As you can see on the main page I have uploaded the third and final variation on The United Plates theme. This set is more or less a style update than a complete overhaul like last time because that is all that was needed. I will be announcing more on December 1st, along with some Christmas deals and I’ll discuss why I worked through this project again throughout the week. But, for now, just take a look through the new prints. I hope you enjoy!
Check out my regularly updated blog at blog.johnholcomb.com.
United Plates BlogsHow I Make Canvas Wraps
The State of the United Plates
United Plates 2
Solo Gallery Show
Original United Plates Post
Things have been very quiet around here during 2011… but not for much longer.
Band: Craig’s Brother
Album: The Insidious Lie
Release Date: January 25th, 2011
I’ve been one of Craig’s Brother’s since his Homecoming. One of my earliest forays into punk, Homecoming unintentionally became a gateway album for what is now my favorite genre of music – punk rock – a genre that is sorely lacking real players in 2011.
Yet, while I was a fan of Homecoming, I wouldn’t say I was an involved “I’m coming home for Christmas” member of Craig’s family… then Lost at Sea happened. A flat out brilliant record, Lost at Sea also happens to be the first CD I ever bought using the Internet. It’s almost satirical, while I was legally spending my cleaning money on the album, the Internet killed Lost At Sea‘s chance of reaching its audience. The Napster dispute caused this record to land on the back burner way too early.
But that story is ancient history often rehashed at Craig’s family gatherings I’m sure. The real question – what has our favorite punk rock brother been up too since then? Besides putting out an EP that I mildly enjoyed, Craig’s Brother has been talking about a new record that seemed like it would never become reality.
Life happens, dudes grow up. Boys with punk attitude become men who need money and for punk rockers that usually means one thing – day jobs. Since, for most, punk rock doesn’t make money and thrives on passion alone, I assumed Craig’s Brother would run out of the angst required for punk. Surely their loudest days were behind them. I thought maybe they would explore some of the softer ideas introduced on Lost at Sea. After all, those songs are fantastic and I wouldn’t have minded if they did. I just wasn’t expecting a blazing punk rock record.
But I must admit I was wrong! Not only does Craig’s Brother still have energy, they have a message they want the listener to hear. They don’t sound like disgruntled dudes, mad at their station in life, they sound like the same band that wrote Homecoming, only now they’re smarter and more tactful with age. Their zeal for these songs thunders out of the speakers. They have honed their ability to pen a hook, a message and still manage to stuff it into a 3 minute song.
A record lacking any filler, an extraordinary feet in modern music, with The Insidious Lie we are presented 11 solid songs. Some of my favorites include “Mistake of Caring” “Thousand Yard Stare” “The Problem of Evil” “The Aaronic Blessing” and my current favorite “Klamath Falls.”
I have only the slightest idea how much effort it took for them to get this album out to us. I’m sure life and jobs left them little time to even write and record a new album, let alone leaving them enough energy to actually give it this much heart. It bleeds sincerity. I want to earnestly thank the guys that created this record. I know they’ll never monetarily make back what they put into it; but I hope they receive plenty of praise from steadfast fans from their past and maybe they’ll add new members to the family along the way.
Overall, while I can’t say it’s better than Lost at Sea, I can say that it’s not a disappointment. Once the years of music listening begin to pile up, nostalgia starts to play a large part in ranking albums. Lost at Sea has that nostaligia factor, but on an individual basis, The Insidious Lie is as good as any punk record I’ve purchased in the past 5 years.
I never pay $9.99 for a digital album, but for now that’s the only way to get this one. Click here to buy: craigsbrother.com I will be in line to pick up a real copy if given the chance. Apparently a vinyl is in the works.
Note: You may notice I only gave this album 95%. As an illustrator and artist by trade, I have to be honest and knock the record a bit for its weak album art. I don’t mean to offend whoever created it – it’s just looks bad.
I thought this might make for an interesting blog since I just put the finishing touches on 10 canvas wraps. I’ve had people ask me if these are like the (cheap) canvas wraps found in stores. The answer is simply no. I put extra effort into each wrap, at added cost to me. I don’t make a lot of profit off of each canvas wrap, rather I want to offer the best possible product. It’s also my intent to offer the buyer a product that is read to hang (use Command velcro tabs, they’re the best!). There is no extra framing cost to this product.
The following is the process:
I print every canvas and allow it to dry for 24 hours. I have custom-built 1.5″ wooden frames.
