Archive for the ‘Behind the Scenes’ Category


Steamroller print by Ric Matthies

Don’t be distracted by Ric’s smile—see the puddles everywhere? See the winter gear people are wearing? Sunday was the craziest Wayzgoose yet, hands down. That’s because we had both the biggest crowd ever and the worst weather imaginable. So that smile is one of triumph: getting a decent steamroller print that day required beating some serious odds.


It rained sideways while Jessica inked.


It hailed while we lined up our block.


Photo by Jamie Brooks

It froze while we peeled our prints up.


Photo by Jamie Brooks

It blew a gale while I painted.

"Park Place" steamroller print by Chandler O'Leary and Jessica Spring

Still, despite the mishaps, I think it turned out alright. Jessica and I are calling our print “Park Place”—created in gratitude over the passage of a bond that would fund our city park system. The map in the center shows most of Tacoma’s parks, with twelve of our favorites called out like properties on a Monopoly board.


We even took a snippet of the illustration and sent it over to the talented screenprinting booth folks, who turned it into a t-shirt design during the event (you can just see a peek of it in the upper left corner).


Since the rain and wind prevented us from hanging the finished prints outside during Wayzgoose, most of the people who came that day didn’t get to see anybody’s finished print. So today Ric, Jessica and I remedied that.


Thanks to Spaceworks Tacoma, all of this year’s steamroller prints are on exhibit in the Woolworth Windows downtown…


…where you can see them—in fair weather or foul—now through August 21.

Thanks to everyone who visited or volunteered at Wayzgoose this year, and to King’s Books and the Tacoma Arts Commission for making it all happen!


Here we are: year ten. Since the time Jessica Spring founded the Tacoma Wayzgoose all those years ago, it’s become one heckuva beast—and a veritable Tacoma institution.

So here are a few sneak peeks of the giant linoleum block Jessica and I are carving—and we’ll reveal all on Sunday:

10th Annual Tacoma Wayzgoose
Sunday, April 27, 2014
11 am to 4 pm, Free!
King’s Books
218 St. Helens Avenue, Tacoma, WA


If you’re new here and don’t know what a Wayzgoose is, or you just want to relive the glory days of old, here are links to all the Wayzgeese (gooses?) I’ve been a part of:

2009 (Tacoma)
2010 (Tacoma)
2011 (Tacoma)
2011 (San Francisco)
2012 (Tacoma)
2013 (Tacoma)

Itching for more? Well, then, see you on Sunday!


If you earn your living by drawing pictures, you have to spend a lot of time with your head down and your eyes on your paper. Yet at this time of year, with spring coming along fast (at least in the Northwest…), life hurries by at a frantic pace. I hate the idea of missing any of it—so I’m always happy for any reminder to stop and really look around me. So for our newest Dead Feminist broadside, we’re heeding the words of one of America’s greatest photographers:

The seeing eye is the important thing.  — Imogen Cunningham

This piece is a major departure from what we’ve done in the past—as you can plainly see. For the first time ever we’ve printed the broadside on black paper—which helped us “pull the focus” (if you will) onto the quote. It also provided a beautiful backdrop for a tribute to someone who spent her life creating black-and-white images.

Surrounding the quote is an intricate metallic silver filigree of spring botanicals and portraiture, creating a pastiche of the subjects of some of Imogen Cunningham’s most iconic photographs—while the color choice references the traditional silver-gelatin photographic process. In the eye of the storm of imagery is the all-seeing camera lens, looking out onto the world.


Jessica has her own secret-sauce recipe for gold ink, and while we’ve used it before in our series (like in Gun Shy), nothing makes it look so fabulous as a dark background. The gold ink looked amazing on press—we kind of wished we could just leave the ink on there permanently, because that’s some serious bling. (It almost made the Vandercook feel like some sort of super-cool Bond gadget.)


As always, we donate a portion of the proceeds of the series to a nonprofit that aligns with the message of each piece. To help sharpen the seeing eyes of the artists of tomorrow, this time we’ve chosen Youth in Focus — a nonprofit that puts cameras in the hands of at-risk youth to “teach them how to develop negatives into positives.”

Focal Point: No. 19 in the Dead Feminists series
Edition size: 164
Poster size: 10 x 18 inches

Printed on an antique Vandercook Universal One press, on archival, 100% rag (cotton) paper. Each piece is numbered and signed by both artists.

