From the category archives:


I’m a 38th Voyager!

by Ted Slampyak on June 14, 2014

in Illustration,Inspiration

In early July I’ll be sailing aboard the last remaining wooden whaling ship, The Charles W. Morgan, newly restored and making its 38th voyage—and its first in nearly a hundred years—right now.

Mystic Seaport has chosen a handful of people to each travel one leg of this voyage and then create something from their experience. I’ll be making a comic book that I hope will capture the feeling and meaning that comes from this once-in-a-lifetime event.

Wish me smooth sailing and keep an eye out on the horizon! I’ll let you know how it all goes!

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Pantone Fashion Color Report, Spring 2014

by Ted Slampyak on September 13, 2013

in Illustration,Inspiration

Pantone Fashion Color Report, Spring 2014

It’s not just fashion designers or fashion illustrators who need to keep on top of the latest fashions. Trends in one field of design always influence others, and it’s a good idea to stay on top of the latest styles.

I’ve been trying lately to be more mindful of fashion. As an illustrator for the Art of Manliness and Real Men Real Style sites, of course, I need to know. Plus, I’m tired of being told my women look like they’re from the ’80s.

Pantone has come out with their report on the colors of next fall’s women’s fashions, as well as interviews with several designers and fashion influencers. If you’re a designer or illustrator of any type, or if you’re just curious, go check it out.

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Inspiration: Fall 2009 Givenchy Couture

by Jennifer Rae Kinyak on July 10, 2009

in Inspiration

givenchy-couture-fall-2009This photograph, which is by Monica Feudi and which I took from, has mesmerized me. I have it open on my desktop just so I can occasionally be surprised by it when I’ve closed other windows. Something about the pure, pure, purest white dipped in that rich, orangey red breaks my heart. And everything about how it’s been styled is perfect. I don’t think I’d be as moved by the photograph if, say, the model had a tan, or if she was blond, or if her hair was down, or if she was wearing red lipstick. I love that her skin is almost the color of the dress and the bandage-like cuffs on her arms and her toes peeking out and the drape of the dress and the way it kicks out with her stride. I feel it in my heart when I look at this photo.

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Jennifer Atkins. Portrait by Ted Slampyak

Today is the birthday of Jennifer Atkins, my partner in Storyteller’s Workshop, resident mammal illustrator and chronicler, exhibit designer, and my wife.

She’s talented and driven, enthusiastic, highly skilled, and very, very smart.

She’s also beautiful, lovely, funny, and wonderful.

Happy Birthday, my love!

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Inspiration: Hwa Young Jung’s “English Things”

by Jennifer Rae Kinyak on March 13, 2009

in Inspiration

drawing of jelly babies package

On Flickr, Hwa Young Jung is posting illustrations of quintessentially English products, like Marmite, Heinz Salad Cream, and the above-pictured Jelly Bellies (well known around here as a favorite of a certain Doctor Who). I really love these drawings, and in analyzing why I love them (a bit of a hobby of mine, now that I think about it), I’ve come up with a few reasons:

1. I read a lot of English mystery novels, and it’s nice to see the exotic foodstuffs the characters eat and drink. For instance, in a book I recently finished, a character makes a drink of Horlicks and milk. I looked Horlicks up (it’s a malted drink mix similar to Ovaltine), but seeing a drawn interpretation of it somehow sets the scene better. (I wish Jung had included HP All-Day Breakfast, though, which a much more slovenly character in the same book eats.)

2. I’m a bit fascinated with Cockney rhyming slang, and some of these products, because of their utter banality and popularity, have inspired rhyming slang terms. For instance, if you’re really tired, you can say “I’m cream crackered,” because it rhymes with knackered (which means tired—to Americans, there’s often a doubly opaque layer of meaning with the rhyming slang). Well, Jung has a drawing of cream crackers. Even the aforementioned Horlicks has a connection here: Horlicks is a rhyming-slang substitution for bollocks (another term we don’t use in America), which can be said when something a little less crude is called for.

3. I generally think of the packaging that surrounds me as garish and unattractive. Sometimes I fantasize about decanting all of the brand-name substances, foods, and concoctions in my house into lovely, quiet, plain glass bottles. It seems like it would be very calming to not be shouted at, all day every day, “Cetaphil! Palmolive! Listerine! Cascade!” and all the other words stuffed onto the packages. Packaging looks the way it does to attract your attention—in the store, not at home.

