Valentine's Day is almost here!
Crayola Color-Your-Own Valentines
I'm often surprised with the Crayola products I find in the stores, especially licensed ones. Color-Your-Own Valentines was a 2009 Valentine's Day release, but I drew the very simplistic "kid-like" artwork for part of a Crayola licensing guide several years earlier. Companies create official guides that not only specify how the logos, the characters, and the company colors should be used, but often supply additional artwork and art direction to assist the vendor in creating licensed products consistent with official branding. These drawing were never specifically intended for Valentines, and can be found on a wide range of products, both seasonal and standard.
The product came with eighteen Valentine cards, eighteen heart-shaped lollipops that slipped into pre-cut holes on the cards, and a cello-pack of four Crayola crayons. It also came in a larger box version with twenty-six cards and lollipop, plus two bonus "Teacher Valentines" printed on the back of the box.
The crayon character (then known as Tip) was also illustrated by me. Prior to the more 3D rendered crayon characters, I designed and illustrated the second incarnation of Tip and his family of friends. I'll be posting my Tip style guide at a later date along with products he appeared on. It's a bigger project with lots to talk about and show, so give me time!
Crayola Mini Coloring Pages
I designed and illustrated the Crayola Mini Coloring Pages in 2014 for a 2015 Valentine's Day release date. I followed the new 3D crayon character style guide for the artwork. This was not a licensed product. It was created directly through Crayola. All the written expressions were supplied to me along with a general direction of how the characters should be posed. This was a pretty basic job, easy tight sketches and then vector line art completed in the computer. My favorites are "My Heart Melts for You!" and the Gump inspired "Love is a Box of Crayons." I was never able to find this box locally as it sold out very quickly, so if anyone has it, let me know. I'd like to add it to my collection.
I am proud to announce that my book The Musical Touch of Leonard Nimoy: His fascinating musical career and discography by Darlene Lacey and Joe Lacey has been nominated for the 2020 Association for Recorded Sound Collections Awards for Excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research. The book is available in print and e-book editions at Amazon.
The winners will be announced by September, and the awards will be presented during a banquet at ARSC’s annual conference in May 2021. Additional information about ARSC, the awards, and this year’s conference may be found at www.arsc-audio.org
ARSC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and study of sound recordings.
The Miller Lite Holiday Village is a large dimensional stand-up I painted as a point-of-purchase display for the Molson Coors Brewing Company. It was roughly four feet long and three feet tall with blinking LED lights. It stood on two large candy cane striped poles with cases of Miller Lite beer beneath it.
I landed the assignment through an ad I placed in an illustrators source guide. There's a long-standing conception that if you show an illustration of a cow, you will get a job illustrating cows but maybe not a horse. Show an illustration of Halloween and you will get jobs illustrating pumpkins, ghosts, and Frankenstein. The illustration I showed was a painting of a Halloween ghost I had done specifically for the ad. I figured I'd get jobs illustrating spooky monsters. The funny thing is, the ad agency and the client liked that I did holiday themed art, even though it wasn't Christmas. They also liked my painting style. So, I guess if you show holiday illustrations you'll get jobs illustrating holiday scenes. Any holiday scenes! Well, that's what happened me and I was surprised as anyone.
I painted the display in six sections using acrylic paint. If I were to do this today, I would probably paint it about half the size I did (shipping it off to the agency was quite a challenge.) It was the first time I had worked on such a large scale advertising assignment. It also led to me being interviewed and featured in the trade book Artist's & Graphic Designer's Market as the subject of their "Insider Report". I believe the display was successful as it was used for two consecutive years. I never saw it in a store, but I finally found one at a large beer distributor a year later and was able to buy one. Sadly, it was lost in one of my many moves. If anyone ever sees it, let me know. I keep looking online, but have yet to find it.
Here's a Halloween item to get you in the mood for ghosts, witches, and black cats.... the Haunted House Shaped Scrapbook and the Pumpkin Patch Shaped Scrapbook from Wilton Industries, makers of baking and specialty party products.
Each book came with 20 patterned pages for kids to use as a scrapbook base (candy corn shapes, bats, etc...) and were roughly 6" x 8", although, I did see some smaller versions as well. The books were bound with heavy metal posts that could be unscrewed for more pages to be added. Originally intended to have low-tech battery light-up LEDs, that feature was dropped, but the die cuts and window openings remained.
I designed four concepts — a black cat, a witch, a skeleton graveyard, and a haunted house. Of these, only the haunted house was chosen to go into production. I was then asked to redesign the skeleton graveyard into a pumpkin patch, which became the second book in the series. There were also two Christmas themed scrapbooks I designed. I'll post those later.
Trick or Treat 365 Coloring Book is on sale now for only $2.99
AVAILABLE AT: Crayola.com , Target, and select retail stores nationwide.
• 64 Silly-Spooky Coloring Pages
• Halloween Sticker Sheet
• Metallic Foil Enhanced Cover!
From the back of the book: Who says it has to be October 31st to enjoy the spooky fun of Halloween? Join the all-year celebration with a ghoulish cast of madcap monsters who just want their mummy. 64 pages. Ages 3+
The holidays are here and we're kicking them off with this really cool coloring book from Crayola! Trick or Treat 365 started off with a brainstorming session over the phone with the creative director at Crayola. "What would the Halloween monsters do when it's NOT Halloween? What if they lived next door to you and me?" These are monsters that have the same life experiences as you and I.
• The Wolfman has a bad hair day...
• When Frankenstein isn't mowing the lawn–he's taking selfies...
• The Mummy has laundry to iron...
• The Skeleton is pumping up at the gym so he can look buff...
• Drac is moonbathing at the beach!
Did I mention that the swamp monster has to take swimming lessons in the baby pool? Well, he does! And you're not the only one who finds this funny! Look for "the laughing ghost" who pops up throughout the book. He thinks all of this is a scream!
The book also has mazes, dot-to-dots, puzzles, and a full color sparkly effect sticker sheet. The pages are perforated for easy removal.
Time to step back in time...
I was playing Brain Salad Surgery by ELP the other day. I thought it would be fun to take a selfie with the cover over half my face. I posted it to social media and of course received many accolades, primarily in the form of "ELP ROCKS!". But, it was really a lot more to me than just a fun selfie.
The cover art* with its gatefold opening is very famous and I don't need to go into any great detail about the amazing artist H.R. Giger, best known for his concept designs for the original Alien movie, nor am I in anyway comparing myself to him. He was and always will be in a class all his own.
Four months before starting college as a freshman, I had undergone major facial reconstructive surgery. My jaw was broken, my chin pretty much removed and reshaped. To this day, I am quite conscious of this experience and have some regrets about it. It all came out well, but it was not without issues that persist to this day. I used to cover my face with my hand a lot when I was young. Here's a photo of me at my college drafting table. Ahh... the days of hand inking.
One of the first assignments for an Introductory Illustration class was to do a self portrait. It's a typical assignment, one I see a lot of. I think it may be a way for the teacher to get a fast glimpse into the mind of the student. I don't recall the exact details of the assignment, we may have had to incorporate some sort of personal element into the portrait. I went out and found an old lawn mower engine and lugged it back to my room. That's where most of the shapes in my self portrait came from. It's a small 8" x 10" acrylic painting. All monochrome. It was one of my first paintings and, despite its naïve approach, it has held up over time and I don't mind seeing it (unlike a lot of other earlier works of mine).
Throughout college I continued exploring mechanical and cubistic interpretations of faces and things for my fine art painting classes. Some of them quite large and typically of friends and other art students. Today, it's pretty obvious why I did this. But at the time I didn't really give it any more thought than "this would be an interesting thing to draw". I always thought I would continue this type of art, but the next thing you know, I'm illustrating for kids! That's another story.
Most of these paintings and drawings are gone now, a few sold, a couple commissioned, and most given away (if anyone reading this has one of my paintings, send me a photo, I'd love to see it! — and no, I don't want it back.), but most of them were destroyed. A couple that survived are more commercial illustrations — a pencil drawing of "Madona and Lizards" and "Good News" (an acrylic painting of George Harrison). I would have benefited from doing more research into mechanical parts, looking at Giger paintings, etc. — but, I tend to put my reference away and make things my own for good or for bad.
So, here they are. A few very old paintings from college days. I'm considering doing a new updated version of this self portrait. My painting has gotten a lot better since college. Maybe even the George Harrison painting? Quite a few of the ideas I had in college were good, I just had trouble pulling them off. I've always said and firmly believe that it's the idea that matters, not how slick something is rendered. Time to get painting. Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends!
* The ELP cover art by H.R. Giger was stolen at an exhibit in 2005 and is still missing.
