Steve Mancione

Workingman's Art

I am a Chicago based artist who has always been drawn to what many traditional art critics might call "low-brow art".  Graphitti, comic books, and cartoons have always interested me most, I think because they are the most relatable to the public at large.  Making art for the .5% of the population that actually goes to "white cube" galleries doesn't seem practical to me.  Those people are all artists, art critics, or art teachers.  They already come to the work with predisposed notions of whatever theory they are currently regurgetating.  In my mind, it takes more balls to do artwork that everyone, from every class has access to.  A tag on a brick wall will be seen by more people than a framed work in a gallery.  But it's not exposure I'm after, it's opening up the vacuum sealed bubble of the art world to everyone, not just the people in the "art club".  I want people who would never walk into a gallery to be able to see my work.  Regular people without trust funds and people who have no idea what "post-modern" means.  My family, colleagues and friends are hard working individuals who will most likely never know a -shall we say - "priviledged" life. So that's who I make art for because I can actually relate to them and hopefully they can relate to me.  I guess I'll sum this up in a quote from one of my favorite childhood movies. 

"I make car parts for the American working man, because that's what I am. And that's who I care about."

                                                                    -Ray Zalinsky (Dan Akroyd)

Children's Book Published! Art Show Recap! Woodworking!

Emily and the Penny Adventure!!

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So over the past year and a half, several things have happened.  I illustrated a children's book which was written by Clare Phillips and then published by Xulon Press Publishing.  It is a really fun book appropriate for all ages (but meant for 3-7 year olds).  If you are interested in purchasing it, you can find it on Amazon, HERE.   This was an amazing experience and there are more books in the Emily series to come!  I have been asked to continue illustrating and could not be more excited.

RAW Artists Chicago Show

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I participated in an amazing show along with many talented artists from all over Chicago, which was held at one of my favorite venues, The Metro.  Some of the work I showed as well as a couple of little blurbs about the work and myself can be found HERE.

Metro RAW.jpg
My table set up...

My table set up...

I make wood stuff now?!

I have been trying to get into the woodworking game for a while now.  But I just didn't have space for the tools and saws I needed, not to mention I didn't have any of those tools or saws.  My situation has changed on all of those fronts, and I now have a small (but growing) wood shop. I love Nick Offerman, so I got got his book Good Clean Fun, which is AMAZING.  Go find it on Amazon HERE if you like humor, woodworking, or want to learn about the amazing artists that make up Offerman Woodshop. Here are images of my first project, from which I got the plans out of Good Clean Fun.  It is a stool inspired by Wendell Berry the renowned poet and Author, and a favorite of Offerman's. The stool I made was built from Black Walnut (legs) and Red Oak (seat).  It is all mortise and tenon joints, no nails or hardware was used. I am currently making a chair to match.  I will post those pics when I finish the chair.

Black Walnut board

Black Walnut board

Red Oak Board

Red Oak Board

Chiseling out the mortises on the seat.

Chiseling out the mortises on the seat.

Band sawed out the cabriolet legs

Band sawed out the cabriolet legs

Fit the leg tenon into the seat mortise

Fit the leg tenon into the seat mortise

Unfinished, legs fitted

Unfinished, legs fitted

Finished top

Finished top

Finished side

Finished side

Finished side

Finished side

LEARN TO DRAW COMICS! TAKE MY CLASS THIS SUMMER IN CHICAGO!

I am teaching a class titled "The Visual Language of Storytelling" at The Chicago Publishers Resource Center (CHIPRC) this Summer! I'll be teaching concepts in visual storytelling that can be applied to story-boarding, film-making, and COMICS!

Learn how to convey your story using visual techniques and writing devices that translate directly into clear, sequential artwork. When you leave this class you will have a story in both forms–script and finished artwork.

Classes are Thursdays from August 4th – September 8th, 6:30pm – 9pm. The class is limited to 8 students, ages 18+. The size is rather small to guarantee each student receives the attention they need to realize their story’s potential. You will learn concepts that can be applied to a variety of mediums including screenplays, storyboarding, and all forms of comic/graphic narrative. All skill levels welcome

Click HERE to check it out and SIGN UP! cheers, Steve.

Blue Collar Black Sheep has been Featured in Hand Papermaking Magazine!

During my Graduate Program at Columbia College Chicago, I had the privilege of working under Artist/Master Papermaker, Melissa Potter.  As a leading voice in Socially Engaged Art and an authority in Hand Papermaking, she was interviewed about Young Papermakers that are making an impact in the field, by Hand Papermaking Magazine.  I was honored to be included among the artists featured in this piece for my project Blue Collar Black Sheep.  

Read the full article HERE.

See more about Blue Collar Black Sheep HERE.

Reprinted with permission from Hand Papermaking vol. 31, no. 1 (Summer 2016), © 2016 by Hand Papermaking, Inc. (www.handpapermaking.org) All rights reserved.

Residency at the Center for Book Paper and Print - Columbia College

Welcome back.  Thanks for the loyalty and you can look forward to a better record/documentation of my current work right here.

