15 September 2004

A Heaping Helping of Spots

During the month of September, I was living and working in South Haven, caring for my Father as he underwent a series of chemo treatments. Most of the work, aside from the usual workload, during this month was taken up by a series of workbook projects for Carson Dellosa (previously Instructional Fair). I'd been doing work for this client since the late 90s, mostly with the same editor/designer, and these would be the last batches that we would work together on, as the company underwent some restructuring and trimming of staff recently. In this posting are a small sampling from each book. Each book contained somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 spot illustrations, varying in size and shape. Sometimes they were fairly straightforward depictions of objects/topics, and other times I was allowed a little leeway to make them a bit more 'fun'.

The illustration at the top was to show a 'queue' of people (I don't remember what they were in line for), but I chose this opportunity to include some of my family and a close friend in this particular illustration. My Father is the fellow in the wheelchair (he isn't looking too good, he was getting quite skinny and frail looking around this time), and I did a self portrait (the guy with the bandanna and goatee), and in front of me is my son Keenan (just starting high school at this time), then my wife, Terri is in front of him, and then, in the bathing suit, is Candy, a good friend of ours.

The illustration to the left was to be a random kid at a desk overhearing conversations and writing in a journal, but I chose to do this as a tribute to Kate, the designer who I had been working with for many years, and who had watched my son grow up as I would drag him into design meetings in the summer since we first started working together. I pictured what I thought she might look like as a young girl. She seemed to get a kick out of it.

These illustrations were invaluable as practice and development of my 'cartoon style' which underwent a great deal of refinement during the many projects that this publisher sent my way over the past several years. I also believe it helped me simplify my scratchboard technique, even though I only did a few pieces in that style for this client, as it helped me to see that sometimes 'less is more', and to hone in my concept skills in order to fit a lot of information into a tiny space.

One thing I'm not sure about, however, is what the status is regarding reprint rights on these illustrations. I remember bringing up the topic once when we were discussing the contract, but I don't remember what was decided upon. Most of the illustrations in these books were fairly specialized and probably wouldn't be of any interest to others as far as reprints go, but there were quite a few, like the some of the pieces that I've chosen to post here, that were generic enough, that they might find use elsewhere. I'll have to do some research into my old files and see if I have anything in writing.

One of the other benefits to working on these projects, was in training myself to work fairly expediently. I've always worked kind of fast before (coming from a 'quick printer' background in the 80s), but the sheer volume and deadlines on these pieces forced me to kick up the speed a notch. Overall, these projects were quite enjoyable from an experience standpoint, and from a personal standpoint, even though the pay and contracts could have been better. And I sort of miss working in this style. Color is fine and fun, but there's something to be said for the simplicity of black and white.

So, overall, with 4 books with about 20 illustrations each, I ended up doing about 80 drawings in the month of September, and I have to say, that after doing these for the past 4 or 5 years, that this batch was my personal favorite, despite the situation and circumstances under which I was working. Perhaps it was the work that helped me pull through this period.

Some other notes on the illustrations included here:
(book 1) samples from the first book include the 'forest scene with the owl', the 'cactus and woodpecker', a picture of Amelia Earhardt and her plane, and the picture of 'Paul Revere and his midnight ride'
(book 2) samples from the second book include the 'queue' at the top, the 'dog breeds', and the 'whales' illustration
(book 3) samples from the third book include the 'diary girl', and the 'pile of treasure'
(book 4) samples from the fourth book include the 'elephant' illustrations, and the 'teen working at a pizza parlor' illustrations.

Each of the books in this series were entitled 'Teamwork Test Prep' and there were 6 total that I worked on in the second half of the year. More samples from the Grade 8, Grade 7 and the Grade 3 book can be found in other postings this month. (grades 4, 5 & 6 can be found in October and November's postings) All the books are still available on Amazon, and you can find links to each on the 'bibliography' page and on each individual posting.

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