The inaugural issue of Neshaminy magazine, which I wrote about in my previous post, also includes a poem written about the renowned writer, wit and poet Dorothy Parker, who lived in Pipersville, Bucks County in the 1930s and 40s. The editors asked me to create an illustration of Parker with some specifics mentioned in the poem. I tried several sketching styles but settled on one that leans toward a fashion illustration look, which seemed to work best because, while the poem deals with her wit and writing, it also mentions her smart style and elegance.
The Bucks County Writers Workshop and with the Doylestown Historical Society are developing a historical literary magazine by local authors, called Neshaminy. If you live in our area you know that the Neshaminy Creek is a tributary of the Delaware River and runs for about 40 miles, entirely through Bucks County.
Don Swaim, an author and radio personality, is the head of the BCWW, and it happens that probably 20 years ago my father became part of a writing club that Don also headed, so I was acquainted with him. When I heard about the project I asked if there were any need for an illustration or two in the magazine, and Don quickly assented, so I’ve drawn a few requests for him.
The first issue of Neshaminy, which should be published in early October, features a never-before-published interview with world-renowned author James Michener, conducted by Don. I drew this ink wash portrait of Michener for that piece, based on several photos I researched of the author.
Don thought a painting of the Neshaminy would be a nice frontispiece for the magazine, so I took some photos in the Castle Valley area of the creek. I imagined the art spilling over from left page to right, as in this first pencil sketch, base on my photos —
I made a tonal sketch with gray markers, below, and added a Lenape Indian in the distance, drinking from the creek. The Lenape lived in this area before Europeans settled. The word ‘Neshaminy’ means the place where we drink twice in the Lenape language.
The final ink wash painting for the frontispiece is below.
I’m really looking forward to seeing the published magazine, because at a launch party at the Historical Society a few nights ago we heard a bit about the prize-winning entries into the magazine, and they all sound like wonderfully interesting stories, some fiction, some non-fiction, some poetry. I’ve been asked to do one more illustration for this issue, and I’ll write about that as soon as it is finished.
My latest article for Lodging magazine, a trade journal for the hotel industry, involved a new method being employed for training housekeeping and other hotel services: video games.
To keep employees engaged and improve their business, hoteliers are starting to use interactive games to teach skills – a kind of soft training that creates less stress than task-oriented drills. The example given to me was: workers are shown a picture of a spotless room and one with noticeable imperfections, and are asked to pick out what’s wrong with the second photo. Prizes are awarded for correct answers. In the process, staff members learn, in a fun and interactive way, what to watch for when they clean rooms for real.
I sent three very rough pencil sketches with ideas. The first was pretty much an illustration of that example –
In the second I imagined pinball games with funny hotel-related names –
And in the third, a video game screen with employees acting like Mario Brothers characters –
They liked the last one, so I tightened up the little character drawings –
And then borrowed colors and actions from classic video games. Here is the finish –
The most recent article I was sent from the editor at Lodging Magazine was once more a rather nebulous topic to depict concretely. It detailed that when mergers occur in the hotel industry, a not uncommon phenomenon I gather, the transition period is very important and if mishandled can result in a lot of staff disruptions. The hotel’s general manager and HR department are key in steadying the ship, and the article advises that they prioritize onboarding, data system upgrades, compliance and operational efficiency.
Quite a jumble of complex ideas! I came up with two simpler versions of this situation and sent them as pencil sketches. The first was the proverbial tangled ball of twine, with a general manager directing staff how to de-tangle.
The second, which I liked better, was a Rubik’s cube turning, with people climbing, clutching and interacting on it as it twisted. I thought this pictured a number of the things the article touched on: the churn of the merger, how staff feel displaced, the uncertainty, and the need to keep communicating.
The editors liked this one too, so I traced it onto illustration board, tightened up the people, and painted it in with those bright Rubik’s cube colors.
I posted about my cartoon being published in the New Yorker Caption Contest last week, and now anyone can vote for the best among the many caption submissions they received. You can click HERE to go to the voting page, and as it scrolls through the captions you can rate each as Not Funny, Somewhat Funny, or Funny. When you have scrolled through enough cations, you click on Done.
I warn you, there are a LOT of submissions, but if you leave the tab open on your screen you can come back to it later and continue rating more captions. Interestingly, I found that many caption writers came up with similar jokes, even similar phrasing. There are others that use rather unique wording or twists, and those seemed to stand out.
I believe voting on this stage closes on Sunday, then this contest moves to the next stage – next week the cartoon will appear with the top three captions underneath, and you can again vote for what you feel is the funniest of the three contenders.
I’ll leave you today with another of my cartoons – again, this one has a caption written by my dear dad, one of the funniest writers I ever knew.
My latest assignment from Lodging magazine was an article about the difficulty in finding good employees in the hotel industry, and tips for holding onto those dependable and conscientious ones. I personally found the article lacking in solid solutions for these problems, which made finding an idea to illustrate more challenging.
I did think of two scenes leading up to the hiring of an employee, so I sketched them roughly in pencil. The first showed an interviewee being coaxed by other employees as well as the personnel manager to accept the new job.
The second showed a woman passing a lot of Help Wanted signs on a hotel, with a manager leaning out the door to tap her on the shoulder, and hopefully to tap her skills too.
The editor liked the second idea more, and asked me to switch the people so a female manager was leaning out to tap a male hire on the shoulder. I sent a revised pencil sketch.
I made a quick color sketch using colored pencils on a photocopy of the sketch.
I drew this onto cold press illustration board in black prisma pencil, then painted it with acrylic washes. The finish is below.
I’m very pleased to say, my second cartoon is being published this week by the New Yorker, for their legendary Caption Contest! At the moment it is online, but my cartoon will be published in the June 10 issue, on the last page inside the magazine. You can see it now right HERE.
Anyone can submit a caption for this contest, so please go ahead and enter! The directions for submitting are linked on the Contest page.
As I wrote when my first cartoon was published, the New Yorker loomed large in my wonderful relationship with my father, who was also a cartoonist, and who always encouraged me in my art. He grew up during the Depression in Allentown, PA, a second-generation American, and saw the New Yorker as the embodiment of the wit, sophistication and insight of the country’s best writers and illustrators. I just know he is doing a little dance up in Heaven now.
I can’t let this post go by without including a cartoon, so here’s one I drew when my Dad was alive, using one of his captions.