Family Camping

I found this illustration amidst the files of my very first website. The story for this illustration? I don't remember. It was 2001. It was one of the first things I made for my newspaper job. I do remember I drew it in pencil first, scanned it in and I might have worked a photoshop/illustrator combo to get it done-- pretty tricky stuff for a newbie.

I kind of like it. As I've said before, it's fun to see stuff I've forgotten about. It's like looking at an artist I'm not familiar with. Sorry it's so tiny. It's all I've got.

You know what? I DO remember a story about this picture. The page designer was anxious for a place file-- that's a copy of the work to put on the designer's page so he can make sure the size right, and design around it. I was the new guy, and veterans -- rightly so -- are always a little nervous about dealing with rookies. So, the designer approached me when I was still figuring out the linework on the drawing and had only applied a few patches of color. I sent a copy of it as it was, and I went back to work.

When I finished it, I sent it to the page designer and went on to the next project. A few days later, arriving at work, I heard a couple of compliments as I made my way to my desk. "Jeff, the illustration for Sunday's Bay Area Living section front looks terrific. Good work," they said; probably just trying to give the new guy a little confidence. I'll take that. I felt good. I went to the table where they have all the papers stacked and I grabbed a few copies. I was excited about seeing my work on the front-- and it was going to be big!

Ah, yes. And there -- you guessed it -- was the horrible, unfinished place file.

I think the father and son were colored in, or maybe just their shirts. There were only a couple of leaves drawn. hadn't figured out the design for the little girl's face, so I don't think she even had eyes, yet. Etc. I'm afraid to go on because I didn't save a copy of it, and I might be making stuff up without realizing it. There was a LOT wrong with it. At best it was 1/3 done.

There's nothing like that sick feeling you get knowing that you've somehow made a mistake, and that mistake has been printed 100,000 times and distributed to newsstands and doorsteps all over the Bay Area. (Newspapers were in better shape back then, so that may be a very conservative estimate for a Sunday section front, but you get the idea.)

And the absolute worst part of it? I don't think anybody knew it wasn't done! They seemed to like it. That will inflame the humility of the humblest of artists.

The End


  1. I feel the same way when I look at some of my old pieces too. It's nice to think that I'm still improving ;-)

  2. Yeah, I try to keep that thought in my head, too. I'm finding that posting old stuff cuts both ways, in that it forces me to confront the past with the eye of jaundice -- the artist I am now would not be pleased if this was MY current output -- and I get the impression of looking at an artist I am only vaguely familiar with. I've seen this artists work around somewhere, and some it I really like!

    I would write an encouraging comment on the old Me's blog if he had one back in 2001 and I could post into the past. Some of his work is crap, though, but I wouldn't mention it.