I’m going to Comicon, so you should stop by and say ‘hi’.

I’m going to be at Emerald City Comicon with a bunch of maps, prints, posters, books, and yes, comics. You should stop by and say Hi at table H13 in the Artists’ Alley.



I’ll have a few of these tiny comics with me. The tiny cat will not be there. Also, Seattle Doomsday Maps and Fremont Doomsday maps.




Fremont Doomsday map

Thanks to my friends at Google, The Fremont Doomsday Map is now part of the permanent collection at the Seattle Google Offices (along with a nice full-size print of the Seattle Doomsday Map). This means there are now three of my maps hanging on walls at Google, as far as I know.

18″ x 24″, pen and ink and watercolor. Prints available.
Detail images. Click for larger:




Barbarian and Robot

So busy today with a triple work deadline today, but I’m going to post some sketches. I am not much of a comic artist, but last year while I was hanging out in Portland, I drew this fun little series of panels:


I’m totally psyched about how it came out, even though this is just rough sketches. There are a bunch more, this is just a sample. It’s totally wordless, full of mayhem and dungeon craziness.


The whole thing is also a dungeon crawl that stitches together into a huge map. If the experiment works, the big map/cartoon will be a Patreon release. I *think* I can fit the whole thing on an 11×17 sheet, which I could then print using my big printer, fold like a streetmap, and stick in an envelope for people.

On the other hand, it could be a recipe for disaster. There’s already one atrocious draft of this hidden behind my dresser.*


* What? You don’t hide your failures behind your dresser.

Art I Love: Keith Tilford’s Mill

@ZakSmith lamented on twitter:




…and I’m inclined to agree. At least I’ll agree that most of what’s written about contemporary art today is shite. But it doesn’t need to be. Anyone who can 1) write, 2) look at art, and 3) think should be able to write something intelligent about a piece of art. I’m taking it as a challenge that anyone who like art and writes should spend some time writing about art. And so, I’m writing a review of a piece of art I’ve seen a few times and rather like.

Why Keith Tilford’s “Mill” is Awesome

This is “Mill” by Keith Tilford. He’s a Seattle artist who graduated from Cornish pretty recently and he’s had a couple of shows that have been well received. That’s almost everything I know about the guy. For a bigger picture, you’ll have to go to Kieth Tilford’s Web site.


I love this painting. I wish it were hanging on my wall, and here are three reasons why:

It looks awesome

It’s a small painting, but it really you from across the room. It’s got these crazy lines leaning across the painting like fallen girders, or are they apartment blocks? Or, it’s like you’re inside a crushed cellphone and the screen is all coming down around the circuit boards or something. You have to look closer. But looking closer doesn’t resolve anything. After staring for 5-10 minutes you’re forced to conclude that no, this isn’t a painting of some thing, but an abstract. And is it even a painting? It takes several more minutes before you’re sure the lines aren’t painted or drawn using any familiar technique at all.

From a distance Mill–like Keith’s other works from the same show–looks like the ruin of an organized structure, but what structure is a mystery. It’s a ruin with a sense of proportion. When you look closer, each part also looks like a little ruin of its own, fractal-wise till your nose is an inch from the acrylic board and you’re still finding detail. And yet, the whole thing has this otherworldly harmony that stays and stays–no matter how close or far away you stand.

It’s a product of technical mastery

How did he get those lines on there? Their texture and opacity makes them look more photographic than painterly. At times they are razor straight, but at others they waver and flow, making you wonder what kind of tool the artist used to make them. And they pass over and under one another in a way that creates a deep three dimensional representation, but also tricks your expectations, making you struggle to grasp the overall form.

Keith Tilford reportedly makes his own tools. Even after long examination, I can only guess what they might be. The lines look like they might be drawn with some kind of straight edge, palette knife or squeegee, or some combination in different sizes and thicknesses. Is he using acrylic ink? Some kind of emulsion? It looks like some kind of chemical process is involved. You can tell that every line and splotch is right where he wants it to be in order to achieve the effect he’s aiming for. I’ll bet he had to work like mad to get there. The point here isn’t that Keith Tilford has apparently created an artistic technique all his own, but that he has clearly mastered it.

