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)