Tuesday, December 23, 2008


This has been a wonderful week… hectic but rewarding in so many ways. I had all kinds of ideas for this week's topic and had planned to have it done over the weekend… but plans change… and change… and… you guessed it… change… and so did the idea I had for the illustration… and so, I opened the sketch book and started… and this morning I had it all figured out… but things change… and while the idea is still there… the rest has been lost with the hustle and bustle of the day… the illo gives voice to our most treasured loved ones… the ones who must endure what we believe is right as parents… and while we have the benefit of hindsight… we do often close our ears and minds to the voices of our children… often with terrible consequences…

This thought recurred over and over this weekend… and culminated in the movie I watched last night sitting next to one of those I most cherish in this world…

Friday, December 19, 2008

Winter Is Coming

A Game of Thrones is the first book of George R.R. Martin's masterpiece, fantasy epic. The good news for those familiar with this series (no A Dance with Dragons is not yet finished) is that the series is being brought to the small screen by HBO. If you are a fan of Rome or the Arthurian legends keep your eyes and ears open.

For the last year I have been living without cable, but I will once again be swimming in the deep end when this amazing work is brought to life. Like much of the other series on HBO, this will be a story for mature viewers. It is a story of hard living in a kingdom very much resembling England during the Wars of the Roses. There is a touch of fantasy but it is not heavy handed. The main characters are all human insofar as they are from the human species (at least so far). Another difference is that this story is not the standard Good vs. Evil. It is a human story and in that sense it is a contemporary tale.

If you want to stay current on what is flowing from George R.R. Martin's pen he has an informative website and a blog. If you want to stay current on what is happening with the HBO series read the blog A Winter is Coming.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Rambunctious - Illustration Friday

Since this week has been one of those weeks… I am going to have to dig something up from the old sketch book. I do have all manner of rambunctious children and critters drawn and doodles in the stacks of books, but this logo caught my eye.

I worked on this project over a two-year period, first for Downtown Vision where I developed a direct mail and an online marketing campaign. The following year, the City of Jacksonville took the event over and as they were already a client, gave me a call to work on a new project of theirs. It is funny how things just seemed destined to be. We continued producing the direct mail pieces but the online component was scrapped. Luckily they did want to redesign the existing logo and after filling page after page after page with thumbnails, I came up with the award-winning logo that you see here. It even graced the cover of one of David Carter's logo books! Unfortunately, funding went away and so did the project but it was fun while it lasted. Their new agency liked my photography so much that they lifted one of my photos to use on the Downtown Vision's new site. Lucky me!!

Hopefully, I will have more time to get back to creating new work next week. Happy holidays to those of you lucky enough to be starting early.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Ideo CEO Tim Brown talks about the powerful relationship between creative thinking and play. One of the points that struck me in his talk at the 2008 Serious Play conference was that rules make for better creativity. I guess that makes sense. As a designer going into a new project, I do need information and parameters. And the more I know, the better the solution. When I taught at the local college my students would ask me why they had to learn the history and the rules. And usually my answer was so you know where you came from and why things are done. And then I told them that when they knew the rules it was easier to break them.

Take a look if you have the time and visit the TED site. They do have an amazing catalog of high powered speakers at various conferences on many different topics.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Who Keeps the Fish?

Coudal Partners is a great design, advertising and interactive studio in Chicago. Their site is packed with great information. Periodically the post a logic puzzler on their site. Over the Thanksgiving holiday I spent a few hours on this one. And yes, I am 1 in 121,348,731!

This brainteaser, reportedly written by Einstein as a child. It is also sometimes attributed to Lewis Carroll however, there is no known evidence for Einstein's or Carroll's authorship. The first known publication in Life International magazine on December 17, 1962. It is difficult and Einstein said that 98% of the people in the world could not figure it out. Which percentage are you in?

There are five houses in a row in different colors. In each house lives a person with a different nationality. The five owners drink a different drink, smoke a different brand of cigar and keep a different pet, one of which is a Walleye Pike.

The question is-- who owns the fish?

