During the month of September, I was living and working in South Haven, caring for my Father as he underwent a series of chemo treatments. Most of the work, aside from the usual workload, during this month was taken up by a series of workbook projects for Carson Dellosa (previously Instructional Fair). I’d been doing work for this client since the late 90s, mostly with the same editor/designer, and these would be the last batches that we would work together on, as the company underwent some restructuring and trimming of staff recently. In this posting are a small sampling from each book. Each book contained somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 spot illustrations, varying in size and shape. Sometimes they were fairly straightforward depictions of objects/topics, and other times I was allowed a little leeway to make them a bit more ‘fun’.
The illustration at the top was to show a ‘queue’ of people (I don’t remember what they were in line for), but I chose this opportunity to include some of my family and a close friend in this particular illustration. My Father is the fellow in the wheelchair (he isn’t looking too good, he was getting quite skinny and frail looking around this time), and I did a self portrait (the guy with the bandanna and goatee), and in front of me is my son Keenan (just starting high school at this time), then my wife, Terri is in front of him, and then, in the bathing suit, is Candy, a good friend of ours.
These illustrations were invaluable as practice and development of my ‘cartoon style’ which underwent a great deal of refinement during the many projects that this publisher sent my way over the past several years. I also believe it helped me simplify my scratchboard technique, even though I only did a few pieces in that style for this client, as it helped me to see that sometimes ‘less is more’, and to hone in my concept skills in order to fit a lot of information into a tiny space.
One thing I’m not sure about, however, is what the status is regarding reprint rights on these illustrations. I remember bringing up the topic once when we were discussing the contract, but I don’t remember what was decided upon. Most of the illustrations in these books were fairly specialized and probably wouldn’t be of any interest to others as far as reprints go, but there were quite a few, like the some of the pieces that I’ve chosen to post here, that were generic enough, that they might find use elsewhere. I’ll have to do some research into my old files and see if I have anything in writing.
One of the other benefits to working on these projects, was in training myself to work fairly expediently. I’ve always worked kind of fast before (coming from a ‘quick printer’ background in the 80s), but the sheer volume and deadlines on these pieces forced me to kick up the speed a notch. Overall, these projects were quite enjoyable from an experience standpoint, and from a personal standpoint, even though the pay and contracts could have been better. And I sort of miss working in this style. Color is fine and fun, but there’s something to be said for the simplicity of black and white.
So, overall, with 4 books with about 20 illustrations each, I ended up doing about 80 drawings in the month of September, and I have to say, that after doing these for the past 4 or 5 years, that this batch was my personal favorite, despite the situation and circumstances under which I was working. Perhaps it was the work that helped me pull through this period.
ADDENDUM: I originally wrote this blog entry in 2009, backdating it to 2004. In 2018, I’ve begun overhauling the blog, and I’ve been posting more of these early ‘Instructional Fair’ illustrations in their entirety. The entries are scattered around the year 2004 (dated as close as possible to their original creation), and titled by book name.