I had a large project this month for a local children’s book publisher. This one was a series of 350 small black and white spot illustrations for a German Language workbook. I’ve chosen a few representative samples to post here by way of example. This one wasn’t nearly as interesting as some of the other projects I’ve done for this client, from an illustration standpoint. Most of the illustrations were similar to the one pictured above (a couple people talking to each other), but from an educational standpoint, I found it very fascinating, as German is one of the languages I’ve always been interested in learning. (I eventually did get around to studying German, after a trip we took to that country in 2016, and after having a German Exchange student in 2007).
There weren’t nearly as many ‘large busy’ illustrations like the one above, and there were a lot of small ‘item’ illustrations (a shoe, a ball, a dog, etc), and a lot of illustrations of people conversing to each other about different situations. If I remember correctly, this project was for a different designer than I usually work with, and you can tell from the illustrations that I wasn’t given nearly so much free reign on the ‘goofiness’, and as a result, the entire batch is a little on the ‘dry side’.
Through my agent this month, I had a rather large extensive color book project for a midwest book publisher. I got the impression that I was only one of several illustrators attached to this project, and the illustrations were quite varied in both size, scope and complexity. Some were full page color ‘story’ assignments like the ones pictured above and below this text block, while others were small spots of varying sizes. The project was spread over a month or so, and the illustrations would trickle in one or two at a time, which made working on this project a bit tedious at times, just in keeping up with the staggered deadlines and red tape that went with it (each illustration also had its own PO number and contract that needed to be filled out, plus I had to keep reporting everything to the agent so that she could keep track of the billing).
I don’t quite remember what the stories were behind a lot of these illustrations (or even if I was let in on it all that much at the time). The above series of illustrations were something to do with a rollerblading adventure featuring a couple of kids and a runaway skate. There was also a series of ‘bicycle’ illustrations, only one of which was in color. (pictured below)
It was on larger projects like these that I really started questioning the whole ‘agent’ concept. I was doing alright on my own getting work, and in fact this particular client came to me through a contact my brother had made through his restaurant job in Chicago originally, and the client worked with me directly with little or no involvement except the billing through my agent (who got credit for this job because it was one of her ‘contacts’). It wasn’t so bad with a small job here and there. I didn’t begrudge my agent her 30 percent, but it started to feel like a much bigger bite when projects like this came along. I never made a big deal about it, but continued to quietly grumble to myself and bite the bullet. I would continue to work for this agent for a few more years, mostly with a single client and a couple small jobs a month, but eventually the work dried up, and I wasn’t too sorry to see it go.
So, anyway … for the same ‘project’ but staggered throughout the month, I also had the above ‘lunch bag’ border illustration, plus the ‘farmyard umbrella’ illustration below that. A couple small spots involving a car being pushed, and a fire truck, plus a ‘family picnic’ scene below to the left (there was a large banner above the scene, but I’ve cut it off to better show the interesting half of the illustration without it having to be too small).
There was also another ‘large’ illustration involving a nature hike (pictured below) and an illustration featuring a pair of archaologists at a dig (pictured below), plus a few more small spots of various dubious origin (pictured below).
Of course, at the end of it all, I never did find out the title of the book that these illustrations appeared in, so I’ve never been able to find a copy for my personal sample library.
I had another series of illustrations this month for my west coast magazine client. These were usually made up of one larger color illustration followed by a series of smaller black and white spots on a similar theme. The topic this month was creativity (if I remember correctly).
I had an assignment from a children’s lit magazine this month. This trio of illustrations was to accompany a story about a long time relationship between a teacher and a troubled student (tied together with a ‘basketball’ theme).
Also this month, for a different children’s magazine client I had a couple illustrations depicting the childhood of a famous revolutionary war figure (I don’t remember exactly which one – Benedict Arnold perhaps?)
Below is a ‘real estate’ illustration for a midwest legal magazine, and below that is a ‘computer’ illustration for my educational publication client. I don’t quite remember the story behind either one of these illustrations.
The illustration to the left was another for the same midwest legal magazine client. Not my favorite subject to draw (modern buildings), and it shows.
Below are a few ‘tail end’ assignments for a national corporate client’s project that I started the previous month. These were all images of kids messing around on oversized musical staves and notations. I wasn’t too crazy about the concept but tried to do my best with it.
Some of the more interesting projects this month came from assignments where I stretched the envelope a little bit and tried out some new art materials. The above ‘parody’ of Grant Wood’s ‘American Gothic’ was for a southern evangelical publication. I enjoy these parody assignments, as it gives me a chance to deconstruct how other artists work. These are usually a bit challenging, and time consuming, but worth the trouble for all the educational benefits that they provide.
The illustration to the left was another for the same client this month. This was a rather dry request to ‘show a woman praying’, so I had my wife pose for some photo reference, and did this illustration in a rather loose and colorful pastel approach.
Another one that my wife could have posed for, (but probably didn’t) was the above illustration for a local christian parenting magazine. This one was about ‘reading to your children’, and I chose to treat the background a bit more ‘illustrative’ than I usually do in these cartoon illustrations, as a way of making it look somewhat ‘storybook-ish’.
The illustration below was another ‘food’ illustration for an east coast newspaper client of mine. I’ve been doing these ‘food’ assignments in ‘oil pastels’, as a way of getting a ‘painterly’ look, as the ‘oil brush’ tools kind of intimidated me at the time.
I also had a series of illustrations for a children’s magazine publisher involving a story about an escaped slave and a young boy who helps the man he stumbles across in the woods near his farm. (two of the three illustrations for this story pictured here). This one I finished in a combination of watercolors and colored pencils.
For the same client, I had a couple maps this month. The one below depicted Nepal and Tibet, and the below that are a few small ‘battle maps’ (I forget which battle or even ‘war’ that these went with).
(Oddly enough, while transferring this blog from its former home to its current placement in my website’s blog, I happened to notice that this entry has an enormous readership, comparatively. Not sure why, maybe the mention of “wacky packages” in paragraph 2, or the mention of “the x files” near the end). Who know what drives people towards clicking on a google search result?
The illustrations above and below were for an east coast newspaper client and had something to do with how women and men shop differently (if I remember correctly). I mostly remember having a lot of fun putting all sorts of little details and designs on all the packages on the shelves, reliving my ‘wacky packages’ youth once again.
Above is another cartoon for the same client, this one about ‘bad neighbors’. I wasn’t too happy with how this one turned out. I didn’t do such a good job on the perspective of the houses (never my strong suit anyway).
I had another series of small ‘factoid’ spots for a southern college lifestyle magazine (five pictured to the left and below). I also had a couple small spots for a local regional magazine (the ‘angry girl’, the ‘x-files’ illustration, and the ‘tarpaper shack’ illustration below).