I actually got assigned this Rehnquist portrait almost a month earlier, since the news of his imminent retirement, illness, looming death seemed to be on the news for a while before it actually happened. I was starting to get a reputation for being the ‘dead guy portrait artist’ at Newsday, so I was given the heads up about this portrait way in advance. Then it was just a matter of waiting around until the guy finally shuffled off. Kind of melancholy in a way, because some of my earliest assignments when I started out, were of the supreme court, and for years I provided art for Legal Times who regularly did stories on the court decisions, so I’ve gotten to know this guy’s face quite well over the past 15 years. I saved the best for last.
The nautical themed postcard that I sent out last fall paid off in a big way this month with a multi-image assignment from D Magazine out of Texas. This story involved a group of cuban refugees who travelled through a hurricane to reach the Texas coast in a small motorboat. The above illustration appeared in the magazine as a 1&1/2 page spread, and was quite fun and dramatic to put together. I also had a smaller ‘map insert’ that chose to do in a slightly different style. I hadn’t done a map in quite a while, and I forgot how much fun they could be. It is a totally different experience working on a map, than it is drawing a ‘scene’ like the one above. You seem to use a different side of your brain while you work on it, and it is a nice break from the routine. In addition, I also was asked to provide a horizontal ‘waves’ picture that could be used along the bottom of subsequent pages in the article.
Then, for the Chronicle of Higher Education, I had to put my conceptual skills to the test, for an article about psychology in middle aged adults. I almost used this one as a promo postcard later in the year, but changed my mind at the last minute.
Then I had an unusual fiction piece for Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. This one was set in a fictional ‘middle ages’ era, and concerned a travelling musician. I liked the layout of this one, a little different than the usual scenes I churn out for this publication.
This would be the last month that I would have the good fortune to count on 4 ‘health care’ spots per month, a regular gig I’ve enjoyed over the past few years for the Wall Street Journal. These made a nice cushion for ‘lean times’, and have been a continuing source of challenge and fun since I started working on this continuing column feature. These would continue on, thankfully, but on a bi-monthly basis.
The ‘monkey postcard’ that I sent out the previous month, prompted a designer at the Journal to request that I do an illustration in a similar ‘painterly style’ for the next assignment. Unfortunately, this was a rather poor choice to ‘shine’ in this particular style, and I’m afraid it didn’t turn out all that interesting.
Another spot for the same client at another time of the month, was this spot involving ‘women in business’. I used a slightly different effect here, fading out the background characters a bit to show depth. I think it helped to keep the illustration from looking way too busy.
I also had an assignment regarding small companies who take over larger companies, in which I chose to portray the companies as ‘big fish’ and ‘little fish’ (possibly because there was some mention of this in the article, maybe not). I decided that the ‘little fish’ ought to be a puffer fish, since they have that habit of blowing up to twice their usual size. (plus, just wanted to draw a puffer fish, after finding one on the beach recently on a trip to Florida). Later I would recycle this illustration as a promotional postcard.
Around ’04 and ’05 I was dabbling in music recording, and put together a cd of original songs with a collaborator. This ‘monkey painting’ was something quick I whipped up for the cover illustration of the cd. I also used it for a promotional postcard during the summer of ’05. For the curious, the cd is still available on cdbaby and iTunes (and various other online music sources).
I also worked up a black and white version of the image for t shirts and misc merchandise purposes (pictured below). The ‘monkey with a hat’ image was a quick logo that I came up with as an online avatar for myself for one of those myspace pages.
For the Christmas of ’06, my wife asked me to come up with some quick logos for some personalized notepads she was printing up for the neices and nephews. Below are a few examples of these.
Throughout the year during ’05, I played around with the notion of trying my hand at editorial cartooning. These were mostly done for my own benefit, by way of practice, and just to see how much time it would involve. I never quite got a regular routine going, but turned one out about once or twice a month for a short while. I really liked the drawing style of these, but I wasn’t so crazy about the concepts and humor. On one of them, my brother Tom proposed a concept, and I finished it up (the ‘supreme court medical marijuana’ cartoon), but I wasn’t crazy about the idea on that one either. The cartoons here in this post range from around April of ’05 until about August of the same year.
I’ve also toyed with the idea of doing a strip cartoon, but have never quite gotten past an initial sample in any of my attempts. Probably a good indicator of how poorly I’m cut out for that kind of work. The strip above was an idea I had about setting a regular strip on that cliched ‘desert island’ with only a single character and perhaps a monkey for company. The sketch below was for another concept involving a monkey and a baby. These were both from January of ’05.