Shortcuts: The Design Experiment

If you’re in the Bismarck, ND area on April 24th let’s say around 7 pm, make sure you take in the Shortcuts event. Visit the FaceBook Event page for more information. A great example of what a group of graphic designers can put together with no money, but a lot of creativity.

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Journal Entry 4/10/17: Canadian Music

Years ago, I used to live next to the border between Canada and the U.S. This was pre-internet days and I didn’t have a TV, but I had a radio and it was tuned into the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation). I discovered great artists and music like Bare Naked Ladies, Crash Test Dummies and Stan Rogers. I miss those days. However I got to relive them a tiny bit with the of discovery of another Canadian singer/songwriter I hadn’t heard before. Here is Kathleen Edwards from Ottawa performing my new favorite song “In State.”

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Journal Entry 2/19/17: Working on Illustrations


Working on three illustrations that will full spreads for an issue of an upcoming publication. I will post once they are published and where you can obtain a copy. Top illustration is done in ink and watercolor. Bottom illustration is a rough experimenting with acrylic, graphite and watercolor. All three illustrations are editorial in nature.


Filed under Illustrations, Watercolor painting

VP 75: Snow Drifter


After three major snow storms in December, we’ve seen a few of these characters around town.

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VP 74: Yard Stick —BONUS: A Glimpse at My Creative Process (Making Stuff Up)


This is such a simplistic pun that I can’t image that it hasn’t been done. If it has been done then this is my interpretation so trolls take a hike. This might be a good time to explain my creative process. I don’t Google or go to the web when coming up with these. In fact the only time I use the web is when I post.

Creative Process: Making Stuff Up

Brain Storm

With a pencil and paper I start jotting down words. Sometimes it’s a word list and sometimes it’s a mind map (a word list for visual people). A great way to get motivated and start creating.


Once I have some ideas, I do quick, small sketches called thumbnails. Most of us have a hard time taking ideas we visualize (in our minds) and making it real or concrete (on paper). The first time an idea is put to paper is almost always a disappointment. This is why thumbnails are so important to me. I can do several of these in minutes to give an idea a “workout” by exploring composition, light sources, size and content (what to leave, what to take away).

Comp/Final Drawing

Once the idea is fleshed out, I go to my trusty Moleskine sketchbook and with a pencil start my visual pun. Once I have what I want in pencil I will ink over the pencil lines (I still make decisions on what to leave or add even when inking). After the ink is dry I erase all of the visible pencil lines.


The drawing is then scanned and touched up in Photoshop. Touch-up consist of erasing any pencil that are still there, converting the image to grayscale and adjusting contrast (making the black lines darker and the white of the paper brighter). While in Photoshop I add the shading (each tint gets it’s own layer). I normally don’t use more than 4 or five tints or shades. The light source was established during the thumbnail stage so I try to stay true to it when laying down shadows, but not always. One of the top poster designers, Kevin Tong, once told me that sometimes you can have different light angles if it enhances the message and does not become a distraction.

Save For Web, Post, Final

That’s it. I then save for web and post. All of this starts with pen and paper, not the internet. Sometimes it involves the people that mean the most to me, over a bottle of something, we will “brainstorm” ideas and then I will further flesh-out these ideas as thumbnails. I hope the year 2017 will be good to you and a creative one.

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VP 73: Back Stop


It just dawned on me that I should have put a few bullet holes in the sign.

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VP 72: Santa Claws


Ever wonder why you don’t see Santa after Christmas? Maybe he transforms into something else until November?


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