Thursday, November 18, 2010

CTN Animation Expo This Weekend!

Italy was amazing, but more on that later. Right now I'd like to remind any animation fans out there that this weekend is the Creative Talent Network's annual Animation Expo in Burbank, CA. It promises to be three days of art, animation, and fun. Live demos, panel discussions and presentations, a chance to meet recruiters from many studios, tons of talented artists exhibiting their wares...need I say more?

I'll be exhibiting at Table T-31 in the Talent Marketplace Hall and have Daily Zoo goodies for sale including books, shirts, and prints. If you can make it, please stop by and say hi.

Also, I'm scheduled to do live demonstrations on Friday and Saturday.
Friday: 2pm in the Atrium
Saturday: 4pm on the Main Stage in the Talent Marketplace Hall

Creative Talent Network Animation Expo 2010
Nov 19-21, 2010
Marriott Hotel in Burbank, CA
(across from the Burbank Airport)

One of the perks of being an exhibitor is that I was invited to contribute to the limited edition Expo Program/Sketchbook. Here's my piece. To all my wattled friends out there, remember that Thanksgiving is only a week away...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Well folks, in a few short hours I'm boarding a plane for Italy to exhibit at the annual Lucca Comics & Games Festival. I only discovered I was going a few days ago when my publisher, Design Studio Press, needed a last-minute replacement to operate their booth. So, if you happen to be in Tuscany this weekend, please stop by the booth and say hello! The show runs from Friday, Oct. 29 - Monday, Nov. 1.

Where: Lucca, Italy
When: Fri. OCT 29, 2010 - Mon. NOV 1, 2010
Hours: 9am-7pm
I will be at the Design Studio Press booth near the entrance of the big gaming tent. Stand Nr A023, Magazzino Merci - Viale Carducci

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Lollipop Theatre Network

This summer I had the pleasure of joining forces with the Lollipop Theater Network to bring some sketchin' fun to the children patients of the Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA. Lollipop Theater Network is a great organization that brings art, creativity, and movie magic to sick children in hospitals around the country. One of their many activities is to organize red carpet screenings of first-run films at hospitals for kids who would otherwise be too sick to go to an actual movie theater. Often a few stars from the film make a special appearance.

For our July drawing sessions we weren't accompanied by any movie stars, so the kids had to make do with just myself and Lollipop staffers Sara and Chelsea, but we still had a lot of fun. I started by sharing a bit about my journey with cancer, showing them some of the Daily Zoo characters, and then drawing a little with each patient. It was moving to see the children get excited about creating art - some didn't need much encouragement at all, their imaginations were already on fire! While it was tough to see these children hooked up to machines, looking pale and weak, it was equally impressive to see their courage and inner strength in handling their situations.

Below are my partners in crime and a grumpy goldfish I drew for one of the children who then went on to draw her own seascape filled with fish and other sea critters.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Pet Playground Radio Interview

As promised, here is the interview from last week's Pet Playground. My gratitude to host Sage Lewis for inviting me to be a guest and share my story. Introducing people to the Daily Zoo in a non-visual medium such as radio can be a little tricky, but I think it went well.

You can either stream or download the interview here.
or you can visit and look for the August 15, 2010 show podcast.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Tune into The Daily Zoo on MN AM radio tomorrow evening!

Sorry for the late notice, but I just wanted to let you know that I'll be one of the guests on The Pet Playground, a live local Twin Cities radio program this Sunday, August 15th at 6:00pm CST. I believe I'm the first scheduled guest and will be on shortly after 6 - so if you're bingo game gets cancelled or if you can't wash your hair because you forgot to pick up shampoo on the way home from work, please tune in! It should be fun! If you miss the live show, the broadcast should be available at the website listed at the bottom of this message a few days later. I'll post a notification here on my blog once it is available.

Here's hoping I don't get too tongue-tied!

The Pet Playground - Your Place to Play
Every Sunday night from 6-7pm
Listener Call in #952-946-6205

"It's time to play with Sage Lewis, The Creature Teacher! The Pet Playground is an entertaining and educational call in show for pets and the people who love them. Find out why your pets act the way they do and how to help them (and you) create a happier, healthier, more balanced life together. Whether it's you who calls in to talk to The Creature Teacher, or your pets, Sage can talk to both. Tag, you're it!"

Friday, July 23, 2010

Daily Zoo T-Shirts at Comic-Con!

