Back to Work

Christian Home & School, ChronicleHE, Far East Economic Review, WSJ

After a quiet November, it was a relief to have the phone start ringing again in the first week of December. The above cover assignment (with accompanying inside piece) came across the desk in that first weekend after Thanksgiving, and a flurry of jobs followed in its wake. The ‘on hold’ job that I superstitiously blamed for the slow down got the go ahead that same week, and another job (that at the moment is rather hush hush) that was proposed in the early part of the year, got the green light as well. The cover and inside illustration above and below were for the Chronicle of Higher Education. I certainly threw myself at this project with a lot of pent up enthusiasm and gusto.

The Far Eastern Economic Review from Hong Kong emailed that same weekend and handed me a pair of illustrations, one of them an ‘overview’ of a telecommunications segment of the paper, and another one was a portrait of an up and coming politician. I also had due around this time, a series of small cartoon spots for Christian Home and School, having to do with various ways of showing kids that you care. (pictured below)

I was reminiscing with this client (who was retiring after the end of November), how when I first started working with him, how I would routinely use my son as reference for ‘kids’ in the illustrations, and how he’s now taller than me and looking at colleges for next year.

It was nice to have a chance to work in this loose cartoon style again. It had been long time since an assignment like this had come along. It seems like I’ve done little other than scratchboard for the past year.

I also had a couple of spots for my ‘health care’ column gig that I do every other week for The Wall Street Journal during that slow period in November. The one above was about some sort of ‘new improved’ chicken feed that makes the chicken more healthy to eat (or the eggs, I forget).

And the other ‘health care’ spot concerned the purported health benefits of eating garlic.

And of course, as is usually the case with these ‘cartoon’ pieces, I try to sneak in a picture of my dog, Lady. (bottom left)

I had a few other jobs going on around this time, but I think I’ll save them for a future posting. (some of them I’m not sure have been published yet). The postcard went out last weekend, and it already seems to be getting some responses back (it seems to have printed a little darker than I anticipated, but it still looks pretty good). Nice to be getting back to work again. All Play and no Work makes Tim a dull boy (not to mention anxious).

Witches Bird and Sharks

Barrons, Christian Home & School, Llewellyn, Newsday

Over the past week or so, I’ve been working on a large batch of black and white spot illustrations to fill out a book for Llewellyn Publishing on the wiccan religion. I’d done the cover earlier in the summer, and they contacted me later for some last minute inside work (I gathered that I would be among a number of other illustrators working on this project, in order to get it done in time). Many of them I finished while on the road, driving my Dad to Arizona, working at night in hotel rooms on my wife’s laptop. I’ve included only a few of them here (there were something like 12 of them total, on a variety of topics). After a long dry spell during the end of September, it was a relief to get a lot of work back on the docket, but at the same time, the drive that I committed to with my father made the timing a little stressful.

The subject matter was a nice change of pace, from my usual financial topics that I’ve been mired in the past few years. Nice to not have to draw a businessman’s suit, and in some cases, even got to do away with clothing altogether.

ADDENDUM (Jan 9, 2008): I just got my complimentary copies in the mail today for this book, and it looks pretty nice. Can be purchased at Amazon here.

When I got back from Arizona, I had a few color pieces for Barrons. I had done a number of sketches earlier for a general all purpose topic of ‘risk’, and these were a few leftover ideas from that earlier session, that I was asked to finish up for future usage on upcoming articles. I’ve included the ‘measuring the shark bite’ example, of the two that I completed early in the week (below left).

Also had another quick black and white daily for Newsday, this one on endangered New Jersey wetlands, and had to do a little research on a specific species of ‘Meadowlark’ (pictured at bottom). I liked how this one turned out. I always seem to prefer how the black and white pieces turn out over the color ones, not sure why. The color seems to dillute the power of the scratchboard technique just a little bit.

And to round out the month, had an illustration assignment for Christian Home & School about ‘being a bit too busy’ (the woman in the story is so engrossed in her phone conversation and coffee that she runs a red light and nearly runs down a little girl at the crosswalk, only noticing her in the rear view mirror after she passed). Got to experiment with a different medium than the usual scratchboard, using washes and colored pencils for a lighter sketchy feeling. Thanks to the wife for rushing out into the driveway to pose in the family car for me.

Mortarboards and Luxury Items

Barrons, Christian Home & School, ChronicleHE, Far East Economic Review, WSJ

A couple of assignments for the Chronicle of Higher Education came through in February. The one above concerned tenured professorships in some capacity (protecting tenure perhaps?), and the one to the left involved federal funds. One of the better Uncle Sams I’d done in a while (another staple of the editorial illustration cliche playbook, and I’ve lost track of how many I’ve done – right up there with cigar chomping fat cats, mortarboard wearing profs, bears, bulls and the perennial favorite, the bag with a money symbol printed on the front). I particularly liked the challenge of drawing someone upside down, I thought I did a rather nice job on Sam’s pants.

Had another assignment for Barrons, a publication I’ve been working with for a year or so now. Love drawing sailboats and water, any excuse will do. This one had to do with navigating rough seas ahead for certain stocks. Fun and challenging trying to fit in a lot of information (and a sailboat and rough seas) into a fairly tight little image area. Kept this one fairly simple despite the busy nature of the composition and it seemed to work ok.

Had an illustration assignment around this time for Christian Home and School. This full page went with a story about making new students feel welcome. One of the rare chances lately where I’ve been able to draw some children who are actually a little closer in age to my own son.

Did a series of tiny spots for the Wall Street Journal around this time period. These spots were to accompany a story about luxury items and I needed to do one on ‘fine art’, one on ‘sports cars’, one on ‘homes’, and another on ‘watches’, and then as a last minute addition, they needed a few of these items squeezed together into an ‘overview’ spot. Alert readers will notice that on the ‘fine art’ spot, I reuse an illustration that I did for a Sexuality College Textbook that I did back in the beginning of my career (although filtered through the software’s ‘Van Gogh’ cloning tool).

I’d done a similar series of spots for this client before (perhaps more than once), as it seems to be an annual story around tax time for this publication. I don’t normally like drawing cars, but for some reason, all the times I’ve been pressed into service lately in this capacity, I seem to actually like the finished product. Perhaps I’m finally learning how to draw the pesky things.

Here’s one of the spots a little bigger to see the detail a little better. Another assignment from this client (which I haven’t bothered to include here for reasons that will become clear), was a rather strange one. I was asked to draw a ‘family tree’ regarding various tv dramas and sitcoms and tracing each of their spinoffs. I was required to include photos from each show, and somehow fit all their branching and overlapping limbs into a rather small spot area. It didn’t turn out too bad looking, but really didn’t involve a heck of a lot of actual drawing, it was more of a logistical problem solving exercise.

Also around this time got a job for The Far Eastern Economic Review, out of Hong Kong, with another of my favorite (?) subjects to draw – buildings and architecture. This one was about the modernization of certain banks in China. Needed to fit in a horizontal space which made things a bit tricky layout-wise.

In addition, I also had my usual small spot every other monday for the WSJ, a ‘dubious health care’ column that I’ve been providing tiny little drawings for a number of years now. This one seemed to be about either temperature checking devices, or looking into your child’s ear canal. I can’t quite remember now what the exact topic was.
I usually provide a trio of sketches for each article, running the gamut from very conservative scenes involving the product or claim, to some very strange playful takes on the overall topic. This would be a good example of one of the more conservative concepts.