Slow Time

AHMM, Barrons, Far East Economic Review, WSJ


The year continues to be slower than the previous year in many respects. Mostly regular clients, but the volume seems to be lower across the board. The illustration above is another for Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, which gave me a nice opportunity to do a nice skull closeup study (the story was something about a forensic facial reconstruction). The illustration to the right was a small spot to accompany a chart in the Wall Street Journal (probably something about the ‘bottom falling out’ of the markets). I also took in a couple of spots for Barrons who has been one of the rare corners of my client base where the workload has been up from the previous year. (the ‘real estate fishing’ illustration below left, and the ‘oil fireworks’ illustration below that on the right)

I seem to be getting lots of practice lately on ‘globes’, and I’ve settled on a nice quick technique for them that serves me well on these rush jobs. This technique would come in very handy the following month on the ‘stock certificate’ project. It got me thinking back to when I used to do a lot of maps for a children’s magazine publisher back in the 90s, and how much I used to enjoy doing those.

And thank goodness for my regular ‘health care’ column for WSJ. Even though it has dropped from a weekly gig to every other week (sometime in the past year or so), it is still a nice comfortable safety net for when things get a little slow around here. This week’s spot was about ‘mold cultures’ (pictured to the right).

The spot to the right took a bit more research than usual. I’m constantly amazed at how many everyday objects (in this case, not quite so ‘everyday’) you see time and time again, and yet you really don’t look at closely to see how they are constructed. One of the rewarding parts of my job is in learning to acquaint myself with mundane objects like this ‘oil rig’ on a more serious level. Gives the brain a little workout, and leaves you a little better prepared next time the object comes into play.


Semi-regular assignments from my relatively new Hong Kong client, The Far Eastern Economic Review, continue to help pad out the year, and the assignments have been consistently interesting and stimulating. This one above took a bit of research and quite a bit of imagination stretching as I had to picture an object of which I had never heard of before, and couldn’t find many good pictures of, but is apparently a regular sight to those in the far east who would be the primary audience of the illustration (the client referred to it as a ‘painted truck’). Hopefully I nailed it – or at least close enough to be recognizable. The story was something about differing methods of product transport in the region.

In the same weekend, also from the same Hong Kong client was another portrait assignment (don’t remember who it was of). I continue to enjoy doing portraits, and since I rarely know these people very well on the other side of the globe, I can only hope I am doing them justice.

On Spec

Alternet Books

Because of the excess of down time I’d been experiencing this year, I accepted an assignment of the sort I usually don’t even consider. A series of three sample spec illustrations for a prospective author for a yet unsold book project. Nothing has come of it yet, and I won’t go into details about the book because of my agreement with the author, but I accepted this one because I got a kick out of the writing, and the author was known to me through NPR segments that I’d heard, and it was a book project that I felt I could get behind whole-heartedly. Even if nothing comes of it, I’m glad I spent the time on it, it was a fun diversion from the routine.

The author seemed happy with the spec drawings, and I pretty much forgot about the project after a few months had passed. It wasn’t until around Christmas that I was contacted again, and discussions began to take place regarding the finalization of the project.

I had done these spec illustrations in more of a loose caricature-ish style, reminiscent of some of my editorial cartoon work from previous years. As the project took shape, the style radically changed to more of a retro children’s book feel, for which my standard cartoon style (with minor adjustments) made a nice fit.