Back in Michigan again after a week spent out in Arizona. I had brought a laptop along to do some work while on the road, but I ended up mostly unplugged thanks to a mixup with the tablet driver, and it was an interesting week spent ‘off the grid’. The illustrations in this post were a few pieces that I had done before I had left, the one above (and the two companion pieces) were a series for the Chronicle on ‘Student Skepticism’.
I also did a sample illustration for an upcoming book project (pictured below).
Some more mid-week illustrations this week. I’m trying to get ahead just a little bit, in anticipation of a trip to Arizona next week. I’ll probably be a ‘working vacation’, and I plan on keeping in contact with the office remotely and bringing along a laptop and small tablet for any rush jobs that may need my attention.
The illustration above was a quick turnaround assignment for the Chronicle of Higher Education this week, and below is an illustration for Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine that I decided to get done early as it was due next week.
I also did a quick blog illustration for the Freaks of Nurture website. After a month’s hiatus, we may be gearing back up for some comics again later in the month.
Above was a quick turnaround cover for a new client this weekend, regarding the pulp novelist David Goodis. I also had a last minute ‘aches & claims’ illustration for the Wall Street Journal in the afternoon. Glad the holidays are finally over and it’s nice to get back to work.
This year started out like gangbusters, but somewhere around the middle of the third quarter, business started to fizzle and sputter, culminating in what would turn out to be my lowest grossing December since I started doing this back in 1989. I’m not sure where to lay the blame, whether it be the ‘great recession’, or my own shortcomings and inability to see the ‘writing on the wall’ regarding the changing industry (and adjust accordingly), but I’m certainly hoping that next year takes a turn for the better.
The trend this year seemed to be towards more ‘big projects’ at volume discounts, and much less ‘quick turnaround’ work. Regardless, I continue to enjoy this work, and I still find every new assignment exciting and challenging and a chance to push myself further. I also started selling reprints of my old work online as merchandise through Zazzle, as an experimental way of generating additional income. Only time will tell if this ends up being worthwhile.
Additionally, thanks to the slow December, I started doing some oil painting, something which I haven’t done with any frequency for the past twenty-some years, and I’m planning spending a lot more time at the easel in the coming year, and will be exploring the ‘gallery/fine art’ market as another possible outlet for my work. Interestingly, that would bring me full circle to what I thought I might be doing when I started freelancing back in ’89.
This year, I also found myself becoming a lot more active in my ‘side career’ of making music. Working with a couple regular band projects, various ensembles, pick-up gigs, and solo songwriting, I managed to tease myself with enough income from music this year to actually sit down and itemize it (it ended up being a wash, between income and expenses). It is still not nearly enough to make a living from, and I won’t be quitting my day job anytime soon.
My son is halfway through his junior year at college, and is starting to talk about graduate school opportunities, and my wife and I continue to live and work out of our home in Grand Rapids after 27 years of marriage. Looking forward to what the next decade has in store for us.
Here then, are a collection of what I feel is my ‘best work’ from 2010 (click on the thumbnails to see a larger version):
255 (down by over a hundred from last year) illustrations completed this year, bringing the grand total up to approximately 12,161 illustrations since 1989.