Sunday, December 11, 2011

Psych Out / Mountain Biking UK December

 This is the piece I did for the December issue of Mountain Biking UK, about why you get psyched out doing drop offs.  This I'm more than too familiar with from skateboarding, stair sets were never something I was comfortable with at all because of the dropping off factor.  Anyway those who know me, know I will jump at any excuse to tiger stripe things so I had a blast with this one.

As always, it's been a pleasure working with them for the past couple of months, looking forward to more illustrations in the new year!  

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Troy Polamalu

Here's a pretty simple portrait on the duality of Troy Polamalu of the Pittsburgh Steelers.  I personally find when working with something as overworked as the subject of duality, it's more effective most of the time to just attack it plain and simple, rather than over think it conceptually ( which just ends up turning it into something reeking of cliche ).
(ink, charcoal)

The thing I find particularly amazing about Polamalu isn't just his dominance on the football field,  it's the balance between the soft spoken saint of a man, and the terror on the turf which would scare even the bravest of men.  His hits are nothing less than vicious.  I find myself cringing at the TV and screaming an exclamation when he takes down another player, and I can't help but daydream of a perfect world where he was also a defensemen on the Penguins.  There's another side to the man though, a polite, well mannered, all around great guy, who is thankful just for the opportunity to play the game of football because he loves it.
This to me just strikes a chord, after all this silliness with the NBA lockout which left me personally disgusted.  There's a professional athlete out there who's just happy to play the game, who doesn't need live in the biggest house possible with the biggest TV.

At this point, I'm just baffled. Although his ferocious tackles maybe some form of letting out aggression, I began to suspect maybe it's something more, a heightened state of being, concentration and thought.  Normally in my experience, hits like this in sports come from a place of anger and hate, but with Polamalu I find this find this impossible to believe.  It seems to be a man with an amazing focus to push himself to the point where his body wants to quit, and explode past that marker.  This to me doesn't just make him an great athlete, but instead an incredible man.

Here's a good article on him from that's fairly old, but I enjoyed how it's more about him as a person and not just as a football player.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Radiolab's " The Loneliness of the Goalkeeper"

A while ago, I heard this great podcast that struck a chord with me enough that I had to illustrate it.  It was about how soccer goalies feel isolated from the rest of their team, and are often are very introverted people. I found it to be eerily accurate, and oddly beautiful.  I myself was a hockey goalie when I was younger and loved it, I wouldn't dream of being any other position.  I found this podcast to be great for my own self reflection.

  I'd love to go into it further, but I feel like I would just cheapen it with my heavy handed words so you can just listen here!

It's about 20 minutes long FYI, just incase you're in a rush. 

This is the first mock up. Love the colors, didn't feel like it worked for the atmosphere I felt. I respect Goalies and the kids who dream of growing up to be one so much that I didn't want to cheapen this subject with my often overly fun colors or a concept so clever it's takes away from the simple feeling.

This was my second color mock up. I liked it more but it didn't exactly feel like mine yet. I ended up deleting the rendered net i had drawn in favor of the charcoal one, it just had a better heaviness to it.

I added a soccer ball to make the composition more balanced.

Hope you enjoy! Thanks to Skip Sterling for pointing out the podcast too me!
You can check out his illustration here -- >

Friday, November 11, 2011

Tom Waits for Ammo mag

A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by Dave from Ammo Magazine to participate in their Black and White issue being put together.  Initially I was excited but a bit stumped as to what to do in black and white.  I had a list of illustrations I wanted to do in queue, but they either heavily depended on color or I worried they might not really connect with Ammo's UK audience.  Eventually I decided to do a painting I had done in the past of Tom Waits as a drawing so it could fit into my portfolio.  I ended up finishing this one with a mix of ink wash, a bit of charcoal and digital.

The majority of my Illustration tends to be extremely bright and vibrant. The challenge of doing a black and white piece for Ammo presented an opportunity to push myself past my prior limitations when it comes to the use of value, and to refine my additions of texture. I quickly found that my work in black and white required a more subtle balance to create atmosphere, and I look forward to bringing more of that into my color work in the future.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

"It's a Great Day for Hockey" - Badger Bob Johnson

I’ve been trying really hard to force myself out of my comfort zone, so I decided to do some work with text.  I have a love/hate relationship with hand drawn text.  I love working with arabesque lines and the look of it.  On the other end, I drive myself crazy nit picking over visual weight and spacing.  I’m pretty happy with how this one turned out, and really enjoying throwing some watercolor into the mix lately.

