Geary and 5th, 19th and Pacheco

Facade of home, Geary and 6th

Lighter borders that didn't make the cut. 

On my way to the Inner Richmond to browse through some books at Park Life, I rolled right by this handsome devil on 5th Ave between Geary and Anza. Though it isn't in the Sunset, the muted blue and gold and its composition were too attractive to not illustrate. 

The massive gold inlayed pillars were a bit of a concern. I went back and forth with having them be different border widths and I ultimately stuck with the thicker lines to maintain stylistic integrity.

If you are an Art Deco or if architecture is a hobby of yours and know what those gold things are called, please let me know. "Inlayed pillars" is probably wrong.

Facade of home, Pacheco and 19th

I pass this home all the time to and from the airport. If you have your eye out for it you can't miss the home's radioactive mint chip color and strange boxy sections.

I also had to do an "Extreme Makeover - Home Edition" to this house and didn't illustrate the plastic home depot buckets used as planters and changed the color composition of the brown and green garage door. 

 Screenshot taken from Google Maps

Screenshot taken from Google Maps

The gate and faux balcony had fun motifs that I've been seeing in these kooky homes and I'm happy to have finally illustrated a few of them. 

Lawton and 41st, Rivera and 47th

Facade of home, Lawton and 41st

I was pretty happy with how these two pieces turned out. I got lucky with the Lawton home one night and found a great photo of it on Red Fin which is now a great ally in this project. I can search by location as well as keywords like "Art Deco." 

There were a few adjustments I had to add to the series from these two pieces.

  1. Perspective - I added a rectangle guide that's set in the middle of the page. The guide is literally a guideline but keeps the size of facades relatively consistent and leaves room for adjacent buildings.
  2. Door detail - I added a new 3px stroke width that feels inline with the style but not muddy up door motifs. Many gates have fun curly motifs that I didn't want to leave out. 

    Tip: I found a great resource to nail golden ratio curls rather than having to make them myself.  
  3. Succulents, bushes, grass - Still a WIP but I added shows, styled leaves a specific way and added an appropriate amount of detail. 

Facade of home, Rivera and 47th

When I originally started this project I was super hesitant to do plants. I couldn't imagine what they'd look like juxtaposed with the geometric style of the buildings, until one day I took the plunge and decided that adding them would add a level of aesthetic complexity that could benefit the series. 

Adding them gave these buildings more context, realism and personality and I couldn't imagine 

Every piece I do raises the bar a little more and I end up having to update old pieces and the visual style guide.


Lincoln and 44th

Facade of home, 44th Ave and Licoln

I've had this house on backlog for a while, I was hesitant to introduce a tree with so much character amongst stark and plain homes. After my last piece I felt more confident to add that flora touch to the series.

Tree Detail

Cypress trees are all over San Francisco notably in Land's End, Fort Funston, The Richmond, and The Sunset. Simplifying it down to minimal line details, and adapting it to a straight ahead and directly above light source were my main goals. Those trees get thrashed, whipped, and transformed by heavy onshore wind, so taking their frayed tips to account was a challenge.

I already started tweaking some of the shadows but otherwise, I'm pretty happy with it.


ODSY Workshop's Soojin Chae and Yina Kim, Makers of leather and cloth goods

More Illustrations for SFXO's website redesign. Soojin and Yina have been amazing collaborators who we've worked with since interviewing them. I've gone to them for insight on acquiring a sales permit, selling SFXO's products in their store, and life as small business owners.

Check out their store on Taraval Street in Outer Sunset. 

47th Ave between Moraga and Noriega

Facade of home, 47th Ave between Moraga and Noriega

I finished a majority of this piece at Réveille Coffee Co's North Beach location. 

I published the "Stubbornly flat" version of my latest piece only to realize how alien it looks.

I looked back at all of my pieces and because everything is so flat, I can actually afford a vanishing point just above the exact center of the canvas and not have to change much. 

The final piece is so much better that it's embarrassing. #growingpains

A few nights ago, I struggled to find weird Art Deco homes to illustrate until I googled myself in to a random guy's blog. His name is Andrew Wood and his blog is Woodland Shoppers Paradise. There are 3-4 pics of homes that I'm interested in illustrating. 

In a previous blog post I talk about which questions I planned on asking Emily. Here were her answers from today.

  1. How many pieces should I have for a show given my content and medium - digital art?
    Medium doesn't really matter. It may influence the price you will charge for pieces. Emily had 20 for my Mighty Box show and that's considered a lot.

  2. What are fair prices for prints?
    The size of the print may matter but so does how "good" it is. There will be pieces that stand out and Emily regretfully didn't price those higher in previous shows. She's sold prints for $50-$75 at most shows.

  3. What are "must-have" items for a gallery show? What are "nice-to-have" items for a gallery show?
    I didn't ask this question but based off a standard A Little Lodge show, wall placards for descriptions and artist messages, stickers/pins to show sales, postcards to promote the show, packing materials for framed pieces and prints. 

