25 December 1995

Have a Safe Holiday Season

I'm finding a lot more art samples from '95 than I was able to dig up for '96. Not sure why, perhaps I was a bit busier in '95. This 'safety christmas tree' image was for Newsday and was one of my better 'cartoon' images of the year.

12 December 1995

Tall Skinny Postcard

In order the change things up a bit, I sent out a postcard with a little different size this time. This was a recycled image from a book project that I had done in the summer for a midwest catholic publisher. I also included a couple small black and white images in two of my more recognizable styles, so as not to confuse prospective clients too much. I had promoted the 'acrylic style' only once before on a calendar brochure a few years before.

01 December 1995

Xmas Party 1995

Me and my wife used to host an xmas party every year from 1984 through 1995, and this was the last year's invitation. Perhaps I was running out steam, perhaps the core group of friends and family were migrating onward, but it just began to feel like more of a chore than a joy, and after this year's party, we hung up our spurs. Perhaps we may resurrect the parties of old someday, but to be honest, I think I always enjoyed doing the invitations to actually hosting the party itself.

15 November 1995

Pegs and Holes

This illustration was a magazine cover for the American Bar Association, and is a good example of one of my better 'color scratchboard' pieces from this period. One of these full page scratchboards in traditional medium would have taken me most of the day to complete back in '95, and I would have had to bring the vaccuum into the office to clean up afterwards because the desk would have been covered in dust and debris.

15 October 1995

Children's Magazine Work

This assignment was for Cricket magazine. I wanted to revisit the acrylic paint technique that I had used to complete a book assignment earlier in the year to some success. This one didn't turn out so nice. I've only included the opening illustration here in this post, as the other three illustrations weren't that impressive. The original art for this one I no longer have, so I scanned the image from a copy of the magazine I have in my collection. This was a story about a young native american boy who goes on a hunting trip with the help of a guardian spirit in the form of a raven (if I remember correctly).

Shadow Boxing

This one's a mystery. I can't find an invoice that matches the description of this illustration. There is a small clue in pencil scribbled on the back that it was published in 11/95, but other than that I don't remember who the client was, or what the topic was (boxing obviously). I seem to remember this being a Newsday assignment, but I can't find the paperwork to back that idea up.

14 September 1995

Mystery Art

I have no records for this illustration (above), but I'm guessing it was probably in the mid to late 90s, for either Newsday or Legal Times. The illustration to the left was for Grand Rapids Magazine (or Grand Rapids Parent), and was probably from around the same time. I think this was supposed to be a caricature of Bill Clinton, but it is pretty vague as far as a likeness goes. The illustration below was a rare scratchboard piece for the same local client.

13 August 1995

Heads Up

This was an unpublished self promotional piece that I probably did sometime in '95, judging from the style and materials. Too bad I didn't use it, as it looks a lot better than most of the mailers I was sending out around this time.

09 August 1995

Mystery Job

This was another job I found in the flat files, for which I can find no records. I was doing acrylic paint illustrations like this during the mid-nineties, but that's as close as I can guess. Perhaps it had something to do with either education, or temptation, judging from all the apples.

14 July 1995

Blast From the Past and a Blast from the Future

This illustration had an interesting journey. I was contracted with the job in '95, and as usual with color illustrations for this client, I packed it away in a fed x envelope and shipped it off to NY (this was for Newsday). Promptly forgot about the job, as I usually do. Then 3 or 4 years later I get a call from an illustrator in NY who wants to tell me that he found an illustration of mine in his flat file and wants to know if I want it returned. Apparently it got credited and returned to the wrong illustrator years ago, and he only now discovered this illustration and found my name and phone number on the back. We had a short pleasant conversation about the business, he complimented me on my style and asked what I was up to these days. When I mentioned that I had switched over to using a computer to do my illustrations, he reacted as if I said that I liked to roast babies on a spit and the conversation quickly ended. The art arrived a few days later, and I had my usual reaction to 'long lost' art that I haven't laid eyes on in years; a mix of wonder and awe, amusement and horror. I honestly didn't remember doing this one, as is usually the case with art that isn't returned and doesn't hang around to remind me of its existence. I wonder how many more are floating around out there? My horrible little bastard orphans, lurking in forgotten drawers, moldy with age.

