December 24, 2012


This is Christmas Day, 1983.

Like any boy growing up, I went through phases. I had an outer-space phase, a dinosaurs phase, a cars-and-trucks-and-things-that-go phase. In 1983 I was heading full on into my road map phase, but at the time my meagre stockpile included maps of only Manitoba and Ontario (and granted, it was all the world I was familiar with).

That Christmas I'd asked Santa for a road map of every province and territory of Canada. I wish I could remember whether I jotted it down in a note, or if I asked my mom to relay the message. Times were tight for us then, but I'd hoped to the stars above that a stretched-thin and busy Santa Claus would be able to accommodate my complex request.

He delivered. Santa was out of Newfoundland maps, but I was OK with it. I hadn't expected ones of Yukon and the Northwest Territories, and he'd pulled that off. And to make up for the incomplete set, he'd included a Manitoba Vacation Guide and a collection of other local brochures.
I realized years later, road maps of other provinces were available free of charge at the tourist bureau in the Legislative Building.*
The next year I entered into my rocks-and-minerals stage. That Christmas I asked Santa for a box of different rocks.

* This is no longer the case.

December 17, 2012

274: The Icicle Thief

the icicle thief
We spent time this summer building a slideshow in honour of Kerry's parents' anniversary (me: scanning and designing; she, sneaking and supplying from their archives). We came across a photograph from the early 1980s of Kerry in her snowsuit, sucking an icicle outside of the family cottage. While it struck me as merely adorable, I realized when the first snow fell this winter that the photo would serve as perfect reference material for this year's Christmas card.

The image itself (below) is very pleasing. The clothing and film grain suggest a different era, but one not so long ago. In these wintry parts warmth still overpowers style for small kids – parents will, ideally, see to that until the end of time – but the utilitarian navy-blue suit with yellow striping has been largely replaced by shock pink and chichi snowboarder chic. I fear sometimes that icicle-suckery will go the way of tree-climbing and playing outside until dusk. I hope this isn't so, and I'm doing my part: I sucked on an icicle a few weekends ago while cross-country skiing. It was satisfying and thirst-quenching. And I hope that, one day, our kid will also suck on icicles.

Our Christmas card also doubles as a submission to Illustration Friday – which I haven't partaken in for some time – for their theme-of-the-week of snow. For those checking in via Illustration Friday, thanks for stopping by; this piece was drawn exclusively with a black Pigma brush pen, then scanned, coloured and stylized in Photoshop. You can click here for a closer, more detailed look-see.

December 09, 2012

273: Mo Money, Mo Monstaz

I recently completed a large freelance illustration assignment, a second go-around with three monster characters I'd developed for a local agency in 2011. The work was spread out over the summer and fall, and was a rewarding experience to reacquaint myself with the characters after more than a year apart.

The biggest difference this time was not having to develop characters from scratch, and in this sense it was like sliding my feet into a comfy pair of slippers. I was able to continue developing and exploring the characters' personalities, and their limits. And from a purely structural standpoint, the monsters were released from full-page comic-strip panels they'd been largely constricted to their first time out, in favour of more floating, spot-style illustrations and other 'border-less' scenarios. 

This became liberating and, combined with a greater familiarity and confidence in drawing the characters, made for a pretty smooth (and fun) ride. (A side note: the basic colouring and texturing done here was for the purposes of offering some vibrancy to this blog post. In reality, I handled only the character development and inking.)

I'd mentioned it the first time around, that I found myself gobsmacked at the prospect of drawing monsters for money. Completing this job has me closing my eyes and smiling at the very idea of it.