1. The Brit lives in the red house.
2. The Swede keeps dogs as pets.
3. The Dane drinks tea.
4. The green house is on the left of the white house.
5. The green house owner drinks coffee.
6. The person who smokes Pall Malls keeps birds.
7. The owner of the yellow house smokes Dunhills.
8. The man living in the house right in the center drinks milk.
9. The man who smokes Blends lives next to the one who keeps cats.
10. The Norwegian lives in the first house.
11. The man who keeps horses lives next to the one who smokes Dunhills.
12. The owner who smokes Bluemasters drinks beer.
13. The German smokes Princes.
14. The Norwegian lives next to the blue house.
15. The man who smokes Blends has a neighbor who drinks water.

There are no tricks, pure logic will get you the correct answer. And yes, there is enough information to arrive at the one and only correct answer.

If you get the correct answer, congratulations, you are one of the exclusive group of 121,348,731 people in the world who can.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A holiday trip

If you get a chance, take a trip over to Dot's blog "Dabbled". She is having a little competition called the "Holiday Art Card Challenge". There is some great work ther and all I can say is "Vote for Me!" … "Vote for Me!"

You may have seen this a few years back. If not, you can see it on her blog. It was another self-promo.

Happy Holidays!


This is a drawing that I may use in a self-promo to interest new clients or get some new work. The idea is similar to something I did a few years back when I was freelancing full time. This time, instead of trying to get the agency to add a new elf to their staff, I am offering my services with their elf troubles.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Balloon - Illustration Friday


Once upon a time time had no meaning…
and no one knows why or how it came to happen…
yet it moved onward and ever on…
through the days and nights to only God knew where…
and still it moved without sound…

Once upon a time, a man opened his eyes and truly saw,
stepped through the door to a life not fully imagined,
not once looking back… always now, tomorrow and next year…
yet still remembering the beginning and the before…
and the only sound to be heard… a single heartbeat…

Once upon a time time stood waiting…
now I drink coffee on Saturday morning, in bed…
quiet time but for a brief moment, before the day begins,
and sometimes, sometimes I will roll back over,
smiling and know that…

Once upon a time is now forever…

An anniversary poem for my wife.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Been Tagged

I have been tagged by Tomas and Yoon See. Much thanks. Somewhere along this path, everyone will be tagged… and then what?

These are the rules:
1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Mention the rules.
3. Tell six quirky yet boring, unspectacularhttp://www2.blogger.com/img/blank.gif details about yourself.
4. Tag six other bloggers by linking to them.
5. Go to each person's blog and leave a comment that lets them know they've been tagged.

I tag these talented people:
http://sentaplyer.blogspot.com/ yes… tagged again…

And these facts about me:
  1. i cut off part of my nose when i was 2 and thank god it was the part that would have grown when i told "stories"…
  2. thanks to my wife i now put peanut butter in my cereal…
  3. i think i am turning my daughter into a bit of a geek… but she hides it so well…
  4. working on my house has replaced working on my art… :(
  5. my dog has been confused for a cat and a skunk
  6. nothing makes me happier than my family… OK when my family is happy makes me happier…
quirky and unspectacular!

Opinion - Illustration Friday

Thanksgiving is just a few days away and of course it is a time to count our blessings… to give thanks… I started counting mine a long time ago… I am so fortunate to have such a wonderful family… and friends… and I am so thankful for the creative gifts I have been given…

My job has taken me many places… this week the Museum where I work is closed for the holiday but are showing a film Thanksgiving evening… Trail of Tears : Cherokee Legacy… of course I am thankful that the native peoples provided life for the early European settlers… they taught them how to fish and grow corn and ultimately survive the winter…

So what's with the cows? I live in Jacksonville… named for Andrew Jackson our seventh president… and while I am certain that the USA would not be what it is today… or might not even exist… I am troubled to live in a city that is named after a man who championed Indian Removal… our record with the treatment of the indigenous peoples is appalling and continues to this day… Jacksonville has a long and storied history… and as a native Jacksonvillian… I much prefer our original name, Cowford to what we now have…