For those of you who are in San Diego this week and have spilled coffee or ketchup on your shirt and are in need of a new one, why not head over to the Design Studio Press booth (#1701) at Comic-Con and pick up a hot-off-the-press Daily Zoo t-shirt? I hope to expand this into a line of many designs, but for starters we just have Day 302 - Eye to Eye available. There are a variety of styles and colors to choose from for infants through adults, but the quantities at the booth are limited, so don't delay!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Comic-Con 2010

Just a quick note to let you know that I'll be available to sign books at the Design Studio Press booth at Comic-Con in San Diego on Saturday, July 24, from 3-4pm. Please stop by and say hi!

San Diego Comic-Con International
Book signing
Saturday, July 24, 2010
San Diego, CA

Orange County Children's Book Festival

Please consider joining me at the Orange County Children's Book Festival this fall! Though this is the Festival's 7th year, I'll be exhibiting there for the first time. I'm also going to be doing a drawing demo with the kids (exact time TBA). I will post more details when I know them.

Hope to see you there!

Orange County Children's Book Festival
Sunday, October 3, 2010
9:30am - 4:30pm
Orange Coast College
Costa Mesa, CA

Friday, July 9, 2010

Profile Page at CTN-X

My profile page just went up at CTN-X 2010, the Animation Expo this November in Burbank, CA where I'll have a booth as an exhibitor. It's got a brief bio & summary of The Daily Zoo project if you're interested. I mentioned the Expo in a previous post, but it's worth mentioning again. I had a great time last year with wonderful opportunities to hear from some exceptionally-talented artists such as Mike Mignola, Peter de Seve, and a great panel of character designers (Dejas, Deamer, Vignali, Siepermann, etc.) that left me (and probably many others in the audience) with the impulse to drop to our knees and shout, "We're not worthy!" I highly recommend the experience for anyone interested in the field of animation.

The early bird pricing for registration has expired, but you can still get a 10% discount off passes by using this code: CHADX10

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sketch Club 6/25

Here are a couple of pieces from last Friday's Sketch Club. I tried out some watercolor on very toothy hand-made paper. While I'm not crazy happy with the results, it was still a fun experiment and I hope to play around with it again in the near future.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Nabbit Frog

I was recently asked to design a new "spokesphibian" for a company called Nabbit. It's a neat, FREE service that allows you to "Nabb" a song's title and artist while you're listening to the radio. You can do this by a variety of means: texting, mobile web browser, and even a free iPhone app.

Anyway, here is what we came up with. He is hot off the press with the digital paint drying just about two weeks ago. That is quite a difference from working on a movie - usually a year or more passes from my work and the final product being released.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Daily Zoo at Bethesda Hospital, MN

For anyone in the Twin Cities metro area of Minnesota, I just wanted to let you know that an exhibit of Daily Zoo prints from the first two books is on display at Bethesda Hospital in St. Paul, where I did a drawing workshop with some of the brain trauma patients and a book signing this past April. The show went up at the beginning of June and will come down at the end of July. Initially there were 60 images on display, but some have been sold and taken down already. The exhibit is in The Cafeteria Gallery, so if you're in the area why not stop over for a bite and some art? (I can attest that the food is pretty good there.)

While preparing the images for exhibit, I found myself continuing to tinker with some of them (the curse of the artist I guess - a piece is never truly "finished"). Here are a few examples of some of the tweaked pieces. They differ from the versions that appear in the books mainly by the replacement of the tan paper backgrounds with the new colored versions seen here. Incidentally, the Content Kitty print (shown at bottom) has been a popular one at some recent charity auctions and has done well in raising funds for some great causes such as the National Bone Marrow Registry, Alcott Center for Mental Health Services, and the Minnesota Angel Foundation (helping children who have parents facing cancer). Fundraising auctions are a common event for many charities, so to all of you artists out there please consider donating a bit of your time and talent to help out a cause that is important to you.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Join me at the CTN Animation Expo, Nov. 2010!

If you're an animation fan, then you will definitely want to try to attend the annual Creative Talent Network's Animation Expo November 19-21, 2010 in Burbank, CA. This is the expo's second year and I had a great time at it last year. It's like a (much) smaller version of Comic-Con, but devoted strictly to the world of animation. There were some fantastic and educational panel discussions with industry pros, an extensive exhibitor floor, and live demos by some amazingly talented artists.

This year I'll be exhibiting there for the first time. Please stop by and say hi!
November 19-21, 2010
Burbank Marriott Hotel (across from the Burbank Airport), CA

And if you want to receive 10% off the cost of a 1-day or 3-day pass, just enter this discount code when registering: CHADX10

Hope to see you there!

Upcoming Events: Minneapolis & Los Angeles

Hi all,
I just wanted to give you a heads up that I will be participating in two upcoming fundraisers.

First up is one in Minneapolis and it is to benefit the Penny George Institute's Art of Healing Program. I currently have a bunch of Daily Zoo prints on exhibit at their location in Abbott Northwestern Hospital and they have invited me back to be a part of their Discover the Art of Healing event Thursday, May 20, 2010 at the Nicollet Island Pavilion. More than 30 local artists (I guess I count as local since my roots are there) will be exhibiting their work. Hors d'ouervres & light refreshments will be served. I'll be giving a short presentation around 6:30 pm and in my booth I'll have framed and unframed prints for sale, as well as books, notecards, and the first Daily Zoo t-shirts (hot off the press!).

Event details:
Thursday, May 20, 2010
5:30-7:30 pm
Nicollet Island Pavilion
40 Power Street, Minneapolis
$20 per person
RSVPs requested (612-863-6510)

Then on Saturday, May 22, 2010 I will be in the Los Angeles area selling various Daily Zoo sundries (how long has it been since you've heard that word?) at the Be the Match Bone Marrow Registry fundraiser. Consider joining us for a night of dinner, dancing, comedy, celebrity appearances, and helping out a great cause. Be the Match works to find life-saving marrow/stem cell donors for patients in need of a transplant.

Event details:
Saturday, May 22, 2010
6 pm
Stevens Steak & Seafood House
5332 E Stevens Place
City of Commerce, CA 90040
There is an entrance fee (I think it is either $55 or $65 per person - remember, it's a tasty dinner, a night of entertainment, and for charity!)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Alcott Center and LA Contemporary present “The Many Faces of Art”

This is the latest fundraising event that I'm participating in. Please consider attending if it sounds interesting to you and is within your means. It's a great cause.

"The Alcott Center, a non-profit organization that works with clients who struggle with severe and persistent mental illness, presents its annual artWorks fundraising event. With the recent cuts in State funding, this event has taken on even greater importance in order to service those in our community who suffer from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and chronic depression. Funds raised at this event will benefit residential programs, such as the Graduate House, which provides transitional/permanent housing and encourages Alcott residents to live as independently as possible and lead more meaningful lives.

This year’s event, “The Many Faces of Art,” will be held on Sunday, April 25, 2010 at the prestigious LA Contemporary, a venue which has been host to numerous well-known artists’ exhibits. Artists include such well-known names as Chris Ayers, Farzad Varahramyan Daniel Alonzo, Les Biller, Huguette Caland, Laddie John Dill, Linda Jacobson, Muromasa Kudo, Brett Livingstone Strong, Jeffrey Manpearl and Suzye Ogawa. Located in the heart of LA’s exciting La Cienega art district, the evening, which begins with an exclusive VIP Champagne Reception, promises to be a fun-filled celebration of art with an auction, delicious food, good wine and interesting guests."

When: Sunday, April 25, 2010, 6:00 to 9:00 pm
Where: LA Contemporary, 2634 S. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90034 (310) 559-6200
What: Art show, auction, food, wine
How: Purchase tickets $75 by contacting the Alcott Center at (310) 785-2121
Special: VIP reception at 5:00, tickets $125

Friday, April 16, 2010

Los Angeles Festival of Books - April 24-25, 2010

I will have a booth at this year's Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. This annual celebration of all things literary on the UCLA campus is filled with books, food, and fun for the whole family. Author signings, panel discussions, music, and children's activities galore. Come check it out and stop by the Daily Zoo booth to say hi!

The Daily Zoo
Booth 030 - Zone B

Los Angeles Times Festival of Books
UCLA Campus
April 24-25, 2010
Saturday: 10am-6pm
Sunday: 10am-5pm
Admission is free!

April Events - Midwest Book "Tour"

I don't know, can it really be called a book tour if it is only a week? I guess so. Anyhow, I will be in Minnesota and Wisconsin in a few days to do a variety of Daily Zoo-themed events (presentations, gallery reception, workshops, book signings, etc.). Many of the events are in conjunction with the Midwest Arts in Healthcare Network which is having an Arts and Health Community Celebration during the month of April. Please see below for a complete listing and details of each event. If you have the time and are in the area, please consider checking one out!

Penny George Institute: Presentation & Book Signing
Sunday, April 18, 2010 - 2-5pm
Penny George Institute for Health and Healing
2833 Chicago Ave South
Minneapolis, MN 55407

As I mentioned in my previous post, fifteen Daily Zoo prints are on exhibit at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis through May 26. There is a reception this Sunday afternoon from 2-5 pm at the Penny George Institute. I'll be presenting the story of The Daily Zoo and will have books available for signing if anyone is interested. There will also be presentations/readings/live music by other artists. Light refreshments too. This event is free and open to the public. Map & directions here.

