This was a year of big changes. In the fall of the year I was introduced to the world of digital illustration thanks to my wife’s bringing home a tablet and stylus from work for me to play around with. This year, and the year prior were both kind of slow, workwise, and I was starting to get a little burnt out, so it was a nice jolt to the system to shake things up a bit in the latter half of the year, and probably kept me going for another ten years at least.
Among the new clients this year were Uncle Goose (a local wooden toy manufacturer), and Mary Higgins Clark Mystery Magazine (a short lived ‘fiction’ enthusiast magazine under the Family Circle banner), and the National Business Employment Weekly (who kept me fairly busy for a short spell before the magazine unfortunately folded).
Aside from the regular work routine, I also experimented with small press publishing this year, putting together a poetry/prose magazine with my sister as editor. My son would have been 7-8 years old this year, and we were doing a lot of backpacking trips to various Michigan Islands in the summer months.
As far as sales in 1997, it was a low point of the late 90s, but the illustration volume remained fairly steady. I continued to be paid less for the same amount of work. The trend would thankfully reverse itself in the coming years. In ’97 I did approximately 413 illustrations, bringing my 8 year total up to 3,509. So, for a rough estimate, I would say that I did 3,450 illustrations in ‘traditional media’ before making the switch to digital, of which I have posted 261 surviving samples to this blog, and which there may be another 500-1000 pieces still unearthed in my flat files.
Not as much ‘pre-computer’ work has survived for various reasons, either clients not returning artwork, or my own self inflicted purges of the archives, but I’ll continue to try and dig up whatever I can to complete this ongoing history of my freelance career. These, then, for what its worth, are what I consider my best work of the year for 1997.