Atypical Styles

America, Carus Publishing, Cobblestone, Newsday, Strang Publications

I continue to experiment with the ‘painterly’ style, the above illustration for a ‘recipe’ feature in an east coast newspaper (the author whipping up a microwave dinner for her construction crew), and the illustration below for an evangelical women’s magazine.

Similar in style, but for a black and white publication was the illustration below. This was for one of my children’s magazine publishers, for their ‘teen’ poetry/prose magazine, and this one accompanied a poem about a pear tree.

Another ‘running’ themed illustration for a new client, this one done in a colored pencil medium (but approached as if I was doing my old ‘pastel style’). I wasn’t too happy about how this turned out, I probably would have benefitted from better reference material, and a stronger layout.

Below is a small spot illustration that I did for one of my children’s magazines this month, working in a combination of watercolors and colored pencils, but with a bit more of a ‘realistic’ style. Always fun to draw dinosaurs, wish I got the chance more often.

Travel Assignment


I had a fun assignment for my east coast newspaper client this month for a special section on ‘safe travel’. This consisted of one large opening illustration followed by seven small spots on different aspects covered in the article; food safety, unstable governments, lost luggage, street crime, scams, and misc mishaps. I was also asked to do the lettering, which is something I don’t do very often. I don’t feel I’m very good at lettering, and always approach requests like this with trepidation. I tried for the style of those old ‘travel postcard’ letters, but with different elements from the story reflected in the repeating patterns. (I did a much better version of this type of lettering later in the summer, but unfortunately ended up being for a deadbeat client) I had a lot of fun with the spots on this one, and was happy with the humor and consistency of the project. The last spot, the ‘fire alarm in the middle of the night’ is based on something that actually happened to my family the last time we visited Toronto.

Color Scratchboards

Carus Publishing, ChronicleHE, Cobblestone, Legal Times, Newsday

July was not a particularly strong month for Scratchboards, and by that I don’t mean I had few assignments, it is just that I was less than pleased with how a lot of them turned out. The above illustration of Bill and Al doing a ‘ring a round the rosie’ dance with the FCC was an assignment from an east coast legal newspaper. I continue to struggle with caricatures of the Clinton administration after nearly 8 years in office. The ‘tug of war’ illustration below was for the same client having something to do with women’s rights and the generational gap.

I had a couple large two page spreads for one of my children’s magazines, this one on the Revolutionary War, and in addition, a pair of small spots to be sprinkled throughout the rest of the magazine. I liked how the spots came out a bit better than the panorama scenes. I’m still not comfortable at this point with large scratchboard assignments, the medium seems to work much better for smaller pieces.

More likely, the fault lies with my approach. I tend to overwork the larger pieces, and muddy the whole thing up with way too much color, not leaving enough white space to help the scratchboard ‘pop’. Later on, I would learn that increasing my line size would help in the larger pieces, and avoiding too much tight line work, which just gets lost on the larger scale.

Another piece that I was less than happy with this month, was the illustration below, which was to depict the two sides of the ‘work/stay at home dad’ choice. This was for my east coast newspaper client, and I would unwittingly do an almost identical concept for the same magazine a few years later (but in cartoon style). A weak concept the first time, and didn’t improve much the second time.

I had a ‘second assignment’ from a fairly new client this month, a small spot having something to do with a restaurant ‘under construction’ (if memory serves).

And finally, a piece for my educational publication client this month. This being one of the better color scratchboard illustrations this month. It was something to do with the ‘Faust’ story, but other than that, I don’t quite remember what the magnet had to do with it.

Black and White Scratchboards (mostly)

Carus Publishing, ChronicleHE, Cobblestone, Innovision, Newsday, WSJ

Another series of illustrations for my west coast magazine client. This wasn’t one of my stronger efforts for this regular assignment. These regularly consisted of a single larger color image, with 3 or 4 smaller black and white accompanying pieces along a similar theme. The concept this month was in ‘giving a helping hand’, and I chose to portray a ‘helping hand’ given in what are usually solitary artistic pursuits (I know, the ‘ballet’ one was a stretch, and even the ‘singing’ one isn’t particularly apt). I was taking adult cello lessons at the time, which probably nudged me towards the opening image (but I really should have used better reference in the hands).

One of the better black and white scratchboard efforts I had this month, was for a children’s magazine client of mine. This was for one of their ‘teen’ poetry/prose digest magazines, and concerned a story about a stray dog and worker at an animal shelter that befriends him. (above and below) I thought the layouts on each of these spots was particularly good, and I used a nice mixture of solid blacks and white space, along with a mixture of tight rendering and loose expressiveness.

For my east coast newspaper client, I had this rather strange illustration depicting Leonard Nimoy in a pose reminiscent of one of the Laugh-In characters portrayed by Lilly Tomlin. Don’t ask me, I’m just the illustrator.

Below and to the right is one of three illustrations I did this month for my educational publication client this month (no, make that four, I had a color piece in another entry this month). This was something to do with an imaginary debate between the article’s author and Hobbes.

Additionally, I had a pair of ‘beaver’ illustrations for the same client. This was a mascot of a particular school mentioned in the article, and I don’t quite remember why he is taking a bite out of a mortarboard cap, or hitchhiking down the road.

In addition to these illustrations, I also had a series of 40 or so small black and white spots for another children’s workbook for a local book publisher. As a departure from my usual ‘cartoon’ approach to these projects (which I’ve done quite a few of in the past few years), I decided to try and do all these in scratchboard. It wasn’t quite as successful as the cartoon spots, and I wasn’t really happy with how a lot of them turned out, and consequently went back to the cartoon style for later books. One of these illustrations is pictured below by way of example (the tropic fish illustration)

And then I had the usual smattering of black and white spots for my national newspaper client. The above ‘snake oil salesman’ illustration was an unusual shape that had to wrap around a chart, and the illustration below was a piece on the ‘small bond market’. (ha ha get it? small bonds? the bond is small – get it?)

The illustration to the left probably had to do with ‘forecasting’ in some way or another (looking down the road ahead, etc), and I also had a slightly larger spot this month about the microsoft operating system, portraying the two systems as an old jalopy and a souped up sports car, with users crowding aboard the new version. Definitely not my best ‘cars’.
Below that, was another for the same client, something to do with talent going overseas. I’d been working for this newspaper client now for a little over six months, and they’ve been keeping me pretty busy with steady work, but looking back at some of these early assignments, I’m amazed at how primitive they look to me now, and am very grateful that this client stuck with me long enough for me to work the kinks out of my drawing style.

Cartoon Project for June

Children's Television Workshop

Stumbled across another project that I did in June of 2000, that I had previously overlooked. This was a series of cartoon illustrations for an article in a national parenting magazine regarding ‘panicky parents’, mostly dealing with anxiety parents face when children grow up and go to school for the first time. This project was pretty heavily art directed as I recall, and many of the concepts were handed to me with little input needed on my end except ‘putting it down on paper’. These were much like the sort of cartoons I was doing for a number of other publications, but somehow, having little input on the concepts somehow put a damper on my enthusiasm for these. These were a variety of sizes, some larger, some smaller, and covered a wide range of topics.