Category Archives: Assignments

Mirvish Village Giveaway!

A nostalgic look at Mirvish Village

A nostalgic look at Mirvish Village

Here is the result of a recent commission to design and produce a three-colour silkscreen print based on two new exhibits now on display at Markham House. Tonight only, along with free hotdogs, they’re giving away 200 of these limited-editions away!

Anne Mirvish: The Artist in Her Studio
and Welcome to Yesterday:
Ephemera from Mirvish Village

Come take a look at Anne Mirvish’s art practice and her influence on the neighbourhood known as Mirvish Village. In addition check out the wonderful collection ephemera and memorabilia from the Mirvish Family archive, collected over the past 50+ years. Here you will discover the tale of the Onion Pot and the name of the first shop opened by Honest Ed Mirvish.

The shows run from May 28th to July 10th, 2016.

Markham House
610 Markham St. Toronto
Open daily from 12pm – 7pm


Xtra! magazine’s final print edition


Xtra! magazine released it’s final print edition. The art director asked the publication’s favourite illustrators to be part of the special final print edition and the image above is my contribution.

My concept: Pink Triangle Press has taken on many roles with Xtra! — patron of the arts, educator, entertainer, community leader, political activist… the list goes on. Most of all it has provided a voice to a community and inspired courage and commitment that has resulted in many positive changes to the lives of GLBTQ people right across Canada, and beyond.

Xtra! will continue publishing a daily online edition.

The Mohawk Trail, Yankee Magazine

ianphillipsillustration-mohawk trail 01

There’s a nice double-page spread in the current issue of Yankee Magazine, with this postcard-like map I illustrated. Now, if I only knew how to drive – it’s not really that far from where I live, and it looks like it would be a lot of fun to explore this part of the U.S.

For an oddball source of inspiration, I must have watched Alfred Hitchcock’s The Trouble With Harry half-a-dozen times while I was working on this job! It was filmed in a part of New England that feels very much like the route depicted on this map.

The feature-length article has loads of great photos too!

Many thanks to Lori Pedrick’s wonderful art direction on this.

Matthew Barber’s BIG ROMANCE



Matthew Barber releases


At the Dakota Tavern

249 Ossington Avenue
Tuesday June 3rd at 7:00 pm

Get your tickets here
$15 at the door

matthew barber big romance exterior -- ianphillipsillustration

Looking for inspiration for an album cover, Matthew Barber was looking at my nurse romance post on my blog and gave me a call.


matthew barber big romance interior -- ianphillipsillustration

This past January he recorded a number of songs about love for a new album and thought it might be fun to have a cover that celebrated the vintage romance genre.


I have to thank my friend Katherine in Melbourne for the vintage romance comics that she sent me a while back… They came in very handy as reference material when drawing all the embracing couples that appear throughout the CD packaging. I filled up almost an entire fifty-page sketchbook of drawings and finally selected seven favourites to appear throughout the packaging.


It was a pleasure to work with Matthew once again. You can listen to clips and buy his music here.

On Stage: The Haunted Hillbilly

The Haunted Hillbilly
Montréal’s Centaur Theatre
May 8 – June 3, 2012

The award-winning musical based on
the novel by Derek McCormack.
Produced by  Sidemart.

I saw it 3 times last summer in Toronto at Theatre Passe Muraille!

Featuring all-original music by Matthew Barber, this season’s production launches the soundtrack on both vinyl and CD. The album includes twelve songs from the play and has guest appearances by Doug Paisley, Justin Rutledge, Oh Susanna, Julie Fader and of course, Matthew Barber (and others!). The album will be exclusively available at the theatre during the run of the show and will have a wider release in June.

The hatch-show style poster for the original theatrical production & Derek McCormack’s book

Matthew asked me to design the cover for him — such an honour!

I wanted to keep the same character I used on the original book cover and poster – the skeleton in a cowboy hat, playing guitar. I found this old photo at a flea market and altered the person’s face to resemble a skull.

Found photo and collage

This doesn’t have the impact I was looking for. Dropping the photo and
updating the illustration I came up with something more effective:

Introducing characters from the story: the lonesome cowboy, and the vampire bat

Something closer to the original poster could work. I used a
typeface that is easier to read at smaller sizes, but the type and the
cowboy are competing for attention — more revisions!

Thinking of bats, some snapshots I took at the South
End Cemetery in East Hampton came to mind:

Nathan Baker, who died by the fall of a tree, South End Cemetery, East Hampton

I’ve always liked those little angels on tombstones. They remind me of bats.
Changing one angel wing to a bat wing and adding cowboy hats,
I came up with this new design:

One of 26 variations – my second favourite, with a leather and denim texture

I wanted to keep the new cowboy so used him elsewhere:

The lonesome cowboy appears in the liner notes

I really liked the leather and denim colours on the design, but we
decided something warmer and more colourful would
be better. It’s more musical, more sideshow, more carnival.

The final design:

Matthew Barber's new 12-inch vinyl

In Montréal? Order tickets for the play here.
Matthew Barber’s webpage.
Derek McCormack’s reading list

Same day deadlines!

I illustrate an advice column for an Asian edtion of The Readers Digest. The current issue features a letter about grief surrounding the loss of a pet. For this particular edition, I had a one-day deadline. Sometimes I think the less time I have, the better the final art turns out. This is one of my favorite pieces from my portfolio this year.

I’d like to dedicate this illustration to the memory of fellow dog park patron Sally McKendry. You are missed in Trinity Bellwoods Park.

The exact moment an idea pops into your head

I had a quick little spot illustration job from Reader’s Digest in Singapore recently. The story was about parents pressuring their children to achieve an A in every subject on their report card.

I was out walking my dog and saw this sign:

I had a few different ideas to show David, but the idea that was sparked by this sign (the one on the right) is the one he picked (my favorite!).

The final art:

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