On the Cover: November 2022

Ripples and Reflections is an original painting by Rhode Island artist Joel Rosario Tapia – a segment of the work was restructured for our November issue, to acknowledge Indiginous People’s month. And because it looks amazing.

Tapia is a US veteran, author and Urban Aboriginal visual artist who has made it his mission to keep the Taino and Indian identities alive through his art. The topics of his art range from ideological, sociological, moral and family values. Each piece has a distinct story, often drawn from his culture in order to keep the true stories and true identities of his people and ancestors alive. He has spoken at schools like Brown University and at a wide variety of festivals and events all over the country. 

Tapia, who often goes simply by his last name, has become a staple in the city of Providence, presenting his ideas and giving platforms to other artists. He has a Bachelor’s degree in The Recording Arts and a Master of Entertainment Business Science from Full Sail University in Orlando, Florida. His career thus far has given him experiences in all realms of the arts from designing to performing and even teaching the youth how to work with steel at PVD’s The Steel Yard. “It’s important to use what you have to your advantage and to share all that you can with others,” says Tapia.

This piece for Motif holds special value to Tapia as both an artist and a spokesperson for the Cibuco Bayamon Taino Tribe. The flags of multiple Caribbean countries are found beneath the ripples of water and reflection. Above that, two blue macaws are symbolic to the Arawak culture. The feathers of these birds are often used on headdresses and symbolize a guide through the tough times and a way to persevere and share their story, the right way. Those very feathers create the ripples that carry change across the piece. “I’ve been working hard to get here for a minute now and I do this because I worked hard and because now, I can. Why wouldn’t I share what I’ve learned, so more people take from that? I’ve learned so much about my ancestors from really looking into their stories and the discrepancies in information we have been given,” Tapia says. “I want to help others do the same.”

Follow Tapia on Instagram @tapiauno1

On the Cover: September 2022

Motif is excited to welcome illustrator and visual artist Jeremy Ferris to the cover of our 2022 Fall Guide. Ferris is currently living in PVD where he is the Digital Projects Librarian at Providence Public Library. Ferris holds a Master of Library and Information Studies degree from Simmons University as well as Bachelors degrees in Studio Arts and Brain and Cognitive Sciences from the University of Rochester in upstate New York, where he is originally from. Ferris relays that “his work revisits what we can see and what we miss of ghosts and reverberations.” 

As an artist, he has been part of several exhibitions and curated two of his own solo exhibitions. Ferris calls his creative process circular, and says that he isn’t “rigorous” with sketchbooks, but often writes or draws on scraps of paper throughout his day that may or may not get lost in the shuffle. As influences, Ferris cites Maeve Martin, Agnes Martin and those involved in the Providence Comic Consortium. The Pawtuxet Valley Textile Strike was his inspiration for this piece in particular. 

In 1922, RI experienced one of our most catastrophic labor strikes. This walkout lasted eight months and caused the end of what most saw as a ‘prosperous period’ following the end of World War I. When workers found out that their days would get longer- and their paychecks slashed in half due to a local family selling the mill to a corporation, as many as 3,000 – 5,000 workers from multiple mills ultimately decided that they had enough and either walked out or suffered the consequences of the strike when their mills closed. 

The strike dominated in the newspapers, overshadowing both smallpox and the death of Pope Benedict XV. The New York Times reported that the Governor mobilized artillery companies to control the rioters that were attacking the mill plants. 

The decision to portray these strikes on our cover is to honor the centenary of these strikes that so devastatingly impacted RI and the memory of what those ancestors went through to help pave the way for unions and more just working conditions. Pawtucket, as the birthplace of the industrial revolution, was also the birthplace of several union-building firsts, including perhaps the first industrial strike in the US and certainly the first strike by women workers, in 1824. 

Photograph by Carey Goodrich, 2021.

On the Cover: August 2022

This month, Motif is happy to welcome back Bob Eggleton as the cover artist for our Necronomicon-themed issue. Eggleton is well known for his work on several Godzilla comic books as well as for doing concept art for the films “Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius” and “The Ant Bully.” As a lifelong fan of science fiction, Eggleton has been inspired by the works of Isaac Asimov, “Star Trek” and 2001: A Space Odyssey (which just happens to be his favorite film).

