Recently I was hired by SwimKids USA to help them re-brand with a new mascot. They had a cartoon shark they had been using but wanted to refresh it. Here’s a few rough concept sketches I submitted along with the final design:
Dr. John Trent is a best-selling author who runs a Christian ministry called Strong Families. On their website they offer a free personality test, the results of which sort people into four broad personality type. Each one is represented by a different animal (Otters, Lions, Golden Retrievers, and Beavers). Different versions of the animals have been used in the past, including classy black-and-white line art versions for their website and illustrated versions for a children’s book called The Treasure Tree. I was hired by Strong Families to design an updated cartoon versions of each of the four animals.
A toy licensing company asked me to help them explore ideas for a line of Disney figurines. They wanted the characters to be recognizable but at the same time stylistically unique, almost as if the characters all belonged in the same world. It sounded like a fun challenge.
I started by noodling around just to see what might work and what wouldn’t. First I tried to see what I could/couldn’t do with Mickey Mouse, followed by Ralph and Vanellope from Wreck-It-Ralph:
After some client feedback we eventually settled on a “look”. Next I began exploring possible poses for the figurines. They asked that the characters appear to interact with each other visually, but with poses that would also work as stand-alone figurines:
Eventually I worked up sketches and turnarounds for twelve characters. I can’t show them all but here’s what we wound up doing with Dash and Violet from The Incredibles:
Unfortunately the plug was pulled before the project could make it across the finish line. But it was fun while it lasted. (Images are posted with client permission.)
It’s been a couple of years so I’ve updated my PDF portfolio with a some new samples. It contains fifteen pages of illustration, character design, toy design concepts, webcomics, and misc. drawings. Download a copy to keep on file, take to a meeting, or email to a client or colleague.Download PDF Portfolio
Recently I was hired to help create some character art for GoNoodle, a fun company that uses videos and games to help kids get more active physically and mentally. They were developing a series of fun monster characters called Champs. Another artist had done some terrific concept work but they asked me to build on it by asking me to imagine what those characters would look like at different ages as they grew up. For some characters/poses they provided preliminary sketches, for others I was able to build from scratch. There were about two dozen characters that needed four illustrations each. I took it to b&w line art, then passed it back to GoNoodle for final coloring.
The full range of finished art should be going public soon, but in the mean time GoNoodle has given me permission to share some of what I did for them. It was a super fun project and they were terrific to work with.
2016 was another jam-packed year for my illustration studio. I’m deeply grateful to have such a fun job where I get to work on so many exciting projects with so many amazing people. Here’s a few highlights from our most recent trip around the sun. (I’ll warn you there are a lot of projects I can’t reveal yet but I’ve linked to as many as I could):
- I created a couple of more spot illustrations for Highlights magazine. You can view them here and here.
- I was hired by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune to help them pitch advertising ideas to several businesses and brands, including a national pizza chain, a local Renaissance-themed event, and a couple more projects I can’t reveal yet.
- Speaking of art I can’t show, I also illustrated an activity puzzle for a major home improvement retail chain. I should be able to post the art sometime in February.
- Goldfish Swim Schools hired me to illustrate a fun photo standee featuring their mascot (which I also designed). I’m also in the middle of a very large project for them that I hope to be able to show in a few months.
- I helped out the Svedvick Collective with some ad concepts for a major cereal brand (again, I’m not allowed to show the work yet. Kind of a theme here.)
- I illustrated another Gospel tract/comic for the ministry of Living Waters. This one dealt with the subject of Atheism.
- I continued to help with toy design and concept art for multiple Hasbro projects (most of which I’ll never be able to show for legal/confidentiality reasons).
- I was hired by the Strottman agency to help them pitch several toy ideas to Chick-Fil-A. Once again I’m limited in what I can show but here’s a sample.
- I helped out the Smiley company on a large toy concept pitch for a well-known novelty toy brand, which I hope to be able to review soon. In the mean time, this year I was finally able to reveal l small sampling of another batch of concepts I did for them back in 2015.
- I was hired by Mountainside Farms, an east coast dairy company, to design a cow mascot for their packaging.
- My goofy cartoon sketches evolved into a webcomic I’m calling Sketchbook Silliness. People seem to like it and a couple of the cartoons went mildly viral. I’ve put together a list of my ten most popular cartoons from 2016, and I recently launched a Patreon campaign for the project which you can support here.
- I stepped up my involvement in the National Cartoonists Society. I’m now the social media guy for our chapter which means I run our Twitter feed and Facebook group. I also organized a draw-with-kids event at the Minneapolis St. Jude Walk/Run for childhood cancer, and travelled to Sioux Falls for our fall cartooning conference.
- I once again exhibited at both MSP Comic-Con’s.
- I re-posted a free download of sketchbook ideas for Inktober.
- Although most of my work is very cartoony, I also do courtroom sketching from time to time. This year I worked at trials related to Prince, ISIS, a police shooting, and the man who killed Jacob Wetterling. You can see some samples on my other website, courtroomsketches.com.
Whew! I’m exhausted just thinking about it all. I feel very blessed. Thanks to all of you who have supported me and shown interest in my work over the years. I wish all of you a happy and healthy 2017!