The Chronicle of Higher Education kept me rather busy in the month of April. The illustrations above were for a cover assignment, with a related inside illustration. I don’t quite remember what the topic was about, or how beach balls fit into the scheme of things, but I ended up with a nice colorful illustration, a change of pace from my usual dark and dreary fare.
At a different time of the month, I also received the following trio of spot illustrations for the same client, these all having to do with student ‘gathering places’ around campus, and how to foster and nurture these areas in the learning environment.
I tried to tie them all together with a similar style and color scheme, and it was a fun little project, trying to squeeze these little multi character scenes into a tiny space without it looking too cluttered.
Another assignment that I got from this client during the month of April, was the following ‘Dorian Gray’ parody. I don’t quite remember what the angle of the story was, but it was much more fun drawing the decay and decrepitude of the main character, than it was trying to draw the shining perfect face in the mirror.
Another spot illustration for the same client is pictured below. This one required a bit more research and planning. I was asked to do a ‘escher parody’ having something to do with finding your way around college campuses. I didn’t want to copy the original too closely, but also wanted it to be recognizable as a homage to the original. I liked how this one turned out, it seemed to fit well with my scratchboard style, and for once I was very pleased with the color selections.
April ended up being a busy month as far as assignments from the Wall Street Journal. They kept me on my toes nearly every day with same day assignments, spot art for chart decorations, feature page illustrations and inside spots in a variety of sizes and shapes.
The piece above had something to do with the chinese economy, but don’t quite remember what the story was about exactly. I remember the space available was very tight and extremely horizontal which made it tricky fitting the whole dragon in.
The piece to the right had to do with taking work with you on vacation (another tricky one for fitting a lot into a tiny space.
The black and white piece to the left was probably for the sunday paper, for a chart accompaniment illo. Another one where I have forgotten what the original topic was about. Either changing boats in midstream, or straddling two investment portfolios. Anyhow, I liked how that one turned out, nice and simple, with a nice design for the small space.
Another assignment along nautical lines, probably having to do with ‘navigating rough waters’ came through around this time. I thought the colors and design worked well on this one, giving the ‘feel’ of a boat, with only a few little hints of it with the railing and rope ladder. Not sure if it actually printed in color though.
The piece above was regarding Mexican workers leaving their jobs with US companies below the border to make better money working across the Rio Grande. The piece below, is another one that I have forgotten what the topic was. I remember having to do a series of apples as stand alone spots to accompany this one, so they could sprinkle them throughout the layout. Colors turned out nice on this one. I used a color technique that I use from time to time when I’m able to leave mostly a white background. I give everything a slight yellow ‘glow’ around the outside, and it seems to help make the blacks ‘pop’ a little better, and brightens the whole color scheme in a subtle way.
The piece to the right was a little less successful, I thought. I tend to not like anthromorphizing objects like this, it seems like a cheap solution to the problem, and the cliche ‘sherlock holmes’ investigator doesn’t help matters. But it seemed to do the trick, and with all the nice pieces I got out of this month, there was bound to be one dud.
The piece below, having something to do with water purity, I actually reused a layout that I had used for another paper a year or so ago when a similar story came up. This one was in color, and I redrew the thing from scratch, so it technically was a ‘new illustration’. This one in fact turned out much nicer than the original. I don’t normally consciously ‘reuse’ ideas, but this was one of those rare cases, where I remembered the old layout, and offered it up again among my sketch concepts, and it just happened to be the one that got chosen.
And of course, also during the month, I had a few of my ‘health care’ column spots. The one on the left, I ended up recycling into a postcard later in the year. I don’t quite remember what the topic was for each of these, but the one on the left, I seem to remember had something to do with ‘rewiring your brain’.
In addition to the shower of illustrations coming from two of my more regular clients during this month (chronicled in two separate entries for April), I also had a few other assignments trickle in from other corners of the client base. The illustration above was another of my fiction pieces for Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. This one concerned a teenage runaway who is taken in by a mysterious stranger.
A newer client, D Magazine from Texas, who I had done a few pieces for previously over the past year, gave me a trio of spot illustrations to work on. These were on a variety of subjects (which I have now long forgotten), but I seem to remember that they all had to pull together somehow by having a common ‘look and style’.
They were all to do with money in one way or another, so I had the idea of trying out a new technique, trying to make them look like extreme enlargements of engravings on a dollar bill, distressing the lines, using a dark green for the linework instead of the usual black, and trying to keep things rather stylized, but at the same time giving them a lighter humorous touch. It was fun working in a different technique, after so much scratchboard lately, and gave me a heady feeling of walking a tightrope without a net.
My favorite of the three, even though I really have no idea to what it refers to, is the toilet brush illustration. It just makes me laugh for some reason.
I also received a same day illustration from Newsday sometime during the month. This was a editorial essay about hiring undocumented aliens and paying them under the table. I seem to remember that some political figure at the time was in hot water for doing something of this sort.
And finally, a color piece for Barrons, this one about investing in ‘junk bonds’. A busy month, so much so that I almost completely forgot most of the drawings that I did during this period, in the rush of activity, and am only now getting reaquainted with them as I work my way through the archives.