31 December 2007

December's Second Half

The second half of December continued with the slowing trend that has characterized the latter half of the year. I had a few jobs here and there, and managed to keep work on the table most of the time, but I was never what I would call overly busy. The above piece was another fiction assignment for Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine. I was really pleased with how this one turned out, making good use of dramatic lighting.

The two 'biggest' projects of December I won't be posting for a while because they haven't been published yet. I had a nice 'painting' assignment from a book publisher, an 'archaology scene' ala Indiana Jones that turned out to be one of my favorite assignments of the year (I'll post it here in the spring sometime). Also a series of 20 or so cartoon images that I am working on for another upcoming book project, which I should be able to elaborate on in a few months time.

The illustration above was for the Chronicle of Higher Education, and concerned college applications. I also had another 'health care' spot for the Wall Street Journal, this one on the topic of 'tongue scraping devices'.

A couple other black and white assignments for the same client are pictured below. The one to the left was about the dillema of whether to raise or lower interest rates, and the one to the right was about the US consumer's impact on the global markets.

I had a few pieces for Barrons this month. The above illustration was a rather tricky one that dealt with a nobel prizewinner's economic theory, and was tricky both to conceptualize, and to finish, but turned out rather nice in the end. The two illustrations below were for the same client. The first one (with the 100 dollar bill) was commissioned ahead of schedule, and then later when the story was written they realized that a 100 euro note would better fit the article, so I was asked to modify the art.

The above 'dartboard' illustration was another for the Wall Street Journal earlier in the month. A rather text heavy request, but it turned out nice. I'm glad I did a lot of research on how dart boards really looked, it was worth the time and effort.

And finally, the above piece was a same day assignment for Newsday. This one dealt with the changing troop strategies in Iraq, moving from 'battle mode' to 'police mode'.

12 December 2007

Back to Work

After a quiet November, it was a relief to have the phone start ringing again in the first week of December. The above cover assignment (with accompanying inside piece) came across the desk in that first weekend after Thanksgiving, and a flurry of jobs followed in its wake. The 'on hold' job that I superstitiously blamed for the slow down got the go ahead that same week, and another job (that at the moment is rather hush hush) that was proposed in the early part of the year, got the green light as well. The cover and inside illustration above and below were for the Chronicle of Higher Education. I certainly threw myself at this project with a lot of pent up enthusiasm and gusto.

The Far Eastern Economic Review from Hong Kong emailed that same weekend and handed me a pair of illustrations, one of them an 'overview' of a telecommunications segment of the paper, and another one was a portrait of an up and coming politician. I also had due around this time, a series of small cartoon spots for Christian Home and School, having to do with various ways of showing kids that you care. (pictured below)

I was reminiscing with this client (who was retiring after the end of November), how when I first started working with him, how I would routinely use my son as reference for 'kids' in the illustrations, and how he's now taller than me and looking at colleges for next year.

It was nice to have a chance to work in this loose cartoon style again. It had been long time since an assignment like this had come along. It seems like I've done little other than scratchboard for the past year.

I also had a couple of spots for my 'health care' column gig that I do every other week for The Wall Street Journal during that slow period in November. The one above was about some sort of 'new improved' chicken feed that makes the chicken more healthy to eat (or the eggs, I forget).

And the other 'health care' spot concerned the purported health benefits of eating garlic.

And of course, as is usually the case with these 'cartoon' pieces, I try to sneak in a picture of my dog, Lady. (bottom left)

I had a few other jobs going on around this time, but I think I'll save them for a future posting. (some of them I'm not sure have been published yet). The postcard went out last weekend, and it already seems to be getting some responses back (it seems to have printed a little darker than I anticipated, but it still looks pretty good). Nice to be getting back to work again. All Play and no Work makes Tim a dull boy (not to mention anxious).

21 November 2007

Xmas mailing

Finished up the xmas promo mailing. Thanks to Terri for posing for me, and thanks to Keenan for the ideas for the 'story titles' and 'authors'. I've been working on this one, off and on, for the past week or so, almost giving up on it a number of times. The oil painting style is pretty unfamiliar to me, and took a lot of false starts before I was able to make it work. I think I should plan on doing a steady campaign of postcards this year, I've neglected advertising of late, coasting on my laurels, and it is really starting to show.

