I consider myself fortunate to be able to do what I love in order to pay the bills. So when I have the opportunity to work with talented and creative people, it’s a bonus. And a very enjoyable one.
Last year my friend Mark Peters asked me to illustrate his book Bullshit: A Lexicon, which was a blast to do. Soon after, Cathy Salit asked me if I wanted to draw cartoons for a book she was writing about how learning the principles of improv can boost your job performance. I was happy to say yes.
Cathy is the CEO of Performance of Lifetime, a group of individuals grounded in improvisational theatre who help companies to take their work to the next level through an understanding of performance. A few of us cartoonists had performed at a POAL event, so I knew her already. She told me that the book was based on the Becoming Principle, the paradoxical idea that we don’t discover who our authentic selves are until we are allowed to play and improvise, trying on different roles in life.
I’ve never taken an improv class, but I knew that one of the core ideas is that, by saying “yes, and…” to your teammates (and by them saying it to you) you can safely venture past your self-imposed limits and into unexplored territory. I told Cathy that, although she might have initially hired me to read the chapters and then draw cartoons reflecting the concepts within them, I thought it would be fun to try something which honored the spirit of the book – something improvisational. Maybe something I, or we, had never done before, kind of figuring it out as we go. Maybe create a new form of illustration!
I met with Cathy and her team and we came up with a bunch of interesting ideas click here to read the rest of this post
Who says Twitter isn’t good for anything? I met Mark Peters there a few years ago, we traded some ideas about collaborating in addition to stupid jokes, and then something cool happened: Mark wrote a book, I illustrated it, and it’s now a real thing you can buy. Bullshit: A Lexicon was just published by Three Rivers Press, a division of Penguin.
Mark’s a terrifically funny guy in general, having written for McSweeney’s, among others, but he is also an etymologist with a PhD in English. So you could say he knows what he’s joking about. As soon as he told me he wanted to write kind of a dictionary of all the synonyms for “bullshit,” I said yeah – that sounds like a winner to me.
It’s out just in time for the holidays, wink wink! And according to my calculations, the world is never, ever going to run out of bullshit, so it will always be relevant. And if you want to know how to work a word like codswallop into your next TED talk, then you’ll find this book incredibly useful.
Because the words are all very similar in meaning, I had to be pretty literal with the illustrations, and I tried to do the whole book without resorting to drawing actual crap. For some reason I really like this drawing I did of a piece of tripe, for the entry for tripe, naturally:
But I thought I’d share some of the things that didn’t make it into the book. This was me fooling around with click here to read the rest of this post
I did my first magazine cover last fall, for this hotel trade magazine (which just went to press). It was a nice change to work in color instead of black and white, but it can be intimidating – there are almost twenty different colors out there that you can work with, I bet. back me up on this, illustrators! It was also refreshing in that I had to show something besides an obvious sight gag. So, no talking elephants at bars. The image had to match the tone of the article, which was a fairly straightforward piece about what American hotel chains are doing to appeal to foreign travelers.
A snapshot of the working process is below. At first I drew a single business traveler, then we decided upon a family instead. Also, my gestures (like the man with the remote) were initially a bit too overstated. And after dropping in the logo of a specific airline on the shopping bag, we decided it would be better to show a fictional airline, whose logo I had to create. My friend commented that it reminded her of Adrian Tomine, which I was pretty happy about. It all worked out in the end, don’t you think?
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