What can I say about Badger Bob Johnson? A man who passed away when I was 5 years old, an age when I couldn’t be bothered with things that didn’t involve Ninja Turtles or various other action figures. Although I personally wasn’t affected by his sudden passing, I have been by his lasting legacy. 

“It’s a Great Day for Hockey”, a phrase inscribed above the blue line on the home ice of the Pittsburgh Penguins until 2010 with their upgrade to the new Consol Energy Center, seems to say it all.  He words and positive attitude made a tremendous impact on the hockey world, and even though Johnson only coached the Pens one season, he helped lay the mold for a team that helped me fall in love with the sport in my youth.

 In the final year of his life he led the Pens on their 1991 Stanley Cup win, the teams first.  His name however is forever etched into the cup twice, once for his win in 1991 and again a year later when the Pens captured the cup again in his honor.

There’s something to be said about the beauty of a statement so simple, powerful and positive.  It truly is contagious. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


So the November issue of Mountain Biking UK is finally on the stands, complete with an illustration from yours truly.  MBUK contacted me a few months back to start work on some monthly illustrations for their "What happens when..." column.  Featuring an article on things that go wrong with bikes and even our own bodies, when you're out there on the trails.  It's been a blast working on these so far, the subject matter matter is always right down my alley.

This month's subject was "Why the hell do I have crunchy gears?"
They pitched a pretty clear idea and angle of the bike they wanted, the gear cassette turning into more organic teeth and munching on the chain.  Needless to say I was thrilled to draw something like this.  I particularly enjoyed the idea of a metal chain grinding through teeth because just thinking about it triggers a sound effect in my brain that gives me the same kind of anxiety I feel when there's something wrong switching bike gears.

Here's my 3 sketch Ideas!


I got the go ahead to start on the first version, here's the final along with the Tear Sheet from November's issue!

Huge thanks to James Blackwell ( Art Director of MBUK ) for all the help from start to finish each month.  With his guidance it's really been smooth sailing with every assignment!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Kris Letang

Figured I'd start out the week with a warm up portrait of Penguins Defensemen Kris Letang before I start any large stuff this week.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

More Penguins!! ( Crosby )

So in the start of the year I had done a portrait of Sidney Crosby, depicting him holding rabbits feet up as a faux mustache.  I had been meaning to redo this portrait ever since because of some brilliant advice from Yuko Shimizu, who had told me there was nothing wrong with it BUT it could be a much stronger piece with some simple changes.  The original had him holding the rabbits feet, which could easily be photographed ( so why would you need to hire an illustrator ).  A simple change like having the feet floating solves that problem.

(Watercolor wash)

During the few games he played during the 2010-2011 NHL season he was racking up stats that were putting him on the path to a season that was up there with Gretzky and Lemieux's record breaking years. Late in 2010 he had scored a point in 25 straight games. Even while missing more than half of the season, he still finished the season tied for 14th in the league for the most goals.

He grew a "lucky" mustache to coincide his point streak.  I find sports superstitions to be incredibly entertaining because the subject matter is so vast and often pretty odd from an outside perspective.

PENS SIDE NOTE : I am still super thrilled every game day so expect some more portraits and illustrations.  I've got to say at this point Kris Letang has got to be my favorite player on the team. He plays incredible two way hockey, and right now with the lack of Crosby and Malkin's attendance being spotty, he's been the player to step up and put some spark into the team.  

I'm excited for the day they are back at full force, because even when people like Crosby and Malkin aren't scoring goals their playmaking ability, along with people like Letang and Sullivan, really help activate the rest of this great Pittsburgh team.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Quick Sketch, New NHL headshot rule

So here's another quick drawing I did while watching the Penguins game yesterday. As anyone who's being paying attention to Hockey lately probably knows, this season they added a new rule to the NHL, NO HEAD SHOTS. It was frowned upon before but now they are trying to refine it and make the rule clearer to avoid players getting seriously injured.

