I sculpt, occasionally, in alabaster, soapstone and wood, with forays into lost wax casting in bronze. Although I was for a time an Associate Coin and Medal Designer (through the Artistic Infusion Program) for the United States Mint, I was not a sculptor, but instead provided design drawings for their sculptors in Philadelphia.
For a friend's Bat Mitzvah in South Africa in 2011, I carved this menorah from Israeli olivewood and copper tubing. It's about 10" x 6" x 2". Its simple shape was surprisingly difficult to achieve.
My friend Dahinda was ill, and I made him a small (3” x 3”) Buddha out of soapstone. We rather irreverently called it Buddha Boy. It was designed to be a tactile comfort, and apparently he was holding it when he died. 2014.
My daughter had a thing for hedgehogs, and if they hadn’t been illegal in California she would have had several as pets. So instead I made her one out of soapstone — Henry. 2013.
For a friend I carved this menorah, also from Israeli olivewood. Olivewood is as hard as ebony to carve, and smells of burned olive oil when sawn or sanded. I wanted an organic look, and came up with the tree. Green candles, even though they should probably have been blue, symbolized its leaves. Inlaid around each branch was silver wire. 10" x 8" x 3", 1980.
In 2007 I was taking my daughter to our nearest beach at that time, Seal Beach, when I realized they lacked a significant sign at the gateway to its old town. I came up with this design and submitted it to their city council, but heard nothing back. Lately I've been trying to generate a grassroots support through the local papers.
A friend lost his much-loved Chow Chow, and it took me a while, but I carved him this in black soapstone. I liked it so much I had it copied in bronze before I sent it off. 3" x 3", 2016.
Our family's much-loved dog Mocha, in her winter curl. Unidentified wood burl. 6" diameter.
Buddha 1, bronze. 2006. 2.5" tall.
My book “The Office Manual,” (Two Heads, UK, 1993), featured illustrations in a style I think of as “battered line,” looking like something Xeroxed a dozen times. This one, “The Evolution of Office Work,” depicts the drudgery of working through the centuries, something of which I’ve always been keenly aware.
"The History Of Love," one of the woodcut-style illustrations from my book "The Love Manual," (Two Heads, UK, 1995) and "Dating, Mating, Relating" (Longmeadow, US, 1995). The Love Manual became quite popular in the UK, possibly due to a double-page spread review in The Sun newspaper, which at that time had a readership of 13 million.
Around 1980, before I learned how to recreate the look of a woodcut without actually carving one, I made this real woodcut for a church whose choir I sang in for several years. I don't believe they ever used it.
“The Cat In Art,” a brush illustration for my book “Cat’s Eye View” (Two Heads, UK, 1994), “The Cat Manual” (Longmeadow, US, 1995), supposedly showing how the cat has been depicted in different ages. I enjoyed researching the various styles of art.
“The first and only experiment with guide cats for the blind,” a brush illustration for my book “Cat’s Eye View” (Two Heads, UK, 1994), “The Cat Manual” (Longmeadow, US, 1995). I was already thoroughly experienced in Illustrator by this time, but I’ve never liked its brushes. This kind of illustration was made with a small sable brush and ink, scanned in and manipulated digitally.
Logo for my magazine column, “Ask Smudge” (1996), in which Smudge answers pets’ letters with jaded and sarcastic responses. Never sold.
Brush illustration to announce the birth of our daughter Georgia, 1999.
The book I planned to write and illustrate after “The Office Manual” (1993), “The Cat Manual” (1995), and “The Driver’s Manual” (1996), was “Care and Feeding of the Human Male” (1997). This is one of its illustrations, in scratchboard. Unpublished.
The book I planned to write and illustrate after “The Office Manual” (1993), “The Cat Manual” (1995), was “The Driver’s Manual” (1996). These illustrations were of supposedly important cars throughout history, the Hupmobile Zeppelin, the Heinkel-Benz Ausgefahrtsfuhrermeisterhofbrau, the Morris Mole, and the Cadillac Chesterfield. Scratchboard. Unpublished.
"The Tudor Style," test page of The Stylebook, an idea of mine for a directory of the major styles of art and design throughout history, from around 1980. Watercolors and inks. Other styles would have been treated in the same way, showing clothing, housing, transportation, and typography of the time, from antiquity to the present day. Because this was such an encyclopedic project, I put together this one finished illustration and chapter, and roughly indicated two other styles for comparison, showing how the same format applied to each, making it easy for the reader to compare the evolution of styles. Thames & Hudson, and Quarto, both in London, seriously entertained the possibility of publishing, but I think because I was not a "name," they declined. Unsold.
The London house I grew up in, pen and ink, in the Victorian style typical of magazines immediately pre-halftone (1890-1900), which I loved. Probably drawn around 1980 from a photo. The hedges were a little neater when my father was around to trim them — the photograph I based this on must have been taken after he left.
My attempts to joining the fine arts circuit did not take off — I was interested in tight and detailed work just as the market was swinging toward the gestural and, well, scribbly, so my timing was off. But that didn't stop me from trying.
“Fire,” a 21-color serigraph printed in a limited edition of 250 with the help of Aztlan Multiples, Los Angeles, around 1981. Intended to be the first of a series of mosaic-patterned prints, but met with indifference by the galleries. Copies have appeared in scenes of “Doctor Dolittle” (the Eddie Murphy version) and “Alien Nation” the TV series.
An early experiment from 1973, in inks. I wanted to see if I could get the truck to read by only showing its highlights and its shadows — the vehicle itself is not actually shown.
Around 1980 I was experimenting with etching. Aside from the more traditional intaglio and aquatint type, I tried a deeper, multileveled plate. This is Monterey, 1979.
“Into the Twenty-first,” inks, 1982, intended to be the next serigraph release after “Fire,” but also met with disinterest by the L.A. art community. My work was just not fashionable at that time. Since prints were so expensive, I abandoned the idea.
Recently I've been commissioned to put together renderings of fine art furniture for Orange County sculptor Barry Robin, as an aid for buyers in imagining the finished product. They show Barry's genius designs; I merely fleshed them out with woodgrain and dimension. These images were presented to clients prior to start of the commission.
6’ custom jewelry armoire in solid lacewood and koa.
6’ custom jewelry armoire in solid lacewood and koa.
8’ custom expandable trestle dining table in solid walnut and maple.
Over the years I've drawn over two hundred portraits for editorial, advertising, and personal use.
I developed a portrait style for magazine use, small, and drew dozens of these. They started as brush illustrations that were scanned in and colored in Photoshop.
A pen and ink sketch of my father, for the bookplates in the books he left to his school (he was a teacher) in his will, 1979. Not my finest work, but when someone dies you discover how few good photographs of them exist.
My friend Giles worked, for a time, at a barcode-generating company, and when his birthday rolled around the solution seemed obvious. Not quite as easy as it looks to achieve.
I lived in Santa Monica for more than two decades, in one (later two) of the apartments owned by Grace Vaughan. She was the best landlady anyone could wish for, and I made her family this portrait after she died in 2012. My Mint experience helped, though I could not get her right for a while. This is a combination of two portraits, one drawn in pencil on vellum and scanned in, and one drawn in Photoshop on the computer.
My friend Scott — another combination portrait. I combined photographs of Scott current and Scott twenty years earlier, then built an illustrator portrait based on that. Then I made a pencil sketch of the combo photograph and added that. Then I reduced the opacity of the photograph until it was almost invisible.
I used to have a manual typewriter around for its sentimental value, though it had been superseded by electrics in the sixties and electronics in the late seventies. Typewriter carriages had a button at each end that released the mechanism, allowing it to roll freely and not click up and down line-by-line. I sketched a self-portrait faintly on a sheet of paper, rolled it in and tapped away at the keys while I rolled the carriage around.
In the nineties I worked a lot for Mattel, mostly on collectors' edition boxes for Hot Wheels. These held themed sets of cars, four or five each. Boxes consisted of two parts — an outside shell with clear window, and a folded insert on which sat the vehicles.
The Los Angeles Urban League needed a striking mailing for a fundraiser with guest Denzel Washington, with the theme “A Child is the Root of the Heart.” A quilt-like illustration was paired with casual type, all contained with an interlocking foil-stamped mailer diecut into a child’s profile.
My first job as a graphic designer was a logo, and since then I've designed more than 600.
In the late nineties I was working a lot for Disney, who at the time owned the Angels baseball team. For their merchandising items, they commissioned a series of designs incorporating the Angels logo (changed now to the A with halo), to represent the history of the team. Since the Angels had been established in the sixties, it was decided that one should reflect a Peter Max-style look.
For the book cover of “1968—A Year In The Life,” I drew line portraits of the Beatles and paired them with type of the period. Ironically, I knew all about the period’s style because I was designing album covers for EMI in London in 1968 (though I designed mostly classical and jazz, and none for the Fab Four).
A tequila label designed for the European market, Blue Midnight incorporates Southwest imagery.
Cadillac Enthusiasts of the Midwest wanted a distinctive yet slightly tongue-in-cheek mark for their promotions and clothing.
The Anaheim Angels needed a special logo designed for Eddie Murray’s 3000th game, and decided on a style that looked a little retro. “Steady Eddie” finished his career at home in 1997, playing for both the Angels and the Dodgers.
The San Francisco Volunteers wanted a logo for their T-shirts that would be appealing to both men and women. We used this brush illustration and lettering design in two different color combinations.
Star Guitar needed a distinctive and memorable logo that could be animated for TV and Web advertising.
"Synchro" was a label for the L.A.-based dance clothing line.
One of several designs submitted for a PSB Marketing logo redesign — a lucite look. 2008.
I found the best way to survive in the competitive commercial illustration business was to stay flexible. As a consequence, I developed several styles.
The woodcut style became popular in the eighties, first in the UK and then in the US. I found a way of matching the look without the effort and expense of any carving, by painting with white gouache on black paper. I must have drawn hundreds of these kinds of illustrations.
For Rice-A-Roni® (The San Francisco Treat) I designed this stylized streetcar atop a San Francisco hill.
Commissioned to come up with designs for a series of mass-market journals, I came up with these.
Poster for the 2001 Newport Music Festival.
Logo for Happy Hen egg farm, 2003.
Credit union mailer in needlepoint style, 2009.
Fonts & Lettering
I've always been fascinated by fonts and type design. When I started there were so few fonts available that we were expected to recognize and name them all. Now, of course, there are dozens more available every week. Growing up in London was a wonderful experience for someone interested in lettering, since everywhere you look are building and monuments with carved names, gravestones engraved, and old posters for sale.
At one time lettering could be a profitable specialty, and still is if you work for the greeting card manufacturers. But there is far less demand now there are so many available fonts. And clients tend not to like paying for lettering, believing that since they get type for nothing, so should they get lettering free too. These are from the late eighties and early nineties.
The first of the rough woodcut-style typefaces, “Westwood” was originally named “Chop,” but when Letraset bought it they wanted the name changed, since they already had a “Choc,” and it was they who suggested using my name. Each character (and there are over 200 in a complete font) was hand-painted in white on black paper (my trick to approximate the look of a woodcut), at about two inches tall, ten or so tries at each character. I picked the best of each and enlarged them to 12” tall for retouching. Then these were photocopied in batches of a dozen. Their delivery to England in hardcopy form was held up by the first Gulf War, which caused a backlog of customs inspections in the UK.
After the success of the “Westwood” font, I decided to tackle a punk-styled script, and “Dekadenz” was the result.
Barbara Elaine Smith, known as B. Smith, is a restaurateur whose television show, B. Smith With Style, aired on weekdays on BTN and Bounce TV, featuring home décor and cooking segments. This was its logo, typical of late 80s early 90s style.
During the late eighties and first half of the nineties I designed a lot of titles for TV shows and movies through Paramount and Klasky-Csupo, the originators of The Simpsons. The Mighty Quinn (1989) was Denzel Washington’s 11th movie.
Logo for Brushworks, a Las Vegas mural and interior decorating group, late 90s.
One of the logos for a trilogy of cat books, for Two Heads Publishing in the UK, late 90s.
Over my career, I've periodically tackled the tricky cartoon market, sometimes successfully, sometimes less so. Now that newspapers are dwindling into history, I no longer try to get anything syndicated, though I still send the occasional idea to the New Yorker.
An illustration from a promotional folder to attempt to syndicate the Our Man Hinkey cartoon strip (1998), written by Sidney Andersson and illustrated by me. Hinkey was a child’s nanny who happened to be a hippo, an oddly endearing concept that unfortunately was not appreciated by syndicators.
One of the first year’s series of my Dysfunctional World® cartoons, this one a parody of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not.
Pen and ink illustration from a 4-page 1987 comic I wrote called “Mike Macho Tells You How To Be A Real Man,” a sardonic look at sexism. It became quite notorious in a limited way, and for years I received orders from all over the country and Canada, along with a few pieces of hate mail.
The second series of my Dysfunctional World® cartoons (1999) was an attempt to get into the New Yorker, and because of this I developed a different style. None were published.
In 1997 USA Today approached me to develop a new kind of cartoon suitable for the whole country. Squint is what I came up with, simple pairings of absurdities. Only one ran — Beanie Teens — but I got a lot of letters about it.
Logo for Daddy's Burger Lounge, Los Angeles.
For several years I was proud to be an Associate Coin and Medal Designer for the United States Mint, through their Artistic Infusion Program. There were about a dozen of us artists from around the U.S. taken on to help with coin designs and drawings for the busy sculptors at the Philadelphia mint.
Coin design and illustration for sculpt, 2009. It was an honor to work on Abraham Lincoln’s portrait for the dollar coin, and it helped that more photographic reference of him was available than for any other 19th century president. Not used.
