Mountain Mishaps

"What could possibly go wrong? Like hundreds (maybe thousands) of climbers before us, however, we soon learned that the seeds of tragicomedy are sown with seemingly inconsequential decisions."

I recently illustrated eight vignettes of comedic mountain accidents compiled by climbing legend Dougald MacDonald. I received the assignment while on a climbing trip in Germany and the Czech Republic...and the deadline was close. I had come prepared with brush pen and Moleskine, and, laying apartment-bound in Prague awaiting the snows to recede at Elbsandstein, I had a good opportunity to make some art. My limited tools forced me to make quick and loose sketches, a few of which ended up in the final art.

The article is out now in the December issue of Climbing.

A few examples:



The shirts are finally up and on sale at my Etsy Page (jgivens.etsy.com). Check them out, available in multiple colors. New designs will be coming soon as well, so check back!


Killed File

I am currently working on a holiday card for a client, and they just killed an idea that I particularly liked, and would have enjoyed finishing. So, I thought I would post it here and keep it alive, rather than file it away with the rest of the ideas-that-could-have-been. Its of a polar bear chasing a candy cane...maybe it was too unclear, or dark, or didn't make any sense...but I like it. So it goes.
Here are two versions, ink sketches colored in photoshop. My water brush filled with sumi ink comes in great for these quick sketches, and gives an idea of what the final art will look like.


New Shirts!

So, Im finally getting my act together and making some T shirts. I decided the first one should be of a cartoon that was published in Alpinist that seems to be everyone's favorite (including the guy who got it tattooed). I had to redo the art in ink in order to work better on a shirt. The first samples have been printed, by my longest-known friend and shirt printer Don. He sent me a pic of the shirt on dark brown, but it will be available in light blue and sand. I picked the softest, best cut shirts I could find, so they should be sweet. I'm currently on a trip in Germany, but they should be available soon after I get back in a few weeks. They will be available at my Etsy shop, jgivens.etsy.com.


Reluctant Hero

Illustration for "The Reluctant Hero", a piece by Bill Dwyer, about the choice to rescue a stranded climber on Aconcagua.

"I was coming down from Aconcagua's summit for the third time this year when I saw the guy face down in the snow, in a whiteout at 22,000 feet."

Out right now in the October issue of Climbing, in the Roadkill section.


Wolf Hunters

While serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Romania, I decided to climb Parangul Mare, one of the highest peaks in the country, in the Carpathian Alps. Its not a technical ascent, just a long hike. Along the way I noticed blood splattered on the trail, and soon after ran into two Moldovans, who told me they were tracking a wolf. They had high powered rifles and sheepskin hats. I guess they had shot it, and were following it to finish it off. They were eager to know if I had seen anything. Nice guys, and very amused at me being American and speaking (bad) Romanian.
I did this illustration a while ago, and never did anything with it.


Iceberg climbing

Iceberg climbing fascinates me, especially the idea that you are climbing a moving mountain. And, being in the ocean, there is a whole lot going on under you, a whole other world, with creatures swimming around in a parallel universe.




The Watchers

Another from my sketchbook.


The West

This March I took a trip out west to do some climbing in Utah and Colorado. We got snowed out of climbing on Wall Street near Moab, so we went for a ride through Arches National Park. This is a sketch of Double Arch from underneath, then colored later in Photoshop. Ended up kind of abstract.

Mountain Gazette June 09

The June Climbing Issue of Mountain Gazette is out! I have friends calling me from Colorado saying they picked it up, which is awesome (they would also loot the nearest coffee shop for a stack of copies if I asked them to). I also have an article that appears inside about the process I go through creating an illustration. I was really stoked when John Fayhee, the Gazette's editor emailed me with the article suggestion. I think the idea was to show people how much work and planning goes into something like this.


Sketch for new Mountain Gazette cover

This is the sketch for the June Climbing Issue of Mountain Gazette. John Fayhee, the editor at the Gazette, gave me lots of room to come up with a concept, so I thought it would be cool to show a climber pulling a Gunks roof, represent the East a little.



I took this picture at The Bivy in Keene, NY. I love photographing old climbing gear, and these screws and pins made a nice shot.




Final art