Bill Mayer
Radio Flyer's 100th Anniversary Kid's Travel Agency
Radio Flyer's 100th Anniversary "Kid's Travel Agency" Posters.

Radio Flyer is hosting the first ever kids travel agency to celebrate 100 years of inspiring imaginative play and unforgettable adventures. At Radio Flyer Adventure Travel, children are introduced to impossibly wonderful destinations they can visit only with their imagination and a Radio Flyer.
"See Octopus Shiny Treasure Bay" © Bill Mayer 2017
 A new poster for Radio Flyer. FCB had a great idea to inspire kids to use thier imaginations through a series of travel posters to fantastic places that only could exist in dreams. the instructions and specs for the poster came in with a huge packet of materials and spec. More than I ever remember getting in the past on any project... But once I had gotten through going over all of that. It just started off in the normal way all jobs do, with a little research looking at old travel posters to get a feel for the atmosphere and feelling of a vintage poster to a fantasy destination. I am always drawn to bold, simple images so I explored in the thumbnails various compositions tackling the manditory elements. I wanted the octopus to be huge, larger than life. Looming and imposing, but not scary. I decided to make the wagon into a ship.

I tried two directions: one, the octopus as the island towering in the distance; the ship and kids in the forground. The other using the wagon as a bathysphere, exploring an underwater world in search of treasure. I'm not sure they really got the underwater thing from my thumbnails, but Kevin picked a couple very similar directions and i started refining the sketch.
thumbnail for Octopus Shiny Treasure Bay. They picked #1 and #8 both very similar directions.

Slightly tighter thumbnails working out proportions on size of the boat and octopus.

Final sketch with type

In process art for the octopus almost finished....
I know, airbrush, it's just so much faster for me... Some textures and highlights I will add in Photoshop later....

I wanted to add some cloudy atmosphere to separate the background, make it lighter against the silhouetted kids and boat. I decided to do the kids and boat separate from the octopus to give me the option of adjusting the size and placement. I added distant mountains, birds, and treasure to reinforce the size of the octopus without reducing the size of the kids and wagon. Ultimately I decided to have the ship coming out of the shadow slightly to allow some details to show.

When I first pulled everything into the poster I loved how the wagon and kids looked just floating in the sky.... After I had put the final poster together I roughly pulled together a variation to show the Art director. Ultimately they decided to stay with the original design.

I was really happy with where this poster ended up. I was great fun working with Kevin Grady and the creative team at FCB. They gave me a ton of freedom and that always pays off in the final result. Cant wait to see the final 24x36 printed posters... So much fun. I need a few more of these to work on.
Savages/Steppenwolf Theatre

Interesting project for Ogilvy in Chicago.. A poster for Steppenwolf Theatre.
It is Steppenwolf's fortieth anniversary, and they're celebrating by getting artist to do posters for some of their more memorable plays from the past. They sent me a list of the plays. I picked the first one "1980-81: Savages" 
It seemed like something dark and tribal would work. Part of the criteria was the posters had to be in two colors, pms 485 (Red) and black. And of course variations of those colors, greys and deep reds. .

1. 1980-81: Savages:
Alan West, British government official in Brazil, is kidnapped by the M.R.B. (Movimento Revolucionario Brasileiro) in order to be exchanged for political prisoners. His guard, Carlos Esquerdo, is a would-be philosopher, reciting quotes by Fanon and Camus, and interested in poetry and chess. He tries to make his hostage understand the ideas behind the revolutionary movement, reads their manifesto to him, and explains that the corrupt government must be punished for "selling our country to the interests of US capitalism, which it has allowed to exploit our resources and steal our land, while our people starve and suffer all the miseries of poverty and unemployment".
While Esquerdo focuses on the plight of the 90 million Brazilian workers and landless farmers, West's mind is occupied with the extinction of the native Indians. In flashbacks, the audience learns that West has long been interested in Indian culture, rituals, and legends, and that he is aware of the genocide under way in the country. He knows that if no measures are taken, there will not be many Indians left to tell their tales and perform their rites of the Quarup as they are being murdered by gifts of sugar mixed with arsenic, by wilfully spread disease (such as distributing blankets from smallpox wards), or barbaric slaughter financed by greedy land owners and speculators, both foreign and domestic. One of the henchmen, Ataide Pereira, is questioned by an American investigator and tells a gruesome tale of murder and mercilessness.Missionaries are also criticised in the play: Reverend Elmer Penn treats "his flock" of converted Indians like domesticated animals not fit to think for themselves. Only an anthropologist sees the situation as clearly as West but has no power or means to change it for the better.
Finally, West is shot by Esquerdo. The play ends with the bombing of the Quarup celebrations which extinguished the Cintas Tribe.
Tighter thumbnails put into a poster layout to help with presenting the ideas

Had the normal thirty-something thumbnails at the end, and it seemed like we needed to look at color to start seeing the poster ideas come to life.
the play was a conversation between West and Equerdo. I decided to concentrate on the more graphic visual; native indians being pushed into extinction. I pulled from the thumbnails the directions I felt had the most potential and separated them out to try to see if there was a strong direction for the poster. When i shared the roughs with the producers, Lisa, the associate content producer wrote back
"Our Creative Director and Art Director are both blown away. CD wondered if you had a favorite you were working on? His opinion was to go with the darkest, most primal of them."
This was just what I wanted to hear. Although the lack of visual direction is always hard for me. I have several favorites and end up doing some little comps to help sort them all out.
black and white sketches from the thumbnails to build the comps out of.©Bill Mayer 2016

comps on poster working out design elements.©Bill Mayer 2016

comps on poster working out design elements.©Bill Mayer 2016

comps on poster working out design elements.©Bill Mayer 2016

our second runner up poster design.... ©Bill Mayer 2016

Actually I love all of these directions, and it was difficult to choose a final. in the end, we all decided that the red poster just felt right. Second place the more graphic bloody mess.
Each time i go back to look at them I have a diferent favorite. So glad to finally shoot this one off to the folks at Ogilvy for their feedback or approval.
the final poster for The Savages agency Ogalvy client Stepanwolf Theater Chicago. ©Bill Mayer 2016
 In the end we decided on the red poster as the final. I loved the sontiniaty sentimentality. simplicity? of the brush painting on glass blown up. Very graphic use of the skull to imply extinction. Much thanks to all of the folks at Ogilvy for including me. and a special thanks to Craig Fraizer for throwing my name in the pot. What great fun working on this. 
Fear of Failing...
I have been playing with these gouache paintings for some time now. They have been a joy to explore. Sometimes they fail miserably but I aways learn something from each of these little failures. It seems like the subject matter may sometimes seem a bit dark and creepy. I am thinking it's a natural perception because of the surreal nature of the subject matter. No matter how hard I try, they never seem to be as good as I want them to be. Maybe time to rethink the subject matter and make it more accessable. I read something recently that Sam Weber said in an interview. “Of the first couple of dry years, Sam said that it was only when he shifted his subject matter to be more accessible that he became popular. He likened it to two slightly overlapping circles. In one is the work you like to do. The other contains what people want.”

I was always thinking about this as a direction for my illustration. A way to expand to a different type of assignment work… This got me thinking about the subjects I have been painting. Expanding toward a more usable subject. We’ll see where that goes.
I also recently ran across a lecture Milton Glaser gave on the "Fear of Failure." Failing is how we grow as artists. The path to success as an illustrator may be to do one thing/style/brand, and promote just that one style. The problem with this is that clients keep coming back to you to have you illustrate in proximity of something you have done before. This Success model may be in contradiction to what makes you successful as an artist. Don’t be afraid to try new things and fail at what you’re doing. You learn from your failures. This has me thinking a lot about the where these little paintings are going...Where I am going as an illustrator. Sometimes people trap us ito our identity as artists and it's hard to escape. I do love the exploration and groth you get in personal work. But I love working with art directors and designers in a creative team.It's so rewarding. I can't imagine giving that up.
I get bored pretty quickly and I am surprised at how long I have spent doing these little gouache paintings. Might be time to break out the art school oils and try to get a little richer color and depth in the work.
 A recent interview I did with WOW x WOW October 06 2015 about fear of failing.
New Little Experiments...
I have been experimenting with some new digital directions. Always searching for new directions and techniques to play with. These three pieces turned out pretty well.
I was trying some limited color pieces to add to the somber tone. The text on the bomb hanging in the top piece is persian for "Peace." another piece I did for Earth Day... also a little dark and forboding. All of these pieces had a similar feel and theme.
The Waiting Game © Bill Mayer 2015

"Peace" © Bill Mayer 2015

Alternate idea for a time magazine article...but really this was sitting around in my head unfinished for a while... just good to get it out...©Bill Mayer 2015

I love the drama this simple image created... it has a kind of retro feel like some thing from the Sixties...©Bill Mayer 2015

Also continuing to play with some expansion in the gouache paintings... A few more interesting palettes that seem to work... In between deadlines it has been a good way to keep the hands busy... Some revisited themes that always seem to surface...
This painting stated off as a portrait of "The Donald" (Trump) and just sort of went off all rooster.... © Bill Mayer 2015

The "Buffalo Hunter" I loved the texture of Buffalo hair... I could paint that one again and again... ©Bill Mayer 2015

Another from the dark side... The Dark Angel... just playing around with a cooler palette.. © Bill Mayer 2015

Another surreal image with crows and boats...This one reminds me of a scene from Time Bandits... But I loved the color...©Bill Mayer 2015

I was trying to paint something that was not creepy... somehow just made it creepier.... The Flower Lady.. Gouache on paper. © Bill Mayer 2015

A rather simple but melancholy image of a fish out of water...Sometimes clichés can be poignant. Everyone loves to draw gold fish...(so why not...) Gouache on paper © Bill Mayer 2015

Butterfly Girl. I think might have worked better if I covered her face with butterflies...or at least maybe more of her face... (I did that) © Bill Mayer 2015
Bird Lady... Started off kind of like a blue fairy and just grew into a freak... I was not happy with it until I added tentacles and horns... © Bill Mayer 2015

Old Crow... Bible touting steamship for God and Country.... © Bill Mayer 2015

More Bugs! Scientific American....
 Seems like I've been drawing bugs all month. Not really complaining, I loved these projects... This one was for Scientific American. An article about "Scientists dengue-proofing mosquitos with the help of a pervasive, natural bacterium that can be passed on from one generation to the next. ".

I did the normal dozen thumbanils. The concept kind of went back to one someone had mentioned in a meeting before it even came to me. Jason threw it out casually. So I always include those options. The plugged up nozzle of the mosquito seemed to be the fastest way to get the idea across so we stuck with it. At first I had thought about a more graphic simple color palette but when it came down to painting it,  just felt like it needed more detail.
I loved the idea of putting the mosquito in human clothes... Maybe some nod to blood sucking vampires... but ultimately we decided to blow him up huge. The size would hint at the scale of the problem with dengue. Jason picked number 24 or 26 but since the story was light on copy, wanted to push it to be a spread for more impact. So I did a few sketches of the new layout as a spread.

 They picked "b", so one more tighter sketch before painting. I painted the packground and bug separate because I was really not sure where this was going. When I got into painting it just felt like it needed more detail... We liked "b" because he felt like a huge beast.. I loved seeing him hunched over sort of sulking...

  Above a quick color sketch....My original idea was to do something simple color palette flooding the background red but after I finished the painting it seened such a shame to loose all of that great detail so I changed direction.

 Actually liked the tight cropping, seemed like the size of the bug would get even more exaggerated. And not sure at this point where Jason ended up cropping the image. The only change was a comment about the cork not reading quick enough... An easy fix... Can't wait to see this one in the magazine... Going to make such an impact.
Much thanks to Jason Mishka for letting me work on this with him... So much fun.

Simple design but so eligant... Great gobs of fun working on this little blood sucker....
Simple Ideas Simple Colors
Trying out some new illustrations, limited color palettes and concepts. Simple, thoughtful, conceptual... Blue is a color I don't usually use a lot but am liking more and more.... Always trying new things.. these were some nice surprises... I think I might try a few more...

 I recently met Torrece Gregoire through my sister Sue.  She goes by the nickname T. Maybe because I I kept massacring her name... Maybe it's just easier.

She's a contestant on the upcoming season of Hell's Kitchen. Such a dynamic personality, I just couldn't resist when she asked me to help out with some poster and T-shirt designs. Certainly sometimes working with clients directly can fall into uncharted waters but this was really a great experience. and the results kind of glowed with that. "Weeded" is her upcoming venture into chefs apparel. I think Weeded is going much, much farther. She's got a kickstarter; if you're so inclined, check it out and donate! Weeded
 We did the design based on a Max Award poster I did earlier in 2008 . T liked the way the lines overlayed each other. I loved this direction too. Limited color would work well for poster and especially T-shirt application.
Forest thought the first set of thumbs were a bit too aggressive so I did a few more a little closer to the Max Awards stuff she had seen before.
Like always I started with the normal 24 thumbnails but this time I decided not to show all of them. I picked my favorites and comped them up tighter. I showed T four and She picked my favorites. 
When we got to the Tshirt application the poster design just wasn't working so we reworked the design and droped the background. I think it was working Much better this way. Two variations of each ,one for a white shirt ,one for black. The colors had to be swapped around a bit but worked much better without the background. The heavy blacks on the "Kitchen Robot" had to be dropped. They worked great on the white shirt but too heavy in white ink on the black shirt
You'll have to tune in to Hell's Kitchen Season 14 and Watch T kick some ass in the kitchen.
Here's her contestant video on the Hell's Kitchen website.
She's still talking about coming over to the house and cooking for us. I can't wait...
Much fun working on this, Thanks Torrece!
Many Thanks...
The Death of Crows © Bill Mayer 2014 BLAB! art director Monte Beauchamp

The last year came and went. We had a fabulous time in Canada at the cottage... Took long rides around the point. Such a beautiful place. Summer is like heaven only with mosquitos. really big, hungry mosquitos. In the fall we went back up to close up. I love that time of year. The trees are turning, there's a chill in the air. It's a kind of melancholy time for one last sail before we pull the boats up. One last ride through the woods trails along Jobe's Lane, Jobe's Woods. The maples that line the old farm lane are old and gnarled and you can see bits of evidence of old farm fencing just peeking through.
Farms were bought up back in the fifties to make the Provencial park. There is a great stoney beach we hunt down fossils and walk along the bank.
Detail of Death of Crows, rocky beach and oil soaked dress...not quite finished...

The stoney beach near the Presquile' Light...

 Fall is magical at Presqu'ile. The light is warm and yellow and we know it's just a very short time till winter sets in. it's great to take one more long ride along the road down to the light house, along the lake shore, through the woods... I could ride all day but we need to pull the boats and docks. We cover all the furniture with sheets, not sure why, just becaue it has always been done and I guess it keeps the little pests out of everything. We  will certainly miss being there, but we love our home in Geogia and miss our kids.
early morning ride along the bay shore...sunrise

wading out to Gull and Proctor Islands
There are two islands of the west coast of the sandy beach. They're usually closed. It's a bird santuary for breeding, and they don't allow people to go out there. Most of the birds have started thier migration so in the fall when the water is low you can wade out to the island. The Park has been oiling the eggs of the cormorants in order to control their number. They're an invasive species and numbers have been skyrocketing. So they started oiling the nests to keep them in check. We waded out to the island and stumbled upon acres of nests with remains of birds and pieces of eggs. It's like the killing fields. Bizarrely beautiful. The cormorants are very destructive and we all understand they need to be controlled but seeing it is so strangely surreal.
The Killing fields...

Canada Goose
Sushi...very fresh!

Some of what we love so much about the cottage is the Canadians. They're such genuine people. Unpretentious. We gather often by the bay for cocktails and laugh and tell stories. All of the families that live there are somehow related. We hash out who's what cousin married who. Reconnecting dots in the past. Such a rich history, I feel so lucky to be included in the circle.  Most of the families have been on the point since the eighteen hundreds. Great-grand parents , Grand Parents, Parents and kids all growing up together. I think we counted seven generations... I love it there. Mostly because Lee is so happy there. It is truly a sense of place for her.
Cocktails on Deck two...

I am so thrilled to have my painting included in the Society of Illustrators 57 show. It's a wonderful honor I don't take lighly.  We have to be in Florida on the sixth of February. Lee's Mom is having sugery and we need to be there to help... We won't be able to make the second half of the show but my paintings will be there! Stop by and see it if you get a chance.
Detail of a very nice Series Seven brush....

Smoking Crows. © Bill Mayer 2014 BLAB! ad Monte Beauchamp

Along with some of the new gouach painitngs There were some of my favorite pieces that made the cut as well. This piece I did for SooJin was always one of my favorites. I loved those fat little planes...
Best of the Best. PLanSponsor Ad SooJin Buzelli

Sometime art imitates life. Sometime the other way around. Life in Canada for us is so rich and full of things we love it's hard not to fall into it's s[spell. I think Lee would move there in a second. Me , I have roots in the south. So much family here, it would be hard to be so far removed. Long bike rides, paddling out through the marsh, or fishing off the dock. just can't seem to get enough of it...
Flower basket in Coberg Ontairio ...
These little gouache paintings have been a lot of fun... This year I won a gold medal for one of the little portraits of Marie Antoinette. It was such an honor to just be included with such a creative group of new talented artists. It has always been such a joy hanging out in the city. Seeing our old art family from Ringling and meeting some new friends as well. We're kind of bummed about not being there for the second show...

Always good to throw something new in as well. This painting I did as a pitch for Macy's flower word yet. Maybe still a bit macabre for them, but fingers crossed. I am sure it will find a home somewhere.
Tulip Head © Bill Mayer 2015

Marie's New Hat or, Le Nouveau Chapeau de Marie
In the first painting I used her head like a vase filled with flowers... Yeah okay a little morbid but I was digging the death and flowers thing. All Art © Bill Mayer 2014
Two new little portraits I was playing around with.

I had been painting a lot of animals lately and thought it would be fun to try some human subjects. Intially I had thought about a typical, headless, portrait of Marie Antionette. Something not quite normal... I had two ideas, and I couldn't decide which I liked better, so I did both.
In this version I tried to use the flowers in place of the head... Of course, it is a parody of a painting of Marie Antoinette, at age 12. by Martin van Meytens, circa 1767-1768. © Bill Mayer 2014
The first portraits were so complicated, I wanted to try something a little simpler. I remembered an image I had scribbled on the back of an envelope I mailed a friend, which was the inspiration for this little portrait of Erykah Badu...  fun little experiment. I will try a few more and post them later. 
Through the Looking Glass
Streamline/Looking Glass. Analytical software for healthcare systems. © Bill Mayer 2014
"Patient Care." Streamline/Looking Glass. Analytical software for healthcare systems. © Bill Mayer 2014
Streamline/Looking Glass. Analytical software for healthcare systems. © Bill Mayer 2014

 I have been thinking a lot lately about how many thumbnails to share with clients. In fact, Rick Anwyl and I were having a conversation about this very thing. He cited two examples of photographers he had worked with in the past. Both of them really top-of-their-game shooters who had very different approaches. They both worked with Rick, for a couple of weeks flying all over shooting hundred of photos. When they delivered, each of their final shots came in very different.


The first, Jay Maisel, sent a heavily edited selection of maybe a dozen shots. When Rick called him to ask where the rest of the shots were. Jay cut him off by saying, "I know what you're calling about, You want to know where all of the other shots are. You'll never see them." When he loaded the film in to review every shot was a beautifully designed. The quality of each shot was so definitive.

 The second example was different. The photographer sent over pretty much everything he had shot... All good work but it took Rick a lot of time to sort through and edit them down to what he actually needed. 

 Is it better to show a few ideas or send the whole kitchen sink? I had always in the past shared everything with the art directors I work with but is that really the best way to present your ideas. As I told Rick, sometimes I wonder if providing so many examples for them to choose from is somehow cheapening the really good ideas. After all, they would be just as happy to get five really strong ideas to pick from as thirty. Or would they? 


When I started this project with Rick, the assignment was to create some visual, supportive illustrations for Streamline, to help illustrate the application of analytical software in healthcare systems. Really dry stuff, but a perfect place to try some abstract ideas. Part of the direction was to try to incorporate a visual looking glass into the visuals that would show how using the software would help to reveal information not readily visible and give the user an advantage toward making the care they provide better for the consumer. Looking Glass reveals new information, new knowlege- It reveals what you would otherwise would not have seen.

Now the search was on for the perfect metaphor to magically capture this idea...

 The first round of thumbanils seemed a little off target to Rick. They did not really show the reveal aspect so back to the drawing board. I think part of my problem is i enjoy these little ideas so much I just keep going and going. I did a few more that night in a sketchbook; sent them all off to get feedback .  
 Rick and Courtney picked thier favorites. I know sometimes it's difficult for people to get the ideas clearly from just a little thumbnail so i did some little color gouache studies to help explain where I saw the finals heading. I had some good ideas I thought were working in these.  Some strong contenders in this little group of color studies. I think they already had the more direct "looking glass" in mind, so not surprising it came to the top as a favorite. they picked two, but wanted to blend the ideas together. I wanted to stay away from the obvious; data, zeros and ones; and use a blend of digital elements and colors to imply the information.
these are the little gouache thumbnails for the first illustration. I do love the roughness and spontaneity of the color studies.
The second Illustration was supposed to be about enhanced patient care. So Rick liked the umbrella but wanted to make it more direct by putting our "everyman" in a hospital gown... Not a great color to work around. He also liked the idea of the hand. I tried a couple of variations, different poses in a tight thumbnail.  I felt like the illustration idea worked with the man dressed normally and made it more versatile but they felt it needed that connection to the healthcare industry.

The third concept was really about risk management. Rick and Courtney liked the aerialist, as well as the one with the everyman stepping on stones. They picked the version showing the cliff and the aerialist because it seemed to read as "riskier" faster.. 
The final three illustrations went through a bit of changes and editing, but overall I was, and I think the client as well, very happy with the results. Some of the changes were in the overall mood of the illustrations. Something that would not be a problem in edtitorial illustration, but can be a little different in advertising work for a client. Sometimes they identify with the illustration; or maybe don't want the tone to be moody or dark. I can show both of these illustrations to show the changes. The first being the original coloring, the second lightened up.
Streamline/Looking Glass. Analytical software for healthcare systems. © Bill Mayer 2014
"Looking Glass" Streamline/Looking Glass. Analytical software for healthcare systems. © Bill Mayer 2014
"Enhanced Patient Care" Streamline/Looking Glass. Analytical software for healthcare systems. © Bill Mayer 2014
"Risk Reduction" Streamline/Looking Glass. Analytical software for healthcare systems. © Bill Mayer 2014
Big thanks to Rick Anwyl and Courtney Garvin at Son & Son's and The client Streamline for giving me the opertunity to do these little illustrations.
Instead of the typical; data, ones, and zeros; we settled on pixellation and shapes to echo the logo. This seemed to work perfectly. Here are some of the rough layouts for the covers Courtney was designing. Simple and elegant design. beautiful job Courtney.
Self edit thumbnails or show them all?
I have asked several art directors I have been working with, and they all said they would rather see all of the sketches. They understand about showing so many... One said, "I like seeing all of the ideas...I totally get it. It's like going into a meeting with 10+ page designs for a single feature article... I only show maybe two, but I still like seeing all of the Ideas."
Maybe the better idea is to only show "good" ideas....
Innovation in Finance; New York Times
Alway a treat to work with Minh. The Dealbook cover was a collection of articles about innovation in finance. Some good, some bad. a generic illustration kind of made sense.
The ideas are flying all over the place as usual. Hoping somthing will land close to the mark.  I don't hear back so I keep drawing.. Tried a second batch of abstract concepts.... Finally he responds. He likes 9, 10, 13. I think the machine-like robot was hitting close for Minh. He stressed he wanted to find a way to make the machine/robot in a way where something was being put in and money was coming out. I tried a bunch of variations of this, trying to figure how to make it work. I mean, without showing his internal digestive system. I liked the idea of people walking in with briefcases and walking out with money but noone else does so I stay on the robot thingy...
I try some variations of the Robot thing... I liked the pulps-like brain, little skinny arms. I try some variations and combinations. The final robot seem like he will work. I liked the idea of him free standing... Tried to see if that variation would pan out.
I try some variations of the Robot thing... I liked the pulps like brain, little skinny arms. I ty some variations and combinations. The final robot seem like he wil work.
Two small variations, boiler like robot on the left and the towering huge standing one on the right.
 I was trying to give Minh an alternative to the one putting things in its head with kind of a Frankenstein version. Lightning making it light up. I think this was not obvious enough for him, but I liked the lightning so kept that in also.
Minh doesn't like the wreckage going into his head. Wants light bulbs and lightning bolts. wants to add two inches to each side. I am thinking this is so much extra work... We write him to try to get an exact size so we can minimize the extra area around the illustration. 
 Much thanks to Minh at the Times for calling me with this fun project. Always such a blast working on these. A collaboration is always a little giving and taking, tryiing to find the right image that will get the idea across.  I thought this  one worked pretty well.
Last minute change, Minh wants to put the headline on the bottom of the art so we ditch the lake and most of the trees to simplify. I don't think they're really necessary, and the piece still works. Big thanks to Minh at the New York Times for making me look so good. Always a treat working with you.
Treasure Hunters of The Financial Crisis; New York Times
 Minh called me Monday with another little rush job. I am guessing because all of you were partying at AI . Oh, wish I hadn't procastinated, that is always such a good party and great seeing all of our friends in New York. But lucky for me you are all busy so I get to do another piece for the Times. Minh joked "we'll have to start calling it the Bill Mayer Times."
Most of the time, my first idea is the strongest, but I always feel it's important to give art directors alternative ideas. Just in case I stumble on to something better. Sometimes it's just fun exploring. Minh gets back to me, he wants to know if we can add the element of having fear. The other investors running away, maybe a long vertical with a storm, and boats fleeing the area. I am totally puzzled on how to make this come off. I thought of having the little boats on the suface might get the idea across without it getting too complicated. I did a few more thumbnails and sent them off. 
I thought about trying to sell this idea a little harder, so I put together a little comp to show how it might work. Some time ago I had done a little piece on Hurricane Sandy, so I took and adapted it quickly by turning off the main part of the visual.
The addition of the buildings rather than ships on the bottom really made the concept work a lot better so I decided to keep them in; seemed to make more sense. Minh liked this idea but wanted to change the buildings to "Wall Street." I liked the idea of the narrow, cavern-like streets of lower New York.
Minh sold the idea. They made one more request; he asked if i thought it would work to put the guy in a suit, He said we could get rid of all of the other elements, if I could put him in a suit. He thought it was a good trade-off.  My original dive bell comp was round so my first sketch of the guy was big and round. Mihn thought it seemed like we were making fun of the guy, wanted it to be less humorous. My second take on the guy was still bulky, but now more "Super Hero Like." This really was a collaboration with Minh. He is a really smart art director, and I think his suggestions made this piece work that much better.
Ny first sketch of the fat bulbous diver in a suit... Okay I get it...looks like "Wimpy" scuba diving....And the treasure chest.
the two revised options "super Hero" like guy . We all like the a version.
 The final piece turned out pretty cool, I sent off a screen capture to run it by Minh. He suggests lightening it up a bit so it won't go too dark in the paper. Pulled back on some of the darkness. 

 It always feels great to get a thank you note back from a client. Minh sent me a couple of notes.


"Our executive editor... She thought your art for SundayBiz was "conceptually smart".

Thanks Bill, for making me look "smart".


Actually Minh, I should thank you for making me look so smart . You are a genius. Thanks again to Minh Uong and The folks at the Times.


Wall Street Journal, It's been a year since my last illustration for Orlie. A fun little Illo for the business section, this one seemed to have a pretty straight forward direction from the start. It was an article about how to protect your portfolio from unforseen dangers out there in the marketplace. "Storms on the horizon"  all those metaphors just seemed to jump out.
"You can take steps to shield your portfolio from the risks that worry you the most Funds for Volatile Markets Experts recommend funds for volatile markets to The Wall Street Journal’s Michael A. Pollock. You can’t hedge against every conceivable catastrophe. But certain mutual-fund and ETF strategies might cushion the impact while keeping you in the game if the rally continues." 
I jotted down a dozen or so thumbnails and fired them off to Orlie Kraus. Such a smart lady so easy to work with. I had a little music program to go to for the seven year old grandbaby, Zak, so we decided to let them digest till the morning. In the morning I got an email from her with her three choices. all of them worked in different ways. The Editors liked the "Dragon" and "The Storm." I could see both of those working with the article in different ways but my money was on the one they didn't pick, "The Stairs."

I fired off a very rough idea on how the number two Illo would work for each of those directions. " I think any one of these would be easy to come up with an idea how to end the story..." I joked with the guys in the studio that that was the one she would pick . "It's just human nature to pick the one they didn't. Okay probably had nothing to do with any of that but she picks the stairs.
These are the rough layouts she put together with my thumbnails to try to help the editors decide.
I tried to keep it very much graphic, chinese perspective. I don't want it to have to be a realistic perspective, just graphic. I stretched the figure out and a long shadow to give the stairs some deapth. I sent the sketch off with a note about the alternate figure. Orlie likes it. She's off for the weekend and we're off to the beach the next weekend so I wanted to make sure she has the art in plenty of time.

We had nice Memorial Day weekend... I worked all day, the kids came over Monday night for the normal fried chicken, Vidalia onions, Strawberry short cake, Bocce Ball, Blanket throws, Wii dance craze. But the work was plenty far enough along. Tuesday I finalize the look and start on the second spot. I build the pyramids and paint the sky, adding textures. They are looking good. I am way ahead of the deadline. We take a little break and head for the Comfy Plate. My intern Diego needs to have some pure southern heaven. I send off the low rez after lunch. 
Sketch of the stairs.
The stairs I wanted to feel old and timeless like an ancient pyramid. I liked the subtle implication that it would draw to the pyramid on the dollar. But a subtle hint I am sure would escape most of the readers.
I wanted this to have a slightly ominous feeling so I kept the colors a bit dark and moody. "The Climb" © Bill Mayer 2013
The second Illustration spot "Relaxed On Top of The World" © Bill Mayer 2013
 a big thanks to Orlie Kraus for sending this little illustration my way. We are off to the beach. She has her art early. this makes me happy....
A little tighter crop on the IPad version but still Nice clean layout by Orlie Kraus, WSJ © Bill Mayer 2013
Nice clean layout by Orlie Kraus, WSJ © Bill Mayer 2013
Chan Chu and The Peaches of Imortality...
The Lucky Money Toad © Bill Mayer 2013

Every year for as long as I can remember.... the first thing I do on January 1st  is to write Jim Burke and see if I can again talk my way onto the line up for Dellas Graphics Calendar. Always (so far) he has reluctantly conceded. This year we had been in the city for the shows at SI and were walking around looking for those great little shops only New York has, when I stumbled on a window that had a huge statue of Chan Chu. Chan Chu, or Jin Chan was the wife of a little known demigod, who stole the "Peaches of Imortality." As punishment for her offense she was turned into a three legged toad. She is always depicted on a pile of Chinese coins. Rumor has it this mythical creature is said to appear during the full moon, near houses or businesses that will soon receive good news (most of the time, the nature of this good news is  to be wealth-related). This seemed a perfect visual for the calendar. It was Lee's Idea to make it into kind of a crazy firecracker package... So perfect.
© Bill Mayer 2013

I let Chan Chu sit around for a couple of months and knew it was getting close to the deadline so I emailed Jim to see when the art needed to be there. I had gotten busy on commissioned work and just sort of forgot. He emailed back we had a couple of days. I was caught up waiting for approval so I sat down and thumbnailed off another idea. Okay it's a bit silly, yes but a frog fly fishing seemed to scream out for a stinger of flies. Nice fat ones! juicy delectable morsels. I did a sketch and jumped into final. This one turned out just as well I think. Well, completely different. Thanks so much Jim Burke. It's always such a joy creating these little guys with you. You are a true rock star of an art director.
PlanSponsor: Plotting A Course

Always a joy working on these illustrations for SooJin. This one had so much potential from the start. Exploration of directions included lots of ideas that I thought would work. SooJin likes the flat earth, No.11.  I was drawn to the safe harbor, No. 10, or the unknown dangers awaiting in No.9. But 11 maybe shows navagating through troubled waters, and went with the original title/concept; Finding A Way- Danger everywhere Lacking a safe harbor, if you work/look hard enough, you'll find a way.
When I started on this little painting I wanted to give it a decorative border. The border was really time consuming, Took a long time and certainly gobs of coffee to stay focused and get through it. When I got to the Sea Monsters I was painting them in bright colors and sort of screwed them up. Just wasn't working, so I painted over them black and added detail back into them. I would have started over, but that border...ugh! didn't want to do that again.
So I keep working at it hoping to salvage the painting. I almost scrapped this one several times and just completely start on another painting. I finally get it where I am liking it and scan it in and start tweaking in Photoshop. I give the ship a kind of a mystical glow like St. Elmo's Fire to draw more attention to it and a subtle compass rose to reinforce the nautical theme. I think it turned out pretty well. Seemed a bit dark at first but when I saw it in the magazine, I liked the darkness. Big thanks to SooJin. Always a pleasure working with her.
The final illustration ©Bill Mayer 2013
A beautiful layout by SooJin.
3x3 Feature Coming Soon
No. 63. © Bill MAyer 2013
Thrilled to have a 3x3 feature coming out soon. Written by the fabulous Goñi Montes. It's been a while since CA did a feature on my work. 3x3 is one of the smartest pubs around so I am so thrilled to be included with the great artists that have been there. I will be Number 63. So I did a couple of new pieces that will be included in the book. Including an Op-Art piece that was so much fun that I did several for Charles to pick from. If you want to order advanced copies here's a link. 3x3
This Fragile Planet © Bill Mayer 2013
Ah yes, me in the studio painting away...

Free Bird © Bill Mayer 2013 this is the other fragile planet illustration I tried to use for the number 63 but Charles thought it was too obscure.
A New Religion © Bill Mayer 2013 Alternate OP-art piece not used for the article. With great respect after Giacomo Manzu's sculpture.
( By the Way: Pre-Order your 3x3 Annual No. 10 here! 3x3
Winter Dreams
"The Birth of Flight" © Bill Mayer 2012

"The Clock Maker" © Bill Mayer 2012
"A Winters Muse" © Bill Mayer 2012
It's been an odd week for me, staying away from media, news's  just too disturbing. For those of us who have gone through any personal horror it just brings it all way too close to the surface.  I have been trying to stay away from the obvious metaphors but somehow what's going on in the world still seeps into the personal work. This series started out as just a little experiment on color and the mood that it can create. The limited color palette seems to add to the creepiness and the dream like quality .
There are many of the posts I have missed seeing on Drawger. I will catch up later, need to finish candy houses, shopping, family gathering... Here's wishing you all a Merry Christmas. Have a wonderful holiday wherever your travels take you.
It's Carnival time again, the cottage is put away for the winter and there's something in the air. The chill of the wind and the houses all decorated for Halloween. Carny stuff always brings back those great memories. This years poster I wanted to keep some of that creepiness from last year but since we didn't use the huge clown head last year I thought that was a good pace to start.

Only one thumbnails this time, one sketch. I had a pretty clear idea where this one was going. So let's put the energy into the final not so much wasted time on preliminary stuff. I liked the idea. It's modeled after a little match holder and a clown egg cup from the kitchen. Makes me laugh when I see it.

I was having so much fun with "The  Demented Little Beasties" (posted in early July) I thought I would just continue the look into a few other projects. Anyway, much fun. still a combination of traditional and digital but the airbrush seems to add a textural element that the digital stuff was missing.
In a working version I had rides and more scary stuff but it was just getting a bit too crowded so left them out and I think the balance worked well.

 We had so many type changes last year, so I decided early that I would keep the type virtually the same and only change the font up a bit to make it fit the art better. And the final poster looked like this...
What I did on my summer vacation...
What I did on my summer Vacation...
Day one. Long drive, good friends, cocktails by the bay, Mosquitoes the size of Humming Birds; all fat with my blood. I swat them and they ooze with deep red. The moon is setting and we fall asleep to the sound of Bullfrogs. Missed sunrise, docks in, batteries charging. Lee Lee is busy evicting the mice...
Day two. Pizza by the river, nice long swim, cocktails on deck three, boats in. Water’s still high. Drop in on Twin Rocks for a nice chat. Boot camp starts today but not now... later...after coffee.... after fishing...okay, OKAY...before.
Day three...We pile the old life in a dumpster, nothing lasts forever. Once treasures, now rusted and rotting... worms helping it back into the earth. Feels wrong to not set them all adrift and torch them like a Viking funeral...but we crush them down and pile more old memories on top.
King Fisher, Loons, a pair with offspring, we sit quietly and listen and watch. Soft rain, surf board, the water is like glass. Another long bike ride along the lake shore down to Owens’s Point, Camp Store, Butterscotch ice cream, flat turtle next to Flat frog, maybe deep in a conversation about Casey Anthony...don't notice the car approaching...
Frog- " WTF Dude that slut was so-ooo guilty. Like totally guilty..." Turtle- "Man that DA missed his chance. They'll never__UHGHGHG----" Thump thump....
Day four (Tuesday). Beat sunrise by an hour, long bike ride, watched waves rolling in on the lake shore... kicking boot camp's ass.... coffee brewing. Waiting for the sun... I am smiling. Here comes the sun...Stuff more old stuff in the dumpster...Another long bike ride, a swim in the bay, finally check e-mail. Mr. Pickle drops by for a chat but his Scottish accent is so strong I can't understand a word. We head for sanctuary at Vito's.... Poutine...ah it's like Heaven.
Day Five ...Heavy discussions on carbon dating, Lesa's Birthday today, two more days and everyone arrives. Lee Lee finished Zak and Dash's room. Forest working on "Better living with chemistry." Layed in bed and watched sunrise. Thanks to a Japanese scientist's invention of synthetic blood, Mosquitoes have progressed from legendary monsters to fellow citizens overnight. Religious leaders and government officials around the world have chosen their sides, but in the small Canadian town of Brighton, the jury is still out.....
Fish and chips, soft rain, cool breeze, afternoon nap with a blanket. North wind blows me down. Cocktails on deck two. All hats off to Forest as head chemist ...Last night "Gulf Oil Spill," tonight "Better Living Through Chemistry." BBQ Chicken...little cute potatoes...sweet corn. Jen and Adrian's baby boy coming soon (next week). Greta and Jason's in October? Oh boy more babies...
The light at sunset is clear and yellow...long bike ride trying to catch moonrise but it's already up and huge. No deer but three skinny red foxes curiously approach me check me out...There is no one outside the cottages, it's like a Zombie apocalypse... 
The misquotes humming sounds distinctly like Darth Vader's breathing as they hover near by. They have seen me. I beat it for the house, slam the door and lock it behind me.
Day six...Wind out of the north, no clouds in sight, I stare out at the bay watching lines of Cormorants in formation stream by. Gold Finces, Marsh Swallows, Swans, Today Lee will call and have the old memories taken away...long bike ride, clear blue sky, water flat and so clear.... I paddle the Peterborough up the bay, a great way to meet the neighbors. Who all come out with knife and fork, licking their lips, drooling? They don't make canoes like that anymore.
What day is it?
paddle, row, ride, hike , swim, paint ,ZUMBA....
repeat, paddle, row ,ride, hike, swim, paint, ZUMBA....
paddle ,row ,ride, hike, swim, paint, ZUMBA...
Charlie Maxwell here today...little Max is now Middle Max...
Ice cream, happy hour, woke up to storm, batten down the hatches...storm is a big blow. caves in the tent, spreads everything all around the yard, swimming raft is in. canoe painted, tent is up and dry.... we rescue a another vintage bike...
Calm before, water is like glass, another storm in the distance approaching, black clouds, huge thunder heads, hit the cool lake air and winds twist and swirl. We watch them approach for hours in the distance. The lightning twisting through the clouds, then hits full force. You can feel the windows pulse with the force of the winds. Then huge green flash on the hill above Brighton and all of the lights across the bay go black. Seconds later, power is out for us too. We scramble for candles, headlamps and ice-cold bottles of tequila. Kind of nice to unplug. We play cards by candlelight and watch the lightning blast Brighton across the bay.... In the morning we cook breakfast on the grill, apple wood bacon, cheese omelets, toast and coffee.... still no power no cell Internet ...Today we dove on the old wreck at Salt Point. Scuba dudes, Skip and Forest bring up pirate booty.... I just snorkel along the ribs of the old boat; hard to believe it's in such good shape after so much time...
Day seven,...Forest and I stay up late and watch Young Frankenstein, repeating every line before it's said. All of them...
the water like glass again, so dig out the oars and the little rowboat. A long row down to Calf Pasture, and a brisk row home only to find the bathroom door closed. I knock and a growl GGRRRRR...Echoes back from behind the door. I knock again.... GGRRRR.... I knock again...I go get coffee and wait patiently.
We head off to Trenton hospital with Forest and a sore throat. $325 for triage, plus Dr. plus meds the lady at the info desk estimates $500.... Canadian healthcare works for Canadians...We head off to find a clinic in Belleville; $50...
Set the tree on fire, a little panic but everything is fine, Jeanie no need to worry...Surfs up Presquille Bay, Skip and Kyle rock the boat. Jamie the giant returns with all of our good friends, cocktails. Kids arrive today.
Everyone is finally Jonesing
For fast food, so we're off to Belleville.... Lee Lee wants a Diet Coke, nothing will fill this void...even cleaning up mouse poo. (Kidding, we know nothing beats mouse poo...).
We hit the A&W in force; Lee and I order "Teen Burger Combos”. A large single bypass burger, large fry and ice-cold mug of A&W Rootbeer, Lee gets a Diet Coke. The kids order various other family member burgers, Mamma Burger, Papa Burger, Grumpy Burger...onion rings, Root beer floats...We stuff ourselves until we're bloated.
Everyone returns tonight for a big party weekend. Finally we unleash The Kraken (rum), Dark and Stormy sunset, Increases the chance of conception.... Happy Birthday Caley Venn...
According to local Brighton Council Person D.B Cornwall, we are officially melting today...Finally the heat is here, 91f and the breeze off the bay is like a warm tropical wind. Hottest day since 1948...think we'll be sleeping with the fishes in the bay. We build a pirate ship out of a fruit crate and launch it. It sails straight and true until a large wave shifts her ballast and Davy Jones takes her down...Dinner at Twin Rocks, white hots, Coney’s and Catching up with Uncle Bill and Aunt Marion.
Finally the wind shifts, cool north wind blows the sky clean. We sit by the fire and watch shooting stars zip across the sky. Tiny satellites gliding effortlessly. We all pull our chairs from the circle around the fire and randomly spread ourselves so we can sit in the dark and we tell tales of great Lunker-heads and Banshees that steel children away in the night.... The night is so perfect none of us want to go to sleep.
So we don't.
Recipe for getting Fifteen people on 4x8 swimming rafts: Start with generous amounts of Gin, Vodka, and Rum...add ice...shake vigorously.
Morning so still, Jason and I take a long paddle through the marsh, I bike to the Light house and back, Lee and I take a ride down through the campsites and trails we have not been yet this year. I have been riding along the cottages for a couple weeks now, and this is what I noticed.
Observations along the way; if you ride along the cottages between 7:30 and 8:00 you will notice every dog owner going for a Poo-walk. The difference is they will not be carrying the Poo in a bag. If it is a lady walking, the dog will be big. If it is a man walking, the dog will be tiny. In fact the bigger the man, the smaller the dog. If you are a man walking a big dog, you are required to wear a "silly" women's hat. Though I have not tested my theory, I am thinking this phenomenon is not limited to the cottagers here on Presquille or Ontario for that matter.
Today so calm and warm even Lee Lee and Wendy are in swimming, tubing, laughing, not cleaning up mouse poo...Zak and I have taken to turning the canoe over on top if them (with a little help) and scream loud from underneath, we roll it over and sink it like a mighty pirate ship...Skip lands a delicious big bass, tube, boat, canoe, bike, picnic on lake shore...low country boil, old friends. Mojitoes, Mexican Train, Croqanole, Speed, Chess...Dash finally falls asleep. long bike ride, three deer, rode through the campsites. Campers just waking, a few fires crackling, a few half asleep campers stumble toward the latrines in a zombie like walk. I head for a sprint to the cottage for a nice swim, shampoo and a shave, coffee’s brewing...
What day is it? The Land of Ont, painted sky's, and days that never end...OKAY...back on point, push ups, crunches, pull ups...but after coffee...Mount Madoriama watch we come. But after coffee...
Calathumpian Parade returns to Lilac Lane and all the crew is scrounging up make shift costumes. We’re all supposed to gather at 6:00 for big parade, then cocktails. I am thinking cocktail, and then parade, then cocktails...I never laughed (or squawked) so hard in my life...too funny. You guys are to come I am sure....Lee Lee is dressed like her mom, walking like she just got off a cruise boat. Lesa in hot pink, hot pants and tight midriff, dressed like Jean too. Too many funny costumes to list...Potluck dinner and BBQ in-between the Shire's and Venn's cottages.
Bonfire in the meadow, (no Jean we didn't set the point on fire. Cottages should still be here when you guys come up) late after bug: 30.My throat is sore from Screeching Loudly.... RROBERRRRT.... AAWWWKK.... ROBERT.... AAAWWWKK...AAWWWKK....
In the morning the wind has switched back to the north, so I flip the boat to the other side of the dock. Everyone is asleep. Long ride the opposite way around the point. The wind is chilly so I race back along a new path, back toward Calf Pasture. Near the campgrounds I see a man and a lady walking three dogs. The man is walking a large dog; he does not have on a ladies hat. The woman has two large dogs and a mans hat....
I arrive home to find everyone asleep but the coffee I left brewing is hot and ready. I fry a pound of bacon. I love bacon.
Skip is up and heads off to town in search of eggs.
Many warm hugs and stories. Like the marsh walk we took Zak on. With tall tree fort in the middle of the marsh and 100-year-old Horse Cedars bent like horse saddles you could sit on and ride. We hid behind trees and jumped out to scare Lee.... Near the end I asked him how he liked the marsh and he said, "Bill, you know I am a video game guy." 
    It is sad to leave all of our old friends, we will miss them.... but we've been gone a long time...Met a bunch of new family and new friends, thrown some old stuff away... Zak's first day of school is a week off and we missed all of our good friends back home. Sure would be great to have them all up to the cottage, if it wasn't for the "one bathroom..."
Old Tricks for New Dogs...
© Bill Mayer 2012

© Bill Mayer 2012

 Two in a series I am working on . Just one thumbnail ,one sketch, one final....Just for fun. I had a character development project drag out for way too many sketches and way to many color variations and as a way of exorcizing the demon I wanted to do a little series just for me. Only one thumbnail. then blow it up and paint the finish....I think the demon is gone, but I like the series and think I will do a few more....
© Bill Mayer 2012

  This is a horrifying little story about the problems with the quality of food supply in China for both the Chinese market and for the countries to which it exports food products, like the U.S. Food scandals have made consumers here and in China nervous, and they’ve also gotten the attention of multinational companies that operate there. Many of these companies have opted to manage their own foosupplies by policing and auditing them. Some pretty shocking examples that would make you literally sick. Crazy stuff. Morris Stubbs , my Art Director,wants a cover illustration with a 'dark tone' that goes with the story. ”Something a little shocking”. It’s like 'The Rotten Earth' that I did last year, a little gouache sketch of a blue face with soulless eyes bleeding a slimy black pitch…
"The U.S. Government had sufficient concerns that it opened an FDA office in China the first one ever established overseas. Progress has been made. But there are still huge concerns. One of the main sources for this story a lawyer who lives and works in Shanghai says that just about all the food he eats there is imported."

I talked it over with Morris and got started on thumbnails. I've always loved dark and slightly evil directions, like he usually wants. I did a dozen great little ideas and shot them off. They have a direction now, anyway.

- "Bill when you get this email give me a call, we like #8 "peas" but I'd like to work the China flag into the pod but softly and remove the faces and just have very disturbed looking peas…”

I did a sketch of the peas with out the faces. It was so bland. It just seemed like there was no concept anymore so I called Morris and tried to sell him on putting the sculls back in… He said they still felt that it made it too personal, like it was the Chinese people doing this and not the powers in charge. He advised to just make the peas look nasty and deformed.
After he let me know he could give me a few more day,  I started thinking about how I was going to salvage this. At least I had a bit more time to procrastinate. Instead of a the Friday deadline I had til' Wednesday
I half-heartedly made a stab at painting the illustration early Friday,  But it sucked (seriously), so I opted for a nice walk and some climbing with  my friend Goñi…

It’s spring here in Atlanta and it’s truly one of the most beautiful places on earth… Meanwhile, I was still trying to think of a visual way to salvage this illustration.
One night over the weekend I was drawing in my sketchbook and I came up with a kindof alien version of the pea pod. I figured this might be what it needs. It was more or less the “Invasion Of The Pod People” in my head…I was eager to get into the studio and paint this. I woke up early and headed in around 6:00 am I have the painting done by noon and started scanning it in. Another few hours of editing and tweaking digitally and it’s working pretty well.
© Bill Mayer 2012


   Goñi dropped by the studio to see what I was up to and I showed him the thumbnails. He liked the oriental face down in the lower right corner. He said I should do that one too! According to him, it would only 'take fifteen minutes'. I still had til' Wednesday so I figured what the Hell. I got right in on Tuesday and started on two more versions, including one I wanted to do a brush drawing on a red background.
© Bill Mayer 2012
© Bill Mayer 2012

I figured this could be a really strong cover and worth the extra effort to see what it will look like. It ended up taking all morning. Then after lunch I jumped on starting the face. It took about two hours…
I just put a spot in the middle of the eyes with the stars from Chinese flag.

Wednesday morning I sent everything off for Morris to approve. He never respon­­­­ded on the other two concepts, just the original. He like it but the editors felt its was too scary and that I should get rid of some of the tentacles. While doing that I ended up getting rid of some of the strange alien sex parts my wife Lee pointed out, in the process . It ended up working pretty well so I send it off!

After one final round of slight adjustments, trying to make sure it read with the type well. I Really happy with the way the final one was working,it's still my favorite,  but started wondering how the art director felt about the final result. I wasn't sure if he did or didn’t like it because I tried so many other directions did that give him the impression that I was not satisfied with it? But really that was not the reason. I always wonder how one of the other ideas will turn out.
© Bill Mayer 2012

Later on I replaced the spot on the oriental face with a nasty fly. I liked the fly so much I ended up going ahead and scattering them all over the face. It certainly worked better conceptually. Another fun little illustration. I comped them up to see what the other two would look like as covers too. Well, I definitely still like the original, but I don’t know now …”The Flies” just kind of work….­­
Sink or Swim.

Asset International: Interest Rates Rising. Sink or Swim. Another illustration for SooJin, this one about surviving the impending European economic fall-out. I thought I would post this one as a simple tutorial on building an illustration in Photoshop. The thumbnails are all pretty straightforward. With a few of them I was trying to figure out a way to bring something in that would identify with Europe, but SooJin didn't think that it was important. She picks no.18, but says it's only showing the sinking scenario, and to have in the distance a boat that's survived the "interest storm." Adjust for the wider layout and shoot a sketch off and wait for approval.

She gets back to me quickly and i transfer this sketch down to a board and airbrush the ship and man on the bow...The next step is to sort of get a handle on the pallet. the last one I did for SooJin was in a neutral color pallet, and looking at the subject matter, thought this one worked leaning that way as well.

Let's start with grey...Block in flat colors to set the tone and mood of the piece.

add some gradients

Add the islands and simple reflections. Keeping it fairly simple...

Adding some clouds and starting on some reflections in the water.I darkened the edges to make it a bit moodier.

More detail. ropes and more layers of clouds...and a reflection of the boat..these are real simple just copy the layer and flop them over in transform adjust the transparency and mask them so it's not too even.
Then a few final tweaks... Not trying to make this too simple...

 Done then shoot off a low rez for approval and upload the high rez and you're done....And there you have it, and there it this....Not trying to over simplify the illustration but building a neutral color pallet off a grey back ground is just one way of working with the color. Certainly there are a host of others. The neutrals seemed to work well with this one because of the "after the storm" concept...But you get the Idea...
Boston Globe-Unbearable Lightness of Being...

Here's another great little editorial piece for The Boston Globe. This little e-mail came in on a Saturday. Normally not in on the weekends but I was finishing up some illustrations for Matell and needed to tweak them out before Monday. So got this little note from Illoz, ( Thanks Zimm, it's working). Called to actually turn down the job because it was a little tight with the deadline, needed final by mid day Wednesday. and it's Turkey week. I am already covered up. But while I was waiting for Jane to answer I read that little blurb in the copy and the visual was right there and so intriguing. Here are my first thoughts on the thumbnails... they come mainly from the line in the copy that reads: "they are larks flying among powerful birds of prey." I'm thinking to somehow working words and/or text into the illustration, (ie. birds made of text..) Probably use some sort of spot color, to contrast with the black, and draw attention to the lark.

 Jane said she would rather have a free-floating image. I had this image in my head from the very beginning but I always play around with thumbs to see if there is anything better. Turned out pretty much like I had seen it from the very beginning.  I spent a moring on the final; just pulled some Rafter reference together and of course a Lark. I tried and certainly wasted several hours trying to fill the big birds with text but in the end decided to scrap it for a simpler version.
I love how these little brush drawing look blown up, Just hoping some of the detail holds up....

 Unbearable Lightness of Being... Here's Jane's very cool design. Love how the birds hang at the edge of the type.

Under Preasure...

It’s always nice to ease back into work with one of SooJin’s illustrations. We had a great break on holiday at the cottage in Canada. Great to unplug a bit, turn down a few illustrations jobs and just get lost. Now that we’re back, Jumping right into the thumbnails is a great way to get back in gear. This article was about the squeeze Euro companies are feeling on their benefits and retirement plans. The first round of thumbs really dealt more with variations centered around retirees having the earth eroded out from under them ( 27). I set it aside for lunch and when I came back to it I liked these directions much better. Sometimes the most obvious directions work the best (28).

Final sketch before I started airbrushing...© bill Mayer 2011

I tried several background variations before settling on this grey. It seemed to set the mood better than a blue sky. I likes the way it worked as a neutral pallet. The color gave the piece a bit more of a somber feel and attitude to such a silly concept.
Desk top copies of work in progress showing simple steps adding background...trees, hillside...

After transferring the image to illustration board I do the airbrush part of the illustration . In the past I would have done the sky and background as well, but now that they have to be delivered digitally I do a lot of the backgrounds a finishing in Photoshop. Tried a blue to yellow transition in the sky ,just was not working...I liked keeping the pallet warm but it just felt like it needed to bit moody... so I added a little dark grey to somber it up a bit.... added a little hill...trying to keep it very simple....Added some shading on the hill...feels like it needs a little depth and dark areas in the bottom... Shadow is helping...I used the path for the original outline and just transform / distort / warped it to fall along the hill top... added a few more hills to give it some depth.... and some simple trees to help add some dark areas along the bottom... a little noise in the background to match to texture of the airbrush.... I always leave a ton of bleed just in case need more room for type....Added some highlights and tweaking to the eyes so they showed up better... Pretty much done now just a few little tweaks....Just need to send it off and get some feed back from Soojin...
I played around with a little side lighting but seemed to be getting a bit confusing and made the figure look blurry, so i deleted it....

Much clearer, added a shadow to set the face back a bit and take the focus off of him...

Pretty much done now just a few little tweaks....Just need to send it off and get some feed back from Soojin...

SooJin had said that the article had been put on hold for some reason . Rarely do you get a chance to look at something again after you finished. I opened up the file the other morning and played around with darkening up the backgrounds. I like the feelling this gave the illustration and thought it might work better with the type as well so I sent off to SooJin to get her take on it. Altogether I think it made for a stronger cover design.
This article was put on hold a delayed. So after it sat around for a week or so I decided to take another look at the background...

The inside spread , nice clean design. SooJin always comes through with such great design and direction . It’s always such a joy to work on these projects.
The inside spread , nice clean design. SooJin always comes through with such great design and direction . It’s always such a joy to work on these projects.
Here's a copy of the cover I snagged off the internet version of Plansponsor. I really lover the way the type is interwoven with the illustration. NIce and clear...It held up prettwell even on the webversion on my IPhone.Although I would certainly prefer leafing through the magazine leasurely...
Creative Carnival

Sometimes something just lands in your lap with so much potential. When you have a client that is open for you to do anything you want, and an audience of your peers that will surely thumb their nose at anything sub-standard, you can't help but panic a little at first; right? This little poster was just so much fun from the very beginning, it was hard to see it all come to an end. Much thanks to all of the folks at Workbook for giving me the freedom to take this wherever it ended up falling. For me, I am much more used to heavy-handed art direction, so this "Do-whatever-you-want" theme I have been getting lately is just such a joy. But also hard to settle down in any one direction. No art director, no writer... Just do whatever you like.... How much fun this would be....

I did the normal thumbnail blast of overthinking directions and came up with four ideas that I thought worked pretty well. So, I comped those up and shared them with Alison. She warned me not to show so many ideas; that although they will enjoy seeing the process, they will not understand them and probably take me off in a direction I really don't want to go in. So we talked about them, and she said, "Do what ever you want...." This is still so hard for me, making decisions on what or where to go with a project so I decided to keep working on them and flush them out and sooner or later one would immerge as the right direction. I took the candidates and ran them by my normal group of  internal critics and they like three, which I took a little farther toward the final poster. I wrote some copy and put together some type to give it that Carny feel...finally the two that were working both worked so well I figured either one would make a great poster so Sent them off to the "Reply all" group for feedback. They were split on wich one to go with but now offered some input (yes, of course, never too late for changes) on copy. Adding the performers and free drinks and victuals...( I had to look up victuals...)
Here are the first set of thumbnails i did trying to get some handle on style a direction

I always loved Carney's, the dark, sort-of seedy side of those traveling freak shows and circuses that we were exposed to early in life. We had a travelling fair that would come through our town every year. I remember those so vividly. There was a great little movie version of a Ray Bradbary story, taken from a line in Shakespeare..."Something Wicked This Way Comes" This was a pefect visual inspiration for the feeling of those old Carneys that I remembered. When we were in art school at Ringling, there were lots of old circus performers that lived in the Sarasota area. It was not uncommon to pass them sitting on the porch of an old boarding house... a dwarf and a fat lady, just sitting, enjoying the day.
This stuff has so much great texture. Lee and I collected victorian taxidermy animal freaks for a while . You know Chickens being ridden by squirrels with a little whip... Vampire mice with little capes, animated birds.... There is a great little shop, I think it was called Shoefer's on 31st between 6th and 7th Avenue in New York where we found a standing goat who's penis flies out when you pull his tail. Yeah I know silly stuff to lay around the house, but fits right in with our gypsy junk. Shoefer's is a glass eye sales and taxidermy rentals, bizarre little place that we frequented to buy strange and mostly damaged dead things out of the basement.
second set of thumbs, tied a few little color studies, Liked number 44....33, love this little character on 29...gotta think of a way to use him...

took some of the four directions and did a little tighter thumbnail and added type. these little guys are about an inch and a half tall...

Just trying to get some direction from the client as to where they want to go...unfortunately I liked them all... I did my usual poll of friends to see which ones they liked and decided to keep working on three of them.

I don't know seemed like just too much color. I liked this version better in the thumbnail...

I really loved the Black and white drawings, and tried leaving it that way. added subtle colors and distressed the drawing... actually, I still like the limited color..

Here is the final poster I sent for approval...I wrote some copy to give it a "Carny" feel. Seemed like it needed a second color. Red and black always work...

Beagle Boy to replace the Black faced clown...

So I didn't have an art director on this project until the very end and then seemed like everyone had something to say about it. Less type might be better.(Like I designed it originally, before you added all of the type?) Okay, let's bounce it off a few art director friends i know.mThey all say more type is better so the type stays... I am off on other projects. Honestly, I killed myself on this one by doing multiple versions of the same poster. Live and learn... and finally, the black faced clown had to go.... I loved that silly black face so it was hard to let go of this... But I had already been warned by both Lee and Alison that this would be a problem. The black face I never saw as a black person, but a way to bring some solid weight into the top of the illustration... But Black-faced Clown has to go. Finding a replacement I liked as much took a few tries. Seemed like Beagle Boy would do the trick....and he did work just fine.... Still awaiting a decision on which direction they will go with, but I like both of them, so either way I will be happy. 
And there you have it a final poster just in time for the holiday weekend...© Bill Mayer 2011

Projects like this are always so fun, it's hard to settle down and just do one version. They don't really come around that often and somehow you just really don't want them to end. Thank God for deadlines to help them out the door and help folks make final selections. Big thanks to Alison and the folks at WorkBook.
New York Times
Final illustration for The New York Times © Bill Mayer 2011

I got an email from Minh at New York Times about a little spot illustration for a story he said he would love for me to do. I can remember reading it, thinking, "Edel must be on vacation…" Anyway, a great little story about how “we seem to be losing the digital right to be forgotten or deleted." In Europe, there are legislations for consumers (if they wish) to have their personal information be deleted from company data banks. In the US, there’s no such thing. These companies need to keep your info so they can sell you stuff and trade it w/ others. Seemed pretty straightforward, so I shot him an email back and we chatted. He told me I could work in any style I wanted. We decided to let the thumbnails lead us in a direction for style.
I started off with a few random thumbnails of a man erasing himself and variations on other disappearing acts and these seemed like they were going no where. Then I stumbled on the idea of having the words coming out of the figure. This series of thumbnails are all loosely based in that same direction. A pretty good bunch of thoughts and some great little drawings in there so I sent them off to Minh to get his response.

One last little thumbnail, the article started off talking about going to the dentist and all of the information they would collect. It ended up on the same subject. So I thought they might want the spot to tie into the copy a little stronger. This little image popped up. A toothbrush with the words dripping from it... I wasn't really sure the right way to convey the personal data, as words or zeros and ones. I talked this over with Mihn and we decided on the zeros and ones, keep it simple and not get caught up in the details about the information being stored." Are you overdue for a dental cleaning? Want to recommend your dentist to a friend, write a review of his services, or try the Invisalign brand of clear braces?..."
A little side note, I always ask my wife Lee to pick her favorite. Without fail, she will always pick the same as Mihn. Number 3. He liked the simplicity of #3 and how it got the idea across without adding any other comments into the illustration. Simple is good… We talked about style and decided that the airbrush style was not right for this one. He had seen some of the little three-color line things I had been playing around with. After all this great direction we’re off and running.
Sketches for the illustration© Bill Mayer 2011

After lunch I started drawing the idea. It was so simple, and i was having a great deal of trouble keeping it that way. I started trying to add more character into the drawing and I stumbled on a couple of great character studies, one of a kind-of heavy guy that I fell in love with and desperately wanted to make work. But rather than sending a sketch, I put it together in color and sent it off to show Minh.
I had already started working on alternatives when I got Minh’s call. He said he had real problems with this direction. Although he liked the character, he thought it complicated the concept. I mean, who is this funny fat guy? Why is he peeing all over himself and why are you making this so hard on yourself? These little thumbnails are so nice and simple… Okay, Okay. I get it… simple is good…
Simple is good… But still, it just seemed too easy to just do the thumbnail. So, again, I drew and rescanned the figure in and put together little roughs to see which one would work the best. I loved the stark black figure on white and no matter how many textures and backgrounds I tried I still kept coming back to that solid black on white with limited color....Simple is good, yes....
I put together four of the little drawings into the concept to see how they worked. Two were working pretty well. This was pretty easy to do because I already had all of the numbers in a folder so with a little tweaking I could pull them around and get a basic sense of how this was going to  work...
I had two contenders in the end that I felt strongly enough about to offer them up for consideration. I think they both had things that worked really well so I would not be unhappy with either direction.
Minh called me and said he and the writer had gone over both of them. It’s funny how drawing can sometimes have a feeling that may seem to add something intended or not. Ultimately he said he felt the one with the face had more empathy. The dark figure looked too evil. I guess it was those glowing eyes.
Alternate illustration. Not used © Bill Mayer 2011

final illustration.The New York Times © Bill Mayer 2011

I took the character and took the numbers off  that fat man and as Minh suggested he made a pretty good “Fat Cat.” Just not right for this story. I am sure he will find his way to resurface somewhere.
Alternate illustration. Not used © Bill Mayer 2011

Anyway great fun working on this project with Mihn and a big thanks to him for keeping me on track and to Edel for taking the week off and giving me a chance to do one of these little gems. Much fun…
The printed page from the paper....It is still a big thrill to see my work in the Times....I know pretty silly but I can't help it.

Oz-cetera Creative Directory © Bill Mayer 2011
This drawing started off as an idea to take something disturbing and try to cover it up with something beautiful. Sort of a masking of the harsh reality of death but also became a symbol of resurrection as well. I thought this might make for a little series of its own. taking evil or disturbing images and covering them with flowers.

The art director a Oz asked me for some ideas on how to handle the type on the cover .One obvious direction seemed to be to play down the logo and title of the book so there would be a sharp contrast with the color on the image. I played around with adding some of the old collage flowers into the logo and title.Subtle seemed like a better approach.
The Willow and the Lamb
 General Orders No.9 Opens in Broollyn June 24th 20011  Trailer
Illustration © bill Mayer 2008 Film stills depicting a texture and feeling of a time gone by. Icons of a lost civilization.

Deer trail becomes Indian trail becomes county road. General Orders No. 9 provides a history of the state of Georgia, but not in any normal textbook fashion Instead it takes an impressionistic and poetic approach to span the time when Europeans first discovered the land that was then inhabited by Indians to the present day. It's an almost spiritual history shaped by landscape and geography, but as man began to impart his will onto the land, a conflict develops from the scars of war to the development of interstates, which gave rise to the city, which is presented as an abberation, an oppressive machine that works to isolate instead of unifying with a sense of belonging and place. General Orders No. 9 is one last trip down the rabbit hole before it gets paved over. A deep geography. What is above and what is below. What came before and what will come after. Agrarian fantasies, sacrificial rites, and excavations. A story told with maps, dreams, and prayers.
Icons for a Lost Civilization.
New Rose Window
Director Bob Persons
Illustrator Bill Mayer
Illustration © bill Mayer 2008 Film stills depicting a texture and feeling of a time gone by. Icons of a lost civilization.

And here's some details for the upcoming Brooklyn screening: (jealous!) "The film will open at Brooklyn’s reRun Gastropub Theater on June 24th, with expansion to major markets to follow. Select screenings will include a live musical performance of the score. In addition, an art exhibit featuring the director’s collection of artifacts and antique maps, as well as new art made for the film, will tour with the film to select markets."
Illustration © bill Mayer 2008 Film stills depicting a texture and feeling of a time gone by. Icons of a lost civilization.

Illustration © bill Mayer 2008 Film stills depicting a texture and feeling of a time gone by. Icons of a lost civilization.

Illustration © bill Mayer 2008 Film stills depicting a texture and feeling of a time gone by. Icons of a lost civilization.

Adaptation of the lamb and willow for New Rose Window's logo in the film.

This synopsis of No. 9 makes things make so much more sense:
"One last trip down the rabbit hole before it gets paved over. A deep geography. What is above and what is below. What came before and what will come after. Agrarian fantasies, sacrificial rites, and excavations. A story told with maps, dreams, and prayers. A map lesson in three parts. A history of the State of Georgia - or Anywhere. Deer trail becomes Indian trail becomes county road."
Flixist review
To See more of the cons see the gallery section under General Orders No. 9
The Great Deluge....
I woke up this morning to more depressing news about the floods in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana. I thought of that old Cotton mouth as a metaphor for the Mississippi, large, swollen, and menacing...

As the waters reach New Orleans I just couldn't help thinking, Where will those Cottons Mouth all go? Looks to all of us in the South this flood could be a catastrophy unlike any of us has witnessed before. Waters reaching 50 feet above their normal flood ranges. I recently heard that the Akansas River is now flowing backwards.
On Tuesday, May 10th, the Mississippi River crested in Memphis at nearly 48 feet, just short of its all-time record of 48.7. It has destroyed houses and massive crops of cotton, rice, and corn. Damage in Memphis estimated at $320 million, but the official tally (probably much higher) won’t be available until the waters go back down.
More than 1,500 square miles of farmland in Arkansas, which produces about half of the nation's rice, have been swamped over the past few weeks, and the economic impact will be more than $500 million, according to the state's Farm Bureau.
There has been one reported death, but more will likely surface when the waters go down. (still no estimate as to when)
Most devastating flood since the “flood of 1927. (record high of 56.3 feet)”
See pictures of the devistation and aftermath @
Here is the final poster with the type I decided to just put on the bottom. the poster was so busy i didn't see how to add it into the face of the 24"x36"poster. © Bill Mayer 2011

If it's not apparent, JAZZOO is a fundraising event for the Atlanta Zoo. When I got a call to do this poster, it was pretty much an open canvas. Jeff Stewart, the art director, had gone through my fickr site and pulled off some old samples of "Blind Boys" and other samples of some of the more folk-art styles I had done a few years back. He sent them to me as a possible direction. I did the normal "bunches of thumbnails" exploration. They were having a lot of trouble understanding the thumbnails so I took a few and added color to make them easier to understand. As an after thought I did a second bunch of fun little folk art versions. Lee liked the folk art ones, but said "they'll never go in that direction..." It's great when clients act unexpectedly, and occasionally, it can make for some fun outcomes.

colored a few thumbnails to make them easier to understand.

My after thought on thumbnails. We all loved this direction but were convinced that the client would not go this way..© Bill Mayer 2011

Part of the direction was that the poster had to be of a giraffe. I really didn't think about it much before I started, but that long neck became quite a problem. Tried everything I could think of to work my way around it; hooking it around, over the top, or just cutting it off. I think that is why, when it came to the little folk art versions, I decided to just " Picasso" it and ignore the long neck and move the mouth down and make it into a little face. This worked out better than I had hoped.  They loved this direction and their only comment was to make the drawing more colorful. So I took the little thumbnail and comped up a version with the colors close to the way I thought it would work. then printed it out and painted over it on the light box. worked pretty well.
This is the little comp I did, pulling all of the elements from the thumbnails together and organizing them to get a clearer idea of how the drawing would work. Some of the final editing came through after the painting was done to make it read better .We opened up the distance inbetween the characters and the type. I had initially thought about hand doing the other type until they sent me final copy. too much to squeeze into the illustration , Which seemed crowded already so I put the Type at the bottom.This will make it easy to edit as I am sure the copy will change several times before we go to print.

When I posted this on Facebook last week a couple of people mentioned a nod to the modernist. I really wasn't trying for that but when it was all finalized and put together it did remind me of one of those great cubist circus posters they used to do back in the 1960's. I can definately see some Flora infulence. Some of their wacked out cubist drawings are just so inspiring. My grandson Forest said, "Oh, retro Bill Mayer!..." I guess he's remembering those old scatchboard drawings I did of the birds ......the skeleton and The Blind Boys of Alabama....

Dellas Graphics Frogfolio Part Two
© Bill Mayer 2011

I had a little more time, so went back to a technique I stumbled on last year. These little brush drawings were a lot of fun. There was another thumbnail of a snake and a frog so, rather than doing another airbrush or line version I thought I would go back to the brush style. Although these turned out well, for me, they lacked the same excitement that happened last year when I discovered this little technique. In fact, they just seemed a bit too close to last years Death of Frogs Two....But still, alway a joy so why not share some of these as well.
© Bill Mayer 2011

© Bill Mayer 2011

© Bill Mayer 2011

© Bill Mayer 2011

I did a half dozen of these  brush drawings.Tried adding color and textures. Some worked better than others. I loved the cropping on this heron and the deep blue color. Tried some diferent colors and backgrounds.I think the one at the top was my favorite. I loved the really quick fresh brush stroke.
Dellas Graphics Frog Part Three
"Le Bal de Moth" © Bill Mayer 2011

Okay I know , but I just could leave this little thumbnail unfinished. I had originally thought of this as a bunch of street walking harlet frogs but I know they like to keep the calendar on the PG rating and just incase it turned out better than the king Frog .I decided to make it in to kind of a night time clubby thing. Like some Hong Kong disotequue. I had been playing with some line illustrations in December and I thought that would be a great style to explore a little more. Kind of pushed the concept in that direction.
I really liked the stark Black line and heavy back areas.I was pretty happy with the way this one turned out. © Bill Mayer 2011

this was the first little comp I did on adding color. © Bill Mayer 2011

tried flushing it out ading some subtle textures in the background. © Bill Mayer 2011

tried it in Yellow...© Bill Mayer 2011

tried it in orange... Just seams like it worked in any color that I tried. Bu tI still keeo going back to the Black line .... © Bill Mayer 2011

I really like the way that the strong Back and line work work together. I wanted to try some limited color treatment not to over power  the line and yet give it a bit more atmosphere. I typed in to Google Tranlate a bunch of little things like "Frog Town Disco" and " All You Can Eat Flies" ...But I really have no idea what the type actually says. Just hope it's what Google said it was..... A coupleof friends now have said Aubrey Beardslye when I showed it to them, I just don't see it But I guess they're talking about the negative black areas and the detail ...Okay I gues I can see that.Well not really, But I did think it turned out Kind of cool. After letting it sitting around, I am thing I like the Black line as much without the color. That's the problem letting these things sit around too long. Starting on another direction....Oh no to many frogs ,time for something else....
Oz Resurrection
Naturally, © Bill Mayer 2011

Oz Magazine - OzCetera is being resurrected and the owner and friend had called me about doing a cover. We talked about the aspects of the audience they were trying to reach; a lot of the film crews and production people around Atlanta. Kind of a lifestyle magazine for out-of-towner’s on where to go and best places to get a tattoo or a Double Bypass Cheese Burger. I had been working on some new Line and collage drawings and I put them together as a pitch for how I saw the cover of the magazine.  Something like a hip cool New Yorker, witty and entertaining, using a playful way of incorporating the logo into the art. They were discussing the placement of the Oz logo for OzCetera Covers (bi-monthly digital magazine), and we decided to just focus on the actual artwork. The Oz logo will be embedded on the side of the page, more than likely. So we were completely on the same page with how I saw using the art.
here are my little cover comps I put together......Naturally, All Images © Bill Mayer 2011

They loved all of the designs and had trouble making up their minds. They used the tattoo lady on their blog… I guess a sort of pre-launch image teaser. Finally, they did make up their minds and got around to designing their own cover as well and they’re off and running… Here is a detail of how I designed the logos to be a playful part of the art. In this case, the logos as rather naughty pasties.
Naturally, © Bill Mayer 2011
It aint over till the fat lady chokes on the cheeseburger.... Also got picked up and used on the blog/digital magazine OzCetera. I love this little character. Well, full sized charater. What was it they said in Spinal Tap "The bigger the cushion, the better the pushin'....." Incidentally that little pup is Glen Bendrick's vicious pile of fluff. Tries to attack and eat me everytime we meet....
Naturally, © Bill Mayer 2011
Cover For Oz Magazine illustration © Bill Mayer 2011

Goodbye Kitty and friends....
I loved the graphic line and vintage clip-art pieces thrown in; strong black and white with brilliant color... © Bill Mayer 2010

"The Apple of my Eye" © Bill Mayer 2010

The Lady in the Kimono was a simple illustration that went through several concepts before I landed on this one. The Idea was to do a kind of traditional Japanese lady in a Kimono holding a little iPhone. I had been playing with the black and white drawing with the collage elements worked in. Most of the time, the collage elements actually have more to do with the concept, but in this case it was just decorative. I loved the graphic line and old clip-art pieces thrown in. The diference in this and the stamp drawings was that the drawing came first and the other elements came later. With the stamps, they were always the first thing on the page and then I would come back and draw over them. I guess it works both ways.
The Hanging....Naturally © Bill Mayer 2010

The Hanging is another little collage illustration: taking a somber image and using contrasting collage pieces to bring humor into a rather bleak subject. Lee is not going to like this one, either... I can't show thumbnails or sketches because this is just a little thumbnail itself....
"Goodbye Kitty" After Yuko Shimizu © Bill Mayer 2010

I did this little Cat piece trying to solve a little problem with a nice rat illustration I had that had no concept, just a nice rat.. Seemed natural to pick another celebrity cat to use. My first thought was Felix, and then Lee mentioned Hello Kitty... seemed like a great fit but after wrestling with how to make it work with the rat, I just decided it worked much better on its own. We were walking down to the Brickstore Pub to meet some friends, so I doodled this on my napkin to remind me.... Goodbye Kitty... Seemed like such an obvious idea, although Yuko Shimizu designed Hello Kitty for Sanrio, so for sure there needs to be heavy credit to them... all I did was add pink blood....
Just for clearification the Yuko that designed Hello Kitty is this Yuko Shimizu

This little drawing I came up with at the same time as the cat. Most of the time, when I am laying there thinking of little ideas I just roll over, go back to sleep and forget about them, but this time I actually sketched a little hieroglyph in my sketchbook to remind me. I love the traditional wood cuts from Japanese artists of the ninteenth century. This little drawing was influenced by one of Kiyomitzo's, but instead, the beautiful girl is replaced by an Ogre and the patterns woven with Japanese corporations. An attempted metaphor for the the new direction of a more aggressive Japanese business climate?
There are snakes under those Kimonos... and they have teeth...
Close up of the head so you can see the corporation names woven into the drawing... " The New Japan" © Bill Mayer 2010

I tried to make the hands ugly and distorted, with long nails and little piles of skulls of the competition lying around hidden under the robe © Bill Mayer 2010

Da Leakie Mon... © Bill Mayer 2010

And on my ongoing quest to get the portraits better, here's a little "Leaky Man" of WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange. I always loved those old cartoons, where the guy gets shot in a few dozen places and walks away, only to drink a glass of water and have it spout out from the bullet holes... old clichés never die... seemed so appropriate.
For the love of a good line...
It's not over till the fat lady chokes on the big mac... Naturally © Bill Mayer 2010

While working on a new business pitch for Y&R, I did these little New Yorker-ish line drawings. They wanted a kind of New Yorker direction... and I'm not sure that I can actually show anything from the new biz stuff... But these were a few of the drawings that spawned themselves while waiting for input from the art director. Always loved black line and solid black, so strong, graphically.
Rabbi(t)... © Bill Mayer 2010

Flip Flops... Naturally © Bill Mayer 2010

The Good , The Bad and The Ugly
the good...© Bill Mayer 2010

On a side note: Obama was blue, because he started off as the multi armed Indian God, "Kali." It was going to be another little gouache portrait, with the necklace of skulls, and the heads of "The Axis of Evil" on His belt. A very time-consuming illustration abandoned temporarily for paying work; And maybe abandoned permanently now that someone did the same thing (kind of) on the cover of NewsWeek.
The Bad....© Bill Mayer 2010

Been trying some more caricature illustration, something that always gave me trouble. Looking through my book the other day, noticed there was not much in the way of caricature. Not from the last few years anyway, I think it's because all of the work I do, I draw from my head. So, I wanted to take a little time and try something that's not a bug or a monster... Here's a little thumbnail page of the gouache sketches, and some enlargements to follow. Practice, practice... in the words of the the great Conan The Barbarian, (from Nietzsche, I think) "If it doesn't kill me it will make me stronger"
All Illustrations © Bill Mayer 2010
Little gouache sketch....© Bill Mayer 2010

Little gouache sketch....© Bill Mayer 2010

For the love of a good line....
While working on a new business pitch for Y&R, I did these little New Yorker-ish line drawings. They wanted a kind of New Yorker direction... and I'm not sure that I can actually show anything from the new biz stuff... But these were a few of the drawings that spawned themselves while waiting for input from the art director. Always loved black line and solid black, so strong, graphically.
Staying Sharp #3
Naturally © Bill Mayer 2010
Naturally © Bill Mayer 2010
Naturally © Bill Mayer 2010
Naturally © Bill Mayer 2010
Naturally © Bill Mayer 2010
Naturally © Bill Mayer 2010
Naturally © Bill Mayer 2010
Naturally © Bill Mayer 2010
Naturally © Bill Mayer 2010
Naturally © Bill Mayer 2010
Naturally © Bill Mayer 2010
Naturally © Bill Mayer 2010
Naturally © Bill Mayer 2010
Naturally © Bill Mayer 2010
Okay a great way to stay sharp, take an object from your studio and do ten sketches :10 min.... for me; ( insert some lame joke about unlocking the creative psycy) ...So a key works..... If you want to see more "Staying Sharp," see Staying Sharp #2.
Right brain thinking....So it's a little exercise I started when I was in art school...Doesn't have to be brilliant, just a great way of staying fresh and keeping the ideas flowing. Honestly, this little set of drawings only took :10 but then another 20 minutes or so to scan them and figure out how to post them....but you get the idea.
Gold Fish in Black and White
Naturally © Bill Mayer 2010

So, waiting on approvals the other day, thought I would try out a few more brush drawings. I picked the goldfish because I was looking for some graphic elements that would lend themselves to the brush... Bought me a new Winsor Newton Series Seven brush and did these little sketches I thought I would share. Winsor Newton Series Seven is an old stand by for me but can't resist a little trip to the art store to get some new toys, and nothing works quite as well as a brand spakin new one. next time I thought I would try some different subjects, maybe a little more conceptual, adding color. But here's the first batch, hot off the scanner...couple more that were not on Facebook, enjoy...
Naturally © Bill Mayer 2010

Naturally © Bill Mayer 2010

Naturally © Bill Mayer 2010

Naturally © Bill Mayer 2010

Naturally © Bill Mayer 2010

All Aboard
 The Other day we were rummaging through some old files and ran across these thumbnails. Even though this was a couple years old, I thought you guys would enjoy this. "All Aboard" was a Picture book I did with Art Director Ann Bobco. A puzzling alphabet book; where all of the letters would be hidden in the illustrations. Certainly some more than others. When I started the book I wanted the overall feel to be reminiscent of those great travel posters from the 1920's and 1930's. Bold and graphic images that would stand on thier own, as well as make a great collection in a folio. See all of the images from the book in the GALLERY
This image from "All Aboard" won a Silver medal in the Original Art Show at Society of Illustrators in 2008. © Bill Mayer 2008

Some of the already edited thumbnails, trying to work out a flow to the book. © Bill Mayer 2008

I don't usually do color thumbnails, but with a book I thought it was important. Keeping the flow of the book and using a variety of colors spread throughout. © Bill Mayer 2008

