Illustrator. Photographer. Random thinker. Um rato de praia.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Tiger, I'mma Let You Finish …

This is called "Killing three (current events) birds with one stone."

The Exotic Menace

Society of Professional Journalists 2010 Sunshine State Awards
First Place, Front Page Design, Large Newspapers
The Daytona Beach News-Journal
Kelly Ann Markowitz, Jennifer Cason & Octavio Diaz
Comments: Very clean and balanced overall look on all pages. Rail on left is well-illustrated and easy to navigate.Nice use of shading and headers on info boxes and refers to avoid making packages too cluttered. Judges especially drawn to the eye-catching “Exotic Menace” illustration.

Front page illo for story about how non-native plants and animals affect Florida’s ecosystem. Here’s the story.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Financial advice

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Night Before Christmas 2009

Goes with a parody of Clement Clarke Moore’s “The Night Before Christmas.”
(Click image to enlarge.)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Growth Rush of 2009

Developers seek land-use approvals before Hometown Democracy goes to voters.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Company holiday parties

Restaurateurs are hopeful about holiday party bookings.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Traffic tickets

Weird things you can get ticketed for.

Halloween safety

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Happy 50th anniversary, Twilight Zone!

On a Friday night in October 1959, Americans began slipping into a dimension of imagination as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. They’ve never really returned.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Virtual Fall in Florida Experience

Florida lacks a real fall season, so for those who want to see the leaves changing colors and feeling that cool snap in the air, there’s The Virtual Fall in Florida Experience!

Here’s the sketch.

Mystery Meat

Some restaurants have been fined for seafood violations, serving surimi, made from fish protein, and passing it off as crab.

VIP packages

Bands are using VIP packages to give fans more bang for their buck.
Freelance job for Riverfront Times.

Here’s the sketch.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Litigation Engine

Not doing too well in today’s economy.

Happy Labor Day!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Scary Stories

Asking readers of the Daytona Beach News-Journal to submit their scary stories. Winner is chosen and his/her story will be illustrated and will run prior to Halloween.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Miami Senior High Class of 1969, 40-year Reunion

I designed the cover of the Memory Book.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sick at Work

The Concept Album Makes a Comeback

Magic’s Dwight Howard as The PuppetMaster

Borrowing from The Godfather movie poster.

Explaining the Sell-by Date on Food Products

Hot Dogs

Whistle Blower

Credit Card Meltdown

Companies jack up fees, rates in advance of new law.

Daytona Dream

For the 50th anniversary of Daytona International Speedway, we imagine what it would be like to watch a “Dream Race” of the best drivers of the Speedway’s past.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


CEOs are taking a hit from the recession but their companies are making adjustments that could mean fatter paychecks in the future.

Who Are You?

Illustration to go with story about how one fits in the world social networking and microblogging.

Friday, May 15, 2009

How I Got Started With Photoshop

When it comes to graphic design and illustration, Adobe Photoshop is the weapon of choice for today’s artists. However, the software itself is a quite tough nut to crack, and extremely hard to master. The concepts are not always intuitive and it’s not always clear when to use what tool and how to use it effectively. In fact, a lot of the trial and error in Photoshop usually takes much time to achieve something you have never done before.

I was first introduced to Photoshop in 1993, when the systems guys at my previous newspaper received the software and passed it on to us in the art department. At first, I was like one of the apes in 2001: A Space Odyssey as they approach the monolith shrieking and jumping.

Subsequently, one of the apes (or artists), realizes how to use a bone as both tool and a weapon (Photoshop) while having mental flashbacks to the monolith (Photoshop), indicating that the monolith has either “taught” or inspired him to this knowledge. Next morning the apes wrest control of the water hole away from the other tribe, killing their leader in the process. Just like with Photoshop.

The next phase of learning the program was similar to a school child receiving a box of 96 Crayola crayons. I wanted to try all the effects and filters at once, sometimes over-doing it. As time passed and I worked on various projects, I used restraint when applying filters and effects, and a style began to emerge which I have been using to some degree of success since.

Once I was comfortable with Photoshop, it was time to say good-bye to the airbrush and other art media. I’ve never looked back since.

The best way to describe my style is “digital collage.” After drawing my initial sketch for an assignment, I begin to draw shapes in Photoshop and fill them with textures of objects I have scanned or photographed. For many of my illustrations, I use photos of hands or sometimes I pose and scan my own hands with a scanner.

I usually spend a lot of time working the faces of the people in my illustrations. This is basically a progression from my initial love of creating caricatures, but now with Photoshop, I use parts of actual photos of faces, cut them apart, stretch them and pull them in different directions, and paste them back together to get the expressions I want.

A lot of blending, dodging (lightening) and burning (darkening) go into getting the effect I want, because I want my figures to have almost a 3D feel to them.

