Prospect - This was the last issue
of The American Prospect magazine before the
2004 elections. I was thrilled that AP had liked my previous
work for them so much that I got to "graduate"
to doing a cover for them, my first for any magazine.
asked me to try and think of something over the weekend,
since the deadline for this piece was very short. I
was stumped for a little while, so I went out for a
run at night, something I hardly ever do. After jogging
a couple miles or so, I had a germ of an idea in my
head, something about splitting the cover and using
the backgrounds to represent what each man was doing
during the Vietnam War, which was a bulk of the cover
article. I thought it was original, creative, and visually
arresting; the only problem was it would probably make
a lousy cover--while being very clever, it wasn't something
that someone passing by could grasp within seconds,
the #1 purpose of any magazine cover, so you by it,
instead of, say, Paintball Enthusiast or Highlights.
I tried to come up with a variant of the original idea--I
drew up a bunch of placards, filled them with the slogans
of both sides, and put it together. I showed it to AP
and while they really liked it, they did ask for a few
changes that ultimately made the piece much better--get
rid of the hard line separating the candidates, make
them much angrier, and more confronting each other.
They also suggested adding some placards to the front
so they could add their text, a suggestion that I thought
was just great. I reworked it, they loved it, and it
was on newsstands shortly before the election. Don't
blame me, I voted for Kodoss...
other piece was the simplest thing I've done for AP,
a spot illustration for a small article about the Bob
Woodward/Judy Miller debacle over Valerie Plame's identity.
I didn't have a lot of space to work with, so I knew
I had to keep it simple and clear. Trying to cram in
two portraits plus their respective newspapers (an element
I wanted in from the beginning) was daunting. But then
it occurred to me; since the article was about how both
these newspapers let loose the quality and accuracy
controls on this particular story, I realized we were
dealing with the same problem across the board. So I
dedcided that Woodward and Miller would be presented
as two halves of the same coin. Their visages are famous
enough that even showing only half of each wouldn't
hurt their recognizability.
after I found relevant editions of both papers (headlines
concerning the invasion of Iraq), and layed them in
back, slightly transparent so they didn't fight the
reporters for dominance of the piece. It all fell in
place very easily and smoothly--I think the entire timeline
from asking me to do the piece to delivering the final
was less than five days. The magazine loved it and it
appeared in their January 2006 issue.
Med - "Put A Band-Aid On That Incision" - I've done a few jobs
before for Pitt Med magazine(the University of Pittsburgh's medical publication),
but for one reason or another they never ended up getting
published or were the kinds of thing that I felt should've
been put up here.
I did two pieces in a row for them that are the best
things I've done for them so far. This first one is
about a Dr.Gellar who is pioneering a new way to perform
surgery with the least amount of invasiveness possible.
The magazine sent me a giant portrait of Gellar doing
his thing, but wanted me to come up with a way to convey
what he did.
while I did a straight-up portrait of Gellar, I turned
the mountains of equipment around him into a clean blue
outline to give that sort of high-techy feel without
getting bogged down in the specifics. It gave the piece
the kind of feel I was looking for, and kept Gellar
as the focus of the eye. Pitt
Med liked it too, and after just a few revisions
here and there (fading one part out so the text could
be laid in and be readable, etc.) it ran in their Spring
Med - "SWAG" - This
was for a separate article for the same issue of Pitt
the piles of free stuff pharmeceutical companies send
out to doctors while pitching their products.
magazine told me the angle they wanted, and left it
to me to visualize it. I sent them a few ideas, mostly
involving looming mountains of crap, but it was the
last one I came up with that really struck them--an
anonymous doctor's office, trash can stuffed to absurd
proportions with junk.
was familiar with some of the typical stuff--pens, hats,
clipboards, etc. But Pitt Med gave me a whole list of
crazy items, like umbrellas, teddy bears(for pediatricians,
of course), clocks, post-its, even Slinkys!
rarely ever do illustrations that don't feature people,
so I'm always happy to do something a little different.
2.0 - This was for an article with the umbrella title "The Titans
of Tech", profiling Ed Zander, a executive who
specializes in taking over failing businesses and reinventing
submitted a couple of ideas fairly quickly; and while
they liked the likeness they wanted something more associated
with "transforming" someone or something,
like a bodybuilder. I suggested a riff on one of those
Charles Atlas ads from the back of seemingly every comic
book in the fifties. They agreed and soon after I reused
the original likeness I had created and added the new,
goofy background (I used myself as reference for the
Since the whole piece was reminiscent of what you'd
see in a comic book, I smoothed out a lot of the detail
I normally have, and added a thick outline around Ed,
to give him a slightly more comic-book feel. At the
last minute I added the "See the Amazing Results!"
button to give the piece an extra little nudge of humor.
piece turned into my one of my personal favorites, and
it appeared in their July 2003 issue.
