19 December 2008

Journal Week

Got back from vacation last Saturday, and jumped right back into work. Had a few revisions to an Adventure House project over the weekend, and a few pending projects with long deadlines to work on in the meantime. Otherwise, this first week back has been mostly Wall Street Journal assignments. The large Washington dollar portrait above will be the cover for the weekend edition (and appears quite large). Did this one a little differently than my usual scratchboard technique, working with a pencil tool and trying to emulate the original etching technique, while also trying to keep it loose and somewhat illustrative. Did a little manipulating of subtle textures and coloration using a few other tools from my 'painter toolbox'. There wasn't much in the way of sketching, layout or design with this assignment, as I was given the layout from the designer.

Above is another of the bi-monthly 'health care' spots for the same client (usually appears in Tuesday's paper, but not always in color). This one was regarding Calcium as a PMS remedy. Out of the three sketches I provided for this one, this was the one I thought least likely to get picked. Sometimes they surprise me.

For the same client, as a rush job, I was handed a trio of small icons for a story about bank examiners and new policies in the shadow of the recent bank failures. This one came in around 2 in the afternoon, and the whole job was out the door by 5.

And then mid-week, I had another assignment for the same client, a smallish illustration spot for an article about new stringent loan policies. My original sketch had the banker looking just as worried and scared as the loan applicant, but the editors requested that I make the character more of a 'Mr. Potter' type businessman.

01 December 2008

Clean Up

Wrapping up the last few assignments before taking off for a short vacation. It was a hectic couple of weeks, but it is nice to know that I managed to get a lot of work under my belt before leaving, and nice to know I have a few more assignments lined up to keep me busy once I get back. The illustration above was for Barrons, and the one below was for the Far Eastern Economic Review, both of which have been put on hold for the time being due to various circumstances.

And I also had a couple of my ongoing 'health care' spots for the Wall Street Journal over the past three weeks. A couple of unusual topics, one on a bowel stimulation device (above), and another on eye canal procedures.

Another new development when we return in a few weeks, is that we've been talking about updating my computer system, which has been a faithful workhorse for the past five years, but is starting to show signs of age. Hopefully the changeover is relatively painless.

Fiction and Nonfiction

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, I had a series of illustrations to go with a fiction piece for Charleston magazine, a new client this month. The story was sort of a tongue in cheek espionage tale, and included a couple larger illustrations (below) and a smaller spot (above). I emulated a 'pulp fiction' style from the old magazine covers of the thirties, ala HJ Ward or Norm Saunders. The only tricky one was the 'daylight scene' for the opening spread, which was hard to make look suspenseful or menacing in the brightly lit downtown summer setting.

In addition, I also had a black and white fiction assignment from Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine last weekend, this one featuring the theft of a first edition 'Maltese Falcon' during a 'B&B Mystery Weekend'.

And for the American Bar Association, I had a cover illustration regarding Canadian trust laws.

A few more assignments to go and then I'll be taking a short vacation during the first few weeks of December.

26 November 2008


The illustration above was for a new client, Business North Carolina magazine, a little different style than the usual scratchboard. A fun portrait assignment of Ken Thompson (of Wachovia fame). I tried doing a little faux 'cracking' in the paint to emulate an old canvas, subtle around the edges, but it doesn't show up real well on this small version I've posted here.

25 November 2008

Thanksgiving Rush

A week to go before we head down to the BVI for our 25th anniversary, and work has started to pick up a bit after a rather slow summer and fall. Several large projects will be keeping me busy over the Thanksgiving weekend as I try to clear out the docket. Taking vacations has never been easy as a freelancer, and with the uncertain economy I'm a bit leery of missing any work due to being in communicado.
The illustration above was for the Wall Street Journal last week. The original version is the one on the left, as I wanted to show the dark murky depths swallowing the figure near the bottom of the layout. However, the designer was worried about how it would print, so I revised it so that the solid blacks weren't so pronounced. I'm torn as to which one I like better.
Also for the Journal earlier in the week, I had a quick rush job, an icon for a recurring feature on 'books'. Not much direction was given, just something generic involving books and reading. I've posted both the color and black and white version below.

Also for the journal over the previous weekend, I had an illustration regarding ceo's refusing bonuses during these tough times (but not necessarily the middle management).

During the past few weeks, I've begun hearing from a few clients who I hadn't heard from in many years. The above map for Legal Times was the first assignment I'd done since 2005, and I also had a fun 'icon' assignment for Strategic Finance, who I hadn't heard from since 2003. These were small (they will be printed approximately 1 x .5 inches) and will go with various topic headings in a 'bulletin' section. I've posted one of them at a greatly increased size, and a sampling of the rest of them at a size approximately double how they will appear in print (there were nine of these total).