This image is also available as a tee shirt, a mug, or a linen shopping bag, available through the online store SPICE

19 November 2007

Quiet. A Bit Too Quiet.

Been a very quiet couple of weeks around here. Aside from a reprint and a small job for Newsday last monday (pictured at bottom), the phone has been eerily silent. I've got a book cover job that's been on hold for the past month, and I always chalk up slow periods to a completely irrational and superstitious belief that 'jobs on hold' create a sort of 'phone curse' that is only lifted when the job is put back in motion again. Even my regular bi-weekly WSJ gig got pushed back a week. So in the meantime, I've been working on an xmas mailer to go out early next month to try and drum up some business. The boss wants it completed and ready to send out by next week, so I better get busy. Working in an unfamiliar medium to try and break out of my rut, but of course, trying for something a little different usually means a bit more work and frustrating dead ends while you work through the problems.
(addendum: 11/20 - just heard from the 'on hold' job, and it will hopefully be coming down the pike very soon, perhaps by the end of this week, so hopefully the curse is now lifted)

The illustrations I'm using in this post were actually completed back in October for a London based subsidiary of the Wall Street Journal (for a European Sunday Edition, I believe). First time I'd worked with them, and most of the sketching was done on the road while I was driving my Dad down to Arizona for the winter. The print date was to be several weeks later, but now that the date has passed, it is probably safe to post them here at this time. One large illustration and a series of smaller spots on 'grooming and cultivating talent in the office environment'.

Been kind of a feast or famine kind of year overall. Either very busy, or very slow, but rarely in between. Also, am nearing the twenty year mark and starting to feel my age. I had a long time client retire on me this month. I've had several art directors move on to new assignments over the past 5 years, many are surely reaching retirement age, and I've even had one client die on me during my time here at the drawing board (and another one who isn't feeling too good). Makes you think, that's for sure. About stagnation, about the need to try and push the envelope a little bit and try for something new and fresh. I need a jolt to the system, and no one is going to give it to me, except myself.

Already Thanksgiving week, and the beginning of the Holiday season. I expect a few rush jobs this week, there always seems to be a few 'desk clearing' assignments that trickle in just before the long weekend.

03 November 2007

Week of tight deadlines

What looked as if it might be a rather slow work week, ended up being rather full after all due to some late arriving, but quick turnaround jobs. It started over the weekend with an email from the Far Eastern Economic Review from Hong Kong, with a pair of jobs due by Tuesday morning. A portrait (pictured, left), in which I was supplied a few reference photos, and another one that I was simply given the instructions "its about health care" (pictured below). Both went pretty quickly, and I managed to get them done by Monday night.

Also due by Tuesday morning was a job for the Chronicle of Higher Education to accompany an article about 'affirmative action', in particular reviewing 4 recent books on the subject. I came up with a sketch on Friday, but the AD wasn't happy with the original idea, and requested others for Monday. After I sent those on Monday morning, I got an email choosing one of those, and then another email right after that saying 'wait', and then a phone call to inform me that the editor just saw all three sketches and wants to go with Friday's original idea. I should probably save the other sketches, as this topic comes up from time to time. (I should actually save all my unused sketches, but I'm horribly negligent about keeping up with it).

Then added to the mix was my usual bi-weekly gig for the Wall Street Journal (a dubious health care claims column), this week on chinese herbal teas to sooth menstrual cramps. Been doing these for a while now (4-5 yrs?) and they are always fun and challenging. The middle of the week was actually quiet, but then I got another quick one for the same client on Thursday evening with a Friday afternoon deadline (didn't include an example of this one, it was b&w and not particularly interesting), and then around 3 on Friday I got another call from the same client with a quickie, due at five, about the housing market. Pretty straightforward instructions, a 'house stuck in a vice'. Had to miss an eye appointment because of it, but it turned out quite nice, and I got rescheduled for next week (my eyesight has been getting worse over the past year, and I'm about due for a new prescription I think - may have to finally go the bifocals route...)