Schwab On Investing Spring 2007- This
was a really fun assignment--an illustration for four
people shooting arrows to accompanying an article on retirement
saving. They had to be men and women of diverse ages.
had originally designed the four of them aiming in all
directions, in a kind of Charlie's Angels-action
pose. I used red and orange as the colors, and I came
up with what I thought was a really exciting piece.
turned out to be a little too exciting--the a.d.
told me that since this was an article about retirment
savings, using deep reds was pretty much a no-no. And
top of that, the article's layout had been designed
as such that everyone needed to be aiming in the same
direction. Check and double-check.
after a little rejiggering of the people, and the picking
of some more neutral colors, I had this piece, which
everyone was pleased with. I was also asked to illustrate
a couple of arrows that were interspersed throughout
the article, and some of those hay-strewn target blocks
you see at archery competitions, which the arrows heading
in all it made for a nice, cohesive look for the article,
and I'm very pleased how it came out.
Schwab On Investing Fall 2007 - My second piece in just a few months for the specialty
magazine Charles Schwab On Investing.
I do with sports, I get a lot of work about the world
of business, even though, like sports, I have hardly
any knowledge of it. Luckily, the projects I get to
do for On Investing are always an interesting
challenge for me to do--I don't get just asked for a
portrait; they have me try and visually sum up an article
and make it attractive and compelling visually.
will say, this was one of my smoothest jobs yet--when
I read the summary of the article and what the magazine
was looking for, this image pretty much immdiately popped
into my head, and the final result is very close to
that initial burst of inspiration. This piece appeared
in the Fall 2007 issue, and as you read this I'm working
on a piece for their Winter issue.
Schwab On Investing Winter 2007 - My third piece for the magazine,
and definitely my most challenging.
an article on how a lot of people are working past age
fifty-five, the magazine needed a shot of five people
walking down a street--a nurse, a businessman, a chef,
a gardener, and a cop--all of them over fifty-five,
crossing a street.
was a lot to cram into a small space, so one of the
first decisions I made was to do the city in a monochromatic
color scheme to help the people not get lost amid all
the detail. I ended up shooting my Dad in the role of
the businessman, and a very aged-up Darlin' Tracy as
the gardener(boy, did she enjoy that).
turned out to be one of the most challenging pieces
I've ever done for a magazine, just for the amount of
info that had to be conveyed. I was very happy with
how it came out and since I'm working on another piece
for On Investing, obviously they were too.
Schwab On Investing - Fall 2008 - Each
assignment I get from CSOI is always different from
the last, which is a nice challenge. For this illustration,
they gave me the basic idea but it was up to me to visualize
it, in terms of positioning and color.
after some composing using props and models (yes, that's
me with a different head attached), I had all the lighting
figured out and it was just a matter of balancing the
colors to make sure the individual items popped out.
all came together quite nice, I thought, and it's one
of my favorite pieces I've done for the magazine (I'm
working on another one right now).
Schwab On Investing - Spring 2010 - This piece was for an article about older people who
are taking advantage of a new provision that allows
additional contributions to 401K-type retirement funds.
Hence, this illustrations has two older people running
past someone younger on their way to the retirement
usually don't add heavy outlines when I have multiple
figures in one picture, but in this case it really looked
good to me and helped separate them from the background
person (who I faded just a touch for extra effect).
Diego Union-Tribune Night & Day - March 2011 - This is the cover to the March 17 edition of Night
& Day, the free entertainment magazine that's part
of the San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper.
a new production of Cabaret starting up in San
Diego, starring a local theater actress named Karson
St. John playing what is usually a male role, that of
the emcee. So I was asked to illustrate Ms. St. John
in the traditional outfit of the character, using a
wasn't much in the way of reference of Ms. St. John
in costume, so I had to sort of splice different elements
together and then add in the appropriate clothes. I
came up with a couple of different poses, and the magazine
settled on this one, with the Emcee looking directly
at the viewer.
I had that established, putting together the final was
relatively painless. It looks very smooth and very slick,
and the art director made it even better by coming in
closer and cropping the image a bit. All in all, I think
it came out pretty well!
