For a while between ’98 and 2000 I was doing a regular feature for a glossy high quality mystery fiction magazine. This was a short lived publication put out by a long established women’s interest magazine, similar to the kind of work I had been providing for my other pulp digest, but with better rates and color assignments. Oddly enough these projects took place neatly between the short hiaitus that the other ‘mystery digest’ client put me on (not sure what happened, but work dried up for a while from this long time client, but then resumed to a more regular schedule starting around this year). These assignments were for a regular feature where they discussed trademark mystery characters from a variety of established authors. I was asked to concentrate more on the character’s quirks, environment and window dressings, but to try and avoid showing much of their faces. This was the 2nd or 3rd batch of these ‘character portraits’ that I did for this client. These were fun and challenging, and I’m sorry that the magazine didn’t last longer than it did.
I had a caricature assignment this month from a new client, an east coast college mouthpiece magazine. I approached this one a little differently than my usual style, and I was quite happy with how it turned out. Haven’t had much chance to go back to this style since, though.
I had a couple assignments this month from my children’s consumer magazine client. I dont’ remember what the deal was with these two illustrations, but I’m sure they were connected with some sort of ‘puzzle’ in each case. I had a lot of fun with the ‘faux product designs’ below, it took me back to my youth, collecting and studying the artwork on ‘wacky packages’.
The ‘globe’ illustration above was for a local religious organization’s monthly magazine, and the illustration below was another in a series of ‘recipe’ articles that I contributed to for a while for my east coast newspaper client.
I had another textbook project this month from an east coast publisher. These were a series of black and white scratchboard illustrations on a variety of subjects. I had the impression that I was only one of several illustrators working on this book project. I had another batch of similar illustrations for the same client the month before. Some were of a nautical nature, and there were a few that had to do with space travel, and archaology, and there were a series of illustrations about a young boy from an aleutian fishing village. I had a little more time with this project than I normally do with a lot of my ‘same day’ work, so a lot of them came out quite nice.
It was with this project that I really started using the ‘scratchboard rake’ tool in my Painter software, mostly as a way of putting down ‘grey areas’ in the background that I could sculpt into clouds or fog shrouded mountains or whatever the illustration called for. This would become a tool that I would lean on heavier and heavier as the years went by, and would find new and interesting ways to put it to use. For those not familiar with the ‘rake’, it is a tool that allows you to draw several parallel lines in scratchboard at the same time, and if you keep them fairly straight, you can copy and past a number of them together to give yourself a ‘grey field’ that you can then go back into with a white tool and manipulate in a manner of ways. Sometimes it takes a bit more forethought and planning ahead of time but it makes for a much cleaner image and is worth the trouble.
One of the wonderful things about a multi-image project like this with a consistent style, is that it gives you invaluable experience at working on your techniques. I think I learned more new things about scratchboard with these two book projects than I had in years of day to day work. You’ll see lots of these new techniques and tricks popping up in everyday projects in the months and years to come.
The above illustration was for my national newspaper client, as was the ‘zen investor’ illustration below. I had a rare reprint request (rare at this time anyway, outside of my usual arrangement with a stock art syndicate I was involved with) for the above illustration, and was my first experience with setting my own prices for reprints.
Also, this month, I got involved with designing some toy blocks for a local toy manufacturer. The idea for this product, was a series of square wooden blocks, with designed printed on them (like the sampling above), based on the ‘three little pigs’ story. Some would be plain brick patterns, some would have doors, some would have windows, some would be ‘made of sticks’, ‘straw’ etc, some would have the pigs on them, some would have a wolf. I suppose the kid would build a ‘house’ and then could huff and puff and knock it down. I’m not sure if this toy ever really ‘took off’, as well as some of their other product lines that I was involved with.
I had a rare black and white full page assignment for my midwest lawyer magazine client (usually these assignments are in color).
To the left was a rather simple spot illustration for my educational publication client, something to do with DNA or the human genome project, no doubt.
Below was a ‘same day’ illustration for my east coast newspaper client. This one having to do with book editing I think.
And finally, a black and white cartoon assignment through my agent, for a michigan regional parenting publication. (pictured below)