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.
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.
The BIG Silly Putty
I was watching Seinfeld last night with my wife. The episode was The Big Salad. I saw it when it first aired on September 29, 1994. Since then, I've probably seen this episode countless times — in reruns and in the DVD box set Seinfeld: The Complete Series. Let's face it, I'm a fan and have studied this show in minute detail. So, it was a total shock when watching The Big Salad for the umpteenth time when my wife shouted out, "That's your Silly Putty packaging!" WHAT?! I grabbed the remote, stepped the scene back and sure enough, there it was! All this time, Fluorescent Silly Putty hanging in the stationary store where Elaine had gone to buy a very expensive Rolamech 1000 mechanical pencil for Mr. Pitt. It's high on a shelf right behind the stationery store clerk. The clerk, by the way, is very interested in Elaine and she soon finds herself trying to elude his romantic advances.
The scene (the entire show) is very funny. I blame this for the reason I never caught the Silly Putty before. I'm always looking at TV and movie scenes for products or odd-ball stuff. But this time, Larry David had me sucked into the story and the characters a little too much.
To have this particular packaging appear even incidentally in a Seinfeld episode is such a thrill! Silly Putty was my first major toy packaging commission. I designed and illustrated four blister cards in this series — Classic Silly Putty, Fluorescent Silly Putty, Glow-In-The Dark Silly Putty, and Glitter Silly Putty. These packages appear to be extremely rare. I have searched the internet for several years and have yet to see them posted anywhere. I've never even seen them for sale on eBay! But now I've seen them on Seinfeld!
It's nice, too, that set people on Seinfeld chose Fluorescent Silly Putty. Of the four packages, it has the most distinctive 90s graphics. It fits really well into this time period. Nothing else is Silly Putty and nothing else is Seinfeld. I think it goes really well with a Big Salad!
Go HERE for more detailed information about my work on the Silly Putty series.
In another surprise moment, I spotted the Crayola Travel Color 'n Rub packaging just as Jerry and Elaine are leaving the stationary store! I illustrated all the characters for this package, too! WOW! I quickly jumped to the deleted scene included with the DVD hoping, wishing it would be Jerry saying, "Look Elaine! Silly Putty!" — It wasn't there, but I like to think it was shot and just ended up on the cutting room floor.
It's not just a coloring book, it's a full experience! The Crayola Signature Coloring Songbook: Lyrics by Lennon & McCartney includes a "4-panel wall art piece". Each page is perforated and can be pulled out and taped together to measure 32" wide, or 40" tall (if you stack it top to bottom) when assembled!
My first idea for the pull-out poster sections was to create a globe image in four sections with All You Need Is Love circling the earth. The border was to be the word "love" repeated in twenty different languages. I took this idea directly from the "Our World" press event in which the Beatles wore sandwich boards hand painted with All You Need Is Love in multiple languages to promote the event. The following day, on June 25th, 1967 the Beatles performed All You Need Is Love as part of the "Our World" satellite broadcast. Unfortunately, the foreign languages were omitted from my designs due to too many translation issues. The globe looked good as a single image, but I just couldn't get it to break down nicely into the four segments and still have each page stand nicely on its own. So, I was back to the drawing board.
My second idea, and the one that you see here, was to make it look like a blacklight hippie poster from the '60s. The style is a bit different from the rest of the coloring book, but I felt that was the right way to approach it — make it something unique and special. Also, what if someone would like to put it above a door, or down the wall like a full length mirror? To do this, the poster needed to fit together in as many ways as possible — horizontally, vertically, square, or staggered. This was easy enough, given that each section was a single letter, but they needed to work as a unit as well, so with the addition of a decorative border, the mural can connect at the corners. Each letter also had its own color scheme and theme: "L" hearts — "O" musical notes — "V" flowers — "E" peace signs.