Early in his career, Eggelton contributed artwork to The Providence Phoenix. In the ‘90s, Eggleton began working on Godzilla with Dark Horse Comics and later into doing cover art for those comics when IDW Comics began publishing them. He was also an ill-fated extra in the film “Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla.” He has won 9 coveted international Hugo awards for his science fiction, fantasy and horror art and the Chesley award for artistic achievement.

Motif turned to Eggleton to capture the unique, weird vibe that goes with the NecronomiCon experience, and he jumped right into the deep end to create something deeply Providence.

Recently, Eggleton has taken an interest in fine arts with landscape and seascape artwork, and has worked on an illustrated version of the 1933 King Kong novelization.

This issue’s cover artwork shows an Eldritchmonster rising from the water and looming over the RI State House, which Eggleton uses to represent the COVID-19 virus threatening the state. Appropriately named Covidius Necronomicus, the creature’s design has protrusions coming out of its head to allude to the virus. The decision to illustrate such a monster comes from Eggleton’s love of dark fantasy, monster and kaiju stories, and he considers this cover to be one of his favorites that he has done for Motif.

On the Cover: July 2022

Gracing the midsummer edition of our magazine is a cover designed by our very own creative director, Francie Eannarino. Due to this being our annual music issue, the cover portrays a euphoric depiction of a woman listening to music, with the vibe of what she’s hearing radiating all around her. Its eye-catching composition goes deeper than aesthetics, however.

The idea for the cover comes from “the concept of music and what it means to people,” as well as her own love of music, says Eannarino. “It can be anything from something that you listen to for pleasure to a transformative experience.” On top of this, she wanted to echo the transformation sequence seen in the anime Sailor Moon, as she is a big fan of the show. After looking up the scene ourselves, we can agree that she captured its essence.

Naturally, the conversation shifted to what genres of music Eannarino listens to. She mentioned rock and alt rock, although ultimately most of what she listens to falls into the category of “stuff that can’t be classified as a single genre.” Eannarino also gave her two cents on concerts, saying shows where the artist or band interacts extensively with the audience are the best kind. We couldn’t agree more, Francie. 

As for the tranquil woman on the cover, Eannarino says she could be anyone, and that she is a woman because women are her favorite subject to draw. When asked what this woman was listening to, Eannarino smiled and simply replied “something that is changing her life.”

On the Cover: June 2022

For this Summer Guide, Motif recruited one of our favorite cover artists — Zoë Anderson –– to paint us a panorama of the perfect summer: one far away from resurging COVID-19 rates, high gas prices and long lines at the Del’s stand. 

“I kinda went off of things that I like to do during the summer. I like swimming and camping.” 

It was important for Anderson to also shout-out her subtle homage to Pride Month. Look closely and you’ll see for yourself. “I definitely wanted to include some pride flags here and there,” she shared.  

Anderson did disclose that this idyllic scene is more an invention of her imagination than any specific geography (though if any adventure-seekers want to head out into the woods of Exeter and try to find it, we are in). “I drew a lot of inspiration from Pinterest,” she said. Sure, Zoë, sure. 

We asked Anderson what she was up to this summer, and she told us she was headed to Firefly Arts Collective, which seems pretty much like a Vermont version of Burning Man, followed by a camping trip to New Hampshire. 

We noticed that Anderson included a cat in the tent. “I think it’s cool when people take their cats camping, but I don’t think Silver or Apricot would be up for it,” Anderson said. While Motif could not confirm by press time, we are nearly certain that Silver and Apricot would agree. 

On the Cover: May 2022

This issue’s cover artist Joey Moreira provides us with a detailed drawing that captures many different styles, colors and themes in one cohesive image. The piece is loaded with symbolism of the state of RI: our admiration of this work mirrors the appreciation that we have for the state we call home.

Moreira wanted an aesthetic contrast between the vibrant colors, which are centered around the masked woman, and the dark background that is decorated with our RI area code. The illustration is partly inspired by The Spirit of Youth, a bronze statue located on Blackstone Boulevard in PVD. The sculpture memorializes Constance Witherby, a 16-year-old PVD girl who passed away while hiking in the Alps in 1929. 

