By Lauren Panepinto

I’m really excited to announce a project I’ve been working on for months now with a great gallery, some fantastic artists (some of whom you’ll know as fellow Muddy Colors contributors), and an expert jury of Art Directors. In fact, some of you might have already seen some of the works in progress on social media, but here’s my official announcement and some of the final pieces:

Marc Scheff

I met Julie Baroh (half of Krab Jab Studio) last year at Spectrum Fantastic Art Live, where she volunteered to give a great seminar on how illustrators can break into the gallery world. (She has since posted the material here on Muddy Colors for you: Demystifying the Gallery World Part I, Part II) Since then we’ve kept in touch and she asked me to guest curate a show for Krab Jab. Now I know I literally wrote the article on Saying Yes, but I was still super intimidated by the idea of curating an entire show. I know I’ve gained some experience with Every Day Original and Visionarium over the past year, but I have to admit, Marc Scheff is the muscle behind most of EDO and Visionarium is a small show, where the artists can do anything they want. What the hell did I know about seriously curating anything?

Dave Palumbo
Jeremy Wilson

Julie has been a champ hand-holding me through the process, and over time we mulled over a lot of different themes and concepts for the show. As much as I do love collaborating with the entire Orbit team to produce book covers, there are a lot of artists whose work I love that I don’t get to use frequently enough, and I was very excited to get to work with them on a gallery show. In a way I was making a Dream Team of illustrators. But what theme should I have them create pieces on?

After a while I finally realized I should play to my experience and my strengths. I would have my Dream Team illustrate covers for their Dream Book Cover Assignments.

Dan Dos Santos
Scott Fischer

Now, I could have picked a Dream Team of 50 (if not 100) illustrators, and getting to just 20 artists was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. There are artists that were unable to fit the show into their schedules, and there are artists I wish I could have fit into the show that I unfortunately had to leave out. And for once I couldn’t blame my editors for the choices. Curating is hard.

Allen Williams
Rovina Cai

Over the months it has been really thrilling to see the work come together. I loved hearing what books each artist chose (and in some cases re-chose once they changed their minds) and the reasons behind their choices. I’m not going to put in these captions what book goes with each illustration – for now I want to see what people will guess.

Wylie Beckert
Chris Buzelli

Although I did see most of the thumbnails for the pieces, I did very little art direction. And I loved seeing how the artists played to their strengths, but also how many of them have decided to push the envelope a bit and use this as an opportunity to get experimental with their work. I’m so excited that Julie, Krab Jab, & I were able to give them that opportunity.

Julie Bell
Anthony Palumbo

Right now all the pieces are on the way to the gallery to be hung, and I’m working on the catalog for the show. I’m going to be turning all the illustrations into proper book covers, with typography, to accompany each original. (Yes I promise there will be some Muddy Colors process posts to come on that.) Let me tell you, I’m used to performance anxiety when doing covers for high-profile authors. The pressure is worse now. I don’t want to screw up anyone’s gorgeous illustration with less-than-amazing type!

Rebecca Yanovskaya

Vanessa Lemen

And to add some fantastic icing on the cake, we have a jury of Art Directors judging the final illustrations. Thank you to Irene Gallo from Tor Books, Jon Schindehette from Treehouse/ThinkGeek/GamesStop, and Zoë Robinson from Fantasy Flight for lending us their professional eye. The top choice will be getting the cover of the catalog!

Winona Nelson
Tran Nguyen

Last but not least, I’ll be headed to Seattle for the opening, but the night before Krab Jab is hosting an artist talk with Brom, Laurie Lee Brom, Jeremy Wilson, & Marc Scheff, with me as moderator. If you’re going to be in Seattle April 9th or 10th, definitely come visit. Tickets to the artist talk are available here.

Well, back to getting all the book covers done for the show. Stay tuned for process posts on that here on Muddy Colors! And thank you to Julie & the Krab Jab team, and most of all thank you to my jury and my artist dream team!

Boris Vallejo

Kim Kincaid

Laurie Lee Brom

Take a look at all these gorgeous pieces and see if you can guess what book each artist has illustrated…Post your guesses in the comments below…