They seem pretty dead set on making an example out of players this preseason already handing out multiple game suspensions for hits they deem too violent on "defenseless" players who don't see the hit coming.  It's been interesting to watch people like Cooke from the penguins change his game around and try to be a more upstanding citizen on the ice.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Quick sketch of Malkin

So the Pittsburgh penguins played the Detroit Redwings last night in their NHL preseason opener. The good news is Evgeni Malkin is back in the Penguins line up after spending the end of last season out with an injury.

First game back and he was involved in all 3 of the Penguins goals in the win over Detroit.

I'm looking forward to seeing the Penguins new addition, Steve MacIntyre, play tonight.  They brought him in with one job, "Protect Sidney Crosby" and I'm sure Geno too.  His whole highlight reel seems to be like boxer style clean KO's. Should be great to have one of the scariest enforcers paired with two of the best offensive players in the league.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tim Thomas is going to get inside your head!

If anyone was fortunate enough to catch the Stanley Cup finals earlier this year, there was one player that was impossible not to notice.  The Boston netminder Tim Thomas was force of nature.  His aggressive unorthodox style was as exciting to watch as it was effective.

The Canucks had no idea how to handle him , it was easy to tell he had them psyched out through out the whole series.  That Psychological advantage along with his record breaking post season stats played a huge role in Boston's Stanley Cup win.

I personally enjoyed watching Thomas, it was hard not to watch him without being won over.

This will be the start of  the "everyone who's subscribed to this blog will be overwhelmed with hockey drawings" part of the year.  I've decided to try and do a quick drawing for each Pittsburgh Penguins Game this season and post it on here!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Ian MacKaye

"Straight edge is a subculture of hardcore punk whose adherents refrain from using alcohol, tobacco, and recreational drugs."

The term itself comes from a song written by Ian MacKaye when in the band Minor Threat named Straight Edge. The X's on the hands in this piece are a symbol of Straight Edge that started with the markings on underage kids' hands at shows, to show that they could not be served alcohol.

 What fascinates me about the "movement" itself is he himself has stated he never intended it as a movement and doesn't accept it as one, because movements end up losing sight of humanity and the individual.  I completely agree with this viewpoint and to be completely honest I think movements themselves are pretty silly.  Militant versions of this lifestyle have at times even created elitism, hate, and organized violence.  In truth what I now know as Straight Edge seems to be some bastardized twist on one man's words of self expression.  A legacy which its creator never intended. And that's what this portrait was about.

This of course scares me as an artist. The fact that something can be created be an individual, grow a mind of its own, and proceed to wander off down a path so far from the original intent and message is completely buried.  The catch is no matter what you will be forever associated with whatever happens with it and even sometimes credited.  It just has to be incredibly upsetting and serves as a reminder to me to be careful where my stuff ends up.

Anyway I just wanted to say I have tremendous respect for MacKaye and everything he's done for music.  Also that I've known lots of people and had a ton of friends that are Straight Edge, some of which treated it as a fad, some of which who really believe in it and have stood by it through the years and that it's unfortunate that a small minority of ignorant people left such a black cloud over it.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Paintings and an Ink for SALE

16 "x 18.7" Acrylic on board ( SOLD )

12" x 16 " Acrylic on Board ( SOLD )

18.5"x 25" Ink on Cresent Illustration board

If anyone is interested email me for pricing.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Can a Tiger change his stripes?

So surprisingly enough I've been actually watching a little golf lately.  We have a basic cable antenna in my apartment and I usually have it on as I color work or eat dinner.  Golf seems to be a great pace for working because it's so slow I can look up every couple of minutes and still feel like I followed the whole thing.

Tiger Woods continues to play pro golf but doesn't seem to be the champion he once was.  Even if he starts winning again I'd be curious to know if it's even possible for him to cleanse himself of the Tiger of the tabloids and be that golfer who used to have the best Gatorade flavor named after him.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Yvonne Strahovski / Chuck

So the TV show Chuck has been a guilty nerd pleasure of mine for the past few years. For those of you that are unfamiliar with the show, Chuck revolves around a under appreciated yet smart Sanford dropout working at an electronics store who ends up getting a government computer downloaded into his brain and well the problems and perks that follow.

The set up of this illustration is inspired by an old book cover I came across for Ian Fleming's Casino Royale.