Colophon reads:
Imogen Cunningham (1883 - 1976) graduated from the University of Washington in 1907, earning a degree in chemistry with her thesis on chemical processes in photography. Shortly afterward she was hired by photographer Edward Curtis, who taught her platinum printing and portraiture. She opened her own successful studio in Seattle, and published an article entitled “Photography as a Profession for Women.” In 1917, Cunningham and her husband and son relocated to California, where she gave birth to twin boys. Her children and the plants in her garden then became key subjects of her work. Her experiments with double exposure throughout the 1920s and 30s contributed to a growing appreciation of photography as art. She was a founding member of Group f/64, a collective of influential west coast photographers including Ansel Adams and Edward Weston. The group mounted a 1932 exhibition at the de Young Museum in San Francisco, united by a manifesto declaring “photography as an art form by simple and direct presentation.” Cunningham’s vision came through in both her personal and commercial work: unvarnished celebrity portraits for Vanity Fair; documentary street photography; nudes and botanical images — a lifetime of work that continues to challenge and intrigue viewers.

Illustrated by Chandler O’Leary and printed by Jessica Spring, grateful for artists who remind us to focus.

Available now in the Dead Feminists shop!



It’s the new year—time to hang some new artwork. I’m pleased to announce that I’ve got a new solo exhibit opening this Thursday!


The show is in the most unlikely of places: a dentist’s office. I kid you not. But Dr. Jamie Brooks (we all call her Dr. Jamie) is no ordinary dentist, and her space is no ordinary clinic—it’s an absolutely stunning piece of modern interior architecture, and twice a year she adorns it with new work by regional artists. Dr. Jamie really understands the value of adding art to the mix of our everyday lives, and has turned a utilitarian space into something really special—and supporting local artists while she’s at it.


Once the show opens and local folks get the chance to see it first, I’ll post all the images here—but for now, here’s a little taste. Each of the 16 illustrations in the exhibit is a hand-lettered homage to Tacoma’s blazing neon history, told through iconic signage of days past. The images are arranged as day-and-night diptychs, painted on white and black paper, respectively.


So if you find yourself in the Northwest in the coming months, be sure to stop by!

You’ll Like Tacoma: a solo exhibit
On display through June 30, 2014
Opening reception Thursday, January 16, 5 to 7 pm
Brooks Dental Studio
732 Broadway, Tacoma, WA 98402


When you’re an illustrator, you have to start celebrating (or at least gearing up for) every holiday months in advance. So that means I’ve got Christmas music stuck in my head already. That’s okay, though, because it means I’m churning out new work for the holiday season! And I’m having an extra fun time this time year, because I’m trying some new things, in a little bit of a different style.

If you’re local, you can be the first to grab the new crop of goodies (including brand new illustrations from the Drawn the Road project, and the new Red Deck of the Tacoma Playing Cards) at this year’s city-wide Studio Tour circuit, held during the first weekend in November. I’ll be open both Saturday and Sunday, as usual—more info and maps/directions here.

If you’re not in the Seattle-Tacoma area, look for the new items to appear online during the first week of November. Or you can find out the moment they’re ready by signing up for the mailing list.

Hope to see you at Studio Tour!


This is a busy time of year—as the school year begins again and the pace of life quickens, the easy pace of summer has made way for a season of bustling, planning, and dreaming of times ahead. Yet worldwide, over and over again, the plans and dreams of so many women and girls are cut short by violence. In light of recent high-profile crimes halfway around the world, Jessica and I though it was high time we spoke up. This time we drew inspiration from the Nightingale of India:

What hope shall we gather, what dreams shall we sow?  — Sarojini Naidu

“Nightsong” honors the hopes and dreams of women and girls in every culture—in defiance of the world’s dangers. The illustration depicts a lush dream menagerie printed in bright, exotic hues. Tigers, peacocks, elephants and nightingales stand sentinel around our heroine, surrounded by detailed paisleys and florals drawn in the style of Indian mehndi designs.


To make this print more dreamlike, we decided to throw a tricky technique called split-fountain printing into the mix—or “rainbow roll,” for short.


