Fall Mailing

personal, Self Promotion

Around this time in September of ’04, I was staying in South Haven, Michigan, caring for my Father, who was undergoing chemo treatments. I was getting a bit worried about the impact of working at a remote location like this for such a long period of time would have on my business. I worked up this illustration as a way of ‘beating the bushes’ and reminding everyone that I was still here and available for work. This is one of my favorite mailings that I’ve done in the 16 or so years that I’ve been doing this, and has actually stayed pretty fresh for years afterwards (I usually dislike anything I’ve done, once a little time has passed). I’ve been reusing the black and white image on the back of the postcard for subsequent mailings ever since. This postcard garnered me quite a bit of ‘nautical themed’ work in the years since I sent it out, and I’ve been quite happy with that result, as it was in the back of my mind that it might work out that way while I was designing it.

Earlier in the summer, I had drawn up a precursor to this image, using instead of a squid, one of those mythical ‘sea monsters’ from old maps. This was a nice black and white illustration, but didn’t have the power of the simpler image that I eventually used for the postcard.

A Heaping Helping of Spots

Instructional Fair, self portrait

During the month of September, I was living and working in South Haven, caring for my Father as he underwent a series of chemo treatments. Most of the work, aside from the usual workload, during this month was taken up by a series of workbook projects for Carson Dellosa (previously Instructional Fair). I’d been doing work for this client since the late 90s, mostly with the same editor/designer, and these would be the last batches that we would work together on, as the company underwent some restructuring and trimming of staff recently. In this posting are a small sampling from each book. Each book contained somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 spot illustrations, varying in size and shape. Sometimes they were fairly straightforward depictions of objects/topics, and other times I was allowed a little leeway to make them a bit more ‘fun’.

The illustration at the top was to show a ‘queue’ of people (I don’t remember what they were in line for), but I chose this opportunity to include some of my family and a close friend in this particular illustration. My Father is the fellow in the wheelchair (he isn’t looking too good, he was getting quite skinny and frail looking around this time), and I did a self portrait (the guy with the bandanna and goatee), and in front of me is my son Keenan (just starting high school at this time), then my wife, Terri is in front of him, and then, in the bathing suit, is Candy, a good friend of ours.

These illustrations were invaluable as practice and development of my ‘cartoon style’ which underwent a great deal of refinement during the many projects that this publisher sent my way over the past several years. I also believe it helped me simplify my scratchboard technique, even though I only did a few pieces in that style for this client, as it helped me to see that sometimes ‘less is more’, and to hone in my concept skills in order to fit a lot of information into a tiny space.

One thing I’m not sure about, however, is what the status is regarding reprint rights on these illustrations. I remember bringing up the topic once when we were discussing the contract, but I don’t remember what was decided upon. Most of the illustrations in these books were fairly specialized and probably wouldn’t be of any interest to others as far as reprints go, but there were quite a few, like the some of the pieces that I’ve chosen to post here, that were generic enough, that they might find use elsewhere. I’ll have to do some research into my old files and see if I have anything in writing.

One of the other benefits to working on these projects, was in training myself to work fairly expediently. I’ve always worked kind of fast before (coming from a ‘quick printer’ background in the 80s), but the sheer volume and deadlines on these pieces forced me to kick up the speed a notch. Overall, these projects were quite enjoyable from an experience standpoint, and from a personal standpoint, even though the pay and contracts could have been better. And I sort of miss working in this style. Color is fine and fun, but there’s something to be said for the simplicity of black and white.

So, overall, with 4 books with about 20 illustrations each, I ended up doing about 80 drawings in the month of September, and I have to say, that after doing these for the past 4 or 5 years, that this batch was my personal favorite, despite the situation and circumstances under which I was working. Perhaps it was the work that helped me pull through this period.

ADDENDUM: I originally wrote this blog entry in 2009, backdating it to 2004. In 2018, I’ve begun overhauling the blog, and I’ve been posting more of these early ‘Instructional Fair’ illustrations in their entirety. The entries are scattered around the year 2004 (dated as close as possible to their original creation), and titled by book name.

Teamwork Test Prep Grade Seven

Instructional Fair



Another one of six books I did for Instructional Fair in 2004. I had previously posted only a few samples from the entire series of books, but I am now going back and posting each book’s illustrations in their entirety (posting this entry in 2018). Seeing as how the books are now almost fifteen years old and certainly out of print (and I’m not sure if the company I worked for is still in business). Anyhow, here are all the illustrations from ‘Teamwork Test Prep Grade Seven’.



September Spots

Carus Publishing, ChronicleHE, WSJ

Aside from the mountain of workbook illustrations mentioned in the other Sept 04 posting, I had a smattering of other illustration assignments from my regular clientele. The above illustration was for the Wall Street Journal, and regarded particularly slow moving bond funds. For the same client, below, were my regular ‘health care’ column gig, on topics like ‘contact lenses’, ‘stretches’, ‘heating lotions’ and ‘acupuncture for pregnancy’.
For the same client, I had a rush same day job about the ‘global economy’. I remember the globe being particularly tricky, once I had committed myself to drawing in those longitude and lattitude lines.

And another of my semi-regular gigs, a puzzle page for Oddysey (Cobblestone). I don’t quite remember the gist of this particular brain teaser, but I remember having fun with the bunnies and doggies around the outside.

And finally, the Chronicle of Higher Education gave me this assignment having to do with tuitions and kickbacks, featuring our old cliche friend the ‘fat cat with cigar’.