"LIbraries Rock!" Posters and Spots

Every year I have the pleasure of creating a series of posters and spots for the Public Library system.  One of the reasons this particular job is so much fun is that I get to work in a different style every time!   This year's flavor was concocted from a combination of tattoo art influence and a bit of 60s rock album cover art.  The nice thing is that this is basically how I doodle all the time anyway!   Please take a moment to pop over to my site and check out all the styles I currently work in.  I'm still cooking with a lot of pots, which is how I like it!   I'd love to cook up something for you!

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Which Two Are the Same?...

Also... for the same Highlights Puzzlemania issue, this was an additional game illustrated to go along with the "differences" puzzle.   It was made for little kids, but how fast can YOU figure it out?...  

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Cover and Interior Illustration for Highlights Puzzlemania Book

So... every now and then the little kid in me gets all giddy because I get to work for one of the companies I grew up with.   Many a dentist's office visit I spent searching for hidden pictures in a Highlights magazine.  Here's a recent cover I got to create for an issue of a Highlights Puzzlemania book. The illustration also appears on the inside with a nearly identical version next to it with 20 differences to find.  Check out the pics below in case you're stuck in a dentist's office with nothing to do.

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 Find twenty differences on the next picture...

Find twenty differences on the next picture...

 Find 20 differences from the previous pic!

Find 20 differences from the previous pic!

 Here's the original sketch with cropped areas indicated for cover and interior activity pages.

Here's the original sketch with cropped areas indicated for cover and interior activity pages.

Being an Illustrator (or Two or Three)

The “experts” all say the same thing:  “Don’t confuse people with unrelated styles on your website.”  “Stick to one look or you’ll never make it as a world-renowned illustrator.  After all, it might look like you’re unprofessional… or even worse… that you’re not FAMOUS!!!”  Honestly,  if you think about it, “famous” kind of means being well-known enough to have the amazing pleasure of being locked in to the same style over and over and over and over and over and over and over…and over…”   I don’t know about you, but that’s not the kind of artistic future that motivates me.

 I get it though.  Their advice is actually sound and well intended.

    So, in spite of this sage advice, why did I branch off into a totally non-related “cut-paper” look for this particular job?…  Well, first of all, because I knew it would be a great fit for my client’s subject matter but furthermore it was because, for almost three decades now, the fun of branching off and actually enjoying the freedom to experiment as an artist is what’s kept my business, well, busy!   If there was a chef who was excellent at making one particularly amazing gourmet dish and was told to only make variations of that dish night after night, year after year… I’m certain they’d eventually be sick of the kitchen and want to seek more exciting employment.  So why in the world are we told that clients are too mindless to see that versatility in an illustrator is an ASSET?

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  I believe it comes down to fear.   We don’t want to mess with that “illusion” that we’re so much more “successful” than perhaps we actually are.  If you ask me, life’s way too short for that kind of nonsense.   It’s a natural game of business to create that illusion for a customer and it may be quite prudent to play that way, but I’m a firm believer that the honest approach is much more enjoyable and fulfilling.  People expect a con these days.  Honesty is a rare trait in business and perhaps the one asset, beyond any talent I may have, that has kept my work thriving over the years.

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   Sometimes an alternative illustration style is just the thing that what would fit a particular project perfectly.  I’ve had the true pleasure of working with many wonderful clients who trust my judgement on changing a style to fit a particular theme.  To all the artists and illustrators out there who have been told (with good intentions) to knock it off with the creative detours… Isn’t that what making art is all about?   Exploring, discovering, expanding, evolving, being excited, even thrilled, etc?

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   So here’s a great question to ask when approaching any job:  How can I have an utter blast solving my client’s illustration needs and delivering art that thrills them far beyond their expectations?   Sometimes you just have to ask their permission to go in a new direction.  Solve this competently, and everyone wins… and... you get to continue to play in new realms over and over and over and over again.

"Scurry Up and Read" Illustrations

Well, I’ve always said it-  Nothing encourages little kids to read more… than hamsters in sweatpants!   I used to own a hamster or two and one thing I knew for sure is that you never store books you care about in an active hamster cage… nor do you try to dress them in work-out clothes.   But hey- we’re living in the 21st century now and hamsters can do whatever the heck they want to.  Anyway, these friendly little fur-balls were illustrated for an educational company who has kept me very busy for over 15 years now.   Thanks to them, I find myself drawing lots of books and lots of animals in weird clothes.

