That time of year again, to browse through my previous year’s work and pick out some favorite pieces in the past twelve months. The ‘directory’ experiment seems to have been a bust, so I’ll likely be going back to my previous advertising methods (theispot and postcards a few times a year). Financially, this year was a bit down from previous years, but with the shift from editorial to more book projects, it wasn’t noticeable because I felt just as busy, if not busier than before. We cut down on vacations this year, as we are saving up for our son’s wedding in 2018. During the slow summer season this year, I tried something new, starting a possible book project that I then presented to a publisher (as opposed to waiting for the phone to ring and hoping projects will come to me). I’m happy to say that it worked out and the book is being completed this month and should be published sometime next year. I’m thinking that this may be my next step in evolution, and the next step will likely be shopping projects around to new publishers rather than relying on current working relationships. Coming up on my twenty ninth year in freelancing, and trying to remain relevant.
This past year I returned to the college from whence I dropped out in 1982, and gave an inspirational talk to a class of third year illustration students. It was an interesting experience. I’m not sure when the transition from ‘young illustrator’ to ‘old timer’ took place, but I seem to be doling out more and more advice these days.
The band is continuing to do well in our ‘little pond’ of West Michigan. We released our fourth CD this year, and we picked up a monthly residency at a south side eatery, where we’ve been playing regularly once a month since April. We’ve been talking of released a couple EPs in the coming year, perhaps a collection of ‘covers’ and a ‘christmas’ CD.
Anyhow, here’s what I feel are the best pieces of work I did in 2017 (click on thumbnail to see larger version):
Approximately 535 illustrations done in 2017, bringing the grand total up to 15,320 illustrations since I started in 1989.
Last work day of 2017. Just finished the book project for Baker that I’ve been working on this month, and am uploading them for the client as I write this. 30 black and white illustrations for a young readers edition of a reprint inspirational title. I’ve attached two samples for now from this project, but will likely await publication before sharing the rest. Below is a quick color illustration for Hudson Valley for an upcoming Valentine’s issue. I’ve got work lined up for the first month of 2018 thanks to a couple last minute jobs that came in last night as well as another book finish for Penguin and I’ll be finishing up the ‘Western Heroes’ book in the next thirty days. Hopefully 2018 is a little better than 2017, and I’ll likely be doing an ‘overview’ of the past year for my annual ‘best of’ blogpost over the weekend. Happy New Years everyone.
This year’s Holiday greeting card. I’ve been doing ‘Krampus’ greeting cards for the past 6 years and most of the designs are available on various bits of merchandise in my Zazzle store, and some of the designs have been picked up by a distributor out west who has been placing them on other bits of merchandise (lunch boxes, magnets, cups, etc). I try to experiment with different styles each year as a way of keeping myself fresh.
Getting ready for Thanksgiving week. I’ve just finished another of the ‘What was’ books for Penguin, and worked up sketches for another one. (I’ll likely share some more samples from older books in this series sometime in December) On Thursday I made a trip down to Kendall College of Art and Design to do a lecture on ‘Freelance Illustration’ to a group of third year illustration students (thanks again to Mike for inviting me down, and to the great group of students who shared their portfolios with me at the end of class – you were all very inspirational to this old man). I was reminded of my favorite quote from the movie ‘Chinatown’, where the villain Noah Cross (played by John Huston) talks of ‘respectability': “Politicians, Ugly Buildings and Whores all get respectable, if they last long enough.” — so this old Kendall dropout was quite tickled to be doling out advice to the young illustrators of tomorrow. Meanwhile, the work continues … On Friday afternoon I finished up the above illustration for Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, one of my longest running clients (my first assignment for them was in the fall of 1989). Next week I’ll be starting on sketches for another book project, which will likely be taking up most of December.
Good news this month, Dover Publications has green lighted my ‘Western Heroes’ Coloring Book Project, and I’ll likely be finishing up the illustrations in the next few months and you can look for it to be published sometime in 2018.