Saturday, June 19, 2021

On the digital drawing board: What is the proper mix of work and play?

I was recently talking with a college friend, and amidst the usual discussion of family and life's pursuits, we pondered the proper ratio of work and time off. We came up with some algebraic formulas with a little calculus thrown in. 
 
Truthfully, math was my worst subject in school, so there was nothing of the sort. And we both admitted to being at the mercy of outside forces.
 
Our numbers were fuzzy and inexact, but I felt that the Pareto principle ("The 80/20 rule" often used in business) was close. 1/5 of our time spent in absolute joy allows work to flow the other 4/5. 
 
Well, actually, 100% play, 0% work is a really favorable ratio, but few people can pull that off, except for perhaps trust-funders and ex-Hollywood actresses who marry into the British royal family. 
 
Even 80/20 is tough for me, with a daughter at a private college. Weekends off usually have to suffice, but a vacation is always nice. 
 
I have not posted here since February, and that's mainly because I've been swamped. (I know I'm fortunate; many friends, colleagues in my field, and family members, including my wife have had major downturns in business/work since Covid descended.) So, a long gap of no posts. But in keeping with the work/play theme, I'll mention a couple of highlights since last popping in here. 
 
My family and I took a few trips, including one late season ski jaunt, taking advantage of a big snow storm. It was a multi-resort, week-long respite after 4 weeks of intense work. (See, there's that ratio.)
 
I also took a solo trip to Nashville to move my daughter out of her dorm. Carrying belongings, furniture and what they now loosely call "dorm refrigerators" (85 pounds and three times the size of what I had in my dorm) down two flights of stairs, packing and shipping boxes, is not really a vacation. But it's still a break, and terrific exercise. She and I also couldn't pass up the chance to see some live music downtown. We saw some new singers, a good Pearl Jam cover band, and of course, some country, which I tolerate.
 
That was in April and early May. It has been nearly all work since, but we are now planning a trip to Chicago see my Mom in July. (And thus, the ratio has been "off" lately.)

Speaking of that, I need to get back to the studio for some more "play time" writing and drawing. (I call it that so that it remains fun and that I never feel overworked.) Before I go, here are a few glimpses of recent work (or playtime?) from the drawing board:
 

 After a long week of deadlines, I can relate to the guy on the right in the above cartoon.

 
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A few weeks ago, large oil producer Colonial paid a hefty ransom to the hackers who infiltrated its system and forced the shutdown of a major oil pipeline supplying fuel to the East Coast.
 One of my long-time clients is a cloud computing pioneer who offers solutions for the increasingly common ransom hacks of corporate websites.
 
 
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A cartoon for a woman in New York, commissioned as a gift for her husband's birthday. (The concept was an idea he had for a New Yorker cartoon.) It was matted at 8 X 10 and framed at 11X 14.)
 
 
 
 
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A character and series of humorous illustrations created for Merck Pharmaceutical & Johnson & Johnson. This was for their corporate website and an interactive area for customers with questions about Covid vaccines and prescriptions.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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A New Yorker cartoon about that never-ending fad of ink.
 
 
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A book cover illustration from a recently published biography of a American physician who became a mayor and then an elected regional leader in the Congo. The stories cover 60 years, and they are fascinating. (In addition to the cover, I was commissioned to create 18 Pen and ink illustrations.)


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Peter Linquiti is a Professor at George Washington University, and he recently authored a college textbook philosophy and practical self improvement throughout one's life in school as well as the work force. He hired me to create series of humorous B&W illustrations, and later the publisher approved a handful of them to be prepared in color. One is pictured above.
 
 
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One of a series of eight political cartoons commissioned by a group of physicians in California, in an effort to fight both United Healthcare and Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, and their recent rationing policies for patients. (i.e., only allowing so many visits per year.) Their effort was successful and the rationing  program was eliminated!

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(Clicken to embiggen)

This something that is a bit outside of my usual drawing style. I was approached two months ago by a gentleman in New York City who wanted to create a large 18 X 24 high detail cartoon illustration print to give to each of several friends. He provided individual photos of everyone, which I used to draw caricatures, and to create a group scene in a casino. The photos were snapshots taken with uneven lighting, and not everyone was smiling. The trick was giving everyone the same same light source (highlights and shadows), with a similar range of emotion/smiles. etc.



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Lastly, a Happy Father's Day to the dads...and with that, a cartoon to remind us of the importance and joy of spending time with our kids, (both planned and unplanned.)









 


Wednesday, February 03, 2021

On the drawing board: Planned and Unplanned Travel

After traveling nowhere but to nearby ski areas over the past few months, I suddenly became more mobile...first flying to Florida for business early in January.

It's amazing how open it is there. Most people are being careful and wearing masks, but stores, restaurants, and public facilities are operating normally. Florida has vaccinated 80% of their high risk population, including age 70 and over. Their high risk population is larger than most states...so they are doing things fairly well. The best part is that I was also able to visit a close friend from Boulder who moved to Sarasota last year. (Part of the reason I decided to bite the bullet, and travel to do some hands-on work, on location).

 After heading back home, I holed up in my studio for a couple of weeks to take care of several client illustration and humor writing projects. I was preparing for more of the same, but that quickly changed.


My brother recently learned that he needed heart surgery due to a severe tear in a ventricle valve. Many people have slightly leaky heart valves, producing murmurs. Those are usually graded as 1 or 2 on a scale of 4 in terms of severity. My brother's tear was classified as a 4, leading to some debilitating symptoms.

He consulted with a cardiac surgeon in Chicago, and was informed that would require open heart surgery, and the valve replacement would only last 10 years. Dan also consulted with a surgeon at the esteemed Cleveland clinic, who believed he could repair the valve permanently, using a much less intrusive procedure. That sounded ideal, however, Dan and his wife couldn't logistically bring their kids to Cleveland for 12 days (for tests, surgery and recovery). So, I offered to hang out with them, and flew to Chicago last Saturday. 

I have enjoyed being with my niece and nephew, who are wonderful kids.  I brought my work with me, along with my neophyte cooking skills. Two snowstorms left over a foot of snow, and momentarily I was wishing the snow was under my skis instead of on top of my shovel. It was great fun making snowmen and throwing snowballs with my niece and nephew, one of many memories from the trip that I'll cherish.

Thankfully, Dan's heart surgery went very well. He and his wife return home in a few days, and I will be exiting westward after that.

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On the work front, I just signed contracts this week to illustrate two new books. The first is for an author with whom I have worked several times. This one will be a business book with full color humorous illustrations. The second is a book that will be a memoir of sorts for a gentleman who has had a very adventurous life. I will be doing pen and ink illustrations to go along with stories of events in the Congo, Madagascar, Belgium,  and Ethiopia, covering periods of time over the last 60 years, in various parts of the world. It should be fun.

 Here are a few of the cartoons and illustrations that have been on the board recently.

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A commissioned caricature of the CEO of MGA Entertainment, and creator of Bratz dolls, and LOL Surprise toys. I worked from several photos, refined sketches, and then after approval, sent the finished painting digitally to the client. They sent it to a large fine art printing firm, who then printed it on 18 X 24  canvas with archival ink.




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An illustration from a middle grade fiction book currently in the studio.



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