In the future, I will take a project from conceptualizing, to sketching, to putting it together in Photoshop. In the meantime, here’s one sketch and final illustration for a business story about city government officials wanting to increase bed tax for online travel sites.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Monday, April 13, 2009

Monday, March 30, 2009

Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame

For a story about why some musicians are not inducted into the Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

10 Newspapers That Will Survive The Apocalypse

A recent story from Business Insider mentioned that there are plenty of local newspapers that, after cutting newsroom bloat, would be very profitable. The story goes on to say that these local newspapers just need to stop spending on trying to find their way out and instead they should focus on running their current good business.

The story named ten newspapers worth acquiring, including my present employer, the Daytona Beach News-Journal, a 100K-circulation daily, located here.

When this story ran, Business Insider did a screen grab of the ten newspapers that (they think) will survive. By coincidence, I had a rare front-page illustration that day. Please click on the headline, read the story and click through to read about all ten newspapers.

The last offer of $26 million to buy the newspaper fell through. Anyone interested? We have beautiful year-round weather, Daytona 500 auto racing, Bike Week, Spring Break …

Using Technology for Job Search

Taxing the Online Travel Sites

Government officials want to collect more bed taxes from online travel sites.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Busted in El Salvador

In 1979, I went on my first trip to El Salvador. Since the early ’70s, we had heard stories from other traveling surfers about Punta Roca, a fabulous point break discovered by Miami surfer Bob Rotherham, who first stumbled upon this little speck of surfing nirvana while traveling through Central America in 1972. He totally fell in love with the country and the surf and married a local woman and settled there.

Bob “Don Roberto” Rotherham surfing Punta Roca in La Libertad.

Hitching a ride back to La Libertad after a surf session at El Sunzal. Often we were picked up by truckers carrying loads of cobblestones. We would climb up the side of the trucks and rest our surfboards on top of the rocks. Here’s me and Jeff’s girlfriend Julie hanging on for the ride.

The point break at El Sunzal.

Robert Gomez and I planned the trip and we were joined by Jeff and his girlfriend Julie. Now, at the time, getting high was a regular pre- and post-surf ritual for most surfers, but having heard horror stories of drug busts in Third World countries, and having seen the film Midnight Express, we all agreed we were not going to bring any weed with us.

We arrived in San Salvador late one afternoon and got a taxi to take us the 15 miles, over the mountains, to La Libertad. We checked into our $10-a-night motel and had dinner at Don Roberto’s restaurant while we prepared for our first Central American surf session the next morning.

One of the important things to know about surfing in Central America is that you dawn-patrol it everyday if you want to catch glassy, uncrowded surf, as the onshore winds usually kick in around 11 a.m and chop up the surf. We woke up before sunrise and walked down the dirt road, past the cemetery, to the cobblestone point and paddled out at first light.

The waves were as great as we had heard them described. Long, winding, hollow rights over a cobblestone point.

After a few days of surfing at La Libertad, we noticed local surfers lighting up on the beach, so we figured that maybe this was a "safe" country, after all. But the locals kept their distance from us, and we did not approach them to try to get high.

One night while having dinner at Don Roberto’s, we met a traveling couple from Hawaii and after trading stories and having a few beers, they offered us a joint of their homegrown weed. Robert, Jeff, Julie and I walked down the dirt road, past the cemetery, onto the cobblestone point where we surfed every day and proceeded to light up.

As we sat on the beach, under the glow of a full moon, the only sound being the clackety-clack of the waves rolling over the cobblestones, the main thing I remember is a simultaneous, collective “Whoaaaah …” from our small group. This stuff was so mild, yet so powerful, that it just crept up on us. It heightened the sounds of the ocean, the glow of the full moon and the moon’s reflection on the surface of the ocean. We all agreed this was some of the best weed we had ever tried.

After a while, we walked back to the restaurant and our new friends from Hawaii were still there. We thanked them profusely for their gift and they replied "Would you like to join us to smoke another?"

Well, of course it would have been impolite of us to refuse such generosity, so we all proceeded to walk back to the beach again. However, this time the women were feeling a bit spooked about the cemetery so we only went as far as the end of the dirt road leading to the beach. Which turned out to be a mistake.

As soon as we had finished our second joint, from the surrounding darkness came three soldiers, one from the beach side, one from the dirt road and one from the cemetery. The very first image I recall is of one of the soldiers standing in front of us, cocking his rifle and saying “Quien tiene la marijuana?" There was no doubt they had smelled our weed burning.

La Libertad was a very small town then, with no police force, so government soldiers were stationed at a small outpost from where they patrolled the town and beaches.

We froze. All the images of Midnight Express raced through my mind. I imagined having to call my parents to tell them I was in a Salvadorean prison.

