Tuesday, October 20, 2009


I’ve been working for the last six weeks on a Web-based art piece for the Halloween countdown calendar Gothtober.com. The calendar releases a new art piece by a different artist for every day of October, and mine will open tomorrow, October 21. I’m very grateful to the creator of Gothtober, Julianna Parr, and to all the Gothtober staff, for giving me an invaluable opportunity to experiment and push my work to a new level, and to share it with a wider audience.

My piece, titled “Black Waters,” tells a touching -- yet creepy! -- story of a monster’s love for a beautiful blonde backpacker. In this piece, I’ve used still and animated charcoal drawings along with voice acting and sound effects to create a sort of hybrid of graphic novel and movie.

I created this piece to go with Gothtober’s theme for 2009, “Drive-In Movie.” I took inspiration from the basic idea and monster image for the 1954 film, “The Creature from the Black Lagoon,” to come up with my own aquatic monster story. “The Creature from the Black Lagoon” is such a part of American movie culture that although I’d never actually seen the film, I’ve always been amused by the image of the monster and the general idea of the story.

In fact, I had already written the first draft of the script for my own piece before I watched the original “Creature from the Black Lagoon,” film for the first time. I was surprised by how similar some elements in my story were to the original storyline and film. In particular, I was intrigued to find that while I had spontaneously decided to set my story in a Florida lagoon that (naturally!) adjoins a cave, in the original “Creature” film, which is set in Brazil, the underwater sequences were actually filmed on location in Florida (!) in a lagoon that leads to, guess what: one of the largest underwater caves in the United States.

The piece incorporates over twenty-five individual charcoal drawings, so designing and executing these illustrations was a large part of this project. On a good day, I would produce five or six drawings, and had the charcoal-coated fingers to prove it. There were some moments when, while deciding whether to use a 2B Conte crayon or a 6B charcoal pencil for a certain shadow, I felt like I was back in art school, stroking and blending my way through a figure drawing – except that I didn’t have a nude monster posing on a platform in front of me. By the way, some of my favorite drawings from this piece are the ones featuring armadillos... I had to do a bit of research in order to depict them properly, and I discovered that armadillos are quite cute!

Working with actors (recruited from among my friends) and sound has been a delightful part of this project, and I’m truly grateful for how generous Dia, Bobby, and Canyon were with their time and creativity. I gave them free rein to portray the characters however they wanted and I was really tickled by the results. It’s just incredibly fun to hear how each person plays his or her part, and to combine the sounds to create the illusion of events unfolding. I only wish I had a photo of Dia and me in front of the mic, Dia screaming and lowering her face into a bowl of water while I grabbed her leg, pretending to be the creature... ah, the things one does for art! In fact, I'm especially grateful to Dia, not only for playing the part of "Marissa," but also for recording me and putting the perfect effects on my voice to create the voice of the creature.

Please take a look at the piece, and let me know what you think. I’m really pleased and excited to share it with you. And don’t worry – the piece opens October 21, but you can go back and view it again later too.

To view it, go to www.gothtober.com and click on the square that says “21” (that’s 21, not 31).

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Elsi's home on the Web... plus, a new Cafe Press URL

I’m pleased to announce the new Elsi Tervo web page: http://www.elsitervo.com. Though I took my share of web design classes during the dot com heydays, this is actually the first page that I’ve taken all the way through to posting on the web myself, so creating it was a pretty gratifying experience.

The page links to my Cafe Press shop, and also to my music-themed shirts offered on e-Bay by the legendary Pixelbiscuit Records.

Since the site address is much shorter than the Cafe Press address, it should be easier to pass along to friends, or go back to later for more t-shirt fun.

Also, anyone who has bookmarked the Cafe Press shop directly should take note that the address of the Cafe Press shop itself has changed. The new address is http://www.cafepress.com/elsitervo. The old address had an underscore in it (“elsi_tervo”), which I removed to make it a little simpler.

Friday, May 15, 2009

A Marriage Equality Design for Everyone

I've just enhanced my Cafe Press shop with another marriage equality themed design. The last one I created was specific to California in response to Proposition 8, but this one is for everyone, everywhere! It's clean, it's simple, it's classy... go check it out! 

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Christmas! In April!

Now that I've decide to embrace my blog after several years of denying its very existence, you have to allow me some retrospective posts.

This is a small sample from my holiday card for 2008. I really enjoy creating these cards, since I give myself total freedom to draw anything I want. This card in particular looks a bit like a doodle page, with random holiday-related ideas spontaneously drawn anywhere they'll fit.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Work included in Gothtober.com 2008

In October 2008, I had an animated piece included in the fabulous online Halloween countdown calendar, Gothtober.com! 

Gothtober, a brainchild of artist and illustrator Julianna Parr, counts down the days of October to Halloween by marking each day with an original piece of online art created by a different artist. It's quite fun to go to the site each day in October and find out what's hiding behind that day's virtual door.

My piece opened on Day 21 (and yes, you can still see it now that Day 21 has passed). It's a recording (of yours truly!) singing a traditional Latin American folk song, accompanied by animated versions of my original gouache illustrations. This was my first time animating, so I have an itch to create a second, even better version, but I'm still excited to share Version 1 with you.

Take a look! Go to www.gothtober.com and click on "21" (low on the page, just to the right of the skeleton mariachi trio).

Friday, March 13, 2009

Marriage Equality T-shirt on Cafe Press

These are a couple of snapshots from my Marriage Equality t-shirt. I designed it for all those who believe it's a basic human right to legally marry the person you love and want to build a life with. 

The shirts come in unisex and women's styles, and there's a blue and white version of the design (no color fills) for the more understated wearer. 

Shirts are available now on Cafe Press. Click here to go to my shop:

Monday, March 09, 2009

Entered "Communication Arts" 2009 Illustration Contest

I entered the Communication Arts 2009 illustration contest this week. Winners have their work featured in the bi-monthly magazine's 2009 Illustration Issue (July/August). The image above is a sample from the illustration I entered, a scene from an imagined production of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream."