My Wife’s Employer

Gemini Publications, Oxendine, US Catholic


Around this time, my wife was working for a local regional magazine. A client that I had been a contributor to since my first year in business. This month would mark the last assignments I would do for this magazine. The above full page illustration was for a special supplement on ecommerce, and the portrait to the right was a personal favor for my wife for a photo that the company requested of her to place on their new web page.

At this time I was starting to phase out some of my lowest paying clients, in order to free up some of my time to accept some of the more lucrative assignments that were starting to come my way. I hadn’t done an assignment for this client for almost a year at this point, and this assignment was a bit more than the usual rates.

Also this month, I had a pair of cartoon assignments for a catholic magazine client. This one dealt with ‘reading clubs’, and these two cartoons would be placed along the bottom of a two page spread.

Another rather strange cartoon for the same client this month is pictured at right. This one dealt with how middle aged adults are starting to help their parents through old age, and in some ways the parents ‘become the children’, and this story dealt with one couple’s experiences taking their elderly parents snorkeling.

I also had my first assignment for a children’s version of a major national magazine. I would later get occasional assignments from this client, but never what I would call regular work. (pictured above)

I also had another larger cartoon illustration for my ‘college’ magazine client this month. (pictured left)

Cartoons

Cobblestone, Gemini Publications, Metro Detroit Parent, Newsday



I had a fun cartoon assignment for my east coast newspaper client in January. This was a large horizontal busy illustration that was to accompany an article about all the different ‘camp options’ available to send kids to in the summer (horse camp, music camp, etc etc). I’ve enlarged one section of it to better show the details that went into it. This was a favorite piece of the year, and would be used long afterwards as a sample of my ‘cartoon style’ on my own website.

This month marked the final two spot illustrations that I would provide for a long time local client, a regional magazine that I’d been working for since my first year in business. The rates were always very low, but the deadlines were usually pretty liberal, and I was always given lots of freedom and it was a good opportunity to practice my cartooning skills. My workload was becoming such, though, that I could no longer justify the time spent on these assignments.


Above was another ‘puzzle page’ assignment from a children’s publication that I did regularly for a number of years. This one with a fun ‘sci fi’ theme.

To the left and below, are a few black and white cartoon assignments for my agent, for a michigan regional parenting publication.

A Cartoony Kind of Month

Children's Television Workshop, Christian Home & School, Gemini Publications, Metro Detroit Parent, Newsday, Oxendine


This was one of those unusual months, where I actually had more cartoon assignments than scratchboards (not to be repeated again for the next 7-8 years or more). It sure looks as if I’m having fun this month, there’s a lot of sly humor creeping into a lot of the illustrations (also see the accompanying ‘cartoon spots’ entry this month), and I seem really at ease with the style, the linework and the colors.

The above illustration and the one to the left were two additional larger spots that I did for my ‘college lifestyle’ magazine client. Usually I just provided small spots for this client, so it was fun to stretch out a little and do something a little bigger and more involved.

Another ‘larger’ cartoon is pictured below, this one for a local christian parenting magazine, a full page assignment on ‘busing’.


I also had an unusual assigment from my agent for a michigan regional parenting publication (pictured above). Usually, I only provide black and white illustrations for this client, so it was fun to try something in color. This was about the over saturation of marketing towards kids, and I tried to fit just about any kind of toy I could think of into the layout. Some of my usual subversive humor hidden away here and there (and an annoying toy my son got for christmas the previous year I notice down in the lower left corner).

The illustration to the left was for a major children’s magazine publisher, and had something to do with ‘family sing-a-long software’ available for your home pc.

Another small cartoon for a different local parenting magazine is pictured to the right. I don’t quite remember the angle of this particular story (play time with your children, perhaps?)

Pictured below is an assignment this month for my east coast newspaper client. This one dealt with teen workers in the fast food industry.

Another assignment for the same client is below that, a piece on holiday weight loss.

Loads of Cartoons

Carus Publishing, Children's Television Workshop, Clubhouse, Gemini Publications, Metro Detroit Parent, Oxendine, US Catholic

I had a trio of assignments from my agent this month, for a Michigan regional parenting magazine. A couple rare color assignments included in the bunch this time. The one above dealt with ‘when Mom gets sick’, and the one to the left was about ‘baby paraphenalia’, and I don’t quite remember what the spot below dealt with (just a ‘mom’ I guess).

The illustration below was for a national parenting magazine, and dealt with ‘busy moms’. This one I liked so well, that I recycled it as a promo postcard a few months later.

I had quite a few spot assignments this month from a local regional parenting publication (where my wife was working at the time, although I had been doing assignments for them for years prior to her getting a job there). The one above was on holiday credit spending, then a piece on ‘healthy eating for kids’ to the right, and below was a piece on ‘exercise’, and another on ‘ear candles’. (Oddly enough, I just did another assignment on ‘ear candles’ for my health care column gig just a few days ago – Jan 2008 — I think this one was funnier with the fire extinguisher)

Also this month I had a few assignments from my children’s magazine publisher. The ‘newspaper’ illustration was for a piece on ‘school papers’, and the black and white ‘liftoff’ illustration was an in-house announcement regarding a recent merger between two of my different children’s publishing clients.

The illustration below with the ‘automobile full of students’ was an assignment from my ‘college lifestyle’ magazine client.

Also this month was a series of small spots for the same children’s magazine client. These all had to do with reading and books in one way or another (I don’t remember the specifics), and they all kept the same background shape and size.

The ‘girl reading a book’ illustration was for a catholic magazine and dealt with reading the same book at different stages in your life, and it was a challenge to try and draw the same character as a girl, a young woman, and as a middle aged adult, and yet keep her recognizably the same person.

And, finally, for the same children’s magazine client, I also had a pair of illustrations on ‘dowsing’. This certainly was a busy month for cartoons, and the following month would be the same. It is interesting to look back at this time in my career when the ‘cartoons’ took up at least 50% of my workload, instead of being the relative rarity that they occupy in my work in the present (2007-08). They gave my work a nice shot in the arm from a variety standpoint, and things I learned from one style would sometimes enrich the other and visa versa. Conventional wisdom for aspiring illustrators has always been to ‘specialize’ in one style, as it makes it easier to market your work, clients remember you better when they can pigeon hole you, but I really don’t think it is healthy for the illustrator. Too easy to burn out doing the same thing over and over, and the work suffers because of it.

Color Scratchings

ChronicleHE, Gemini Publications, Legal Times, Newsday


As I dig deeper into the archives (it feels something like archaeology, uncovering different historical eras at each lower level), I keep thinking that I’ve found the earliest ‘george’ caricature. Well, I just found another one. This was a cover illustration for an east coast newspaper client, for an article about each of the candidate’s health care plans.

I also had another inevitable ‘donkey and elephant’ illustration (it being ‘election time’ and all), this one for an educational publication, and dealt with the relative boredom with the system that college students seem to have.

For the same educational client, I also had an illustration this month to accompany a memoir by a college professor detailing his experiences with the stock market. (below)


I had a rather uncharacteristic scratchboard assignment this month from a local regional publication (usually I just provide them with cartoon art), about breast cancer awareness.

Below is an illustration for an east coast legal newspaper, about voting rights of prisoners.