Goldfish Plush

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A couple of years ago Goldfish Swim Schools hired me to design a mascot named Bubbles. They liked him so much that, unbeknownst to me, they even made him into a plush! It was pretty cool when they sent me my very own Bubbles. He’s a welcome addition to my studio display shelf.

If you own a business, a mascot might be a great way to connect with your audience and increase brand awareness. Check out some of the benefits of using a mascot. If you are thinking it might be something you want to try, I’ve got a free questionnaire you can download to help you think more about how a mascot could help your specific needs.

Sketchbook Update: Koochy Koo Redux

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Last week I posted a sketch based on a prompt from the Pose Drawing Sparkbook that reads, “Trying to stop a baby from crying.” I thought a tough, scary biker trying to calm a baby might be funny. Today’s sketch is another take on that concept, with what I think is a stronger pose.

Download My Newly Updated PDF Portfolios

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I’ve just cooked up a piping hot batch of portfolio artwork for you to enjoy.

You can now download updated PDFs of my Illustration, Character Design, and Toy Design portfolios over on my Downloads Page. Save ’em, print ’em, or keep them on file.

As always, you can also download a free list of 100 sketchbook ideas. If you are in need of a mascot, there’s also a free character design questionnaire to help you think through what your needs are and how a mascot can help you promote your business or brand.

What are you waiting for? Head on over to my free download page before it gets cold.

VeggieTales ‘Noah’ Concepts

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The latest VeggieTales DVD “Noah’s Ark” (Amazon link) recently hit store shelves. It’s the first DVD to feature the updated character designs which coincide with the brand new Netflix series “VeggieTales In The House“. It’s a fresh, energetic new take on the characters. (EDIT: Credit for the new designs goes mostly to the amazing Elena and Olivia Ceballos).

I was asked to help with designing some costumes (sometimes from scratch, other times polishing existing designs). I also did a lot of concepts for a new character, Shem, who was ultimately voiced by Wayne Brady. At the beginning of the “Noah” project we were still using the old, classic VeggieTales style but eventually the decision was made to try and match the updated look of the “refresh”. The final Shem design is pretty close to one of my concepts.

The evolution of this story also took some twists and turns. At first they wanted to go with a traditional biblical setting, then a few other things were tried before eventually settling on something more modern. Hence, the variety of costume designs below:

VeggieTales Noah Rough Concepts

VeggieTales Noah-Costume Turnarounds

VeggieTales "Boy Shem" Rough Concepts

VeggieTales 'Shem' Rough Concepts

VeggieTales 'Shem' Color Turnarounds

VeggieTales 'Sadie'-Costume Turnarounds

Here’s a trailer for Noah’s Ark:

2014 Highlights and Accomplishments

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2014 was another full and exciting 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:

Illustration

  • I worked on several really fun projects I can’t say too much about yet, including some product illustrations for some upcoming Hasbro toys and some local ads for a well-known household brand. Hoping I can say a little more soon.
  • I created a couple of spot illustrations for Highlights magazine. You can view them here and here.
  • I created some mobile messaging stickers for an upcoming project from a company called Tourean.
  • I illustrated a New York-themed coloring page for some Crayola packaging.
  • I was able to reveal some rough FPO sketches I did for a Best Buy catalog through the Olson agency.
  • I also created some concept sketches for CPC Intersect to use in a pitch to Coca-Cola, with the help of a couple of other local illustrators. (Unfortunately I can’t show those yet either.)
  • I was hired by Dugan Design to illustrate a cover for an upcoming humor book.
  • Just for fun I sketched up my first ever web comic, the Twinkie Weight Loss Plan. It was probably the most liked and shared thing I did all year.

 

Toy Design

  • I continued to stay very busy doing toy design and concept art for multiple Hasbro projects (which unfortunately I’m not allowed to show).
  • I was able to reveal some concept work I did in 2013 for an Incredible Hulk toy for DecoPac, Inc.

 

Character Design

  • I continued designing animated characters for new VeggieTales DVD’s including Veggies In Space and Celery Night Fever.
  • I designed some characters for a new upcoming project from VeggieTales creator Phil Vischer. I can’t yet reveal the final designs but I was able to share some early concepts.
  • designed a mascot named Sir Cumference for an upcoming project about weight loss.
  • I created some more illustrations using a mascot I designed for Goldfish Swim Schools. I’m hoping I can reveal those soon.
  • I also designed several characters for an educational website through an animation studio in California, but unfortunately I don’t yet have permission to share that work either. (I guess confidentiality was a theme this year.)

 

Misc

  • We moved! I’m now working out of a bigger, roomier studio in our new home in Burnsville, MN. We are still in the Minneapolis area but now with more elbow room. My new address is on my contact page.
  • I was nominated for a Reuben Award from the National Cartoonists Society in the category of Advertising Illustration. Ultimately I finished as a runner up but it was still a tremendous honor to be nominated!
  • Speaking of the National Cartoonists Society, they must be getting hard up for content because I was also featured on the cover of their monthly newsletter.
  • I was interviewed twice. First by animation studio owner and author Todd Hampson about balancing work, business, and life as an artist. I was also interviewed on the Creative Independence Podcast where I discussed my what I learned from my Kickstarter campaign for the Pose Drawing Sparkbook.
  • Speaking of the Sparkbook, after only nine months I completely sold out of physical copies of the book! Fortunately the digital version is still available along with my new-ish webinar “Bringing Your Drawings To Life”.
  • Since I’m making shameless plugs, this year I also released a 2-hour webinar called “Freelancing Tips and Tricks” (available exclusively on TaughtByAPro.com) and “Sketchercise!”, a new PDF sketchbook available on Gumroad or in my studio store.
  • I once again exhibited at FallCon and SpringCon, Minnesota’s semi-annual comic book conventions.
  • I was a featured panelist in The Pricing Game, a webinar for freelancers sponsored by the Graphic Artists Guild.
  • I posted a free download of sketchbook ideas for Inktober.
  • I started a YouTube channel. I’m still not sure what exactly to do with it but you might find a few things of interest to watch.
  • Like everyone else I took part in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, but with an artistic twist.
  • I even took a few breaks to dabble in my sketchbook.

 

Whew! I’m exhausted just thinking about it all. This was one of the busiest years I can ever remember for my studio, but also one of the most enjoyable. I feel very blessed. Thanks to all of you who have supported me and shown interest in my work over the years. Here’s hoping 2015 is the best year yet!