The above illustration was for Legal Times in January. This was the only illustration that rang a bell while I was looking through the invoice archives for January of ’97. I also did a ‘face changing’ puzzle toy design for a local toy manufacturer, but that is elaborated on in February ’97’s post.
According to my invoices, I had a few new clients this month, although I don’t remember the projects. The State Journal Register, and Wildlife Conservation magazine.
The year started out in typical routine fashion. A lot of the same old clients, the same old jobs, the same old methods. I was starting to feel the ‘seven year itch’ pretty severely. I had a hard time working up enthusiasm for jobs, and was looking desperately for other creative outlets (probably where the urge to start a poetry magazine came from). But then in the second half of the year, my wife brought home a toy that changed everything.
This one was for Oddysey magazine (Cobblestone), sometime early in ’97 (I can’t seem to quite pinpoint the specific invoice this went with, as work for this client usually involved detailed issue codes and purchase order numbers, and invoice amounts were usually a standard amount — half the time I never knew what I was getting paid for when a check arrived, which also made it hard to tell if an invoice got skipped somewhere on the way).
This one was a mixture of pen and ink on board, with watercolors and colored pencils.
New clients this year included Llewellyn Publishing (who I wouldn’t hear from in a while afterwards, but would be a bigger client in the later half of the next decade), and I started working with a reprint company, marketing some of my older scratchboard editorial illustrations to various newspapers around the country (it was never much more than about a hundred bucks a month at it’s highest point, but was a nice bit of additional income). I don’t remember much about the year. My son would have been 6-7 years old, going to a Montessori school here in Grand Rapids (1st grade perhaps?). We were probably still doing backpacking trips in the summer to various Michigan islands, and perhaps started our son with some Tee Ball and Soccer teams.
I did 442 illustrations in 1996. Oddly enough, I did more illustrations than the previous year, but my income was less than ’95 (despite starting to pick up a little reprint payments). The total illustration tally since starting freelancing in 1989 is now at 3,096.
Digging up samples for these ‘pre-digital’ years is fairly difficult, as only a sampling of the artwork has survived, for one reason or another. Anyhow, these are the ‘best’ of ’96 (that I can find):