21 December 2002

Holiday Spots

The above color spot illustration was for my national newspaper client and accompanied an article about the wild ride that a certain company's stocks had over the course of the year. The piece to the left was probably about retirement 'nest eggs', although I don't really remember exactly the angle of the story. A fun piece though, and the egg came out nice.

I also had another piece for the same client having something to do with the holiday shopping season (the melting snowman, pictured below)

Also, for the same client were a trio of 'health care' spots that I do every week for a regular column. The topics this month were; exercising for bone health, tooth coating, and quitting smoking for new years.

Another piece for the same client in December, was this 'percent sign' illustration below and to the right.

I had a few assignments from other semi-regular clients in December, including the 'armed forces' recruiting station picture below for an east coast newspaper client, a 'snoozing dean' for my educational publication client (also pictured below), and a fiction piece for my long time 'mystery digest' client (this one involved a notorious criminal that gets recognized at an old age home by a young television reporter).

I also landed an assignment from a new client this month, a large east coast newspaper that wanted a black and white editorial piece on 'internet espionage'. A few other assignments came my way from the same client over the next several years, but they are far and few between.

18 December 2002

Corporate Assignments

A large national corporate client of mine has been handing me assignments since early in 2002, and I've been avoiding posting examples of most of the illustrations, due to the nature of the usage contract that we agreed upon. However, since five years have passed since these were commissioned, I'll be posting this batch of illustrations. These were for an in-house advertising brochure on savings and investments, and most carried a nautical theme, with a few exceptions (like the tightrope walker above)

I don't quite remember the text that went with these drawings, but I'm sure most of them were of the 'planning your future', 'charting a course' variety. At this time I hadn't yet decided to take up sailing, but I had been doing a lot of reading on the subject, and it was definitely on my mind while planning out the concepts for these illustrations.

10 December 2002

On the lighter side

I had a few 'cartoon' assignments in December. The one above, was for an east coast newspaper client for their 'lifestyle' section, and concerned family squabbles at holiday time. I had a bit of fun with this one, I always like doing these 'crowded' scenes where you can fit a lot of little details in.

I also had a trio of illustrations for a small southern campus life magazine. These would prove to be the last assignments I would have from this long time client. I had been doing lots of work for this client over the years, but I could no longer justify the amount of work that went into the assignments against the low rates that they paid. I miss the art director though, he was always fun to talk to.

These three small spot illustrations were on various short 'mini articles' that sprinkle throughout the magazine, and the topics included; evaluating your faculty, campus surveys (I think), and something or other to do with online travel arrangements (if I remember correctly).

It is interesting to see how my 'cartoon style' has evolved over the years. The very earliest ones I did had characters with huge bulbuous noses, spindly little arms and legs, and barely looked human at all, and gradually the people started looking a bit more realistic, and the lines started getting more controlled and clean. Even in the past 5 years the cartoons have evolved even more towards the 'realistic' end, and the linework has evolved a bit as well.

The above illustration was for a catholic magazine, and went with a story about 'overpreparing' children, and not allowing them to 'play and enjoy their childhood'. I believe I was still coaching baseball around this time (in the spring anyways), so more and more baseball images should start creeping into my illustrations like this.

05 December 2002

Maps and Flytraps

The above map was for an article about the Civil War for a children's history magazine. I also saved a couple larger examples of the small thumbnail sized spots that went with the map for easier viewing. Sometimes the little 'spots' ended up being more work and trouble than the map itself in projects of this sort.

I also had another map for the same client, but a different periodical. This was a geography magazine for kids, and the map was pretty straightforward, delineating different population densities of a particular group of people (the heugonots?). These 'map assignments' were usually quite large, spread across two pages in most cases, but with type overlapping certain 'dead' areas.

I had another 'puzzle page' assignment for the same client in December. This was for their science themed magazine. This one was more along the lines of a 'story puzzle' than others of this series have been. I particularly liked how this one turned out. The hands and fly turned out real nice, using a watercolor technique, if I remember correctly.

Another 'odd technique' that I experimented with this month, was a rather dry story about the health care profession. My concept was to arrange a stethoscope so that it resembled a heart. I thought scratchboard would make this look even duller than it was, so tried it in more of a soft pastel approach.

25 November 2002

Darwin and the Dust Bowl

The piece above was for an educational publication client of mine, and went with an article about 'intelligent design', talking about these veiled efforts by creationists to drive a wedge under the teaching of evolution in our schools. It was a nice portrait of Darwin, but I'm not sure I was entirely successful in making it look like a 'sculpture/bust' of Darwin - too much detail probably.

