Sunday, July 29, 2012


This one is a couple of weeks old at this point (apologies for the delay).  It features Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan Chase.  JP Morgan Chase recently announced several billion dollars of losses due to some poor trading choices (this assessment of the quality of the trades came from Jamie Dimon himself during several conference calls and a little bit of testimony before Congress).  Well, it turned out after this loss was announced that the total losses were actually closer to 4.8 billion dollars.  This caused no small amount of alarm, seeing as JP Morgan is often seen as one of the most competently-run banks in the country, if not the world.

Of course, when the dust cleared and the numbers were all out on display, JP Morgan had made 5 billion in profits.  So I suppose all is forgiven.

As far as the illustration is concerned, I'm pretty happy with this one.  As with all of the Forex work, I would prefer to have a bit more breathing room on the turnaround time, but I think I did all right considering.  There's some perspective inconsistencies and I would have liked to actually draw in the player who's just a silhouette, but I like the color choices and the way Dimon's face turned out.

The Forex comics will resume this week and I'll do my best to put them up faster.



Il-loo-stration?  Anyone?


I guess that won't make sense until I explain the job.  The second assignment for Silverwood Theme Park was to illustrate a sign in honor of a long-term employee of the park.  His name is Lonnie and he's been a plumber at the park for quite a while.  He actually worked there before I worked there in high school and he's been there all these years.  In honor of his service to the park, they decided to name one of the park's facilities after him and asked me to illustrate a likeness of Lonnie that would be displayed on its sign.  They called it "Lonnie's Loo".

First up is the original concept sketch, followed by an alternate version with Lonnie on the cart in which he roams the park on his various assignments, and last up, the sign's final incarnation.  I hope to have an actual photo of the sign to post here eventually, but I haven't got one just yet.

Once again, crazy fun had here.  I've enumerated before what I think are the many advantages of illustration: its ability to exaggerate, its personality, its ability to create imaginative and hypothetical visuals, etc.  A theme park is, by its nature, an alternate reality where all these facets are celebrated.  Makes the whole thing pretty great.


P.S.: Il-loo-stration.  Get it?


Theme Park Illustration!

Fairly recently, I was asked to create some illustrations and designs for Silverwood Theme Park.  Silverwood is a western-themed ("western" meaning American old West in case you were envisioning Western Europe) park in Northern Idaho.  It's been there for a number of years and continues to grow both in scope and in popularity.

These illustrations and designs aren't the first time I've worked for Silverwood, though the last time was 15 years ago.  It was actually one of my first jobs.  I worked all sorts of positions during my tenure there (which spanned two seasons): I made burritos, hot dogs, funnel cakes, worked as a bar back, staffed private events, and worked in the park warehouse, which supplied the park with everything it needed.  It was a great summer job and I loved being "behind the scenes" at the park and getting to see the way things work.

Now, all these years later, I get the opportunity to work for the park again, this time in my capacity as an illustrator, which is crazy exciting.  I've wanted to illustrate for Silverwood for a number of years.  It always seemed like it would be a great fit.  Though I've always avoided labeling myself as a specialist in any one style of illustration, I have to admit that the cartoon side of illustration is probably where I feel most in my element.  I've always been in love with the imagination, the expressiveness, and the personality of cartoons.  All of these traits can be seen in spades all over the park, which is why I'd always hoped to be able to contribute to their aesthetic.

The first project was a coffee label for an upcoming product line called "Golddigger Dan's Coffee".  A label involving an old prospector?  What's not to love about a job like that?  It was crazy, stupid fun to draw.  First up, you'll see the initial versions, followed by a revision that included a re-design of Dan's face, the addition of a background, and finally a label design for the coffee.

Again, over-emphasis on the fun factor here just isn't possible.


Wedding Invitations

    These are concepts for some wedding invitations for a friend of mine.  They were created several months ago, but I didn't want to post them until the wedding had taken place.  The couple loves the outdoors, which is reflected in the invite designs.  My favorite of them is probably either the fly-fishing knot concept or the faux-Forest Service logo.  I like these because they're a bit quirky and pretty unique, but ultimately I'm not sure they're universally accessible enough to work as wedding invitations.  Eventually, they went with the Quail design, which I think was a nice, elegant choice.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Ashes to Dust

This week's comic is all about banks!  Everybody loves banks, right?  Well, you may or may not have heard a little story about Barclays, a storied British bank that's been accused of leaning on the LIBOR numbers for financial gain.  Now the bank is in big trouble.  The comic compares Barclay's trouble (and potential future) to that of other once-prominent banks that are no longer with us.

So, down to the drawing itself: Once again, I would have preferred more time on this one.  I would have preferred to re-do the banker (in retrospect, I would have liked to make the banker look like Mr. Potter from "It's a Wonderful Life" or perhaps Gordon Gekko).  I also would have liked to put more detail into the tombstones.  Perhaps some funny limericks about the banks and their troubles ("Bear Stearns: Pushing down earns, pushing up ferns" or something like that).  I also would have liked to spend more time on the stonework of the tombstones, which can be pretty ornate, creepy, and fun to draw.  I would have added more generic tombstones to the background (and more variety in the shapes of those tombstones), rust to the wrought-iron gate, and some perspective/proportion changes an various places.

Overall, however, given the amount of time, I think this one is acceptable.  That's as complimentary as I'm willing to be.  Humbug.


Back in the saddle again

This is the ForexPros comic from two weeks ago.  It's a side-by-side comparison of Ben Bernanke and the now NBA Finals Champ Lebron James.  Because I don't come up with the subject matter of the comics and my understanding of the financial world is limited, I can't actually fully explain this comic.  I can tell you that "FOMC" stands for Federal Open Market Committee.  I can't imagine that will be particularly enlightening, but it's the best I got right now.

I can, however, discuss the drawing of this comic.  So here goes:

The pattern so far when it comes to the Forex work is for me to talk about what I think/feel about the illustration, particularly how those thoughts and feelings are influenced by the amount of time I have to produce said illustration.  That's gonna be true for this one, too.  There's a direct relationship for me between the deadline and how much I like an illustration once that deadline has passed.  Typically, less time equals less liking by me.

It's no secret that I'm particular about my illustrations.  I love detail and I love craftsmanship.  And I figure if I'm going to work on something people are going to see, I want it to be the best I can do.  But the metric is different when the phrase changes to "The best I can do within this period of time."  I'm having a hard time reconciling the fact that standards (my own expectations for an illustration) HAVE TO change when there's significantly less time.  I'm used to being able to work on something until I'm happy with every aspect of it.  That kind of time is a luxury I just don't have with Forex.  But I continue to look at a drawing done in 12 hours and apply the same standards I use for drawings that take a a week or longer.

I can say these comics are the best I can do in the amount of time I have.  I can say that with certainty.  But they're not the best I can do PERIOD, which kinda gets my goat.

As for the drawing itself: I'm getting more accustomed to drawing Bernanke.  I sometimes wonder how often the people I draw actually see the drawings of themselves and what they think of the likenesses.  I can't imagine Ben Bernanke will ever see any of these, but if he does I hope he finds them to be relatively accurate.

Lebron James, however, has an extremely difficult face to draw.  Every once in a while, I will draw a face that seems like it should be a breeze.  I thought this about James.  His face is square, his brows are deep-set, and his hairline is almost a perfect line.  It should have been a snap.  And yet I must have done a half-dozen sketches and none of them looked right.  Some people are more challenging to draw than others for me.  This is why the sketch looks so much different than the final version.  Bernanke's face went through a revision as well, but not nearly as many as Lebron.