Red Bull Crashed Ice Cooler (Or how to kill your darlings…Or How I learned that I need to slow the hell down sometimes)

Every February Red Bull holds in event an downtown St.Paul called Crashed Ice. Competitors ski down a narrow curvy track, bashing into each other, glass walls, and frozen ice to win the race. It’s become quite the attraction and brings in over a hundred thousand people over the course of the weekend it takes place.

With all that excitement Red Bull has started throwing festive events to get people excited about it. Several parties are put on throughout the town. What else do you do in Minnesota in February? A friend of mine who works at Red Bull asked if I would participate in a project where artists would take a classic Red Bull mini cooler, and customize it with their art. It would be displayed at one of the events. I thought the project sounded fun so I agreed. Also it was a good opportunity to draw on something that isn’t paper or a computer for the first time in a long while.

Since I was trying something new, and using some tools I hadn’t used in quite some time, I decided to keep the concept and execution pretty simple. The one request the client had was to make it have elements of St. Paul. I knew many artists would probably go with most of the landmark icons of the town like the cathedral on the hill, or some of the downtown buildings, so I decided to use The Vulcans.



The Vulcans are these group of people who have been dressing up as sun worshiping, sword carrying, swash bucklers for over fifty years. They are a main attraction throughout many festival events that go on throughout the state of Minnesota during the winter months. They try to get everyone excited about the summer months. It’s a little crazy but I think that you kind of need to be a little crazy to live in a place that is winter 6-7 months out the year. Who am I to judge?



So the project. I get my cooler, and you actually don’t put the art directly on the cooler itself, they give us these metal  “skins” that go on all sides of the cooler. Each part fits specifically to a certain side. I assemble it and make notes on which skin goes which side  and then I get started drawing. I limit my color palette to black, red and yellow. The traditional color of the Vulcans. I decide that while the Vulcans are fun and neat looking, that I want to make them look like real serious and a scary threat. So to do so I make them more zombie/demon looking.

For having not done much surface art in a while, the process goes pretty well. I mostly used these cool acrylic markers from Molotow that apply really nice. I am able to keep my line style and they go over my top base coats really well without taking much more than one layer of color.


Once finished, I go to reassemble the skins onto the cooler. I instantly knew something was wrong. While I had the skins labeled correctly on their sides, they also needed to be attached in a certain way to connect to the other skins, and I basically illustrated on them upside down. Working late nights on this I had gotten so insistent to try and get going as fast as I could, I didn’t bother to stop and double check to make sure how they needed to placed back on the cooler. It was a mistake of rushing too fast and it had caught up to me, big time.


The side skins needed to be sand blasted and completely redone. It really sucked.



I reapplied primer on the skins and once that was ready to go and I stocked up on more supplies. With a tight deadline, I ended up doing the work in half the time it took me earlier in the week, and to be honest, it looked a lot better as well. One of the original inspirations for this project was a Jimbo Phillips, who was the artist on my first skateboard as a kid, a Rob Roskopp deck from Santa Cruz. I don’t think I hit the proper amount of crazy the first time around, so this time I focused more on the gnarly faces and that seemed to help a lot.



Overall this was a really fun project that offered me the chance to stretch my creative muscles differently. It was also a good reminder that sometimes we go too fast and need to slow the hell down. I made a huge and easily correctable blunder on this thing and it pisses me off to no end. If it ever happens to you, it sucks, there’s no way around it. But if it does, just take it as an opportunity to make something better. You may find it to all be worth it in the end.











Beer Labels and Podcasts

I had the pleasure of being a guest on the podcast, New Comic Book Day. Hosted by Eliot Rahal and Grace Thomas. This was a really fun show to be on. Eliot and Grace do a great job running a really smart and hilarious variety show based on comic book culture. The Twin Cities comic community is lucky to have them. You can hear my episode here.

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Bent Brewstillery has a two new beers out featuring my illustrations on the can. NICKED, an Export Double Stout is in finer liquor stores around the Minneapolis area. Giga Lupin, a triple India pale ale is having it’s own release party at their tap room on March 17th. Thanks again to the Bent crew for having my art grace one of their fine beverages. Hope you dig it. Nicked_16_RFW





Cover Me!

First post of the new year! Things are moving along well here at Brent Schoonover Illustration. Lots of fun things in the works. Speaking of which, I will have at least one cover on the stands every month of 2017. Boom Studios has a monthly comic about the Superstars of the WWE. I am drawing variant covers that will eventually connect the first 12 issues into a Royal Rumble image. A giant wrestling ring full of Superstars past and present, just battling it out. It has been a blast to work on and here are the first four covers connected. I’ll post an update as more of the covers are shown in the monthly solicitations. Also a huge thanks to Nick Filardi for putting some great colors on this massive image. WWE_RR_MainCoverTOPAnd to keep with the connected covers theme, I am also doing covers for one of the greatest pulp heroes ever created, Doc Savage. Starting in February, Dynamite is releasing Doc Savage: Ring of Fire mini series by  David Avallone  and Dave Acosta. Synopis : Set in 1938, Doc deal with the threat of the Silver Death’s Heads, while volcanoes keep erupting around U.S. Navy bases. What could the newly-vanished Earhart have to do with all of this…?

