the blur between


Category: Commercial Work

Flying Tiger Brewery

So for a long time now, I’ve been working on a commercial project, an ongoing project that I wasn’t including on this blog. In fact, that project was keeping me off this blog due to the secrecy of it. Secret because I didn’t want to reveal the designs until the company had a chance to do it first. Well now the work is everywhere so finally, here I am to talk about it and show off some of the work. It’s for Flying Tiger Brewery in Monroe, LA. I designed their logo, their beer cans, and some social media and swag along the way.

By the way, nowhere in this long post am i going into any detail about what a flying tiger is or was, or what historical significance the plane and the pilots hold – suffice it to say, they made a difference and one outstanding man has ties to the region where the brewery is located, hence the name – alas, this isn’t a history blog. If you want more insight, there’s wikipedia.

The logo. Here’s the original “approved” logo…


The shark-mouth-circle, based upon the traditional flying tiger nose design, was supposed to go along with the word mark as a secondary image to make up the logo.


It’s a cool, little illustration and while we still use it here and there (shirts, hats), it ended up not being the final logo. Nope, the final logo happened as I was designing a possible sticker or coaster to add to their collection of goods. But once the powers-that-be saw it, they preferred it over mr. shark mouth and the rest is history. And here we are…


See how the propeller cuts into the red circle? Originally it cut into the letters too but that just didn’t translate well. Also, the original design had blasts of fire near the 2 guns (barely visible) on the wings, but somewhere along the way those were removed. But the real meat of this project is the can designs. I had never designed anything for cans before and began the project without realizing there are certain limitations within the medium. Which is a good thing, limitations are anti-creative.

I knew i wanted to give the cans some common elements other than colors so the stripes were implemented early on; they changed shape and color a time or two but remained until the very end. Also, from nearly the very beginning, I thought of using different “characters” to represent different beer styles/flavors. And while this idea also stood the test of time, the characters themselves changed radically.

The following are a few preliminary attempts/roughs, including the original sketch for Mr. Heroic Hops himself when he was single (and also before he grew his exquisite facial hair). While we figured out what look we wanted to give the cans, things naturally evolved and developed, essentially creating the look of the company. Enjoy.


One of my favorite flavors to work on was the Burma Blonde. But while i was figuring out the look, somewhere along the way i should’ve zigged instead of zagged or something and i produced this homely specimen:


Yea, i’m not sure what happened there. But then when i was finding my footing again, i over-rotated and went a little too far on the sex-appeal meter. Exhibit A:


I like her.

But they thought her face was a little too cartoony. And when compared to the other designs, it is. So you’ll see below that her look is a little more realistic and her shirt is a little less revealing.

I want to mention the dots real quick. I was using dots, or a halftone pattern, or both, a lot on the first designs. It reminded me of old news print, which i thought reflected the era i was going for somehow – but due to color limitations, those were eventually lost.


Above is the final burma blonde design in all her glory, with her Indian motorcycle and white as a ghost complexion (color limitations and all, i’m hoping to add a little pigment once we put her on a shirt).

And here are the other two:



And here’s the Nitro Bomb Milk, along with the illustration before all the bells and whistles were added:




The nitro bomb has yet to actually be printed (and it may not as a nitrogenized beer is hard to replicate in a can i’m told) which is why the design looks so much different than the other three. I never got to the point of finalizing it for the manufacture’s specifications.

There’s also a fifth design that i’m very proud of featuring a tank. I’m not including it here because it’s yet to be printed. Hopefully it will see the light of day because next to the nitro design, it’s my favorite.

Now that i understand the methodology a little better regarding ink on cans, i would probably do things a little differently. But with that said, i’m very happy with the outcome. And luckily, the beer is fantastic. It would suck to have my designs on a product i didn’t care for. If you’re in the Monroe area, check out the brewery. I can’t recommend the nitro bomb enough… so good.

And i would be remiss not to thank Rob Brewer and James Simpson for coming to me with this project in the first place. Thanks guys. You have a stellar product, I hope you enjoy the designs as much as i enjoy the beer… probably depends on how many i’ve had… moving on.

