15 January 1991

Pastel Portrait


This was the very first assignment that I had for Legal Times, a Washington DC newspaper, which would turn out to be one of my more regular clients throughout the nineties (and for several years into the new century). I was asked to do a portrait of David Souter, a new appointee to the supreme court at the time.

I was horrified to see, however, once the 'printed samples' came back my way months later, that apparently the designer felt that his 'five o'clock shadow' was too pronounced, and had tried to touch it up in the pre press (thankfully they didn't try anything on the original). It ended up looking worse , almost as if the guy had a white beard. I was worried that this client would never call back again, but a few months later they gave me another try and I pretty much stuck to scratchboard from then on out, never doing another pastel for them.

Not much else in January aside from another new christian client, The Baptist Brotherhood out of Memphis, for which I apparently did a few pastel pieces.

01 January 1991

1989/1990 Year in Review

Second year in business (and first 'full year'). Still living near downtown on the west side of Grand Rapids. Business still slow enough that we were leaning heavily on my wife's income to make ends meet. There were occasional rays of hope peeking through the clouds though, with some clients calling back with repeat business, and a few new clients that paid more than just a couple bucks and a pile of tearsheets.

My son was 1-2 years old this year, and there were still a lot of diapers to be changed, so I was fine with the workload, and whatever spare time I still had, was spent in sending out promotional mailers and travelling portfolios.

At this point I was still floundering around with regards to style, and my marketing was primitive to say the least. I was still doing quite a bit of pastel work despite the problems with regards to the fragility of the medium and ungainly shipping difficulties. The scratchboard style was still in its infancy, but I was starting to learn that it would be a good style to market towards newspapers and bw format publications due to its ease in reproduction. The big clients during this period were mainly local clients like the department store Steketees, Gemini Publications, Travel Consultants, my old employer Graphic Arts Workshop, Baker Book House, Eerdmans, but I was also starting to get some national clients including Adweek, Dell Publications (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine), Cricket, The Worldwide Church of God, Governing, MacMillan Publishing, US Catholic and Strang Publications.

As near as I can figure (and records are pretty spotty for the first few years in business), I did approximately 105 illustrations in 1989, and 147 illustrations in 1990, for a total of about 262 illustrations in the first two years of business.

These are what I consider the 'best pieces' of 1990: