Sunday, June 27, 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 "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:


A 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. 

A long-time Silicon Valley California-based client is a cloud computing pioneer who offers solutions for the increasingly common ransom hacks of corporate websites. I worked in concert with the CEO and the Marketing Director on this one, starting with some sketches and gradually refining the scene to this.

This was created for a Disney Channel writer who is transitioning into advertising copy writing. She's with an agency in Los Angeles, and wanted several humorous illustrations to use to pitch to clients. She wrote the concepts and came to me for the this case, the client is Omaha Steaks, with a scene from the movie "Psycho". Fancy a steak grilled by Norman Bates?

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.)

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.

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

A New Yorker cartoon - about that never-ending fad of "ink".
 One of a series of cartoons for a physical therapy business in New Jersey. 
(Referred to me by another long-term client.)


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.)

Peter Linquiti is a distinguished professor at George Washington University, and he recently authored a college textbook on philosophy and practical self improvement. As he mentioned to me over the phone, it applies throughout one's life; in school as well as into the work force. He hired me to create a series of humorous B&W illustrations for the book, and later the publisher approved several of them to be prepared in color. One is pictured above.

(Clicken to embiggen)
This was a personal commission for a gentleman in New York City who initially called me to discuss creating a large 18 X 24 high detail cartoon illustration print to give to each of several friends. He wanted a group scene set in a famous casino room, depicting he and his friends seated at a high stakes poker table. 
I worked from individual photos of everyone, and since they were typical phone snapshots taken with varied lighting, and expression, the trick was giving everyone the same same light source (highlights and shadows), with a similar range of emotion/smiles. etc. I also made the decision to draw everyone in tuxedos to fit the tone and to make it cohesive. After approval of the B&W draft, I added watercolor. After he approved the color art, I  gave the client a high resolution digital file which he easily uploaded to an online specialty printer, to have the canvases printed and framed.


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.)