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.

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.

02 November 2002

Newspaper Clippings

To the left is probably about the best spot illustration I did all month. A Thanksgiving piece for my national newspaper client. Simple in design and execution, with some nice color choices and good balance between light and dark. Overall, I'm a little disappointed with the work overall from Nov '02 (looking back on it now, 5 years later). Not sure why. Perhaps I just took too much on my plate, and everything suffered because of it, or maybe I just hit a rough patch.

Above are four 'health care' spots for the month of December. Getting to the point where I don't quite remember what the topics for these things were. The best one this month was probably the one where the guy is pouring pills into his brain. I've definitely gotten better at these small spots in the last five years, at least in terms of 'keeping them simple'. Some of these (like the 'football' one above and the 'guy with a cold' to the left) seem way too crowded and convoluted for the small space. These things work much better with a simple concept and clean stylized lines.

The illustration to the right is another spot for the same client, and again, I'm afraid that I don't quite remember what the topic was about. I remember the 'cracks' giving me problems, not quite sure how to do them, and I don't quite like how the horse turned out.

The illustration below (again, for the same client) turned out a bit more sucessfully. This one was on real estate forclosure auctions.

Another illustration for the same client is above. This one was a strange inverted 'L' shape, in order to go around a chart. Not a particularly inspired concept, provided by the client, but I did the best I could with it. I played around with the background tones to give it a little more depth.

And, finally, another spot illustration for the same client is below. This one dealing with the Chinese working class.

18 October 2002

College Spots

I had a series of spot illustrations for a long time 'college prep' publication client in October. There were two different styles that I worked in for these two groups of spots, in order to keep them from looking too similar to each other. The first was more of a cartoon style, like the 'surfing' spot and the 'huddle' spot below.

The rest of the spots were quite a bit smaller in size, and I did these in a simplified 'scratchboard' style. They mostly dealt with 'college' life in one way or another, email, gas prices, lunch, recycling etc etc. A couple of cute ones came out of this batch, I particularly liked how the 'guitar and amp' one turned out.

05 October 2002

History Lessons

I had an abundance of 'historical scratchboards' for a few children's magazine clients in October. The one above was part of a two page story about a civil rights figure (don't remember who), and the companion piece is found below.

I also had a series of vignettes for a different children's magazine. These were all dealing with 'famous nurses' (and I don't remember the specifics of this story either).