“How do illustrators get their ideas down on paper? Do the ideas just fall from the sky? Do you just start drawing and end up with a finished product?”

These are some of the questions I get asked about my work process so I thought I’d show some examples of my Work In Progress (WIP) for a project.
I was asked by my wonderful stockists in the Quad Cities, Dubuque and Galena if I’d consider creating towels for each of their areas. I agreed and set out to research their cities to find the top spots to investigate. I traveled to their cities and spent a day shooting reference photos of the spots I thought were the most visually arresting. Then I headed home and started drawing rough “thumbnail” sketches of my overall design. After I had a clearer idea of the spots I wanted to illustrate, I started creating another set of thumbnail sketches for each spot in my overall design.

Once that was done I drew each square and put together the entire design. I created a positive (ink on a clear acetate), coated my silkscreen mesh with photo emulsion, exposed it to light and created a screen. Then I printed the towels with a rich navy blue food-grade ink on my super duper commercial grade flour sack towels. I guess you can tell by now that illustrating and coming up with ideas takes time, years of practice and persistence. Nothing magical about it. It’s joyful work, that’s for sure. But it’s honest work that keeps me happy doing it and looking forward to each new day and the next project around the corner.

Next up: the finished designs!

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