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Mock Comic Book Cover Characters

"Holy boring content Batman!!  This info needs some Ka-ZING!!!"    A company that specializes in increasing customer's ease and happiness when dealing with computer-generated voice prompts wanted to make their services more accessible so they came up with the idea of creating super heroes and villains to represent the different aspects of their product.  Normally, the program of choice for nice vintage textures and tones would have been Photoshop but my client requested that all art be done in vector.   The problem with vector is that it can come out cold, stiff, and plastic unless you're REALLY good at it.   So, like any good super-hero-artist-want-to-be, I flew off to the internet to do some quick online tutorials, grabbed TONS of classic comic book reference, and began cranking these babies out:

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Board-game Design- The Great Coin Caper

Slowly but surely, the plan is to add more and more history about some of the more interesting projects that have made their way through this studio over the past couple years- in what the Jones Studio scientists refer to as the "Pre-Larryial Blog Era".   Many a fun and joyous game board has been designed and illustrated here over the years and today we'll take a look at that momentous educational phenomena known as The Great Coin Caper- A Dewey Whodunit Game-  (Highsmith).   Attached are some of the original sketches that still remain as well as the finished art.  And now ladies and gentlemen, I present to you... some stuff I drew...  

 "Game Box in Repose on Oak Dining Room Table"

"Game Box in Repose on Oak Dining Room Table"

 This is how I draw stuff.

This is how I draw stuff.

 The finished game board a la photoshop.

The finished game board a la photoshop.

 Goofy robots make me happy.

Goofy robots make me happy.

 The card face.

The card face.

 Sketches of some of my favorite old acquaintances from school.

Sketches of some of my favorite old acquaintances from school.

 This game is fashioned after the game of "CLUE"... and these are your Professor Plums, etc...

This game is fashioned after the game of "CLUE"... and these are your Professor Plums, etc...

 ...but no-one get's killed by these...

...but no-one get's killed by these...

 ...And the finished game, in morning sunlight, upon shooing the cat away 14 times.

...And the finished game, in morning sunlight, upon shooing the cat away 14 times.


Boardgame Design- Science Lab Series

Boardgame design has always gone down as one of my all-time favorites for illustration projects.  In fact, just about any toy or game related assignment is pretty much guaranteed to rev up that kid in me.   I love the process of designing and illustrating the different components that go into a working game and then to one day get to finally see the final product sitting on my doorstep.   Here's a collection of art for three separate science-themed games I worked on a while back for the educational market.  Everything began with very rough pencil sketches and color mock-ups.  The final art was hand-inked, scanned in, and colored in photoshop.

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Junior Ranger Activity Book

Over the past few months a slew of  illustrations have been pumped out for the Junior Ranger Activity Book!  This is a book of games, mazes, puzzles etc that The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission is handing out as a freebie for young visitors to their parks.  As a child I used to love combing through Hi-lights magazine to do the picture searches, etc.  Kind of funny that I'm drawing them now.

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Spot Illustrations for a Children's Publication

Here are eight recent spot illustrations done for a children's magazine that won't be published for a few months...  (so I can't say which one right now.)  The theme of the article is about the origins of common games we all know and play.  

Adobe illustrator is becoming more and more my program of choice these days.  I don't know if it's because it produces such clean art, or the fact that it has unlimited "undos".    All I know is that it takes the sloppy artist in me and cleans him right up... like having my own personal illustration robot to do my bidding.

 The game of chess originated in India where the bishop was actually a camel or elephant.

The game of chess originated in India where the bishop was actually a camel or elephant.

 Kite flying got it's start in China.

Kite flying got it's start in China.

 Checkers has 3000 year old roots in Iraq.

Checkers has 3000 year old roots in Iraq.

 The game of marbles originated in Egypt.

The game of marbles originated in Egypt.

 The game of Jacks used to be called "knucklebones" and originated in Greece... and used real bones!

The game of Jacks used to be called "knucklebones" and originated in Greece... and used real bones!

 We have the Dutch to thank for our jump-ropes.

We have the Dutch to thank for our jump-ropes.

 An ancient Greek vase was found with art depicting someone playing with a yo-yo.

An ancient Greek vase was found with art depicting someone playing with a yo-yo.

 A 3500 year old clay top was found in Iraq.

A 3500 year old clay top was found in Iraq.