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.

Black and White Scratchings

America, ChronicleHE, WSJ

The illustration above, for an east coast newspaper, was about ‘prescribed burns’ in battling forest fires. The piece to the left, for my national newspaper client was a chart accompaniment piece for the sunday paper. I don’t quite remember the story, but the investor looks like he’s pretty smug and secure on his stack of money. Probably good news.

The piece below was for a jesuit magazine, and had something to do with religion and law, I’m guessing, but other than that, I don’t quite remember.

Below that is a pair of bookend illustrations that I did for an educational publication this month. This was a story about parents calling up professors to complain about their college age kids. Strangely enough, I notice that I actually signed this piece, something I very rarely do.

Another pair of bookend illustrations this month from my national newspaper client. This one had something to do with ‘sectors’, different areas of the national economy, and how they affect the overall economy.

Below is another piece for the same client, this one having to do with the upcoming election, and how each party is skewing the numbers to match their positions. The second ‘donkey and elephant’ illustration I had this month (see ‘color scratchboards’ for September) . . . I think the other one was better.

Another illustration for the same client is at right. Another weekend ‘chart accompaniment’, this one probably about tech stocks. I would use this concept again the following year, in a piece about ‘eggs’, with the crowd chasing an egg holding giant spatulas (although I completely forgot I had done practically the same layout the year before).

Life Drawing Class

Figure Studies, personal, rough sketches

Somewhere around the fall of either ’00 or ’01 or ’02 I took another life drawing class in the evenings at the local community college. Not particularly looking for a grade, but as a way of getting some studio time with a model, and to practice up my pencil and figure study skills. I’ve taken these from time to time over the past 20 years, and have generally had pretty good luck with the class and gotten some nice drawings out of them. This particular class was heavy on students, but the teacher seemed to have a hard time keeping models employed, and frequently we ended up drawing one or another of the students when models would fail to show up.

My memory isn’t as good as it once was, and I’m not sure which drawings went with which particular class, but I think these samples were from this time period.

These two facial studies were from one of those ‘student model’ sessions. We each paired off and drew each other, and while they are both nice facial drawings, I remember being particularly frustrated in this one instance because I wasn’t getting a very good ‘likeness’, and I usually have a facility for this particular skill.

I seem to have gotten a lot of nice gesture drawings out of this particular semester’s work (that is, when we had a model to work from). Below is another of our ‘student model’ sessions with an older gentleman who I got a particularly nice drawing from.

Last in the Series


This month marked the last of a fun series of assignments that I was getting from a west coast magazine client. I seem to remember that they either went out of business, or slashed their illustration budget, but anyways, I didn’t hear from them again. These were usually a larger sized color cover illustration, and a series of 3 or 4 smaller black and white spots, all on the same theme. I enjoyed working on these, as it gave my ‘concept generator’ a good workout, and it was fun doing variations on the same idea. The AD was always fun and supportive to work for, and I ended up with some nice pieces over the one or two year stretch that this series of assignments lasted.

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.