2021 Monster Month: Monsters At Work

Well here’s something different in this month-o’-monsters – an actual bonafide monster job! Back in July I was hired to work on this advertisement for the Disney+ animated series Monsters At Work.

The agency had already written the ad, and another wonderful artist had illustrated it and laid it out (that means the graphic design part of it), but then two things happened: 1. it went through changes, and 2. the other artist had to go out of town and didn’t have the time to make the changes. So, I filled in as needed.


Click on the image to enlarge.


So, what you see here is a true team effort. I illustrated all the characters except three monsters in step 5 and Mike Wazowski (which are all by the talented Liz Masters), and then I re-laid out the steps and bottom info with all the new text following the look that Liz had already established. It was a super fun gig, and obviously I love drawing monsters. Happy to have had a crack at the Disney/Pixar creation all thanks to Liz for pulling me in on it!

Oh, and Disney+ tweeted this out back in July just a few days after I had finished it. Quick turnaround to meet the launch date of the new show!

Making of a Monster – Part 7

Okay, the traditional art is now all completed with paint and pencil on paper. But that doesn’t mean the poster is quite finished yet. We still have some digital tools to use to see this frightfest to completion.

What good is a monster movie poster without the words on it to say what we’re selling? What we are selling is the Illustration West 59 art competition open to professionals and students put on by the Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles. So let’s make sure that is known!

To that end, I scan the painting into the computer where I will add some design elements in Photoshop. Remember my original color comp? Here it is again to remind you of where this piece is headed.



Originally I had intended for the “movie” title to be diagonal at the top right corner of the poster as a counter balance to the “Beware of the Deadline Monster” subtitle. Then the “Call for Entries” line would be at the very bottom. Those graphic design elements of the text areas needed to be created first, so I drew the ragged black bars in Photoshop and filled in the flat color to prepare the way for my text designer.



Once those elements were in place, I sent the above image to my pal Andy Heckathorne to create some vintage looking text for me. Andy is an illustrator and graphic designer from Pennsylvania who is much more adept at text design than I. (Check out his website HERE!) Our paths first crossed, ironically, at a national high school art competition when we were both seniors – he won first place, I won second. So all these years later, how appropriate that we got to collaborate on a professional art competition poster.

After a few back and forth attempts as we conceived of the text, as well as some editorial changes to what the text would say, Andy came up with this:



You know how sometimes you get stuck on an idea that you thought was creatively brilliant, but maybe it wasn’t? I must admit, it took me a while to let it sink in that the main headline should go horizontally across the top instead of diagonally. That was Andy’s idea. I had set the stage with that space up there, but ultimately, putting the text diagonally meant that the words would have had to be much smaller. After Andy kind of insisted this was the way to go, he was totally right.

Now that the text was complete, there was one last step I wanted to do to give this a vintagey feel. Dots. Old school posters sometimes would have a heavy dot pattern on them that derived from the way art had to be printed. I still wanted the details of the art to be seen, but some controlled dot patterns could be cool.

To achieve this, I purchased a plug-in for Photoshop called Mr. Retro. The software has all kinds of vintage poster looks it can help create with customizable sliders. I played around with lots of options, most of which took away all the hard work I had put into the details of the illustration. Really, I just needed dots.



After experimenting just with dots, I ended up running the art through the filter twice. I wanted big dots in the sky, and smaller dots on the characters and type.



I didn’t want dots everywhere, either. Since they were created on new layers, I was able to go in and erase dots selectively wherever they were not wanted as you can see below.



While I liked how the little dots handled the woman’s face, they didn’t look as good on the man, so those were erased from him.



Of course, it was fun getting dots on the SILA logo, which I manipulated a little by giving the eyeball a pupil like the monster has in his eyes.



So, all together, the final image looks like this…


Click on the art to see it larger (if you dare!)


Well, there you have it – the creation of a Los Angeles based art competition poster in which a monster is ravaging the city of Los Angeles. Good times.

If you are an illustrator yourself, I hope you will consider ENTERING THE CONTEST. The deadline for entries is at the end of this month – OCTOBER 31ST!!! I’ve assembled an amazing panel of judges who will be looking at your work – folks like Abrams Books editor Charles Kochman, MAD Magazine Art Director Suzy Hutchinson, and illustrators Jason Seiler, Mike Mignola, Justin Gerard, Kadir Nelson, C.F. Payne, and Drew Struzan!