It’s Interesting

This is obviously not a painting of a mill. The pieces look functional, but have no real function. They’re apparently connected, but upon inspection the connection can’t be found. It looks like a ruin, but it’s not a building. It’s a heap, but a heap of what? The painting evokes and depicts function, connection, ruin, and accretion without resorting to the particular objects that usually constitute these conceptions. That in itself isn’t anything new. Art schools are full of pictures that do the same thing. But the point is that Keith does it well. Some of his older pictures evoke a similar effect, but with bits of clocks or books included, which I think diminishes the effect.

As far as I’m concerned, this is true information age art. We run into highly organized images with an incredible density of information every day. Some of them are useful, many of them are deceptive, and a huge proportion of them are ultimately advertisements for some product or idea. This art has high information density, but the didactic level has been stripped away. It’s not trying to warn you about something urgent, win your support, show you how to get ahead in life, or even convince you to buy more art. It’s just sitting there being a painting in a very new and interesting way.

As an aside I was once lucky enough to run into one of Keith’s older pictures hanging in Building 109 at Microsoft’s Redmond Campus–very different from Mill and the pictures in that series. It was the highlight of my day. Keith Tilford is doing something good.

Jeffrey Beebe’s Dungeons, Monsters, and Kickstarter

First of all, Jeffrey Beebe’s art is awesome. You might have seen his hand-drawn OD&D inspired maps show up on Boing Boing a few weeks ago. He also does cool monsters and stuff. His world would make a great (and bizarre) campaign world.

And now he has a Kickstarter where you can get prints, pictures, and a personal hand-drawn dungeon map!

More Pople Need to get a Dungeon by Me

Look, in no way am I trying to say that anyone needs to go out and drop more money on a Kickstarter than they need to. I routinely completely neglect really awesome Kickstarter projects even when started by good friends of mine. I’m a bit of a bastard about it, actually.


But more of you people really need to get a custom dungeon map drawn by me. It’s right at the bottom under Dungeon Architect. Only two people have claimed it. It’s a pretty awesome perk. I’m just saying.*

Under Groffsburg

So what does the Dungeon Map mean? It means I’ll call you up on the phone, or Skype, or your media of choice, and gab for a while about dungeons. Maybe we’ll talk about dungeons we have known, good ones and bad ones, what we’ve never seen in a dungeon but would like to, what we think every dungeon should have. Then I’ll draw a dungeon inspired by our conversation. Then I’ll mail it to you suitable for framing and also send you a high quality PDF of the drawing.

Working On…

I’m sure you can’t tell, but this is a painting of two very large piles of crushed cars in different states of completion. I get a lot of pleasure out of painting crushed cars. It never gets old. And now back to your regularly scheduled microdungeons.

The Microdungeon 10

The Microdungeon 10 experiment is completed. Today I (finally) mailed 9 microdungeons to the folks who requested to them.

I’ve also thrown in a few extra goodies: a print of The Wizard’s Tower, a couple of Moo cards, and a sticker with dungeon art on them.

So what was the point of this exercise? With shipping and materials, I only made a few bucks on it. On the other hand, I created 10 new dungeons I wouldn’t have created before and found owners for them. This is a huge win for me! With dozens of homeless dungeons sitting in little boxes on my desk, a piece of art I can send off to someone makes me happy. Homeless dungeons make me sad.

The only downside was how long it took. Even though each dungeon is quick, it took me a month to complete them all. This is because I do most of my sketching in the 45 minutes between dropping my daughter off at school and starting work every day. And that time is subject to disruption from work emergencies, family duties, errands, dental appointments, other art assignments and a host of other obstructions. The next time I do something like this, I’ll carve out a block of time to work on it so I can get it done in a more timely fashion.

That said, thanks for taking part everyone. I hope you enjoy your new dungeons!

Random Dungeon Generator that is a Dungeon

Paul Hughes has this awesome project on Kickstarter: Random Dungeon Generator as a Dungeon.

It’s a 36″ x 24″ poster that is also a walkthrough of the random dungeon generation rules in the classic Dungeon Master’s Guide. I already happy to own Paul’s poster of the wandering monster tables, and it is pure awesome, I assure you. This is the kind of amazingly cool thing that can exist today because of people like Paul, who have an awesome vision and are able to take hold of the tools to make it happen. I can’t wait for this project to ship!

Hell Yeah, this is Art!

I want art that packs in MORE!
I want art that mocks artistic convention…
while epitomizing excellence in technique!
I want art that builds on the conventions I grew up…
without depicting them in a bland, safe, or corporatized way!

Hell yeah, this: