Variations on a Theme


This was the first ‘theme’ assignment from Innovision (Critical Care Nurse). I would do these on an almost montly basis for the next year or so before budget cuts curtailed illustration usage. This wasn’t the first assignment from this client, I had done an unusual color cover illustration for them the month before, but this was the first ‘cover and inside’ project that would become the norm over the following year. The theme this month was ’emotional states’, starting with ‘joy’ on the cover, and the smaller inside black and white spots to cover things like love, depression, contentment, pain, rage etc.

Cartoons ‘n Such

Carus Publishing, Cobblestone, Gemini Publications, Innovision

The illustration to the left was for Gemini Publications (Grand Rapids Parent, Grand Rapids Magazine), and was for an article about ‘classic films’. The ‘santa stamp’ illustration below was another for the same client.

These two ‘apple head’ characters were for Appleseeds (Cobblestone). These were spots intended for multiple use in the magazine either as filler or as headers for recurring columns. I had done a series of ‘apple head’ characters for them earlier in the year, and would do another batch the following spring.

The ‘cornucopia’ illustration above was another for Gemini, probably about ‘holiday savings accounts’.
For the same client, for their ‘parenting publication’ I did a small black and white cartoon about ‘teacher conferences’ (pictured below)
The illustration to the left was another for the same client (and probably went with the ‘santa stamp’ illustration pictured above, now that I think of it). The illustration below was for Cobblestone, and was a cross section of a ‘refridgeration car’. I seem to remember this one was little other than updating an old piece of reference material and making it presentable for printing.

The illustration below with the awkward concept was for Innovision (Critical Care Nurse). I also began doing a monthly cover/inside spot assignment for this magazine starting this month, and these lasted about a year or so.


Carus Publishing, Cobblestone

I had a number of maps this month for Cobblestone. The above map of Kenya was for one of the ‘geograpy’ periodicals, as well as the smaller ‘locator’ map pictured to the left. I also had a map of Egypt and the Nile River this month, which would be revamped and rearranged for a two page spread layout a couple of years later. (pictured below)

You wouldn’t think these would be all that interesting to do, but to tell the truth, I had a lot of fun turning out all these maps for this client. There was something about using the other side of your brain, the problem solving side, which was a nice change of routine from the side that has to conceptualize and create visual puns.

The ones I liked best were maps with lots of topography, rivers, coastlines, color variations, but sometimes the assignments were little more than grunt work, copying and prettying up existing materials like the maps below for a ‘slave state’ map and for a map of a west coast subway system.

Playing with Paints

Carus Publishing, Gemini Publications, Newsday

One of the hardest styles to duplicate since going digital was an acrylic paint technique that I used to some little success in the mid nineties. I continue to experiment with the digital toolbox in an effort to recapture a workable ‘paint style’ that I feel doesn’t look too ‘digital’. Sometimes the experiments work out nicely, like the ‘recipe’ illustration above for Newsday. Other times they experiments are dismal failures, like the quickie spot I did for Gemini (Grand Rapids Magazine) pictured to the right.

To the left is another small spot for the same local client. This one tries to mix up a line technique with a painterly approach for the ‘water’ to mixed results.

Another sorry example of a ‘mixed medium’ approach is another illustration for Newsday pictured below. My biggest problem with the ‘paint’ technique is that I never seem to have the nerve to go dark enough and everything comes out rather light and washed out.

I was lucky around this time to have several clients who allowed me the chance to experiment in these different styles, and most of the time, fall flat on my face. Every failure was a valuable learning experience. The two illustrations above and below were for Cobblestone for a story about ‘freedom of the press’.

Black and White

ChronicleHE, Legal Times, Newsday

The above illustration was a same day for Newsday, depicting the peace negotiations between Netanyahu and Arafat (I guess the Israel leader is running out the clock here). I think the illustration below was another for the same client this month, and probably another same day situation. The illustration below that was another ‘republican elephant’ drawing, this one dealing with the upcoming Y2K fears.

The illustration to the right on different forms of evidence was for Legal Times, as was the caricature below of Hillary Clinton. This was the first time I was asked to do an image of the first lady, and it isn’t a particularly good one (a better likeness of Eleanor Roosevelt in the picture frame).

This rather bizarre illustration below was for the Chronicle of Higher Education. I was asked to draw a globe, but with the different landmasses as ‘faces’. Not crazy about how this one turned out.