Happy Thanksgiving… God bless…

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Have you ever wished that you were from somewhere else? Or that you WERE someone else? At times, I am sure that we've all done so. I think it is a part of our human nature. One part of pretending that we are someone else is the "lie". One must lie in order to become who we are not or get what isn't ours. Sometimes we do it because we aren't happy with who we are. Or we want the excitement of being someone different… even if only for a little while. And it starts at an early age… in the games we play… in the excuses that we make… in the boasts we make to get attention…

I always thought that these were part of what made us human. Not in a good way, but human none-the-less. Some say that only humans kill for the sake of killing. But that isn't true. I find dead lizards on my doorstep and in my front walkway that the neighbors' cats leave. They kill to garner attention… or for fun. And it's not just cats… dogs kill too. It's part of the pack mentality. Killing seems to be the domain of most animals in one way or another. What I did not know is that animals can lie as well. I was recently watching PBS and saw the latest installment of Nature called "Clever Monkeys". One segments of the story told of a particularly shifty monkey who yells "SNAKE!" to send all of the members of his troop scurrying into the trees for safety so he could get that bird's egg for himself. It was eye-opening.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

O'Connell Ye Faithful

For those of you you were wondering, here are the wisemen in color. It was the first draft once I got my illustration scanned and redrawn in Illustrator but I thought that things were getting too busy. Plus, the monochromatic palette gives it a much more nostalic feel.

Another color change and the right is the final useage… our Christmas card. I am burning CDs to give to our friends and family. Old timey holiday favorites… Elvis Presely, Doris Day, Frank Sinatra, Dean Marting, Eartha Kitt and Jimmy Durante to name a few.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wise - Illustration Friday

We're creeping up on Christmas and this only seemed like the logical place to go with the topic.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Here's the same illustration BEFORE I went wild on it with photoshop color.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Illustration Friday – Vacant

Illustration Friday
Well, the hungry ol' cat went looking for a snack and his silly disguise only got in the way. And when he opened the cage, the "snacks" got away! (But not so far as to hang about and do a little bit of gloating!)

So here's a new one. Today is a big day. I already voted and I am so glad that no matter what happens one of those two blue birds of happiness will soon be the President. Now, I do like one so much more than the other, but after the last few years…

The White House has been vacant too long.

Friday, October 31, 2008

4 Lessons

Last month I was asked to sit on a panel of in-house designers for AIGA. Much was discussed and I think we all learned a few things along the way. To continue that discussion, I recently read a great article by Michael Bierut "The Four Lessons of Lou Dorfsman". For those of you who don't know who Lou Dorfsman is/was, read the article. Lou Dorfsman died recently. We all sure could learn a lot from his example.

His lessons are:
  1. Mind the client's business.
  2. Learn to identify opportunities.
  3. Assume responsibility.
  4. Define the company's character.
These four lessons seem so simple but I think we all get lost in the business of getting the "work" done. To put it more simply. Do your best and work hard. Keep your eyes open and remember who is paying you.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Illustration Friday – Repair

just a quickie this week… so much for the vacation r&r… they're working me hard again… and again, i took a few liberties… the spirit of the season and all… maybe it's because i have been thinking about all that candy… and that got me to thinking about all the money i have recently been giving my dentist… and the combination of all of those things got me thinking that the repair of my teeth was sort of a frankenstien mess… and there you have it… re-pair!

This is part illustration and part collage of found images. The pear is mine… the rest… ?

And for those of you who always adhere to the literal take… see the stitches?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Did You Ever Wonder What It's Like Being A Freelance Designer?

I can't remember where I found this list, but designers hear these kinds of comments all the time. One of the rich, volunteers I dealt with some time ago on a charity event dismissed what I had been working on with a very terse "I'll just do it myself. I've got a graphic design program on my computer." Woman… please!

