Quick overnight spot illustration for Baltimore Ravens-themed Maryland Lottery tickets and billboards. Digitally painted in Photoshop. This was one of those fairly normal advertising agency situations where the assignment was given to me many weeks in advance but was put on "hold", and then one afternoon a frantic email shows up saying "It's a go- We need it by tomorrow morning!!!" Fortunately, it went pretty quickly and I was able to go to bed on time. Thank you internet for multiple references shots!
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.
This one was a gas, Daddy-O!!! The scene was to create illustrations with a mock 1950s/60s barware vibe to be arranged and printed onto a old-style black metal cocktail tray. A combination of many things made this one a blast!... Whimsical character designs, mimicking an old retro look, the puzzle solving aspects of creating elements that could stand alone or in formation with each other, playing with lighting that works against a black background, and incorporating nostalgic text. The client is a cool connoisseur of cocktail concoctions who runs a site called “Mr. Booze”.com. I’ve done quite a bit of really fun work for him over the years- one of my favorites being the Mr. Booze logo itself. This tray was my kind of kitsch! Can’t wait to get my mitts on this baby!
"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:
It's December here in the studio and things are hopping! I've found my role as the family Santa has turned more into that of a late-night online ordering elf as brown paper boxes begin arriving at my doorstep on a semi-regular basis, Today, though, one of those big brown mystery boxes arrived that wasn't another secret kid gift. Instead, it held a pile of brand new puzzles from Bits and Pieces. Most likely this bird scene was painted in the heat of August but finally now seems OK to post. Take a look!:
I know, I know... An illustrator should not have too many styles. It confuses people. Although this advice has always made sense, it has also always alluded me. Eating the same food or watching the same movies over and over has never been my thing... nor sticking with one form of art. It's a bit of a sickness really. I try... really try to keep my portfolio down to just a couple of looks, but before I know it, I'm veering off into something totally new and different. I love learning new things- especially illustration styles that are challenging. This year, of all things, it's been digital paintings of sweet happy scenes for cards and puzzles, prompted at the request of a rep I work with. I have to admit, I feel a little weird doing them sometimes- the subject matter is really sappy! But for some reason I find them incredibly relaxing. Maybe because, in the light of sad news out there, it's just nice to imagine a world where dogs, cats and horses can share their pumpkins...
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...
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.
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.
Along the theme of jewelry here... A while back I received a simple line art illustration assignment from an art director at GKV. A magazine ad for Pandora jewelry was to have "peel-off" bracelet stickers to try on with a little "how-to" illustration explaining the mechanics of the complex sticker operation. So, as an illustrator, I needed some beautiful hands to draw from. No-one was around to shoot, so I did what any committed artist would do, and posed my own hands as daintily as I possible could. Here's a pic of the process: