NOTE: MAKE SURE TO MAKE IT THROUGH THE ENTIRE POST FOR ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY/GRADUATION GIVEAWAY RULES!

On the 21st day of October 2008, Jay Zuck’s Sketch of the Day was born with the digital painting the Battle at the Bridge. It was the opening salvo in a long journey of near daily art at least through my knee surgery in August.  The pace slowed during my recovery and the rigors of my last semester of art school soon followed, but the principle of daily art remains.

When this site began over a year ago, I could not have imagined the number of amazing people who would honor me with their eyeballs, comments, support, encouragement and friendship.  You have entertained my sense of imagination and art and I am so thankful that so many of you have done so.

According to Google Analytics, JZSOTD has been visited 404,056 times with 566,862 pagviews at the date of posting.  We have had an Alexa ranking peaking in the mid 50,000’s worldwide and maintain hundreds of loyal subscribers.  Numbers of course are just a metric and not nearly as meaningful of both new friends and old that have not only been a part of my artistic life and experience, but enriched it as well.

In honor of my one year website anniversary and art school graduation, I want to look back at some of my favorite art posted in the last year by category.  Many of these pieces appeared on my Grad Fair Wall and I wouldn’t want to deprive any of my online following.

1) Favorite Digital Painting:

The Battle at the Bride was where it all began.  It still remains one of my favorite digital paintings.  I am reminded of staring down the foes and obstacles in my way with absolute confidence that they will be overcome.

Stumbling on to another digital painting On the Docks had me seeking some clarity in the online universe.

2) Best of the Wizard of Oz:

I really enjoyed exploring and reinventing some of the iconic subject matter of the Wizard of OZ.  I can’t pick one favorite and have settled on three.  First the winged monkeys of Oz

And then the shocked Dorothy witnessing the Scarecrow Crucifixion near the beginning of her journey down the Yellow Brick Road…

Finally, the Wizard must get his due…

3) Favorite Layout Sketches

I always try to make it so that my layout sketches tell a story.  Often the tale that I have dreamed up is more complicated than I can express in a single drawing, but I am often amazed about how much can be captured.  The more I can encapsulate often the more successful the drawing.

I called this layout “It Came From Outer Space.” The rampaging alien is a combination of cat and caterpillar.

The next piece I entitled “Rabbit War.” In addition to all the fun I had drawing rabbits, it included the goat-taurs which where among my favorite character designs as well.  The rabbit warriors are looking to reclaim their brethren, but the goat-taurs stand opposed and defiant.  Of all my layouts this was perhaps my favorite piece from a composition standpoint.

Later in the year, I traveled to Hawaii to scatter my Nana’s ashes.  I was inspired to draw something with a Hawaiian flavor and Big Kahuna’s Kite Shop was what I came up with.  Big Kahuna, the best kite maker in Hawaii, works his craft creating enchanting kites of all varieties.

Returning to the coming alien invasion which is never far from my mind, I envisioned some aliens investigating what in the world is the deal with the prototypical mean girls.  I could never figure them out myself, but perhaps some alien intelligence with roving eyeballs would fare better.

The Frog Shaq submarine “dive thru” was another fun layout sketch.  With a smack of a frog’s tongue a secret sauce that brings submarine operators from far and wide is born.  The Skipper and Gilligan-esque characters can’t get enough.

Journeying from lighthearted underwater depths we emerge on the cracked desert floor in the Shadow of a Carnival.  There is a certain amount of wonderment a child finds at the Carnival, but there are sometimes a hint of the dark underbelly of animal slave drivers and evil clowns.  Here, a carefree boy enjoying his cotton candy enters the menacing shadow of the ring master.

The next series of layout sketches are among my most recent art and center on the story of a young boy named Jack who having ventured down river on Halloween night is now lost in the woods where he comes across wonderment, wisdom, fear, and darkness. First, Jack warily listens to the advice of a Shaman who advises him that he is being stalked by a mysterious witch.

Without paying due head to the Shaman’s sage advice, Jack not knowing who to trust runs away in fear.  He is pursued by spirits, but misunderstanding their protective intent he is pushed deeper and deeper into the woods.

Finally, Jack comes upon a kind-looking stranger girl.  He knows nothing of the witch hiding behind the cute facade and struck by a magical and inviting house Jack is heading right for the Witchhouse Cypress.

Jack continues foolishly inside the witchhouse while the rest us, hope he sees the truth in shadows.

I have been thinking about another layout sketch where Jack escapes the Witchhouse Cypress, but in the mean time the conclusion…

As I said, a good layout sketch is about telling a story and trying to entertain you boys and girls with cool visuals.  The loyal JZSOTD fans have been down a lot of rabbit holes with me and as always there are many stories left untold.

