Wednesday, December 20, 2017

A smidgen of work from the drawing board

The studio has been active over the past few weeks, with several corporate and advertising humor projects, as well as illustrations for a business book - and a children's book which is still in process. 

The business book had 36 (gasp!) illustrations, which were created over the last two months, and just wrapped up. I cannot post anything from that yet, (Random House Publishing copyrights, etc.), but once it is released, I'll share a few things here. Also notably missing are 20 or so of the children's book illustrations. 

So, for now, I'll share just a few pieces from some other recent client projects...


Two of seven illustrations created for an organization in Massachusetts that specializes in family business mediation and advising. The bottom piece is based upon Norman Rockwell's "Four Freedoms". (I had great fun with the pen & ink and watercolor.)


Two  cartoons created for a Boston magazine article covering shenanigans at the police department.


A cartoon for a long-time client in NYC who is creating a book about online dating.


A personal commission created for a regular client. It is large format, my client had it framed and giving it as a Christmas gift to her good friend. (It is an inside joke about Beatles' drummer, Ringo Starr tickling a pig.) (I don't know how those two subjects come together...but apparently it is very funny to them.)


Fortunately the lack of snow at the ski areas thus far has allowed me to buckle down and get work done. (Well, I have given in to temptations involving my mountain bike, with the extended fall weather.)

Next up on the schedule (mainly for after the Holidays) are three book illustration jobs: a children's book about a heroic goat (above), an instructional guitar book and lastly, a book about habits, written by a University of Southern California Professor, and published by Macmillan. It will involve writing and drawing "New Yorker" style cartoons to illustrate concepts to the reader.

Merry Christmas to all!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Latest Gwen & Doozy cartoon: Birthday wish list

A large amount of book illustration jobs and and corporate client deadlines are keeping me
 from posting here, but in lieu of that, the latest Gwen & Doozy cartoon: 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

New Article on the Benefits of Cartoons in Business & Marketing

I'm in the midst of illustrating several books, (one with an accelerated deadline) just a short post.

I was made aware of a new article about the benefits of using humor and cartoons in business and marketing.

It was written by Brad Shorr, a frequent contributor to Forbes magazine, and Director of Content Strategy at Straight North, an Internet marketing agency headquartered in Chicago.

(I was also surprised to learn that I was mentioned in it). I have worked with Brad over the years, and he is a very funny man.

An excerpt:

"It’s hard not to look at a cartoon. This is why cartoons solve one of content marketing’s biggest problems — getting people to pay attention. We live in a world of content overload, with billions of pieces of content being published every day. Distractions are everywhere. With so many social shares and search results to sort through, it’s no wonder Internet users gravitate toward visual content. Visual content is different. It’s quick to consume. It’s often entertaining."

In case you're interested, here's the article:

Well, back to the drawing board...

Friday, October 13, 2017

Hand Drawn Illustration Meets Digital Illustration

An experiment inspired by the social media drawing marathon known as "Inktober". I drew the hand on the left with my Wacom Cintiq.; the hand on the right was ink on paper. Both are "hand drawn" so-to-speak, the left hand was recorded by the computer as it was drawn, the other was scanned from the drawing on paper.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

On the Drawing Board: Illustrations and Cartoons for News Media

Just a quick stop to post a few recent pieces created for clients. I realized there was a bit too much 'recent work' to share without inducing unplanned naps, so I decided to limit things by using a theme this month: Work created for various news media.


First, two political cartoons written and drawn for a Canadian news magazine:


A political cartoon commissioned for a French magazine:


One of several editorial illustrations/cartoons for a Boston magazine article covering the Boston Police Department. (I was provided with the concepts by the editor.)


A cartoon for a magazine article covering the upcoming NFL season:

Lastly, an illustration for an article in an Orlando Sentinel covering a new Orlando Florida theme park whose most notable attraction is the world's tallest roller coaster. - And the reaction from the ownership of Universal Studios theme park.

Things slowed down a little for me in August, (I have learned this is a regular trend, as many of my clients are taking end of summer vacations), and picked up quickly after Labor Day. I'm in the midst of several fun corporate projects, (along with one snoozer that simply has no opportunity for humor). ...And I'm also illustrating a few books, ranging from children's literature, humor, business, to a "Dummies" series book.

The vivid colors and cool temperatures that often begin the grace Colorado by now have been is still quite toasty during daylight hours. All the better for me to stay cool inside my studio getting things done. I can't wait for Autumn!

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Breaking out the Canvas and Sable

Last year I decided to try my first oil painting in a long while, (since college, when I took an elective, "Oil Painting for Non-Art Majors" at the University of Illinois in Champaign.)

The subject is my Father, who passed away last Fall...and I had intended to do this several months ago, but honestly, it was too hard to think about. But a few weeks ago, it felt like the right time. 