The added touch that I like the most is the inclusion of the incidental background lyrics — "It's Easy!", "All Together Now!", "Everybody!", and "She Loves You Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!". A fun way to get two more song references into the book and stick to the supplied list of approved songs.* In the end, this new design captured the feel from the "Our World" event better than my first idea. I hope kids are taping this poster on their walls!
You can read more about my work for The Crayola Coloring Songbook: Lyrics by Lennon and McCartney here.
The book is available for purchase at Amazon and Crayola.
*Neither All Together Now, nor She Loves You were included in the official licensing list of approved Lennon & McCartney songs, but since both these songs' lyrics were included in All You Need Is Love, I was able to put them on the poster.
Bling It On!, a new adult coloring book that I designed and illustrated for Crayola is now available for purchase in stores, on Amazon, and directly from Crayola. It's the second in the Art With Edge—Just Sayin' series. Some of the pages have really cool gold foil and gold ink.
Each page of the book has an inspirational message or affirmation. I wanted to tie these phrases into the glamour aspect of the book by including lots of jewels and diamond shapes - you know, BLING! The book has a fun high school vibe to it with quite a bit of visual variety. Whenever I work on any project, I can't help but try to include a few characters here and there. That's what made it really fun to work on. It's out now, so go get one!
Designing the Cover for the "Lyrics by Lennon & McCartney" Coloring Songbook by Crayola
Covers are very important. And in the long line of books about The Beatles, you really want to stand out. The first draft for the cover of the Lyrics by Lennon & McCartney Coloring Songbook was an internal mock-up by the Crayola Design Department using a rough sketch of my Good Day Sunshine illustration. Later, this sketch was taken to a full finish for the inside of the book. It's typical for publishers to get the general look of the books ready in order to present the proof of concept to potential resellers; that, being a coloring book of Beatles lyrics.
This cover was very much a collaborative effort between me and the designers at Crayola. Sometimes these first or second drafts make their way as sales samples or as online images prior to the completion of the book (that's why you often see discrepancies between online images and the final product you hold in your hand. This cover went through several revisions, ultimately becoming a collage of images from selected coloring pages.
The first cover I worked on prominently featured Prudence (from the song Dear Prudence). The first layout for the cover was started prior to completing all 40 interior pages and again, was used as a sales sample. You can see that much of the art on the first cover was rough sketches. Once all the interior pages were completed, I went back to work on the refining the cover. The designs became more and more complex — just to see how much I could fit in and still make it look nice. There was a lot of back and forth with the art director at Crayola and it finally got pulled together into design with a strong focal point.
I think I did about four or five cover variations before we landed on the one you see today. I sent the final artwork to Crayola with all the Photoshop layers intact, knowing they would need to adjust the art in case of any production changes... the biggest change being the hierarchy of logos and titles. The primary name of the book became The Crayola Signature Coloring Songbook in order to accommodate future books in the series, whether it be Lennon & McCartney or other musical acts.
The cover layout and the back of the book were completed in-house at Crayola. When I got my first copy, I was very happy to see what a great job they did adding hand coloring. I don't think I would have done it any better!
The First Beatles Coloring Book - 1964
1964 - The Beatles Official Coloring Book by The Saalfield Publishing Company
The first licensed Beatles coloring book came out in 1964 by Saalfield Publishing and was intended for an American audience. The coloring pages focus on the Beatles' first visit to America, the products kids could buy, and promoting the American versions of their albums. Some of the pages are actual photographs of the Fab Four. The book is very straightforward in its design, with simplistic but well done inkings meant for very young kids. I love the cover — the colors, the fonts... it really stands out. Printed before I was born, and I finally got my own copy a month ago. A few pages in the book were beautifully colored by some young Beatles fans back in 1964.
Illustrated Lyrics by Alan Aldridge
1969 - The Beatles Illustrated Lyrics by Alan Aldridge
This book was and is a major influence on me. Alan Aldridge was an amazing artist who illustrated and designed rock posters, magazines, books, and record album covers for or about The Beatles, Elton john, The Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan to name a few. The way he interprets the lyrics is a uniquely psychedelic approach that is his alone. I was about twelve years old when I got a copy of this book. If my mom had any idea how truly "adult" most of this book is, she would have probably taken it away from me. I'm glad she didn't. In high school, I tried to paint a copy of the cover. I failed miserably. Alan Aldridge is a tough act to follow.