New from Diner Mighty Graphics. Fun 6" x 9" sports-themed books for kids with colorful glossy covers!
Available now at Amazon.com
Bowling Scoring Made Fun!
Who's that cool dude on the lane?! Why, it's Alley Gator, and he loves to bowl! And he's here to teach you how to score! Have you sat at a bowling alley and watched the automatic scorer total up each game without fully understanding how or why these numbers popped up on the screen? Are you tired of asking someone else to keep score for you? Whether you're a kid or an adult - 9 or 99 years old, The Alley Gator Bowling Book is for you!
The "Cat's Meow" of Bowling Score Pads!
Who's that cool cat on the lane?! Why, it's Alley Cat! The Alley Cat Bowling Score Pad: With 100 Score Sheets is a fun and charming bowling score pad for kids and adults. The custom-designed score sheets are easy to read and keep score on for up to six players per game. The book also comes with 10 note pages to keep track of your bowling games, personal notes and memories!
Who’s the pup who never gives up?
It’s Slam Dunk Dog, basketball’s MVP — Most Valuable Pup! Slam Dunk Dog loves to chase down balls and hound other players with his moves above the rim. If you love basketball the way he does, you’ll love his notebook. This 100 page lined notebook has basketball terms and pictures from start to finish. Perfect for every basketball fan.
Who’s the All-Star that never bats a foul and is never called “chicken”?
It’s Home Run Rooster, and baseball is his game! If you love baseball the way he does, you’ll love his notebook. This 100 page lined notebook looks like a baseball and has baseball terms and pictures from start to finish. Perfect for every baseball fan who has America’s Pastime on the mind — even in the off-season!
Bubble Gum Tattoos With a Bite!
I've been on a bit of a nostalgia kick the past few months. Probably from watching old episodes of Beverly Hills 90210. You see, Brandon just broke up with Kelly, Donna is still with Ray and Dylan is...oh sorry! Back to the point of this article --
Ultra Tattoo Champ was another one of my very early commercial projects from the 90s for Richardson Brands, best known for Beechies Gum*, Richardson Mints and rock candy. During this time, they manufactured a sizable series of these temporary tattoo packs. Sold in foil packs and in large 180 piece tubs for individual purchase at 5¢ each, the tattoos were wrapped around a piece of gum inside a wax wrapper. The gum had another selling point for kids beyond the tattoos — purple gum turned the mouth purple, green gum turned the mouth green, and... you get the idea. I illustrated two lines for this series, Vicious Animals and Sports. For this article, I'm showing my favorite of the two, Vicious Animals!
*Beechies Gum was originally made by the Beech-Nut Company and introduced in 1933. Richardson Mints have been made sine 1893. They also make a product called Gravy Master which has nothing to do with bubble gum or candy, although, a gravy flavored gum would probably be a big seller! There's my free million dollar idea.
This is the complete set of Vicious Animals tattoos. Each tattoo is roughly 2.5 inches tall and 1 inch wide. I don't recall exactly how Richardson Brands had contacted me, but I do remember driving to their office in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania twice, once to show my portfolio and once to deliver the art. I met with the art director, was given samples of previous tattoos, and some gum that I chewed on my drive back home.
Over 25 years later, these tattoos still work and still look pretty cool! No, I did not eat the gum.
The original art was painted with gouache on bristol board at 300% reproduction size. They worked really well at the tiny 1 inch tattoo size and were remarkably bright and colorful! The original art is owned by Richardson Brands and all I have are 35mm slides. I had enough sense to have taken shots of most of my work back then as I never liked sending the art away, never to see it again. It was a lot tougher to keep good records of my artwork prior to digital scans and photos. It took A LOT MORE TIME but it was well worth it!
I did quite a few sketches for project. They were done pretty quickly as I remember in order to meet the deadline. The art director sent a good amount of them back asking for "more blood" and everything that went along with it, which made me really happy!
I look at these today and only wish I could do them all again! I'd add EVEN MORE GORE! C'mon Topp's, give me a call! I can do this!
Here he is — the Tattoo Champ! ready to chew gum and kick butt! Kinda looks like Steve Sanders!
The foil packs came with an XL big tattoo 3.5 inches by 2.5 inches. I bought about five or six packs to get one of my illustrations. Glad it was the piranha, they're cute!
I produce illustrations and creative idea solutions for toys, packaging, publishing and advertising. I'm also a writer and fine art painter.
• MFA, Syracuse University