On a side note, because i feel the need to mention it – there are several band posters that follow this post -I did those when i just needed to take a mental break from the Flying Tiger stuff. If you feel the need to continue reading after all this, you’ll see them below. I designed each of those with some rules in place – the first being that i had to use the same color scheme, and the second is that i only gave myself an hour for each. Why rules? I don’t know. Maybe i liked the challenge. Maybe i’m lazy and an hour was all i was willing to give to a non-paying project. Do we have to question everything?

Thanks for reading.

Moira Red

So… this may be the longest i’ve ever worked on a single project. Not that the project itself was all that time-consuming – there were just several delays, additions and unforeseeable issues that would sometimes bring everything to a halt… or at least a lengthy pause. Which is fine; check cleared and all is well… (thanks Greg), but as an artist who normally works within a certain self-imposed momentum, I found myself losing optimism. I felt like this thing was never going to live. The thing in question is a package design for a Shreveport, LA band that goes by the name, Moira Red. I believe they made some shirts and other swag with my work on it too, i’ve yet to see… but i digress. Point is, the design is alive and well… in fact, the band is having their release party this weekend i think.  Doubtful I’ll be making that, fellas – wife and kiddies need me around more than you do. I’ll be there in spirit.

The design itself is intricate in a way that i’ve never worked before, at least not for somebody else. A common thread runs between all the illustrations and (i assume) the songs; a story of which the lyricist has a much better understanding than I, still I tried to take this abstract plot and give it a visual. I won’t go into detail about the story, i would just mess it up, but it seems to be about the duality of man. It has a dark, supernatural vibe, that matches the music (which has a metal, Faith No More style vibe). Here’s the cover (sans the band logo which I removed for this post, in fact, i removed all the text as well as cropped some of the images for the purpose of this post).


I’m not terribly sure what the female figure represents. Pretty sure she’s the victim. I need to stop speculating. I did the whole thing in illustrator. The detailed and distressed background made the file quite large and laborious to work with – every time i would save it, i could go make a sandwich or something. Here’s another panel:


I like the wolf. If you follow this blog, you know i have a slight interest in Red Riding Hood lore – so I’ve done my fair share of wolf illustrations, this one came out better than i expected after first reading what the band wanted (we mostly exchanged ideas via email). I was worried that drawing an actual heart wouldn’t work in only a single color in my stencil style – but i think it came out well… effective.

And here is my favorite illustration from the design. No real reason for it being my favorite other than i enjoy illustrating faces and i think it came out well. I like the red eye and how it ties together with the wolf. This illustration is cropped and is actually much wider on the actual piece, taking 2 panels. The fold is in the middle where the color divides.


That’s it I guess. I designed a couple more panels as well as the CD face but I guess i should leave some mystery for those that buy the music.

Thanks to my cousin Whitney for the hook-up with the band, hope you guys have a great cd release and huge success (think of me in the future). I’ll be back with a new painting next week. Thanks for reading. – jbn

Where the hell have i been?

Trying to raise my 2 boys and putting up with all manner of family drama that’s where. All those sans kids, beware – they are time-eaters. You know how many paintings i’ve done in the last 6 months? That would be a big zero. You know how old my youngest is? 6 months. My math skills fall somewhere between 2nd and 3rd grade but i’m fairly certain there’s a connection there. He’s good people though, that kid. My oldest is beginning to show some interest in drawing so that’s cool. Anyway, the time-eaters can get their own blog if they want, this blog is about me… moving on.

I did find some time to do a few freelance gigs. Nothing overly exciting but i needed an excuse to dust off the blog so here we go. This first one is a logo done for a local bar here in Monroe. I designed a few options for them. The one they chose may not be my absolute favorite but it’s definitely in my top 2. And it goes a little something like this:

It doesn’t resemble it so much now but my inspiration was the famous CBGB logo. Simple. One color. On a curve. Had a rock ‘n roll vibe i felt i needed to capture. I hope they make t-shirts.

