Cows & Waffles

lodging_badapples_wpdetailMy latest illustration for Lodging Magazine is for an article about hotels keeping their dining areas germ-free. It delves into some of the nastier problems that hotel managers have to deal with – foodborne illnesses, sanitation laws and damage control responses. Not a lot of pretty images came to mind for my illustration, so I decided to go wacky with it.

The article begins by stating how people often like to get away to hotels where there are lovely bucolic scenes out the window, cows grazing and sheep frolicking nearby – but the visitors don’t realize that the flies around livestock are one of the most common ways for germs to spread. While flies buzzing around a dining area seemed off-putting to me, I thought some barnyard animals would be funnier and less openly icky. I sketched a cow and sheep in line at a hotel breakfast buffet.


Whenever I’ve been at a hotel for breakfast, the most entertaining thing is watching people use the waffle machine, so I drew the cow using that. The editor asked me to include a bowl of apples in the drawing, since the article’s title is ‘Bad Apples.’ She approved the sketch so I painted it – acrylic paints, prisma pencil on illustration board.




George & Martha’s Wallpaper

blastfrompast_detailwpMy illustration for next month’s Lodging magazine was a fun one to draw. The editor at the magazine, which focuses on the hotel and hospitality industry, sent me an article “Blast from the Past,” about some hotel developers choosing to renovate historic buildings into hotels, instead of building new structures.

Sometimes in doing editorial art (art that accompanies written articles) illustrators are requested to create images that strictly adhere to the story line, and sometimes we are given freedom to come up with an image that makes a playful riff on the theme. The editor didn’t mind at all when I pitched an illustration of some historical characters participating in the renovation of a hotel room, while keeping the other workers in modern-day attire.

To make the historical characters recognizably different from the present-day workers, I decided to go with Revolutionary war costumed people – powdered wigs, long dresses, etc. I thought about having a George Washington type holding blueprints, directing contractors in kind of a statuesque pose –


But then it occurred to me that it would be funnier if it were a George and Martha Washington-type couple, doing what couples always do – arguing over what type of, say, wallpaper to use –

lodging_blastfromthepast_sk1– and that’s the one the editor liked too. I drew it up a little tighter and added some wallpaper books and more samples –


and painted in the finished art –


Magazine Illustration: Hotels & College Towns

My newest illustration assignment for Lodging Magazine accompanies an article aimed at developers in the hospitality industry, about some key points to keep in mind when choosing locations for new hotel.

The article explains that many chains realize the value of bringing hotels to college towns, since the football season brings so many out-of-towners that need accommodations; but there are other considerations before the developer should seal the deal, which the article describes more in depth. For the illustration I pitched a few ideas to the editor, involving cheerleaders, graduates in caps and gowns, and college fairs. Then I was talking to my son Tom, who does improv comedy several nights a week in NYC at Reckless Theatre, about the topic and asked him if there was some funnier angle to it – and he quickly hit on the best image of all – college football team mascots.

When I suggested this to the editor she immediately liked it, so I got onto the sketch.  I googled images of college mascots and chose several that looked distinctly different, then sketched them barging into a hotel developers’ office, begging her to pick their town.


and a color markered sketch, where I added in a pennant & megaphone to reinforce the college idea:


The editor approved it with a few gestural changes, and so I painted the final:


I sincerely thank my son for his idea! By doing improv he has developed skills that lead him to generate really fast, funny, visual scenarios!




A Painting a Day: Olympic Bouquet

I was invited by my friend, artist Deb Hoeffner, to post a painting a day – so here is Day 1: I painted this poster illustration for W. Atlee Burpee Seed Company during another Olympic year a while back – maybe 1996? – for a conference Burpee was hosting.


New Illustration for Lodging Magazine

My latest illustration for hospitality industry magazine Lodging involved one of those vague ideas that’s a bit hard to picture at first: delegating. The editor sent me parts of the article but it was not complete – it explained how hotels should focus foremost on their ‘hoteling’ responsibilities (great service and amenities for their customers) and hand off lesser duties if at all possible to businesses that specialize in those particular services. This delegating can help hotels accomplish key tasks without overwhelming their current systems and still providing excellent customer service.

I jotted down a few metaphors for delegating and sent them to the editor: I thought of a traffic cop directing traffic in a hotel lobby; a truck driver unloading packages to waiting deliverymen; and a football coach explaining a play to the team.  The editor liked the football idea, so I sketched it out roughly.