I imagine that’s what these packages look like to people who see them all the time. But to me, they’re objects, not products. They become cultural ephemera, interesting bits of graphic design, copywriting, and naming, and they don’t annoy me at all. It’s quite delightful, actually, to look at the everyday objects of someone else’s life. When I’ve traveled to other countries, I’ve enjoyed roaming in the supermarkets. The most pedestrian objects become charming, exotic treasures when they come from somewhere else.

4. Jung’s drawing style is simple and quirky, with flat colors and loose lettering. It’s refreshing to look at an illustrated copy of something that was created, usually on a computer, to be slick and straight, sharp and glossy. And there’s something satisfying about these small, idiosyncratic drawings being a catalog of a number of different items. They’re united, now, into a collection. It feels like polishing something off.

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“About Digital Comics”

by Ted Slampyak on February 21, 2009

in Inspiration

There’s a lot of talk in the comics community about the future of comics on the web. Many are pointing to the cool things the Internet can do and wondering why we’re still thinking of comics as a print medium — how can we incorporate some of the unique features of the Web into comics while keeping them comics — not turning them into multimedia slide shows or bad cartoons, for example.

Yves Bigerel has created a great demonstration of how Flash can be used in digital comics, which he’s posted on

about DIGITAL COMICS by ~Balak01 on deviantART

(Thanks to the Daily Cartoonist for letting me know about this!)

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Bollywood Color Palette

by Ted Slampyak on September 27, 2008

in Inspiration

Ted, my sister Jessica, and I just watched the wonderful Bollywood movie Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. Ted and I had seen it once before, and it’s one of our favorites. I was struck again tonight by the beauty of the movie’s art direction, costume and set design, and cinematography. It’s just very visually striking. Most of all, it makes use of the most beautiful colors (like most Bollywood movies do). Before the colors had dried out of my eyes, I decided to put together a quick Bollywood-inspired swatch library (in Adobe’s ASE format). All the colors are Pantone process coated. Download them and use them to make something beautiful!

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Repeal Day

by Ted Slampyak on December 1, 2007

in Inspiration

Those of you who are fans of my webcomic Jazz Age — and those of you who aren’t — might find this interesting.

This Wednesday — December 5 — is Repeal Day, the anniversary of the ratification of the 21st Amendment here in the U.S., which repealed the 18th Amendment which had prohibited the sale, transportation and manufacturing of alcohol. We just called it Prohibition. And the makers of Dewars scotch have a web site up called

I was surprised by the depth of research that went into the site. There’s one section that talks about the way Repeal Day used to be observed. For instance, to celebrate the 21st Amendment, festivities usually commenced at 21:00 hours, or 9:00 PM; the first drink of the night was usually non-alcoholic, to remind the guests of life under prohibition; and at midnight the host usually has a toast to reflect on what repeal has meant to them. This isn’t just drunken abandon here.

They’ve also put together a station on called “Underground & Cutting Edge: 1920’s” that plays music of the era. There’s a lot of good ragtime and old jazz — it sometimes veers way off course in time period, giving us much more recent blues and whatnot, but what can ya do?

Prohibition plays a pretty big part in Jazz Age, as it played a large part of everyday lives back in the 1920s. Those of us who want to harken back to those days and pay tribute to our grandfathers’ time might want to host a Repeal Day party — if nothing else, it’s an excuse to get together and celebrate. And you don’t have to drink Dewar’s — I’m a Jack & Coke man myself.

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Leif Peng’s Daily Inspiration

by Ted Slampyak on June 1, 2007

in Inspiration

Storyteller’s Workshop recently subscribed to Leif Peng’s Daily Inspiration e-mails. Every weekday, he sends us illustrations from (roughly) the 1940s and 1950s. They’re so beautiful! Lots of different styles, and they really are inspiring, especially since we have such a vintage focus here. Check out this nice gestural spaceman from Al Parker. I’m going to play around with drawing my birds in this kind of style for a change of pace. Even though loose drawings like this look so tossed-off, they’re actually so much more difficult to do.

If you’re interested in old-style illustrations, give the Daily Inspiration a perusal.


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