Friday, July 22, 2011


This new piece is about professional athletes overacting to draw a penalty or foul from the other team ( taking a dive ).  It seemed to be one of the themes of this last hockey playoff season.  I was specifically inspired by this occurrence in the video link below when Subban took over acting to a new level against the Bruins in game 7.  Needless to say Subban's performance was hard top but I think I managed to go the extra mile.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Nickleson Wooster

So I came across this man because I am an avid reader of GQ in print and, and they constantly publish him as an example of great style.  He most recently held the position of men's Director at Neiman Marcus.

Needless to say I am a fan, and think he has a fearless creative vision.

Alkaline Trio

So I've been away from the internet for a week or so now but I haven't stopped working.  One of the pieces I worked on this week was a quick illustration for the band Alkaline Trio.

Saturday, July 2, 2011


so I've finally moved into my new apartment with James Bascara. Unfortunately I'm Sans Internet for a couple days, on the plus side though I can finally set up all my stuff again and get back to illustration. So expect some updates soon.

Aside from that I finally ended up making a twitter account. Feel free to follow me @kylestecker

Thursday, June 23, 2011

When will Sidney Crosby come back?

That question has been on the mind of hockey fans for months now.  During this last NHL season Crosby  was putting up enough points that he looked like he was going to be up there with records set by the hockey greats, until mid season he was injured with a concussion.  Days turned into months and he ended up being absent for the rest of the season.

As his absence lengthened the gossip began. The hockey news filled with articles and blogs taking shots in the dark at his condition and his future in the NHL.  As a Penguins fan I try my best to contain my excitement whenever I see one of these headlines, but my ears perk up as my head fills with thoughts of goals and championships that could come along with his return to the hockey.  Until then fans will be patiently waiting. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Don Cherry

I've been watching the Stanley Cup Finals over the past couple of weeks and I just couldn't help myself, I had to do a portrait of the Legendary Don Cherry.  I'm sure some of you have heard the name before, he wasn't just a hockey announcer, but also was a player and coach. And well for better or worse his suits pretty much burn into the memory of any one who sees them. They are loud enough to almost make him seem quiet in comparison...

Being the ridiculous person that I am, I was pretty excited to make an incredibly loud image full of horrible patterns.

so here it is 4 minutes into the start of Game 6

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

after a long day of work is up and functional once again, check it out!


Here's a Portrait of Joseph Gordon Levitt from the movie Hesher. I found the character particularly entertaining, not just because of the bad role model wild metal head character he plays, but more so because of the non conventional savior he becomes to a family.

Though my favorite part was still the perverse metaphors he offers as advice throughout the film that leave you shaking your head but knowing they made sense.

Either way I was surprised at the stories ability to take something that at surface level is over the top,  screwed up, and full grime, and manage to have a touching story shine through.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Basketball Ink

I remember growing up seeing Dennis Rodman on TV in like 1995, was like witnessing a circus act.  Between all the tattooed the colorful hair and the piercings, Rodman really took the public by surprise.

Flash to 2011 and I've come to realize an incredibly large amount of professional basketball players are very heavily tattooed. Example: Lebron James, take a closer look instead of that zoomed out perspective most sports are watched in.  James actually has thousands of dollars of tattoos on him, even more than Rodman.

I guess this trend came along with all the of rappers and other musicians doing the same recently.  I just found it interesting that the trend silently slipped in, partly because of the lack of color work in the tattoos, which makes them less noticeable and well the lack of brightly colored hair probably helps too.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Chris Osgood

Since I was a kid I always loved hockey goalie helmets.  Although more recently baseball catchers helmets have featured some art, I still find the goalie helmet to be unique to professional sports.  While the rest of the team is in fairly generic uniforms, the goalies stand out with these brightly painted war helmets.  The first in my series is fairly simple and they will get more complex and over the top as I continue this summer.

I started my series of NHL goalie "war helmet" portraits with Chris Osgood of the Detroit Red Wings. I'll always remember his helmet because it was the exception to the rule.  His helmet is plain, and rather than setting him apart from his team, I always found it set him apart from the rest of the goalies.  It gave me the impression of being just one of the soldiers.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Sketchbook Page


I wanted to do a piece based on the book American Hardcore : A Tribal History.  The First thing that really struck me was the word tribal, I think it perfectly fits the subculture that I've been fortunate enough to grow up being a part of.

Because the book is a pretty loose history covering many bands and aspects I didn't want to focus in on any single person or band.

  Instead the main thing I wanted to convey was that this group of people became united through alienation in one way or another from mainstream society and the feeling of anger and frustration towards it.