Educational Series


In February, I was handed a project from the Chronicle of Higher Education, in which they needed a series of illustrations to fill a special supplement. These would cover a broad range of topics, from funding, to affirmative action, to student and faculty issues. I did them all in scratchboard, and some of them were my concepts, and others were given as suggestions to me by the editors.

Most were quite a bit larger than I have them pictured here, and for the most part, they turned out quite nice. I was developing a new style for ‘background colors’ around this time, and made liberal use of overlapping colors and textures, a technique I would evolve and tone down a bit as the years progressed.

I don’t remember exactly what the topics were regarding in each of these illustrations. The one at the top was larger than the rest and was probably meant to be an ‘educational overview’ type of illustration. The one below that accompanied an article that had something to do with penmanship. Third from the top on the right, was a piece on college admissions (names being drawn out of a hat), and the one to the left was about admissions officers acting as salesman; thus my usual ‘used car guy’ in his loud outfit and big cheesy grin.

Some of these concepts I feel like I’ve done time and time again, like the ‘students as pegs’ to the right, or the ‘students riding on money like a magic carpet’, and I would probably end up doing them again in the future.

Some of the other spots throughout this project, were the snake oil salesman to the left (another of those cliche standy’s like the ‘fat cat’ or ‘uncle sam’ or the ‘used car salesman’ or the ‘poor guy wearing a barrel’), the ‘affirmative action’ piece (below right), and the other two illustrations below that (that I’m afraid I’ve forgotten the topics of)…

And then, finally the illustration at the bottom, which, again, I don’t remember what the topic was (perhaps something about the competition for getting into certain universities). This was my favorite of the bunch, and was quite a challenge logistically, but I think it turned out pretty nice.

Oscar Poster 2005

Oscar Poster

For the past few years, I have been drawing a commemorative Academy Award poster for my brother’s annual ‘Oscar Party’ in Chicago, and printing up a nice big copy of it for him to frame. I usually try to include each of the major nominees in all the acting categories, as well as squeezing in a director or two, a documentary if it is well known, and a small nod to the animated features. It is usually a logistical challenge trying to fit everything in, and takes a lot of research, especially on the faces of little known ‘supporting actor’ nominees. I generally have a lot of fun with these things, and it is nice to keep in practice with my caricature skills, which only occasionally get called upon in my day to day projects.

These posters are available as large quality prints (18 x 20 if I remember correctly), and signed by the artist (contact me for details). Click on the image to see a larger, detailed version.

This was the first year I drew one of these caricature posters for my brother. The idea came from a framed print of an illustration that my brother has in his house from a Chicago Newspaper’s ‘oscar nominees’ article. Me and my brother have been watching the oscars religiously since around 1972, and, while we haven’t always lived near one another, we usually would call up and compare notes after each broadcast. He began having ‘oscar themed’ parties for several years in Chicago, and this was the first one of them I’ve been able to attend (being on an inconvenient night for school).

I usually try to catch most of the nominated films in the theater before the awards, although I don’t always succeed. This year we only managed to see Sideways, Million Dollar Baby, The Incredibles and The Aviator prior to the awards, but afterwards managed to catch up with Hotel Rwanda, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Closer, Finding Neverland and Collateral Damage.

All the rest of the posters in this series can be found under the portfolio menu under the masthead.


Deja Vu

Log Home Living, Newsday, WSJ

The illustration above, for Log Home Living, was to illustrate a story about getting the whole family involved in designing your ‘dream home’. The next month, I would be asked by the publication to do another version of the same illustration with regards to traditional home materials (changing the lincoln logs that the child is playing with to legos) (for their sister publication Timber Home), change the image on the blueprint and computer screen, change the picture that the little girl is drawing). I ended up redrawing the whole thing from scratch, but the layout and characters stayed pretty much the same.

The four ‘health care’ spots above were for my ongoing column gig that I do every monday for the Wall Street Journal. The topics were; ear wax removal, chocolate being good for your heart, organic vegetables (a favorite illo, was a blast to draw), and bad breath.
Had an unusual assignment from the same client. The request was to draw a map of Iraq in the form of a prism so that a beam of light hits it and breaks up into different colors of the spectrum (perhaps to show how Iraq was breaking into different factions?). It kept getting more unusual as the job progressed, as certain restrictions were put on me, for instance, they didn’t want a completely black background – I got them to compromise with half of it being black – how you were supposed to draw a beam of light against a white background I wasn’t quite able to figure out. Then the piece ended up being printed in black and white, so the colors don’t even show up in the printed final (I can’t imagine it made a lot of sense to the readers). One of those cases where an idea sounds great on paper, but doesn’t quite work as a visual (unless it is my own shortcomings as an artist that couldn’t pull it off)
Another spot for the same client is to the right. This one having to do with preparing for doing your tax returns.

Then, Newsday handed me a same day illustration (pictured below) that was to accompany an editorial that reviewed the president’s state of the union address, making the point that the president ‘played the crowd like a conductor’. It was an unusual angle to draw a likeness from, and I’m not quite satisfied that I pulled it off.