Saturday, March 29, 2014

Easing Quantitative Easing

Hello!

This week's comic for Investing.com has to do with a recent Federal Reserve meeting in which Janet Yellen signaled the possible discontinuation of quantitative easing in 2015.  Basically (which is the only kind of understanding I have on complex financial situations), the government is going to stop pumping money into the economy.  Possibly because the U.S. is climbing back out of the Great Recession.

Here's the sketch (as usual, the subject matter was thought up by the team at Investing.com and drawn by me):

And here's the final:


I had a good time drawing this one.  It's always best for me when there's one character because it allows me to focus more attention to drawing the subtleties of that character.  It helped that it was Janet Yellen this week, who's really fun to draw.  She has unique features and an expressive face (unlike, for instance, Mitt Romney, who I always had trouble drawing).

On another note, I know I've only posted Investing.com work for weeks now (not that there's anything wrong with Investing.com work, but variety is the spice of life).  There's more work coming.  I'm working on several jobs at the moment, but I want to wait until the work is a little more finished before I share it with you.  There's quite a bit of technical illustration (some of it is space-related, some of it is environmental) and there's some design work.  So bear with me.

Cheers.


Sunday, March 23, 2014

You're Putin Me On

Here's the most recent comic for Investing.com.  This week's comic (by which I mean LAST week's comic) dealt with the steady rise of financial markets in spite of recent international disputes.

Here's the sketch:

And here's the final:

Cheers.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Kickshot World Cup Designs

Ola!

Over the past two-ish years, I've worked with entrepreneur and certified soccer referee Aziz Makhani to create Kickshot, a terrific board game based on soccer.

This year, the World Cup is being held in Rio.  To celebrate, Aziz recently asked me to create a series of World Cup-Themed Kickshot images:

You can learn more about Kickshot products and events here:

http://kickshot.org/

Cheers.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Billions and Billions of Bookmarks...

Greetings, Earthlings!

You may or may not remember this, but over the past year I've been working on a series of bookmarks for my favorite bookstore ever, Bookpeople of Moscow.   That's our local bookstore.  And it should be your favorite bookstore, too.  I don't mean that Bookpeople should be your favorite, even though it's an awesome bookstore.  I mean your local bookstore should be your favorite bookstore.

Anyhoo, I've done two of these bookmarks so far.  Each features a map of the store and the locations of the various sections.  Each is also based on a different kind of map.  For instance, here be one based on a treasure map:


And here's one based on a subway map:

And now there's a new map to add to the collection: The Night Sky.

The idea for this map came from a couple of different places.  The first was star maps (the kind old-timey sailors might have used, not the kind you buy if you want to see Dustin Hoffman taking out his garbage).  The second was the idea that books are a kind of exploration.  Really, the entire set of maps is based on that premise.  In this case, I think space and books are fairly analogous.  They're both exciting, mysterious, and almost infinite.

I kept the design on this relatively flat and bright because I wanted it to be playful.  Playful aesthetics don't come particularly easily to me, but I think this map hits the mark.  As always, the details are my favorite parts (like the glow behind the moons and the tail behind the rocket).

These are so much fun to make.  I have a lot of different kinds of jobs.  Some are interesting, some are tedious.  This is one of those projects that makes me recognize how totally excellent my job is.

Cheers.

Investing.com: Copters and Copper

Ni hao!

This week's comic for Investing.com had to do with concerns about a possible slowdown for the Chinese economy.  A slowdown in the Chinese economy, which for years has been growing at a good clip, could have a number of disconcerting effects worldwide.  One of these would be a drop in the price of certain precious metals like copper.

That being the case, I was asked by the team at Investing.com to draw China's President (Xi Jingping) and Prime Minister (Li Keqiang) piloting a remote control helicopter in a park shaped like China.  The background was to be a city skyline with stacks of falling copper coins instead of buildings.  I was also asked to include the infamous Beijing smog.

Here's the sketch:


I tried a couple of different approaches to making the park in the shape of China, but I couldn't figure out how to do it in the limited amount of time I had, so I ended up just making a silhouette of China on the grass.  It wasn't the best solution, but c'est la vie.

Other than that, I'm fairly satisfied with the way this comic turned out.  It isn't my best, but neither is it my worst showing.  At this point, I've done over 70 financial comics.  The experience has taught me any number of things, one of the most important of which is a sense of equanimity when it comes to a regular, labor-intensive deadline like this one.  I could be neurotic about it, but the fact of the matter is that I do the best I can every single week with the amount of time I'm given.  I can't offer more than my best, so even when my best effort doesn't yield my best work, I have to accept it.

Until next week,

Cheers.


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Tug of War: What is it good for? Absolutely Nothing.

Hello.

Here's the latest for Investing.com.

This week's comic is about the ongoing situation in Ukraine.  It's a complex situation.  One that involves real people's lives and the sometimes disastrous consequences that governments and leaders can have on those lives.  Because I don't pretend to understand it fully, I'm not going to attempt to explain it.

I do, however, have a decent grasp on drawing (both literally and figuratively).  For this week's comic, the team at Investing.com asked me to draw Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin playing tug of war with the Ukrainian flag between them.  Angela Merkel was to be shown in the background, cheering for Obama.



There was no specification for the background.  At first, I considered something blank or abstract that would emphasize the hyperbole here.  But I wanted a background that would act as a (marginally) better reflection of some of the emotion in this struggle.  I decided to show the Kiev skyline, some of the rubble and barricades constructed during the protests, and gray skies.

I had the idea to add snow late in the game, but I think it was a nice touch.



I'm happy with the faces this time.  This is my first time drawing Vladimir Putin, who has some interesting features.  Overall, I think this comic turned out well.  I can only hope for the same for the people of Ukraine.  It must feel very cold there right now.


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Egg on your Facebook...

Hello!

 Here's the latest comic for Investing.com.  This one was about Facebook.  More specifically, Facebook recently bought the messenger service Whatsapp for 19 billion dollars.  19 BILLION.  Then, shortly thereafter, Whatsapp kinda broke for a couple of days.

My assignment this week was to draw Mark Zuckerberg's head on a kid's body.  Mr. Zuckerberg was to be shown playing with a broken toy featuring the WhatsApp logo.  Additional toys were to be drawn in the background, including  a toy with the Instagram logo on it (which Facebook also owns).

Here's the sketch:

And here's how the final turned out:



I decided a phone would be the most fitting option for the WhatsApp toy.  Likewise, the camera made the most sense for the Instagram toy (it's essentially just the Instagram logo turned into an object).  These were maybe the most obvious choices, but they're in service of the point of the comic, so I think they're acceptable.

I'm mostly satisfied with this comic.  If you read these posts regularly, you'll know that I pledged to spend more time this week thinking about composition, staging, colors, angles, etc.  And I spent a LITTLE more time, but the quick deadline just doesn't allow much wiggle room on these comics.  Still, I think the drawing is decent and the comic is interesting enough.  It helped that there was only one subject.  Of course, that subject is Mark Zuckerberg, who doesn't have the most expressive face.

My favorite parts: Mark Zuckerberg's face, the fact that he's wearing his "trademark" hoodie even as a toddler, and the fact that the back wall of his playroom is Facebook blue.

What I would have done different in hindsight: The ball is too bright.  I think it's distracting.  Also, Mark's face isn't perfect.  It's not bad, but I can see one or two things that needed to be adjusted.

Overall: 4 ducks out of 5.

Cheers.