28 October 2007

Spots and Squirrels

Been kind of busy over the past week. Finished up a quartet of illustrations for AG Edwards (which I'm not including in the blog in deference to the usage nature of the agreement with the client), I also completed a quartet of spots for Barrons, all on different topics - deflation, entrepreneurs from India, hucksterism, and navigation in the digital age. I've been doing quite a few spots this year for this particular client, and I've usually been quite happy with the results. You'd think I'd be getting burned out from such an immersion in the 'financial/business' illustration world for the past 8 years or so, but I seem to be holding up pretty well, idea-wise. It is definitely a more satisfying rut to be stuck in than the religious rut I found myself rooted in back in the mid-90s.

(images) top right: the 'deflation/interest rates' illo from the aforementioned series. middle left: another spot from the same series, this one on 'navigating the digital age'. middle right, below: from the same series, "entrepreneurs from India". middle left, below: from the same series, "stock hucksterism".

I'm not sure when these pieces will run, they usually save them up and run them over the course of the following month, sometimes in color and sometimes in black and white depending on whether the page is printed in color that week or not.

Also this week, completed a 'semi-rush job' for the Wall Street Journal (two day lead time is actually quite a luxury for this particular client). This piece was on Ethanol and other eco-friendly fuels. I sort of cheated and used a similar solution (corn cob on fuel truck) that I had used before, but this was a bigger illustration, in color, and also utilized a farm scene and pipeline (image to be found further down the page). I was pretty happy with how it turned out. I also finished up a project this week for a London based subsidiary of the same client, but I'm not including those illustrations here, because it doesn't run for another month or so (perhaps I will include it next month some time nearer to when it runs).

And finally, I also completed a half page illustration Log Home Living. The article was regarding 'storage solutions', and the idea was suggested by the client. (while I like a certain amount of freedom in idea generating, I usually feel it is better to get a little bit of input from the client, sometimes, as I tend to work better as a 'idea bouncer' than as an 'idea generator'). (image posted at the bottom of this entry)

19 October 2007

A Cover Assignment

I started this blog right around this time, and it was with this illustration that I was inspired to start sharing all or most of my work, as a way of tracing the evolution of my career, and also to use this as a broader 'portfolio' to share examples of my work.

This assignment was for a new client, LA Weekly, who called me due to seeing my 'santa postcard' the previous year. This was for a story about a true life 'murder mystery' but without a 'body', and I was provided with photo reference of the two detectives involved. The original illustration is above, and below is how it appeared in print. I was at first a little taken aback by how garish the colors looked, but it is growing on me.

16 October 2007

New Blog (Perhaps)

I've been thinking of perhaps starting a blog devoted to my day job, posting samples of illustration projects on a weekly basis. Still in the planning stages at this point.

addendum Nov 19: Starting now, when I have down time, I may be post-dating selected periods of work moving backwards from the date I started this blog, as a sort-of history and review.

addendum March 2010: Been doing this for three years now (my how time flies, it seems like I just started this blog the other day). Been gradually getting a little attention from it, with a few mentions here and there on the internet, and a few reprint sales because of it. Mostly it is just interesting for me to look back and see what sorts of things I was working on at different points in my past, otherwise it all blends together. Been fun so far, and I think I'll keep at it.

10 October 2007

More Witches

These are more of the black and white illustrations for the 'witchcraft' book project that I did in October (along with a few other scratchboard artists) for Llewellyn. These ranged in size from small 2 inch spots to full page illustrations like the one pictured below. I also had a series of four 'chapter opener' illustrations (the ones with the 'oval' background motif). I did most of these while on the road to Arizona driving my dad back home for the winter, working in motel rooms on my wife's laptop and tiny little 5 inch tablet. I'm trying to get used to using a small tablet, and laptop, because it is what I am thinking of switching to sometime in '08, and try to do a bit more work aboard the boat in the summer (operating via cell phone and email through the marina wireless system).