To connect all four covers to this series I decided to look up the pattern of Amelia Earhart’s last flight and use an atlas to put tie all together. I am really happy with how these are turning out. It’s been a blast to get to color myself on these as well. Here are the first two covers in full color, as well as the black and white variants that are available as well. I’ll post the covers for issues three and four as they get released.




2016. I think it’s easy to say this was a tough one for all of us, or at least those of us that are left. It seems we lost a lot of incredibly talented people this year. Locally, we can still feel the loss of Prince looming,  also that whole election thing. Maybe you heard about it.  I think most people were over 2016 by April. And while I am sure I said something similar, in the end I can’t call 2016 a total bummer for me. My favorite baseball team finally won the World Series after 108 years. So there’s THAT at least….. but yeah, it’s was a trying year but also one that seems to be leading to some greater good. A recap…

Writing last year’s wrap up was tough. I had already received the news that my first ongoing book at Marvel, Howling Commandos of S.H.I.E.L.D., was getting cancelled. While it was a huge bummer, it wasn’t a shock. I loved the book but it had an uphill battle in the tough comics market. We didn’t really have a hero in the book that was particularly well known, and Marvel monster books tend not to be big sellers. Regardless, I am still proud of the amazing team who worked on it. We wrapped the book and I jumped over to Ant-Man for a few issues, which was a blast. I really grew to love that character and hope I get to do more with him again down the road. This series taught me that pretty much any comic I work on moving forward needs a little comedy in it. Probably all the years of reading Mad Magazine as a kid.

After a good few years of doing comic book work, a rather large commercial job came at me that I couldn’t pass up. The timing was perfect as it hit when certain comic projects were ending and I didn’t have anything to jump right into. This type of commercial job is a long term freelance gig that takes several months to a year. I may not post much from it, but it’s been a great opportunity for our family and also allowed some much needed change to my work and our family schedule . Nicole has gotten the chance to spend more time at home and not travel as much for her job. This has been great as I think we were both getting pretty exhausted from the grind of being on opposite work shifts. The other great thing is that the long form project should allow for more time to devote to my own work. Which is something I have been struggling with for years. I’ve always wanted to try a creator owned comic project but the biggest fear of that is the financial aspect of it. I can’t devote half my year to a book that may or may not see a return on the investment. But now I can hopefully take a shot. I am pretty excited to see where that opportunity takes my art. I am also happy to start doing morning warm up sketches again.

One of the other highlights of the year was getting a Cintiq Companion. I purchased one from my college comic art instructor, Peter Gross, and so far I’ve enjoyed working on it quite a it. I need to put more time on it to really get comfortable, but feel confident it will come. The idea of creating more out of the studio feels very appealing.

In November, I learned that an article I contributed artwork for titled, Return of the Rapids: Could the Upper Mississippi River Run Wild Again?  in Growler Magazine, had won Gold at the MMPA Awards  from the Minnesota Magazine Publishing Association. Which was a huge and unexpected honor.

I also traveled quite a bit. I hit the conventions pretty hard this year. Chicago, Phoenix, Florida, and New York. Also a few local MN shows and in store signings. It was a lot of fun getting to see friends I hadn’t seen in a while, and also connecting or making fans in places I have never been to before. Huge thanks to all the conventions that had me, I had a blast attending them. We truly do live in a glorious time for high quality comic shows.

I am really looking forward to 2017. I think it’s going to be a great year. If I had to guess, maybe a quiet one. I look at it as an investment year. Put the time in on projects I believe in, be a little pickier on what I do and work my butt off on the ones I do choose to be on. I think I am going to pull back a bit from conventions. Maybe only doing two outside of Minnesota, the goal is to really slow down and lay the foundation for some new projects. With the benefit of some stable freelance work I’d like to get a more fixed schedule, less late night work sessions, allow some more time to hit the gym,  and at least one day off on weekends. I’d like to cut out some time for more personal sketching as well as tend to things like my web store more and expand the shop a bit.

As always, thanks so much for checking out my blog and website. It means a lot. All the best to you and yours in 2017.






Arkham Horror Stickers

One of the coolest projects I’ve gotten to work on recently was for Fantasy Flight Games. They were looking to create some sticker emojis for their card game Arkham Horror. The concept behind the game is a small Massachusetts town in the 1920’s is invaded by H.P. Lovecraft inspired monsters. For the artwork they wanted me to streamline the characters and monsters from their realistic painted appearance in the card game, to a more streamlined “Cute” look that would be easy to identify and animate. It was a really cool project to work on and something a little different than the comic book work that’s been keeping me busy the last few years. The stickers are available now and can be purchased here.