NBA Mascot Toys

Earlier this year I was hired to help pitch an idea for a set of very small toys (about one inch high) based on NBA mascots. My job was to design tiny busts of each basketball mascot in a unified visual style. I don’t follow sports much but I do love mascots, so this was a ton of fun!

Because of budget limitations I was only allowed to use an average of four colors per mascot. If I wanted to use five colors in one, that meant another mascot could only have three. It also meant that some of the mascots would not be 100% color accurate, but that’s one of the realities of the toy biz.

I started with turnarounds of four mascots…

…followed by front-only views of eighteen additional mascots:

I was really having a ball but then, unfortunately, the plug was pulled on the project. Fortunately the client did give me permission to share the work I did, which isn’t always the case with abandoned projects so I’m grateful. Oh well. Not every shot makes it in.

Style Exploration for Disney Figurines

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.)

Plush Tortoises

Last year I was hired by a toy entrepreneur who had a vision to create plush tortoises that would be appealing but also scientifically accurate. He wanted toys that would help children learn to distinguish between breeds as well as explore various differences in body, pattern, and texture. The challenge was to create something that was cute and cuddly but also detailed and proportionally similar to a real tortoise.

So far the project is only at the prototype stage but he has given me permission  to share the work I did. Below are my sketches for three breeds of tortoise, along with photos of two of the finished prototypes. For more info you can follow the project on Facebook.

Download My Updated Portfolio

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

2017 Highlights and Accomplishments

It’s been another exciting year of illustration adventures, full of thrills and chills!

ILLUSTRATION

  • An illustration I did for the Strottman Agency was published by Lowe’s in a Valentine’s Day kids’ activity kit.
  • Hasbro gave me permission to reveal some sticker illustrations I had done for a My Little Pony playset and a Fur Real poster for HASCON 2017. I also did a bit of illustration on a Star Wars playset that I hope to reveal soon.
  • Chuck E Cheese hired me to illustrate a music video on their YouTube channel.
  • I illustrated packaging for some new toys from Alex Brands (unfortunately I can’t reveal it yet).
  • I helped illustrate a bunch of fun cartoon monster characters for GoNoodle.
  • The Minneapolis Star Tribune hired me to illustrate ads for a local car dealership and a local credit union.
  • I illustrated a booklet for a nonprofit through the O’Design Group.
  • I helped local agency Create Play Connect with some concept art for a pitch to Allstate Insurance.

TOY DESIGN

  • 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 Disney and Chick-Fil-A.
  • I was hired by a European company, Brand Loyalty Creative Lab, to design some Disney figurines (can’t show them yet unfortunately).
  • I was able to reveal some work I’d done helping out the Smiley company on a large toy concept pitch for Rubik’s Cube.
  • I helped design some plush toys for a new company (can’t say much about it yet).
  • I helped local agency Create Play Connect with some concept art for a pitch to Allstate Insurance.

CARTOONING

  • I’ve continued to post about one gag cartoon a week for most of the year.
  • I launched a Kickstarter for my first book of cartoons, Mostly Nonsense. Over 160 people backed the project! The book will ship in early January but you can pre-order it now, or buy the PDF version for immediate download.
  • My audience continues to grow. My cartoons were featured on the front page of sites like Imgur, 9gag, and Bored Panda. I gained over one thousand new followers on social media, I now have over 200 people subscribing to get new cartoons by email (it’s free!), and I gained some new backers on Patreon.

MISC

  • I was interviewed on the podcasts Origin: Stories of Creativity and Comics Coast to Coast.
  • I posted a few new videos on my YouTube channel.
  • I once again exhibited at both MSP Comic-Con’s.
  • I’ve posted some original art for sale in my studio store.
  • Although most of my work is very cartoony, I also do courtroom sketching from time to time. This year I sketched the trial for the Yanez-Castille police shooting (the one with the Facebook Live video that went viral). You can see some samples of my courtroom work on my other website, courtroomsketches.com.

Another productive year is in the books! Thanks to all of you who have supported me and shown interest in my work over the years. I wish you all a wonderful 2018!

My Little Pony Playset Stickers for Hasbro

Over the years I’ve worked on dozens of projects for Hasbro. Most of what I do for them is “planning and production” so the artwork stays behind the scenes and will never be seen by the general public. The toy business is competitive and Hasbro is naturally very protective of their ideas, which I respect.

Every once in a while something I do for them makes it out into the world, usually in the form of packaging or stickers. Back in 2015 I illustrated some stickers for a My Little Pony Equestria Girls Pinkie Pie playset. These stickers were applied at the factory to give extra color and detail to furniture in the room. The playset was released last year and can be purchased from Amazon.

Hasbro has given me permission to show a couple of the stickers: a cork board and a board game. On the cork board two of the small character photos were pasted in from existing art but otherwise I created it all from scratch. Also, the lower corner of the game board was intentionally left blank to make room of a plastic spinner.

Here’s a silly, energetic video I found online of someone having fun reviewing the playset. Hope it gives you a smile: