Saturday, November 26, 2022

On the Digital Drawing board wrap-up: Google, Pixar, Spanx, Elections and Books

Over the past few months I’ve had trouble finding time to post here. It remains that way. Seven corporate projects and three book illustration jobs currently reside on the drawing board, and I recently turned down a few new projects, due to being overbooked. Good to be busy, yes, but perhaps a bit too much. Thanksgiving weekend is providing a nice break and time with my family. I have a few minutes while everyone is asleep, to stop in and write a little.
I will waste no time in briefly sharing a few recent things…
We'll start things off with one of a large number of political cartoons created the recent election. This one covers the Liz Cheney - Harriet Hageman race, Hageman won, (and the final election was all but decided long before November.)

I was contacted by an editor in Philadelphia to do a series of political cartoons for her magazine, beginning with cartoons covering this race. And on that note, I think it's amazing how a political race (for the only seat) in Wyoming became a national news story. Additionally, celebrities (like Kevin Costner) have been spotted wearing a t-shirts supporting each of the candidates. 

A side note: after drawing the two women, I can say that they are both very interesting looking people.


  An illustration of Roseanne Cash performing at Carnegie hall. One of over a dozen illustrations currently in process for a book about prioritization. The author just sent it to the publisher for final editing.

I'm in the early stages of illustrating a children's book called "The Moon and the Mantis".
Here are some initial design illustrations for one of the main characters...

A cartoon illustration commissioned by a CitiGroup executive for a presentation to investment bakers.  


A samples of several cartoons created for Pathway Academy in London.


This is an illustration that I did for a racing team in Minneapolis. The team owner called this week and requested that I draw in some of the logos on the front and top wings, (details that will show up much better on posters and shirts...clicken to embiggen - to better see them here.)


 Another ongoing project is for a new physician-led start-up in North Carolina that helps doctors to hone and refine their business practices. Let's be honest, most physicians have spent years in medical school, then  residency, and are simply constantly busy, with precious few hours left over to learn business strategies and skills. Insurance, Medicare, and Obamacare have also driven them into smaller incomes and fights for payments. I am working with a physician-organization designed to teach doctors how to regain financial control of their practices. The first order of business was to create a character that will appear in a series of courses and videos.


I was recently hired by Google to create a series of cartoons for their advertising. They first contacted me a couple of years ago to create some humor for meetings with executives of large client companies. The goal this time is to compare the benefits of their cloud storage to that of AWS (Amazon) and Microsoft. To be candid, data storage is fairly boring subject matter...and they want humor to season it, like herbs added to a an otherwise good-looking but bland quiche or soufflé . (Now I have a hankering for a hunk of Gruyère cheese.)
So, I'm starting by having some fun with the writing. (And Google's plentiful budget allows for lots of playing.) I'm in the midst of initial concepts and rough sketches, and will share some finished things soon.

Another fun project currently on the board is a new book illustration project for an author who is a former Apple and DreamWorks executive. He has an agent and publisher in hand and he has been working with an editor. He’ll remain nameless right now…but I’ll just say that he contacted me a few months back to help him by writing humor and then illustrating his concepts in a way that hopefully helps to keep the reader engaged. I can't divulge what it's about or share images, as it is under non-disclosure wraps for now, via his agent and publisher. Suffice it to say that after reading it, this seems like a book that will appeal to a good number of readers, particularly in the corporate world.


Next up: a personal commission depicting Sara Blakely (Spanx clothing founder) and her husband, Jesse Itzler, (owner of the Atlanta Hawks NBA team) I was hired to create it by a long-time client who is a friend of theirs, and this will presented to them as gift at their home. The scene is an inside joke about online dating, and the language and misspellings used in meeting each other. I don’t fully get that joke, but I have been assured that they will….which is what matters. Meanwhile, it has been fun to draw them in a relatively simple style, (less detailed than I do for most personal commissions and caricature illustrations.)
Sara Blakely


Here’s something currently on the drawing board for a law firm in NYC with whom I’ve worked for several years. This is a Holiday greeting card that will be mailed to their friends and clients and also posted online as part of a charitable donation drive for the homeless. In this case, the concept and dialogue was written by some of the partners in the firm...I served as the illustrator. (Gray scale first draft was just approved, and I added color..will send it off later today.)