  4. What are the benefits of partnering with a gallery versus a cafe, store, or bar with a gallery space?
    Foot traffic and impulse purchases. Emily usually prices her stuff more casually when she shows in bars or cafes but they can do really well depending on social media engagement with her and the venue's followers.

  5. How far in advance should I book?
    Emily curates and coordinates shows for the Honey Hive. She offered me a show during our get together. The more casual the place the more likely they can book sporadically where as galleries need to be notified far in advance, up to a year. 


47th Ave between Quintara and Rivera

Facade of home, 47th Ave between Quintara and Rivera

Finished this last night.

Originally I framed this piece with the base of the building and the ground but the perspective and detail was distracting. It became less about an Art Deco building and more about worrying about how the flat perspective I'm using works with a building meets the ground. In the end I chalked it up to "The ground isn't Art Deco, the building is" and axed the ground.

Experimenting with showing the ground, different stroke widths and stroke opacity

Showing the amount of detail on the facade also raised a few questions

Exercises on depth and detail on the bay window trim and garage.

I ended up making rules on limiting detail if it causes too much noise. The thick line style works for these pieces because Art Deco is based on geometry and modern style. When I had to do the scalloped trim on the roof it distracted from the rest of the piece, so I simplified.

The garage was a tough call and I ended up adding a 5px stroke style to the style guide to make it work. I'm intending for that to be the last stroke size to get added. 


Art Deco of Sunset Style Guide

I've always been interested in style guides. All designers love popping the hood and looking in to the decisions and elemental building blocks behind the "how" and the "why" of beautiful designs. I've learned the more I ground my decisions on intentions and logic the more I feel comfortable publishing/releasing my work, and honestly I sleep better at night.

The Art Deco of Sunset is no exception. I started with a base 10 measurement scheme, I tried to keep all shapes, strokes, and border radiuses divisible by 10 and on occasion I'd use a 45 px shape or a 5 px stroke when necessary.

Detail of of home, 18 Ave between Kirkham and Lawton

Every opportunity to round down up or down to 10, I took it. Every time I could simplify where intersections met, I took it. As I started illustrating more complicated objects, I started seeing balanced and stable relationships between forms and depth.

When these elements grew to an unmanageable amount I made a style guide to have something to log my decision making with.

The next steps would have to be standardizing slightly more complicated forms like windows and building trim. My older pieces have one-off exceptions, some are necessary, others aren't.

Window details of past pieces

As a designer/artist, I need to decide when to judiciously differentiate shapes and when to unify them and that's what makes this project so fun. Going back and fixing work can be a hassle but the edits improve individual pieces and the series as a whole. 

I recently fell in love with Airbnb's blog post in late May about building their visual language. Keeping in mind how their UI building blocks actually get used in real UX practice, they took fundamental ui and put it around other elements. The example they use is an avatar and how it'll always be accompanied by a user name and caption. So why not formalize the way those elements look in as many possibilities as possible?

Instead of relying on individual atoms, we started considering our components as elements of a living organism. They have a function and personality, are defined by a set of properties, can co-exists with others and can evolve independently. A unified design language should not just be a set of static rules and individual atoms, but an evolving ecosystem.

Well put, Karri Saarinen.

The next step in the Art Deco of Sunset's style guide would be uniting how common elements interact like Airbnb's visual system. I have a few atoms to build compounds. Now I need to make to use those compounds to build living organisms. 

Back on the Art Deco of the Sunset Grind

July 12, 2016 - Facade of home, Ulloa and Great Hwy

July 13, 2016 - Facade of home, 18 Ave between Kirkham and Lawton

The Art Deco of Sunset is a collection of illustration exercises that I do in Adobe Illustrator. I originally did small exercises before an SFXO work night to get me in the mood. Unlike the rest of SFXO which is minimal and conservative, these exercises were bright and have a fun pastel color palette. Our Instagram received more likes and comments than just about anything we ever posted.

May 11, 2016 - Top Detail of Apartment Building on Kirkham and Funston

Since starting with zoomed detail illustrations, I moved towards larger facades and have gotten a good handle on working with the thick line style.

Now I'm thinking of illustrating 25 of these and having a gallery show.


Because I've never had a gallery show, I have lots of questions for my painter and illustrator friends apart of our community. Next Monday I'm going to meet with Emily Fromm to pick her brain to see what I'm getting into and ask the following questions - 

  1. How many pieces should I have for a show given my content and medium - digital art?

  2. What are fair prices for prints?

  3. What are "must-have" items for a gallery show? What are "nice-to-have" items for a gallery show?

  4. What are the benefits of partnering with a gallery versus a cafe, store, or bar with a gallery space?

  5. How far in advance should I book?

My other friends, Alphonzo Solorzano who runs The Little Lodge and Orlie Kapitulnik who has sold pieces with Rare Device and 3 Fish Studios, will also both be great resources.

Check SFXO's Instagram for my latest work and see the whole body of work at