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.
The above illustration was the first assignment from a new client of mine in 01, a specialty magazine, and the story involved ‘ethics’ for which I came up with this image. I finished the illustration, and sent it off, and a couple weeks later the client contacted me again, asking me to change the artwork. It seems in the earlier version, I had put too many shadows on the main character’s face, to the point where the editors were worried that he looked ‘black’, and didn’t want to offend their readership who were primarily white. It really bothered me at the time, but I just did what they wanted and didn’t think about it again, until I ran across this art while going through my archives. It was the first and only time something like this had happened to me in my career – usually art directors are bending over backwards to be ‘inclusive’ in their images (to the point, with some clients, where I’m asked to draw at least one person in a wheelchair in most crowd scenes). I think it sort of colored my attitude toward this client for the rest of our short working relationship.
The above illustration was one of my favorite black and white scratchboards of the year. This was for a jesuit publication about online predators, and this image of the hands coming through the computer screen seemed very powerful to me then, and still seems so today. I finished it a little ‘rougher’ than I usually do, which helps with the power of the piece I think. Almost as an afterthought, since the article had the word ‘evil’ in the title, I noticed that the letters E-V-I-L on the keyboard are placed almost in order in their regular typewriter layout (staggered of course) and drew them into the layout in a subtle way.
The pieces above and below were both for my national newspaper client in February. One of them about the Iron Smelting industry, and another about illegal immigrints. Good job of research on Iron Smelting, but not so good on old trucks. Gotta remember that research nearly always pays off in the end. The illustration to the left was another for the same client, a rare color piece during this time period. This one was about online music listening (a ‘new thing’ back in ’01)
The above illustration was another fiction piece for my long time ‘mystery digest’ client. This would be the last assignment for this client for over a year – not sure why, perhaps they underwent some sort of changes at the magazine. When work resumed again the following year, I would receive quite regular assignments for the client for a slight raise in pay. Also, when work resumed, I started noticing that the magazine was using illustrations a lot less often than they used to, 3 or 4 per issue or less, as opposed to 6-8 in previous years (also illustrations tended to be full page in the future, where in the past, they had to share the page with the title and author).
Below was a full page color illustration for my east coast newspaper client. This had something to do with the real estate industry.