A split fountain is extremely difficult to control (advanced Eagle Scout printing here, folks), but the results are so lovely that it’s absolutely worth the effort. As an added bonus, we were careful to keep our inks translucent—so when we registered the second color, that mixed the colors even further, giving us an entire rainbow spectrum with just two passes on press.


I should add, though, that while we love printing with a rainbow roll, the process is completely unpredictable, and the finished prints are far from uniform. So rather than an edition of absolutely identical broadsides, we ended up with a beautiful range of yellows, oranges, pinks and even reds, that vary from print to print. So my scans here are representative of the edition in general, but no two prints are exactly alike (so if you order a print, please allow for some slight variations from what you see here).


To help restore hope to victims and in honor of our dreams for the future, a portion of our proceeds will be donated to Take Back the Night. In order to create safe communities, Take Back the Night seeks to end sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual abuse and all other forms of sexual violence.

Nightsong: No. 18 in the Dead Feminists series
Edition size: 147
Poster size: 10 x 18 inches

Printed on an antique Vandercook Universal One press, on archival, 100% rag (cotton) paper. Each piece is numbered and signed by both artists.

Colophon reads:
Sarojini Chattopadhyay Naidu (1879 - 1949) — also known as “The Nightingale of India” — was born in Hyderabad, the eldest of eight children. She was a gifted student, proficient in five languages, and by age 16 left the country to attend King’s College to pursue her interest in poetry. Inspired by the suffragist movement in England, she joined the struggle for Indian independence, traveling the country to lecture on social welfare, women’s rights and nationalism. Naidu played a leading role during the Civil Disobedience Movement and was jailed along with Gandhi. Naidu wrote beautiful lyrical poetry, focused on Indian themes, to inspire the nation. She was the first woman to serve as president of the Indian National Congress, and the first woman to become the Governor of the state of Uttar Pradesh. Though Naidu humbly claimed, “I am only a woman, only a poet,” her birthday is celebrated as Women’s Day throughout India.

Illustrated by Chandler O’Leary and printed by Jessica Spring, calling for an end to violence against women all over the world.

Available now in the Dead Feminists shop!



More than a thousand towns and cities in the U.S. are lucky enough to have had a Carnegie Library under their belt, and Tacoma is no exception. Today, our Carnegie Library is a wing of the expanded main campus of the Tacoma Public Library—and the rotunda now houses the fabulous Northwest Room, the ultimate resource for Tacoma and Northwest history. It’s a gorgeous space, and beloved in these here parts. So I figured it would be a perfect addition to the Red Deck of the Tacoma Playing Cards.


I didn’t think they’d take kindly to me breaking out the watercolors in a room full of rare books, but I was at least able to do the line drawing on-site. (’Scuse the wobbly iPhone photo.) And that’s always a tricky prospect for me—I always do as much drawing from life possible, but I’d much rather disappear into the woodwork while doing so. My drawings are always better when I can concentrate uninterrupted. The trouble is, the only place I can consistently sketch in public without anyone noticing me is New York. Here in Tacoma—where I run into someone I know at least once a day—it’s a different story.

In the Northwest Room there was a table right in front of me, which would have made me far less conspicuous while sketching. But in order to get the point of view I wanted, I had to stand dead-center in an aisle, right in the middle of the room. Yet not once in the hour-plus I stood there, sticking out like a sore thumb and obviously not doing what people normally do in there, did anyone bother me—or ask me what the heck I was doing, or make eye contact, or even register my existence.

I think I just found my new favorite sketching spot.

Reminder: the shop is getting rearranged on Monday, so this weekend is your last chance to snag letterpress prints at lower prices, and the last few bird prints before they’re discontinued!


Okay. Now that Old Town Dock is officially open, I feel like I can finally give away some juicy details. Here are all 24 medallions (portholes?) in my new public art piece, Droplets. Since not everyone reading this post is local to Tacoma, I won’t go into great detail over every image. But to give you some context, Old Town Dock boasts one of the best vantage points in the South Sound, with beautiful views of land, city and sea in every direction. That’s what first drew me to the site: I wanted the chance to encourage people to look all around them, because there was something to see everywhere you look.

But when I started researching the history of the place, I was even more struck by how much had happened in Old Town over the years—and how much was still going on, every day. Because of its prominence in so many lives and livelihoods, Old Town Dock has stood witness to a staggering number of true stories since it was built in 1873. Family histories, booming industries, important events, Native traditions, beginnings, endings, drastic changes, slow growth, celebrations, tragedies, and a thousand everyday narratives—the stories we tell are as commonplace as raindrops, yet as precious as the water that defines and sustains Tacoma as a city.