Moreira elaborates on the detail of his artwork by noting, “My direction was inspired by my love for both color, black-and-gray style tattooing and how they look when you pull them both together. I also wanted to find a way to incorporate our lil Rhody into the design as it is home and I feel we have such rich art and culture. You will find our state flag symbol, state flower and in the heart… our actual state as it appears on the map.” 

To learn more about Joey Moreira and his work, particularly his tattoo artistry, read our coverage about his wins at the 2022 Motif Tattoo Awards.

On the Cover: April 2022

April! A month of rain showers, increasing temperatures, budding trees and… budding cannabis? This month, Motif features articles focused on marijuana, pot, Mary Jane, the devil’s lettuce or whatever you feel inclined to call it. And this month’s cover artist Walker Mettling provides us with imagery that does not shy away from the subject. 

“There’s something about PVD that forces you into art,” Mettler recalls realizing when he landed in PVD in 2008. Now, he finds himself mainly as a teaching artist working with the PVD Comics Consortium, a school where he conducts free workshops with kids and publishes their comics alongside adult cartoonists from around the world. He is also currently working on a series of “historical postcard plus monster” screen prints. 

For this issue’s cover, Mettling drew inspiration from his own screen print series, but also other artists he came across. “There’s a 19th century plant illustrator called [Walter Otto] Müller who I kinda riffed off of his drawing of marijauana plants,” said Mettling. “I was just mashing them up.” 

Mettling sought to use the themes of RI and cannabis, and “visually overlap them in a fun way.” Ultimately he chose to let the juxtaposition speak for itself, rendering the image of the cannabis monster and the RI State House. It would be difficult to imagine a giant cannabis monster taking over the RI State House, yet for some, Mettling’s cover art may evoke a more potent message. 

“A lot of my process is based on improvising on my own or with other people” said Mettling. “Part of the process is surprising myself along the way.” For this piece, Mettling’s process turned “into a game” as he toyed with the contrasting elements of RI’s state government and Cannabis Month. 

When asked if he was hoping for a particular reaction, especially in a state where cannabis is not yet recreationally legal, the artist responded “I did not consider that at all.” Though he had no intention of a specific effect,  Mettling’s work not only surprised him, but may surprise you, too. 

On the Cover: March 2022

“I wanted to bring warmth to the readers,” says artist Jeffrey Wheeler when asked about the reaction he’s hoping for from this issue’s cover art. He developed the artwork by blending together different joys of spring, such as hiking and St. Patrick’s Day. As you watch the spunky turtle zip past the rabbit on a skateboard, a feeling of excitement for the season’s opportunities may bloom within.

The characters in this design drew inspiration from a number of sources – from cartoons of the 70’s and older Disney cartoons to Wheeler’s love of childhood Pokémon games. “I play on that nostalgia quite a bit because that’s what I’ve always loved in art. I like to do my take on a classic character who has already been shown in so many different iterations.”

Since he could hold a pencil, Wheeler has been drawing. His grandma, an inspired artist herself, supported his love of art: “When I was younger she kind of sparked my interest and encouraged me to draw a lot. I was grateful to have that influence as a kid.” 

Prompted by his lifelong love of skateboarding, he takes his greatest pride in the skateboard graphics he frequently renders. In his senior year of college, Wheeler approached different skateboard companies in New England and successfully designed several of their skateboards. “I wasn’t going to make a career out of anything other than being an artist.”

When asked about the strangest piece of commissioned work he has produced, many came to mind. True to RI, he once created a giant lobster conquering a lighthouse. Most recently, a coffee shop in Louisiana prompted an unusual, creative challenge for the artist: “It is this really fun illustration of this zombie piece of pizza that was revived from a grave by a coffee bean and it’s drinking coffee. It’s a concept I’ve never thought to draw.” 

“If I was to give advice [to aspiring artists], it’d be to take on everything and see what you like,” Wheeler says. “Sometimes if you are working on something and it’s a complete nightmare, you’ll know not to take that job again. Through doing that I’ve figured out what I enjoy doing and what to really focus my energy on.”

You can see more work by Wheeler at deafwheeler.com.