Wednesday, May 21, 2014


Right now NASA is developing the ORION spacecraft and SLS rocket to embark on the most significant space expedition since the Mars rover landings and the Apollo Lunar Missions. The SLS program is a new space launch system that will have a thrust capability of rocketing up to 130 metric tons into space and allow future astronauts to go further than they've ever gone before. With the kind of resources involved and cost of such an expedition, some may question what would be the purpose? Why bother venturing beyond what we know if we have plenty to discover in our oceans, under the soil and on our planet?

Sometimes we set out and set sail leaving behind a familiar place because we have to or we're forced to. In 1845, a wide spread plant disease ravaged a country's most important crop, which caused starvation and spread of disease forcing more than a million and a half Irish citizens to relocate to America. When Lewis and Clark set off on an expedition west, they knew the significance of such an undertaking along with the important task of keeping a somewhat scientific observation of the journey for President Jefferson. The transcontinental railroad enabled the first connections between east and western America. Explorers set out on foot and making new paths for future travel. Engineers innovate so that laborers can build with enterprises that unite towns and cities with roads and tracks. Sometimes our purpose is to simply expand.

The most important reason we as humans embark on such missions is that it's inherent in all of us. Darwin said that we are a "wild species". Because our spirits have infinite capacity and an immeasurable fire. So far as we know, we are the only species on this planet, and perhaps in our universe, that can venture to that seemingly intangible geography of space and along with our collective ideas and dreams, find what drives our curiosity.

NASA's Space Shuttle Missions turned the mystical idea of what is beyond the familiar realm into innovation, technological advancement and scientific discovery. The shuttle orbiters flew over 130 missions, totaling over half a billion travel miles, and carrying more than 300 explorers into space. When watching the launches at Kennedy Space Center, I wanted to be one of those explorers. I grew up in California, a state with 18 national forests and spent much of my childhood discovering trails, and blazing a few in wild places with names like, Wolf Camp, Tuolumne Meadows, El Capitan and Big Sur. Once during a really arduous climb in Yosemite, a friend growled, "where the hell are we going?"

I admitted I had no idea, but that I was certain we'd know when we got there.

NASA Space Shuttle Missions Dedication Art. A series dedicated to the Space Shuttle Missions spanning from 1981-2011 and part of Ink & Sword's Stellar Science Series.

now playing: Johnny Cash‬ - ‪Orange Blossom Special‬

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


"What is a scientist after all? It is a curious man looking through a keyhole, the keyhole of nature, trying to know what's going on." - Jacques Cousteau.

Why is it important to question, to rework and take another look? In relation, I was thinking about cover songs this morning because I noticed that a bunch of the music on my playlist playing oddly in succession are pretty damn good if not better cover versions from the original. Jeff Buckley covering "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen, which hits in all the places (and notes) the original does not, is a great example. Interpretations from Ryan Adams' "Wonderwall" by Oasis, Sonic Youth with "Superstar" by The Carpenters, The xx with Beyoncé’s “I Miss You” are also good improvements. There's a video concept and cover version of Rihanna's "Only Girl" by Frida Rydén, formerly of the brilliant Swedish band Cinnamon. Frida turns the song on its ear and produces a version that is arresting and beautifully sensitive, with an interpretation that she states, "focuses on the feeling of vulnerability I found in the lyrics."

And Coltrane's My Favorite Things by Rodgers and Hammerstein is, well, immeasurable. They should of put that on Voyager. When we inquire, we gain the ability to modify a perspective and this change allows us to "turn a corner" and explore things in a new light. So better to leave no stone unturned. It's okay to question everything. Just make sure to do this with the Trane playing on track sometime.

Friday, February 21, 2014


Connectivity is electricity. Interconnected networks in data, nature, neural and social structures, flow like currents between two or more points conducting the vital sharing and cultivating of ideas, information, opportunity, as well as our relatedness in laughter, sadness, fears, hopes and dreams. They are sparks lighting an idea that we are not an aggregate of characters methodically dissolving away. It can also be quietly simple as a feeling you get when in the sweetest company, you want to invite the entire world to the table and to that moment, because you know it's fleeting as days can feel like hours and minutes like seconds. It's remarkable how little we know about ourselves, about human beings. Asking questions are how we get to know just a little bit more. There are records sent out aboard the Voyager1 spacecraft with the intention of contacting intelligent life apart from our own. There are 55 messages in 55 languages recorded on one of the audio sections. Carl Sagan assembled the images and sounds for NASA and even asked the Beatles to contribute the song, "Here Comes the Sun". All of the languages have in common, a single phrase transmitted with the optimism and infinitesimal hope that the message will make a connection. A shared imagination of improving and mapping our understanding of the universe. Carl Sagan said, "the launching of this 'bottle' into the cosmic 'ocean' says something very hopeful about life on this planet". Perhaps he was highlighting the value of contact as he imagined this spacecraft sailing out in interstellar travel with a dream to reach beyond the familiarity, create unimaginable networks and inspire something or someone to reconnect and say it just like in those 55 languages — Greetings.

"Network"- Ink & Sword Stellar Science Series. Artwork © 2014 Ink & Sword

now playing: Washed Out - All I Know

Monday, February 10, 2014

Energy To Spare

Just a quick update as I've finally gotten around to getting things relatively back to normal at the new location. And just in time, with much abuzz at the studio. I'm currently in the thick of it with some exciting new art projects and a music related one that should keep my head spinning for a while. Quite a few people have asked me about larger size formats for our posters so the good news is that the 24x36 option will be available on the shop pages soon. In the meantime here's a better look at some brand new additions to the Stellar Science Series! (Posters shown are 18x24 hand pulled screen prints on artist paper 100 lb. cover stock.)
Artwork © 2014 Ink & Sword

now playing: Jedidiah Dore - Song demo 9

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


I moved Ink & Sword Studio this past weekend. It's a long story but it involved some traversing from Brooklyn to uptown Manhattan back and forth and included some blood, sweat and almost tears. With the aid of some great friends it all happened during a snowstorm and went into the early morning hours. And by friends, I'm not so much referring to the "like" your random social status update type. I mean the people that show up at your door at dawn when you tell them you need them to haul heavy furniture up flights of stairs and during a snowstorm variety. We must have driven up and down the FDR, East River Drive, the West Side Highway, the Brooklyn Queens Expressway and even through the spine of the city on Broadway, over a dozen times. Side hopping traffic flare ups, accidents and construction delays. I learned so much about this city during this move. The actual distance I relocated measures less than 15 miles apart. In NYC that's tantamount to moving to a foreign country. For some an entire life can be spent never leaving their own neighborhood or borough. After 15 years, I bid farewell to my corner bodega, Dumbo, Clark Street and the Promenade, Cobble Hill, Bed-Stuy, and Bushwick. All places I've Iived in Brooklyn. I unloaded the last box into my new home at 4am and went for a walk in my new neighborhood. My hands were pretty cut up and I was pretty banged up from all the work so the ice-cold air seemed like a good antidote. I thought about this transition happening and I passed a scene not unlike the one I had just left the day before in Brooklyn. A man was gently sweeping the front of the bodega at the corner and someone else delivered a bundle of morning papers. I forgot where I was for a second as he smiled and said good morning. I realized that nothing much has changed. Only I have.

Below are illustrations I created for Plain Ink and The Qessa Academy. Both enterprises were launched by the remarkable Selene Biffi whom I had the great pleasure of working with for this project. Plain Ink and The Qessa Academy are based in Italy, India and Afghanistan. Part of their mission is to help provide communities with access to books and education by way of storytelling and cultural narrative.

Artwork © 2014 Ink & Sword