4) Graphic Goodness:

Beware of attempts to sap and impurify your precious bodily fluids.  If ever there was a character begging for a graphic interpretation General Ripper from Dr. Strangelove was it.

There was also the Barge of the Dead in search of an increasing numbers of souls to fuel an evolution towards darkness which was another graphic goodie of mine.

And concluding this graphic graphic tour in a similar shadowy vein who could forget the outstretched tendrils of….  THE DARKLING!

5) Character Design

A lot of my work incorporates elements of character design in some fashion.  The combination of goat and man in a creature I termed the goat-taur was one fun example.

It was also a great pleasure to play around with  some Scurvy Dogs and try to an encapsulate the pirate persona.  Speaking of which I really need to finish the layout sketch with these mateys.

Since character design is such a broad category, there is a lot of potential crossover with some other categories I want to cover in the wide ranging look back on the year that was, but one of the true highlight of my year was working on the Eben 07 webcomic as a guest artist.  Certainly, we never saw O’ Seven like this before…

Or for that matter his nemesis the Mountain Troll

6) Scariest:

I think I summed up my feelings about the nature of fear best in my post accompanying the painting Fear of the Dark. There is something about the perspective of fear and darkness I have relished since childhood. Halloween in particular has always been my favorite holiday.

Embrace the dark and fear not of fear my friends.

7 )  Simian Styling

When I talk about just letting my art flow, this is what comes out…

I term any art I do originating from this free-flowing style, Simian Style.  Simian Style in an ancestral, instinctive, and primordial way is the heart and soul of my art.  The pieces are generally in pen or some kind of ink.  While many shapes and forms are intended, some spring forth organically and I get incredible satisfaction from seeing people interacting with my art and seeing whatever their mind interprets.


8 ) From Life

When life and art are combined, the results can sometimes be very rewarding.  This landscape I painted at the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden sits prominently in my apartment and gives me just a bit of atmospheric enjoyment everyday.

Pirate’s Parlay was another painting I did from live models.  It was quicky excercise, but came out pretty good.

And lastly, a little talent for painting a Scot which was no doubt a product of my partial of my Scottish ancestry.


9 ) Best of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Art

Ralph Steadman was the first to bring the visual dimension to Hunter S. Thomson’s Gonzo Journalism and in the context of doing some character design myself, the rich psychedelic muse could not be denied.

I had a couple different takes on Dr. Gonzo, but I settled on the devilish version a la HST’s adrenochrome trip.

When I was originally playing around with designing my variant of the Gonzo-styled universe, I was thinking about a setting rooted in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.  The mutant hitchhiker with three arms fit well within that general concept and of course, the fortuitous second thumb adds just the right amount of extra desperation.

The character design of Raoul Duke aka Hunter S. Thompson was a particular challenge.  I kept pushing and pushing and pushing and after a lot of drawing this is what I came up with.

I also wanted to create my new version of a Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas movie poster.  Behold HST basking in warm (possibly radioactive) glow of a futuristic Vegas.

And finally a little Fear and Loathing painting which I actually painted pretty early on in my Gonzo excursion.

Knowing  of course you can never stop in bat country, we forge ahead with that particular “fantastic universal sense” of doing right and winning.

10 ) Favorite Painting

This painting I entitled “At the Precipice” and it shows a man at the edge of a void reaching out into the spectacular and brilliant spiral of the unknown.  The painting may be a little on the older side, but it has great significance to me and maybe more so today given the ocassion.

I have spent a lot of time lately both thinking about the future and looking into the past.  I have worked very hard constructing my professional portfolio and preparing for my grad fair which in some fashion will launch a long career in art I have aspired towards for many years.  We have had a great first year here at JZSOTD and I am hoping the new year will bring even greater things.

The Giveaway

To usher in JZSTOD’s second year online and in celebration of my graduation I am offering a free giveaway.  Anybody who drops a thoughtful comment, subscribes to my RSS feed, submits or votes for this post on ANY social media site (assuming you’ve enjoyed the retrospective), or links this post or the JZSTOD homepage will receive one entry in our giveway for each discrete act.  For instance, if you post a comment, tweet, digg and provide a link that will give you four entries.   Send me an email at jay@jasonzuckerman.com or tell me what you did in your comment. Don’t forget to give me some contact information on you so that I can inform you if you won!

To three lucky winners chosen at random, I will provide a signed high quality print of any piece of art on this webpage shipped directly to your doorstep.  Additionally, to ten others also chosen at random, I have some sick new post cards featuring some of my best art that has your name on it. The giveaway is running through December 26th at 11:59 pm.

Finally, let me give some thanks to some of my favorite creativity-loving souls and webmasters online (certainly not a complete list and in no particular order):

Here’s to a great new year filled with some great new art!  And let us never forget to continue to be free create and grow roots.

Jay Zuck NameArt Center Grad