Illustration Friday: Baby

This week’s topic over at Illustration Friday is “Baby”. This is an old doodle from my files, I just added a quick splash of color. It’s part of a concept piece I did for a client project last year that never got off the ground. At the time our sweet, adorable daughter Anna was only four months old so I was drawing from personal experience.

Speaking of babies, I should also mention that a few weeks ago my wife and I learned we are expecting baby #2 in January. We learned Jennie was pregnant with Anna on Easter Sunday, with the due date falling on Christmas Eve.  This time we learned we were pregnant on Mother’s Day. Insert your own Hallmark joke here.

Illustration Friday is free and anyone can take part. Check out their website for more info or to see what other artists are doing with each week’s topic.

This and That

I’m still swamped with freelance work. Besides putting in long (but fun!) hours on a summer-long animation project, I’m designing toys for one client and designing a mascot for another. I’ve got a few other possible projects in the works as well. But I want to make sure I still post regular updates to this here blog.

I’ve recently finished up some artwork for a few other projects but have to wait until the clients give the OK before I can post any. I’m hoping that will be sooner rather than later. There’s some fun stuff to show!

In the mean time, here’s some misc. odds and ends:

Congrats to the NCS Award Winners — Three cartoonists I happen to know won divisional awards recently at the National Cartoonists Society annual awards dinner in New Orleans. Tom Richmond won for his advertising illustrations (Tom has a great blog you should check out). Hallmark artist David Mowder won an award for his greeting card work (check out David’s Flickr gallery). Stephen Silver won an animation award for his character design work on Disney’s Kim Possible. (Silver also teaches a fantastic character design course online at Schoolism.com). Kudos guys!

Harvey Korman R.I.P. — The Emmy-winning comic actor from The Carol Burnett Show has passed away. I was just a little kid when The Carol Burnett Show was on prime time, but I have fond memories of giggling at their antics. The skits were performed live and I’ve since learned that it was always one of Tim Conway’s goals to try and crack up Harvey in front of the audience. There’s nothing like watching two comic geniuses trying to keep straight faces as the wheels come off. My sympathies to Korman’s family and friends.

The Freeloader’s Toolbelt — If you are pinching pennies or just like to get stuff free, you might be interested in this long list of resources for snagging freebies.

Stuff I’m Reading — I picked up a couple of books recently under the delusion that one day I’ll actually have time to relax and read them.

Hey Whipple, Squeeze This (3rd Edition) (Amazon.com link) is a best-selling book on advertising by Luke Sullivan. I saw Mr. Sullivan give a presentation recently in the Minneapolis area and really enjoyed it. He talked about the challenges of producing above-average creative work in advertising while still meeting the strict needs and limited budgets of un-creative clients. Hey Whipple is a great read for anyone interested in the creative side of the advertising industry.

Sit, Ubu, Sit by Gary David Goldberg (Amazon.com link) is a new autobiography-slash-instruction manual from one of the big names in 1980’s television. Goldberg’s long list of credits includes The Bob Newhart Show, Lou Grant, M*A*S*H and Brooklyn Bridge, but he is best-known as the creator of Family Ties. The dust jacket includes accolades from none other than Stephen Spielberg. I’m fascinated by books that give insights into behind-the-scenes Hollywood and I’m really looking forward to this one.

Coming Soon: Facial Expressions Babies To Teens

A couple of years ago author Mark Simon released a terrific reference book for artists, simply titled Facial Expressions. The 256-page book contains over 3,000 photos of 50 male and female “models” (mostly friends of the author, I suspect) making a variety of facial expressions from various angles. There’s also a section of mouth phonemes and a few pages showcasing hats and headgear. The acting and photography is a bit amateurish at times but overall it’s a very helpful book. I’ve found myself cracking it open often. There are many photo reference books available to artists, but this is the only modern photo book I’m aware of that focuses solely on facial expressions. That makes it a valuable resource.

Simon is now releasing a follow-up volume, Facial Expressions Babies to Teens. Like many artists, I sometimes struggle to draw children of various ages (for instance, making a nine-year-old look different from a twelve-year-old). So I’m really looking forward to this book. It also has sections on phonemes and hats, and something called an “age progression gallery”, so it should be very helpful. According to Amazon.com, the book will be released on June 10.

You can order both volumes from Amazon.com through my Recommended Resources page.

Mascot For MaroonHelmet.com

Sorry for the slowdown in blog posts this week. Things have been pretty crazy here. I’m putting in a lot of hours on an animation project, plus this week I also whipped together some storyboards for a major retailer, did some character design sketches for a major food company, and finished up designing a mascot character for a small business in Virginia called MaroonHelmet.com.


(Artwork copyright © MaroonHelmet.com.)

MaroonHelmet.com is a specialty retailer for fans of the Virginia Tech Hokies, a popular college team. Their primary customer base is football fans and they wanted a mascot for their company.

They didn’t want to use the actual Hokie mascot (I’m not sure but my guess is there might be trademark issues involved). The client originally suggested that I take a maroon football helmet and put a cartoon face on it. Although I considered the idea, it would have been difficult to make it work convincingly. One idea I suggested instead was having a cartoon football wear the helmet.

The client also asked that their mascot look fun but tough. They didn’t want him to look mean, but they did want him to have a strong and aggressive attitude similar to the Fighting Irish mascot. So I did my best to capture that in the football’s expression.

I just turned in the final artwork yesterday, so it isn’t up on the MaroonHelmet.com site yet. But I did get the client’s permission to post my work for them online.

Creative Freelancer Conference

I just received a brochure in the mail about a new conference tailored for creative freelancers (i.e. illustrators, designers, photographers, copyrighters, etc.) The 2008 Creative Freelancer Conference will be held Augut 27-29 in Chicago.

The conference is presented by HOW Magazine and Marketing Mentor. Topics to be discussed will include:

  • How do I balance finding work with doing work?
  • What niche should I target, and how do I position myself within it?
  • How do I create a continuous stream of good prospects?
  • How do I find out a client’s budget?
  • Am I charging too much or too little?
  • What should my contract include?

Two of the speakers are Ilise Benun and Peleg Top. They’ve previously given some very helpful webinars through HOW magazine, and have a real knack for making the business side of being a freelancer feel less intimidating, even fun. Benun’s website, Marketing-Mentor.com, also has some very helpful resources for freelancers.

If you are a freelancer and you only go to one conference this year, this would probably be the one. More info can be found at the conference website: CreativeFreelancerConference.com

Blogging Takes The Back Seat

Since July of 2007 I’ve been committed to posting something new every weekday. It’s a lot of fun and I’m glad that so many of you have found my humble ramblings helpful.

However, there are only so many hours in the day and lately I’ve been feeling the squeeze. I’m blessed with a lot of wonderful people and projects to fill up my day, and at the moment it’s overflowing. I’m about to start work on a very large animation project which, along with my regular client work, will mean spending more than a few evenings and weekends at the drawing board during the next three months.

At the same time my baby daughter is becoming a toddler, which means Daddy needs to be more available to spend one-on-one time interacting with her. I believe strongly that there are few things in life more important than family, and I want to be careful not to fall into the trap of putting my career ahead of my wife and daughter (especially when I think about how fast she will grow up). It would be very easy for me to become a workaholic dad, and I have to work hard to guard myself against spending too much time on things that ultimately aren’t that important. If it’s a choice between my daughter or this blog, my daughter wins hands down.

It was a tough decision but I’ve decided that, at least for now, it would be unwise for me to keep blogging at my current pace. I’m pushing the limits of my schedule as it is, and something’s gotta give.

I’m not giving up blogging. I still plan to post regularly, it just won’t be every day. Some weeks I still may write five posts, other weeks I may only write one or two. I want this blog to remain a fun project and not turn into a heavy burden. I’d also rather write a few quality posts than a lot of mediocre ones.

To my regular blog readers, I want to say thanks for your interest and support. I hope you can understand where I’m coming from, and I hope you will keep enjoying this blog. It sounds cliche, but I really do appreciate the fact that so many of you take time to read my ramblings. I look forward to posting more fun and (hopefully) helpful posts….it just won’t be quite as often.