Monday, November 27, 2023

On the Digital drawing Board: New schtuff

I hope everyone had a fun and relaxing Thanksgiving.

It's been a while since I posted, and after an eventful Autumn, here's a very quick highlighting of recent art and humor on the drawing board...

A couple of years back, I created a series of caricatures and humor for the Ralph Lauren Polo Bar restaurant in New York City. It was a project that continued for a while, tying in with RL's advertising and social media. (My process for writing the humor for those ads can be found here.)

The owner of a new upscale restaurant/dinner club in Fairfield, Connecticut had seen these cartoons and caricatures, and contacted me in October. He wanted something similar (in terms of caricatures) for his establishment, and we discussed, and then negotiated the project

I began with a larger format 18" x 24" piece depicting the owner's grandparents, (who inspired the restaurant). It is being framed and hung in the entry area, near the matre de. Now, I am doing 8"x10" illustrations of the dining club's members, which will be also framed and hung throughout the restaurant. (Each couple will also receive a framed copy of their own.)

I'm drawing them by hand, digitally, using my Wacom Cintiq Pro. With the latest digital brushes, I can do India ink drawings and watercolor washes, which are virtually identical in appearance to traditional media. This saves time and effort, (particularly versus shipping physical drawings). I email the high resolution artwork to the client, and he has them printed at a top notch local print shop, and then framed.

There will be 60 framed caricature pieces with 120 people, in total. (I'm about halfway through at this point.)


This is a large 18" X 24" humorous illustration created for a longtime client, global technology  leader, Capgemini, headquartered in Paris, France. I have worked with their Vice President in charge of Marketing several times on previous pieces, and this was written and drawn for a retiring executive. After discussing the life and accomplishments of the gentleman to be depicted, the various vignettes were written, sketched, and then approved. 

I created the color artwork, and finally, I sent a high res CMYK (publishing standard 4-color process) filewhich the client had printed locally and then matted and framed for a party in Denmark, for the guest of honor.


The publisher of FREESKIER and SNOWBOARD (magazines I've read since I was in college) is launching a new magazine called "The Grom Guide", aimed at kids and and families. The editor contacted me in September to discuss a cartoon feature, starting with a two-page spread in the first issue. 

The magazine editors allowed me full rein to write and draw whatever I wanted, as long as it covered skiing and snowboarding, depicting kids with their families. As someone who has skied and snowboarded for most of my life, this was right up my alley, and was a great deal of fun. The first issue is on the newstands, in drug stores, etc (and in ski shops).


Over the past several years, I’ve been working with a large group of medical doctors in California who have been in the midst of a battle with the state government regarding health insurance coverage for patient treatment. Many prominent insurance companies, including Anthem, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and United healthcare have been lobbying for lower patient visits and placing a severe cap on reimbursement for appointment charges. The companies have pushed and lobbied for legislation that requires extensive paperwork for each patient visit, making it a money losing proposition for many of these physicians, and their medical practices.

Here’s the latest in the series, political cartoon created for the fight against this...

Update: Three weeks after the cartoon was created, the physician's group called me with terrific news...The Legislation was killed shortly after the editorials appeared. Victory!


A piece created for regular client, Thrive.


I’m currently working on illustrations for a book of humor, and the arrangement this time around is a little different than usual. Rather than being hired by a publisher or author, I am partnering with a publisher and a poet. The publisher contacted me, and their idea was to do something along the lines of the popular humor book by Steve Martin and Harry Bliss. After reading some of the poems by the humorous poet, and I was taken in by his wit. I just need to fit it into the drawing board schedule, so that I can wrap it up in time.


 A couple more 'New Yorker' cartoons...


Lastly, some photos from a Fall trip to the Summit Area for some mountain biking.
The Aspens were ablaze with color, and we spent a few days unwinding.

Sunday, July 02, 2023

On the Digital Drawing Board: A brief drive-by

Happy Summer Solstice.

I'm stopping in, and taking a few minutes away from the studio, after catching up from family vacations (more on that later) to post a few recent things on the drawing board.

I'll start with a few 'New Yorker' cartoons...

(with some color added for their inclusion in Cartoon Stock's collection).


 Link to cartoon download


 Link to cartoon download



Here are a few pieces in process for a large book illustration project. I'm working directly with the author, in concert with his publisher. I won't identify him, but he's a charming fellow with scintillating insights. As a former exec with Dream Works, and some other Silicon Valley notables, he has years of wisdom regarding their practical application to companies and organizations.

I began by reading the book manuscript, and then began writing material to highlight key concepts. Here are a few more examples...




Another ongoing book illustration project - this is from a book about online dating...



 One of a series of cartoons for National Grid, in London.

One of several dozen cartoons in process for a humor book on Golf. I'm creating it in concert with an author who has previously had several bestselling humor books. (Can't share more than this for now...more info to come ).                                                     


Lastly, I was surprised and thrilled to take home first place for Editorial Cartoons in the Society of Professional Journalists 2023 awards.

