Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Do we ever arrive? I thought I did in the late 70's when McKinney & Silver called me to do an illustration for a national ad for Barnett Bank. To Bill Kamp I will be ever indebted as Creative Director on that series and selected me as illustrator. Today, he owns his own agency and what a talent. Together, we worked on numerous campaigns for NCNB, which is NationsBank today, Piedmont Airlines, Wonder Bread, Royal Caribbean, Golden Corral, GI Joe, Disney, and NASCAR trading cards, Fannie Mae, and on and on.

But do we ever "arrive?" I think it's much like Jerry Seinfeld lamented to Jay Leno after "Seinfeld" went off the air. We always have that fear that one day the phone will stop ringing. But that's a good thing. It keeps us pushing and not resting on our laurels.

I've been so incredibly blessed with honors beyond my wildest dreams, but I always think, maybe next week the phone will stop ringing. And it keeps me sharp. Keeps me competitive.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Returning to My Roots

At the urging of my good friend Nick Meglin, I am returning to traditional watercolor in my illustration work. I'll still do digital where digital works best. But there's just nothing like the feel of real brush to paper. For this one, I output my rough pencil sketch to watercolor paper as a light sepia line. That gives me a light image upon which to paint. The Epson inks are soybean based, and are fairly water resistant, so there's no muddying of the color by adding paint to the surface. Type and corrections are done digitally, but the original is pristine and a nice piece of art to archive in itself. So now I have good watercolor originals to donate to charities once again!

all images copyright J.Pittman, 2010

Rough sketch in sepia, ready to color.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Manhattan Project

I finished my Manhattan Project recently. No, not an a-bomb, but a cartoon map of NYC with a caricature of Arthur G. Cohen, developer and partner with Aristotle Onassis on several Manhattan building projects. The occasion of this illustration was for Mr. Cohen's birthday and was commissioned by his daughter and son-in-law.

I had a real workout doing the architecture for this one. Many of the buildings are eclipsed by one another in an aerial view, and at the exaggerated scale of the illustration, even more so. So it was a challenge to position each one so that they could display as best as possible.

Illustrations copyright J.Pittman, 2010detail view

entire illustration

Frank Frazetta Remembered

Just got the news Monday that Frank Frazetta passed away. After years of declining health and battling back from multiple strokes, he finally succumbed to one. I'm so glad we in the National Cartoonists Society got to honor him in person about 20 months ago. For a look back at that celebration, see my earlier post at http://jptoonist.blogspot.com/2008/09/frank-frazetta-tribute.html .

Frank was a rare genius in our field. From the age of 8 he was recognized as a prodigy. What he did came so naturally to him that he really couldn't explain the process to you. You'd ask him how he created this or that effect on a particular illustration and his reply was almost as if he'd missed the point of your question. For Frank, it was simple-- he just did it. My last conversation with him had Frank remarking about how quickly he painted a certain piece we were looking at. Kind of like how a kid will say, "Yeah, and it only took me 40 minutes!" The rest of us were so blown away at his mastery, yet what impressed him was the amount of time it took.

He'll certainly be missed, but his impact on illustration will remain. Thank you for the inspiration, Frank, from the rest of us who have to work hard to accomplish what you made look easy.

Monday, February 15, 2010

My parents' wealth

My parents have always taught me good things, but this past Sunday was just another reminder of that. My mom was diagnosed with liver cancer a year ago, so it's a miracle that she's even here today. We went to visit my dad with vascular dementia at the nursing home, and it was a particularly trying day for my mom with him as he was having some difficulty. Yet, she was patient. I kept thinking of that verse, "Love is patient," as I saw her take care of him. And as she was washing up in the other room, my dad started into a tune which was definitely "Amazing Grace" in perfect pitch and yet perfect gibberish vocally. Then I hear my exhausted mom laughing in the other room. What a treat for her to hear his relieved hymn of praise, and a chuckle at the same time of the humor of the situation! The ability to laugh in the face of tragedy is probably a big reason why I am a cartoonist to this day. Man, I have rich parents!