Letters We Get Letters

ChronicleHE, Log Home Living

From the Chronicle of Higher Education, I was handed a series of spot illustrations in which I had to incorporate the letters A-F somehow. I don’t remember the gist of the story, but perhaps it was something to do with the old letter grading system?

Anyhow, they were fun to do, a nice simple design, and I thought they all turned out quite well. I’m glad I decided to leave the letters white, it certainly helped them ‘pop’ out of the illustration better than they would have if I had decided to color each of them a different bright color (as was my original plan).

In addition to all the ‘letters’ I also had an assignment for the same client regarding ‘numbers and percentages’, with regards to quotas (pictured below).

And finally, a new client called me during the month of October. A former co-worker of my wife’s, when she worked at Gemini Publications (Grand Rapids Magazine, Parent and Business Journal), moved out of state, and got a job at Log Home Living magazine (Home Builder Publications), and started sending me work. This piece was something to do with ‘roofing’. I wasn’t happy with how this one turned out, a bit darker than I planned on, but I was glad that the client liked it enough to send me more work later, so I could redeem myself.

Keeping Busy

CRC, Instructional Fair

October was a very busy month for me. Based in South Haven, caring for my Dad as he went through chemo treatments for Multiple Myeloma, and working on the dining room table. I had three big multi-illustration projects come due right around the same time. Carson Dellosa, who had been giving me work since around ’99 (though under the name of Instructional Fair), and who had gone through some corporate shake-ups in recent years handed me an assignment to illustrate a ‘spanish poster’ which needed around 25 spot illustrations to illustrate different spanish nouns (pictured at left and below). Rather than post all of them, I just chose a couple examples, the rooster, the kite and the leaf. For the same designer during this month, I also had a book cover illustration (pictured above), something geared towards teachers in need of activities to occupy their classrooms.

For the same company, but a different designer/editor, I had a pair of workbooks which needed about 20 or so black and white illustrations each. I’ve chosen a few samples to post here, and the rest are posted in another pair of blog entries this month. These were for a series of ‘Test Preparation’ books that I was working on throughout the year (grades 3 through 8), and the two this month were for grades 4 and 5.

In addition to these projects, and my regular monthly workload, I also was working on an ongoing curriculum project for the Christian Reformed Church. Most of the pieces were large in size 11×17 (and some larger posters), mostly done in a modified semi-realistic cartoon style.

This ‘bible’ project was an ongoing thing (this current project since ’02), meaning that I didn’t do all the work in October, but it was spaced out over a period of 3 months or so, but the finishes just happened to come due in October. There were about 20 or so of these illustrations in each batch, and they were all fairly similar, depicting various bible scenes and/or activities, and I’ve just chosen a few of them to post here by way of example. (more to be found here in another posting)

Adventure on the High Seas

Cricket, Voyaging

Ask magazine (a sister publication to Cricket) contacted me with an assignment to illustrate a story about the whaleship Essex sinking. This was a true life incident in which a whaleboat was rammed and sunk by a sperm whale out in the pacific, and was the story that inspired the novel ‘Moby Dick’. Coincidentally, I had just recently read the account of this sea story only a month or so earlier, was very interested in the topic, so it was with great interest that I approached this assignment. This story in the magazine only concerned itself with the ‘whale attack’ part of the tale, and not the grisly aftermath (two or three drifting lifeboats, starvation and cannibalism).

The illustrations are all odd sizes and shapes, having to snake around through the text and sometimes across two page spreads, so I’ve taken some liberties with presenting them here, combining a few spots, flipping a few to face the other way in order to fit the space, and in the case below, reducing the illustration quite a bit in size to fit this blog.

The one just above was the opening illustration, stretching across a two page spread with text to the right and left of it, and showed the initial contact with the whale. The illustration at the top is a combination of two separate illustrations. The larger one spread across the gutter of a two page spread, and shows the whale swimming towards the ship about to ram it, and the spot to the upper right was actually facing the other direction in a corner of the page, and shows one of the harpoonists. The illustration along the left side was of one of the sailors trying to cut a line that was still attached to the whale as he was diving. The illustration below depicts one of the impacts with the whale’s fluke, and shows a couple of the tortoises that were brought aboard from the Galapogos Islands for a supply of fresh food for the men.

I so enjoyed this assignment, that it inspired a promotional postcard that I drew up a month or so later, hoping to land more assignments of this sort (and it would later prove to work like a charm).

Also around this time, I had an assignment from a book publisher, Voyaging, out of NY, that needed an ornate nautical compass rose for the frontspiece of a book. I had a lot of fun with this one too, using ‘sea beasts’ and ornamentations from old maps as inspiration to put this together.

Bible Project Addendum


These are some more samples from the ongoing curriculum project for the Christian Reformed Church. My records are a bit sketchy, but I’m pretty sure that these were from the batches that came due in the fall of ’04. I’ve selected some of the more interesting illustrations from the project to post here. Most are quite large (11×17 or larger in some cases) and were designed for developmentally disabled adults and children, so the colors and designs were kept bold and simple. There were also quite a few ‘character cutouts’ like the jesus pictured to the left, but I haven’t bothered to include these here. In order to save space, I’m going to post the rest of these illustrations as thumbnails, and you can click on the image to see a larger version of each.

Seeing Spots


During this time period, I was living in South Haven, caring for my Dad while he underwent chemo treatments, and living and working remotely from my office. Sometimes the schedule with doctor’s appointments would conflict with work deadlines, and I ended up with a situation that produced the above three spot illustrations. I knew I wouldn’t be around at the usual time that one of my three ‘concept sketches’ would be approved, so I prepared ahead of time, and just finished up all three ideas for the same story, and let the designer pick which one they wanted to run.

I don’t know which one they eventually went with, but I personally enjoyed the ‘fish workout room’. This article was about ‘underwater workouts’.

Other spots for this same ‘health care’ column that I do every week for the Wall Street Journal are pictured right and below and include one on ‘aromatherapy for weight loss’, ‘dental care as related to pregnancy’, and ‘boosting your brain power’. This column has been a weekly gig for me since around 2002, and I’ve been very grateful to have it to fall back on during lean times, so I was certainly motivated to keep this client happy, especially during this awkward time with regards to my work availability.

For the same client during the month of October, I also had the spot to the left, regarding ‘getting along with co-workers’, and a black and white spot depicting the two presidential candidates and their corresponding energy proposals.

And for the same client, a larger spot illustration, pictured below, about young upstart internet phone companies who are challenging the big conglomerates.