June 06, 2011

Brothers Unite, Streak Squid

So my most excellent brother has the sweetest job: he researches Vibrio Fischeri, a bacterium that colonizes the light organ of the hyper-cute Hawaiian Bobtail Squid.  His lab runs an impressive squid-breeding program that pumps out innumerable itty-bitty squidlets for research purposes.  I spent an afternoon helping him sample them out, and it's no easy task:

His lab also hosts a yearly Squid Pow-Wow where their colleagues come from afar to bask in the collective bioluminescence of their research.  And this year's pamphlet features the first collaboration between the Miyashiro brothers since like, forever.  Naturally, he turned a scientific gag into a comic strip and then commissioned me to dress it up as a painting. 

It's actually an evolutionary joke that rifts off the bacteria's life cycle: see, the adult squid pump out most of their bacteria every morning, then the bactera reproduce and colonize the light organs of brand new little squidlets.  And some day, the joke goes, the bacteria will be the host, expelling its colonies of squid every morning, the better to colonize little baby bacteria.  

If you're not laughing, yet, just relax and enjoy the painting.  It's very green, isn't it?

I really don't do much drawing with brushes on photoshop; the results always feel too mechanical.  Instead, I sample really, really huge brushes from dried swatches of india ink and then build up the penciled image with a succession of stamps.  It feels more like a monoprint than a painting, but those distinctions always felt a little foggy to me. 

One thing's clear, though: I love love love drawing squid!  How could I not?  They're so malleable.  My sketchbook is peppered with the little guys, along with an occasional chicken or chick, for variety's sake:


  1. Dig it. Really enjoyed the bit about your process as well. I still haven't really sunk my teeth into any of the digital witchcraft yet, but I second you on the "mechanical" feeling.

    Some pretty nice results...preeettay naaahce.

  2. Thanks, dude! And as far as digital goes, there's nothing quite like hitting 'undo' when something goes wrong... or just opening one of the earlier versions of the file ;)

    ...not that things ever go wrong...

  3. Just occurred to me, you need to find a good print shop that can get these pieces on canvas. I'm sure you'd fool more than a few...

  4. love the free-flowing squid w. chick. your cover was a hit ;)