New Year’s Card for a Business

I draw a New Years card every year for Kohlhepp Investment Advisors, and we try to make it relevant to what’s going on in the news, whether economic or otherwise. Well, this year the prevailing feeling was that everyone wanted to be done with the year 2020, so that was the theme of this year’s card.

I thought of a mountain-climbing expedition where the staff members were happy to see 2021 in the distance, because I’d been told they wanted the characters to appear ‘socially distanced.’ That idea was approved, so I started with a pencil sketch –

We talked over a few changes, and I went on to tighten the characters in the sketch –

I had thought perhaps I could show full faces so I left the mouths in for the sketch, but was later asked to draw masks on everyone.

I did a rough color sketch with colored pencils, and tried making the mountain in the background a volcano – do you see the 2020? – because that idea was considered. But in the end we stuck with just distant mountains in back.

and finally did the finished art in acrylic paint washes, below. Inside the card the message read: “WE MADE IT! Looking forward to a bright new year ahead!” and some kind wishes to their clients. Kohhepp Investment sends several hundred of these cards out to clients and colleagues, and they get some really nice responses indicating that people appreciate them and enjoy the funny antics in which we often portray the staff. They also use it on their Facebook page and other social media – it’s an effective way to personalize a business to their customers.

Thanksgiving E-card Cartoon for a Business

Every year I draw a Thanksgiving-themed cartoon for Pro-Active Performance, a business that helps companies develop and train outstanding sales forces. They’ve picked the season of Thanksgiving over Christmas to send their greetings because it ties in so well with thanking their clients and colleagues for their business in the past year. This year to conserve paper Pro-Active decided to send an e-card instead of printing and mailing a physical card.

I was given some ideas to work with and started with rough pencil sketches –

My client liked sketch 3 the best, showing a turkey on a zoom call with 6 other holiday characters – so I tightened it up –

and painted a color version –

I designed the e-card as if you were seeing the front and inside of the card all together, so the final version was sent out like this –

And because Pro-Active clients in the US and in Canada, we designed a version that used Canada’s maple leaf mascot instead of Uncle Sam – they sent this out just before Canada’s Thanksgiving Day, which was October 12.

Illustrations that Personalize a Business to Clients

Every fall and winter I draw a number of holiday greeting cards – and now e-cards – for businesses who like to show the human face of their company to their customers. Some-times I draw the staff themselves, sometimes I use humor to engage industry trends, but in all cases the card is created to personalize the company’s brand so their clients get to know and like the people behind the logo more.

This year Gina Furia of Furia Rubel Communications, an integrated marketing and public relations company serving many industries, asked me to draw her and her staff of delightful marketing experts in an office scene, which would be used on a card and in an animation. In the scene Gina would be interviewing Father Time while her staff zooms in through a virtual meeting.

I started with a rough pencil sketch of the scene –

After some edits from my client, like adding her husky dog, I tightened it up a little –

and then was able to scan and digitally color the background and each figure, such as those below.

I put it all together, along with Gina’s caption, for the printed card –

and the little trailer cartoon that appears on the back of the card –

and then FRC worked with an animation company to turn it into a video greeting as well! Click he image to watch.

Mascot Sketch

I was asked to do a little cricket character for Maria’s House Montessori school in Doylestown, because in their variety of great learning experiences for children the school is introducing – cricket! (the sport, that is)

I sketched a pencil cricket with some of the appropriate playing gear, bat, helmet, shin guards –

and after tightening up the sketch I added digital color using the school’s logo and colors to tie it all in.

Animated video for a business

My friend Jake Toyberman is a realtor with extensive banking and investment knowledge – having come from a banking career into real estate – and he posts tips and trends for home buyers, sellers and investors on various social media platforms. I recently worked with Jake’s media advisor, Amy Berridge, to create a fun animated intro for Jake’s short but insightful posts.

To show Jake and Amy what I pictured for the intro, I roughed out pencil sketches of homes, condos and keywords and faded them into a scene using Windows MovieMaker. Click the triangle to play the rough animation.

I drew a caricature of Jake and dropped him into the scene, along with some of his business contact info.

