New Book
posted: November 28, 2018
About 5 or so years ago I began a personal project called "Spaghetti Journal" that dealt with the connections between Italians and the mythology of the old west. It's part memoir, part history and part pop culture. I'm pleased to say that it is now a book called A FISTFUL OF DRAWINGS, published by Fantagraphics Underground (FU Press). It is 72 pages, softcover, 10" x 10". Publication date is February 2019. However, it can be pre-ordered from the Fantagraphics web site through this link:
Additional images from the book can be seen in "A Fistful of Drawings" portfolio on my web site.
The Devil's Sinkhole
posted: October 2, 2016
A year or so ago I was contacted by The University of Texas Press to illustrate the 2nd book in a trilogy by writer Bill Wittliff. It was a difficult assignment for me to accept considering that the 1st book in the series (The Devil's Backbone) was beautifully illustrated by the late, great Jack Unruh. Needless to say, it was a daunting prospect to follow in his footsteps. However, after much consideration (and with generous support from Jack), I decided to jump into the Sinkhole. The novel is set in Central Texas in the 1880's. It's a tale that combines a kind of Mark Twain quality with magic realism. I did a total of 21 drawings, here are some.

Brief Lives
posted: May 26, 2016
Last year I had the pleasure of illustrating a book for The Folio Society, 'John Aubrey's Brief Lives'. The book compiles over 400 brief, witty and gossipy biographies of 16th and 17th century British thinkers, scientists, noblemen and statesmen. I created 13 b/w illustrations of varying sizes plus 4 full pg. color plates. Many thanks to AD Sheri Gee. Below are some of the illustrations. More on the book can be found here
Back & front cover

Hamilton King
posted: February 4, 2016
I'm thrilled to be receiving the Hamilton King Award tomorrow night at the Society of Illustrators Book & Editorial opening. It's a great honor and I'm both humbled and proud to join the roster of previous recipients. Apologies for reposting these images. They are from a series of portraits of writers, musicians and actors for a book called "On the Snap" by Brian Case published in the UK.
Norman Mailer

Tom Waits

Art Blakey

Recent Book Project
posted: June 4, 2015
I recently did a series of portraits for a book published in the UK called "On the Snap" by Brian Case. Case is a British novelist, journalist and raconteur. The book is a collection of conversations he's had over the years with personanlities from the world of jazz, film and crime fiction. Brian Case is shown here on the left. Below are most of the other drawings from the book. More info at:
Tom Waits

Jimmy Smith

James Ellroy

Norman Mailer

Sam Fuller

Art Blakey

A Pair of Recent Covers
posted: October 31, 2014
Julian Assange for the NY Observer,
AD Lauren Draper

H.L. Mencken for Humanities Magazine,
AD Maria Biernik

Somewhat Recent Stuff
posted: August 21, 2014
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Sergio Leone's "A Fistful of Dollars", I wrote a short piece for the LA Times. The film was based on Kurosawa's "Yojimbo".

A full page illustration for ROAD & TRACK for an article "Les Good Ol' Boys" about NASCAR trying to expand into Europe.

Portrait of Stephen King for the Wall Street Journal

Full page for Major League Baseball called "Hooks, Liners and Sinkers", depicts Minnesota Twins All-Star pitcher Glen Perkins and his idol Kent Hrbek discussing fishing and other things. I was asked to shave a few pounds (and years) off Hrbek.

"52 Reasons To Love A Veteran" is a project created by designer and friend Ella Rue to raise awareness of the lack of health care resources for returning vets. A group of illustrators, including some fellow drawgers, were each asked to create a playing card that will become part of a traveling exhibit and a set of prints.

Patrick Flynn asked if this piece I originally did for my Spaghetti Journal blog could be used in The Baffler. The article that this piece illustrates is by the copywriter of the iconic 1971 Earth Day PSA with "the crying Indian".

Willie, just for the hell of it.

Jim Spanfeller 1930-2014
posted: August 11, 2014
This morning I learned of the passing of a great artist, illustrator, teacher and friend, Jim Spanfeller. Of all the wonderful instructors I had during my years at Parsons (1971-1974), it was Jim that had the most profound influence. Unfortunately, many younger illustrators and designers today may not know his work. This was a truly unique artist. Under the layers of intricate detail and thousands of dots lies the essence of Spanfeller... his passion for drawing. Jim's approach to drawing from the model was unlike anything I had encountered up to that point. It was my 2nd year at Parsons and I was struggeling to find a direction that seemed meaningful to me. His was a non-academic, very expressive, almost zen-like method with a fine pen line that really clicked with me. No rules applied, it was liberating. He made you see that drawing could be fun. Jim began his career in the late 1950's and achieved the most recognition in the late 1960s, 70's and into the 80's. He illustrated many children's books, magazine articles, book jackets and advertising campaigns. Although Jim won numerous awards, his unusual style befuddled some art directors. One champion of his work was the great Herb Lubalin, who featured Jim in Avant Guard and Upper & Lower Case. Spanfeller was also an advocate of illustrators initiating their own projects and self-publishing, a practice that has become commonplace today. Jim and his wife Pat have spent part of the year living in NYC and part on Martha's Vineyard (where he passed) with their son Jim (CEO of Spanfeller Media Group) and his family. I feel extremely fortunate to have had this man as a mentor at a crucial time in my life and to have remained friends over these many years.
Jim would often use himself (or his wife and son) as a model. I borrowed this jacket image from the Bibliomanic blog.

Halley's Comet. Hard to tell here, but the original drawing is 6 ft. long. All drawn with a 3x0 Rapidograph.

Here's a detail. Jim would often draw various sections separately and then paste it all together. And I don't mean in photoshop.

One of Jim's life drawings. Probably drawn with a 6x0 point.

Recent Assignments
posted: February 24, 2014
Here are a few recent jobs. This first one was a cover for Milwaukee Magazine, remembering their late president and publisher, Betty Quadracci. AD: Kathryn Lavey. 

A feature in ai CIO for SooJin Buzelli about the continued rise of investing legend John Paulson.

Part of the same feature, the downfall of hedge fund giant John Taylor.

Full page for a Smithsonian Magazine piece about Lincoln's secretaries. AD:Maria Keehan

A feature in Washingtonian Magazine about John Beale, a star in the EPA, who told his co-workers that he led a double life as a CIA agent. It wasn't true. CD: Michael Goesele

Writer John O'Hara for The Baffler. AD: Patrick JB Flynn

Michael Madigan spread for Chicago Magazine. AD: Bryan Erickson

Joe Ciardiello ph: 908-996-4392 email: all images copyright Joe Ciardiello 2019