Mortarboards and Luxury Items

Barrons, Christian Home & School, ChronicleHE, Far East Economic Review, WSJ

A couple of assignments for the Chronicle of Higher Education came through in February. The one above concerned tenured professorships in some capacity (protecting tenure perhaps?), and the one to the left involved federal funds. One of the better Uncle Sams I’d done in a while (another staple of the editorial illustration cliche playbook, and I’ve lost track of how many I’ve done – right up there with cigar chomping fat cats, mortarboard wearing profs, bears, bulls and the perennial favorite, the bag with a money symbol printed on the front). I particularly liked the challenge of drawing someone upside down, I thought I did a rather nice job on Sam’s pants.

Had another assignment for Barrons, a publication I’ve been working with for a year or so now. Love drawing sailboats and water, any excuse will do. This one had to do with navigating rough seas ahead for certain stocks. Fun and challenging trying to fit in a lot of information (and a sailboat and rough seas) into a fairly tight little image area. Kept this one fairly simple despite the busy nature of the composition and it seemed to work ok.

Had an illustration assignment around this time for Christian Home and School. This full page went with a story about making new students feel welcome. One of the rare chances lately where I’ve been able to draw some children who are actually a little closer in age to my own son.

Did a series of tiny spots for the Wall Street Journal around this time period. These spots were to accompany a story about luxury items and I needed to do one on ‘fine art’, one on ‘sports cars’, one on ‘homes’, and another on ‘watches’, and then as a last minute addition, they needed a few of these items squeezed together into an ‘overview’ spot. Alert readers will notice that on the ‘fine art’ spot, I reuse an illustration that I did for a Sexuality College Textbook that I did back in the beginning of my career (although filtered through the software’s ‘Van Gogh’ cloning tool).

I’d done a similar series of spots for this client before (perhaps more than once), as it seems to be an annual story around tax time for this publication. I don’t normally like drawing cars, but for some reason, all the times I’ve been pressed into service lately in this capacity, I seem to actually like the finished product. Perhaps I’m finally learning how to draw the pesky things.

Here’s one of the spots a little bigger to see the detail a little better. Another assignment from this client (which I haven’t bothered to include here for reasons that will become clear), was a rather strange one. I was asked to draw a ‘family tree’ regarding various tv dramas and sitcoms and tracing each of their spinoffs. I was required to include photos from each show, and somehow fit all their branching and overlapping limbs into a rather small spot area. It didn’t turn out too bad looking, but really didn’t involve a heck of a lot of actual drawing, it was more of a logistical problem solving exercise.

Also around this time got a job for The Far Eastern Economic Review, out of Hong Kong, with another of my favorite (?) subjects to draw – buildings and architecture. This one was about the modernization of certain banks in China. Needed to fit in a horizontal space which made things a bit tricky layout-wise.

In addition, I also had my usual small spot every other monday for the WSJ, a ‘dubious health care’ column that I’ve been providing tiny little drawings for a number of years now. This one seemed to be about either temperature checking devices, or looking into your child’s ear canal. I can’t quite remember now what the exact topic was.
I usually provide a trio of sketches for each article, running the gamut from very conservative scenes involving the product or claim, to some very strange playful takes on the overall topic. This would be a good example of one of the more conservative concepts.

Oscar Poster 2007

Oscar Poster

For the past few years, I have been drawing a commemorative Academy Award poster for my brother’s annual ‘Oscar Party’ in Chicago, and printing up a nice big copy of it for him to frame. I usually try to include each of the major nominees in all the acting categories, as well as squeezing in a director or two, a documentary if it is well known, and a small nod to the animated features. It is usually a logistical challenge trying to fit everything in, and takes a lot of research, especially on the faces of little known ‘supporting actor’ nominees. I generally have a lot of fun with these things, and it is nice to keep in practice with my caricature skills, which only occasionally get called upon in my day to day projects.

These posters are available as large quality prints (18 x 20 if I remember correctly), and signed by the artist for a price of $75 each. Click on the image to see a larger, detailed version.

This year, the weather conspired against us and we had to miss my brother’s party. Prior to the oscars we had seen: Little Miss Sunshine (which we loved), The Departed , Borat, and Little Children, and after the oscars, we managed to catch up with many of the rest: Babel, Volver, Pursuit of Happyness, Dreamgirls, The Queen, The Devil Wears Prada, Half Nelson, Pan’s Labyrinth, The Lives of Others, Letters from Iwo Jima and Inconvenient Truth.

All the posters in this┬áseries can be found under the ‘Portfolio’ menubar.

Cat and Mouse Movie


Another experimental movie during some down time from work. Playing around with the animation tools in my Painter software. Most of my previous experiments had been simple loops (animal or person walking), and here I tried to have a character walk from one side of the frame to the other, while another character interacts. Was originally planning on having a whole cat parade walking by, combining the various character designs that I worked up as separate elements, but I eventually either ran out of steam, or some paying work came through and thankfully sidetracked me. I’m still figuring out how to post these animations, so bear with me. (hopefully I can eventually get them a little better quality and bigger size in the future)

Music: Intro to “On With the Show” copyright 2007 Tim Foley

I’ve Been Working on the Railroad

AHMM, Westword, WSJ

Took in a job in early February from a new client, Westward magazine. Not often I get work from the western side of the country, and with a new client I set about to really knock their socks off, even though drawing trains, planes and automobiles are not my strong suits.
This was to be a homage to those old ‘train tourism posters’, but the trick was they wanted to show somehow that the track was unfinished. In my original sketch I had the ties all in disarray in the foreground, but the client felt that it looked too confusing and messy, thus the rather abrupt track cutoff that we see here. The upper portion would be covered by the masthead, and the lower quarter would be covered by text, so mostly I was concerned with making the middle third look good. Looking back on it now, I’m not crazy with how I handled the bushes and foliage along the sides of the foreground, but I do like how the colors work. This was a departure for me, as far as technique and materials, I ended up using oil pastels for most of it, but also experimenting a little bit with a few of the ‘oil brush’ tools in my digital toolbox.

Most of the rest of the workload during these two weeks was provided by the Wall Street Journal. Nothing much of an adventuresome nature as far as concepts, bears, bulls (both pictured above), investor sitting on a pile of money (right), investors shopping at an outdoor market for ‘stocks’ (conveniently labelled ‘stocks’ so you don’t get confused – pictured below) but the layouts and techniques kept things interesting (as well as the challenge of trying to fit things into certain proscribed image areas).

In addition to the mess of spots for the Journal, I also had another in a long line of ‘dubious health care’ spot illustrations. This one was one of my favorites, probably for the whole 2007 year (looking back on it from December). Babies are notoriously hard to draw, but I liked how I was able to fit one into a really tiny space and have it work. This article was about fertility drugs. I liked this so much that I ended up using it a couple months later for a self promo postcard.

Also had another fiction black and white illustration for Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. This one concerned a ghost town in an east coast mining town, and the ‘detective’ in this case was a nun. Had to do a little research on nun’s habits for this one (surprising I wasn’t already adept at this particular costume considering how many years I’ve put in working for catholic and jesuit publications)