Illustration Throwback Thursday #38

June 22nd, 2017 | Posted in Illustration Throwback Thursday

Doing work in the advertising world can be weird. Often something you might have spent quite a lot of time working on, and which the client was happy with, never sees the light of day in print despite all involved being paid as agreed.

That may seem outrageous but that is what sometimes happens in the advertising business. Companies often just burn up money producing images and designs for ad campaigns that never get off the ground. I’ll get paid full rates (and advertising generally pays a lot better than editorial) to do finished art that is only used as part of a pitch to a client… one of several different ideas to advertise the client’s products. If the one I worked on is not chosen, then it doesn’t see the light of day. Even though I get paid in full for the job, it’s sometimes a little disappointing not to see the work in use.

This is a job from 2005ish that illustrates that point. The end client was Taco Bell, and the concept was to create a large display image for a new kid’s meal toy concept called “Cleat Peepers”. These were small, plastic baseballs about the size of large marbles that were fused together like two pool balls touching, and then were affixed to a clip that would wrap underneath the shoelaces of a pair of tennis shoes or baseball cleats. They looked like eyeballs on the tops of your sneakers. One pair lit up along the “laces” of the balls, one had pupils that googled around weirdly, one squirted water (??)… can’t remember what the fourth one did. Anyway the client wanted a fun, cartoony sort of illustration that would be loaded with text and used in those standing displays with the real toys affixed and displayed somewhere on the image.

After some roughs it was decided we would use baseball cards as the placeholders for the display toys, and anthropomorphic cleats with the “eyeball” type cleat peepers on them in a baseball stadium. They wanted simple, colorful and a little goofy. Here are the resulting roughs:

This was more of a “kid as the player” approach

This was the pro player version with the full stadium, uniform, etc.

They liked the pro version. The old fashioned baseball graphic element at the bottom was axed and we went ahead to final art. This was very big (18″ x 21″). I did the inks and then colored in layers:




I did the “cards” separately and dropped them in on another layer, for the final art:


Text and other graphics where to be added by their art department. They were very pleased with the piece. They sure put me through a lot of revisions on the pencils and color (sorry I didn’t save all those steps), but that is another thing about advertising… they pay very well but expect even the most minute changes to be made no matter the stage.

As it turns out this never was used. I believe they test marketed the toys in certain areas and kids didn’t like them, so they dumped the project. I spent all summer eating Chalupas every day for lunch looking to see some of my artwork in Taco Bell, and all I got was an extra ten pounds around my midsection. Again, I was paid well and promptly by the client, but it was disappointing not to see the piece be used… it would have been cool to think how many people would have seen that artwork in all the Taco Bells all over the US.

Now I’m hungry for a Chalupa…


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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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