Direction and Lack Of

ABA, ChronicleHE, Newsday, Washington Post, WSJ


The above assignment for the American Bar Association that I completed in early June is a good example of a type of project where I’m given a lot of direction by the editor/designer. The illustration below, from an assignment for the Chronicle of Higher Education, is another example, although a little less so (in the illustration above, I was given an actual sketch of the idea, laying out each of the individual characters right down to their sex and racial characteristics, while in the illustration below, I was just given a verbal description of what the editors wanted to see). The remainder of the illustrations for this period of time that I am writing about in this blog entry are the other extreme end of the spectrum, where I was given little other than the text of the article and given total freedom to come up with whatever I felt would best fit the story. I prefer somewhere in the middle of these two extremes, a hint of an idea that I can improve upon, but not so much as to chain me to a certain image. But that is not a tried and true rule of thumb for all situations. Sometimes I can come up with a great idea from almost nothing, and other times I flounder and scratch my head and come up empty. Sometimes an over-directed project ends up stale and lifeless, and other times it turns out wonderful, where I’m able to completely free up my mind from conceptualizing and concentrate on a good image. The variety is probably what keeps me going.


The above illustration was a book review assignment for the Washington Post, in which I was given the book review, which included a brief synopsis of the mystery novel (set in Australia, involving terrorists, the media, and a certain amount of voyeurism). It was a fun project and although I don’t think the rendering was nearly as good as the design, I was fairly pleased with how it turned out. Not a client I do a lot of work for (maybe 3 assignments total over the past 10 years), but one I would like to do more work for.


The above piece was for Newsday, and I don’t remember what the story was about (prisons obviously), but I enjoyed doing something a little more esoteric than my usual fare. Another piece for the same newspaper appears below, and is a little more straightforward in approach, involving a story that takes place on a metropolitan train. The fun of this one came from playing around with the different lighting and shading effects, with reflections in the window glass distorting and stylizing the characters to where only a hint of the facial structure is revealed.

And then, finally, the total freedom to conceptualize that I am given every other week for my regular ‘health column’ gig for the WSJ. Sometimes the editors choose one of my more ‘outre’ ideas, and sometimes they go for the more ‘conservative’ approach, but it is fun to try and come up with both sides of the spectrum each time out of the gate.

Late July

Washington Post, WSJ


In the last part of July, I received a job from a client I hadn’t heard from in about 4 years, The Washington Post. This was a black and white spot for the editorial page, a piece on ‘partisan thinking’.

Had a few more small spots for The Wall Street Journal this month, a piece on ‘getting transferred’ (pictured, left), and another of my ‘dubious health care’ column spots, that I do every two weeks, this one I don’t quite remember what the topic was about (music, laser surgery?) (pictured at bottom of page).
Also around this time, I had another quartet of illustrations for AG Edwards. I don’t include samples of these in this blog in deference to our agreement. Once the agreed upon time period has elapsed, I may begin posting those illustrations (most are related to the financial field, investing, estate planning, savings, etc).


A few more pieces for the Journal came across the desk in the latter part of July. The above one was a rare ‘portrait’ piece and I also had a small spot about the founding father’s reactions to the French revolution (which also involved portraiture on a much smaller scale).

Holiday Spots

AHMM, ChronicleHE, Newsday, Washington Post, WSJ


The above color spot illustration was for my national newspaper client and accompanied an article about the wild ride that a certain company’s stocks had over the course of the year. The piece to the left was probably about retirement ‘nest eggs’, although I don’t really remember exactly the angle of the story. A fun piece though, and the egg came out nice.

I also had another piece for the same client having something to do with the holiday shopping season (the melting snowman, pictured below)


Also, for the same client were a trio of ‘health care’ spots that I do every week for a regular column. The topics this month were; exercising for bone health, tooth coating, and quitting smoking for new years.

Another piece for the same client in December, was this ‘percent sign’ illustration below and to the right.

I had a few assignments from other semi-regular clients in December, including the ‘armed forces’ recruiting station picture below for an east coast newspaper client, a ‘snoozing dean’ for my educational publication client (also pictured below), and a fiction piece for my long time ‘mystery digest’ client (this one involved a notorious criminal that gets recognized at an old age home by a young television reporter).



I also landed an assignment from a new client this month, a large east coast newspaper that wanted a black and white editorial piece on ‘internet espionage’. A few other assignments came my way from the same client over the next several years, but they are far and few between.