Bethseda Hospital: Lunchtime Book Signing
Monday, April 19, 2010 - Lunchtime (I should be set up shortly after 11am)
559 Capitol Blvd
St. Paul, MN 55103

Bethseda Hospital in St. Paul, MN invited me for a book signing and also to do some drawing workshops with some of their patients in the afternoon. The lunchtime signing is open to the public. Map & directions here.

Hudson Hospital: Healing Arts Event
Monday, April 19, 2010 - 7-8:30pm
Hudson Hospital Conference Center
405 Stageline Road
Hudson, WI 54016

Free and open to the public, however registrations is requested (please call the Health Resource Center at 715-531-6250).

At the invitation of Hudson Hospital's Healing Arts Program I will be presenting a digital slideshow at 7pm and then be available for signing afterwards. I will be specifically addressing how my artwork has been a healing factor in my experience with facing cancer.


University of Minnesota - Boynton Clinic: Presentation & Book Signing
Tuesday, April 20, 2010 - 12-1pm
Lunch will be served at 11:50am

The Roen Room

At the invitation of the University of Minnesota's Center for Spirituality & Healing I'll be sharing my cancer experience and the therapeutic properties of creating artwork with medical professionals as part of the U of M's Continuing Medical Education program. Sorry, this event is not open to the public.

University of Minnesota Campus Bookstore: Book Signing
Tuesday, April 20, 2010 - 4pm
Coffman Memorial Union
300 Washington Ave SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455

I'll be signing at 4pm. More info here. Map and directions here.

Hennepin County Medical Center: Presentation & Book Signing
Wednesday, April 21, 2010 - 11am-12pm
HCMC Blue Bldg, Room BL.320
900 S. 8th Street
Minneapolis, MN

I'll presenting & signing at the Hennepin County Medical Center as a part of the Inspire Arts program's participation in the month long celebration of arts in healthcare. This is free and open to the public.


Holy Family Elementary School: Student Workshops
Wed-Thurs, April 22-23, 2010
Green Bay, WI

Two days of art workshops with the K-8 students at Holy Family school in Green Bay, WI. Sorry, this one is not open to the public.

The Reader's Loft: Book Signing
Thursday, April 22, 2010 - 6-8pm
2069 Central Ct, Suite 44
Green Bay, WI 54311

Map and directions here.

Hope you can make one of these!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Daily Zoo Exhibit & Presentation: Minneapolis

Greetings all!
An exhibit of 15 prints from the first two Daily Zoo books just opened at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis. It is being put on by the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing as a part of their Healing Arts program. The show is located on the lower level of the hospital by the LiveWell Fitness Center and will be on display until May 26, 2010.

Additionally, I'm going to be presenting a slide show and telling the story of my cancer and the Daily Zoo at a reception on Sunday, April 18. The reception is from 2-5pm and will include a talk by fellow exhibiting artist Sarah Schaleger, as well as live music, poetry readings, and light refreshments. I'll be signing books for anyone interested after my presentation. Both the exhibit and reception are free and open to the public.

The exhibit can be viewed during clinic hours:
M-Th 8am-9pm
Fridays 8am-4:30pm

A PDF file with directions and parking suggestions can be found here.

I hope to see some of you there!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

LLS: Man & Woman of the Year Campaign

Each year, many local chapters of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society hold a fundraising campaign called the Man & Woman of the Year. Candidates are nominated and then spend the spring raising much-needed funds for cancer research and patient services. The candidate who is able to raise the greatest amount is bestowed the title of Man or Woman of the Year.

This year, the local Minnesota chapter of LLS asked me if I would be their honorary chairperson of the campaign. I've been involved with them in the past, presenting the story of my cancer and The Daily Zoo at a Survivor's Night celebration last year, as well as donating signed books and prints to some of their other fundraisers. Needless to say, I was honored to be asked and as part of my involvement I created some artwork to be used as a secondary logo for the campaign. The LLS staff suggested a pair of animals adorned with the red sashes that are given to the winners. I decided hippos might be fun. (When are hippos NOT fun?) The final piece is shown above and below are some in-progress images showing the development which led to the end result.

If your local chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is having a Man & Woman of the Year campaign, please consider donating (or even participating as a candidate yourself!).

Everything started out with some quick thumbnails done with water soluble wax crayons. I liked the idea (and challenge) of doing the final piece in watercolor. By no means do I feel very confident with this medium, so I did a few small test "renders" of the hippos, experimenting with color, paint application, and detailing with different types of additional media (colored pencil, ink pen, etc.)

Then it was on the actual final artwork. I lightly sketched the hippos out with a Col-erase blue pencil before painting with watercolor. As you can see from the in-progress shot, the color palette was much different than what I ultimately ended up with. It just wasn't working for me, so when I scanned the painting into the computer I played around with color adjustments and settled on a drabber blue-gray color for the hippos which I felt worked better with the red sashes.

I also drew a separate line drawing of the two characters, scanned that in separately, and added it as a digital overlay. Why not just do this step on the final image and avoid the compositing work in Photoshop? Well, I wasn't exactly sure how it was going to look, and since I didn't have much time to do the piece, I didn't want to do something I would later regret. That's one of the benefits of having a digital component as part of your workflow. I could experiment more freely and not worry about having to start over completely. When overlaying the line drawing on the painting I was able to control its opacity and add it only where I felt it was needed.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

"Happy" Anniversary

Today is the first of April. April Fool's Day. It also marks the fifth anniversary of my leukemia diagnosis. Usually we don't associate bad news - such as being told that you have a life-threatening health condition - with cause for celebration, but I take a long moment each April 1st to reflect on the many ways that my life has changed since that fateful moment in the doctor's office. Many lessons have been learned, many questions have been raised (a few of them have even been answered), and the current of gratitude coursing through my life has become ever stronger.

It also marks the beginning of a brand new year of The Daily Zoo. Year Four was completed last night and a new sketchbook was pulled from the shelf to begin the journey of Year Five. Yes, a blank page can sometimes be intimidating, but it can also be a vast playground where anything is possible. Let your imagination run wild!
Onward ho!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Daily Zoo's Newest Fan

A friend and college classmate of mine just shared these photos with me and I thought they were too cute not to post. Congratulations to Paul & Megan! And to you, young Julia, I simply say, "Welcome to this party called life!"

By the way, Paul is an accomplished photographer. You can see his work at

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sketch Club - Missing the Mark

Here are a few more sketches that were a result of hangin' out with the Sketch Club gang. During each lunchtime drawing session, the group picks out The Mark, an interesting looking person who we are all supposed to draw from memory later that day. I have not had much luck so far in successfully achieving this. Either I've had to leave the group before a mark was selected, been too busy to do it, or - as was the case two weeks ago - have been too engrossed in conversation with another Sketcher that we completely missed the mark when she walked by...twice. So that's the other image posted here, me and Omar "Missing the Mark...Again."

Monday, March 8, 2010

Chemo-Couture: Cancer Stinks!

Allow me to introduce you to Chemo-Couture, an online boutique offering a variety of cancer-themed gifts ranging from inspirational t-shirts, books, and cozy blankets (you can never have too many of those when you're going through chemo). It was founded by Jane and Julie, two creative entrepreneurs whom I had the pleasure of meeting last summer. They decided to take the fight to cancer with a sense of humor and compassion, realizing that these are two powerful tools to have on your side when facing the disease, and are donating 5% of sales to cancer charities.

While brainstorming ideas for their line of apparel, they envisioned a shirt with a skunk that proclaimed, "Cancer Stinks!" and after seeing The Daily Zoo, they asked me if I would be interested in designing it. Two versions were produced and they're available in both children's and adult sizes.

The Gifted Artist Show - a Success!

The Gifted Artist Show was held this past December in Rancho Cucamonga, CA to benefit the Loma Linda Children's Hospital, auctioning off originals and prints from many talented artists in the animation community. The show was a big success, raising over $3,500 for the hospital!

In addition to donating a few prints, I was invited to share the story of my journey with cancer and The Daily Zoo (thanks Thomas Brillante!). You can check out a video of my presentation below (made possible by Santosh Oommen). Also, please check out to see samples of the art that was auctioned off. This was the first year of the event, but I believe they are hoping to do it again next year so if you are an artist, please consider donating a piece to help out a good cause!

Chris Ayers-Gifted Artist Benefit from santosh oommen on Vimeo.

Sketch Club

Recently the inspirational Marcelo Vignali invited me to come sketch with him and his cadre of friendly and talented artist friends at their lunchtime Sketch Club. They usually meet at a restaurant or other public place and draw the (sometimes) unsuspecting people surrounding them. I've been able to make it a few times now and enjoy the conversation, trading art tips, and the opportunity to draw from life again - it has been far too long! Here are some of the results.

Daily Zoo Year Two - Now Available!

Yes, the latest volume of The Daily Zoo is now available from a variety of sources including:
Barnes & Noble
Design Studio Press
Bud's Art Books
or check with your favorite local bookstore!

Like the first Daily Zoo, Year Two is available in both hardcover and softcover versions and 10% of the proceeds go to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. You can view sample pages on my website where I've also added a DZ2 gallery.
Grab a copy today!