February Scratchboard Roundup

Bartender, ChronicleHE, Legal Times, Newsday

The above illustration and the one to the left were both for Legal Times in February. The ‘wizard of oz’ illo above was one of those ‘money saving’ assignments where the editors ask for one big complicated illustration that can then be cut up into five or six different spot illustrations for reuse on the interior. It usually makes for a complex mess of an image, and this one was no exception, although it is better than most of its brethren. There were in fact many sections of the art that I liked a lot; the ‘dorothy and her posse’ group, the monkey with the paints, and the poppies, but a lot of the additional bits and pieces were a bit of a stretch conceptually and got in the way of a nice illustration. I ended up using a couple bits and pieces later for a promo mailing. The illustration to the left was another in a long line of ‘Ken Starr’ illustrations I’ve been doing for this publication around this time.

I had a few pieces for the Chronicle of Higher Education this month involving education and computers, and these both turned out quite nice. Rather simple in concept and clean in execution.

The illustration below was for Newsday, and had something to do with the Secret Service. Getting more mileage out of that old ‘see no evil’ cliche. Below that was another cliche variation for the same client, this one on ‘drug advice’ for teens.

I also had a rather unusual assignment from a new client this month, Bartender Magazine .I was asked to draw a male figure and a female figure as medical ‘cutaways’ to show the ‘anatomy of a bartender’. The two figures were combined for a cover illustration (pictured below). This job probably came about because of an illustration that I included in my latest mailing brochure. A similar scratchboard ‘anatomy’ drawing that I had done for Strang Communications back in ’92.

College Spots


Most of the spots that I did for Oxendine Publishing (Student Leader), over the course of the year, were of the size pictured above. But once a year, around mid-semester, they would put together a special ‘best of’ issue, and I would be given a series of 16 or so ‘larger spots’ that required a bit more work. Each was a special activity or event held at a regional college, and would require a goofy image based on the activity, and some mention of the institution’s name included in the picture. I was working at this time in a strange new style that I had come up with just for this client, and it was becoming increasingly clear that this wasn’t going to work out if I had to do these on a regular basis. Each spot ended up being way too much work and time involved compared to what the budget called for, and by the end of the year I had changed styles to a more manageable ‘cartoon’ approach.

While this style ended up being a dead end ultimately, it was a pretty good chance to practice and learn a lot of new techniques in a short period of time, and was probably a great experience builder (both as to ‘what to do’ as well as ‘what not to do’).

February Cartoons

Carus Publishing, Cobblestone, Gemini Publications

The illustration above was for Oddysey magazine (Cobblestone) in February, something to do with GPS tracking satellites no doubt. The remainder of the illustrations in this post were for Gemini Publications (Grand Rapids Magazine & Parent). These are starting to appear much more like the sort of work I was doing for this client prior to the digital changeover. The roughly drawn border was a stylistic technique that I used a lot in the past (left). I also did a bit more ‘linework’, ie; crosshatching, shading lines etc that I eventually phased out of my cartoon style.

I smiled when I ran across the illustration below, as this was no less than an image of my own son’s ‘blankie-pipe’, his security blanket and pacifier that he used when he was a wee tot. Many years back at this point (he would be about 9 years old at the time this drawing was done), but I still remembered it well.

Unpublished Work


From time to time I take some of my rejected sketches and finish them up just for practice’s sake, and in the off chance that they may find homes elsewhere on the reprint market. The illustration above started life as an alternate sketch idea for a story on retirement for National Business Employment Weekly back in the fall of ’97. I finished up the sketch in January of ’98 along with the unpublished work below, which was an alternate sketch for Legal Times in December.

In February, I finished up a couple more rejected sketches. The ‘money house’ above was a rejected sketch for Newsday, and the ‘computer’ illustration below was originally one of the sketch ideas for the Chronicle of Higher Education.

In April and May, I also finished up a couple other orphaned sketches (above and below), although I don’t quite remember who the original client was in each of these cases.


Carus Publishing, ChronicleHE, Cobblestone, TeriO

One of the benefits (or drawbacks, depending on how you look at it) of this new digital style, was the ability to try out new techniques and styles that I had previously steered clear of. More often than not I was fairly green to the use of these techniques (like airbrush above, or oils below), but I am always eager to try something new, even if I fall flat on my face. Thankfully, there are clients who are willing to fall with you.

The above illustration was for my agent, for the Amway Corporation. One of the rare occasions where I’ve ever tried something approaching airbrushed realism. I did pretty good on the ‘smooth and juicy bits’, but wasn’t so good on the other textures, like the pineapple skin and the kiwi hulls.

I also had an assignment this month for the Chronicle of Higher Education on the subject of ‘human cloning’. I thought it only fitting that I used a lot of cloning techniques in creating the image.

Another map for Cobblestone, this one a lot of fun with lots of mountains and rivers. This is only my third or fourth map for this client so far since going digital, and it looks like I’m still working some of the bugs out of my technique.

For the same client, I had a series of illustrations for a story about the ‘orphan trains’ of the thirties. I liked how the first ilustration came out, but the other two were a little ‘iffy’ both in layout and execution.