people who walked up and down this street  passing this building.  And here I was looking at that very same building that I decided then and there to illustrate.  It really blew me away.  I LOVE New York City and I want to convey it in my art. I felt that the day I saw that building was the beginning of my journey to achieve that goal.

If you could have one super power what would it be and why? 

Hmm… I love quantum mechanics…I would be have the power to explore the universe and all its mysteries.

If you could have dinner with one person, living or dead, who and why? 

Steve Jobs!  Mister Can-Do-Anything.  I love his saying “The journey is the reward”. I admire his respect of design and simple elegance, the mantra of “Great” over “Good enough”.  He is my hero. He was a glorious visionary.

YES! Movie day!! Check out Eric’s animations and short films on YouTube!

Eric’s animations

http://youtu.be/xxwm_DAnyCA

Also here are some links to some of my short films that I have animated.

http://youtu.be/yROhlgLWLME

http://youtu.be/MgEBOVnuGEw

http://youtu.be/86uM9JSgz8M

http://youtu.be/ymdfr5saN5Y

http://youtu.be/Wt7GR7cqais

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Monster Mash

Monsters! MONSTERS, EVERYWHERE!!  Wait! Before you run and hide under your bed,  you might want to stop and  get to know these classically feared beasts. What if,  just like our irrational fear of robot world domination, these frightening lookin’ fellas wanted nothing more than to make your day?   

Today’s Sharpie artist, Allie Kelley, is breaking the monster mold and proving there is more behind these fiendish looks than gnashing teeth. Prepare yourself for one frighteningly great interview, we are so glad you’re here…      

Featured Sharpie Artist: Allie Kelley

Tell me about yourself!  Is this the part where I try to sound brilliant and interesting?  Well, I’m not great at that. The truth is I am a 20-something, self-taught artist who loves to laugh and wants to create quirky things that make other people smile and think. I am currently a Massage Therapist, which I love, but I dream of one day having a career where I get paid to create.   

Ms. Allie Kelly, Monster momma

How did you get started as an artist? I think I’ve been creative since I could hold a crayon. When I was little my mother and I moved into a house where my bedroom had been painted yellow and my Mom hated it. She gave me some crayons and told me to draw all over the walls, when they were full- she was painting the room another color.    

How would you describe your personal style?  Uh… clothing wise? I like vintage, I like scarves, and I like threadless.com t-shirts. 

Artistically? I’m still trying to figure that out, to be honest.   I try to make interesting, whimsical pieces that I’m going to want to look at 5 years from now… it’s like if Dr. Seuss and Tim Burton somehow had a child and that child was obsessed with vivid colors.   

 

Where do you draw inspiration from? A handy method is to stay up crazy late, chug a Red bull or two and sketch till I can’t keep my eyes open. I will take inspiration anyway I can get it. Spring trees in bloom, Discovery channel, city museums, and my trusted friends saying: “DRAW THIS!” are all ways that I’ve found a subject or a theme for my work. (Specific to this interview: my friend Amanda said: “you should draw monsters” and so I did.)   

How do you use Sharpie markers in your work? I use Sharpie markers at many levels. If I’m working on a painting, I use Sharpie markers for the pre-draw or I use Sharpie to doodle and try to gain inspiration. Other times (and more often lately) I just like to sit down with some great paper and a 24 pack of the Ultra Fine Point Sharpie markers and create from there. I love how the color combinations really mesh on the page and how the small tip allows for a lot of tiny wonderful details.   

Favorite Sharpie?  Why? I love using the Ultra Fine Point in pastel and light colors.  People don’t expect those tiny details in pink lemonade.  I think the one I gravitate to the most is the Blue Ice in the Ultra Fine Point.  I love the way it pops off my paper.   

   

 

What is it about monsters that you love so much? I love that monsters surprise you. People usually place anything very unfamiliar in their “monster” category.  Unfortunately it’s a natural response to feel that if it’s different, it’s scary. Once you get past your discomfort you can often be surprised that your “monster” is interesting, or funny, or kind.   My monsters look the part, but they say nice things to you. They remind you that you are loved and that you make others happy.   They tell you things your friends and neighbors should say to you every day.   

If you came face to face with one of your monster doodles in real life what would you say to him/her? Well, I would hope the Doodle monster would be my size and not teeny-tiny. I would also hope they would be down for going to have tea and a chat!!! Oh, I would have so many questions!! What do you eat? Do you have pets?  How old are you?! Do doodle monsters have jobs to work at? I guess I should be exploring all this with my art- and I will probably touch on some of it- but I would LOVE to just ask them!   

What is the strangest monster you’ve ever created? Prettiest? Ugliest? Funniest? This is the hardest question for me. I don’t think of my monsters in those terms.  So, I listed a few and told you what I think they would be like if one was behind you in a coffee shop:  

"To me, this is the supportive mom of the Doodle monster family"

"This guy might be the class clown"

"And this guy, He’s my favorite. If I look at him with the paper one way I see a proud water Buffalo thing, and if I flip the paper the other way I see a tiny terrier puppy with tentacles."

"I think of this one as my compassionate little sister of the monster doodle family"

 

Monster names?  How do I come up with them?  I only have one doodle named: BLOAT MONSTER.  I think it’s a name so easy to relate to and sympathize. He is the exception. 

Bloat Monster!

I think the neatest thing about my monsters is that different people see them as different things.  I think if I named them, it would influence what people saw- so I try to stay away from giving them names.   

Current work?  I am always trying to create and explore.  I doodle, sketch and collage a lot- but mostly I consider myself a painter.  Recently I have been obsessed with painting Dinos and Doodle Monsters and 2-headed creatures.   I’ve also started carrying around the largest sketch pad I can, trying to fill it with Sharpie drawings, paint, and hodgepodge, occasionally all 3 on one page! 

Advice for other young artists?  The best “arty” advice I ever received was:

 “Create every day.” 

 My attempt to follow that advice has made all the difference in my work and my artistic style.

What am I going to do with my monster doodles?  I’m going to start with creating more.  To me, each is unique and has a different feeling to them. Later this year, I have a few shows in Virginia coming up to feature them in.  Eventually though, I would like to create a children’s book with and for them. To teach kids about judging at first glance and why that’s not the best way to go through the world.  Maybe what seems like a weird blobby monster is a friend you’ve been looking for.

Thank you so much to Allie for uncapping her Monster gang with us! For more on Allie and her posse check her out on her blog, Facebook page, or, if you want a Monster friend all your own, on Etsy!