The Chronicle of Higher Education is a favorite client of mine. As an educator as well as illustrator, perhaps the articles they send through often hit close to home. In this particular piece, called "Why People Kill," the author explored the roots of man's violence towards man.
 My first two ideas explored possible mythological origins of violence (of which there are many).
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 Despite all of the ink spilled on the subject, conclusions are, well, inconclusive...
 Finally, I opted to approach the subject more graphically, doodling a tangled mob of body parts with a questioning head peeking out at the top, looking at the reader as if to ask: "Why"?
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 Another piece for the Chronicle of Higher Education. This article examined the challenges college president's face when trying to protect students' First Amendment rights in an age of potentially violent campus protests.
 As I often do, I began this assignment by casting the main character (in this case, a college president).
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 Early on I tried an abstract/vignetted concept where the college president is tangled up below the knees.
 When this project came through I had a number of pages for a personal project on my drawing table with abstract blobs and scrapes of paint applied to them. I wondered what would happen if I dropped our college president onto a couple of these sheets...
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 I wasn't sure what either of these concepts meant, necessarily, but those are often the kinds of images I'm most attracted to.
 I cut part of a crowd scene out of a sketchbook I was keeping at the time and placed them opposite our college professor. Then I added the paper airplane.
 And as is often the case, the paper airplane motif metastasized.
 The art director offered a couple of suggestions for the crowd scene idea so I made some adjustments to that sketch.
 The finished art.
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 Both the art director and I had liked this earlier, abstract sketch, too. I had a little bit of time left before they went to press so I fleshed out the earlier idea, too, and e-mailed him both pieces just for the fun of it.
 In my teens and twenties I was seriously addicted to playing the game of basketball. I've since retired, but perhaps the art director at the Johns Hopkins University Gazette somehow knew about my former obsession.
 The feature story was about a weekly pick-up game of basketball at the School of Medicine involving current students, alumni and faculty. My first sketch was conceptual in nature (old and young players going toe-to-toe).
 But as I doodled around I thought that this piece might be more interesting (and fun) if I made it more about shapes and form and less about concept.
 I don't always incorporate color into my sketches, but with these color felt like a useful organizing tool.
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 The final inked drawing based on the sketch the client chose.
 At the time (2015) I was playing around with using the computer to digitally incorporate traditional elements of color into my ink line drawings. 
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 Coloring a head of hair is more complicated than you might think...
 Even my signature was stitched into the piece digitally(!).
 The finished art.
 Every illustrator I know still gets excited when they see their work in print.
 Over the past several years, when a project permits, I've been experimenting quite a bit with different combinations of mediums (acrylic paint, collages elements, pen and ink, etc). The drawn pen and ink line tends to be the thread that runs through all of the work.
 Malibu magazine e-mailed with an assignment that required a double-page illustration. The article was about Los Angeles-style traffic congestion creeping up the Pacific Coast Highway. Because of the magazine's relatively small budget, I decided to take the opportunity to do something more experimental in terms of final execution. As with most jobs, I began with a couple of pages of very rough thumbnail sketches.
 The coast along the PCH is popular with surfers. My first idea had a surfer catching a wave of traffic headed north, out of Los Angeles.
 Here a beach-bum halts the traffic with casual, super-human strength.
 Same idea as the previous sketch, only this one's in stereo.
 A more organic wave of traffic being less-successfully held back.
 A pedestrian up the proverbial tree.
 This sketch seemed to satisfy the requirements of the assignment pretty well, but I usually do one more sketch when I reach this point.
 This little character was from a sketchbook. I plopped him down on the page, standing in-between a wall of traffic and the Pacific Coast Highway. Makes no real sense, conceptually, but maybe that's why I like it.
 And then, because the project's budget was quite small, I offered to hand-letter the article's headline and credits, too(!).
 Hand-lettering anything usually takes a ton of passes on the copy.
 To be clear, the title of this article was "NO WAY OUT" (these pages weren't some sort of cry for help as my wife feared they might be when she came into the studio and saw all of these pages strewn across the floor)...
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 The part of the iceberg below the surface that nobody ever sees...
 In this piece I tried something new...
 ...I scanned the simple drawings of the cars and trucks, added some simple color in Photoshop, printed them out on archival paper and collaged them into the final hybrid drawing/painting.
 The finished traditional/digital hybrid on my studio easel.
