Casualties and New Blood

ABA, Log Home Living, Newsday

During this difficult six month period, dealing with Dad’s Multiple Myeloma, I took a bit of a hit on the business side of things. Some clients didn’t seem to adjust well to my being out of the office, and pretty much stayed away for the second half of the year, but on the bright side, I actually started doing some work for a few new clients during this time, to take up the slack.

The illustrations above and below were for one of these new clients. A girl that once worked with my wife at Gemini Publications (Grand Rapids Magazine, Parent and Business Journal), got a job with Log Home Living out on the east coast, and started calling me with assignments during this time in South Haven. This particular assignment was about ‘purchasing vacant land’, and it was unusual, in that, I’ve never really tried a full color ‘landscape’ in scratchboard, and it was interesting to try and work out all the logistics of it. I’d done a complex landscape illustration earlier in the year for a Lansing ad agency, but that was in black and white. I used myself and my wife for reference photos for the people (and in fact, if you look at the two women in the picture, they look a bit too similar to each other in the face).

One of the clients that didn’t adjust so well to my being absent from the office, was Newsday. Probably because they relied more on the phone for communication, and a majority of the work I do for them is rather tight in deadline, they probably just felt more comfortable working with someone a bit more ‘available’. Once I got home, near the end of December, though, they did start calling me again with assignments. This piece above was for the lifestyle section, and was a full page piece on ‘overseas investing’.

The piece below was a same day assignment for the same client about drafting the Iraq constitution.

One of my favorite black and white same-day assignments from them this month was this piece featuring our old cliche friend ‘uncle sam’. I don’t quite remember the topic of this illustration, but the little ‘flying brains’ were fun to draw.

Queer Eye for the Straight “I”


Still living in South Haven with my Father in the first half of December, and by this time, he’s starting to get a bit more independent, and going through the last few chemo treatments, which he seems to be responding well to, all things considered. Physical therapy was helping him regain some of his mobility and I was starting to think about weaning him off of my constant attention (which wasn’t easy). Thankfully, most of my clients have adjusted to the new working relationship (more emails instead of phone calls, and taking into account that sometimes I’m not available for same day work).

The above illustration was for the Wall Street Journal, and I was asked to do a scene along the lines of the then popular cable tv show ‘queer eye for the straight guy’, but populated with accountants giving a businessman a ‘financial makeover’.

Then, above are my monthly contingent of ‘health care’ spots for the same client. The topics were about ‘gyms and exercise machines’, ‘nose mist’, ‘acupuncture’ and ‘new years resolutions’. My favorite one this month was the acupuncture piece, as I was trying out a new technique where I add color to the black scratchboard lines, as a way of softening the illustration. It seems to help a bit on faces, as the scratchboard can sometimes make them look a bit dark and harsh.

I also had a few smaller spots for the same client during December. The piece to the left was about a popular science toy for children this season, a microscope, that was nearly as popular with the adults as it was with the kids they are aimed toward.

Then there was a spot about AOL, but I don’t remember quite what the angle was on this story. Perhaps something to do with coaching/training on internet usage? Both these spots seem quite similar in style and approach, probably due to the size and the style that seems to work best when trying to fit a lot into a tight area.

I also had a black and white same day spot for the same client, this one presumably about prescription medicines, or stock related to pharmaceuticals in some way. (These smaller black and white spots are usually for a sunday chart accompaniment)

December Oddities

Carus Publishing, Cobblestone, Diversity, Highlights

Another newer client during this time period, was Highlights magazine, and who approached me earlier in the year to take a stab at updating a few of their venerable recurring characters. The assignment above was a fiction piece about a fireplace ( I think, the details a bit hazy on this one), and required a large opening illustration and a smaller accompanying spot for the second page. Nice change of pace to work in the cartoon style again. The cartoon style seems to be popular with the ‘kids publishers’, and sometimes for magazine work when they want something a little lighter.

The above piece was another in a continuing series of ‘puzzle illustrations’ that I’ve been doing for Oddysey magazine (Cobblestone). These are usually rather odd, and rely heavily on the text to explain what is going on in them – usually a puzzle wrapped within a story problem.
The piece to the left was for a new client, Diversity magazine. The art direction was pretty heavy on this one, I was just required to put the idea to paper. I normally don’t like working text into illustrations, but sometimes is unavoidable.