Listen us people… when working with PROFESSIONALS, keep in mind that most of us were trained to do what we do. Work with us. Ask us questions. And tell us why something doesn't work for you. And "I don't like it" doesn't tell us much. Why do you like pink for your bank? And any of you new-to-the-profession designers… don't get suckered in with the list. If you want to help a charity, a family member/friend or a start-up, do it because you want to. Not for any of the reasons below.

charity job everyone gets paid except you
gives exposure so does selling matches in the snow
you'll get your value back on the next jobs but not with us, we won't hire you again
it's only for the web where it will stand for years and be downloaded by millions of people
educational purposes we are gonna teach you a lesson
it's great! but can you make some changes? the director's niece made a doodle and he wants it to look just like it
we are not a commercial publication we sell 40,000 a week and still don't want to pay the talents
just do something quick but if it doesn't look awesome you'll get bashed
do something simple any idiot can do it, that's why we choose you
i can't pay much but i don't want it to look cheap
we will be in touch we found a homeless guy willing to do it for a bottle of wine.
can you start ASAP? I had it on my desk for weeks, but now it's your problem
because it's for an inside publication only, will it be cheaper? just forgot to mention the company is a multinational with more than 100000 employees.
don't spend much time on it work all night and charge me half an hour.
this could mean more jobs in our company if you like underpaid toilet cleaning.
i'd like to send you a copy as a token of our gratitude to use as a paperweight for all those unpaid bills.
due to crisis, we won't be able to continue using your work it was that or downgrading my company car.
can you live off that? shouldn't you be starving and homeless?
the check is in the mail virtually...

And now, I'm leaving for a much needed vacation.

Friday, October 17, 2008

REDNECK ART made with BBQ RIBS - Speed Painting

I'll miss IF this week. I'm taking a much needed vacation with my lovely wife for our anniversary. I may get around to it later next week but I didn't want to leave everyone without a taste of art.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Lessons Designers Can Learn From The Movies

Guy Kawasaki has an interesting post over at American Express' Open Forum blog. In it he details some of the lessons that Scott Kirsner learned in his book Inventing the Movies: Hollywood’s Epic Battle Between Innovation and the Status Quo, from Thomas Edison to Steve Jobs. I think Guy could take his observations one step further. We could take a whole lot of pressure off of ourselves.

We should understand that we need not always strive for perfection – where Guy says technology has to be "just good enough", I'd say, "just do your best".

"Innovators never underestimate the importance of allies" stands solidly as it is for designers as well.

"Innovators spot market opportunities first, and chase them relentlessly." Educate yourself and open your eyes. And whatever you do, be original. Fads fade.

"Innovators find collaborators who share their vision, and they’re prepared for things to take longer than expected." Be patient and true to yourself. Success doesn't come overnight but it usually will come quicker than expected if you are prepared.

"Innovators acknowledge that not everyone loves a revolution." Remember that you don't always have to re-invent the wheel. Subtle improvements here and there will usually suffice. People don't like change. If you do want to start a revolution, remember that there will be blood before it's all over.

All in all, the greatest lessons Guy and Scott offer could be boiled down to "Stay true to yourself. Keep your eyes open. Work hard. And be patient…"

Monday, October 13, 2008

Illustration Friday - String

New sketchbook. New illustration. And you might be wondering what this has to do with this week's topic. Well, let me take you back…

Many. MANY years ago… when I was young… er… younger… I had a lot of time to explore the outdoors. Snakes, lizards, turtles, frogs, toads, bugs… all manner of things that hopped, crawled, slithered and scurried… these were the citizens of my domain. My father encouraged it for the most part and so did my mother as long as I didn't make her look at any of it of take it inside.

One of my fondest memories was taking a piece of string and tying it to a cicada and letting it fly. It was like the most expensive and fantastic toy ever. And I had a few of those gas-powered model airplanes that was a much more expensive, but none were ever as fun. And as much fun as the "Flight of the Cicada" was, I only did it once… then I untied the string and let it go.

Cicadas are a part of summer. Sometimes, you hear their songs long into the night. And while I am now grown with a family of my own, I still hear them, even though the leaves are beginning to turn and the days are growing shorter… even here in the Sunshine State.

Friday, October 10, 2008


I had an old post relating politicians to serial killers. Sen. Obama's name fit the post perfectly. So now it's time to offer him up some props.

And no, he doesn't think our military just bombs innocent civilians! Thank God some people have brains. And for everyone hurting from the current financial breakdown, the clip below is worth watching. Does anyone remember the Savings & Loan breakdown of the 1980s? The Keating 5?

