Steve Wacksman
Bitching And Moaning
A Dramatic Re-enactment Of A Recent Commission
Them: Wanna do a supercool gig?

Me: Yeah, I surely do.

Them: Seriously, get this: It's a drawing of a soldier on a hallucinogenic trip while wearing virtual reality glasses. Are you feelin' it?

Me: Well, I don't usually talk like that, but yeah- I guess I AM "feelin' it". Yeah...yeah, I am!

Them: OK, here's the thing: we need it quick and fast and we have such a paltry budget that you'd be better off giving it to us for free and declaring it a charitable donation on your 07 income taxes, ai-ight, Dawg?

Me: Great!

Amendment: Actually, none of the above conversation took place. Although the 'no time, no money'  portion of the dialogue is technically accurate.
In fact I was contacted via e-mail by an extremely gracious woman to whom it was nearly impossible to say no. She basically assured me artistic freedom, which was all I needed to hear.

Epilogue: It appears the editor has decided to 'go in a different direction'.
And I'm Off
Buy the YYY's new album "Show Your Bones" today. You'll like it. Maybe.
As of the very minute I stop typing this post, I'm on vacation. Which is well-needed, I might add, as I have a rather advanced case of what medical professionals have termed the "Mid-Winter Blues".
I might also add that this morning while I was walking my dogs,  a small Japanese sedan full of misanthropic teens slowed down to a crawl in order for the passenger in the front seat to roll down his windows and shout a string of unintelligble epithets at me. Why they felt it neccessary to bring midmorning traffic to a halt to assail a stranger is beyond me, but I guess boys will be boys. I could easily shrug it off had he not followed up by flinging a Popeye's takeout cup full of ice and the remnants of an orange soda at me.

Fortunately, they missed by a country mile, but really - it gets one thinking, and the thought that occured to me was-

Who the holy hell is eating fried chicken at 8AM?

Anyhow, here's a portrait of Grammy Nominated New York No-Wave trio the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

And with that, I bid you adieu. I'm on vacation.

Ad Mac, This One's For You:
Ok- stop looking at this.
Esteemed colleague Adam McCauley recenty recalled a grueling experience he had trying to capture the likeness of Ralph Nader.

I thought to myself: "Self, how hard could Ralph Nader be? With those brows and crooked countenence; why he's practically MADE for a characature."

And so I set about the task. And to my surprise, Mr Nader resisted interpretation quite heartily. "Sonofagun", I said to myself,"Ad Mac was  right- this guy's tough".

It was a bitter struggle. After mopping up the blood, sweat and tears I was left with a portrait that i believe is recognizable as Nader, but at the expense of style and finesse. It is, in technical terms, a big soggy sack of sh*t.
A Recap Of Yesterday's Meeting
This image here to fill space. Should not be interpreted as relevant.
OK, maybe I was a little verbose. Sorry.

What I'd hoped to get from you Drawgerites was some advice on how to spend my ( admittedy meager) advertising dollars. A friend of a friend placed an ad in "Black Book RAW" ( kinda gives me the stupid chills, that "Raw" - is "Raw" the new "Extereme"?) and got a couple of life-altering gigs.

I need life-altering gigs. I love my job, but really. I want to work less for more money. C'mon people- aren't we all in this together? Don't you wanna see the underdog emerge victorious, like that autistic kid that hit like 15 three-pointers in a row in the last game of the season? Who doesn't love that? Help me become that heroic autistic kid!

That's all. You guys know how I feel about you- you're like brothers and sisters to me.
I'd like to register a complaint.
This image dedicated to GE and the fine folks at PC Richard.
Firstly, to the hardworking engineers at General Electric: Your portable air conditioning unit is, in fact, NOT " Allowing me to enjoy cool, comfortable air anywhere". What it IS serving up could best be  charitibly described as 'coolish' and is frankly little different than what a 19 dollar window fan would likely provide.

