2021 Year in Review

personal, self portrait

A slight improvement upon 2020, but not by much. Approaching my 60th birthday, so took the opportunity to do a self portrait.

“What Unites Us” was finally released this spring to generally good reviews, but doesn’t appear to be selling all that briskly. I was glad of the experience, and it certainly whetted my appetite for more ‘comics’ assignments. (see last year’s ‘year in review’ for a sample from this book). The Covid years have taken their toll on my business, but I seem to still have a fair amount of ‘book projects’ of various sorts keeping me somewhat busy (an illustrated edition of the public domain ‘The Sun Also Rises’ pictured below). A few ‘Who Was’ books this year, plus the usual ‘Witches Companion’ illustrations.

Above is a book cover I did for John Griswold’s new book (I’ve been doing several spot illustration pieces for him for the ‘Common Reader’ over the past few years), and I also had a rather involved ‘Fantasy Recipe book’ for another publisher in the early part of the year (sample pictured below).

1994 Mailings

personal, Self Promotion
Unused postcard, 1994

This was a unpublished postcard illustration that I never ended up using. I found this in the flat files and I’m not sure exactly when it was I painted this one, but if I had to guess, I’d say it was sometime in ’94 or ’95, when I was doing more of this ‘acrylic’ style.

The above postcard featuring Silent Western Star William S. Hart was one that did end up going out in the mail. (Interestingly, it foreshadows a book of Western Stars in Scratchboard that I would do for Dover Publications Twenty Years later)

Introduction and Pre-Freelance Career Work

personal, Year In Review
Nude study, Oil Pastels, 1988

I had a late start, only taking drawing seriously as a career option at the age of 27. I had been drawing as long as I remember, but for some reason spent most of my twenties avoiding art. An art school dropout (attended two years at the Kendall School of Art and Design), and graphic artist (seven years as a typesetter and art director for a small print shop in Grand Rapids), I only rekindled my drawing ambitions after taking a series of life drawing classes at the local community college in the late eighties.

Nude study, Chalk Pastels, 1988

Working mostly in pastels and charcoal, I was encouraged by the fact that the school hosted a one man show of my work at the campus library. I began to wonder if perhaps I might be able to make a living simply by drawing pictures. How that would happen was still a mystery to me. All I knew was that I was getting burned out in the graphics and typesetting trade, and needed to do something else with my life.

Nude study, Oil Pastels, 1988

I gave notice in early 1989, and was on my own by spring of that year. I was completely directionless, trying my hand at gag cartooning for a couple months, trying to sell the pastels I was doing to the limited edition print market, approaching clip art firms with various pen and ink styles. The first year in business wasn’t anything to brag about, but by the fall and winter of that year, I was starting to see some small success.

Pastel of Maine Lighthouse, 1989