After getting good feedback from Amy and Jake, I added more contact information, and then drew the finished artwork. Jake said he liked the look of the black & white artwork and I agreed, so we kept the intro black/white, and I found some fun music to overlay the video, (music by: http://www.bensound.com) completing the upbeat feel of the intro.

Music: http://www.bensound.com

And just recently Amy assembled the intro and Jake’s latest tips into a new post for his social media promotions.

It was a pleasure to work with Jake & Amy on this, and I recommend them both highly for their expertise!

Little House on the Main Line

I was commissioned to paint a bridal shower gift recently – a portrait of the little brick home that the happy couple will soon be settling down in. It’s located in one of the charming towns on Philadel-phia’s Main Line, the string of villages that grew up around the Philadelphia Railroad line from the center of the city out to its western suburbs in the 19th century.

My client gave me several photos of the house that were very helpful, and also photos of the couple, since we wanted to depict the newlyweds sitting on their porch.

I started with a basic pencil sketch of the house from the front with the couple on their front porch together.

I drew a tighter but simple sketch of the couple, and then we thought to add their dog into the scene, so my client sent me cute pooch photos.

I tightened up the whole drawing to show to my client before I started painting, and with her approval I transferred the drawing to illustration board and began adding color.

The finished painting is below – it looked great in the frame my client picked, and the bride-to-be was thrilled with her very personalized gift!

A Building that No Longer Exists

The Doylestown Historical Society helps to preserve many aspects of my hometown’s past, with speakers, tours and printed publications, and a very important part of that mission involves researching the historically significant buildings in this town and nearby communities. I was recently asked to develop a sketch of a building in the borough, which is no longer standing today – a shoemaker’s shop and home.

Adam Dick and his wife, originally from Germany, had six children born in Doylestown and by 1870 they were living in the borough, in a building whose left half housed their boot and shoe shop. Old maps show the house on the corner of E. State and Pine Street with a one story front porch on the shoe shop side. By 1891 the two-story wood frame house now had a one story back porch with a tin roof. The Historical Society’s researcher is Kurt Spence, who has restored many historic homes, and he sent me part of an old lithograph of the town with this tiny representation of the house from the rear –


I started with a rough sketch of the basic shape of the house, with questions for Kurt.

Happily Kurt has the building experience that I lack, and so with his corrections I replaced the front porch gable with a shed roof, and added a roof gable to the house side of the building, for the second sketch. But I still had some questions.

Finally with some finished suggestions from Kurt I was able to render the version below. It’s unfortunate that the present site is now a parking lot, but we can at least imagine a fairly close version of what our borough boot and shoe shop may have looked like in the late 19th century.

Illustration for a YA Book Cover

A recent commission of mine was to make illustrations for a novel written by a middle school student. The student has ADHD and is also a gifted and eager writer. He writes insightfully about fitting in with middle school culture.

After reading some chapters and poems that comprise the book I decided to create a sketch for one poem that is set under a tree – its theme seemed to encompass the message of the book. I thought it could be used inside the book as a page illustration with the poem, and perhaps could be used for the cover as well.

I designed my rough pencil sketch looking down from above the main character under the tree, so it would work on a page and also with the title if needed. I hand-lettered the title with ink and brush.

The family of the author liked the image and wanted it for the cover, but thought some extra middle schoolers should be added. I drew a circle of friends separately –

and dropped them into the tree scene.

Then I colored the art digitally and reversed out the text – the finished book cover is below.

Timely Illustration for a Hotel Magazine

The topic of my monthly illustration for Lodging Magazine was updated to reflect the current health issue around the world, the corona virus.

While I did not get to read the latest article, I was briefed by the editor that the story would explain how a hotel can manage during a pandemic, including how to keep hotels clean, how to manage with a skeleton crew, what to do if a guest is sick, and what to do if the supply chain breaks down. She suggested a war room type of scene.

I started that with a rough pencil sketch –

and added tones to suggest the dramatic lighting of a war room –

The editor approved so I did a quick color sketch by printing out a copy of the sketch & using colored pencils.

After this I transferred the drawing to illustration board, redrew outlines in prisma pencil, and painted it in with acrylic washes. The finished art is below.