And in the end...
Besides being influenced by Alan Aldridge, I had other images in mind for the Crayola book.
With everything that had come before and in addition to not being able to use any existing Beatles likenesses or imagery — I went out of my way to make my interpretations of The Lyrics by Lennon & McCartney as unique as possible.
You can read more about my work for The Crayola Coloring Songbook: Lyrics by Lennon and McCartney here.
The book is available for purchase at Amazon and Crayola.
Crayola Signature Coloring Songbook: Lyrics by Lennon & McCartney
36 premium 8” x 10” line art coloring sheets plus a full color, 4-panel wall art piece.
The book is available for purchase Amazon or Crayola.
When Crayola contacted me to ask if I'd interested in working on this book, I practically jumped out of my chair! Are you kidding?! I was on cloud nine. About a week later, I received all the specs from the licensing agency and I was ready to go.
The challenge creating the art for this book was the stipulation that I couldn’t use any preexisting Beatles imagery or likenesses. Everything had to be my original interpretations — something less common for officially licensed products, especially for a project of this size. I embraced this "restriction" as it allowed me to take the book in a direction that totally new. What I learned about the lyrics of Lennon & McCartney is that there are so many numerous ways to depict them. I could have done twelve different illustrations for each song!
I was given a list of 50 songs to pick from. The book is made up of 37 Lennon & McCartney songs — All You Need Is Love is a full-color, four page wall mural! I wish I could have illustrated the almost 180 songs they had written together because when I got to the last few pages, I was sad that this project was coming to an end. It was so much fun to work on, and all the people at Crayola could not have been more supportive and enthusiastic about this book. I wanted it to go on forever! There's also four pages — Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite, Yellow Submarine, and Revolution — that are color enhanced for even more coloring fun!
To say I'm a Beatles fan is putting it modestly. I bought my first Beatles record when I was in fifth grade, and for four more years that's all I bought. I listened to the Beatles, I drew pictures of the Beatles, I basically thought about the Beatles every day. I listened to some of those records so much, I had to buy new copies because they were getting worn out! I still have all of them. I think I'll go play some now. I hope Paul McCartney likes the book. I hope you like the book.
Here's the stories behind eight of the illustrated pages:
I AM THE WALRUS
There were so many ways to illustrate this song. I was quite nervous working on it, since it’s such an amazing musical achievement. In the end, I decided to go for a theatrical feel. This song was first released in 1967 as a double — A side single with HELLO GOODBYE by The Beatles.
WHEN I’M SIXTY-FOUR
This was the first page of the book I illustrated. It has a Victorian feel to it, which was very popular in the 1960s. One of the first songs Paul McCartney wrote, when he was only sixteen, it was reworked by John and Paul in 1967 for the album SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND.
I wanted this page to have a real hippie, nature feel to it. This song is from The Beatles’ 1968 WHITE ALBUM and is based on Prudence Farrow, sister of actress Mia Farrow, who was with the Beatles in India while studying with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
This is definitely the one the of the strangest illustrations in the book and one that was a lot of fun to work on. Lennon started this as a campaign song for Timothy Leary's run for governor of California against Ronald Reagan in 1969.
“The thing was created in the studio. It's gobbledygook; Come Together was an expression that Leary had come up with for his attempt at being president or whatever he wanted to be, and he asked me to write a campaign song. I tried and tried, but I couldn't come up with one. But I came up with this, Come Together, which would've been no good to him - you couldn't have a campaign song like that, right?” ~ John Lennon
DRIVE MY CAR
I wanted this page to be like one of those “WIN THIS BICYCLE!” sweepstakes that appeared so often in the back of comic books. The swirling hair that becomes part of the floor, the smile and eyelashes on the car, were all meant to imply the car and the girl are one in the same. Written in 1965, McCartney said this song was lyrically "one of the stickiest" writing sessions he and Lennon had worked on.
Most of this book stayed very close to my original vision. PENNY LANE started out as mostly text and a small scene of stores and street lamps. I gave it some serious thought and decided all the characters should be a part of the nurse’s “play” that is going on in her head — “she feels as if she's in a play / she is anyway”. I posed my wife for reference and I ended up with one of the coolest pages in this book. McCartney wrote this song based on scenes and characters from Penny Lane, an actual street in Liverpool. Originally intended for inclusion on the album SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND, the song was released in 1967 as a double — A side with STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER.
This is possibly my favorite Beatles song (which is why I drew myself as the main character). It was fun to include as many references in the song as possible. The two-finger typing method depicted in the illustration is a nod to author Mickey Spillane, famous for his Mike Hammer crime novels. It’s a song that starts and just keeps going! McCartney wrote PAPERBACK WRITER in 1966 after he read an article in the Daily Mail about an aspiring book author.
TICKET TO RIDE
I saw this one visually more surrealistic than the song actually implies. I focused on the lines "living with me is bringing her down", "she would never be free" and "she's riding so high" to depict her as an uncaged bird. It has a nice comic book romance feel to it. Although the song is obviously about a relationship that has ended sadly, there are several conflicting interpretations of the song that you can research online for yourself. Released in 1965, TICKET TO RIDE became the Beatles' seventh consecutive number 1 hit single in the UK.
BEING FOR THE BENEFIT OF MR. KITE
John Lennon wrote the song in 1967 based on an actual circus poster from 1843. I paid homage to this by including the same classic Greek styled border around the page. It was my first choice to be one of the four color enhanced pages from this book.
LUCY IN THE SKY WITH DIAMONDS
I wanted to do a kind of Art Nouveau style on this illustration. It's another page in the book that does not have the title of the song in the picture and because of this, it's more about the scene and what is happening. I never planned on putting as many references into the picture as I did. Wish this page was a poster! i could have done all of them! John Lennon said his inspiration for the song came from a drawing his son Julian brought home from nursery school and that much of the imagery was inspired by Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland books. The song was written in 1967 for the album SGT. PEPPER'S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND.
"Listen to the color of your dreams" ~ Tomorrow Never Knows / Lennon & McCartney
Just in time for Halloween! The Crayola BOOklet was the first time my digital artwork started to look the way I saw it in my head. Before this, I was doing mostly vector art and traditional painting - primarily airbrush. BOOklet was a crash course in digital art and an incredible rush to finish. I started on the 5th of March and finished on the 25th of March, 2002. That's twenty days to write all the activities, design the pages, and finish the art.
BOOklet was a free in-store giveaway with the purchase of two Crayola products. Fourteen pages of craft projects and five pages of activities I wrote and illustrated, plus the cover, and a store riser display.
My favorite page is "It's Alive!", a cut-out mobile dangler of Frankenstein coming to life on a laboratory table. I can't say it was my idea, however. In grade school, one of our class projects at Thanksgiving was to make a scarecrow dangler out of construction paper and yarn. I loved it then, so why wouldn't kids love it today! I still have my scarecrow dangler. He makes me happy.
So, here's the art, the sketches and some stuff that never made it in the book. Happy Halloween!
In-Store Riser Display
The riser was placed above a display of selected Crayola products, Model Magic, Gel Clings, crayons, and markers. I never saw this in the store and I don't have a printed copy of it. Always wanted one. The moon was left blank for the art department to fill with text, probably something like this — FREE BOOklet! While Supplies Last! The book had instructions on how to make the "Bouncing Eyeball" that Dracula is holding and Frankenstein's "Paper Bag Pumpkin Patch". There were also "Ghostly Goodie Bags", "Creepy Spider Web Doorways", and "Jolly Jack-O'-Lantern" craft ideas.
Alternate Unused Sketches
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