Lastly, we’re enjoying a visit from our daughter during college fall break. 

Happy Thanksgiving - hope your celebration and family time was as nice as ours.

Sunday, October 02, 2022

Relaxation and reflection

My family and I wrapped up busy few months of work - with a few trips. The first was a visit to see my Mom and my brother and his family in Chicago. The Windy City was spectacular as always., and we enjoyed some time together.

A month later, a jaunt to the Rocky Mountains Summit area. We brought the puppy and spent a few days mountain biking, riding horses and also getting to the top of a few peaks. (The pup was very interested in the view)

Had to add this...on our way home from the mountains, 
we saw this dog - a few blocks from our home.
The next trip was a 1,200 mile drive to Nashville. My daughter has been in an illustration and animation program at Lipscomb University over the past three years. She is studying with several Disney artists and animators… and is starting her senior year. This time she wanted to have her car on campus and I guess I can understand that. (I had a car on campus my last two years in college - a small British two-.seater that I worked two summers to buy used for the grand sum of $3,000.) The freedom that comes with a spur of the moment drive after a long day of classes - Or a weekend cruise to a nearby town or park - is hard to beat. 

So, during the month before the trip I did some maintenance on her car just to make sure it was up to not only making the long trip but being away for eight months, and then returning. I like to work on cars and I needed to take a break. The two-day trip was lots of fun, driving through Kansas and Missouri seeing St. Louis and a good part of the heartland. We stayed overnight in Overland Park Kansas which was just about halfway. 

When we arrived, it was a matter of moving boxes, a refrigerator, and shelving into my daughters new residence with her roommate from last year. Lots of fun and exercise. We spent the last night in downtown Nashville, enjoying some live music, I’m back now and catching up, but I have to admit, I really miss my daughter.

Monday, May 30, 2022

On the Digital Drawing Board

Happy Memorial Day! 

The annual Bolder Boulder 10K race just wrapped up, (after a two-year pandemic hiatus) attracting over 40,000 runners from around the globe. It was great to see the race resume and so many people enjoying the spectacle. We just watched the jets fly over the finish line at the University of Colorado's Folsom Stadium.

This is just a quick drop-in to share a few things that have been on the drawing board... 

 First, a caricature illustration of the current POTUS, for a book being published by Wiley and Sons later this summer.

As always, I cover both sides of the aisle
Next, a cartoon of the previous POTUS, that I created a couple of years ago, which was
recently licensed by McGraw Hill Publishing, for a college political science textbook. 

I was recently commissioned by a San Francisco design firm to do 12 large format comic art pieces for their client, prominent Internet security firm, Zscaler. The pieces feature caricature-based illustrations of executives and elected officials of their top clients - for whom they wish to show appreciation.
MOst of the companies are Silicon Valley tech firms, and one of the illustrations depicts officials in the The City of Los Angeles Mayor's office.  These were created at 5" X 15", printed on high quality archival stock, and then matted, framed, and presented to each executive as a gift.

Here are the first two:

(Click to enlarge)


A commissioned gift illustration created for a retiring English teacher at a high school in North Carolina. A group of his fellow teachers and friends hired me to draw this - and to show he's a poker-playing Elvis fan - who also loves reading Faulkner!

This was created at 11" X 18", sent digitally to the client, who then had it printed at local printer on special paper stock, (I always include instructions for that), then matted, and framed. It was presented to the gentleman at his retirement party.)


