25 December 1993

1994 Calendar


Conventional illustration marketing wisdom dictates that you should stick to one identifiable style, as it makes you easier to remember in client's eyes. I've always struggled against that philosophy, probably shooting myself in the foot in the process. I like to work in several styles, and always have. The different styles seem to feed each other, sometimes giving you ideas for solutions that wouldn't have occurred to you otherwise. It is also a great way to keep the work fresh and interesting. Every day is a new frontier.

Anyhow, this was a mailer that I sent out at the end of '93, with the express purpose of selling the variety of styles available. The idea that in hiring me, they are in fact hiring 5 or more illustrators with distinctive styles. I recycled a few assignments from earlier in the year, colored one black and white illustration, and created a few pieces specifically for this mailer (I've included the 'colored' illustration and the unpublished pieces here in this post). The entire thing was hand lettered right down to the calendar layouts, folded and saddle stapled and sent out in a 5x10 envelope.

15 December 1993

Motorcycle


This one was another from the ongoing Christian Reformed Church's curriculum project. This black and white line illustration was one of several about 'Christians around the world'. Motorcycles and Bicycles and Wheelchairs are some of my least favorite items to draw, but this was one of my better motorbike drawings.

03 December 1993

Mystery bible dudes


This one was probably for the Christian Reformed Church's ongoing curriculum project, but I can find no indication on the artwork as to when it was published. I'm guessing sometime in '93 or '94.

01 December 1993

Xmas Party 1993


Our holiday xmas party invite from 1993 (the parties were an annual event from 1984-1995), and I must say I'm quite tickled with the poem I wrote for this one (predating my first songwriting attempts by at least 8 or 9 years). The illustration style is getting a little more professional looking. We had thought that all these party invites were lost, until I discovered a stash of them in my father's keepsake drawer when he passed away in 2014.

15 November 1993

Seeing Spots

Some more spots here for Marriage Partnership (Christianity Today). The spots here were for the magazine in November and in September. I notice that I've started toying with the idea of 'signing' these, but I wasn't very consistent with it. I've also noticed a recurring 'shadow' technique that almost works as a signature. I've never much liked the idea of signing my work, not sure why, perhaps it has always struck me as a sort of conceit.

15 October 1993

Pastel sample


This was one of a series of pastel assignments for one of the Christian Reformed Church's curriculum projects. I don't remember exactly when this was done, but I'm guessing sometime in the early 90s, as I gradually phased out this sort of pastel work as the decade progressed, due to the headaches involved in shipping, and pastel dust covering every available office space (and probably my lungs).

13 October 1993

Bible Stories


These 'bible comics' were for the Christian Reformed Church's ongoing curriculum project that stretched from the early to late 90s. These two samples were part of a larger package of work that I did around October of '93.

15 September 1993

Tempest


This scratchboard was for Institutional Investor magazine, and they had asked me to illustrate the idea of a 'tempest in a teapot'. I seem to remember doing this one twice, and my first version wasn't nearly 'turbulent' enough, so was asked to revise it. I don't know what ever happened to the first version.

Delinquints and Art Galleries


Both of the illustrations on this page were for the Worldwide Church of God (Youth 93, Plain Truth), but I'm not sure exactly when. Judging from the style and techniques, I'd say they were both from sometime in '93. I don't remember why I suddenly abandoned the cartoon style for something a bit more 'crosshatched' in the above illustration, perhaps it was a request from the editors, or perhaps I felt that this style would look more 'menacing'.

15 August 1993

More Cartoon Spots


More spots over the spring and summer months for Marriage Partnership (Christianity Today). These were for a recurring column of 'Men's Issues', and usually came in batches of 3 or 4, on various topics. Records are a little spotty, so I'm grouping them together as close as possible to when they were probably published.

14 August 1993

Curriculum Project



This is a sample of one of several illustrations I did this month for a school curriculum project for the Christian Reformed Church here in Grand Rapids. This particular piece was a pair of bookend illustrations for a story about the bible's 'unclean' foods.

15 July 1993

Color Postcard


Another color postcard that I probably sent out either in '92 or '93. This was a recycled image from an assignment for Governing magazine sometime over the previous year.

14 July 1993

Cartoon Assignment


This was another for the Worldwide Church of God. My records are sketchy, so I'm not sure exactly when this one was published. This one was about avoiding all the 'bad messages' that the media throw at you with regards to sex and promiscuity. These are my favorite kinds of cartoon illustration assignments, crowded with lots of details and opportunities for mischief.

15 June 1993

Dirty Work


This was another assignment for Cricket, and one of the earliest color pieces (previously they had published interior stories in 2 color process). This was a story about the development of soap and detergent, and how cleaners remove dirt from fabrics. The only original art to survive was the hand lettering that I did for the project (above), and the other image was one that I scanned from the pages of the magazine (a copy in my collection). There were four other illustrations in the project, two in black and grey wash, and two more in color, but I didn't bother to include them here. It is interesting to see how my 'cartoon characters' have evolved over the years. They started off almost like amoebas, with blobby little bodies and huge noses, little spindly legs and arms, and eventually got a little more human in shape as the years progressed, until today where they are almost normal looking.