I recently completed a residency at the Center for Book Paper and Print at Columbia College Chicago.  I submitted a proposal to get access to the papermaking and print facilities to continue working on my Blue Collar Black Sheep series.  If you aren't familiar, you can read about the first book right here.

I continued making paper to represent building materials, continuing the theme of closing the gap between creating fine art and traditional building trades. Using cotton fiber, pigmenting, pulp painting (it was more like pulp pouring) and a stencil technique, I was able to create large scale (22" x 26") sheets of handmade paper resembling drywall, blueprints, and brick.

Images and process...

For the brick, I started with pigmenting the cotton gray (mortar) on a large planet mold sheet.

Brick Mortar

Brick Mortar

Then I cut out a stencil of a mortar pattern out of mylar (one continuous piece) and laid it on top of the wet sheet of grey.

Mylar for the bircks

Mylar for the bircks

I then pigmented another batch of cotton Brick-Red and poured the red pulp into the brick spaces left by the mylar stencil.

Brick wall after red pulp was poured and stencil removed.

Brick wall after red pulp was poured and stencil removed.

After pouring the red, I removed the mylar stencil (oh so gently) and to my delight, I was left with a sharper than expected edge for each brick.  I was a bit worried that the press would smush the nice clean bricks into indiscernible blobs, but alas, here is the pressed and dried result...

Dried sheet of Brick Paper

Dried sheet of Brick Paper

I also pigmented a small batch of pulp a little lighter than the first red and did a little two-tone action by pouring both shades on the same sheet.

Two-tone with the top down

Two-tone with the top down

So there you have your bricks...to follow that up, let's get to some dry-wall paper. I did another gray base sheet, the same way I started the brick. I then laid two wet pelons over each side of the gray base sheet and left a gap wide enough for that strip of white you see to mimic drywall seam taping.  I poured unpigmented white pulp in the gap the create the "tape".  I did this for the x-axis, and then for the crossing tape on the y-axis.  To create the nail patch circles, I carefully poured small piles of white pulp at equal distances around the "tape".  

Drywall paper before press

Drywall paper before press

Here is the paper pressed and dried...

Drywall pressed

Drywall pressed

As you can see, I lucked out again and the press did not destroy the integrity of the hard lines I created with the white pulp.

The blueprint paper won't be much to see until I get the white-ink content printed on there but I'll put this here just to complete the trio.

Cookie-monster blue pulp in the mold

Cookie-monster blue pulp in the mold

You get the idea

You get the idea

So that's what I was able to get done over my two week residency at the Center.  I got about 4 sheets of each "building material". I am creating content now to be printed on these sheets which will continue the story of the first book, and it will be in our favorite narrative format - comics!

Thanks for reading and check back later in the week for an update on the children's book I was just commissioned to draw...Emily and the Penny Adventure!

Cheers!

Steve

SPACE 2015!! New Issues of Career Suicide!! New Prints!

Hey Folks!  It's official! We have a table this year at SPACE 2015 in Columbus, OH.  I will be there with my co-creator and writer Frank Provenzano and we will be selling old and BRAND NEW ISSUES of Career Suicide.  I've also cooked up some pretty sinister pin-up prints for you extra sick fans...Check out more info for dates, times, and location here! And here's all the exhibitors, including yours truly... See you there freaks...

Benches on the Avenue 2014

Hello again all!  Well another year has come and gone and I was selected once more for the Benches on the Avenue 2014 project for the community of Tinley Park.  This year's theme was "Let the Games Begin!"  I submitted the idea of doing a Mario Brothers Bench and was thrilled when they accepted my design.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the project, each year Tinley Park chooses 20 artists from all around the Chicagoland area construct benches that fit a theme for that year.  On May 1st the benches are installed up and down Tinley's historic Oak Park Avenue in the middle of the Village's shopping and entertainment district.  The benches remain there until October 1st when they are returned to their sponsors or donated to the community.  Here are some pictures of this year's bench.  And check out my previous posts for last year's bench!

The bench installed in front of Citibank on Oak Park Ave.
here's the wide shot
and the back of the bench


Jack and Biff Summary

Jack quits the Stone Industries Heroes after years of being groomed for the position and after getting drunk in a villain bar, Biff, a notorious villain sidekick, takes him under her wing and becomes his native guide through the underground of mad scientists, weapon handlers and a 10 year old necromancer. After a run in with the murderous Circus Gang that leaves the whole city topsy turvy, the team begins to understand who the true evil is.

New books and the REALLY REAL RELEASE DATE FOR CAREER SUICIDE

Hey folks. So obviously we haven't made our previously anticipated release date for the first full issue of Career Suicide.  But I promise you, it will be completed this month and printed, ready for purchase in DECEMBER 2013 (next month).  I am working on setting up a storefront under the "BUY COMICS" section of this website so you can buy the comics right here from us.  I have also been hired on for two new projects.  "A Devil in God's Country" written by Zack Rupp for which you can see artwork under the  "A Devil in God's Country" tab.  Also I have been hired by Natalie Thannum and Drake Newnum to do the artwork for their awesome book "Jack and Biff".  I have posted character profiles under "Jack and Biff" to wet your whistle.  
 

