With this website full of so many polished final pieces this is the place to find the raw original sketches gave birth to the final work.
Most of these are from a fertile period between 1993 and 2002 when I was drawing heavily with pencil, stippling with pen and ink, or painting with watercolors and acrylics. The earliest years also coincided with experiments with cel and flipbook animation, and drawing on the computer with AutoCAD and Windows Paint.
As a result of these diverging artistic forays some of the sketches below attempt to merge multimedia work into a single composition, typically to advertise to customers my skillset and therefore bring in more work.
When the demand for computer artwork hit in the mid-90s I was at Hampshire College taking multimedia classes using Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, Specular Infini-D and Macromedia Director.
Final artwork from the late 90s is strewn about this site, mostly in the so-called Fine Art section, or nestled into other designs.
Some of this stuff is pretty random, like this ivy leaf found in a tiny cup the day after Christmas 1998.
Over the years I've accumulated numerous notepads that chronicle my career on a daily basis. A typical page has an engineering-style grid upon which are neatly organized thoughts or random notes, perhaps a name and phone number of a client or vendor, maybe some ingredients I wanted on a pizza, a few drawings, and a date. When a page got too crammed full of stuff a new page was opened. Often a summary of key tasks, projects or people were carried over from one to the next.
Looking back, there are tons of these drawings littered about. Sometimes they get smudged, or are difficult to extricate from the rest of the junk on the page. Other times I can't understand what I was trying to accomplish with a particular sketch.
The drawings on this page were selected because they demonstrate some artistic merit, or perhaps they are the foundation for some finished work on this site. They exist for a wide variety of reasons.
Take this pencil drawing of a tree. Around '93 I was drawing and painting these fantastical trees with fuzzy green spheres. When summarizing a bunch of open projects I was unsure which to work on next, and this shrugging tree was drawn in the midst. The caption reads PICK ONE AND FINISH IT! The date is June 28, 1994 and I was 17 years old.
Just a few months later, in September, I was in my first semester of college at Leeward Community College in Pearl City on Oahu. Besides classes in calculus, economics and music, I was of course enrolled in a drawing course. In groups of four we drew profiles of our classmates. After doing the initial sketch I took it home and finished it with one of my favorite techniques — stippling with pen and ink. A year previous, my mother had bought me a set of Koh-i-Noor Rapidograph technical drawing pens and I was experimenting with different applications. One inspiration was M.C. Escher's detailed lithographs, and I sought a similar result.
A recurring theme in my work is giving human characteristics to otherwise non-human things. One example is the shrugging tree above. We all know trees don't shrug. In fact they typically do not make a movement as a direct result of indecision. We assume they are mulling it over quietly and will respond at some future date with their decision.
Another example is this fox character from winter of 1995. We all know foxes don't walk on their hind legs unless trying to score some grapes or riding a unicycle. Of course, walking on hind legs isn't only a human quality; kangaroos walkabout on their hind legs when they box with each other.
For Christmas 1995 this pen drawing of two intertwined plants was sent to my sister and her boyfriend. I tried to capture them as plants. She is the sleek dark one, and he, being an athletic, muscled guy, is the lighter chunky one.
Three different space-filling techniques are present in this illustration — cross-hatching, stippling, and solid color fills. Additionally, I diluted the jet black ink in the pen's cartridge with water to get lighter tones. I remember this took a couple of weeks to complete in time for Christmas.
High-end computer applications began to seep into my portfolio, but I was still cranking out artwork with traditional media. Some stuff I would spend many hours, days or even weeks on, and then look at the final product and wonder, what the hell was I thinking?. The original sketch may have seemed promising, but the execution was not. One drawing I must've placed 50,000 individual ink dots in perfect formation, only to step back when it was done and not see what the purpose of the work was.
Well, you're not going to see any of that stuff here!
Granted, there's alot of crap here, but it has an underlying purpose or value. It expresses something I was feeling, or was part of a story, like these vines here that resembled a hand. This was the first shot of a bit of fiction that takes place down in the waterfalls the huge vines are gripping.
Over the years I'd have a bunch of miscellaneous stuff like 3D renderings, pencil drawings, vivid vector-based illustrations, and photographic-quality paintings that did not mesh well with each other. I strove to put them all in one place so I could quickly advertise my skills and win over clients. Many of these multimedia compositions have been created for postcards, brochures, flyers and business cards. Many have helped convince new customers that I can do some fine work for them.
One such example which persisted is the Compass Composition, showcasing a bunch of early work for a flyer design to advertise my services upon returning to San Diego in late 1997. Whereas each item stands on its own quite well, I sought to blend them together into a simple, smart package. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. The Compass Composition has stood the test of time for some reason or other.
The drawing on the left here with the eye is another example of a composition, but this time for a brochure complete with an interactive CD insert (remember those? this one was long before my website was launched in early 2000). Some of the little items in that sketch are sitting on the desk as well as in the Compass Composition or the Nourse Farms catalog cover.
In fact, all of the brochures I've designed have started out with sketches, like this one for the Guiltinan Group real estate agents of Del Mar. Other stuff may start out directly in some software environment, but brochures need to be worked out on paper, especially if they are complicated like the one below for BuyingShow Solutions.
By late 1997 my professional portfolio was just beginning. While at CopyCat Print Shop in Amherst, Massachusetts I had spent a couple of weeks working on a multimedia design for a local grower of vegetables and small fruits Nourse Farms. And while my employer didn't get the contract I came away with the full-color finished version as a nice portfolio piece, albeit rejected by the prospect.
The center of the piece, a collection of berries, is all 3D model using textures and colors typical of that period. The color is all pretty over-saturated too. Other components like the asparagus, rhubarb and splash of water were hand-drawn in Adobe Illustrator. And of course the whole thing was put together in Adobe Photoshop at 400 d.p.i. so that it would look fabulous when printed on the Xerox MajestiK full-color laser printer, which was just the bomb back then.
So I make a bunch of nifty 3D objects and must put them someplace. Aha — a desk! This also coincides with a desire for the ultimate desk. A machine for organizing and working. Everything within arm's reach. A main desk for a computer, with bookshelves and a drafting table. I began to construct my vision of the perfect desk with drawings like this one on the right, which eventually became a full-color 3D model. I imagined a dark red wood as structure inlaid with marble or granite.
One of these days I'm actually gonna build it. Doubt it? Ha! You don't know me very well! I get shit done!
Actually it's probably very easy to make. The main thing holding me back is that because it's circular, this desk is not very space-efficient. If I had a huge office I would have this built in an instant. Money no object! Cherry it out and put it to work.
This drawing of the circular desk schematic is dated February 7, 1999 at 11pm.
At Hampshire College in Amherst I had been introduced to Macromedia Director and we hit it off instantly. At first I was thrilled to be able to animate, and then learned how to write bits of code in Lingo to enable non-linear navigation. My interface design career was launched.
This interface design sketch on the left here was for a client, On Assignment in San Diego, that I landed in 1998. For their mostly medical clients we created massive proposals involving a zillion huge binders packed with tons of information. I built interactive media, printed materials, and even designed and delivered a PowerPoint Presentation to the Las Vegas City Council on November 23, 1998. I would only remember that date as it was written on the only slide I have left.
A long campaign of mailings I made between 1998 and 2001 resulted in a number of long-term clients. Anderson Direct first contacted me in mid-1998 to create a brochure for them (which was pitched as a round booklet, then eventually a brochure).
In the process of designing their brochure a series of photographic compositions and custom artwork were rendered to describe their printing and mailing services.
One of the illustrations for the round booklet was this scarlet macaw, which was drawn to fit squarely within the round shape of the booklet. It was rendered with pencil on my wide sketchpad, traced with pen on vellum, then scanned and traced again with Adobe Illustrator, to be rendered finally in brilliant full color. Later it was the basis for an older version of this website, circa 2002.
Even today some of my favorite interface designs start out as crude drawings. An example here from 2003 are the twin sites of DocSoma and BrandAce which share navigation elements. Elements of each site were built using Flash, featuring smooth animation.
Early 1999 I walked into the Ocean Beach offices of the Mortgage Originator, a magazine for folks in the mortgage industry. Eagles were everywhere — statues, paintings, photographs, carvings, and assorted bric-a-brac. The CEO really likes eagles. So when they assigned me to an inspirational CD cover for Songs of Success, I did a series of comps involving eagles. This is one of several pages in my sketchbook covered with drawings of eagles flying.
The direction of the artwork for the CD cover changed a few times. The illustration below is an early one which was not selected.
Eagles are particularly beautiful, majestic birds, and very enjoyable to draw. Probably why they've been the subject of so much artwork. Before this whole inspiration CD cover adventure, I had drawn an eagle for a postmark (to the right here) to promote Anderson Direct's mailing services. The final, full-color version is lost among my archives.
Although none of my eagle-based comps were selected, all these sketches did not deserve to be buried in my archives, and so here they are.
Around this time (1999) I had this idea that the collective knowledge of a city's population, and all the plans and ideas for the technical and artistic achievements of a civilization could be put onto a small disc. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon. While Flash drives have largely superseded the need (and capacity) for the classic compact disc, the idea that all the information could be compressed onto a tiny sliver of portable media fascinated me. Since stippling requires so many dots to render an image, that technique seemed appropriate to demonstrate the concept.
