Tag Archives: illustrator

Pigeon Bros

October 19, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann
Illustration by Pigeon Bros.

It’s like watching two parts of the same brain. When Jack Blanket and Ryan Showers are together, it’s just the two of them, taking turns finishing each other’s sentences and stories. Their words flow back and forth, forming a single curse-word-laden stream of consciousness. But that’s not to say these brothers are free from a little sibling rivalry.

“Stop. Stop. STOP. Don’t draw on my drawing,” Blanket says as his pencil glides over paper, doodling out shaded shapes, while Showers makes a move to add his own creative contribution.

“I wouldn’t…” Showers begins.

“Wouldn’t be an ass? Yes, yes, you would,” Blanket continues.

Believe it or not, this exchange, like most of their conversations, is all said with deadpan, sarcastically saccharine love. To them, calling one another an ass is a compliment. While the duo play brothers, friends, and roomies in life, they’re yin and yang in the world of local Omaha art—Blanket an accomplished stop motion animator and Showers an eccentric and eclectic illustrator.

“As far as I know, we’ve always been drawing and creating,” says Blanket, the younger sibling by approximately one year. “There’s always been paper and pencil around.”

Born and raised across the river in Council Bluffs, Blanket and Showers are just two of eight siblings, each one living in different parts of the country, all of them dabbling in art either full-time or for fun. However, given their upbringing, it’s no surprise the family is now made up of everything from illustrators and animators to video game creators and programmers. They were homeschooled by their mother, who based her curriculum largely on creative expression. Their father illustrated.

Even though their childhood was awash in arts, crafts, doodles, and drawings, the two brothers didn’t graduate high school as mini Monets. It was through years of self-learning and discovery that their artistic talents began to bloom.

Blanket taught himself to animate through online tutorials. After all, who needs a fancy-shmancy liberal arts degree when you’ve got Google and YouTube as professors? Years of plugging and playing and numerous “crashed crappy computers” later, Blanket acquired the skills to land freelance animation work.

He’s made several animated games and music videos for local musicians and labels, One of his favorites was for a Chicago-based hip-hop and soul group, Sidewalk Chalk. Though simple, his flashing red, white, and black drawings in the video for their song “Dig” helps bring to life the message behind the lyrics, which details the effect media has on the public’s perception of police violence.

“To create it, you just go step-by-step, line-by-line, translating lyrics to images,” Blanket says. “Three minutes might really be three months of work.”

As for his artistic name, a high school girlfriend’s mother created it in an instant years ago. She said she knew too many Nathans, his real name, and chose to call him Jack Blanket instead. More than a decade later and the moniker has survived, further separating his work and artistic identity from his brother.

“We’re cut from the same cloth but we really are very different, both personally and with our art,” Blanket says.

One glance at their work and any viewer would agree. Showers steers clear of animation, instead creating detailed drawings, often sparse in color but big in imagination. Haunting images of monsters, animals in human clothes, and cartoonish people, he’s done it all.

“My process is much slower than my brother’s. I’ll start by making a rough skeleton and then sit on it for a really long time,” Showers says. “Music, my medicine, is always a huge catalyst to get me going.”

Beyond the musical styling of bands like King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Showers is inspired by anime and fashion magazines, which he spent hours copying and drawing to perfect his craft.

“Life is f***ed sometimes, so I strive to create work that takes people somewhere else,” Showers says. “The potency of expanding imagination is so valuable. Maybe my pieces help with that.”

While he avoids collaborations, including with his brother, Showers aspires to create pop-up shops around town that feature work from a variety of local creators. For now, he shows pieces for sale in Caffeine Dreams and uses his Instagram as an online portfolio to market himself and gain more work. By displaying animations on YouTube, Blanket harnesses the power of social media.

“Artists need to have an online presence now,” Blanket says. “As a low-level artist, you do a lot better putting yourself out there and responding to your audience through these mediums.”