Alright, next is a logo i did for a website called USA Farm Stars. I don’t think it’s live yet otherwise i would link you there. So this was a rush job. The lovely lady who was requesting my services (i like the way that sounded) needed it on the quick tip. So quick is what she got. I think i turned it around in just a couple of days. But don’t confuse fast with rushed – i work well under pressure i think… I don’t know. What i do know is that within 36 hours i had a logo i was happy with so i submitted it. And wouldn’t you know it – she loved it. And i loved that she loved it. All clients should be so easy to please. Thanks to Brad for the hookup.

And here’s an illustration to go with it. There’s a version of this logo where the tractor illustration and the type treatment are one but i prefer it separated and as this is my blog, that’s the way i’m gonna show it.

I like the driver. He’s got that gangsta lean. I know it would help if i inserted a bit of context by explaining what usa farm stars is, but the fact is, i’m not sure how. I think i have a grasp of what the website is and what she’s trying to accomplish but i’m not sure how to simplify it in just a few sentences. For now, let’s just say it’s a social site for hard-workin’, salt of the earth types, with a bit of sex appeal.

And finally. Some of you may be familiar with a design of mine called STAY. It’s always been one of my favorites. It’s sort of a sister design to Flowers In The Attic.

I’ve submitted it to a couple t-shirt companies in the past and although reaction was good, it failed to get the green light. I sell paintings (on demand) of the design off my gutterpark site. It’s a stencil-based design so i’m able to recreate it fairly easy. I may sell one or two a year to those with impeccable taste.

Anyway, Captain Kyso (salute) contacted me a couple months ago about printing it on shirts. They’re an Indian company but they ship globally. They had me change the colors more than once for reasons i won’t go into. I was skeptical it was ever going to see the light of day. Alas, it did. And you can find it here.

One thing i must mention is the story that was written to accompany the design. Story? That’s what i said. I don’t know if it’s a cultural thing or just some whacky idea – whatever it is, i think it’s genius. Every shirt Captain Kyso sells features a short story that seems to be specifically written for the design printed on the shirt. It’s a weird way to promote a design i think but i’m thrilled someone took the time to look at STAY and find a narrative within it.

And regarding the color change thing. When i originally designed it, i saw it as an autumn piece. The colors i used in my earlier submissions and on the paintings are autumn colors – all the leaves are brown – But Kyso had me change it to shades of blue on white. So now it has a wintery feel. Again, i was skeptical. But it turned out really well i think. I wish they would have kept the figures at the bottom of the shirt but that’s not a complaint.

Go buy one or five. Christmas is around the corner. Makes a great gift. All that. At least go read the story. It’s lovely.

Okay, i’m not promising there won’t be another huge gap in posts but rest assured i do have something already prepared for next week. Why i consider my blog a weekly thing like the sunday paper is beyond me. Let’s not overthink it. What was i saying? Oh, so next week i’m going to feature some street art i’ve been noticing around town. A bunch of hooligans that go by the name, Ghetto Blaster Hunting Club.

Alright. I’m tired. Going to bed. Not even going to proof this thing for typos and grammatical errors before posting, so forgive me if you found some. Daddy’s sleepy.


So check this out…

So there it is. I finally decided that the publishing world was simply not ready for my genius. Y’know, since they rejected my attempts at the traditional method of publication. So I did what any struggling artist with a misplaced sense of entitlement would do, I self-published. Is it a cop-out? Sure. Am I any less excited? Maybe a little. But my pride in completing a book and actually having it sold online is still very much in check.

So now I implore you fine people, the readers of my blog, the fans of my work… go… buy my book. Buy enough that I can afford this:

It’s not much really. I need a new record player. Mine skips if I even walk near it. And if my math is correct, I’ll only have to sell 200 books to get it. Sigh. Maybe some new shoes would be a more attainable goal. I really want some new oxfords with cheery colored soles. Like these:

If you don’t think those are dope, you may still like the book… point is, don’t let my sense of fashion reflect to broadly. But really, who wouldn’t look better in lime green soles? You gotta see the blue ones. I might be getting off track.

