First Magazine Freelance Job

April 7th, 2007 | Posted in General

I was raking through the flat files the other day and came across a tearsheet from my very first magazine illustration job. I’ve still got the original around here somewhere as well. It occurred to me the manner in which I got this job was exactly in line with David Levine‘s advice about relationships being a key to freelance success.

Yikes. Everything’s lumpy…

This was circa 1991. I had been doing comic book pencils for NOW Comics for a year or two, and had freshly moved back to Minnesota from Atlanta when I received a phone call from Kyle Peterson, a friend of mine from art college. He had become an associate art director at MSP Communications, a local Twin Cities publisher that produced a few local magazines, including Mpls/St. Paul Magazine. They were looking for an illustrator to do a piece about a local politician who had gotten in a bit of trouble over some womanizing. I honestly can’t remember the politician’s name. This involved a caricature, and Kyle remembered me having done caricatures at the theme park during breaks from school.

I was assigned the job and had my very first magazine illustration job. I also had no idea how to do it. Up to this point I had really only done pencil work for comics, some ink line drawings and a lot of airbrushed caricatures at amusement parks. I did a half airbrush, half watercolor paint job on it. The client was reasonably satisfied but looking back it’s a horrible piece. Bad placement, some bad drawing, rough painting, so so composition… hard to believe that was only 16 years ago.

So there is a job I got purely through personal relationships i.e. an old college buddy. Actually I ended up doing several jobs for MSP on a couple of publications, eventually leading to doing work with the Minnesota Twins thanks to MSP being the publisher of their magazine. The Twins work lead to work from a publisher out in San Francisco who was friendly with some of the MSP folks, and I did some illustrations for the San Francisco Giants and Golden State Warriors magazines.

This is all a good demonstration of David’s concept of how work perpetuates other work, and how important building a good reputation with clients can be.


  1. pokedachef says:

    its always inspiring to see work from so long ago, you’ve grown but I see your roots!


New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550

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