Tinley Park's Benches on the Avenue 2013

Azlan's Return...The Bench 2013

The finished bench on Oak Park Avenue

The finished bench on Oak Park Avenue

Each year the Village of Tinley Park holds a community art project called Benches on the Avenue.  Artists from all around the South suburbs of Chicago are called to submit designs based on a theme chosen by the village.  The parameters of these designs are focused on turning an otherwise ordinary public bench into a sculptural work of art.  Each bench is then placed along Oak Park Avenue in Tinley Park's beautiful historic district, which is home to many of the town's restaurants, taverns, and businesses.

This year's theme was "Fairy-Tale Festival".  It challenged artists to draw inspiration from fairy tales old and new to transform the heart of Tinley into a fantasy world of mythical creatures, knights, and far away lands.

The design I submitted was based on the first book of the Chronicles of Narnia, entitled The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.  The title of my design is Azlan Returns.

The back of the bench

The back of the bench

Here is the design I submitted...

design.jpg
back design.jpg

A couple of weeks later, the project manager called and said that I had been selected from a large pool of submissions to create a bench for the city.  After a brief meeting with the other participating artists and the project manager, I picked up what would essentially be the skeleton of my bench.

Bench raw.jpg

It was definitely nice to have a starting point, but I had quite a bit of work ahead of me.  The artists received their benches approximately 7 weeks before they had to be returned, completed and ready for installation.  As 2D work turns to 3D you have to turn what was basically an idea on paper into..well...reality.  This is where quite a bit of engineering and imagination comes in.  

To communicate the idea that the bench and the wardrobe were not separate, but one piece was critical to me.  I wanted it to be a seamless transition, but the pre-existing bench skeleton posed inherent problems.  Due to the pre-fabricated back being angled and longer than the length of the bench, I had to figure out a way to puzzle the wardrobe pieces over them, without creating a glaring oddity.  Thanks to some master carpentry from Steve Mancione Sr. (my dad)  we found a way to cut notches out of the boards to fit (almost) perfectly right over the top of the bench-back.

step 1.jpg

Once we had that ordeal under control, we could assemble the top or "roof".  We braced the insides of the wardrobe to keep it structurally sound and put mounting boards in to attach the paintings.  After we had the frame of the wardrobe, we attached the doors to the sides, opening outward to invite the viewer in.  After quite a bit of painting, sanding, staining, and varnishing we had our finished product...

Front view (excuse the mess)

Front view (excuse the mess)

Back 1/4 view (after working some magic to get it out of the "studio")

Back 1/4 view (after working some magic to get it out of the "studio")

Flower boxes were included with the bench, here is the viewer's front left.

Flower boxes were included with the bench, here is the viewer's front left.

Side

Side

Back left box

Back left box

Head on view of the back painting

Head on view of the back painting

Front right box

Front right box

Side right box

Side right box

Back right box

Back right box

Lion head fittings I found for the doors!

Lion head fittings I found for the doors!

I was very satisfied with the final results.  My design came to life exactly how I envisioned.  The wardrobe serves as a literal element in the story as the opening from our world to Narnia, but is also designed to invite the viewer into the fantasy by framing the paintings on either side.  It functions as a gateway for the audience to peek into the story, when Azlan (the lion) returns to Narnia and brings Spring with him as he drives away winter, and the White Queen.  I wanted to create the experience that the entire wardrobe and bench were the same piece of furniture and could in fact be the entryway to Narnia.

 I am ecstatic to be a part of such an exciting community project that has become a mainstay in Tinley Park for over 10 years.  I could not be more proud to be among my fellow bench artists from this year, I am truly honored to display my work along side theirs.  Special thanks to my father for the amazing construction help.

Benches will be on display May 9th!

So what are you waiting for?!? Come down to Oak Park Avenue's Benches on the Avenue Fairy Tale Festival and take a seat (or 20)!  

FINALLY!! Teaser frames for Career Suicide!

I know these are long overdue but here are some teaser frames from my new project Career Suicide.  The full book (in color) will be finished in the coming weeks and the series will be debuted at CAKE 2013!  So come meet us in June at the Chicago Alternative Comics Expo!  More to come soon...

Here are some frames from the first few pages of my upcoming book Career Suicide.

Here are some frames from the first few pages of my upcoming book Career Suicide.

NEW COMIC BOOK!!!

Oh yes, a brand new story will be coming soon! Co-authored by long-time friend and colleague Frank Provenzano, this work is entitled Career Suicide !   I am currently in the midst of finishing pencils and inks for the production pages and continuing to work with Frank on writing for more issues.  Our first issue should be rolling out late 2012 or early 2013!  Stay tuned for some teaser pages which I will post right here!