15 June 1995

Textbookin' in Minnesota

In the summer of '95 I had another catholic textbook project from St Mary's Press who I had worked with the year before. Once again they flew me out confer with the design staff in their offices in Minnesota for the day. This was the only client in my twenty years in the business who felt a need to speak to me in person, but of course, this was back in the days before email was as widely used as it is today. I wanted to do something a bit different from the assignment the year before, so I brought along a sample of a newer 'paint' style that I'd been playing around with. They went for it on the chapter openers, but still wanted my scratchboards for various spots sprinkled throughout the book (the drawing to the left is one of these). I didn't think the two styles meshed all that well, but I thought the designers did a real nice job of integrating the paintings into the design of the book, using extreme detail shots of some of them, and using colored backgrounds that I created for the purpose throughout the book. I've chosen a sampling of the illustrations that appeared in the book to post here. Most of the originals are long since gone, so these have all been scanned from the book. Some of them I gave away to friends, others were donated to school auctions, and I don't know what happened to the rest.

The book is still available (and amazingly still in print) at Amazon (link here)

12 June 1995

Show Me the Money

This one was for Legal Times in June. One of the first times I tried using acrylic paints for this client. I messed around with this for a few years, but eventually dropped the style because it didn't quite feel comfortable. This has also been the hardest style to try and emulate on the computer, but it's not that big a loss, I never really got much good at it.

Also this month, I started getting a rash of small jobs from local designers and ad agencies. A series of 'comic book' illustrations for a local trade show (of course with a tight deadline), and a proposed redesign of a gas credit card character logo, and a smattering of caricatures. . . . this was probably the last time I agreed to this sort of work (ie; assignments that require that I sit down to a 'brainstorming session' with the designer). Local ad agency work, at this point in my career started seeming like much more trouble than it was worth. From now on, if it was a local client, I let my agent deal with the 'face time'.

11 June 1995

Last of the Spots (for this client...)

These were the last spots for Marriage Partnership magazine (Christianity Today), who I had been working for since the early nineties.

It is kind of interesting to note, that I've been doing small spot illustration series of one sort or another almost continuously since the early nineties, only the styles and clients change hands. I'll do a stint with one client for a couple years, then that peters out, then another seems to take up the baton for a couple more years, and so on and so on. Not the kind of thing that makes a big splash or gets an illustrator noticed, but it is nice to have steady work, and it seems to be my calling.

06 June 1995

On My Own

Sometime in the mid-nineties (I forget the exact time frame), I got the urge to drag out my trusty old pastel box and try my hand at some drawings in my free time, as a way of 'getting away' from the drudgery of day to day assignments. These were two experimental pieces that I completed during this time.

18 May 1995

Local Cartoon Spots

One of my earliest clients was Gemini Publications, a local magazine publisher who put out Grand Rapids Magazine, Grand Rapids Parent and Grand Rapids Business Journal. I don't have very good records as to when any of these illustrations actually ran, but I can guess based on the style and narrow it down to certain periods of time. I'm guessing most of the pieces in this posting were done for this client sometime in the middle to late 90s.

I usually only did cartoon work for this client, and I tried to avoid doing scratchboard for them, because I couldn't justify the pay rates with the extra amount of time it took to draw in that style, not to mention the cost of materials. I did, however, occasionally work in that format if I felt I could afford to spend the time on it. The illustration below is one of those rare instances.

10 May 1995

Another Minnesota Book

I ran across this assignment for St Mary's Press in my invoices, and I barely remember this project. This was a series of probably about 10 illustrations, all black and white and all scratchboard. Apparently not an important enough title to fly me out to Minnesota to discuss, as this one was handled over the phone and fax machine. I don't remember any of the illustrations, but I found an image online of the book cover, and it is available used for very reasonable rates on Amazon (link here)

ADDENDUM: I think I've found one of the originals for this project while looking through the archives for something else. (a pictured below)

Also this month, I did my first assignment for the American Bar Association out of Chicago. They would continue to be a steady client to the present day. The original art for this first project hasn't survived, unfortunately.

