Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Swon Brothers cartoons

The day before Thanksgiving I was asked to create a cartoon for a couple of singers....(or at least that was the description I heard over the phone.)

At the time, my family and I were in Chicago visiting my parents and my brother's family. It was a last-minute request with a short turnaround...and I was in the midst of arriving in Chicago, so I was not prepared to work.

The singers, Zach and Colton Swon are a country music duo known as "The Swon Brothers".

Truth be told, I had not heard of these guys before, but after mentioning it to my wife, and within earshot of several other women in the room, they all told me that they knew about them -- and that I had to do it. (Apparently the brothers were originally discovered on "The Voice". Since then, they have had a successful album.)

I called back their management team, agreed, and then went off into a quiet room for an hour to create the cartoon, and then emailed it to them.

It was part of an effort to publicize their new single "Pray for You". (Here they are performing it on the Today Show: The Swon Brothers). Despite not being a big country music fan, even I can tell that they are very talented.

The cartoon was featured on their Twitter/FB/LinkedIn well as the Arista Records website.

They received a good response on social media, so we are working in more cartoons for Christmas and New Years day. (B&W sketch on the bottom.)

Monday, November 24, 2014

On the Digital Drawing Board

Indian Summer descended upon the Rocky Mountains and it stayed longer than usual. It might be my imagination, but it did so with more than its usual beauty as well.

The temperatures were warm throughout October and most of November allowing an extended period of fall color throughout Colorado...until last week, when a storm system from the Alaskan hurricane caused a dramatic temperature drop, straight into what felt like deep winter. (It was part of the same system that has hit other parts of the country, and just ravaged Buffalo.) It was the most abrupt transition of seasons I have seen since living here...70 degrees and then frigid cold.

A telltale sign of that quick change remains; we're approaching Thanksgiving and most of the leaves are still on the trees in Boulder. They are nearly a month late in coming down.

The huge drop in mercury levels did more than trick the surprised our furnace. (We had to get a new one this week. I had repaired the old one a few times, installing new ignitors and flame sensors, etc...but it was getting long in the tooth.)

We managed to break away in October and spend some time in the Vail and Breckenridge areas; mountain biking, hiking, swimming and general unwinding. Lots of wildlife and glowing aspen trees were glimpsed.


Well, it's time to share a few highlights from client work that has graced the studio in recent weeks:

First, an illustration created for a new book on evolution and archaeology, (from an author of of series of books on the subject.)

The illustration depicts an event which is somewhat notorious (in the world of archaeology). A noted archaeologist found a fossilized skeleton in the Sahara...and claimed that he had found one of our humanoid ancestors. Well, after lots of published papers, fanfare and media coverage, what he thought was a human collarbone turned out to be a dolphin's rib! The primitive human went up in a poof of smoke and was later jokingly named: "Flipperpithecus".

It will be a follow- up to this book: 


A political cartoon for CNBC financial advisor, Axel Merk and his weekly column:

A cartoon for an insurance company in California:


One of two cartoons created for a financial advisor in Florida.


A few of many political campaign posters and newspaper cartoons
 created prior to the November elections: 


One of a few cartoons created for Connect 360, in NY, NY.


Lastly, a few pieces from a large ongoing project for the John Morrel Food Group.

I have been working for them since July on a number of things, including redesigning the company mascot for Eckrich sausage and Armour Hot dogs. (Also Boar's Head meats.)

The image below is the original mascot created in the 1980's, and in this particular use, he is featured in a company safety poster from their facility in Chicago. I was asked to update him, and for the purpose of the safety posters, to include hearing protection, hair net and protective gloves.

Preliminary sketches...

The new character, "Sal the Salami":
Sal has appeared in some advertising thus far, (they sent me some promotional shirts, vests and hats with his image on them) ...and just recently in a series of safety posters to be located throughout some food processing plants:

(Clicken to enlargen):



Other current client work includes illustrating a few books, some work for Roche Pharmaceutical, and illustrating a publication for French analytics firm, AT Internet...but I think I've run past the redline on the boredom meter here.

I hope you have a fantastic Thanksgiving!

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Recent work: Drawing Board wrap-up

Some highlights from a very busy few weeks...

We'll start things off with some cartoons for for a consortium of physicians in Nashville who are fighting for the right to make decisions in the best interest of their patients -- rather than in the interest of  insurance companies. This is a subject familiar to many...and apparently it is not easily resolved.


Another advertisement for AFS automotive...(The provider of car floor mats for all Hyundai and Kia vehicles). They are now offering their mats as aftermarket products for other vehicles and wish to expand their presence in the U.S. market.

They hired me to create a series of monthly ads for automotive magazines, and we have completed four this past Spring, which are apparently getting a good response.

I was contacted by their corporate office last week, and they would like me to create a few more.


This next piece was a challenge...and also a great deal of fun. It is a cartoon created for a "Transformational Declutter coach" and author. It started a fairly sparse scene, with just an indication of disarray. But as we got further into it, it became clear to her that she wanted to really show how messy some of her clients' homes are...and that meant drawing some unique and specific details...and several iterations. (Believe it or not, she is the second "declutter author" I have worked with...and oddly, it does not seem to be rubbing studio is not that neat.) 

Black and White inked, approved cartoon

Watercolor finished art
Take a peek at her services:


Elizabeth Frisch, author and the director of The Rival School ( came to me after having a bad experience with a cartoonist who was recommended to her by her publisher. (No need to go into details). Suffice it to say that she needed cartoons to illustrate concepts in her book -- which was going to press within two days. That left me with a 12 hour turnaround deadline. No problem. A few of the cartoons:


"Aunt Frieda" is a geriatric cougar...and a funny character. I got to know her this past year while illustrating a book for her creator and author, Katherine Lerner. (Here's the book:

Now Frieda is onto to new frontiers, debuting in a series of greeting cards. Here is one of them...

A few cartoon illustrations created for Downeast Cider House, a hard cider company in Boston. They are telling their company's story in cartoons on their website and in advertising...and I was initially hired to help with that earlier this year. (I posted a few of the "origin" cartoons a few months back.) They are now adding more to the story and contacted me to create more cartoons, (below).

It's always fun to learn how various companies came about, as well as the challenges they faced.

Here's the link to their history in cartoons (thus far):

Two cartoons created for New York City based media firm, Connect 360 

These two examples are being used in marketing and advertising...


I'm working on a few projects that I can't share here yet; including a few book illustration jobs.

One particularly interesting book deals with how to handle "difficult" people in a business environment. The authors are an ex-CEO from a large firm in North Carolina and a psychologist, and their insights are terrific. (Who has not dealt with someone who is just a little "off-kilter", either for the moment or for a few decades?) We'll post some of that after it goes to press.


Lastly, I recently competed for a large project for the John Morrell Corporation in Chicago. (Eckrich sausages, ham, bacon, Armour hot dogs. As Homer Simpson would say, "mmm...bacon".) I was up against 21 other cartoonists throughout the U.S., and in the end was fortunate to land the job. (It was strictly based upon portfolios, not cost...which is nice for a number of reasons.)

The work will involve a corporate mascot used in ads, employee training materials, as well as several work safety posters. Great people and best of all, when we're all finished, they promised me samples!

Aside from a few short trips east, not much time for much vacationing this summer...but that will come soon. Hope your summer has been relaxing and fun.

Friday, June 20, 2014

On the Digital Drawing Board: June

Last-minute client deadlines are beckoning, (and my daughter would like to go biking later today), so I'll get right down to it.

Some recent projects...

A few advertising cartoons for long-time client CGNet, (California-based Cloud computing and software company.) 

I loved the chance to draw some Acme well as the R. Runner and W. Coyote.


I also worked recently helped them revamp their site, adding illustrations to several of their pages...working in concert with a website developer in San Francisco. new splashy site


Two cartoons commissioned for a Real Estate firm in London, (interestingly, they call them "Estate Agencies" there, dropping the term "real".) (Hey, prices everywhere are getting unreal these days.)

Apparently, the trend in England is to sell homes and property online...without the use of an agent. (Something the agencies are fighting, naturally.) I'm sure the same is soon to happen here.


Two examples of a series of nine cartoons written and drawn for a Korean auto floor mat company, AFS, (the main supplier for Hyundai and KIa automobiles.) These will be ads in Car & Driver, Motor Trend and Road & Track magazines. (As a car nut, I read all of those magazines, so it will fun to look for them in coming months.)



Lastly, a couple of cartoons commissioned to accompany Axel Merk's financial column, a regular contributor on CNBC.

(In case, you're wondering, that's new Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen, dressed as a USA soccer team member, kicking our currencies into the abyss, just in time for the World Cup).

One last note; I received word that one of my cartoons appeared in Forbes magazine this past month. Once I find the online version I'll link it.

Happy summer solstice to all!

Sunday, May 04, 2014

On the Digital Drawing Board

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind.

Fortunately some of that period included a vacation in the mountains with my brother and his family flying in from Chicago to join me and mine -- for some much-needed time off. (Some terrific skiing, too, getting doused several times with fresh powder.) It was perfect way to recharge and to enjoy the last vestiges of Winter with a bang.

Now Spring is upon us, with mountain bikes singing their siren songs for spare moments of outdoor time.

With several large corporate client projects nearing completion...and some ongoing book illustration jobs that are still in process, (and are not to be released yet), I don't have much to show, but here are a few things that graced the drawing board recently:


A couple of pieces for Axel Merk' column, (founder of California-based Merk Investments). 


Two cartoons created for a New York, NY-based advertising agency and their marketing efforts.


One of a few editorial cartoons created for a newspaper in Encinitas California, 
taking on some local politicians and their interests.


Two cartoons for a book about online dating, by New York author, Peter Millrose.


An illustration for a Miami Florida insurance company.


Lastly, a character creation project for the University of Arizona's Skin Cancer Institute. This was a great deal of fun...and involved designing and drawing a mascot for their public awareness efforts. "Ray" as he is called shows up at parades and University of Arizona football games. (photos below).