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Artist: Pete Stewart
Album: Under North Sky
Release Date: March 2010
Pete Stewart has been one of my favorite musicians since I was a sprite teenager. I have many memories tied not only to his work with Grammatrain, but his solo record on Forefront – an album I am sure he wishes no longer beared his name. Nonetheless, I still find myself frequently listening to it and while his second solo album didn’t grab me like I expected it to, Under North Sky has sold me.
Finding some of its roots dipping into more traditional American country, the album is still firmly planted in the rock ‘n roll soil that’s been the foundation for all of Pete Stewart’s musical endeavors. Pete has crafted a set of songs that are simple, superb and far from superflous. My favorite thing in life is simplicity and I have found another album I’m proud to put on my shelf.
I was a bit late getting this album as it saw it’s release early last year in 2010. The modern music industry, one relying less on traditional labels, finds me struggling to keep up with all the artists I enjoy. Thankfully great art needs no timetable and it definitely never expires, I believe I would enjoy this album equally had I found it 10 years from now.
Pete isn’t relying on gimmicks or trends, it sounds to me like he’s writing the songs he wants to write and as long as he keeps doing that, I’ll keep listening. The thing that continually draws me to good music is heart. It’s easy to hear heart and it’s easy to sniff out feigned honesty. There is nothing fake on this album. There’s nothing fake about Pete (as far as I’ve been able to gather from his interviews). I highly recommend you take a listen. I’ll be supporting this dude as long as he’s willing to share his songs with me.
Now if only he could have found someone to create better cover art.
You can stream the entire record on his site + download a song: petestewartmusic.com/
The United Plates has been kind to me. The idea was a gift from God that popped into my head on a cold winter afternoon exactly three years ago. The randomness that originally drew me to the idea is what I still love about the sporadic, unexpected success of this little series. When I started, I didn’t know if anyone would get it, but I thank everyone who has.
I’m always striving to do things better, I’ve worked through the series twice, making new versions of many of the prints. The series has received many national features from the likes of Food Network, ReadyMade and National Geographic.
However, I’ve noticed one continually disconcerting comment that people make. Maybe I’ll never truly clear out the misconception and maybe it’s that misconception that I’ve grown to love. There’s an element of mystery in the project that some people will just never see past. It’s what we artists so ostentatiously define using two simple words – “It’s art.”
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I apologize for the overload of posts, but I just wanted to announce the launch of my illustration portfolio site. It’s a stripped down site focusing only on illustration. There are a few new pieces not featured here and there will be many more in the future.
It also features a blog that will be updated much more frequently (a stream of consciousness blog) as well as a process corner where I show how I make some of the illustrations for those interested in that kind of thing.
Shorthanded is moving into the realm of my exclusive print shop. I sell so many prints through the shop I am only going to post new art pieces on here whenever I have time to create them. Of course, first priority is the US Presidents series.
Speaking of the shop I am excited to offer a new product – 11×14 Canvas Wrap prints. I make these in studio and I must say they are a really cool product I am beyond excited to begin to offer. Buy one if you like! There will be more prints – not just United Plates – coming soon.
National Geographic contacted me requesting a feature of my work on the travel portion of their website. I offered a few new insights to the project. Check it out here: National Geographic.
This is definitely one of my favorite features so far, I’ve thumbed through National Geographic magazines for as long as I can remember. Finding extremely old dust-covered issues in thrift shops and antique stores is always a highlight. So go check it out!
The Smithsonian was doing a feature display on the work of Wayne Thiebaud over the Thanksgiving holiday. When I was in school I was introduced to Thiebaud’s work and I was instantly hooked. He has definitely been an inspiration.
What meant the most to me in this post, beside being mentioned along a great artist, was the little tag at the end that listed my DC print with its year attached – “Wayne Thiebaud, Around the Cake, 1962. John Holcomb, Washington D.C., 2010.” It was definitely a proud moment indeed. Maybe one day I’ll have a piece in a Smithsonian, but if not I will always have my little mention next to Wayne Thiebaud. It’s a win/win.
Check out the post here: Smithsonian Post
The United Plates was recently featured on DCist.com. I am always appreciative of the exposure, but this one in particular turned out to be a huge deal. More info on that to come, but for now check out the post here: http://dcist.com/2010/11/dc_pop-tart.php
Thanks D.C. fans!
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