June is Busting Out All Over

AHMM, Carus Publishing, Children's Television Workshop, CRC

Aside from the usual clientele in June, I also had another ‘bible story’ batch to complete. Another 20 or so illustrations for a local religious organization’s curriculum, an ongoing 3-4 year project that still had another year or two to go. The above illustration is just a sample of the batch I worked on this month. I also had a fair amount of work for my corporate financial client, although I don’t post examples of these illustrations, due to the nature of our usage contract (when it expires, I’ll post them here). Most of these illustrations had to do with investing in one way or another, savings, retirement, portfolio planning, etc.

I had an unusual illustration for my long time ‘mystery digest’ client this month. This was a rare instance in which I used ‘greyscale’ in an illustration for this particular client. The story called for an investigator lining up a photo with a particular murder location from film in the victim’s camera, and I wanted to somehow differentiate between the usual ‘scratchboard’ that I draw, and a ‘photo’. An interesting experiment, but not sure it was all that successful. I never went back to something like this again.

Another semi-regular assignment that I do for a children’s science publication, is a ‘puzzle page’ illustration. Sometimes it can be in the form of a maze or visual puzzle, or sometimes it is just an illustration of a ‘story question’. I don’t quite remember the angle on this one, but it had something to do with various bird’s migration patterns (?).

Another children’s magazine, one I had done work for in past (but it had been a long time since the last assignment) called me up in June to illustrate a short piece about the weight of gear that a typical fireman carries to go into a blaze (weighing approximately as much as a ten year old child).

A Cartoony Kind of Month

Children's Television Workshop, Christian Home & School, Gemini Publications, Metro Detroit Parent, Newsday, Oxendine

This was one of those unusual months, where I actually had more cartoon assignments than scratchboards (not to be repeated again for the next 7-8 years or more). It sure looks as if I’m having fun this month, there’s a lot of sly humor creeping into a lot of the illustrations (also see the accompanying ‘cartoon spots’ entry this month), and I seem really at ease with the style, the linework and the colors.

The above illustration and the one to the left were two additional larger spots that I did for my ‘college lifestyle’ magazine client. Usually I just provided small spots for this client, so it was fun to stretch out a little and do something a little bigger and more involved.

Another ‘larger’ cartoon is pictured below, this one for a local christian parenting magazine, a full page assignment on ‘busing’.

I also had an unusual assigment from my agent for a michigan regional parenting publication (pictured above). Usually, I only provide black and white illustrations for this client, so it was fun to try something in color. This was about the over saturation of marketing towards kids, and I tried to fit just about any kind of toy I could think of into the layout. Some of my usual subversive humor hidden away here and there (and an annoying toy my son got for christmas the previous year I notice down in the lower left corner).

The illustration to the left was for a major children’s magazine publisher, and had something to do with ‘family sing-a-long software’ available for your home pc.

Another small cartoon for a different local parenting magazine is pictured to the right. I don’t quite remember the angle of this particular story (play time with your children, perhaps?)

Pictured below is an assignment this month for my east coast newspaper client. This one dealt with teen workers in the fast food industry.

Another assignment for the same client is below that, a piece on holiday weight loss.

Loads of Cartoons

Carus Publishing, Children's Television Workshop, Clubhouse, Gemini Publications, Metro Detroit Parent, Oxendine, US Catholic

I had a trio of assignments from my agent this month, for a Michigan regional parenting magazine. A couple rare color assignments included in the bunch this time. The one above dealt with ‘when Mom gets sick’, and the one to the left was about ‘baby paraphenalia’, and I don’t quite remember what the spot below dealt with (just a ‘mom’ I guess).

The illustration below was for a national parenting magazine, and dealt with ‘busy moms’. This one I liked so well, that I recycled it as a promo postcard a few months later.

I had quite a few spot assignments this month from a local regional parenting publication (where my wife was working at the time, although I had been doing assignments for them for years prior to her getting a job there). The one above was on holiday credit spending, then a piece on ‘healthy eating for kids’ to the right, and below was a piece on ‘exercise’, and another on ‘ear candles’. (Oddly enough, I just did another assignment on ‘ear candles’ for my health care column gig just a few days ago – Jan 2008 — I think this one was funnier with the fire extinguisher)

Also this month I had a few assignments from my children’s magazine publisher. The ‘newspaper’ illustration was for a piece on ‘school papers’, and the black and white ‘liftoff’ illustration was an in-house announcement regarding a recent merger between two of my different children’s publishing clients.

The illustration below with the ‘automobile full of students’ was an assignment from my ‘college lifestyle’ magazine client.

Also this month was a series of small spots for the same children’s magazine client. These all had to do with reading and books in one way or another (I don’t remember the specifics), and they all kept the same background shape and size.

The ‘girl reading a book’ illustration was for a catholic magazine and dealt with reading the same book at different stages in your life, and it was a challenge to try and draw the same character as a girl, a young woman, and as a middle aged adult, and yet keep her recognizably the same person.

And, finally, for the same children’s magazine client, I also had a pair of illustrations on ‘dowsing’. This certainly was a busy month for cartoons, and the following month would be the same. It is interesting to look back at this time in my career when the ‘cartoons’ took up at least 50% of my workload, instead of being the relative rarity that they occupy in my work in the present (2007-08). They gave my work a nice shot in the arm from a variety standpoint, and things I learned from one style would sometimes enrich the other and visa versa. Conventional wisdom for aspiring illustrators has always been to ‘specialize’ in one style, as it makes it easier to market your work, clients remember you better when they can pigeon hole you, but I really don’t think it is healthy for the illustrator. Too easy to burn out doing the same thing over and over, and the work suffers because of it.

Parenting Cartoons

Children's Television Workshop, Gemini Publications, Newsday

Had a lot of ‘parenting’ related cartoon work in August. The piece above, and the companion piece to the left, were for my east coast newspaper client, and had to do with packing, moving, something like that, in relation to kids in some way (getting harder and harder to remember some of these topics, nearly 8 years ago now). The larger one above was one of those fun ones that I like to do, where I can make it real busy and hide a lot of details throughout the illustration.

I also had a few small illustrations for our local regional parenting magazine, one on ‘grandparents’ (right), and another one having to do with ‘baby auditions’ for child actors and models (below left).

I had an assignment for three illustrations this month for a national parenting magazine (I think this one was for the ‘spanish’ version of the magazine), having to do with computers and kids, and software, and other related topics. It is amazing how quickly these ‘computer’ illustrations are already looking a bit dated. I used my G3 as the model for most of my illustrations during this time, and while it looked quite modern and snazzy at the time, it is starting to look a little bulky and retro to my eyes now (can’t wait to see how I was drawing computers back in the 90s).

Cartoon Project for June

Children's Television Workshop

Stumbled across another project that I did in June of 2000, that I had previously overlooked. This was a series of cartoon illustrations for an article in a national parenting magazine regarding ‘panicky parents’, mostly dealing with anxiety parents face when children grow up and go to school for the first time. This project was pretty heavily art directed as I recall, and many of the concepts were handed to me with little input needed on my end except ‘putting it down on paper’. These were much like the sort of cartoons I was doing for a number of other publications, but somehow, having little input on the concepts somehow put a damper on my enthusiasm for these. These were a variety of sizes, some larger, some smaller, and covered a wide range of topics.