Second, Al Gore: You might have released your expose of global warming in the WINTER, at which point I might have made arrangements to move North before the sun actually landed on NYC, which brings me to-

Third: The Sun. Seriously. Are you kidding? Back off, Buster!
Does Anyone Remember Laughter?
Skiing Magazine- 2003
I was browsing our vast digital archives recently and marvelling at the array of eye candy that we've produced over the years. I never set out to be a 'humourous illustrator" ( indeed, there are those who would argue that I never suceeded), but for better or for worse, that appears to be my niche.
Bally's Casino - Late 2002
I mean, I'm a troubled guy. I'm out there thinking the blackest of thoughts. wringing my hands and furrowing my brow with the best of 'em. Why not? These are troubled and troubling times! But when it comes down to it, it seems that the lessons learned in my formative years as an illustrator have rooted themselves too deeply to be ignored. People, I was led to believe, want to feel good and have a few yuks. I happily delivered them; it was a lucrative enterprise. Nothing too "high concept" - just a splash of colorful mirth on the page to keep the reader engaged in yet another hollow sidebar on booking air travel online or critical analysis of "Survivor: The Australian Outback".
Perhaps it has something to do with the overwhelming abundance of "hard news" out there, but it seems to me that the humourous illustration has been unceremoniously sent to the back of the bus. I see a fair amount of whimsey out there, gobs of abstraction, metric tons of infographics. But the stupid, virtually meaningless humourous images that  once made this studio a veritible dollar-printing factory? Not so very much.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to finish cutting the flowers off of my rosebushes then return to the utility closet in the basement and weep.
Good Times ( Whatever Happend To The...)
Yeah. it's clip art!
A few days ago some pals and I were sitting around talking about the good old days. Now, at the tender age of 37, I believe the good old days should be yet to come. But I have to admit to getting a bit maudlin when I started recounting my early experiences in this racket
(might heve been the Blueberry Gin Fizzes talking). I mean, what is this world coming to when a teacher or firefighter out-earns an illustrator? No good, that's what!
These fellas were asking me why my once thriving business now lay motionless  by the side of the interstate drawing wet, shallow, labored breaths and gazing upward with seemingly uncomprehending eyes...
I placed the blame on everyone and everything I could think of , but the major culprits were: Stock Photography ( and to a lesser degree, stock illos), Shrinking Budgets, Zydeco Music, A surplus of Illustrators since the advent of digital art and hi-speed connections, and 'puggles', a new hybrid of pug and beagle that are all the rage these days.
Is there anyone I left out? I tell ya, as hard as i try i just can't recapture the magic.
Adobe Streamline: A Necessary Evil?
Does anyone out there utilize an autotrace app? I've been using Adobe Streamline since I was in short pants, but I'd give it up in a hot heartbeat if someone out there could direct me toward a superior alternative. I know the newest version of Illustrator has one - has anyone worked with it?
Promoting The Goods
I've been sending postcards to AD's and designers since,like, the Pony Express days. They used to be crazy effective- the phones would blow up within a week and I need to hire children and migrant workers to ink and scan.
Those days, alas, are behind me. These days, promo postcards seem to be met with a deafening roar of collective indifference and have as often as not cost me money.
I sent my lunch money to the folks at Agency Access and have taken down somewhere in the neighborhood of a million e-mail addys and compiled them into a group. The plan is to mass e-mail these people until they serve up a gig or a cease-and-desist.
Does anyone of my rapt audience out there have any experience, good or bad, with this thoroughly modern pestering technique?
That's Short For "Web Log", Mom.
Dear Diary:
I've never blogged before. In fact, I work alone, have no kids, and rarely pick up the phone if I don't need to.It's not that I have nothing to say, really, it's that I have nothing interesting or nice to say. I'll do my best to fill up this space with pithy commentary and self-referential humor, if you promise to hang on my every word and frequently quote me to influential people.
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