So you can get the book HERE! 

It’s about a boy who has the perfect dream. It’s so perfect, he decides to share it with his classmates during show-n-tell the next day. Unfortunately, before he has a chance to show it off, he breaks it. And wouldn’t you know it, a broken dream is nothing more than a nightmare.

That was my synopsis. Who wouldn’t want to buy that?

And here’s a couple shots of what’s inside:

Those last 2 shots are actually one spread.

The book was written with a 5 to 10 year old audience in mind. Preschool to 5th grade or thereabouts. But honestly, and without a hint of modesty, the illustrations were designed to cater to the ageless; those that like graphic novels, cheap red wine, and instrumental hip-hop (at the same time), and all those in between (particularly those who would wear blue soled oxfords).


– jbn

The Discarded Instruments Concept

The title for this post doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue does it? Alas, that was my idea for concept #2 for Liz Murray’s album cover. For the first attempt, I tried to convey my ideas over the phone to get approval before starting. For this one, the concept wasn’t much of a concept. All the strength of the image was in the execution and not so much the idea itself. I knew this and decided to work it up before ever mentioning the idea to Liz or her team. Luckily it paid off. She likes it. They like it. All is good with the world.

If you read the previous post, you know why I needed to do a second version. Basically the first one just didn’t compliment Liz’s sound the way it needed to. I think this one does.

I do a lot of photo-manipulation in my advertising gig but normally stick to illustration for most of my freelance work. The reason being is that advertising runs at the speed of money and rarely do I have time to do a proper illustration for a client without that time running head to head with another assignment. Understandably, clients would rather get a good piece on time than a great piece late. Anyway, it was fun doing a photo-illustration without my usual confines. I rarely take on freelance gigs that involve compromise. I figure if the client chose to seek me out, they want my personal spin on the project. Agency work is a bit different since the clients don’t usually know my work personally. Totally getting off topic. Here’s a shot of the cover design, isolated without the text elements:

I know, crows always find their way into my work. I’ve accepted it.

I think the image is peaceful. Might put it on canvas or something. I don’t know. I say that more often that I actually do it. Did you know the T is silent in “often?” Oh, you did? Yea, me too.

Bout to start working on a big piece. Has a gorilla in it. And airplanes. I’ll try to document it as I go. Until then…

The Girl with the Chair

Been a long time since I posted anything. I hit a nice creative stride a few months back; gotta few pieces out of it… but I got winded it would seem. Haven’t been in a fine-art making mood as of late. However, i have had a couple freelance, commercial gigs that have kept the juices flowing. One of which I shall share with you fine people now.

I have been commissioned to do an album cover for local singer, Liz Murray, whose album drops early next year. I’m currently in the middle of  version 2 of said album cover. The first version, while liked, didn’t really convey the vibe of the music. But I like the piece. And I plan on making a small print out of it. So I thought i would show it off here first.

Since it was designed to work as the front and back of a digipack single fold, it’s a long narrow design – and for my own purposes (since it won’t be used for the album anymore), I’ve made it even longer. Panoramic style. See…

The idea of a person, specifically a young girl, alone in this vastness with nothing but a chair was an interesting concept to me. Not sure I can explain why. Initially, that wasn’t supposed to be blood she was walking in – it was supposed to be ladybugs – but while that idea rocked in my head, i couldn’t get it to rock on the screen. So now it’s blood. Whatever. And the chair… I knew from the start i wanted the chair to be very different from everything else – tone, style, execution, etc. – all very different from the color palette and surroundings. Again, this idea was intriguing to me although I cant honestly say what it means.

Here’s a shot of the girl and the chair (which rests dead center) at 100%…

Took a while to draw that darn chair. Thanks go out to my friend, Jenifer Parker, for posing for me. She’s posed for me before. She’s willing, does what i ask, and doesn’t question how she looks or the end result… a perfect subject. Thanks again; sorry they’re not using it but if i get it printed, I’ll definitely show it at the gallery and I’ll get you a copy.

