They Like It “Rough”

As noted in an earlier post, I often covet the wonderful inking styles of some of my cartoon compadres and yearn to be able to ink like them. Bobby London’s wonderful, loopy Segar-esque style, Anton Emdin’s clean, fat lines and Jim Woodring’s sculpted chiaroscoro renderings. I got all artsy-fartsy there, didn’t I? Well, try as I may the forces of the art director world are against me.

They like my stuff rough. (Poetry!) I once did a rough sketch for MAD and sent it in for approval. I got the go-ahead so I busily went to work inking and cleaning it up, doing so directly on the drawing. When I sent the thing in, they were all “What Happened!”-like. They like the look of my pencils: rough. and nobody likes ’em rougher than Crazy Shirts. They’ll often take a tiny thumbnail I’ve drawn during a brainstorm and turn it into a shirt.

Crazy Shirts works like this: They send out a “design review” to freelancers in which a number of subjects are listed that they’d like to see made into shirts. For example: Palm Springs, Florida, Vegas or something like “Beer”. You see, they have specialty dyed shirts at Crazy Shirts, shirts dyed in beer, wine, coffee and for this example rum. A waste of good liquor? Nah. They make really nice quality shirts, it’s worth a little booze. I do a lot of beer shirts for them.

Well, we freelancers do up some sketches, send ’em in and get feedback. This can go on for weeks, all the way up to their final review conference at which time all your work might be rewarded by being purchased or…tanked. This is why I love the fact that they’ve fallen for my style: It’s quick and painless. If I get cut at the end, it doesn’t sting as bad.

1-DSC_0213Long ago, Frankie got me this really cool sketchbook cover in which I carry my little black book. It’s a beauty, no?

When one book is full, I can easily slip another one back in. I love it. It’s typically filled with stuff from phone conversations, meetings, brainstorming sessions etc. It’s my private little world in which I can draw stuff I think might suck but, what the hell? It’s a brain-dump.3-DSC_0215

And into this book I dump my drawings, good or bad. I typically use this pad when I’m mobile. If I’m at home or in the studio I’ll use something I can more easily scan. This thing is pretty small and has a deep gutter.
Here’s a “Rum” idea: 4-DSC_0217I obviously thought this one had legs, you can tell by the extra effort I put into the rendering. Here’s another:5-DSC_0218This one, they used!  It’s very rough but I scanned the thing in and pumped up the contrast so I could submit it. Here’s a detail:6-DSC_0220Now, I just sat back and waited to hear from the various design reviews.  Eventually, I was told to add color and send in a presentation board. This is a mock-up of how I picture the shirt that they can tack to the wall and discuss.
powell_iguana_BackYou can see that I’ve done a little clean-up but minimal at best. Once this is approved, I separate out the colors and do a pocket design.
powell_iguana_pocket And that, folks…is it! If you have any questions, shoot me a comment and please…share!

Rich Powell

I'm an artist/illustrator residing in a small, North Carolina town. I worked for a few years as a conceptual artist and art director in the computer game industry but set off on my own to freelance. I currently do humorous illustration and cartoons for publications such as MAD Magazine and Highlights for Children.

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2 Responses

  1. Mark says:

    I wanna iguana too. So does Sue.

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