Saturday, August 22, 2009

"The less I say, the more my work gets done"

I've always admired the above line, written by Bernie Taupin, (for Elton John's song, "Philadelphia Freedom").

As it turns out, this wisdom is even more relevant now -- particularly in a society where we like to talk incessantly, (via cell phone, Skype, email, text message, Twitter, blog, etc.) So, for seven months, I went to radio silence -- here, at least.

Why? Despite the economic malaise, I've been blessed to have work. This year has been my busiest since starting business over ten years ago, (and since leaving newspaper syndication and going to 'full time' self-employment nearly six years ago.)

So far in 2009, I have have had the good fortune to be hired by over 75 companies, writing and drawing humorous illustration and cartoons. Nine books have been illustrated, with contracts for a few more before the end of the year. There have also been political cartoons for media outlets...regular "tech" cartoons for Hubspot's popular technology blog, and an upcoming book with Wiley publishing...and also, a weekly cartoon feature for a newspaper distributed nationally in elementary schools.

A rough estimate, (from my Mac's file system analytics), says I wrote and drew nearly 300 cartoons and illustrations in less than eight months. (I think I could do more...but only if cloning becomes legal.) Phew!!

I am feeling very fortunate...but also a little worn out. The respite from social media has been helpful. I recommend it to anyone wanting a little more free time.

Here is a brief sampling of what has been on the drawing board:

One of a series of cartoons commissioned by Merck Pharmaceuticals, who earlier this year acquired Schering-Plough. Their HR department wanted a comic strip feature to help allay fears and answer questions about the changes in store for their 44,000 new and existing employees... (The merger-related program is called "C.O.M.E.T.")

One of several cartoons created for Klee Associates Inc., creators of products and training for SAP, ERP & JD Edwards

One of a series of cartoons for Westminster American Insurance, for some magazine ads...(click to enlarge)

Characters created for an animated television show about a dysfunctional rock band. --I only designed the characters and backgrounds...animators then took these designs to create the animation. (It is currently being pitched to Cartoon Network...I have no idea whether it will go ahead or not.)

One of several illustrations for a book on relationships, by an author in Boston:

A couple of cartoons for a software company in Silicon Valley, (two of four created for a marketing campaign this year.):

One of a few illustrations from a book on corporate greed, written by Ann Rhodes, a former V.P. of Southwest Airlines & Jet Blue...

An illustration for a psychology book, authored by two psychologists in New York:

A poster and flyer for a long-term client, and their conference in Orlando in October: (click to enlarge)

A corporate mascot designed for a security technology company in Texas...

One of about 30 cartoons created so far this year for Hubspot Inc...

A corporate mascot for a start-up in New York. The president of the company was with Bally's Fitness until recently and decided to start his own marketing firm...a brave move in this economy. But if his personality and drive are any indication of things to come, he'll do well.

One of a series of monthly cartoons for an Association of Secondary School Principals newspaper, based & published in Michigan.

Two cartoons from 121, (yes, you read that right, 121 cartoons!), for a soon-to-be published political humor book called "Microman", by Robert Stern. (The introduction was written by the infamous 'Joe the Plumber'.) The author has written two books previously and is a very friendly, enthusiastic guy.

With only some 'ski weekends' earlier in the year to show for time off, my family and I took two vacations in July and August...which were desperately needed. The first trip was to Moab, Utah, the Grand Canyon, Sedona, and finally, five days at a great resort/spa in Scottsdale. The second was a trip to the nearby mountains with my brother Dan and his family. (Who made the trip from Chicago). Activities included mountain bike riding over the Vail Pass, visiting horse stables with the kids, and most importantly, catching up in a fashion much better than phone calls and emails allow. We all had a fantastically good time.

Now it's back to work and my three-month backlog of clients...but I'm refreshed and ready to go.

Some highlights of upcoming client projects: I'm currently illustrating a children's book called "Riley Peete", a story about a penguin who lives with his family in Manhattan. (The author lives in NYC, so in addition to my foggy memory of the city and Google Images, her insights on life there are helpful.) Next will be a project for a educational company in Vancouver, creating a series of cartoon illustrations to be sold to schools, to aid in teaching English as a second language. ...After that, I will illustrate "The Frogs of Sawhill Ponds", a delightful collection of children's parables by mystery writer & Edgar Award-winner, Rex Burns. (I'll try to share some sketches & finished pieces from those efforts.)

A few friends have emailed recently, wondering why I have not been blogging...or inquiring about my health/continued hence, this post.

This seven month respite from blogging has allowed me to realize something: I'd much rather draw than talk about it. I'm just happier that way. So, if and when it slows down, (in spite of previous promises to myself to keep a regular journal here), I am resigned to letting my posts be sporadic.

Until next time, it's back to the digital drawing board...