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I would say my favorite project to have worked on in school was a collaborative children’s book effort entitled, ‘Hug Something Horrible’. Illustrators and writers were paired together and asked to create an original children’s book – anything we wanted.  Together with writer, Craig Moyer, he and I came up with a book about learning to appreciate and accept others no matter how different they may appear; a book about monsters.

This project began half-way through my 2 years at Portfolio Center and was really a turning point for me as an illustrator. It was the first time pulling together everything learned up to that point. It was an incredibly ambitious project to tackle in one quarter – 28 full page illustrations – so, needless to say, it did not quite get finished. I’ve revisited the project several times since it was first started nearly 4 years ago. Unfortunately balancing full-time work, freelance work, personal projects, and life in general after school didn’t leave much time for completing the book.

This year, however, after a few encouraging reminders from former teachers and students, I have made a conscious effort to make time to finish the book. I worked through the remainder of my freelance queue and quit taking on new projects to focus on painting monsters for a while. Hopefully this summer will see the completion of ‘Hug Something Horrible’.

I flew back to Texas for the Thanksgiving holiday to see my family. There have been lots of new additions over the last 2 years. I took home some prints for the little ones to put up in their rooms. Some of them are starting to talk and they’ve been learning what sounds certain animals make. As I showed them each picture they proudly blurted out the appropriate noises and acted out the movements – toddler charades is much more entertaining than you would think.

“RAAWWWRRR!”

‘Very good! That’s exactly what a tiger sounds like…’

“OOH OOH, AH AH!” (scratching head with one hand)

‘Yay! It IS a monkey!’

[Silence]

‘Hmmm…what sound does a giraffe make? Or a zebra for that matter?’

(Shoulder shrug)

‘I’ll pick better animals next time.’

I reused my headless horseman design the following evening for the Atkins Park Pumpkin Carving Competition. Eight impressive contestants battled, knives in one hand, beer in the other, for the ultimate prize: bragging rights for best control of motor skills while drinking $50 in house cash. The floors piled high with orange innards, the tables cluttered with empty bottles, the sculptors made incisions with surgeon like precision stabbed wildly into their fleshy canvases, the servers grimaced at the mess – some of their faces rivaling the reliefs in progress.

The bell eventually rang signaling to the proud participants it was time to put down our knives (but not necessarily our drinks). The house lights were dimmed as candles were lowered into position. The smokey interior of the bar created a ghostly fog around the glowing gourds on display. Intense judging ensued: fellow carvers, Atkins Park employees, awed bar patrons, and a homeless guy who had wandered in to use the bathroom all cast their ballots.

In the end, my headless horseman was raised in victory. Much like King Mufasa proudly holding his son, Simba, before the rest of the pride, so I hoisted my baby before the throngs of listless bar-goers…and that homeless guy. I had never felt so proud.

HappyHalloween

Special thanks to Julie, for the picture, and The Pizza Maker, for moral support

This particular client generally comes to me with character driven illustration needs, which I must say, are my favorite to work on. She was designing a wedding announcement for a couple who was not afraid to get away from the calligraphy and the flourishes. I did not get the full story on what exactly all the details meant, but each one was important to the couple and uniquely their own. It was a quick 3 day turnaround and one of those projects that feels more like fun than work.

bananas