Don't forget to vote!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

A Review

I haven't finished reading this yet, nor do I want to.

It's that good.

The short story is harder and harder to find in a format that you can get cozy with. This issue is doubly good as it it the 60th anniversary double issue. There are stories by M. Rickert, Stephen King, Albert E. Cowdrey, Geoff Ryman and many more. As with all anthologies, some are good, some aren't. Some will make you miss a meeting. Others may make you want to throw the book away. But all of them made me think and see things in new ways. That is how short stories have always made me feel. And that is why I like them so much.

As I skimmed through the magazine, I stopped here and there reading a story or review. The Visionaries by Robert Reed lulls the reader by starting out as just another story about an author. And not a very good writer at that. But then it becomes something so much more. Stephen King touches us with a call from the afterlife. I have always liked King's work and some of my favorite stories he has written are his short stories and novellas. This should not disappoint. Going Back in Time by Laurel Winter is an odd little tale about quantum physics. And so far, my favorite tale is Albert E. Cowdrey's tale of post-Katrina "Noo Awlyunz". It starts out great and then gets a bit caught up in scifi kitsch, but it is still a great read.

Even the regular articles and reviews are worth the read. And while I don't agree with Lucius Shepard's take of this summer's "Iron Man" movie he did offer some insight into things that I overlooked. Don't overlook the real science features. The information on asteroids is really interesting.

Overall, I would have liked to read a little more fantasy but it's still very enjoyable. And one day, I may actually find that last story… but I would have to actually have time on my hands.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Sugary - Illustration Friday

What can I say? We eat too much… the food giants peddle their wares creating bigger and bigger portions. The food contains more and more sugar… not to mention chemicals… uggghhhh!!!!!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

What Song Is It You Want To Hear?

I heard it then…

I admit it. I am a geek. I read fantasy, scifi and comic books when I get the chance… just for a little entertainment and maybe for a bit of an escape from the rat race. And I do like most of the geeky shows now on TV – Lost, 24, Heroes and the uber-geek show Chuck.

So finding connections in weird things and in weird ways shouldn't be that freaky. Coincidence shouldn't catch me off guard. But this one did. When I found "Sawyer's Nickname Generator" I had to try it out. So what it come up with? It's there on the screen. So how does that tie into geek-dom. It doesn't really, except for all the troubling coincidences. And it sure does hit home with me. How did it know?

First off, I live where Lynyrd Skynyrd is/was from. And in a wacky way I am related to the Van Zants. Coach Leonard Skinner got in a bidding war for one of my paintings at an auction. And if that wasn't enough, before they made it big the band used to jam on the sun porch at the house I just sold. So there is a time/space thing going on. That's just too much coincidence. Maybe it is a LOST thing. There are way too many coincidental things happening there as well. Can't wait for the new season.

Go on. Click on the picture above and see what your nickname is.


Somewhere along the way I feel like I have lost a little bit of who I want to be. I started working at the Museum over two years ago and, at the time, it was almost like a dream job. The pay wasn't great, but I didn't expect it to be. I did it for the work. And the people. And for the inspiration. Somewhere along the way, all of that was either lost to the madness that is non-profit in REALLY tough economic times or all of the turnover here just changed the atmosphere. Either way, things that are important to me got buried and sometimes lost in the shuffle. I won't go into any of those things. People who know me probably have some sense of the changes in the last year… and people who know me really well… probably already know…

That said, it was really nice to feel some love from this industry. The MOCA Underground logo will be included in Logolounge 5. It is just one of the 33,000 entered worldwide that made the cut. The book will be published by Rockport Publishers in the early Summer of 2009.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Illustration Friday - Packed

It's so hard to believe that I moved way back in April… and guess what? I'm still mostly in boxes…


Thursday, September 25, 2008

AIGA Jacksonville is continuing its 2008 Designer Lunch Series by hosting an “In-House Designer Roundtable Luncheon” on Thursday, September 25 from 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. at UNF’s University Center. Jacksonville creative professionals from the Museum of Contemporary Art, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, Harte-Hanks Direct Marketing, CITI Group and the University of North Florida will share their tips for success, and answer questions on keeping the creative spark alive when designing in the corporate world.

