Darwin and the Dust Bowl

America, Carus Publishing, ChronicleHE, Newsday

The piece above was for an educational publication client of mine, and went with an article about ‘intelligent design’, talking about these veiled efforts by creationists to drive a wedge under the teaching of evolution in our schools. It was a nice portrait of Darwin, but I’m not sure I was entirely successful in making it look like a ‘sculpture/bust’ of Darwin – too much detail probably.

More portraits came my way in November, this rather convoluted concept above being for an east coast newspaper, and featuring various NY area politicos. The boat is filled with various local landmarks, which was a little tricky, as they were mostly unfamiliar to me (except as photos off the internet). I thought the clouds turned out nice on this one. I’m always trying out new and different ‘cloud techniques’ and watch the sky carefully for inspiration.

I also received another couple of ‘priest face’ assignments from my jesuit magazine client this month. I had done a few the month before, and he liked them so much he wanted a few others along similar lines. The method here was pretty straightforward; pick a few random faces off the internet, change them slightly, and give them a priest collar, keeping the colors loose and playful. I like the more ‘chubby’ priest below best of these last two. I was starting to get into a bit of a routine with these, and that’s always dangerous, because they start losing their spontenaety and become a bit formulaic.

I also had an assignment this month from one of my children’s magazine clients. This one was a map depicting the route westward for many refugees of the great ‘dust bowl’ migration of the 30s. They wanted a few small vignettes added to the map, so I kept them mostly sepia toned in color, drew a little abandoned shack and ‘Joad family car’ from ‘Grapes of Wrath’. I’ve enlarged the car below to show the details.

Also this month, for my east coast newspaper client, was the ‘water purity’ illustration pictured below. I don’t quite remember the exact topic, other than ‘drinking water’, although I think the clouds below were supposed to look all dirty and smoggy perhaps, either that, or I just did a poor job of depicting them.

Investment Assignments

AG Edwards

In 2002 I had started working for a large well known investment firm, doing illustrations for in house ad campaigns, client newsletters and other misc assignments. The usage agreements were usually either 3 or 5 year terms, so I’ve been avoiding posting them on this site until the term limit expires for each assignment. Since these are now over 5 years old, I’ll be posting them here and gradually adding more as time marches forward. Most involve investment/savings/retirement topics in a roundabout way. The batch this month was for a quarterly client newsletter that I continued to illustrate for the next five plus years.

Each newsletter usually contained a cover story in which a larger cover illustration was required (the illustration at the top of the post), and usually was about something current in the investment field (whether stocks are rising or falling, what to look for in the future, that sort of thing). Then a medium sized page two story (2nd from top) which was on an investment strategy of some kind (this one was about something called ‘laddering’), and then a couple smaller spots would be sprinkled among the rest of the newsletter (usually either estate planning, or plugging their online services, or trusts, or retirement options).

The articles for this newsletter are remarkably similar from quarter to quarter, so it gave me plenty of practice at coming up with different approaches to the same subject matter over and over again.

A Flurry of November Cartoons

CRC, Newsday, US Catholic

I had a whole bunch of cartoon assignments in the month of November. Besides another installment in the ongoing ‘bible stories’ project (samples of which are pictured above and below – there were about 30 or so total in this batch), I also had a couple of ‘series’ assignments for other clients, and a few solo pieces that I also finished in this same sort of ‘cartoon style’. The good thing about this style is that it is quick and expedient to do, and I can cram a lot into a short period of time if I need to. The problem though, is that I can find myself just ‘going through the motions’ if I’m not careful, and the work can lose a bit of pizazz and seem kind of mechanical and uninspired. That’s how I felt about a lot of the cartoon samples that I ran across in the archives for this month. I think I just tried to fit way too much work into too little time, and the work suffered because of it.
Of these ‘bible story’ illos, probably the best one was the ‘joseph getting thrown in the pit’ (which was near the beginning of this particular batch), and gradually they became less interesting until we get to the illustrations below, which seem just slapped together.

The illustration above was for an east coast newspaper client of mine, and concerned online booking for holiday travel plans. Another one that didn’t turn out all that interesting. I don’t know if it was because of being way too busy that month, or just not being particularly enthused about the topic, but the main illustration and the small spots that accompanied it seem sort of dull and uninspired.

These small cartoon spots accompanied the larger illustration above, and were sprinkled throughout the article. I barely remember working on this project, so I can only assume that the deadline was probably pretty tight, and they all look like they were rushed through. About the only two that turned out halfway decent, were the ‘airplane’ spot and the ‘beach chair’ spot, both of which at least have some interesting colors going on. The other three spots just make me cringe (the ‘buildings’ spot especially).

I also had another ‘cartoon series’ of spots for a catholic magazine during this time. These came out a little better than most of the work this month, although I was less than enthused with the concept. The idea was to show a piggy bank character involved in all sorts of activist activities (using the power of your pocketbook to support good causes, perhaps?). I don’t like including ‘text’ in illustrations, but these were unavoidable, since two of the three spots involved ‘protest’ signs of one sort or another. The best of the bunch, I thought, was the ‘planting trees’ spot. The others just seemed kind of awkward to me, and I proabably put less effort into keeping them fresh and spontaneous because of that.

Newspaper Clippings


To the left is probably about the best spot illustration I did all month. A Thanksgiving piece for my national newspaper client. Simple in design and execution, with some nice color choices and good balance between light and dark. Overall, I’m a little disappointed with the work overall from Nov ’02 (looking back on it now, 5 years later). Not sure why. Perhaps I just took too much on my plate, and everything suffered because of it, or maybe I just hit a rough patch.

Above are four ‘health care’ spots for the month of December. Getting to the point where I don’t quite remember what the topics for these things were. The best one this month was probably the one where the guy is pouring pills into his brain. I’ve definitely gotten better at these small spots in the last five years, at least in terms of ‘keeping them simple’. Some of these (like the ‘football’ one above and the ‘guy with a cold’ to the left) seem way too crowded and convoluted for the small space. These things work much better with a simple concept and clean stylized lines.

The illustration to the right is another spot for the same client, and again, I’m afraid that I don’t quite remember what the topic was about. I remember the ‘cracks’ giving me problems, not quite sure how to do them, and I don’t quite like how the horse turned out.

The illustration below (again, for the same client) turned out a bit more sucessfully. This one was on real estate forclosure auctions.

Another illustration for the same client is above. This one was a strange inverted ‘L’ shape, in order to go around a chart. Not a particularly inspired concept, provided by the client, but I did the best I could with it. I played around with the background tones to give it a little more depth.

And, finally, another spot illustration for the same client is below. This one dealing with the Chinese working class.