In fact, I’ve been conducting interviews with my judges which are being published on the Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles website, so CHECK THEM OUT!

Good luck to all who enter!

Illustration West Deadline OCT 31st!!

Just a little friendly reminder that the Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles’ annual Illustration West art competition deadline is coming up quickly! The last day to get your entries in is OCTOBER 31st!



Why am I reminding you of this? Because this year’s contest is being run by yours truly. As Show Chair of Illustration West 59, I put together an incredible line-up of professionals who are each graciously donating their time to look at your submitted artwork. Illustrators such as Drew Struzan, Mike Mignola, Claire Keane, Kadir Nelson, C.F. Payne, Justin Gerard, Jason Seiler, Abrams Books Editor Charles Kochman, and MAD Magazine Art Director Suzy Hutchinson! The contest has categories strictly for professionals, but also includes some categories in which students may enter.

I’ve also been interviewing my judges. Right now, interviews with Mike Mignola, C.F. Payne, Jason Seiler, and Justin Gerard are up on SILA’s website! Check them out HERE!

All the details about entering can be found by




NEXT WEEK I’ll be posting each day about the step-by-step creation of the Illustration West 59 poster art! It is a mixture of watercolor, gouache, colored pencil, and just a touch of digital.


Adopt a T-shirt

My sister Tori and her husband Frank are interested in adopting a little girl from India to add to their family of three sons. It is a long and expensive process, so I helped out by designing a T-shirt for them with what they wanted on it that they could sell as a fundraiser.


Click on the shirt to open the page to order shirts!


At $25 each, they are a little pricey for a T-shirt, but the purpose is to serve as a FUNDRAISER. 🙂 So, think of it as you are donating $25, a portion of which helps them with the thousands and thousands of dollars needed for adoption, and in return you get a T-shirt designed by yours truly.

Plus, you’d be helping my folks to gain their first granddaughter after having nine grandsons. So, there’s that, too.

Thanks for the consideration!

…From the Flat File: 2003 – Aquarium

Ten years ago my good friend and composer Nicholas Lawrence asked me to design a CD for him that was to feature his original compositions inspired by his love for sea life. Titled Aquarium, the concept lent itself to fun graphic possibilities, so I accepted!

I first met Nick when he was just a student in the film music program at the University of Southern California (USC) where some of his professors were Elmer Bernstein, Leonard Rosenman, David Raksin, Jerry Goldsmith and Christopher Young. He and I both attended the same church, and with his interest in composition and my love for film music, we had an instant common ground. Friendship had to ensue.

While I am an illustrator first, it seemed that Nick’s new concept album should be given a stripped-down minimal graphic treatment to the art. He performed his music for the album on electronic instruments in what could be considered a New Age instrumental style. So, using my illustration abilities, the cover art was created completely as a gouache painting just hinting at the variety of sea life the music evoked.

Nicholas Lawrence - Aquarium
This is the front cover of Nick’s CD called “Aquarium” (in case you couldn’t tell).


For the rest of the album design, I dusted off my old college graphic design training and played around with hand drawn art and digital type composited with Photoshop. Here is a sampling of what the CD itself looked like.


Nicholas Lawrence CD
This is the design of Nicholas Lawrence’s actual CD.


If you’d like to see the rest of the album art, and would like to hear Nick’s music, CD Baby is offering the CD for the low price of $4.99 right now. CLICK HERE to listen to free samples and to order your very own copy. This is the only CD art I’ve done for a commercially available item – unique in my artography!

GraceLife Logo

While most of what I draw and paint skews mostly to the cartoony side of life, now and then projects arise that just deal with type. I actually was trained in school as a graphic designer where dealing with type is VERY common, but I never worked as one. My focus was always illustration and cartooning, so it is interesting when illustration projects come up that deal with typography.

A few weeks ago I was approached with a project to help out my Sunday school class. The class name is called GraceLife, and they already had a logo designed years ago that they used for everything. For this piece, they wanted the logo given a handmade treatment. It was to be used on the cover of a keepsake book for one of our class’ pastors who was leaving us to pastor a church in Ohio.

So, it was drawn on a beige piece of Canson paper, given an ink wash, some red watercolor paint, and a dash of white highlights. It was then finished up with colored pencils and a spritz of ink from a toothbrush.

That’s about all I have to say about that.


Christian Logo