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?...
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.