I planned it as a gift for my Mom, and had hoped to get started in June. However, due to client work I ended up with four days in the first week of July to start and complete it before my next visit to see her in Illinois.

(Waiting until the last minute to start a big truly was just like going back to college again.)

Given the many years since I last 
saw a blank canvas and smelled linseed oil, I knew there would be significant rust...and with the time constraint I almost gave up on it. But I decided that I might not otherwise do it anytime soon, and that the tight timeframe might actually help.

The first step; pencil drawing on the canvas:

This is where you make major decisions about shape and proportion, largely determining whether a likeness comes across later. As I started to see glimpses of my Dad looking back, (but asking myself, does he look like he's suffering from indigestion?), I felt it was ready for the next step...

The "underpainting", commonly used in paintings for many centuries, is a study of highlights and shadows, (just raw sienna acrylic washes here.) The acrylic dries instantly, so I did not have to wait to start the next step...oil paint.

Thin layers of mixed colors, eventually followed by gradually thicker brush strokes of paint. I used water mixable oils to speed the drying process so it would be ready in time for travel. (They did not exist when I was in college.)

I had not used real brushes and paint for anything in several years since switching to a Wacom Cintiq for digital book illustration, but the rust began to come off gradually. I also found myself stumbling a bit in shifting gears from realism to cartoon minimalism and distortion, going from this to client work and back again. But it was a great exercise.

The finished painting:

(click to enlarge)

It will take a few months of perspective to know what I think of it. (My Mom was quite happy but she is my Mom, and she would react that way if I had done it with Crayola crayons on construction paper.) 

It worked out to wait to do this in terms of getting it done but also in the heart and mind. Enough time had passed since my Dad passed that I was okay looking at his photos for long periods. It was still emotional but it was helpful, even cathartic, as it gave me a chance to reflect on his life in my own way.

Monday, July 24, 2017

On the Drawing board: McDonald's Illustrations

Two weeks ago I was in Chicago for an illustration & animation conference, which also allowed visits to family. It was relaxing, nice to catch up with my Mom and my brother & his family. Simply put, lots of fun. 

A few days in, I was looking forward to what I thought would be seven more days off from deadlines. More time off! Yippee...

Then I received a call requesting 14 cartoon illustrations for a presentation to executives at McDonald's headquarters July 24, to start immediately. 

I considered turning it down, but after a few hours of internal battling, I realized I should not. (I decided that I should quiet my 'inner child on summer vacation' and tell him to get to work.)

The presentation announces and illustrates a new method for promotions to be delivered to stores: Instructions and images for digital signs will be delivered to restaurant managers' smart phones. Laser cut signs are tailored to the specific architecture and window size of each location.

(By the way, I never tire of hearing corporate executives get excited over innovations that in some cases might sound like wheat crop reports to anyone else...they can be downright giddy! But hey, it means they love their jobs.) 

This interior was based upon a McDonald's restaurant in Tokyo, Japan, but I liked the layout. (Click to enlarge)

The first task was to create a character representing a typical McDonald's store manager. A few were drawn, but having been through a few corporation character creations before, I had a feeling the blonde male or female characters would not used, and instead a dark haired character would be the winner, since it could represent multi-cultural managers. Indeed it was chosen.

B&W sketches of the concepts were created while still in Chicago (using my Wacom Intuos drawing tablet and Macbook Pro), revisions made, and then approved...the digital watercolor for the finished art was done on the Wacom Cintiq, after arriving home in Boulder.

I'd share more of the illustrations, but I don't want to bore anyone. (There was no opportunity to write humor, so these were straight drawings.) Fun and relatively easy to create, but not as much fun for folks who are not McDonald's management to see.

The final artwork for all 14 illustrations was delivered Friday, the presentation is being made in Chicago today. To celebrate, I am taking my my inner child swimming at the neighborhood pool later and if he's good, he might also get a popsicle.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Happy 107th birthday, Mr. Nelson

Four years ago, I posted a note about about my friend and next-door neighbor, Delbert Nelson.

He was a marvel, and he had just celebrated his 103rd birthday.

Well, guess what? We recently joined him to celebrate his 107th birthday. He is as marvelous as ever.

Beyond his obvious longevity, he is an amazing, quick-witted and funny. He needs a walker to get around some days now, but he still exercises and lifts weights to strengthen his legs.

He has lived on his own, largely unassisted, until a little over two years ago. Since that time his nephews and nieces, who live out of state, have been very nice to come and take turns living with him so that he may continue to live in his house. (Incredible gestures.)

His stories of life in Boulder from the early to mid 1900's, as well as his travel to Saipan, Africa, Panama and elsewhere, are engrossing and insightful.