I’ll post version 2 later this week. It’s very different from this one. I like it a lot.

Thanks for reading.

Butterflies and Wolves

Here’s another illustration without a home. This was initially sketched out for a client. But about half way in, i realized it wasn’t going to work for it’s original purpose – but i finished it anyway. It’s very indicative of my older, stencil-style work – with the black/red color scheme and the use of negative space (not to mention the butterflies).

If anyone has a use for it, let me know.

I’m involved in a group show come November so I started going through some of my digital illustrations to see if anything was worthy of getting reprinted. I came across a design I did about 4 years ago called STRAY – sort of a red riding hood thing. I had to resize it and move some things around for reasons I won’t bore you with, but I ended up using the pose from the illustration above as my new “Red.”

Worked out pretty good. I’m having it giclee printed on gallery-wrapped canvas – painting the sides gold. I think the final piece will be 15 X 30 inches. Here’s some detail shots.

Next week, I’ll post a small painting that I just completed as well as shots from the upcoming “Gallery Crawl.” Thanks for looking.


Alrighty. I did the following illustration for a client. They aren’t going with it. It wasn’t on target, admittedly. Alas, thought i would show it off. I call it “specimens.”

I put it up on threadless just in case anyone gets the urge to vote,  – I’m honestly not sure it makes that good of a shirt but hey, I didn’t have anything else to do with it. Plus, threadless gets a lot of traffic. Exposure is good.

Here’s a couple detail shots:

That’s me breaking the jar with my head – see:

Photo credit goes to the wife. Look how long my jeans are. That’s not right.

I’m going to post another vector illustration tomorrow  – another failed attempt for a client. Maybe I should consider another line of work. So, thanks for all those that read this and double thanks for all those that bother to vote at threadless. Highly unlikely this will make it as a shirt but it makes me feel better when my submissions get some attention. Abandonment issues.


Rockin’ Catering Co.

I designed a logo recently for local legend, Toby Traylor; he of guitar-pickin’ fame and pie-pusher at Lea’s. This is not the first time we’ve worked together. I designed this for his band a while back. He’s also been generous with his talents in the past and provided UPSTAIRS with a bit of class via his magic fingers. Now the man is delving further into the realms of food service with his own catering company. And if Lea’s is any indication – should be yum-worthy.

His request was that the logo mix a bit of House of Blues with more than a hint of Indian style… dots not feathers ya’ll. So I did a small handful. One catered more to the House of Blues thing, one leaned on the Indian thing and I did one that was far removed from anything he asked for. A wild card if you will. Not entirely sure why I’m mentioning all these logos since I’m only showing the one he chose. The best one I think. We went Indian. Check it:

Now that i’m looking at it again, I remember his other request. He wanted a dobro in it. For all those not in the know, a dobro is a type of acoustic guitar with a metal disk on it (at least that’s what my widget dictionary says).

So the elephant – that’s Ganesha – and Indian deity that i think has something to do with success. I don’t know. I only do enough research to help me with the visual, this ain’t school. So I figured Ganesha was born to rock and I threw a little dobro love his way. Used an indian style font for “catering” to finish ‘er up. Here are a couple variations:

Alright, that’s that. I’ll post a new painting later this week that I’m sure will cause some to question my sensibilities. Until then…


Commissioned piece that i’m really happy with. Originally supposed to be a tattoo design – alas, that didn’t really happen. Luckily the client was fond enough of the image to accept it as a work of wall-art (more my shtick anyway). The idea was to capture the paradox (or is it a juxtaposition?) of being one person inside while dressing the part of another on the outside. Literally or figuratively I suppose we all feed the chameleon inside us by the blending in that society sometimes forces upon us. Here’s to you, Dom.

I may make prints of it – I’ll certainly make giclee prints on demand if anyone is interested. Also may submit it to threadless or design by humans… who knows… it has potential i think. Thanks for looking.