Coin design and illustration for sculpt, 2009. Buchanan’s “Liberty” was part of the First Spouse Series, to be released simultaneously with the Buchanan dollar, but Buchanan was one of the presidents who remained unmarried during his presidency. The Mint decided to show the young Buchanan working in his parents’ Maryland store. There were no extant images of Buchanan as a youth, and so I extrapolated what he would have looked like as a preteen, then searched through school yearbooks until I found a child the right age with the right features. I set up a photo shoot in my back yard, constructing a counter with props, and buying a barrel. The design was chosen and minted in both gold and bronze versions.
Coin design and illustration for sculpt, 2013. The Silver Commemorative for the 3-coin 5-Star Generals Series was to feature Dwight D. Eisenhower and George C. Marshall, and its reverse to represent the European theater of WWII. Eisenhower was a fairly good-looking man, and as such easy to make look good, but Marshall was another matter entirely.
This, my first reverse design, was considered “too busy,” though this is a large coin, the size of a half-dollar, and I still feel it would have accommodated all the elements included my original design. Included is a P-51 “Mustang” fighter, a B-17 “Flying Fortress” bomber, a C-47 transport, an M4 “Sherman” tank, a Jeep, a 105mm Howitzer, and the battleship USS Nevada. In the background is the “V” for Victory, which was ubiquitous at the time, overlaid by the letter “V” in morse, commonly used in radio broadcasts.
My contract with the Mint expired at the end of 2009, but early in 2010 I was invited to apply again, and I submitted the design for an imaginary Jamestown coin. This shows the meeting of three cultures — the Native American, European, and African. This drawing was a little more sketchy than I usually submitted for an assignment, because I was tight for time after all the research required, but the looseness of the illustration gave it an interesting energy, and it got me back into the Artistic Infusion Program.
For 2013, the Sacagawea dollar was to represent the first treaty between a Native Amercan tribe — the Delawares — and the new United States government, at Fort Pitt in 1778. This was a concept not without its critics, and even the Citizens’ Coin Advisory Council were split on whether it should go ahead. But Congress had decided on it and the work continued.
In the late eighties I had the idea of getting into the giftwrap design business. I approached giftwrap from the perspective of coming up with designs that could be kept on hand for all occasions.
This mass of US banknotes was painted in watercolor (just before some of the currency designs were changed), with the intent of making any gift, no matter how paltry, look like a million dollars. I could not get any of the giftwrap manufacturers interested.
This rough for "Happy Whatever" was painted in gouache in several different styles of lettering, along with a shrugging smiley face. The idea was that people would always keep some sheets of Happy Whatever around for those times when they needed a giftwrap but didn't have the right one for the specific occasion. (The term "whatever" was notoriously overused at the time, and so its use was sardonic.) No giftwrap manufacturers interested.
Advertising comp(rehensive)s, their preliminary rough form for approval, used to be drawn with markers, or "squeakers" as we used to call them. Both photographs and type were approximated in this way, before serious money was spent on photography and typesetting.
A marker comp for the syndication of Paramount’s The Untouchables TV series.
A marker comp for the promotion kit for the syndication of Paramount’s The Untouchables TV series. Promotion kits were sent to station managers to publicize the show, and they needed to be interesting enough so that managers would keep them displayed, and not either junk them or take them home for their kids. It was to be constructed out of wood, with all the items, except for the gun, to be real. In the drawer were to be files marked “FBI — Top Secret” with the bios of the actors and tapes of the show.
Before graphic designers used computers, this is how a logo was presented for animation, once approved. This is Tampa Bay channel 28’s logo from around 1990, in marker and Prismacolor pencil.
I first designed album covers for EMI, back in the dark ages, and was limited usually to jazz and classical, neither of which interested me. But I did design one for the Hollies, Georgie Fame, and for the UK Easy Rider soundtrack.
I designed several CD covers for Scotti Bros. Records, among which was this one for "Weird Al" Yankovic in 1993. We obtained permission from the trademark holders of Jurassic Park, and I parodied the movie's posters. Mr. Yankovic was a hard person to please, but I was told he liked this.
Another CD cover for Scotti Bros. Records were several for The Nylons, a Canadian a capella group from Toronto.
Proposed design for a New Yorker cover, depicting the Greek monetary crisis of autumn 2015, and showing Germany’s Angela Merkel and Greece’s George Papandreou in ancient Greek red-figure style.
My first and only experience with crowdsourcing was this book cover design for Rick Warren’s “The Hope You Need” (2013). I should have known better — it wasn’t picked, all the work was for nothing, and I helped cheapen the business for graphic design professionals like myself.