Got a first trio of assignments in June from a new client that would become a nice source of steady work over the next few years. Barrons, who is affiliated with the Wall Street Journal (at least as far as parent company goes, I’m not sure how closely the two organizations are affiliated, but the checks come from the same place). The first assignment was to show an investor ‘in a slump’. The client requested the ‘park bench’ image, but all the little touches were mine (slumping trees, squirrel flat on the ground). The fun part about working for this client, is that frequently one job will lead to another. Sometimes I’ll come up with a series of concepts, and a single assignment can turn into two or three finals. Or a spot illustration (as in the case of the ‘black hole’ illustration below) can grow into a cover illustration the following month. The people are friendly to work with, and the assignments are frequently challenging and fun.
I also got another of my ‘dead guy memorial’ illustration assignments from Newsday. This time Billy Graham was the recently deceased. And from the same client, I had a ‘jigsaw puzzle’ portrait of the Supreme Court, since Renquist was stepping down. Tricky to capture the likenesses on such a small scale, but after working for Legal Times for years back in the 90s, I was quite practiced at drawing these judges.
Then in addition to all the fun I was having with the above illustrations, I also had a few chores. Some of my least favorite things to draw are cars and buildings. The cartoony ‘houses’ above wasn’t too bad. These were for US Catholic magazine, and I dont’ quite remember the topic, but the anthromorphization of the buildings, and the fact that they didn’t have to be quite so ‘perfect’ helped make this one more fun than it could’ve been.
In contrast, the illustration below, for National Auctioneer, wasn’t nearly as much fun, and you can tell from the way I rendered it that I had completely the wrong attitude in approaching it.
Below that, I had an assignment from the American Bar Association, that involved cars taking up the lion’s share of the illustration. This one involved servicemen and their financial responsibilities at home while they are overseas serving their country.
The full page illustration above was for the American Bar Association, and had something to do with private corporate jets, and their hidden dangers. Not a comfortable illustration for me. Airplanes are about the hardest thing to draw, and the curved hangar roof wasn’t any picnic either. What saved this one, I think was the rough approach that I applied to everything to keep it dark and sinister, and the color choices, which help cover a lot of the perspective boo-boos.
Another odd assignment this month, was for a design firm on the east coast, who wanted a series of plumbing pipes to snake across a couple pages of their magazine layout, plus a small sillouette of an Amish buggy. I don’t remember what this story was about, and I wasn’t crazy about the concept, but I gave it my best shot, giving the only available rendered elements the best detailing I could give them. (I was remembering a card game we had as kids called ‘pipeworks’ or something, where you had to build an elaborate system of plumbing and add leaks to each other’s ‘pipes’ and then fix them – the drawings of the pipes on those cards always fascinated me)
Another large full page assignment is pictured above. This was I think the second out of 4 auction ‘scenes’ that I would eventually do for this client, National Auctioneers. This one was probably the best one from a ‘crowd’ standpoint, although I didn’t like having to put all that text and extraeneous detail on the signs and podium.
Newsday handed me a strange request in January. They wanted a rather stylized ‘black sheep’ for some reason or another. It turned out a little forced and awkward I thought. I don’t quite remember the story behind this one.
The above illustration was another fiction piece for Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. There wasn’t much to go on with this story as I remember. The story centered on a carton of guns, and I tried to focus in on that, while giving a little hint of mystery or menace through the cast shadow on the box.
I received an unusual assignment this month from a golf tournament organization. This was a combination dual portrait of one of the famous golfers from the tour, and of the South African president who the tournament was named for, and of the setting of the tournament. This one made me very uncomfortable to work on, because I felt I was in way over my head with the assignment. A lot larger than I am used to working, full color, which I don’t quite feel confident at yet, and involving a bit of architectural rendering, which always makes me nervous. Managed to pull it off to the client’s satisfaction, although looking back on it, I dont’ like how much purple I once again used in my color scheme. (seems to be a recurring problem this year).
In contrast to all the wonderfully loose and creative cartoons I was doing for the educational publisher this month, all the scratchboards this month seem rather stiff and lifeless. The illustration above was for a legal newspaper, and I don’t quite remember the story angle. Some unusual treatment for the background on this one, and it does seem to help the foreground characters pop a bit more.
A special interest magazine who I’d been doing a bit of work for lately handed me another color cover illustration, this one involving a ‘house auction’. Architecture is not my strong suit, unless I have some good photo reference to go from, and even then, I haven’t quite worked out the best techniques for showing the different building materials effectively. I once again went to the purple crayon box for this one, and lightened up the background details in order to help with the depth of field. Not bad, but looks a bit stiff and lifeless, as if you can tell how uncomfortable I was in drawing it.
For my east coast newspaper client this month, in addition to the ‘pastels’ mentioned in another entry, I also had a pair of scratchboards depicting the democratic donkey and republican elephant, playing around with oversized abacus’s. No doubt this had something to do with each party’s outlook on either the budget or accounting principals.
Besides a large batch of black and white drawings for the teacher’s guide to an upcoming ‘bible stories’ project for a local religious organization (which I’m not going to bother posting at this time), I seemed to be doing a lot of dabbling in a ‘painterly’ style this month for some reason. I had a random assignment from a new client this month that involved a tandem bike with various explanatory text labels along the legs of each of the ‘bikers’.
Then, for my regular children’s magazine client, I had a couple assignments. The first one was a rather unusual one involving a child’s reminiscences about coming across the Atlantic and going through Ellis Island. This one had a lot of photos that I needed to incorporate into a faux ‘scrapbook’ design with various sketchy line drawings (which I haven’t bothered to reprint here, as they were rather forgettable), and in addition I had an indian head coin, and a souvenir Statue of Liberty bank to draw for the same article.
Then, for the same client, I had a pair of two page spreads (wrapping around the text) on an Indian companion to the Pilgrim settlers. (pictured below)
Then I had a ‘bar of soap’ illustration for a catholic magazine this month, which I used a variety of techniques on, including the text tool. This was something to do with ‘cussing’.
And for the same client this month, I had a cartoon illustration involving the old standby ‘lady justice’
Another assignment this month involving a lot of text, was this full page assignment for a special interest magazine. I had first started working for them a few months before, and the first couple assignments were rather interesting, but this one was a chore. Hand lettering is not my strong suit, and this wouldn’t have looked good using the computer aided lettering, but thank goodness for the ‘cloning tool’, as I was able to just draw a couple of each letter in the alphabet and then select and copy them to get this busy effect. This was sort of a mixture of cartoon and scratchboard, with some airbrush techniques in the background clouds.
Then, finally, another cartoon for my east coast newspaper client. This one a color ‘lifestyle section’ piece on working vs stay at home dads.
Some unusual assignments this month piqued my interest, and resulted in a trio of some of my year’s best work. The illustration above and below (the gun, and the library) were both for the same new special interest magazine client that contacted me this month with a pair of full page assignments. I had done one other assignment for them earlier in the year, and these first three assignments for this client were rather interesting, but gradually the assignments would become less so over the coming years.
The ‘urn’ pictured at left, was for my east coast newspaper client, and this was something to do with a certain ethnic music festival that they were doing a special section on. I had a lot of fun emulating the style of this particular historical relic, but with updated musical designs. A little different than my usual fare, and my creative juices enjoyed the variety.