2016 Highlights and Accomplishments

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):

ILLUSTRATION

  • 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.

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 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.

CHARACTER DESIGN

  • I was hired by Mountainside Farms, an east coast dairy company, to design a cow mascot for their packaging.

MISC

  • 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!

Toy Designs for Smiley Kids

Recently I was approached by The Smiley Company, a lifestyle brand based in London. They create and sell a lot of licensed merchandise based on the world-famous smiley face symbol. They’ve been so successful that they’ve even developed those little yellow guys into an animated property called Smiley Kids.

Of course, what’s an animated property without a corresponding line of toys? Smiley wanted to pitch several toy ideas at a licensing show and needed some artwork to help with their pitch. Most of the toys were built around the theme of emotional growth within the context of farming and crafts. They gave me a list of ideas to start with and I brainstormed a few more. Together we explored over thirty possible concepts, of which over a dozen went to final art. Out of respect for my client’s proprietary ideas I don’t think it would be appropriate to show them all, but here are three samples they have given me permission to post.

Smiley-SeedPaper-800px Smiley-JewelryKit-800pxSmiley-HarvestGame-800px

All artwork is copyright © 2015 Smiley. All rights reserved.

Kid’s Meal Toy Concepts for Chick-Fil-A

Primary Science for Chick-Fil-A

Recently I was hired by the Strottman agency to help them out with a pitch to Chick-Fil-A. They were developing a series of kid’s meal toys featuring the Primary Science brand. Strottman pretty much knew what they wanted. They sent me some preliminary sketches and asked me to clean it up and make it look nice. It was a lot of fun.

We recently had a Chick-Fil-A open in our neighborhood so I was finally able to try one of their sandwiches and see what the fuss was about. Yum!

Download My Updated PDF Portfolio

PDF-Portfolio-2015-WebImage-900px

I’ve updated my PDF portfolio to go with my shiny new website. It contains fifteen pages of illustration, character design, toy design concepts, and misc. sketches. Download a copy to keep on file, take to a meeting, or email to a client or colleague.

Download

I’m Featured On The Wacom Gallery

Cut The Rope sketch

The other day the nice folks at Wacom included one of my toy design concept drawings on their Behance  “Featured” gallery. Like most artists who work digitally, I’m a long-time user of Wacom’s products. They make quality hardware and they are the go-to brand for digital drawing equipment (tablets, Cintiqs, etc.). It’s a real honor to have them shine their massive spotlight in my direction.

Throwback Thursday: Bernie Brewer Statue

BernieStatue-Turnarounds-v4-800px

 

Here’s another project from my “secret files” that I finally have permission to show:

Back in 2012 I was hired by Idea Planet to help out with a display for the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team, in conjunction with Southwest Airlines. They were having a promotional event that included a booth where fans could have their pictures taken next to a life-sized statue of the team mascot, Bernie Brewer. Idea Planet designed the booth and asked me to do turnarounds that the sculptor could use as reference for the statue.

My drawings are above. Below is a photo the client sent me of the final result. The sculptor seems to have modified my design, especially the arms, but overall everything looks colorful and fun. I’m sure people enjoyed goofing around with the statue and I was glad to be a part of it.

BernieStatue-Photo