(I didn't know about this until it was awarded, and didn't submit my work for the of my editors submitted a few political cartoons on my behalf.)        

The annual contest covers media in four states; Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.                                   

One sample, published this past November: 


Update: Some additional blathering and pics from a summer trip... We went to see my Mom and my brother (and his family), rendezvousing in Chicago, and then heading way North, to Manitowish Waters Wisconsin, a place where my family had a vacation home for many years. We haven't been back there in over 18 years, and I campaigned to go back again, so that our kids could see what all the fuss was about.

We rented a house on Clear Lake, right near our old stomping grounds, and arrived ready to become water creatures. We kayaked, canoed, and hiked. I also rented a ski boat for tubing and water skiing, as well as a large pontoon boat. The latter helped with allowing our entire group to travel and sightsee comfortably, as there are nine lakes which are connected to each other.

After a few vacations over the years that involved tubing behind a boat, our daughter Julia decided she'd like to learn to water ski. So, I began the process of teaching her...which involves an array of things to consider, rope grip, how to curl up in the water, arching your back and bending your legs when being pulled up, (and to not fight the boat or try to pull yourself up.) And then, if/when you get up, you need to suddenly shift to a fully upright position and lean back to water ski. (the opposite of snow skiing's need for leaning forward over your skis).

The rule of thumb (as we were reminded by the natives and the purveyors of ski equipment in that area) it usually takes a first-timer an average of 30 to 40 tries to pull themselves out of the water successfully, and then balance long-term with stability on water skis. It seemed like Julia was going to approach that number, but then at around #15 she got up briefly...and by #20 managed to stay up. It seems like perhaps her bountiful time on snow skis helped.


Next up was my niece, who had been water skiing many times over the past two years with friends with a lake house near her home. She had been trying to slalom ski (one ski) over the past few months, but thus far hadn't been able to do it. My brother and I worked with her, and after demonstrating it, she did it! We were all thrilled with their aquatic milestones. Very exciting stuff.

I had a few runs, too. This was my first time on water skis in nearly 20 years, and the first lap around the lake was a little rusty. Over the next few days, it all came back, and I was able to kick off a ski and do some slalom laps. (Old dogs, old tricks.)

We saw bald eagles float and soar above us, and also watched loons dive into the lake, and call for their mates in their distinctive manner. It was an incredible week in a stunningly beautiful place - and I've found myself thinking about it over the past few days since getting back. It was like seeing an old friend again after many years. I get the feeling that my Dad was smiling from above while we were there.

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 a sample from of a large number of political cartoons created the recent election. These cover 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, a longtime executive with DreamWorks, 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".
Below are some initial design sketches and color studies for one of the main characters. I'm also working on a thumbnail sketch layout of page illustrations for the publisher, (more to come)...

Next up is a personal commission for the editor of a publication with whom I have worked in recent months. She and her husband live in Philadelphia, and her son is a college student at Bowdoin College in Maine. They wanted to give him a framed illustration of his personal milestones (thus far) as a gift for Christmas. I had fun with this, adding some thematic elements that reflected her son's interests. I created two versions, one vertical and the second horizontal, allowing she and her husband to choose which worked best aesthetically and for framing.

clicken to embiggen

One of several cartoons created for The Pathway Academy in London.

A cartoon illustration commissioned by a Citi Group Financial 
executive for a presentation to investment bakers. 

One of several scenes of background artwork I helped to create for an animated short film.
(I am not involved with the animated sequences.) The film will be finished in Spring 2023. 
(Clicken to enlargen)



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.


A cartoon commissioned for an Invitational golf tournament at the spectacular Big Horn Golf Club in Palm Desert California in late December. I was asked to emulate the style of the late Randy Glasbergen. (I drew in his style for the character,  and added my watercolor and background,)

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 asked 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

I'm in the midst of creating some pen and ink illustrations for Burpee Seeds/Ball Horticultural in Chicago. The illustrations depict various plants sold in Home Depot.

I created for a comic book style illustration for one of their print ads in 'Better Homes and Gardens' magazine two years ago:
This time I'm using a pen and ink with watercolor style, which is quite a bit more detailed. My music is on, and I'm jamming while drawing pots, leaves, tomatoes and soil.  
The art will be part of instructional material sent to all Home Depot stores in March. First draft below:
(Clicken to embiggen)


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.)

 Here's a Holiday piece I'm creating created for a new client, a large biotech company in California. We're discussing quarterly illustrations for their marketing and advertising going forward.



I just sent the family Christmas card off to the printer. 

ItIt  features a recent addition, our Wheaten Terrier puppy, "Bandit". hile he hasn't watered our tree, he has been periodically chewing on the many tempting things hanging from it.



Lastly, we’re enjoying a visit from our daughter during college fall break.  
(Here's a pic from a family ski day while she was home.)

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