A large caricature illustration for doctor and his a group of friends, commemorating a vacation they are taking together in June. (It will appear on framed prints, as well as t-shirts. The doctor who commissioned this requested that I draw large heads, ala carnival caricatures, but with greater detail.

  (And in case you were wondering, I was asked to draw the mostly nude woman just like she was in a photo provided - with exaggeration of course. You've got to love folks with no inhibitions.)


 Clicken to embiggen



I'm currently illustrating several books. Two are children's books; one for an author on London, and another for an author in Phoenix.

 There are two fascinating "non-children's books" on the board. The first is for a former executive of Dreamworks Inc., who has a unique philosophy for transforming organizations. He also has quite a following with his Ted Talks and at SXSW in Austin. I'm enjoying chatting with him and brainstorming on humor to introduce his concepts.

Another interesting project of note...a series of political cartoons commissioned to expose the actions of the Southern Baptist Convention. This has been a national news story over the past year, and was covered in the Washington Post last week. The 8 cartoons I am creating will accompany the writing of a prominent news columnist. Here's the first cartoon, just finished today:

Happy Memorial Day! May your summer months begin with zeal!

Friday, December 31, 2021

Happy New Year

It's nearing the end of the Holiday Season, and I don't know about you, but it seems like I've had little extra time - for a while. So, I have been absent here. But now that we have an entirely New Year to play with, our slates are clean! (Kidding.) New commitments and adventures await, for all of us. 

For the first time in years we did not send out a custom family Christmas card. I was swamped with client projects, my wife and daughter equally busy with work and school...and just as we were catching our breath, unfortunately, our family dog passed away. I drew a card, but didn't have the heart, or the time to print it and mail it.

Without further pontificating, I'll share a few recent things.

First, some photos from a family Christmas trip to visit my Mom in Illinois..



First, from the drawing board last month are two New Yorker cartoons.

This idea germinated after speaking with a client who is a Federal judge regarding the evolution of the legal system during the pandemic. (Find this cartoon here: )
Available at CartoonStock, London

The next project goes back to November. Most of my clients are out of state, and this was a rare local gig - a fun one at that. I was commissioned to write and draw five political cartoons to fight a well-funded initiative pushed by a group of real estate investment firms located outside Colorado.

Here are two of the five pieces...all were published in the Boulder Camera newspaper, and a in series of website pages, posters, mail pieces, etc.

From the Denver Post: "The proposed ordinance is so poorly written that it would unintentionally rezone all residential neighborhoods in Boulder. It destroys occupancy limits. It doesn't include a provision to ensure affordability, and it failed to include a clause to prevent rental housing investors from subdividing rooms or scraping houses and replacing them with de facto dorms. It happened in Austin and could happen here."

After starting off well behind in the polling, the opposition group who hired me pulled off an upset in the election, and defeated the well-funded real estate consortium, (They filed an appeal with the Colorado Supreme Court, and failed there as well.) Afterwards, I got a chance to talk with some city council members about their relief, and received some nice feedback from the Boulder mayor. It reminded me that the most rewarding and enjoyable work can sometimes be in your own back yard.


This was created for a retiring CEO at Heidrick and Struggles, the world's leading executive search and placement firm. I worked with some folks in their their Houston office in writing ad drawing scenes for the gentleman depicted .he final art was printed on 18" X 24" 55 lb stock, then matted and framed. It was presented to him at his retirement party.

(Clicken to embiggen)


I just wrapped up a similar project for an executive at Golin Public Relations. Golin is a Fortune 500 company with 50 offices around the globe, (and I was admittedly unfamiliar with them.) Their HQ is in Chicago, where they occupy the 26th floor of the John Hancock Tower, one of my favorite buildings in the world.

The illustrations are a gift, commissioned to honor a career milestone for Fred Cook, the Chair Emeritus of Golin. I discussed the five scenes with two of Golin's management, via Microsoft Teams. Then I created sketches, and after approval, finished pen and ink drawings with watercolor washes. Everything was matted and framed in a horizontal layout of five scenes.


