William Franzen

I just returned from my grandfather William Franzen’s funeral.  He lived a few months short of his 92nd birthday.  There was much to distinguish him.  He was married for 67 years.  He fought in WW2.  He had a good number of children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren (and one great-great-grandchild).  He was also a very mechanically gifted fellow.  His mechanical giftedness manifested itself in many ways but particularly in his tendency to collect and make clocks.  The night before his funeral I was in his old bedroom and I counted eight clocks (some digital, but many of them ticking) as well as two clocks in the connected bathroom.  To stand in his room (and almost anywhere in his house) is to enjoy a symphony of syncopation.  Two thoughts occurred to me.  The first was that the clocks that ticked for him tick for me.  The secondhand turns at the same speed for everyone.  The other happier thought was that he was now with his Lord and Savior in a place where time shall be no more.

This is a quick sketch I made of him a few years ago while he slept in his chair.

And here is a postcard that he sent my grandmother while in the Army during the Second World War.

Personal Project

Every time I’m in the bookstore I look through children’s picture books.  I try to compare them with books I would have enjoyed as a kid.  The books that receive popular acclaim are clever and well designed and perhaps funnier than books used to be.  However, I feel like the books even ten years ago had more atmosphere than the ones that are popular today.  Is this the case?  My favorite book to leaf through as a kid was the beautifully illustrated adaptation of Pilgrim’s Progress, A Dangerous Journey.  At any rate, it may be ill-advised or an affront to the collective wisdom of children’s literature, but I wanted to do a picture book for my younger self, who is a great deal like my present self.  Here’s a sneak peak.

Cover Process: Fools Rush In

Here’s the process for the Fools Rush In cover.

The brief said the publisher needed “a high-brow political cartoon-style commissioned illustration of the author ‘taking aim at everyone’ (re: the subtitle).”

From a client/expectations management perspective, I’ve never really been satisfied with the way I handle the rough drawing stage.  If any illustrators out there have ideas how best to handle this stage, let me know.

Here’s the dilemma: Roughs that are too polished compete with the final, but roughs that are too rough make the client nervous.

Furthermore, when likenesses are involved, they attract analysis even at the early conceptual stages.  This is a problem when the discussions veer toward how the person might be made to look better instead of if the pose is working.

This time I decided to try the roughs with faces that are obviously incomplete.  I had zero problems.  The likeness didn’t even come up.  I tend to think this has more to do with the client’s general coolness and less to do with any strategizing on my part, but the job went so smoothly, that I think I might try this in the future.

Frequently, the client will choose the concept I’m least excited about, but in this case the author chose the bottom ‘duelist’ concept.  This is the one I most wanted to do.

Here’s the final drawing with the likeness:

I affixed the drawing to mdf with a couple layers of matte medium, and painted it.

The tree in the background is the result of looking at a lot of old Collier’s Weekly covers and Maxfield Parish paintings.

And here’s the final, tweaked a bit in photoshop.


Green man, Greenville

I haven’t posted in a little while, so here are a couple things.  First, we have a green guy sketch:

Secondly, click here to visit a website that some friends designed.  It shows off the greenest of villes, the city in which I live and one that you should visit.