There were also a few jobs for Barrons in the mix this past week. Most have been involving the economic woes of recent months. (above and below)

And, also this weekend, I had an interesting piece for the Chronicle of Higher Education, involving scientific research in the age of instant information dispersal.

And much more to come after the weekend, plus work lined up for when I get back from vacation. Nice being busy again.

12 November 2008

The Usual Suspects

Most of the work in these first few weeks of November were courtesy of a few of my 'regular clients', and I thank my lucky stars for them every day. The illustrations on the top half of this post are all for the Wall Street Journal. The illustration above was for the bi-monthly 'aches & claims' column which I have been doing for going on seven years now. This was a rather nice one, so I've posted it a little bigger than usual (they normally appear in the paper around the 1x2 inch size - not always in color).
The illustration to the left, for the same client, was one of two illustrations for an article about Medicare and drug plans. The other was a small 'logo/icon' to go with the title 'the medicare maze'.

And very soon after, for the same client, I had a black and white 'collage' illustration, also having to do with medicare and elder care. This was a longer horizontal, and ran along the top of a couple of columns (pictured below)

I also had a few assignments over the past few weeks for the Chronicle of Higher Education. The first one had to do with internet access and providers who are starting to police and restrict usage amounts. The next two, which are appearing in a special supplement, have to do with University Professors and salaries.

03 November 2008

October Wrapup

One of the more interesting illustration assignments I had over the past week or so, was an assignment for Barrons about hedge fund managers. I haven't had a Barrons assignment since early in the year, so it was nice to work with them again. For some reason, a lot of my favorite illustrations of the past few years have been for this client. This was an interesting one, in that I did this one completely without taking reference photos, and the figures turned out quite nice.

Over the weekend, I had an assignment for the Far Eastern Economic Review in Hong Kong. This was another travelogue assignment. I also had a puzzle page assignment for Highlights come due earlier in the week, and despite the cartoon style, this one was quite labor intensive. The actual layout has these groups of three panels side by side, but I have split up the layout to show more of the small details. Using visual clues, you are supposed to put these six panels in chronological order.

Been doing quite a bit of this cartoon style over the past month, as I had a larger assignment from Adventure House publishers for an upcoming textbook. Many small spot illustrations on various topics (I've posted a few samples of the previous batch earlier in October), and may post a few samples from the second half of the month later on.

25 October 2008

Witches again for Halloween

Had another Witch's Companion cover for Llewellyn Publishing this fall. Similar in layout to the one from last year, but I liked how this one turned out a little better. The leaves were a lot of fun, and I got to do a little field research every time I went out to play disc golf at our local park, picking up interesting leaves for reference materials.

I had a series of four spot illustrations last Thursday for the Wall Street Journal. A tighter deadline than usual for this one, with the job coming in at 3 in the afternoon, and finals due by 5:30. I don't mind tight deadlines, but sometimes when conceptualizing is also part of the deal, it can be a little stressful. I managed to get it done with ten minutes to spare.

This past weekend, I had a series of three illustrations for the Chronicle of Higher Education. One in color, and two in black and white. I also spent a great deal of the remainder of the week on another series of spot illustrations for Adventure House Publishing (but will post a sampling of these later on).

14 October 2008

More Market Woes

The financial crisis continues to get a lot of play in recent illustration work, as the example above for the Wall Street Journal shows. However, the world continues to turn regardless, and other news worthy topics also get some attention from time to time. The small spot to the right was another in the series of 'dubious health care claims' that I do on a bi-monthly basis for the Journal, this one regarding new 'baby swaddling' blankets supposedly able to better simulate the womb environment. The illustration below, also for the Journal, was regarding business people who are taking a chance on going back to school to earn MBA degrees, only to face an uncertain job future when they get out of school.

Got an assignment from Newsday, a client I hadn't heard from in a while (was a steady client for about 15 years, with 2 or 3 jobs a month, until the beginning of this year when the paper started making cut-backs). This one was a sunday editorial, something about non-profits, and organizational strategies (the article used a metaphor regarding the planting of oak trees instead of flowers).

Below is another fiction illustration for Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine. The setting this time was an 1880s style boxing match, where a spectator is killed, seemingly in error (meant for one of the boxers). Some nice figure work in the last two illustrations, both done with very little visual reference, aside from some costume research on the boxers, and a photo reference taken of my own hand for the hand in the foreground.