When they’re not turning news feeds into galleries, the two brothers share an apartment but hardly see one another. Showers admittedly disappears for days, often to look high and low for inspiration, even sifting through dumpsters and exploring vacant buildings. Since art isn’t always a field filled with money, especially for up-and-coming creators, the two spend even more time apart working odd jobs to pay rent.

“We’ve grown accustomed to a humble lifestyle,” Showers says. “I’m willing to wash dishes for a living if it means I can have an imagination.”

So when they get together, it’s a nostalgic celebration. On a particularly warm June day, the siblings got the chance to share an afternoon on the back patio of Caffeine Dreams. Showers veiled his eyes from the gleaming sun with oversized sunglasses while Blanket embraced the warmth, sitting outside the shade with his painted fingernails gleaming in the light. Just as with art, the two take different paths, each enjoying the summer day in their own way.

While you may not see pom-poms at their sides as they sip coffee and share memories, these two really are one another’s biggest cheerleaders, bonded by blood and a love for all things creative.

“Our fields are so highly different,” Showers says. “In my mind, there is no competition, no rivalry, no…”

“No reason not to be supportive,” Blanket finishes. “There’s just mutual respect.”

Visit instagram.com/thee_owl or instagram.com/score6 to view more of Pigeon Brothers’ art.

This article appears in the September/October 2017 edition of Encounter Magazine.

Pigeon Brothers

Ooh Là Là

October 12, 2016 by

Vilaine Frange has planted her roots more than 88,000 Cornhusker football fields from home. But to this native of Besançon, France, the Cornhuskers—and football, for that matter—probably don’t mean a helluva lot. Pardon the Nebraska colloquialism.

Nearly 5,000 miles away, Frange has begun to make a name for herself in the Omaha art community as a celebrated illustrator. In 2014, she showcased an exhibit at the Side Door Lounge and has now created work for restaurants like V.Mertz while also designing event invitations. She may have traded wine fields for cornfields, but a fish out of the water she is not.

“You think of France as this beacon of art, but I’ve found the Omaha art community is more receptive and developed than my home city,” Frange says. “My exhibit at the Side Door was a fairytale that just seemed to kind of happen.”

vilainefrange2

Every fairytale has a beginning, and for Frange, her once-upon-a-time moment came by chance. Her friends asked her to create a poster for a music festival. She obliged, in part, because she was bored and looking for a new direction in life. Previous attempts to pursue degrees in literature, communications, and linguistics had all come up short. Soon after her first foray into art, though, she began filling her time more regularly with drawing and sketching.

“I started later in life and admittedly have no formal training,” Frange says. “This also means I have no blinders.”

Before moving to Omaha to live with her Nebraska-native boyfriend in November 2015, she developed her skills as an artist working at Superseñor, a screen-printing collective workshop. For the next seven years, when not creating art for local magazines and music venues, Frange filled her time (and wallet) making extra cash selling wine for cheap. 

This experience schlepping wine to college tourists inspired her to create a large mural of vino and liquor on the side of a decaying building, knowing it would be destroyed. While her art can be described as simple, yet pretty and pouring with color, she chooses to call it ephemeral—take and discard.

For V.Mertz’s summer Tiki & Tacos event, she designed a promotional image, one that’s sure to have disappeared from the viewer’s mind, perhaps even before the event was over. She also just finished a billboard for a French music venue, more art dressed-up as marketing that’s here then gone. For her 2014 exhibition at the Side Door, she created pieces that captured fleeting moments in time as a reminder that even art is not immortal.

“You think of France as this beacon of art, but I’ve found the Omaha art community is more receptive and developed than my home city”

-Vilaine Frange

“I like to make things that aren’t going to last,” Frange says.

Distance, borders, and even the Atlantic Ocean all mean little to Frange. The exhibition, titled “This Is Not A Myth,” was done while she stayed in Omaha for two weeks. Today, most of the works she completes still go back to clients in France. 

“There’s freedom in art,” Frange says. “I can do it when I want, how I want, where I want.”

Visit vilainefrange.com for more information.

Encounter

vilainefrange1