More portraits came my way in November, this rather convoluted concept above being for an east coast newspaper, and featuring various NY area politicos. The boat is filled with various local landmarks, which was a little tricky, as they were mostly unfamiliar to me (except as photos off the internet). I thought the clouds turned out nice on this one. I'm always trying out new and different 'cloud techniques' and watch the sky carefully for inspiration.

I also received another couple of 'priest face' assignments from my jesuit magazine client this month. I had done a few the month before, and he liked them so much he wanted a few others along similar lines. The method here was pretty straightforward; pick a few random faces off the internet, change them slightly, and give them a priest collar, keeping the colors loose and playful. I like the more 'chubby' priest below best of these last two. I was starting to get into a bit of a routine with these, and that's always dangerous, because they start losing their spontenaety and become a bit formulaic.

I also had an assignment this month from one of my children's magazine clients. This one was a map depicting the route westward for many refugees of the great 'dust bowl' migration of the 30s. They wanted a few small vignettes added to the map, so I kept them mostly sepia toned in color, drew a little abandoned shack and 'Joad family car' from 'Grapes of Wrath'. I've enlarged the car below to show the details.

Also this month, for my east coast newspaper client, was the 'water purity' illustration pictured below. I don't quite remember the exact topic, other than 'drinking water', although I think the clouds below were supposed to look all dirty and smoggy perhaps, either that, or I just did a poor job of depicting them.

15 November 2002

Investment Assignments

In 2002 I had started working for a large well known investment firm, doing illustrations for in house ad campaigns, client newsletters and other misc assignments. The usage agreements were usually either 3 or 5 year terms, so I've been avoiding posting them on this site until the term limit expires for each assignment. Since these are now over 5 years old, I'll be posting them here and gradually adding more as time marches forward. Most involve investment/savings/retirement topics in a roundabout way. The batch this month was for a quarterly client newsletter that I continued to illustrate for the next five plus years.

Each newsletter usually contained a cover story in which a larger cover illustration was required (the illustration at the top of the post), and usually was about something current in the investment field (whether stocks are rising or falling, what to look for in the future, that sort of thing). Then a medium sized page two story (2nd from top) which was on an investment strategy of some kind (this one was about something called 'laddering'), and then a couple smaller spots would be sprinkled among the rest of the newsletter (usually either estate planning, or plugging their online services, or trusts, or retirement options).

The articles for this newsletter are remarkably similar from quarter to quarter, so it gave me plenty of practice at coming up with different approaches to the same subject matter over and over again.

05 November 2002

Cartoon-o-matic 3000

I had a whole bunch of cartoon assignments in the month of November. Besides another installment in the ongoing 'bible stories' project (samples of which are pictured above and below - there were about 30 or so total in this batch), I also had a couple of 'series' assignments for other clients, and a few solo pieces that I also finished in this same sort of 'cartoon style'. The good thing about this style is that it is quick and expedient to do, and I can cram a lot into a short period of time if I need to. The problem though, is that I can find myself just 'going through the motions' if I'm not careful, and the work can lose a bit of pizazz and seem kind of mechanical and uninspired. That's how I felt about a lot of the cartoon samples that I ran across in the archives for this month. I think I just tried to fit way too much work into too little time, and the work suffered because of it.
Of these 'bible story' illos, probably the best one was the 'joseph getting thrown in the pit' (which was near the beginning of this particular batch), and gradually they became less interesting until we get to the illustrations below, which seem just slapped together.

The illustration above was for an east coast newspaper client of mine, and concerned online booking for holiday travel plans. Another one that didn't turn out all that interesting. I don't know if it was because of being way too busy that month, or just not being particularly enthused about the topic, but the main illustration and the small spots that accompanied it seem sort of dull and uninspired.

These small cartoon spots accompanied the larger illustration above, and were sprinkled throughout the article. I barely remember working on this project, so I can only assume that the deadline was probably pretty tight, and they all look like they were rushed through. About the only two that turned out halfway decent, were the 'airplane' spot and the 'beach chair' spot, both of which at least have some interesting colors going on. The other three spots just make me cringe (the 'buildings' spot especially).

I also had another 'cartoon series' of spots for a catholic magazine during this time. These came out a little better than most of the work this month, although I was less than enthused with the concept. The idea was to show a piggy bank character involved in all sorts of activist activities (using the power of your pocketbook to support good causes, perhaps?). I don't like including 'text' in illustrations, but these were unavoidable, since two of the three spots involved 'protest' signs of one sort or another. The best of the bunch, I thought, was the 'planting trees' spot. The others just seemed kind of awkward to me, and I proabably put less effort into keeping them fresh and spontaneous because of that.