15 April 1995

Illustration Hodge Podge

I remember this one quite well, despite the passage of time. This was another of those 'same day' assignments that I frequently got from Newsday. The story came over the fax machine, I read it through... then read it again... and was completely stumped. It was a rambling think piece that touched on any number of subjects, backpacking, zen zones of contentment, baseball, nature, all set in Joshua Tree State Park... So I just threw it all in the mix and faxed over my idea and hoped for the best.. and luckily they went for it, because I had no others. An interesting image, and fun, but difficult to explain to the casual viewer.

The above illustration I had earlier mistakenly attributed to the same client, that is, until I was going through my invoices the other day, and discovered that this one was a one time assignment for Detroit Monthly. One of my favorite scratchboards from around this time, I liked the layout and perspective and the simplicity of the design.

13 March 1995


This piece was probably for Legal Times, although I'm not sure of the exact date.

Also in March, aside from the usual suspects, I also had a series of caricatures for a local Ad Agency, and an assignment for the University of Notre Dame magazine.

18 February 1995

Children's Stories

In February (and probably a few months prior), I took part in illustrating several children's stories for local publisher, Christian Schools International (they were associated with Christian Home & School, a magazine I had been working for during the past year). There were four volumes, if I remember correctly, and my art graced the cover of one of them (pictured to the left). Several stories in each volume featured illustrations by me, but I was only one of many illustrators hired to fill the pages of this book. I've since misplaced all the artwork for these (if they were ever returned, I don't remember), and I used to have copies of the books, but I seem to have mislaid them as well.

Amazingly, these are still in print, and available (for a hefty sum) from the publisher (link here)

Also, over January and February I gained a few new clients; Home Office Computing and Writer's Digest.

13 February 1995

Going Batty

After 6 years of doing inside story work for Cricket magazine, I finally got a cover shot for them early in '95. An interesting layout, but I'm not crazy about the technique I used. I tried to mix acrylic paints and scratchboard as a way of showing some depth of field and lighten up the colors for a brighter cover (despite the night-time scene). I continued regularly contributing to the inside of the magazine for several years afterwards and got another chance at a cover assignment over ten years later (I think I did much better the second time).

I also had a trio of spots this month for Marriage Partnership (Christianity Today). These were a semi-regular affair, and usually involved stories related to 'men's lifestyles'. The top one was something to do with a survey of women who would prefer a husband who looks like Danny DeVito but who does the dishes, over a man who looks like Robert Redford. I forget the topics of the other two. These were a little different in style from either my usual scratchboard, or cartoon style, I guess you would call this my 'fallback caricature style', almost cartoon, but a bit more refined and controlled. (and done with a rapideograph pen as opposed to the brush and ink I used in the cartoons)

13 January 1995

Web site launch

Sometime in either late '94 or early '95 I began playing around with the idea of advertising online with a website of samples. Previously, I had been keeping a couple 'traveling portfolios' that I would send out to clients (and sometimes get back), and I thought it might be an easier way to let clients see my work. I can't imagine what may have been posted on this early web site, as anything that would appear there would be scanned artwork, and the fact that I had used AOL as the hosting site shows how little I knew of web design and marketing at the time. A few years later we eventually bought our own domain name and hosting sites, which worked out a lot better. This was the first postcard announcing the web site. It may have been included with another package, but I don't quite remember.

UPDATE: Thanks to the magic of the Internet Archive Wayback Machine you can now look at old versions of websites from the past, and aside from the fact that the samples and artwork links are all dead, you see a rough idea of what my website looked like back in the early early days.

01 January 1995

1994 Year in Review

I had one of my biggest 'textbook' assignments in the summer, that required that I fly out to the publisher's offices for a 'consult' (first and last time this ever happened). In looking over my invoices, I also had a few large projects that have simply disappeared because the artwork was never returned (and I barely even remember working on them). Started picking up a smattering of national advertising clients, including Ball Advertising out of Pennsylvania as well as more 'children's publication' clients and 'religious publication' clients (who seemed to be my 'bread and butter' clients during the mid-90s).

My son would have been 4-5 years old this year, probably just starting preschool or kindergarten. My wife still working for my former employer (although starting to look elsewhere, thinking that she'd like to go to part time and to be home and more active in my son's school activities)

1994 was the 'high water mark' of my 'traditional media' years, where I completed approximately 751 illustrations, bringing the total since 1989 to 2,256 illustrations.

Kind of hard to pick 'the best' from this year, as so little has survived. Anyhow, these are what I consider 'the best' works I did in '94: