Thursday, June 23, 2011

Student Work: Cast Drawing & Still Life

Here at the Safehouse, Cast Drawing starts bright and early in the horrible San Francisco dawn, and continues until all of us--students and slavedri-, uh teachers alike--are driven outside by the hellish greenhouse heat of the afternoon studio. It is meditative and exacting, and nothing teaches you the details of rendering form more effectively.

Students at Safehouse start out drawing and rendering simple casts (David's eye or ear), progress to more complex ones (such as Nefertiti and Homer), and eventually proceed to painting the casts in oil.

The still lives at the end of this post are from Christian MacNevin's former digital painting class.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Space 9-11

"This time, they'll finish the job"

"Pioneered by Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic spacecraft and his New Mexico spaceport, low-orbit space travel is now how the fast-paced population of the future travels from Tokyo to New York in under 60 minutes.

In dishonor of the 30th year anniversary of 9-11 2001, space terrorists from Afghakistan in the year 2031 launch a massive hijacking of the Virgin fleet."

The purpose of the project was to provide a platform for students to concept a realistic--yet hilarious--dystopia of 50 years in the future. Part of the exercise was taking a hard look at what trends and cultural objects endure the test of time, vs. what new awesome shit the future may hold: Tradition vs. Innovation.

Artem Mirskov

Marco Sano

Artem Mirskov

Carmen Cianelli

Marco Sano

Keith Liu

McLean Kendree

Marco Sano

Alex Lan

Dawn Carlos

Dennis Bolsner

Dawn Carlos

Vencenza Surprise

McLean Kendree

EG Gauger

Artem Mirskov

Dennis Bolsner

Here I Go Again

It's Friday, and as I'm typing this, Carl Dobsky is probably in his studio blasting Slayer and painting while a dozen students fight with their cast drawings, block-ins, and figure drawings. Why? Because at Safehouse Atelier, every Friday is Slayer Friday.

This is where I begin describing a “normal” day at the Safehouse Atelier and how wonderful it is. I could talk about the furry art in the bathroom or the self portrait of McLean Kendree that stares at you while you pee. Or the time we looped A Glorious Dawn on Youtube for three days. Or the Carl Dobsky designer t-shirt line.

The simple fact is that there's no such thing as a "normal" day. Take a dozen students with the desire to become the best in the entertainment industry, add in a classical art foundation, and top it off with an internship and project review at a top notch concept art studio, and what you get is something rare and unique. Take that school and put it on top of rented studios filled with local painters and concept artists?

The result is way more than a school; it's a way of life.

Last week I left that place, and I've been looping Michael McDonald and crying into my pillow for days. I made a playlist of Safehouse classics to get myself through these tragic times. What's saddest of all is that you probably think that's a joke.

The Atelier has a way of taking over your life so that when you leave, it feels like resurfacing into the outside world. You wake up on Monday and you panic because it's 8:45 and someone is going to throw a coffee pot at your face if you're late. Oh, right.

You're out of school, but the memories of El Coro and Kemp Remillard singing R. Kelly are still fresh in your memory.

The full-time program itself is fluid, and differs from student to student. Classes have changed based on student feedback, and projects will change as students learn and progress. It's designed to keep pushing a student. When they've fully grasped a concept and feel comfortable, there's a new challenge waiting to make them want to bash their face into their drawing board all over again.

What Safehouse teaches is more than technical skill or design. There's a work ethic that is shared by all of the students. It's a nose-to-the-grindstone approach to pursuing knowledge, and it leaves little room for people who aren't prepared to give it their all. Once it's there, you can't get rid of it. Even though I no longer have Carl coming in to check on my progress or Coro telling me that my illustration is killing him, that nagging need to draw remains. Like a drug addict getting the shakes, guilt sets in within a day of not working. As does the constant fear of failure that keeps me moving forward.

For me, that was the true value of Safehouse and the time I spent there. Understanding the amount of work it takes to become a great illustrator or concept artist is daunting. I can see how much farther I have to go, but I can also see how far I've come, and I owe that to Safehouse and the amazing artists of Massive Black. Particularly to Mr. Dobsky and his countless hours of teaching me to just shut the hell up and stop arguing with someone who has a decade of experience on me.

He would be appalled to know I am saying nice things about him.

To top it all off, Safehouse knows that not everyone has the ability to attend a full-time program. Which is why a few nights a week, Carl teaches night classes in figure drawing and painting. If you're interested, drop a line at

With all of that said, if you're on the fence about Safehouse, get off of it. Find your big girl panties, suit up, and drop in a portfolio. It's worth it.


[by Carmen Cianelli]

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Safehouse Student Work!

On Tuesday afternoons, Safehouse students head down to Massive Black for concept art review. Every few months a different project is assigned, with settings varying from high fantasy to sci-fi. Our current project is set fifty years in the future, and students have been designing characters and tech set in the year 2051.

Below is the design process for an airport loader assistant from Safehouse student Artem Mirskov, from his initial concept sketches to the final design. Done under the guidance of project leaders Kemp Remillard and El Coro, Artem's work shows the design process from start to finish, with adjustments made to improve both functionality and visual appeal.

For those interested in attending, we will have a couple of spots opening up in May! Please send applications or questions to