He is a pleasure to be around, and we are very lucky to have him as a friend.

Editorial Illustration for Strategy magazine

I just finished up an editorial illustration for Strategy Magazine, to accompany an article discussing Mexico's economy and the impact of the new U.S. administration.

They sent me the article two days ago, I wrote out the concept and after approval of the Editor in Chief, created the art. Some of the elements, (the "Trump Hurricane" and cluster of cities with aerospace investment/industry) were mentioned in the article. Others were ideas I added.

It will appear in July's issue.

Friday, June 16, 2017

On the Drawing board - Process: From ideas to finished artwork

I thought I'd add a quick post covering creative process and craft, since what you usually see here, (and from anyone in my profession), is finished work.

Here's a quick synopsis of the creation of a series of illustrations I just wrapped up today, for Brainstorm Creative in Los Angeles...

I was hired to assist with creating a presentation for one of their clients, on a very short, 48-hour turn around. Having that amount of time to go from concept and written ideas to sketches, comps and finished color art is not ideal...but sometimes having a quick deadline can be a fun challenge, (and a test of one's ability to ignore the siren songs of bike riding weather.)

The client is a tech firm specializing in mobile Internet security. One of the principals is giving a presentation Monday covering how most companies grapple with these issues, and he wanted to illustrate some key topics.

To begin, they wanted to show illustrated images of common types of mobile security concerns...With phones tablets laptops, etc.

In my discussion with the head of Brainstorm Creative, the original request was two illustrations, the first of which would show a CEO and CSO, (Chief Security Officer),  dealing with their perspectives on this.

It was a lot going on visually, frankly, and more than a viewer would likely decipher quickly.

So, I suggested that we separate the scenarios illustrating the mobile security threats first, and then adding the characters' reactions in a separate image, with a faded background of the first image.

They agreed.

So here are my initial sketches...

The client requested a few revisions, mainly addressing how we want to show threats in the first illustration. We added a hacker in a coffee shop in the upper right, and removed a hacker from the airport scene, since computer threats can be an issue from a distance.

The next stage was black-and-white ink:

Brainstorm's client really liked the look of the B&W ink art and only wanted to change the labels on the holes in the dam in the third image, calling them "threats" rather than "security" - helpful for clarity.

I suggested to watercolor for these, to lend a feel that would be a little bit softer and more organic.

While doing the final watercolor this morning, I was interrupted by a call from our daughter, who is returning home from a 10-day school trip to Italy...and despite being on a tight deadline, I did not want to miss that. (We found out that she caught a cold but had a great last day, and was set for her class flight to NY.)

Back to work, and a half hour later, I delivered the final files, (ten minutes before the buzzer). Not much time left for changes, but fortunately, they were not needed. Later I was told that their client was happy. Phew! I walked the dog after that to clear the little bit of adrenaline lingering.


Next up on the drawing board, hopefully at a slower pace: I just negotiated the commission to illustrate a book for the long-running 'Dummies' books series, (It will be: "Enterprise Agility for Dummies", dealing with the company wide introduction of change at the corporate level. Not something I would personally read, mind you.) I also signed a contract to illustrate a business book soon to be published by Random House. A few advertising illustration gigs to play with will round out the next month or so.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Article for Straight North

I was recently invited to write an article on using humor for lead generation - for Straight North's "Lead Generation Insights" blog. I was flattered, but to be honest, felt a little out of my depth on the subject matter, since it's not something I cover every day. So, I just tried to have some fun with the topic...

On the cartoonist's drawing board...

It has a been a long while since I've taken the time to do this, 
but I thought I'd share a few recent client projects...

An illustration commissioned by the CEO of a California based artificial intelligence firm, to go along with an interview he gave to a tech magazine.

A cartoon featuring the famed Trevi fountain in Rome, Italy, created for Integral Publishers.

I created a new french bulldog mascot for a long-time client, a Washington DC pet care company...And recently also created the artwork for their new vans...(using vinyl wraps).

A cartoon created for a brand strategy company in Las Vegas.

A cartoon for long-time customer, cloud computing pioneer CGNet.

 One of a few monthly cartoons created for a magazine that covers the Boston Police Department.

A cartoon created for Greg Fisher the principal of Gerstein Fisher Financial, NY, NY, for his presentation and speech delivered last week to a group of banking executives in Manhattan.

A birth announcement for a New York couple and their cute dog and cat...and as of last month, an even cuter addition to the family. Congratulations to them!

A cartoon of Uncle Sam in a flying lawn chair, (like the one flown by the guy in California years ago) It was created for long-time client, Jon Henschen to illustrate a financial column he wrote this week.

Lastly, a photo of several workplace safety poster I created for the Armour/Eckrich/Boars Head facility in Chicago.