Friday, October 08, 2010

Little Monsters!

I was lurching my way downtown on Muni this September, casting around


for ideas for this year’s Gothtober piece, when I noticed a little kid sitting next to her grandmother nearby. I idly thought, “What a cute little kid… it would be really fun if she was wearing a monster costume.” Then it occurred to me: why just a costume? What if that little kid was a baby monster? Monsters are sort of scary by definition, but almost anything “baby” is cute. I bet even baby sharks are cute.

With these thoughts as my beginning (except for the part about sharks… there are no baby sharks in my piece, that was just a parenthetical conjecture), I put together a portfolio of little monster cartoons, all set during a day at monster pre-school. I'm certainly not the only person to come up with juvenile creepy characters. Charles Addams did that before I was even born. But it was still fun to come up with my own baby versions of various types of monsters and scary beings.

Cartoons tend to look spontaneous, but the images you’ll see tomorrow are really the result of a thought-out process that includes brainstorming, narrowing down ideas, sketching, creating an ordered illustration plan, drawing model sheets and thumbnail sketches of scenes, and careful pencil and ink work on the final illustrations. Not to mention the joys of Flash programming.

Since my movie piece for Gothtober last year, I have continued to make friends with working in black and white. (You can see my piece from 2009 at Click on day 21.) This year’s drawings are inked brushwork on Bristol paper, except for the images in the introduction and credits, which are marker drawings from my model sheets. I had been drawing strictly with ink pens – the old-fashioned kind with calligraphy nibs -- until this summer, when I took a drawing class with artist Alexis Amann at the San Francisco Art Institute. Alexis convinced me to try drawing with a brush, and I’m glad she did.

This entry wouldn’t be complete without a huge (huge!) thank you to Julianna Parr and all the staff of for Gothtober, and for giving me the chance to share this art. The Gothtober site and all the artwork on it are so much fun… October wouldn’t be the same without it.

My “Little Monsters” piece opens tomorrow, October 13, 2010. You can see it at Just click on the twirling purple knob numbered 13.

Monday, May 03, 2010

A logo for a beautiful reason

I WAS LUCKY to have the opportunity recently to design a logo for Amrita Sacred Threads, a new clothing line. The clothes are a delight: the designer has struck a perfect balance by using Indian sari silk, with its luscious colors and complex woven detail, to make contemporary clothing that you can wear anywhere. But the reason for the clothing line is just as lovely: it supports women in India to be self-sufficient.

After the 2004 tsunami hit the shore of Kerala, India, many women there were widowed and had no way to support themselves and their families. Fortunately, the charitable collective Embracing the World offered a number of these women classes in sewing as a trade skill. The seamstresses’ mastery has increased to creating the beautiful garments you can preview on the Amrita Sacred Threads web site. Sewing these garments gives the women gainful employment that they might not otherwise be able to find.

It’s always an intriguing challenge to come up with a graphic solution that expresses the right message. For this design, I was inspired by a concept that struck me from an early version of the text for the Amrita Sacred Threads web site. The writer had commented that buying and wearing one of these handmade garments creates a beautiful connecting thread between the wearer and the maker. To put this touching idea of connection into an image, I drew a logo design with two woven-looking paisley motifs connected by a thread-like line.

You can read more about Amrita Sacred Threads (and get a look at the logo) at Also, if you’re in the Bay Area, Amrita Sacred Threads will be at a trunk show in San Francisco on May 5, 2010, and another trunk show in Tiburon on May 14, 2010. See the Events section of the web site for details.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Inheritance cover, book now available

I’m really pleased to share that Iris Jamahl Dunkle’s poetry collection Inheritance, which I designed the cover for, is now available for pre-order through Finishing Line Press. Now is the best time to order copies, since pre-orders will determine the size of the press run.

Having read poems from the collection years ago, it was a pleasant surprise to find that I would be creating a cover illustration for a familiar text. Reading these beautiful, honest poems feels so immediate that it’s almost like listening to a good friend – a friend who is a skilled poet, that is.

Iris was really open-minded and encouraged me to take my own approach to a cover illustration that would convey the spirit of the collection. Starting with Iris’ request for a black and white cover image of the musicians of Bremen town, I suggested adding secondary images from the poems, and using a silhouette style.

Link for online orders:


Iris’ announcement and mail order form

Just wanted to let you all know that my poetry collection Inheritance, will be published by Finishing Line Press on June 25, 2010. This is a limited edition collection, and pre-publication sales will determine the press run, so please reserve your copy by April 30th. Please take a moment to pre-order a copy and feel free to pass along information about the book. If you’ve already ordered Inheritance, my sincere thanks.

You can purchase the book online at by clicking on "2009/10 New Releases" and scrolling down to my book. Or, if you prefer to order by mail, please use the order form below. Copies are $12 each and shipping is only $1.

In Inheritance, Iris Jamahl Dunkle wipes the tarnish off an old family mirror, focuses her light onto it and back out onto the mythic labyrinths of a pastoral childhood, onto the harrowing city, and onto the straw-gold strands that bind the speaker and a distant beloved. A mother hums “the song of the sink,” the speaker packages the city into a “box, oil-stained and almost translucent,” and looks ahead to bones with “swollen rings (as) in trees”. Many of them sonnets, these small intense poems race past each other like cloud-spots, sun-spots on a wind-eager day, toward the beloved and an intertwined human destiny.” 

– Phyllis Meshulam

Sonoma County Coordinator for California Poets in the Schools.

“With shining images and language, Iris Dunkle explores childhood’s maze to find the self at the center, only to lose that center, as we must, to love… These poems celebrate two of the greatest tools we have for fixing the unfixable, love and language.”

– Gwynn O’Gara

Poet Laureate of Sonoma County, California 2010-2011

Thank you!

Iris Jamahl Dunkle

Please mail all orders to the Finishing Line Press address below or order online at (click on “2009/10 New Releases”).

Please send me ______ copy(ies) of Inheritance, by Iris Jamahl Dunkle, at $12.00 per copy.

Enclosed is my check (payable to Finishing Line Press) for $__________




Please send check or money order to:

Finishing Line Press

Post Office Box 1626

Georgetown, KY 40324

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Happy Holidays 2009

Here’s a look at my 2009 holiday card. This year I played with some of the classic 1951 lyrics to “Sleigh Ride” by lyricist Mitchell Parrish.

I send a holiday card to nearly all my friends, immediate family, and clients, so I have set myself a goal that each year’s card illustration should not focus only on Christmas but should include elements of the season that everyone can relate to.

I felt confident this year turning to the lyrics of Jewish immigrant Parrish, with his cheery rhymes about old-fashioned wintertime fun. A couple of my favorite parts are the sweet image of togetherness in, “There’s a happy feeling nothing in the world can buy -- when they pass around the coffee and the pumpkin pie” followed closely by the gentle reminder that “These wonderful things are the things we remember all through our lives,” and of course the most amusing line to sing out loud, “We’ll be singing the songs we love to sing without a single stop -- by the fireside while we watch the chestnuts pop -- pop, pop, pop!”