And thus, the cityscape drawing was created, first in pencil, then with pen and ink on smooth vellum, which held the ink crisply. An old woman was featured holding the disc. She was intended to represent the wisdom of age. But when I rendered in pen, I focused on the city and she only remains as a sketch off to one side. Another reasons was that when I drew the piece, I miscalculated the space needed on my drawing pad and half her face went off the side of the paper. And then of course was all this empty space between her and the city... So there's her hand holding the disc and that's it.
Just before the new millennium a client commissioned a series of stationery designs for packages of seasonal and holiday papers. People could write letters on them, make flyers, advertise events, etc.
So I set about making designs for Christmas, Halloween, Fourth of July and others. This pumpkin character was a result of that effort, and this pen n' ink mountainscape graced one side of a design which the client did not like due to its lack of color. The other designs are quite colorful and were printed up in large batches. I still have a few prints stashed away. Due to the metallic inks used, they look better in real life than on the computer.
This exotic flower here was not part of the stationery project but was a request made by another client at the same time as I was drawing flowers for one of the stationery paper designs and doing a ton of work for Proflowers. This particular client wanted something similar to the compass composition and this flower was the centerpiece of the final product.
While much of this is work requested by clients, some of it is just random shit I was doodling, or had an idea to make into a painting. Some of it never got beyond these rough sketches...
Some of this stuff I don't know why I draw, but the human figure is a recurring subject that becomes stylized in my work. This acrobatic figure, probably also from the turn of the century, was drawn as separate layers on leaves of tracing paper so that each could be scanned and traced independently. Each layer was colored differently using blends of the three primary printing colors, cyan, magenta and yellow.
Although the figure's proportions are closer to Barbie's than an actual human's, the basis is actually my own figure. My limbs and torso were systematically measured, then stretched to give the appearance of a particularly lithe and graceful figure executing a flip within the confines of a grid of intersecting circles and a rectangle.
This collection below was an idea for a full-size stand-up pop display for Anderson Direct's trade show booth. A woman holding a mailpiece, standing next to a mailbox. Not particularly inspired or interesting, which is why it was never made.
Although I continued to sketch, the quality of the planning sketches decreased. More often they were simply too rough to be considered final in any way. From those roughs I got an idea and would go straight to the computer to finish it. This period also coincided with an increased use of stock photography which I detest as being cheesy and generic. Early years were characterized by much more custom photography. For Anderson Direct and a few other clients I arranged photo shoots with prominent local photographers, making sure all the company principals showed up and I got the shots I wanted. Other clients, like Proflowers, RealAge and EpicCycle would supply their own excellent photos. But more and more stock photography seeped into my work as demand for quick results increased.
My task then was to make the generic photos from iStockPhoto, Fotolia and other such sites, look as good as I could. This often meant reducing the cheesiness of the photos and yet still tell the story as needed. You can look around this site and judge the success of this effort.
Yet sprinkled throughout the volumes of notebooks are a few drawings that became something. An example is this logo here. In 2006 Tom's Hardware, and parent company TG Publishing, had a half dozen popular sites they were rebranding all at once to raise the value of the company (for purchase by Best of Media in 2007). Among the million other projects I was doing for them during those years, they requested logos and branding for a half dozen websites. Hundreds of logos were created, many drawn crudely like these and rendered in crisp color for presentation. Although this one was ultimately not selected by the customer, it remains an example of the process for just a single item in a whole batch of finals. All that work... for nothing? Well, they did select among the other logos I had designed, which worked out fine.
Fast forward to 2010. In this example here, several ideas were sketch out for a magazine advertisement for PrintRunner.
As rough as it looks, the curvy one at the bottom was selected to develop into a high-resolution, full-page, 4-color process magazine advertisement publications like Photoshop User and Graphic Arts Monthly. The ad design changed over time, but the rest of the evolution occurred with the layers of the Photoshop file.
Another reason that sketching has decreased is that I have mastered the digital tools necessary to create work that satisfies the client's need, and my desire to produce beautiful, successful media. When I return to drawing and sketching, it is for the sheer enjoyment of creating something original and organic.
What draws me back are the curves — graceful, sensual curves that only a hand sweeping across paper can articulate. Try as I might, it is very difficult to draw these with a mouse or digital stylus. Perhaps the gentle friction of a pencil tip or pen nib gliding across the texture of the paper allows both control and freedom of expression. Whatever it is, drawing wins me over again as an essential creative channel.