The Hancock building was one of my favorite places to go as a kid while living 
near the windy city, (so I was pleased to get a chance to draw it for this project...



Lastly, an illustrated logo for a humorous podcast hosted by a gentleman in Connecticut. His sensibilities and humor were a cross between Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld. Working with him was a great deal of fun. I can't wait to listen to his podcast.

Next, an 18 x 24 illustration for a Boston judge, featuring him driving his (rather pedestrian Subaru Cross trek) on a race track in North Carolina. (This was personal commission given to him by an attorney with whom I work each month on the Boston Police Department magazine.)


Bedeep, bedeep, that's all, folks. Happy 2022!
Update 1/8 - Adding a couple of pics. - We received a foot of snow in the nearby mountains, so my daughter Julia and I went skiing Friday. The sunshine and plentiful soft powder made for a beautiful day. We took her to the airport Sunday, so she could she return to college. it's very quiet around here.


Monday, September 06, 2021

Books, bikes and back to college

Happy Labor Day! A day off for me, (hopefully for you as well) and a chance to catch up a bit here. It's hard to believe summer is nearly over.

This past month brought some fun writing and illustrating projects, and I'll share one that was a unique biography. The subject is a prominent businessman, investor (and as I found out while illustrating the book, also a friend of Warren Buffet). The project was commissioned by the authors, via my agent.

To begin, the editor and authors provided me with a manuscript, photos of the gentleman, and written material regarding his investment strategies.

 The biography's subject, depicted with his friend Warren Buffet.
I wrote concepts for the interior illustrations based upon investment strategies in the book and submitted them to the author prior to drawing anything. After approval, I created illustration and cartoons.

The book cover (below) was purely illustration. I constructed the scene at the subject's lake house from photos of the interior but they did not have a photo of him seated in the scene, (or his requisite three devices and stacks of "read" and "unread" Wall Street Journals, and Vernor's Ginger Ale) so I had to work from imagination.   

The book is being published in October.




A advertising illustration piece created last month.



This is a political cartoon for a media outlet and magazine in Atlanta. I was asked to create two versions of this cartoon, one featuring Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden another featuring Nancy with Andrew Cuomo.  The latter was published due to the timing of
Cuomo resigning from office after his scandal. I was given the concept to draw by the publication editor, and I wasn't sure how many people would remember Jim And Tammy Faye Baker simply from their likenesses...but it is an interesting analogy.


A blast from the past. I was recently contacted by the folks at Ted Talks, requesting permission to use an image for their marketing. (This is a scene from a Ted Talk being presented by bestselling author Daniel Pink, featuring an illustration I created for one of his books, below).




We took a family trip two weeks ago, a last hurrah to summer, involving mountain bikes & horses.  We biked along the Vail pass, 15 miles past Copper Mountain into Frisco, then on to Breckenridge. Incredible views and wildlife, including a bald eagle and bear.

                                                 A vibrantly colored lake near Copper Mountain

                                                                 Bald Eagle's Nest

   Morning walk in Keystone                             Bike ride from Vail to Copper Mtn.

The Vail Pass bike path

                                                   Finishing a mountain bike ride in Breckenridge at dusk

Then, three days later, I flew to Nashville with my daughter, taking her back to college and helping her move in. (My wife stayed home with our elderly dog who needs extra care right now.) I flew to Nashville a few months ago and moved most of her dorm items into a storage facility downtown. So, the reverse this time.

                                              After moving my daughter into her dorm.

Lots of exercise, we got her dorm suite set up. Afterward, we cleaned up, and I took Julia and her roommates to dinner....and weenjoyed some terrific Nashville music. Sunday, big hugs and goodbyes before flying back to Denver. 

We all miss her greatly, the dog included. 

It's back to the studio for me, where some book illustrations jobs, a project for Google, and a few political commissions await. Until next time, stay well and enjoy the autumn.