Friday, July 31, 2015 comic: Interest rates, beers and bulls.


Here's the latest comic for The subject this week is the likely raising of interest rates by the Federal Reserve in September. The crew at asked me to draw a bar with two bulls dancing on top of the bar. I was also asked to draw Janet Yellen (wearing somewhat "sexy" attire) pulling beer from a tap that was running out of beer (symbolizing the end of easy money as interest rates rise). Finally, they asked me to include a bear, sitting at the bar and looking sullen.

Here's the sketch:

And here's the final:

Not much in the mood for reflection this week. The comic took me 12 hours and I'm ready for some dinner. So...until next week.


Friday, July 24, 2015 Burnin' down the (ware)house


Here's the latest comic for This week's subject is a massive sell-off in the commodities markets due in part to recent events in Iran and China. Commodities prices have dropped to 10-year lows.

The good folks at asked me to draw a warehouse full of various commodities (silver, gold, platinum, copper and iron ore). Somewhere nearby, they asked me to draw Ayatollah Ali Khamenei pouring out a barrel of oil while China's Xi Jinping lights the stream of oil on fire. The flaming stream of oil was to lead to the commodities warehouse, where part of the warehouse would also be on fire.

Here's the sketch:

And here's the final:

This week's comic was a ton of work. Two characters wasn't the problem, it was the warehouse of commodities. It was still pretty fun to draw, but this one took me longer than usual. For the most part, I think it came out fairly well. I don't think the shading on Xi Jinping is great, and for some reason I think the sketch is a better likeness than the finished version. Also, I think the shading on the warehouse items is a bit off (the edges aren't terribly convincing).

But the likenesses are pretty good, the posing is better than usual (there's more "acting"), and the composition is decent. Overall, I think this comic is a moderate success. Not a runaway success, but it's serviceable.

Until next week,


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Concept Work: Food Label Packaging

Here's an illustration I did a while back for a client who was developing a food product (pork patties). He asked me to work up a concept drawing for the label. This is more of a finished sketch than a final illustration, which is why it's a bit rough:

This project is still, near as I can tell, on hiatus. But it was a fun drawing to work on. Fairly divergent from the subject matter I usually tackle, which is always a treat.


Friday, July 17, 2015 Sampler


This week's comic for is a little bit of a departure from the norm. There have been several big-ticket financial news stories developing over the last several days: Janet Yellen's speech before congress, Greece's financial bailout negotiations and earnings reports to name a few. Instead of focusing on one story, the crew at asked me to include multiple stories in one comic.

I was asked to draw a stock trader sitting at a desk staring at a group of four computer monitors. The screens were to feature Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Fed chair Janet Yellen, an page, and the logos of Goldman Sachs and Bank of America (earnings reports).

Here's the sketch:

I've been working on bringing my drawing chops back up to muster lately. The last couple of comics weren't my best work (in spite of the fact that I was putting in my best effort). This week I felt more comfortable with my output. Things came more easily and the process was definitely more fun.

Here's the final:

I think this is a solid comic. The caricatures look pretty good, the shading and composition are fairly interesting, and it was fun. That last part, selfish as it is, is a pretty important component for me. The more I enjoy the work, the better it usually comes out. This isn't exactly revelatory, I know. At any rate, good times.

Until next week.


Friday, July 10, 2015 Comics and comics


Here's the latest comic for This week's subject is the financial market's shifting attentions (away from Greece and toward China in this instance). I was asked to draw Greece Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras throwing a flaming ball (representing financial instability) to China's Xi Jinping. In the background, I was asked to include a bear (wearing a red straw hat) walking amongst some collapsing buildings emblazoned with China's flag.

Here's the sketch:

And here's the final:

Brief reflections: I think the posing is a bit robotic and stale in this one. The caricatures are so-so. I think the layout is a decent solution and I like the colors and the atmosphere. It's not my best work, but I'm not going to be too hard on myself.

I heard an interview with Jimmy Kimmel recently where he said he thought it was harder to be funny in a short period of time. He said if he had all the time he wanted, he KNEW he could be funny. But when you don't have as much time to think about it, things get tougher. That's how I feel about these short deadlines. Given all the time in the world, I could bring these comics up a notch. But I don't have all the time in the world, so I do the best I can with the time I have. And that will have to be good enough.

Until next week.


Friday, July 3, 2015

It's all Greek.


Here's this week's comic for

The subject this time is Greece's likely default on IMF bailout repayments and potential subsequent exit from the European Union. The current Greek government decided it would hold a referendum, allowing/forcing Greek citizens to decide whether or not to continue with repayment (and potential increase in austerity measures) or to reject the process and embrace an uncertain future.

I was asked to draw an old Greek man reading a newspaper with the headline "Referendum" on it. Next to him, I was asked to include two kids wearing jerseys from Greek's national football team. In the background: The Parthenon. Beyond that, in the clouds, I was asked to draw Zeus, looking angry and uncertain.

Here's the sketch:

And here's the final:

Fun comic this week. It's not often I get to draw a Greek god. That's about all the reflecting I have the patience for after several days of very long work hours.

Until next week!


Thursday, July 2, 2015

Firewise Poster

Several weeks ago, I was contacted by an organization called Idaho Firewise and asked to re-design an educational poster/mailer for them.

Idaho Firewise is an organization whose mission is to help homeowners (particularly in more rural areas of Idaho) manage and limit the risk of wildfire to their homes and property. This mission is accomplished through various means (outreach, education, grants, programs, etc.). The poster I was asked to re-design is in the educational vein. It informs homeowners on how to modify their homes and maintain the surrounding property in a way that prevents wildfire from having a direct path to the house.

Here's the original poster:

There was nothing necessarily wrong with the original design. Some of the information needed to be updated. They were also looking for a slightly more cohesive design that more specifically addressed the Firewise message. They wanted the house to more closely reflect a more typical Idaho home. And finally, they wanted the overall poster to be more aesthetically pleasing. Basically, they were looking for a redesign pretty enough that, rather than reading once and discarding, a homeowner might actually hang up somewhere and be reminded of the information.

So the first thing to do was concepts. I figured it made sense this time to create a template. This isn't something I normally do, but since the visual elements of the poster would be constant (as opposed to illustrating an article or story where each concept could be completely different from each other), it made sense to do so. Plus, they needed this poster to be ready to mail by fire season, which was only a few weeks away, and a template would save some time.

Here's the basic template sketch:

The house is the centerpiece, of course. But the surrounding property had to be clearly visible as well. There were several elements that had to be included on the property (trees, a landscaped plant island, a propane tank, etc.). Finally, the poster had to leave space for the information and for breathing room and composition.

With the template squared away, I moved on to more specific concepts.

1.) The Blueprint:

A blueprint is just a plan for a house. Firewise is just a different kind of plan for a house. One deals with building it, the other with protecting it. It seemed like a decent conceptual link to me. And since typical blueprints already have a house or building and plenty of text and information, the idea made sense to me.

2.) National Park Poster:

1950s and 60s National Park posters have a very specific look to them. They're retro (which is very hip these days), but they're also usually very nicely designed and beautiful. They are, after all, posters. I figured this was a good option if we wanted people to hang them up. There's something familiar and comforting about this style that I figured would appeal to a decent number of people. Also, I always figured there was a subtle message of appreciation and stewardship of the land in the original posters and both of those things dovetail perfectly with the Firewise message.

3.) Modern:

This one didn't necessarily have a theme like the previous concepts. I wanted to give them a more straightforward option: Detailed, well-drawn, and clean.

4.) The Saturday Evening Post:

This concept came from a few different places: My fascination with classic graphics and illustration and the fact that the layout of the poster (a featured subject flanked by bulleted information) seemed magazine-like in its presentation. Hence: An homage to "The Saturday Evening Post".

In addition to the poster, I was also asked to design and illustrate some graphics and icons to include with the poster and in some subsequent materials:

To my surprise, they chose the "Saturday Evening Post" concept. They liked the fact that the lighter background made the information easier to read. I figured the magazine option was a long shot, since the SEP is a pretty antiquated reference, but they liked it. The final version ended up being a hybrid of that concept and a few of the elements of the other concepts in the end:

This project was a lot of work in a relatively-short amount of time. But it was also challenging, fun and satisfying. The illustration is pretty much always fun and this project was no exception. The most challenging part for me was probably the text layout. It's a visual element that has to be included same as any other illustrated element, but it has slightly different rules. Figuring out how to integrate all the bits and bobs together in a way that kept the style of the poster cohesive and the message clear was tough. But I think I pulled it off in the end.

Overall: Fun, challenging project. A real pleasure.