Droplets references just a handful of these stories, yet hopefully hints at the diversity and richness inherent in our public spaces.


Going from a painted picture to a tangible, finished object was nearly a two-year process, and I was only one small piece of the puzzle.


And the 24 medallions barely hint at the number of drawings I did along the way. Back when I was a finalist for the commission, I needed to demonstrate my understanding of the space, and convey how I wanted the artwork to function to the selection committee. In this area, pictures really were worth a thousand words apiece; time after time, sketching out what I meant was infinitely more effective than trying to explain it in words.

As I was working on my presentation, all this drawing and imagining every angle gave me a little epiphany. I realized that while the view from the site was spectacular, the Dock itself was part of the view, too, depending on where you stood. Since Old Town Dock is a gateway between land and sea, I wanted to engage the folks who’d be arriving from the water, as well. So I presented this drawing—and while some other things have changed along the way, the reality of this particular piece is almost exactly as it appears in this sketch.


Anyway, back to the nuts and bolts. As you’re well aware, I’m an illustrator—I work in paint and pixels, not industrial components. I didn’t have the skills or tools to make outdoor pieces out of durable materials (in public art, durable materials include metal, glass, tile, stone, brick, and other permanent industrial media; a mural, for instance, is not considered “durable”). So I turned my designs over to the good folks at Winsor Fireform, just down the road in Olympia, and they fabricated each Droplet as a small porcelain enamel disc.

Porcelain enamel is the most durable sign medium available. Each piece is made by reproducing the image in pigmented powdered glass onto a steel base. Then the piece is fired at kiln temperatures to fuse the glass to the steel, creating a permanent, totally nonreactive surface.


Porcelain enamel won’t fade in UV light, won’t react to water or salt, and is resistant to dirt and graffiti. That makes it ideal for public art, and the perfect medium for the harsh marine conditions at Old Town Dock.


Now all that was left was to install the rounds. I came armed with my scale drawing—and lots and lots of warm clothing for a long shift in the early morning rain.


Basically, I stood and pointed, and Pat routered out 24 perfectly positioned circles.


Then he inlaid each disc, affixing them to the wood with some seriously heavy-duty marine sealant, and Bob’s your uncle. Actually, it wasn’t always that easy; some of the rounds required some acrobatic feats to install. Just passing him tape measures and things gave me vertigo sometimes—but at least he didn’t have to drill while standing in a choppy rowboat (which was plan B, if hanging off the edge didn’t work).


Twenty-four hours later, the adhesive was fully cured, and I could call it done.


The day we installed, nothing on the Dock was completely finished—benches and planters were still piled up at random, and I wasn’t entirely certain that the final placement would match my scale drawing.


But now it sort of feels like the artwork has always been there—


and maybe you just never noticed it before.


I love being there to witness whenever a Droplet catches someone’s eye, and they stop whatever they’re doing to look more closely.


And just maybe that moment of noticing will lead to the words, “Let me tell you a story…”


It’s that time of year again: the trees are blooming outside, and inside we’re playing with knives. The ninth (!) annual Tacoma Wayzgoose is one week from today—and if we’re really lucky, Jessica and I might just finish carving our design by then. As usual, we’ll reveal the whole design that day, but until then, this little peek might look familiar…

If you’re new to my tiny u-bend of the Intertubes, you might ask: what the heck is a Wayzgoose? It’s a festival celebrating the art of printing, a tradition that goes back hundreds of years. Here in T-town, our party mobile is a steamroller—yes, ma’am—and we churn out giant-sized linocuts in the street to mark the occasion. If you’re local, come on by and get ink on your jeans:

9th Annual Tacoma Wayzgoose
Sunday, April 28, 2013
11 am to 4 pm, Free!
King’s Books
218 St. Helens Avenue, Tacoma, WA

In the meantime, you can whet your appetite with a stroll down Amnesia Lane—take a look at the ghosts of Wayzgeese past:

2009 (Tacoma)
2010 (Tacoma)
2011 (Tacoma)
2011 (San Francisco)
2012 (Tacoma)

See you next week, rain or shine!