Entries in assignment (5)


The world we live in

I get to work on a lot of scientific and research-based illustrations, which I love. We live in a beautiful, complex, and troubling world. Everyday, in a way, is a miraculous thing. If we want to continue to enjoy the things we have, the things we take for granted, we have to have our eyes open to what is happening locally and globally and be willing to adapt, make changes, and preserve what we can.

The first illustration was for Science magazine, a new client, for an article on an Environmental Film Festival, covering human, local and global topics. There were a lot of interesting and intriguing subjects like biodynamic food and farming, urban gardeners in L.A., wild bird egg poaching, women and water, as well as larger global and climate change concerns. Art director Michele Chu invited me to do an overview, taking in some of the broad-ranging topics and weave them together in the illustration. I adopted a clear and simple vector style to allow a balance and flow in the spread.


Here are the sketches:

I also got a call to work on a Cap and Trade proposal for the Province of Ontario, aimed at reducing carbon emissions. I wanted to convey the idea of change and transition over a period of time. Areas of focus included industry, transportation and energy. It all comes down to individual choices and the way in which we approach the economy. Finding the right balance between jobs, progress and sustainability.

Here's a shot of the cover, produced by Hambly and Woolley.


Where to begin?

Off to a big start in 2015. I wrapped two book projects, and was handed a stack of assignment work. It's good to be busy when the snow is piling up outside!

Here's a few highlights:

I created this robotic character for a magazine project. The client dubbed him 'Buddy'. I like that name, because it's a challenge to make something mechanical look friendly. I'll post more images once the issue comes out.

I've been working with Adam Ruppel from Crazy Canuck events over the years. I don't think I have posted any of the obstacle drawings before. Mud Hero is a fast-growing series of endurance events held across Canada. These look like so much fun. This year they are taking over Ontario Place in Toronto. Here's the course map.

I continued my work for the New York Times in January. This is for an ongoing, monthly feature called Raw Data.

This piece was a challeging topic - understanding the correlation between the causation and occurance of cancer. It's a confounding and sometimes random genetic event, with devastating implications. Read about it here: Random Chance’s Role in Cancer

Always great to work with NYT AD Peter Morance and writer George Johnson.

I also do regular work with Roy Comiskey at Security Management.

This is about the risks of GPS scramblers and the potential consequences of misuse.

I'll be posting more work soon. I just sent two postcards off to the printers. If you would like to receive a copy of either one (or both) of these, please drop me a line, and I'll be happy to put you on my mailing list.


Machines making Machines


 I like to dabble in collage, building my own imaginary machines. I collect a lot of old technical catalogues and manuals, and see anthropomorphic images in the diagrams and objects. I don't keep a sketchbook, but I have a lot of open illustrator files, where I create new combinations and characters.

There is something fascinating about the click and whirr of analog technology. Springs, flywheels, gears and levers. A ticking clockwork or adding machine. There is also a romance built into fiction along the lines of H. G. Wells. I don't have the attention span to assemble and repurpose old machines, but I do like the aesthetic, and have dabbled with it in my Mecanismos series. These images are always evolving and have taken on a life of their own.

It's fun to take a technical story and incorporate these robots into the illustration. Here's a recent assignment for the Christian Science Monitor, about human error and mistakes made by officials in sports. Should we replace humans with machines in order to get the call right? Is it foolproof? Will it improve the game? It's your call.



Recent assignment for Hemispheres magazine above, about designers repurposing our modern technology with a steampunk aesthetic. Juicy topic!  Thanks to art director Claire Eckstrom, she was great to work with.


'Your worship is your furnaces

Which, like old idols, lost obscenes,

Have molten bowels, your visions is

Machines for making more machines.'

     - Gordon Bottomley (1912)


Back to Work

August was a wake-up call, with a flood of new assignments. A few updates, notes and comments on what's been crossing my desk lately.

But mostly pictures.

Section cover for the Wall Street Journal. I worked with art director Daniel Smith on this assignment. Always great to work with. This piece looks at trends and forecasts in areas like web tv, retail, insurance, healthcare, automotive and entertainment. Article here.


The Dangerous Kitchen: everyday hazards you should be aware of. Peter Morance gave me the call on this one, it's an enlightening read. Keep your fingers out of the guacamole. If you read the article, you will understand the full meaning of that advice.

Second in the series here - avoiding food contaminants.

More to post, with a few projects on the go and others waiting to be published.

I begin teaching at Sheridan College tomorrow. An exciting new chapter in my life and career. Wish me luck! 


Bright Lights

Last month I had a television crew at the studio. Interview and filming for an upcoming series about art and artists who work on the boundaries of art. I was nervous going into this, but the crew from Whistlestop put me at ease and made the whole process enjoyable.

I was working on a tight deadline during the filming, turning around sketches for an assignment for the New York Times that day. Trying to get the right expressions on a pair of privileged tots was not going according to plan. That's just how things go, and having to concentrate on getting things right gave me a focus beyond the camera pointed in my direction.



Sometimes getting things right takes a few tries. I think this took 9 rounds in total. I was struggling with baby-like faces and expressions, but in the end, I'm glad that we could work this out, get things right.



You can see the article here. Always great to work with Minh Uong. The starts off with a hoax about genetic testing for preschoolers, that people actually bought into. Competition between parents getting their children into the right preschool is getting more and more intense. How far will things go? This may just be the next step.