12 September 2005

Fall Mailing

In September, we sent out the second mailing of the year, a promotional postcard (4x6) that recycled a recent illustration that I had done that I thought showed a lighter and whimsical side of my scratchboard work.

05 September 2005

Newspaper Work

Had a number of assignments from various newspaper clients of mine during the month of September. The caricature of George Bush to the right was something to do with either his crumbling support in the Republican party, or to do with his crumbling legacy. Anyhow, something's crumbling. Not one of my best W likenesses, but I had a lot of fun with the pillar at the bottom. This one was for Newsday.

For the Wall Street Journal, I had the above 'stock ticker' illustration. I don't remember why it is full of water, but I like the simple image. Judging from the size and the fact that it is in black and white leads me to believe this was one of those Sunday 'chart accompaniment' illustrations.

The illustration above was for Barrons, a publication affiliated with the WSJ that I'd just started working for the previous month. I don't remember if this was one of my concepts or if this was supplied by the editors.
Another piece for the same client is below, this one I am pretty sure was an idea provided by the client. A little awkward, but I did the best I could to pull it off.

Also during this month, for Newsday, I had a series of small 'financial' cartoon spots for a lifestyle article. These concerned a variety of topics, money for schools, inheritances, severance packages, social security, etc. All tied together with that old cliche standby, the bag of money with a dollar sign on it.

I hadn't done a 'cartoon' piece in quite a while, and it was fun to go back and revisit this style which had at one time been a much bigger part of my regular business.

If I had to pick a favorite out of these five spots, it would have to be the 'inheritance' piece. Most of the rest of them were rather straightforward and dry, and I was pleasantly surprised that this rather macabre concept got by the editors. From a purely design and color standpoint, though, I think the 'college girl' was the most pleasing visually (following a close second, the 'retiree' with his glowing gold retirement watch).

I also had a few small 'health care' spots for the Wall Street Journal. These are usually about 'dubious health care claims', and I try to provide three concepts for each topic, some more goofy than others. Both of the ones chosen this month were fairly cut and dry and conservative. The one above about 'elderly eyesight problems', and the one below, was actually about a special brand of shoe.

14 August 2005

Black and White

With a new chief justice confirmed, I found myself with a daily assignment for Newsday about the confirmation hearings. Rather a difficult face to capture, but I think I nailed it pretty well.

And speaking of difficult faces to capture; for the same client I had another assignment featuring NY gov Pataki, who I have been assigned a few times before, and seem to have a difficult time with each and every illustration. Something about this guy's face, but he seems to look different in reference photos depending on what angle they shoot him, or whether he is smiling or frowning. Anyhow, something about his face gives me trouble. (I don't remember who the other guy was in this illustration, but I'm sure he was someone important in NY politics)

Another piece for the same client, involved orphans and something to do with their image as seen in popular culture. Gave me another chance to sneak in my dog 'Lady', who pops up a few times this month.

Another black and white rush job this month came from the Wall Street Journal, this being one of the earliest inklings of the coming 'burst housing bubble' that would make bigger news splashes in the coming years. Did a little collage technique with the 'house' in the balloon, manipulating a found photo, since I don't draw architecture all too well.

05 August 2005

Misc August Spots

An assignment for Barrons offered me the chance to work on a few of my least favorite subjects, airplanes and architecture. However, I kept the airplane to a rather simple shape sticking into the right side of the picture frame, and immersed myself into the detailing on the courtroom facade, and was surprised to find myself with a pretty nice illustration. One of those rare ones where I'm actually pleased with the layout and design over the actual rendering.
Another assignment for the same client is pictured below. This one was to picture an investor calm cool and collected despite the 'rising flood waters' around him. Gave me another chance to sneak my dog 'Lady' into the picture.

One thing I never do get tired of drawing, is old time sailing vessels. The Chronicle of Higher Education gave me the spot pictured to the left where I could work on my 'water & boat' skills. I don't quite remember the angle of the story. I do like how the water turned out on this one. I continue to try different 'water' techniques, hoping to find one that is fairly expedient to draw, and at the same time looks realistic and fits the scratchboard style well.

Also, during the month of August, I had a trio of 'health care' spots for the Wall Street Journal(being a longer month than usual). There was a period in the early part of the month where I went through a major dry spell as far as new assignments, and I was grateful to still have these semi-monthly regular spot illos coming in to cushion the dry spells. The one to the right was about a new technique for getting rid of cellulite. The one below and to the left was some sort of skin cream for helping with middle aged women's 'flabby arm skin'.

The third spot of the month had to do with some new sort of 'vibrating exercise machine' if memory serves me correctly.

Also, for the same client, I had another small color spot, that had something to do with 'brainwashing', or at least that's what I remember. I liked this illustration so well, that the following year, I recycled it as part of a postcard mailing promoting my 'spot illustration' skills.

And for the same client, I also had a spot illustrating a story about Japan's Prime Minister hoping to rally his downturning economy. The likeness of the PM wasn't entirely necessary, but I remember taking great pains to do a good portrait despite the tiny size of the illustration. Hoping to push my 'portraiture skills' to this client, as they probably don't think of me in that capacity. While I still never get much portraiture assignments from this client, I would later do a number of them for an affiliated client overseas.

Another strange assignment for the same client this month, was the 'border illustration' that I did (pictured below) regarding the online spam email phenomenon known as 'phishing'. An unusual awkward shape to work with on this one, but I thought I filled it well.