One of only a few completely digital pieces in the book.© Bill Mayer 2008

Overview of the book. © Bill Mayer 2009

working out the type. © Bill Mayer 2009

Village Voice Bed Bugs
Sometimes when you sit down to work on Ideas , you just get too many great ideas. Sometimes even the Art Director can't choose and you end up doing two . That's what happened with these little bed bug illustrations. I get ichy all over just looking at them . Here is also a case of photo shop allowing me to do a concept I would have proabably stayed away from. But with being able to clone the bugs , I could just do one or two bugs and clone them into a mighty army of mutants. Ready and willing to suck your very life, if not the blood, and leave your lifeless body a hollow shell for your kids to find in the morning when they come in to wake you. I guess you can pick up on the ones they picked; #2 and #9. Ended up with the large area for the Village Voice mast head at the top. on the inside full page for the bug army. God I love these bug jobs. Just can't get enough of them.
thumbnails for Village Voice...©Bill Mayer 2010

Inside full page illustration © Bill Mayer 2010

Cover Village Voice © Bill Mayer 2010

Sometimes you come up with great ideas ,sometimes it's your grand kids that come up with the ideas and you just steal them and put them down on paper. this idea came from my grandson Forest who has been helping me around the studio for a couple of years now. I still had to put down a few of my own, the normal 40+ thumbnails...Katie Burk at NPR was the art director, And ultimately gave me more freedom than I am used to having on jobs.
naturally © Bill Mayer 2010

The NPR calendar ideas were in all different directions, but the ones they seemed to gravitate toward were the ones that were chaotic, with the broadcast creating an oasis of joy within the insanity. I really liked the silly abominable snowman...They liked Forest's idea of the traffic. Katie thought it was something most folks could idenitfy with..... naturally © Bill Mayer 2010
more thumbnails.. the normal "exploration of ideas" sorta stream of conciousness. I  am not really sure why I do so many of these; I guess it is one of my favorite parts of every job. Trying to find just the right fit and tone to make them happy. And yes, it is fun... naturally © Bill Mayer 2010
you know, I loved this sketch so much. I was trying to find a way to color it digitally so I didn't lose the spontaneous insanity. © Bill Mayer 20010

a close runner-up was this sketch of basically the same idea twisted to create a little oasis amidst the busy bustle of the city.... © Bill Mayer 2010

What I was trying for was a Old "Pulps" Cover from-the-20's feel.... Goose-stepping bugs on their way to conquer the world.

Click Here to see All Final Images.
When Mathew Willis / Blue Print Partners, Amsterdam called me about working on this project , it was a simple reuse of some illustrations I had for a project with Shaun Hawk, at McCormick. Blue Print is a Public relations firm who were given the task of trying to come up with a brochure to help sway public opinion about pending Euro legislation that would curb pesticide use . It started as a single page comic in the form of a direct mail piece. We went over the project and decided to produce a little underground comic instead. Address the pending legislation, twist the story a little, as rising food cost. Since they didn’t have an art director I assumed that role and along with a writer Robert Roth we adapted the existing bugs and a couple of new ones into a story line . The Bugs would go on an eating holiday across Europe. Although the original copy reflected more of a world domination theme that was a bit scary to the Euro market so the eating holiday won out.
Original bug developed for a series of trading cards, promoting Dupont. (Agency: McCormick, Art Director: Shaun Hawk), and then how it was developed into the "Pest Planet" cover. © Bill Mayer 2010

Here are some of the thumbnails figuring out a sequence and story line .

page layout, and rough comps. Trying out some different names. Showing how the existing bugs would fit into the drawings.

Expiramenting with different variations of names and images for cover illustration. I really liked the idea of "Bugs Life" but kept thinking "This sounds so familiar!" until we remembered the movie of the same name... So we settled on "PEST PLANET."
These are low res comps just to give the director an idea of what the cover could look like..
What we were trying to do was create this, kind of, underground comic, that would be something people would find at coffee shops, and sit down and read... Create an awareness of the problems that the rising food costs could create..
Yeah, yeah, I know.. Working for the man...
Click Here to see All Final Images.
one of the inside illustrations. Same bug, now reading a newspaper, plotting his takeover.

Buzzing with Creativity
This was a fun little illustration for David Sather; “Buzzing with Creativity.” I know this Illustration is a year old, but we were thrilled to find out it just won a gold medal at Society of Illustrators West, Editorial Category! So, I thought it would be a good entry to my blog. Hope you enjoy!
© Bill Mayer 2009

This little illustration was an article for IBM’s series magazine. It seemed pretty obvious when you’re using bee hives as an analogy for the work place, then why not put the bees in a honeycomb cubicle? I added some little high tech jet trails to give it a little motion and connection to technology.

Thumbnail sketches for ideas.. #8 ended up being the one they chose.

Final Sketch for inside Illustration.

Final Magazine Layout.

IBM Systems Magazine; David Sather: Art Director; Bill Mayer: Illustrator; Artwork © Bill Mayer 2009
Revista Piaui spot
passatempo: desenfado, espairecimento, entretém, solaz, recreio, filistria monopólio: açambarcamento, exclusividade, hegemonia, senhorio, império ©Bill Mayer 2010

Cecilia, from piauí magazine again and I have an enquiry. Here's the thing:

On our next issue we'll have a short piece by one of our great composers and dramatists, Chico Buarque de Holanda, where he tells, with delicious humor, about an old and out of print copy of a synonyms dictionary that he inherited from his father (a well respected academic). He loved and used the book so much that it finally started to disintegrate in his hands. He then decides to buy all the editions he could find of the said dictionary, just in case.

Recently he learned that the book is being relaunched and he feels a bit betrayed, as if something very private was being scattered in the wind for all to see. After each important word he lists the it's synonyms - for fun and emphasis.

I don't want to use a book to illustrate the piece, I am looking something very graphic, like an illustration made with type but not with words - our magazine is in Portuguese. Browsing your site I found a work (layout attached bellow) that is almost there. Almost... It then occurred to me that perhaps you have similar works not released on your site. Who knows... perhaps you have just THE illustration for that text. Do you think you have something that could fit (loosely) better than the one I found?
Please let me know.
Thank you very much,
Here are a few more images you can look through...
Alternates and rejects....© Bill Mayer 2009

I can do one, we could scan in some parts of old dictionary pages, something that would in a simple way represent dictionary.... I will grab one, but I don't have a Portuguese dictionary.... do the same funny thing with them. when do you need this? b
just occurred to me that you may need words to make the tree. From the text:

terrível: funesta, nefasta, macabra, atroz, abominável, dilacerante, miseranda -
passatempo: desenfado, espairecimento, entretém, solaz, recreio, filistria -
monopólio: açambarcamento, exclusividade, hegemonia, senhorio, império -
traças: brocas, carunchos, gusanos, cupins, térmitas, cáries, lagartas-rosadas, gafanhotos, bichos-carpinteiros

He also tells that he made a note of the best words and used it to impress and seduce. Do you know Correggio's Jupiter and Io?  Your drawings of women are SO beautiful, if you like the idea, perhaps a cloud of words could envelop a woman... In this case use only:

passatempo: desenfado, espairecimento, entretém, solaz, recreio, filistria
monopólio: açambarcamento, exclusividade, hegemonia, senhorio, império
I like that Idea...Okay a few more ideas for you to ponder. I was not familiar with Correggio's Jupiter and Io, I love this....
I may have  skipped that art history class, but I am very intrigued with that direction. Here are a few more
to wade through. Get back to me as quickly as you can.
thanks .
unless you make up your mind, I will do several variations and you can pick the one you like the most. here's one...not finished but....©Bill Mayer 2010

think we are liking the white one with the Type Embracing the dark figure....but you choose. Big hugs, Bill...©Bill Mayer 2010

Hard to choose... I like that but I also like the "v" a lot. Since all are so good it will be safe to show all to the magazine's editor and let him pick one - and he will love that so much. I'll let you know! Right now he is busy on a meeting so I think we will only know on Monday... sorry about it. But I'll let you know as soon as possible. Thanks!
and the winner is......
Well ... we even delayed sending the page because we still cant' decide! Picture 1-3  is so much fun, so colorful  (all your fonts together) I think it may be the winner. But I'll let you know. Sorry about it. We are not that undecisive usually ... but you gave us too many good choices.
thanks, Cecilia
And the winner is....
Typoglycemic © Bill Mayer 2009
(sorry it took us such a LONG time to decide)The page looks wonderful with it, fun, the art will attract the readers to the text. So, what shall we do next (payment, byline etc etc)?  Raquel usually takes care of those things, I'll tell her to contact you.
Is this a cute little cow or what? He's sad because nobody is drinking milk now that they have Chocolate formula for kids....naturally © Bill Mayer 2010
Okay here's a little job we finished a couple of weeks ago.These little guys are for a print campaign for Enfagrow, a chocolate formlula for toddlers.This article will show a  typical character development and some edited steps to get to the final process. The client ran into legal hold half way through but luckily they liked the direction and ended up finishing these after some small delay. Saatchi and Saatchi / Joseph Pompeo: Art Director  Bill Mayer: Illustrator
He's drinking Chocolate formula for kids....naturally © Bill Mayer 2010
cute little boogers...
They were used used in a variety of sizes so they needed to read fairly small, so we kept them on the simple side.

Some of the thumbnails I think the ones they chose were, # 11 for the kid and # 40 for the cow. A few modifications and we're off and running....


The client was trying to decide between black and white cow and a brown cow so I did a few little color studies....I thought the eyes showed up better in the brown cow, Joe and the client agreed.the horns ended up on the cutting room floor...


THE DEATH OF FROGS PART 2 Naturally © Bill Mayer 2010
Unfortunately, we had a long time until the final art was due so that leaves a lot of time to rethink what your doing. Jim suggested if I had time his second favorite was the Heron with the frog on his nose... I had an Idea to do some really loose painting a limited palette of colors. Not another airbrush Photo-shopped piece. So I played around with doing these really loose brush drawings. The paper was not getting me anywhere so I tried painting on a glass. A really nice experiment with some great surprises..
Here is one of the Herons blown up, you can see the great detail and looseness. I thought it would be funnier to put the frog in his mouth...
Two color version of the heron with the frog legs hanging out of his chops.
Then I tried this funnier version.I just thought this was funnier with the frog escaping...I know this one makes me laugh too....
Then I tried a more unexpected version with the Heron coming down instead of the normal way, I added some dark rough spatters (spatters make anything better) around the edges. I knew as soon as I did it, this was my favorite one. And turns out it was Jim's favorite too. So this year as it turns out I may have two Dellas Graphics Frogs. © Bill Mayer 2010
This little experiment I think may have found another style to play around with and maybe with some conceptual direction , may have some strong maketable potential.  We'll see...

This years Dellas Graphic Frog Caledar  for 2011 . This year I did the usual 50+ thumbnails and the favorite  turned out to be "The Death of Frogs" Art Director Jim Burk © Bill Mayer 2010 ,

The Final Image 2011 Dellas Graphics calendar Art Director Jim Burke "The Death of Frogs" © Bill Mayer 2010
Dellas Graphics has been doing this frog calendar for years. Always some great work contributed , by some really great talented artists. Some of the 50 thumbnails I did when I started on this project. I know lots of thumbnails but I love doing these ,it's my favorite part of the work.
Jim Burk the art director and supreme Illustrator in his own right helped sort through the candidates and came up with several favorites to blow up and look at closer.I thought it would be funny to do death as a frogs death with a frogs skeleton in the traditional robe...
We never heard back from Jim about the sketches so the gang at the studio all voted on the one they liked the most . Me I don't ever count, I just do what I am told. Here is the final sketch.
They way I work is to transfer the illustration to a board and render traditionally in airbrush.
Then build backgrounds in Photoshop
adding trees and water
reflections and layers to darken and make the piece a little more ominous...
crop and send a copy to Jim to bounce it off him. See if he has any suggestion to help make it better.The Final Image 2011 Dellas Graphics calendar Art Director Jim Burke "The Death of Frogs" © Bill Mayer 2010
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