Category Archives: illustration career

PSInside June 2012

The new edition of PSInside just hit the newsstands!

Hannah the intern’s last day

Thanks, Hannah, for your help—it’s been a fun 6 weeks. Warm wishes for a successful career!

The Examiner interview, Part 3

Right over here!

Feb/2012 PSInside

Get your copy here!

Mini Ninja

Soon after the Mini Mashers project I was given the Mini Ninja project. Same idea: teensy weensy plastic dolls sold in sets of 4, 8 and 12. I guess Remco liked the Mini Masher origin story; at any rate I was asked to write one for the Mini Ninja. This time around I thought it would be funny to describe smallness as an Asian martial arts philosophy—shojutsu. I had a buddy who studied karate and all things Japanese. He told me sho means small and shojutsu would mean smallness study.

Mini Mashers

Oh dear, time does fly.

Back in my feckless youth I had a design studio in the happening SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan. I took on any project that came my way, both design and illustration. An advertising agency I’d been working with got a packaging design job from Remco, the toymaker. Professional wrestling had become popular—celebrities like Cyndi Lauper went to matches—so Remco thought little plastic models of popular wrestlers would sell.

Originally named Mini Maulers, later Mashers, they came in blister-packs of 4 and 8 or boxes of 12. I got to create all the artwork on the packages, including caricatures of the featured wrestlers. Here’s the best part: they asked me to dream up an origin story and tell it in a comic strip. So I came up with a lab-experiment-gone-wrong story and supplied the tagline: “Whatever you do, don’t let them out!”

Apparently I had no idea you could blend gouache back then.

PSInside—a must-read!

The January issue of PSInside arrived—including a well-written article by my pal Fred Carlson about the illustration business in this economy.

The president’s poster design contest

President Obama would like to promote a new jobs bill.  Shepard Fairey‘s posters were a big part of the president’s 2008 campaign so this time around Obama for America is running a contest for best poster design.  There are no cash prizes.  The designer must surrender all rights to his design to Obama for America.

Many designers are upset about this contest.

So here’s my two cents.  I think this contest isn’t good for designers or illustrators.  You may say, ‘So what?  If you don’t want to enter the contest then don’t.’  The problem is that the perceived value of a designer’s time & skill is diminished whenever any one of us participates in a contest like this one.  The administrators figure that these contestants place so little value on their time & skill that they’ll be willing to work for free and then let someone else profit from their work.

An artist will spend his entire career negotiating for bigger fees with each new project.  When we say it’s okay to devalue an artist’s time and talent to zero it becomes really difficult to convince the next client that those commodities are worth anything at all. It’s easy to see why a plumber or mechanic charges what he does.  Because art is subjective it’s often not so easy to see how we arrive at our fees.

This is just my opinion.  You may want to read the guidelines for art competitions the Graphic Artists’ Guild came up with.

Painting the opening spread

And here is the painting—from The Really Awful Musicians—in progress.

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My studio in the National Transit Building is over 100 years old with lots of oak woodwork and a well-worn door that looks like it should be to the office of a private eye.

Having more or less caught up with my deadlines, I took a little time to finally put my name and studio number on the window.  I chose some old typefaces that looked appropriate—from some type catalogues that I have and from internet sources.  I created the words on my computer and printed them out big enough to fill the space on the door.

Then I taped the printout to a piece of black Contact paper and cut the letters out with a razor blade.  I taped the entire mess to the window and carefully peeled the backing off each letter.  I left the printout taped to the window so I could stick the letter back where it’s supposed to be—like a puzzle piece.

Now the door’s ready for some dame to walk through it asking me to find her missing sister…