Being the only Spanish-speaker in the group, I stepped forward and began talking to the lead soldier. I told him we were visiting surfers and that my friends had been drinking and partying too much. The soldier wasn’t believing my story and began a series of questions. Where were we from, he asked, what airline had we flown, what our flight number was, where were we staying.

I don’t know how I was able to retain my composure as I rapid-fired back the answers to him, while being so high that I was seeing swirly patterns of colors on his face.

As I thought I was making headway and somehow convincing him that we had just been drinking, he asked again, "Who has the marijuana? Everyone empty your pockets!”

At this moment I thought, this is it. We’re either busted, or the soldiers are going to rob us. We had been warned by Don Roberto that whenever we ventured away from our motel, we should carry only a minimal amount of cash and no jewelry in case we were robbed. Since we had dinner earlier, I knew that Robert, Jeff, Julie or I had no cash. But we had no idea if our new friends might be carrying weed with them.

As we all emptied our pockets and threw small change and motel keys on the ground, the couple from Hawaii did the same, and they were not carrying any weed!

The soldiers must have believed my story, or must have had some sympathy for us. They walked us back to our motel room as locals watched. We walked in, locked the doors, turned off the lights and went to sleep.

The next morning, as were were surfing perfect waves under sunny skies, I told my friends “We could be in prison right now.”

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Foreclosure Scams

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

To see the outcome of this epic battle between Notre Dame’s leprechaun mascot versus U2 frontman Bono, click here.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Monday, March 09, 2009

Metal sculptor produces fantasy bike

Staff Writer
Daytona Beach News-Journal

Ever dream of soaring down the highway on the back of a giant metal eagle? Or getting by with a little help from your dragon friends?

Key Largo metal sculptor Kim Brandell's motorcycle creations may help you do just that.

Brandell is exhibiting his unique metal creations, the Screaming Eagle and the Dragon bike during Bike Week at an Easy Riders magazine-sponsored space at the Iron Horse Saloon in Ormond Beach, at the Boardwalk Bike Show on Friday and at the Rat's Hole Bike Show at Daytona Lagoon.

A small crowd gathered as he unloaded his bikes from the trailer and at first impression, most onlookers assumed that the bikes were super-heavy.

Brandell's materials and technique — working with sheet copper and using a brazing rod and an oxygen-acetylene torch — gives the sculptures a massive, heavy-metal appearance, but they actually add only 75 pounds to the total weight of the bikes.

The Eagle bike is a three-piece copper sculpture that is overlaid onto a Harley-Davidson, which has 25,000 miles on it.

The attention to detail shows. Every metal feather overlaps, much as the real bird's feathers do.

"It takes a lot of money and time to build a custom bike," says Brandell, as he estimates in his head a cost of about $25,000 in materials and the amount of time spent to build each bike. Actual work time on the Eagle bike was six to seven weeks, and for the Dragon it was 12 weeks. But this work, which is his hobby, is stretched out over a period of two years, while Brandell continues his commercial work.

The Dragon bike is a functional sculpture. This three-piece metal work is mounted on top of a built-from-the-ground-up custom bike. With a main body resembling the textured, scaly skin of a dragon, several other dragons hold directional signals, speedometer and brake lights. One dragon that sits towards the back of the bike, tail wrapped around the license plate, watches Brandell's back as well as giving the "middle-finger salute" to other traffic following too close.

"I see the dragons as my psychological protectors. I feel I'm getting by with a little help from my dragon friends," said Brandell.

Brandell starts his works with a rough pencil sketch. Then he draws shapes and uses these as templates to cut the sheet copper. As he prepares to cut, he allows extra surface area, because the metal will have to wrap and bend to create a three-dimensional shape. "I think in 3D," says Brandell as he explains his process.

A few years ago, Brandell approached Easy Riders magazine with photos of his motorcycle works and Melissa Penland, principal of Action Promotions Inc., got him started exhibiting his custom creations at bike trade shows.

Brandell started his sculpture career 34 years ago. He began creating copper sculptures in his garage and exhibited his creations at outdoor arts and crafts shows in the eastern United States. After about 10 years, he was commissioned to do his first commercial project at The Mayfair Hotel and Shops in Coconut Grove. He made 18-copper elevator doors, 50 copper herons and 200 copper light sconces throughout the project. Most of his career since has been work for hotels, casinos, restaurants and high-end private residences, and he says he has produced metal sculptures for Donald Trump and Gloria Estefan.

Brandell built his first customized bike while still a senior in high school. It was a 1961 Panhead with silver fox fur mounted on the gas tank and fenders. But he did not build another bike until 2002 and that was the "Iguana Bike," which was featured on the official 2002 Bike Week poster.

And while he continues his metal sculpture work for clients, Brandell says his business is leaning toward the customized bike market.

Here's the link to the News-Journal site for story and more pics.
Here’s the link for the video.
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