 As it appeared in Malibu magazine with the hand-lettering incorporated.
 In January 2016 North Dakota State University's football team won their fifth consecutive national championship. This was a very big deal. And while I'm not an alumni of the school, I've worked with the University's magazine for nearly 20 years and was thrilled to be asked to contribute something to this landmark issue of their school's semi-annual publication.
 My initial conversations with the magazine's editor suggested that we work on the idea of community, ie, behind the team's success was a vast and enthusiastic support system. One possible take on this idea was a football player assuming a sort of Heisman Trophy stance, with more than one arm cradling the game ball. 
 Carson Wentz, NDSU's quarterback, was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles with the number two pick in the 2016 NFL draft.
 Carson Wentz and I both graduated from Century High School in Bismarck, North Dakota.
 I often find that working in small, pocket-sized sketchbooks when working up initial thumbnail sketches is useful. This idea involved a cheering crowd of loyal Bison fans riding on their school's mascot's back.
 Perhaps something as quiet as a still-life, featuring a folded hooded sweatshirt with the school's logo on the chest, could be a poignant conceptual solution.
 This idea had a smiling fan in the middle of a like-minded crowd, but the concept didn't work without a little hint of color...
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 With these thumbnails I applied fields of color to separate pages of the small, pocket-sized sketchbook and incorporated the color into the thumbnail sketches digitally.
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 In the Fall of 2000 I painted a large bison for the cover of the inaugural issue of NDSU's magazine. After further discussion with the magazine's editor, we wondered if revisiting this more straight-forward approach to depicting the school's mascot might not suit the current issue really well.
 And so I began doodling bison, focusing solely on form and shape and not paying much attention to concept at all.
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 The simple addition of the confetti (in the school's colors) gave the image a graphic, celebratory feel. But we weren't quite there yet in terms of finding the right bison for this job.
 So I tried a couple more. (This one felt too goofy.)
 This one was nearly there, but the back leg came across as too spindly and the hump on the bison's back was a bit too pronounced.
 Hump and legs were getting there. One more pass...
 The legs looked good, but the hump needed to be tamed still further.
 We did it! Sketch approved/time to enlarge, transfer to watercolor paper and draw.
 Sometimes, finished sketches are so resolved that there is little variation from the sketch to the finished drawing. In terms of execution for the finished drawing here, I've used a steel brush pen made by Speedball (out of Philadelphia!). It's a pen nib of sorts, but wasn't built to make drawings like this. That's why I like to use it: It gives the lines character, sort of like a singer's vibrato, or the shape of a note blown through a wind instrument.
 And because I wanted more control in terms of placement of the confetti, I made that with watercolor on separate sheets of paper which were then combined with the original pen and ink drawing in Photoshop. 
 Best of luck to the North Dakota State University Bison next season!
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 AVENUES: THE WORLD SCHOOL is a progressive new private school in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood.
 In the spring of 2016 I was commissioned to draw a class portrait, commemorating the first graduating class from the school.
 Though this piece would ultimately be about the 55 individual graduating seniors, I thought I might give the group portrait a slight conceptual element by placing them all at a street corner crosswalk (alluding to the school's name, "Avenues," and hinting at the fact that the students were about to cross the street, metaphorically, in their young lives).
 During their frantic end-of-year preparations I visited the school to shoot reference material of most of the seniors.
 Not all of the seniors were available the day I was at the school shooting reference so I relied on simple yearbook photos for those portraits.
 There was an extremely tight deadline for this project (about a week) so I had to be very methodical in building the group portrait. I began by drawing every student in the class based on the collected reference material.
 I then scanned each of the tight sketches, selected the line work and dragged them onto a Photoshop canvas the same size as the final drawing would be (approximately 22" x 30"). Even chaotic crowd scenes ought to have some sort of rhythmic logic to them.
 Once I'd established a design that felt good I printed it out and transferred it onto the 22" x 30" sheet of 300lb hot-pressed Fabriano watercolor paper to begin the final drawing.
 Even the cross-walk signal was carefully incorporated into the final drawing(!).
 The finished drawing up on the easel in my studio.
 I take care with all of the commissions that come through my studio, but I'm not sure I've ever been quite as methodical with a project as this one required me to be.
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 Much like seeing your work printed in a newspaper or magazine, there's a satisfaction in seeing an original drawing framed and on the client's wall. 
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