Sunday, March 25, 2012


Now that our hearts have stopped racing from the excitement of last week's announcements, we'd like to slow things down for a moment and tell you a little bit about ROUND ROBIN 3 and its inception.

This final book maintains the spontaneous spirit of the first two installments, but it is also a departure. ROUND ROBIN 3 is based it on the same add-on word game, with a twist: instead of each artist adding a word to form a chain, each artist added a sentence to form a story.

As we were finishing the paintings for the second book we all felt that we wanted to try something different for the final collaboration, so we referenced classic fairy tale structures and improv games where the actors build upon each other's suggestions to create scenes.
This collaborative writing exercise proved much more difficult than we anticipated, because it was easy to lose track of where the story was going. We eventually had to follow a specific structure and we brought in our friend Liz Thiers to help edit the final draft and stylistically unify our three voices.
Once the writing process was finished, each one of us illustrated a sentence written by someone else, just like we did for the first two books.

Below you will find some early sketches that we did while still searching for ways to represent the 3 main characters of the story, three snooty tall sheep who live in a 12th floor apartment! Right off the bat each one of us was drawing the sheep differently, a diversity of style that we embraced and tried to maintain in the paintings as well, to keep the approach true to the collaborative and reactive nature of the project.

In the following weeks we'll share more art, process, and some extra special surprises, so please stay tuned.
We're very happy with how ROUND ROBIN 3 turned out, and we can't for you to read it in May!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Today we have two big announcements...

We are very happy to report that we have just completed the final book in our series, ROUND ROBIN 3 ! The book goes to the printer this week and will be available in May.

We are also excited to announce a special exhibition featuring all 45 original ROUND ROBIN paintings at GALERIE ARLUDIK in Paris! The show opens May 29 with a reception on May 31 - more details to come. We are thrilled to partner with Diane and Jean-Jacques Launier from the well-known animation and illustration gallery to display our hard work. We've had a blast creating the books, and we think you're going to love the third addition. We can't wait to see the culmination of all our efforts over the past 3 years in the gallery show this spring!

Sunday, March 18, 2012


The ROUND ROBIN books are based on an add-on word game, where each two-word combination becomes the basis for an illustration.
Here is an example of a word association I got in ROUND ROBIN 2, and a step by step of how I created the corresponding image.

Mixed Media on Wood Panel
by Daniela Strijleva

The association created by these two words was somewhat obvious, planting an immediate image of the microscopic insect world into my mind. I had to get those plain associations out of my system right away. Humming birds, spiders, bees, and the like were the first things in my mind and the first crossed off the list. Then came the thought of engines and roads. I thought of a road map, then a subway map. A train station perhaps. Train engines and train tracks. And then I remembered a model train set I had as a kid where you built your own rail tracks. There it was, the inception of the idea.

On to the planning: research (because I'm a firm believer in it) and color roughs. I knew I wanted a vibrant, graphic look. But I had no idea how to organize it yet. I looked at a lot of model trains.
Research is one of my favorite parts of any project, because it not only serves to inform me on the topic at hand, but it also informs my artistic decisions.
I usually begin by searching for the obvious references but I always end up being surprised along the way. Invariably some unexpected piece of information will present itself to me, and my job is to recognize its potential and be open to embrace it.
In this case, I didn't know how to compose the painting. I knew I wanted a flat perspective-less look, but I still couldn't help myself but to draw angles and receding shapes. Just a habit, muscle memory. Annoying in this case.
Until, while searching for model trains, I noticed that their box sets and the majority of the display cases organized the cars in long horizontal rows, one above the other. It was exactly what I was looking for! No perspective, no recession with distance, just flat rows of train cars stacked on top of each other.

So now I had an idea of the composition. But I was still nowhere near having designed anything. I looked at more reference of specific train car styles and picked those I liked. I wanted a wide variety: engines, high speed passenger cars, freight cars, commuter cars, etc.

Next were color roughs and the final painting! I wanted to keep the palette vibrant, pure, almost primary. These stacked train cars were almost like a toy collection, where you want to have one of each color. So I wanted to stay close to that idea. This pure palette seemed to lend itself well to collage, so I got some origami papers which ended up driving the overall color scheme too.
And there you have it, HUMMING + WEB!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Artist Help Japan

At 1 year anniversary of the devastating disaster in Japan, Dice Tsutsumi along with Artist Help Japan once again are hosting a series of 4 on-line art charity auctions dedicating to help the cause. In our effort for contribution, we each have donated an original bookplate painting for the 2nd auction, which has begun at 6pm today ! There are also many great artists around the world and famed Pixar directors have contributed their original artwork and rare signed & sketched books for the auctions. Please take a look, it's a great oppertunity to own a great art and contribute to a good cause. All proceeds will go to Japan through MercyCorps.