15 May 1993

Booklet Cartoons

One of the larger projects that I had in '93 was a Pediatric Booklet that I illustrated for a Lansing design firm, Ciesa & Associates. I never received a copy of the finished product, nor was any of the artwork returned, but I remember this was somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 small black and white cartoon illustrations, and the booklet was for the Blue Care Network. One of those 'lost jobs' that I barely even remember what the drawings looked like. Would have been interesting to see how they were utilized.

15 April 1993

Spots


These six spot illustrations were done sometime in the early nineties for Marriage Partnership (Christianity Today). I couldn't find a specific invoice that matched the description of these, so I'll just have to guess as to the exact date.

03 March 1993

Cartoon Spots


Starting in 1989 I began contributing cartoon illustrations to Gemini Publications, who put out Grand Rapids Magazine, Grand Rapids Parent, and the Grand Rapids Business Journal. It started out with one a month for a while, but as they added publications and regular columns I was doing anywhere from 2-4 illustrations a month by the time I made the switch to digital in '97. These early ones were usually in black and white, and I didn't keep very good records of when any of these may have been drawn. I remember a lot of them were never returned for the longest time, but then sometime in the late 90s they had a cleaning binge and sent me a huge envelope full of old drawings, which I had completely forgotten about. The cartoons on this page were for this same client, and may have appeared anywhere from the early to late 90s. These were all probably dating from the mid to late nineties, I remember that when I started out, I was doing black line and grey wash for the first year or so, and eventually settled on line work when I discovered that the grey wash wasn't reproducing all that well on the newsprint that they used for some of the magazines. Once I made the switch to digital in '97, they started using more full color work.

15 February 1993

2 page spread


This two page spread illustration was for a new magazine client in February, Personal Selling Power. This client would give me a lot of repeat business during the mid-nineties. I've since lost the original artwork, but I used it in a promotional mailer later in the year, which is where I scanned this image from.

Also I had a rather large job from an advertising firm in Lansing, Pace Creative. I don't quite remember this particular assignment (my invoice tells me it was a scratchboard map), nor whether I drove to Lansing or handled this through the mail.

17 January 1993

4 page cartoon assignment


This was one of four pages (the rest are no longer available) of cartoon continuity that I did for an article in a Zillions magazine in January (a children's edition of Consumer Reports). This one was a lot of fun, and I was able to jam pack the thing with lots of little details. One of my enduring goals since I was around ten years old was to have my work appear in the pages of 'Mad Magazine', and as silly as it sounds, I suppose I'll never quite consider myself a success as an illustrator until I make it into those pages, even though the magazine isn't quite what it was back in the late 60s and early 70s (when I was still reading it). I still haven't made it (as of '08, when this is written), but I did receive an encouraging response from the editor sometime around '01 or '02. This project was the closest thing that I ever got to working in that sort of format, and it was both a lot of work, and a lot of fun to put together.

Also this month marked the first assignments from another children's publisher who would keep me very busy for the next ten years or so. My first assignment for Cobblestone Publishing was a black and white cartoon of a large pie with lots of kids running around it with large forks. (I remember the image pretty well, but the artwork, unfortunately hasn't survived). Later in the month I had a map assignment regarding the world's religions, and an astronomy illustration for another of their magazines. This publisher specialized in various kids specialty educational magazines (Calliope, Faces, Cobblestone, Oddysey, etc etc), and I would find myself in the future doing work for two or three of them at the same time in any given month. They usually published in a schedule based on the school year, so there would be a three month lull sometime during the year where no work would be forthcoming. At first I was quite happy with the work, but as the years wore on, I became disenchanted with the maddeningly slow payment schedules, stagnant fees and rights grabbing contract terms. A shame, because the work was frequently interesting, and the people I worked with very friendly.

01 January 1993

1992 Year in Review

My fourth year in business, and starting to make a living wage at this job. Scratchboard seems to be taking over as the primary style of choice, with cartooning a close second. Pastels are getting phased out, except for the rare assignment. Starting to work with a local midwest 'Artist Agent' (although the workload from the Agent will never occupy much more than 10% of my overall workload even at its highpoint). Picking up more national clients, including the Chronicle of Higher Education (who would be a steady client for the next two decades) and local client the Christian Reformed Church (who would be a big volume client off and on throughout my career).

Still working from a spare bedroom in our house, which is convenient, as my son is usually playing around my ankles while I work (he'd be around 2-3 years old this year). We got our first 'color' computer around this time, but it doesn't really get used for much other than experimenting with and doing bills (and was probably the year we discovered 'the Internet' courtesy of one of those free "AOL" promo discs).

I did 418 illustrations this year, almost doubling last year's output, with a grand total of 931 illustrations since I started in 1989.

Not much work has survived, like many of these early years, but a few projects here and there still haunt the flat files. Anyhow, these are what I consider the 'best work' of 1992: