Looking at the Past

I came across a bunch very old illustrations the other day, and thought, man, I would not recognize this as my work, compared to what I do today. Here take a look. (Happy Reed? Pictures! Also forgive any formatting issues. Since these blog entries are as I think of them I don’t take much time to try and re-size images and such.)

These are part of a series done for Reeling, the Chicago GLBT film festival. They got a lot of attention and people really liked them. So much that someone ripped off the style for several brochures, and people thought I had done the illustrations. To bad I didn’t, because more then likely, the person who ripped me off got paid. I did this for free for the exposure. I didn’t get any work from this.

I was very proud of these at the time. They were the best work I had done at the time. I can still see elements of these in my current work.

My friend was working at Chicago Magazine, handling the entire online website. This was back before the internet started killing magazines and newspapers. Chicago Magazine didn’t support the online site then. It was just her, and she had no budget, no direction to take the site. It barely served as a, whats happening. So she asked me to do these tiny illustrations for the site. For free. I thought, at least I can say I have worked for Chicago Magazine, and maybe I might get to network to get some work in the actual magazine. But that didn’t happen.

For a while I worked at a company that did corporate communications, mainly newsletters, brochures and more. Sometimes, they wanted illustrations. My boss never wanted to spend money of art and graphics, which was good for me, since it fell to me to come up with illustrations.

I really don’t know what I was trying to do with the shape of the heads. These were for a brochure about hospital credentialing. Back then, computers had these giant, thick monitors, that took up your whole desk!

Oh hey! One of the first illustrations I got paid for. For Lakeland Boating (I still do illustrations for them). It was about how the head (bathroom) on boats often can be left…messy. I wrote a dirty limerick on the wall, and thought I had smudge it enough. I didn’t, but thankfully they caught it before it went to print. I don’t do that anymore. (Here I sit, broken hearted, came to shit and only farted, in case you were wondering.)

Back then, I did  lot of work with actual materials, and would have to send them in to be scanned. The good thing about that, is you can work in different ways. Like this for an article about Morse Code.

I did it on scratch board. I really liked it. So did the editor. So much he kept the original art and never sent it back. Nor did he offer me any money for the original art. Yeah, people actually do that. A contract prevents that.

However, this did lead to me doing a series of these of skeletons. A friend of a friend opened a small knick knack shop, and wanted artists to put their work up for commission. So I did a bunch, and they sold. The first few that sold she gave me my share. The rest, she kept all of it, because her shop wasn’t doing well, and needed the money.

Come to think of it, she was friends of the editor that kept the image above. Another good reason for going digital, or at least only delivering digital. And contracts

These are some images that I did that were not for clients, but just myself.



It’s always interesting to look back. I also found a disk with all these illustrations I did for this interactive CD a bank put out to help people prepare to take a test to get their real estate license. There were 3 of us doing the illustrations, and a 4th guy doing all the photo researching. I think there was over 500 illustrations that were needed. I was working for a company that was doing the CD for the bank. I never dealt with the person at the bank, but we always got to hear her feedback. Like, I don’t like the color green. So what about the illustrations about lawn care and such? She also didn’t like red. Or bright blues. In fact, she doesn’t like primary colors.

So the color palette eventually became grays, beiges, purples, light baby blue, and where appropriate, some greens.  She also so everything as sexual and violence towards women.

I honestly can’t say what I think about my old work. I can say my skill has improved a lot.

One thought on “Looking at the Past

  1. Justin

    Oh man… it’s very interesting to read your account of the treatment you received doing all this work for professional (and NOT so professional) clients. That skeleton piece really does have something special in it that I believe gets lost in digital work sometimes. It’s really mesmerizing, and it’s a CRIME how you never got the original back. What an asshole. I can relate to “learning things the hard way” doing illustration for various people that I now look back on as losers and idiots who had NO expertise in judging my work less critiquing it for print. That lady you mentioned who “hates green” and every other primary color should never be allowed to work with illustrators… EVER. I also love your hunky shirtless man and the pensive, thin man sitting in the chair. I hear ya bro… the world is tough for us artists trying to make a living.


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