16 July 2005

Pushing the Outside of the Envelope

In July, I had a few opportunities to try and stretch myself as far as 'style' goes. I was given a cover assignment for the Chronicle of Higher Education, and I took a chance and tried out a completely different look. Using a mixture of mediums, colored pencils, watercolor washes and various paper textures and color layers, I came up with something quite special. I don't quite remember what the topic of this illustration was, but I had a lot of fun with it. I was quite happy with how the sky and clouds turned out, and proud of myself for avoiding the usual color schemes that I find myself returning to again and again.

Barrons asked me to enlarge and improve upon an illustration that I had done for them the month before, for use as a cover illustration. I used the usual scratchboard technique for the 'hand', but then used a combination of airbrushing techniques and spatter paint to make the 'black hole' much more spectacular than in the original version.

Newsday handed me an assignment about the 'Harry Potter' book series, and how it is appealling to not only the kids, but to the parents as well. I thought it might be fun to finish this one up as if done by the artist that draws the book covers on the US editions. I enjoy the occassional 'mimic' job, as it gives me a chance to really study how other artists go about getting the effects that they do.

Also, in the middle of July, I got a pair of spot illustrations from a new client, Smart Money. These pair of spots, while using the same techniques that I've grown comfortable with over the years, were actually a marrying of two different styles. Scratchboard in technique, but more cartoonish in style and feeling, and a little less 'busy' than I usually work.

It was nice getting a chance to try something new this month, and it sure helps break up the monotony and routine. Not to mention the new tricks you pick up along the way that might come in handy later on down the road.

29 June 2005

Waiting Around for Rehnquist

I actually got assigned this Rehnquist portrait almost a month earlier, since the news of his imminent retirement, illness, looming death seemed to be on the news for a while before it actually happened. I was starting to get a reputation for being the 'dead guy portrait artist' at Newsday, so I was given the heads up about this portrait way in advance. Then it was just a matter of waiting around until the guy finally shuffled off. Kind of melancholy in a way, because some of my earliest assignments when I started out, were of the supreme court, and for years I provided art for Legal Times who regularly did stories on the court decisions, so I've gotten to know this guy's face quite well over the past 15 years. I saved the best for last.

15 June 2005

Newspaper Spots

This would be the last month that I would have the good fortune to count on 4 'health care' spots per month, a regular gig I've enjoyed over the past few years for the Wall Street Journal. These made a nice cushion for 'lean times', and have been a continuing source of challenge and fun since I started working on this continuing column feature. These would continue on, thankfully, but on a bi-monthly basis.

The 'monkey postcard' that I sent out the previous month, prompted a designer at the Journal to request that I do an illustration in a similar 'painterly style' for the next assignment. Unfortunately, this was a rather poor choice to 'shine' in this particular style, and I'm afraid it didn't turn out all that interesting.
Another spot for the same client at another time of the month, was this spot involving 'women in business'. I used a slightly different effect here, fading out the background characters a bit to show depth. I think it helped to keep the illustration from looking way too busy.

I also had an assignment regarding small companies who take over larger companies, in which I chose to portray the companies as 'big fish' and 'little fish' (possibly because there was some mention of this in the article, maybe not). I decided that the 'little fish' ought to be a puffer fish, since they have that habit of blowing up to twice their usual size. (plus, just wanted to draw a puffer fish, after finding one on the beach recently on a trip to Florida). Later I would recycle this illustration as a promotional postcard.

06 June 2005

See You in the Funny Pages (but probably not)

Throughout the year during '05, I played around with the notion of trying my hand at editorial cartooning. These were mostly done for my own benefit, by way of practice, and just to see how much time it would involve. I never quite got a regular routine going, but turned one out about once or twice a month for a short while. I really liked the drawing style of these, but I wasn't so crazy about the concepts and humor. On one of them, my brother Tom proposed a concept, and I finished it up (the 'supreme court medical marijuana' cartoon), but I wasn't crazy about the idea on that one either. The cartoons here in this post range from around April of '05 until about August of the same year.

I've also toyed with the idea of doing a strip cartoon, but have never quite gotten past an initial sample in any of my attempts. Probably a good indicator of how poorly I'm cut out for that kind of work. The strip above was an idea I had about setting a regular strip on that cliched 'desert island' with only a single character and perhaps a monkey for company. The sketch below was for another concept involving a monkey and a baby. These were both from January of '05.

19 May 2005

May Spots

Above and to the left are the spots for the month of May for my weekly 'health care' column gig for the Wall Street Journal. Articles about a bracelet for warding off mosquitos, poisons in fingernail polish, dentistry, sunscreen lotion and the pros and cons of soy milk. I particularly liked how the mosquito and the hands in the fingernail polish spot turned out. Using a new technique (to me) where I'm starting to add color to the 'scratchboard lines' as a way of softening the illustrations a bit.

For the same client, I had a quickie color spot regarding soccer, the US and Britain in some capacity, but I don't quite remember the exact details of the story.

Below is another spot having to do with China and the Euro, and again, I've forgotten the angle on the story. I think this was the first time I'd used the 'dragon' in depicting China, but it wouldn't be the last time.

Another spot for the same client was the 'fat cat' pictured below, handing out IOUs. A little different background treatment than I usually do. Looks like I picked some sort of chalk or pastel tool, perhaps as a way of depicting the smoke hanging in the air from the cigar.