25 April 1998

Small Packages

I had a great deal of 'tiny' work in April for a wide variety of clients.

The black and white spots above and below were for the Christian Reformed Church. If I remember correctly, these all depicted various religious holidays during the calendar year. I like the rougher scratchboard technique I used here, almost mimicking woodcuts.

The small color spots below were for the Chronicle of Higher Education, and went with a article about Microsoft.

The illustrations below were for International Marine Publishing, and were small 'chapter openers' for a book about a man's journey into the artic. This book is still available at Amazon here. One of the bigger 'mass market' books I've been involved with, but also one in which I actually did very little.

Another book publisher, Bandanna Publishing, contacted me this month with regards to drawing a logo for their imprint.



US Catholic magazine requested a series of small spots to go with a story. I don't remember the story, but each of these images had some relation to certain plot points.

And in keeping with the 'mini' theme of this post, I had a small spot illustration for Cricket this month about meteorites. This was a rather simple black and white illustration that went across the top of the page.

22 April 1998

April Newspaper Clippings


About six months since the changeover to digital at this point. My goal when I made the switch was to keep my biggest selling styles largely unchanged, so as not to scare away long established clients. It quickly became apparent that clients were preferring the new direction for reasons completely unrelated to style. The fact that art was able to be sent as email attachments, eliminating the costly and time consuming step of 'scanning' the original art was one of these reasons. Sending rough sketches was streamlined as well, eliminating the fax machine almost overnight. Faster turnaround, and cleaner looking artwork. I could also do things like the illustration above, including actual cover images to the three magazines in the article and incorporate them seamlessly into the image (if done a year previously, I would have had to either include pasted on photocopies, or hand draw the covers and lettering, or left them blank for the art director to drop in). The above illustration was for the Chronicle of Higher Education in April, for a story about 'small magazines'. Below is another for the same client, this one regarding SAT scores and judge's rulings (another one where I was able to incorporate found imagery into the illustration).

Legal Times was another long time user of my traditional scratchboards for many years, who in fact went months without realizing I had changed the way I was working (they thought I had bought a scanner and was somehow 'digitizing' the artwork for ease of shipment. This 'polygraph' illustration to the left was one of the assignments I had for this client in April.

For me, the benefits of this new method of working were obvious and almost immediate. The simple fact of the 'undo' button changed my work immensely. No longer was I tied to goofs and errors or a 'bad line'. No longer did I have that tedious step of transferring sketches to the scratchboard in order to render them. No more clouds of scratchboard dust clogging my office and lungs. I had so many more options now for adding color to my scratchboard drawings, eliminating the problem I had been struggling with for years of adding watercolor dyes to the scratchboard, only to have the colors muddy up thanks to the everpresent scratchboard dust (or bleed into board that has been 'scratched too vigorously'. I felt my images had improved by a factor of 10 almost overnight, and there was no turning back. The only resistance I ever encountered was from fellow illustrators who bemoaned the 'loss of the tactile', or that I was somehow 'going over to the dark side'. Most of them were ill informed and had a pre-conceived notion of 'computer art' as something resembling airbrushed looking video game characters, and they would shake their head and turn away like the religious encountering one who has 'fallen from the faith'.


Above and below are a few more illustrations for Legal Times. Most of the caricatures of Bill Clinton that I had were for this client, but they are hard to classify as 'caricatures' per se. They usually involved a smaller figure like the one above, involved in some sort of activity, so there really wasn't much room for capturing a detailed likeness. I tended to simplify him into a recognizable symbolic representation. The 'gun control' illustration below was another assignment from this same client.


The above illustration was a first assignment from Critical Care Nurse magazine (Innovision) who would eventually keep me pretty busy over the next few years.

I also had another assignment for the National Business Employment Weekly this month (pictured below).


I had a few assignments this month from another long time client who actually started using me a lot more since I made the switch to working digitally. Newsday used to have me send photocopies via the fax machine for their finished printable art (I tried to photocopy it much larger than the finished size so that it reproduced as good as possible under those conditions, but even so, I shudder to think what the repro quality looked like for years). The ease and speed of this new method made working on their 'same day' assignments much more expedient and painless. The above 'smoking/children' illustration was one of those 'same day' jobs during April, as well as the 'drunk driving test' illustration pictured below.

Below is another assignment this month for Legal Times. I don't remember the story behind this one, other than it features that old cliche standby the "fat cat tycoon".

01 April 1998

Limited Run Promotional Item


After sending out postcards and brochures, and even magnets, I've been toying with the idea of sending out something a little more 'concrete' that would'nt be quite so easy to stick in the file cabinet and forget, and might also be of some use to the recipient. I decided to print up a number of promotional coffee cups and send them out. The packaging and mailing ended up being way too much trouble and expense, and I've heard that a few of them ended up arriving broken despite the careful packaging. I don't think very many of these were sent out, maybe somewhere in the neighborhood of 500? The art above was the image that I used for the cup, and I also found an alternate version below that wasn't used.

I also found an even older piece of art that never got used, when I contemplated doing a 'promotional mug' sometime in the late 90s prior to switching over to digital. I notice that I incorporated a few of the 'hand-drawn' bits from this early version into the final design.

Cartoons in April


The above illustration was for Interpretor magazine in April, and concerned ministering to inner city youth.

The above black and white cartoon was for Grand Rapids Magazine and concerned employees who jump from 'job to job'. I had a lot of fun with this one, and is probably one of my favorite 'cartoon' pieces of the year.

The above 'amusement park' spot illustrations were for Zillions magazine (Consumer Reports) in April. This was for a 'puzzle' page (but I don't quite remember the story behind it). This was a rather challenging assignment, trying to boil some rather complex material into relatively simplistic small spots was more fun than it might at first seem.

The black and white illustrations to the left and below were both for my agent, for Metro Parent out of Detroit.