The editor approve this and suggested a few more props in the hands of the players, and to have everyone in golf shirts instead of padding, which I added in the color marker sketch.


This met with approval, so I traced the drawing onto illustration board and drew it in prisma pencil, then painted with acrylic paints, watered down to washes. The finished art:



Data Mining Illustration

My monthly illustration for Lodging Magazine was for an article about ‘data mining’ – how those in the hospitality industry can learn to better track and interpret social media referring to their brand, in order to improve their services to their targeted audiences. I pitched a few written ideas to the editor, involving visual imagery of hunting down information, and she liked one with miners in a cave.

I’m certainly no expert on mining procedures so I researched photos online to see uniforms and props. I sketched a very loose pencil rough of coworkers finding gold among the rocks, with one worker recording the info on a laptop –


and then tightened it up before sending it in, adding the good & bad social media topics the editor suggested –


After approval I did a quick color pencil sketch to work from for the finish, then retraced it on illustration board and started painting.








The finished art:










Portrait Illustration for a Digital Advertising Agency, part 1

Brendan McMahon, one of the three website/social media experts who comprise Social Fire Media, located outside of Philadelphia, contacted me about creating an illustration for their website, showing the kind of teamwork and interaction that happens whenever they brainstorm for their clients. The illustration’s goal is to help introduce clients to the team and their personalities. Brendan felt that a hand-drawn illustration would stand out in ways that standard headshots fall short.

To begin the job, Brendan sent me several photos of the SFM team and gave me details they wanted depicted in the art: a whiteboard, coffee mugs, a window looking out on the pond that borders their office, and of course a number of devices such as cell phones, tablets and laptops – the tools of their trade.

I started by sketching a layout for the art – not concerned too much at first with likenesses:


They approved the overall composition, and sent me more photos of themselves as they are posed in the sketch, which helped a great deal in tightening up the pencil drawing:


In the next post I’ll write about the color sketch and finished art.

Illustrated ad, Part 3: Finished art


After revising and tightening up my pencil sketch (you can see it if you scroll down a few posts) I printed out a small copy of the line drawing and used color pencils to rough out the colors for the finish. My client for this project was Furia Rubel Communications in Doylestown, a PR firm specializing in law firms and non-profits, and the colors they use for their website and promotional materials are orange, golden yellow and a medium purple.  I used those colors on the balloon to align with their company brand. I designed this illustration to leave two large areas for type in the ad – the area of lightly clouded sky below the balloon, where black type could be used, and the dark shadow on the grass where their logo and some reverse type could go.

hotairballonpartial1I transferred the drawing to illustration board and started outlining and painting in the ground and balloon, left the sky for last. I made the crowd unit mostly a dull version of the purple in the balloon, and added more color to the clothing of staff of my client.  I wanted them to be recognizable but still be a part of that unit, and not stand out so much that they took attention away from the dramatic launch above them.

I painted this illustration in acrylic paint, watered down a little to act like watercolors, and outlined with prismacolor pencils.


The finished art was used in two ads, one black/white, one cropped but in full color, in different publications.



Rough sketches for illustrated ads

A client who does marketing support services for businesses needed some ideas and art for her magazine ads. My client did not want her staff pictured front & center, which has been done in previous ads; she wanted this message to be that they put their clients first, but are still behind the scenes maintaining their clients’ image.  My first two very rough sketches for myself looked like this:

marketingadsrough1I pictured a hot air balloon rising in a colorful sky, with some business folks in the basket waving happily to the cheering crowd of business folks below, and the crowd on the ground would include my marketing friend and her staff. The idea was, the business was taking off and the ground crew included my client.  The second idea was a nicely framed photo of a ‘company’ but in the details of the frame you would be able to see bits of what the marketers do to maintain that ‘image’ – writing press releases, doing social media, building websites. The idea was, my marketing client frames a company’s identity so they always look their best.

I drew them up a little tighter, but still pretty rough, to send to my client:

marketingadsrough2I’ll mention that, fortunately, both these ideas solve the eternal illustrative problem of picturing companies in a politically correct way – I could use several people to represent each company, and so include minorities in the picture. Originally I had thought of the ‘frame’ sketch as a photo portrait of a businessman; but that would never play in today’s business climate, since so many businesses are run and owned by women.

I’ll soon post my process in completing this assignment.