11.25.04 - This
was the first piece I did for the Canadian news &
events magazine called Western Standard. It was
an article about a "radical" new way of voting
that is growing in popularity in some provinces. In
the article it describes this new way as somewhat of
a gamble, hence the Rubik's Cube metaphor.
job came in on Thanksgiving (not a holiday in Canada,
of course) so I had to scramble to get it done over
the weekend. Once I found an actual Rubik's Cube I was
able to see what one actually looks like rather than
relying on my childhood memories.
5.16.05 - This was a surprise.
was my second assignment for Western Standard.
Apparently there is some big scandal going on up north,
involving this group of politicians. They had asked
me to do a riff on the famous "Sopranos" image,
substituting the officials for the members of the family,
with a very specific order of importance.
the layout was already done for me, this piece became
more about time management--eight portraits had to be
finished in just a few days, and then sized and put
all together. I
finished up the cover fairly quickly, and even with
the various directions of light hitting all these faces,
I thought it all came together fairly nicely. The magazine
was pleased, so much so they had decided to include
a pull-out poster of the image (with fake credits) inside
the issue itself. Cool, I thought, and sent it off,
moving onto the next thing. Then it got interesting.
few weeks later, I was told that the cover caused a
bit of controversy up in Canada. As far as I could figure
out, another politician from this party was angry at
the magazine, and said it was a slur against Italians
(It was? Gee, I'm half-italian; I wish I had known to
be offended). This guy even went around holding press
conferences with a big blow-up of the cover. Then all
of that caused a reverse-controversy, with people saying
this guy was trying to deflect the real point of the
cover and story, etc. All this spread like news about
TomKat, and there were like dozens of articles (some
TV, some print, some online) about my little ol' cover!
I even got contacted by one or two Canadian news agencies
whole thing got big enough that they decided to make t-shirts and full-size posters of the image, which you can buy here (though god knows why you'd want to).
5.8.06 - My
second cover for the magazine, for an article on environmental and
political activist Maurice Strong. They had wanted a
classic propaganda-style recruitment poster look. I
didn't have the luxury of reading the article beforehand,
so I didn't have much to go on besides what I could
find on the internet. After a few quick articles, I
found myself actually agreeing with a lot of Mr.Strong's
views and goals, and frankly I was a little concerned
about illustrating a cover for an article that I gathered
was not going to be complementary.
I didn't know whether the article was an honest critique
of his views, or an attempt at cheap character assassination
of someone who doesn't share your political views. We
have lots of that here in the US, they must up north,
as well. I hemmed and hawed about the assignment wondering
how I'd feel putting down someone I think didn't deserve
it. Ultimately, I decided that I could still do the
assignment without using any specific cheapshots in
the artwork. That was a compromise I felt I could live
with and still be able to be professional.
those communist propaganda posters, I was going for
tilted axis', simplified colors, and, most importantly,
a vision of a Bright Shining Tomorrow (if you're trying
to sell someone on a political movement, you gotta promise
the Bright Shining Tomorrow). WS had specifically asked
for some sort of crowd shot to represent the Canadian
populace, and after some research I realized I could
render them in a rough black-and-white, xeroxed-copy
kind of way. Frequently people putting together propaganda
posters didn't have lots of resources at their disposal,
so they had to make due with a lot of basic elements.
Not only did this idea speed up the process, but when
I layed them in I saw how well they contrasted with
the rest of the cover.
submitted a rough that was pretty close to what you
see at left. I had to reduce the size of most of the
elements to fit more cover copy, and there was a little
more fiddling with it after I turned it in. Overall,
though, I thought it was still a striking piece and
makes for a nifty cover.
5.21.07 - This
is my third cover in three years, and by far the easiest
one I ever did.
had sent me the cover article--about how there's a growing
demand for elected, not appointed, judges--and hoped
I could come up with something over a weekend(this was
a Friday, and they needed final art on Monday!). I read
the piece and thought it over for a bit, and then this mighty-hammer-of-Thor type image came to me.
wanted something simple, graphic, and a little blocky,
like all those classic Saul Bass movie posters(Anatomy
of a Murder, Exodus, etc.). After messing
around with some color choices, red seemed to work the
best, and just a few moments after submitting a rough,
I got the go ahead--no changes--from the magazine.
put it together, and sent it in first thing Monday.
When I saw the version used for the cover, which they
did amend a bit by combining the formerly two-red-boxes
into one big one(I'm guessing to help have the cover
copy read easier). Not a big deal, though I still preferred
the original version. Oh, well. I'm still happy with
it and think it looks pretty cool.