2016 Year in Review

music, self portrait, Year In Review

Aside from the dark cloud that started growing halfway through the year, and culminated in that nightmare on November 9, 2016 was not a complete disaster, with more highlights than downsides. As I start the new year, it is with more trepidation, uncertainty and fear than I’ve ever felt after any election year in my entire life. I’ve survived Republican presidents in the past (5 of them in fact), but never before have I had this feeling of riding on an out of control train barreling towards a cliff with a raving madman at the controls. Hopefully I am over-reacting.

Musically, it was probably my best year. My band, the Jukejoint Handmedowns, won their first WYCE ‘Jammie Award’ in February, winning the ‘Traditions’ award for their 2015 CD ‘Jukejoint Handmedowns Sing Songs of Death, Murder & the Afterlife’. The band feels tighter than it ever has, with several memorable performances this year, including our very first summer music festival appearance at the Buttermilk Jamboree. We signed on with a booking agent in September and are hoping that the coming year will see some interesting new opportunities come of this new relationship. We are also starting the recording process for our 4th CD, a collection of Michigan themed songs that we hope to release early summer of 2017. I continue to also play bass with the Kent Philharmonic Orchestra, challenging myself with classical music that is often way over my head, as well as playing bass with a few other groups. I’ve been finding this musical side of my life to be the most fulfilling, and I only wish it paid nearly as well as illustration. My friend Ted Bergin took a nice photo of me playing at our New Year’s Eve show, that I’m sharing here, and am hoping to get a signed and framed copy of this for my office.

My wife continues to work at a local travel agency as a graphic artist, and her job there offers her many opportunities for travel discounts, so we had several interesting vacations this past year. We shared a house on St. Croix with my Son and his girlfriend, my Brother, his wife, sister in law and a family friend for a week in January, and liked it so much that we are returning again (staying in a different part of the island) this coming January. We also went to Mexico in November with my Brother, his wife, sister in law and family friend, plus my Sister and her husband, and my wife took a trip to Ireland with a co-worker in February. My wife and I celebrated our 33rd wedding anniversary this past December.

My son surprised us with some good news in October, with the announcement that he and his girlfriend have gotten engaged to be married, and we look forward to wedding bells sometime in 2018. He currently works as an Apartment Leasing Agent in Chicago, and still plays with his jazz combo ‘Bonzo Terks’ around the Chicago area.

Meanwhile, I continue to plug away at this illustration business. Still undergoing major changes in the industry. Magazine and Newspaper work has dried up to a mere trickle as compared to 5-6 years ago, and I find myself doing a lot more book publishing work. This was in fact a record year for me as far as ‘books published’. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 9-10 books where my work is either featured or appears on the cover were published this year alone, and I’ve got several titles already lined up for the coming year, that I’ve either just finished or are in the works. I’ve also tried something new with regards to my ‘self promotion’, signing up for a page in the Directory of Illustration last year, which will be coming out in January of this year, and I’m hoping will result in some new clients over the coming year. I’ve never tried advertising with the Directory before, so I’ll let you know next year how that worked out. I always dread this next task of picking out my ‘best work’ of the year, as I usually forget most of the work that has come over my desk in the last 12 months, and worry that I didn’t do anything worth revisiting. But here we go, looking back over the past year, here’s what I’m most proud of:

 

Approximately 410 illustrations done in 2016, bringing the grand total up to 14,787 illustrations since I started in 1989.

Color Book

Dover, self portrait

Since I began doing more and more book publishing projects over the past few years, I have been posting less and less online samples (as I work on them), mostly due to pre-publication contractual obligations. A color book that I did for Dover last year (2015) has hit the market, and seems to be getting some decent customer reviews, and in a few of the reviews, they have posted thumbnails of most of the pages from the book, so I figure the cat is out of the bag on this one, so I’m going to post the illustrations from this book on this blog at long last. This was a ‘scratchboard/woodcut’ style coloring book project, and I was given little direction other than ‘use a variety of subject matter, flora, animals, people, landscape, abstract’, and basically anything that struck my fancy. It was a fun project in that respect (though I didn’t care for the ‘abstract’ topic, and you’ll see there’s only one example, and a poor one, at that). I even managed to sneak in a self portrait in one of the illustrations. I actually got a fan email shortly after this was published, which was a nice bonus.

So, anyways, here’s all the drawings from that book (some of them are in color, as I was asked to do a couple color versions for the cover and advertising), and here’s a link where to buy it on Amazon. Happy Coloring! (and if you like this one, there’s an even bigger follow-up volume that will be hitting the market soon, all animal images, that will include the animals from this book, plus fifty more)







Album Cover (maybe)

Jukejoint Handmedowns, music, self portrait

callwildweb
After six months of ‘busy’, I find myself suddenly in the summer slowdown period. Keeping myself busy with personal projects, and since the band is in the planning stages of another album, I got ahead of the ball and started work on the album cover. The concept of this next CD is a collection of songs about our home state, Michigan, and we’ve only just begun gathering and learning the songs, but as with the previous three albums, I’ve gotten the cover art done way ahead of the actual recording. I may change my mind in the coming months, and some revisions may still be taking place in the design, but so far I’m liking the direction.

Death Murder & the Afterlife

Jukejoint Handmedowns, music, self portrait

My band, the Jukejoint Handmedowns have just finished up their third album this past month, and they should be back from the manufacturer in a few weeks. Above is the design for the outside and interior spreads of the CD case, and below is the art for the CD and for both sides of a lyric sheet booklet to be included in the package (the first time we’ve tried doing a lyric sheet). Below that is a press release that we’ve put together for inclusion when we send the album out to radio stations, reviewers, etc.