In-House Panelists
Michael O'Connell, MOCA Jacksonville
Jim Pieretti, Harte-Hanks
Jim Dustin, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida
Mary Ann Rosenthal, University of North Florida
Doug Reston, CITI

Thursday, September 25 | 11:30 am to 1 pm
Lunch served at 11:30 am
Speaker starts at 12:00 pm

UNF University Center
12000 Alumni Drive
Jacksonville, FL 32224
(904) 620-4222
Parking is FREE in the University Center parking lot
Get directions

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

It's A Strange World Out There

I find it amazing how small the world has gotten recently. With all of our technological gadgetry we are now only a click away from our neighbors on the other side of the world. In the poorest of countries, far from the reaches of what we would call civilization, one can find all the trappings of capitalism.

As a designer, and one who specializes in branding, I should take heart that my sisters and brothers are doing their jobs so well. Nike, Pepsi, Apple and Starbucks are no longer the just property of the USA and they haven't been for years. Quite possibly the world belongs to them now.

So it never ceases to amaze me when I see a story that challenges merely because it is so radically different from what we understand in the "civilized world". This story comes to me by way of Neil Gaiman's blog.

Friday, May 02, 2008

More Freebies!

Check this site out for some great graphics, backgrounds, icons and even tutorials so you can learn to create your own. They also have a blog with some interesting posts. It looks like they are just getting going but I am sure that there are more great things to come.

And if you want to add some foreign flair, try out Mujka. Not only will you find an assortment of talented contributors offering free graphics but you'll also find brushes, borders and produt news.

And for fun icons or myspace tokens to add to your mix, try out boredsketchbooks.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Creativity Can Save the World

Guy Kawasaki brought this story about a creative solution from PlayPumps that just could save the world. Frontline also had a story about this. It is amazing what we could be doing for our world instead of to it. And how much less money would it cost us if were made these kind of investments in the people of the world instead of how we are currently doing it?

Free Fonts!

Many times, free fonts are more trouble than they are worth. The kerning is bad, there are incomplete character sets and a phlethora of plain BAN design. But… there are always exceptions to the rules. Below are two places to find very nice examples of font swag. Make sure to read the fine print. Blambots has some pretty serious restrictions for usage, but Exlibris has very generous licensing.

On display here is Vaporized, Blambot's new free font for April 2008. It was designed as a sound effects font for comic art and works great for smoky/cloudy effects and sizzling energy beam blasts. The font includes Regular and Italic. Blambot is a great place for all the inspiring graphic novelists. In addition to frequent free font giveaways, they have a few articles about creating and publishing your graphic novel.

Exlibris has a number of well designed fonts ready for download in Mac and PC formats. These type treats are ready to go and should be a fine addition to your already overstocked font folders. And if you really like Jos Buivebga's fonts, visit his blog and subscribe to his feed so you can be the first to hear about any new offerings!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Say No To Unwanted Mail

Are you tired of all the mailbox clutter? Do you dread going to your mailbox because you know most of what is in there is unsolicited mail from advertisers? Do you hate wasting your time sifting through the clutter just to find that tasty bill? Do you shudder to think of all the trees that were sacrificed only to end up unwanted and unread in the landfill?

If you answered yes, help is as easy as a click away.

Direct Mail
The key to stopping all that unwanted advertising mail you receive at home is getting your name off the mailing lists. Of course, that's a lot easier said than done because there are, literally, thousands of commercial lists out there. Register here to remove your name & address. And Call 888-567-8688. This single automated phone line takes you off the lists of all major credit bureaus. You can also do this online.

The National Wildlife Federation (NWF), Natural Resources Defense Council and the Ecology Center have developed a new website called Catalog Choice. This site provides a free, easy to use service to allow individuals to opt out of unsolicited catalogs that arrive by mail. The website has already reduced catalog mailings by 5,682,372.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

A Thought for the New Year

The common man sees the world as nature sees it, 
yes and no, good and evil, on and off — 
the artificer, the scholar, the intellectual 
sees the world in threes, and makes a full time occupation 
of explaining the unnatural.
— attributed to Kilroy