Maps Portraits and Food

Carus Publishing, Newsday

Some nice maps this month for my children’s magazine client. A couple on the Panama canal (including an unusual birds eye view layout above which I thought turned out quite nice), and an island map of Jamaica with some fun topography. (both pictured below)

Portraits were on the menu in a big way this month. For the same children’s magazine client, I had a cover illustration depicting many famous American women in history, done in colored pencils in a style reminiscent of the sort of work they were pushing back in art school

(speaking of which, I really should try and do one of those ‘bleach on colored matte board’ style illustrations that we used to do back in school, just for fun, I’m sure there must be a ‘bleach tool’ in my digital toolbox – file that idea for future reference…)

Also, for the same client this month, I had a series of portraits for an article about famous German-Americans. These were done in such a way to look as if they were photographs pinned to a bulletin board (with the background color going across the full two page spreads), so I did each portrait in a slightly different style to help accentuate the ‘bulletin board’ effect.

Also, this month, marked the end of a series of illustrations that I was providing for my east coast newspaper client for a couple of years in which I would do illustrations for food recipes. I would do these in a variety of styles, but mostly ‘faux paintings’. The ones pictured below were for a recipe on ‘grandma’s bean pie’, and a faux japanese watercolor for a piece on ‘miso soup’ (note one of the rare times that I sign one of my illustrations – as a way of imitating one of the watercolor ‘ownership stamps’ that frequently appear on these old watercolors).

Black and White Scratchboards

AHMM, ChronicleHE, WSJ

The above ‘new years predictions’ illustration was for my national newspaper client in January (as are many of the illustrations in this post). During this time period, I rarely did any color work for this particular newspaper, only in later years would color become more prevalent. Also, up til this time, most of the work for this client was of the ‘small spot’ variety, and this month would bring a few larger assignments from this periodical. This was a bit of a challenge, since I wasn’t used to working in scratchboard at larger sizes, and hadn’t yet come up with the strategies that I would later rely on for making larger pieces work – for one thing, I need to adjust the size and detail of my ‘brushstrokes’, because at a larger size, the tight detailed work tends to overwhelm the image, which you can see in the two examples below.

Both the above image and the one to the left were significantly ‘larger’ assignments than I was used to getting from this client, and while I was thrilled with the increase in available space, it took a while before I learned to cope with it.

Below are a few more ‘medium sized’ illustrations for the same client in January (they kept me pretty busy this month).

In addition to all the work from the newspaper, I also had another fiction piece for my long time ‘mystery digest’ client. Around this time, the illustrations needed to share space with the title and author, and they would frequently either fade to black at either the top or the bottom, or fade to white. Sometimes you would just get assigned a half page, and half the page would be taken up with not only the title and author, but a portion of the text.

And finally, the illustration to the right was for an educational publication. This one having something to do with overpopulation. Thank goodness for the ‘copy and paste’ function. This would have taken forever in the days before digital illustration.


ChronicleHE, Cricket, Newsday, US Catholic

This month I had a ‘boy’s adventure’ type story for a children’s magazine. This one involved a couple of young boys who were trapped in a town fire and took refuge in a well. I used my son for the models on each of these boys, but had to ‘age’ them a little bit since they were a little older than my son was at the time. I thought these turned out quite nice, especially the layout of the ‘well scene’ (left). The image above has actually been cropped down, as it originally was a two page spread (mostly taken up with those fiery orange and red colors).

The ‘uncle sam deportation’ illustration below, was one for an east coast legal newspaper, and below that, was an illustration about ‘paid advertising programming in classrooms’ for a different east coast newspaper. Below that, for the same client, was a trio of caricatures of certain NY politicos. I’ve had to draw the guy in the driver’s seat many times over the years, and I always seem to have trouble with him, in this one, he almost looks a bit like Kevin Spacey.

Also this month, I had a couple color scratchboard assignments for a catholic magazine (left), and a piece on ‘cursive writing’ (I think) from an educational publication.


Cobblestone, Gemini Publications, Metro Detroit Parent, Newsday

I had a fun cartoon assignment for my east coast newspaper client in January. This was a large horizontal busy illustration that was to accompany an article about all the different ‘camp options’ available to send kids to in the summer (horse camp, music camp, etc etc). I’ve enlarged one section of it to better show the details that went into it. This was a favorite piece of the year, and would be used long afterwards as a sample of my ‘cartoon style’ on my own website.

This month marked the final two spot illustrations that I would provide for a long time local client, a regional magazine that I’d been working for since my first year in business. The rates were always very low, but the deadlines were usually pretty liberal, and I was always given lots of freedom and it was a good opportunity to practice my cartooning skills. My workload was becoming such, though, that I could no longer justify the time spent on these assignments.

Above was another ‘puzzle page’ assignment from a children’s publication that I did regularly for a number of years. This one with a fun ‘sci fi’ theme.

To the left and below, are a few black and white cartoon assignments for my agent, for a michigan regional parenting publication.

2000 Year in Review

Year In Review

One of my busiest years, but oddly enough not my most prosperous. The Wall Street Journal started giving me a lot of work this year, but wouldn’t hit their high water mark for a couple years. A lot of work for Instructional Fair, and for a couple other children’s educational publishers, like Brown Publishing and Adventure House. Prior to this point in my career, I was pretty open to whatever work came down the pike (drawing the line at work for ‘spec’ or ‘exposure’ or ‘tear sheets in lieu of payment’), but in later years I would begin getting a bit more picky in regards to minimum payment for contracted work, which unfortunately, left a few of my older clients by the wayside.

I don’t remember much else about this year other than the fizzle of the ridiculous Y2K scare on the first day of the year, because of how very busy I was with the heavy workload. I don’t think we took a vacation this year, as it was rather hard to get away from the office. What amazed me about looking back through this years’ work, was how much of a percentage of my work was my ‘cartoon style’ and how the ‘scratchboard style’ was still in its infancy in many ways, despite over ten years of experience at it.

Illustration tally for 2000 was about 1,376 illustrations (300 fewer than the previous year, but salary was up by almost 45%, so I must’ve been doing something right), bringing the 11 year total up to 7,365. Anyhow, these are what I consider to be my strongest illustrations of 2000: