Wednesday, December 19, 2012

War Deck

I found this great War deck in some things I had collected from my grandmother's farm house, and played a game with my son the other day. This is the very deck I spent hours playing with as a child, and really was struck by how great the illustrations are. Great colors and weird choices made all around. They are of a certain era to be sure, but I think they are really great.

Anyone recognize the illustrator?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

My Life at The Society

It has been a very busy season- closing a new kids book along with a hectic semester of teaching. But before this is a distant memory, I wanted to share some thoughts on a profound distinct honor I experienced this year, chairing the Society of Illustrator's 55th Annual Show.

The very first time I learned of the world of Professional Illustration, (outside of a Norman Rockwell calendar in my 5th grade classroom), it was in the form of the Society of Illustrators annual, specifically Illustrators 38. I was a sophomore in college and I still remember it had this amazing Brad Holland on the cover.

Other than wanting to make drawings every single day, I had no exact idea of what I wanted to do with my life as an artist. Comics seemed plausible, but then... there was this book. Given to me by my professor at the University of Kansas, Barry Fitzgerald, this volume changed the course my life.

Holding it in my hand, it was like the Rosetta Stone. Immediately it began to translate all of my interests and passions into a clear language. I poured over each page and wrote down names - a few weeks later I gave up my uni-ball micro pens and started dry-brush painting, just like Brad.

That annual, and the ones that followed it year after year, opened endless visual doors to new work, new artists and, more importantly, new kinds of ideas.

I spent several years admiring illustration from the distant golden shores of the midwestern wheat fields before I moved to New York for graduate school in 2001. The very first time I went to the Society of Illustrators building, was for my inaugural class with Marshall Arisman in the MFA Illustration program at School of Visual Arts in New York. As you can imagine, this experience, to me, felt like being give a tour of St. Peters by the Pope himself.

As I left that building that night, totally amazed by the images just casually hanging on the walls in every nook of the place (is that a Cornwell in the corner over there!?), I remember thinking to myself, "If I can hang an image in this place just once, I'll be proud of my career." Based on everything on those walls, and in those annuals, it seemed a remote and distant notion at best. But, on the way home, I walked down 5th avenue and I wasn't discouraged, my passion for illustration felt so alive.

I entered the show for years, seven years in fact, including the student competition, before I got into Annual 46. I won my first medal in Annual 48. Now, Annual 55 represents my 10th straight year I've had work in the Society of Illustrator's Annual Show. I'm so grateful for that place and that I've been able to be a part of it in some small way over the years. If possible, I feel more humbled by the work on the walls than on my first visit. The magical experience of becoming a successful working illustrator has given me such admiration for the greats both past, present and future (in the case of some young illo-stars out there). There is much to look forward to in the next ten SI Annuals.


This year, I'm thrilled to have eight drawings in the show, posted below.  (If you're wondering, the chair does NOT get to vote on what gets into the show, all selections are made by the jury. If I had any sway, I'd have 25 pieces in the show.)

The first show is opening January 4th, 2013 at The Society of Illustrators. Hope to see you then.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Salmon Problems

Thanks to SooJin Buzelli for calling me for this project, which will run in Plan Sponsor magazine. I finished this project back in August, but it is just hitting the newsstands now. This article is about the benefits of mutual funds paying out in a steady stream of income, rather than in a single lump sum.

Sometimes I'll set arbitrary limitations on my ideas, just for fun and variety, so for my sketches this time I constrained the variables by only sending ideas that had animals in them. SooJin picked my favorite!

A few details of the big salmon-  every good illustrator should love drawing fish.