|| Artistic Background
The AOL Story
Shopping Cart History
I have been involved with art and illustration in one form or another my entire life. I grew up drawing comic book action heroes and designing board games with my brother and sister. I took what art courses were available to me through the public school systems I attended and there were quite a few different schools. I majored in art at East Carolina University and supplemented that coursework by observing and collaborating with other graphics professionals at the beginning of my career. But the majority of what I've learned to do, I've learned through trial and error on my own.
Computers came into my life early in the information age, and I have been working with them in various forms since 1980. I switched to full time computer graphics use in 1990, and have been growing with the industry as it has evolved. Currently, more than 95% of my work is done on computers using a variety of graphics applications.
The majority of the work showcased on this site was done digitally. The exceptions include the color illustrations of the Wizard and the statues from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in the illustration section, most of the drawings in the black and white illustration section, and most of the cartoons. Many designs, logo concepts and other illustrations start as sketches that are scanned into the computer for fine-tuning, coloring and finishing.
I am an independent illustrator and graphic designer located in the Washington, DC area and have had a successful freelance business since 1986.
I first became involved with computer systems in the early 1980s while managing the computer graphics division of Forte, Inc. of Alexandria. Using CompuGraphic ADvantage work stations the size of refrigerators (with separate, slightly larger processing units) we produced ads, slides and other visual presentations.
In 1984 I was hired at Intech Computer Systems of Reston (a Division of Seiko Computers) as Art Director marketing their initial entry into the PC market. I left Intech to start my freelance career, and landed as one of my first clients a small start-up company that was to grow into America Online. (Please see The AOL Story by clicking on the link at left.)
Most graphics work was still done by hand at this point: pen and ink drawings, mechanical separations and paste-up. Its hard for me to believe that I didn't own a serious computer system until after my stint with Quantum/AOL, even though the first graphics-based Apple Macintoshes had been available for some time. Today, I am a proud owner of multiple Macs (and one lone PC) and do most of my work on computer. Of course, when I have the chance, I do still enjoy the sensation of putting pen or pencil to paper.
Since 1986, I have been lucky enough to do work with dozens of companies, for hundreds of clients. These include Hewlett-Packard, Advanced Solutions International, the U.S. Government and offices of the Government of the District of Columbia.
My work has expanded from illustration and paste-up to include web design, flash animation and various other types of art I could not have imagined possible when I started using computers for graphics over 20 years ago. I have been using some applications, including Adobes Illustrator and Photoshop programs, for more than 10 years. It is anybodys guess what the future holds for artists and the ever-evolving field of computer graphics, but I have confidence that I will continue to grow and adapt with it.
|THE AOL STORY
|In 1984 I was hired at Intech Computer Systems of Reston (a Division of Seiko Computers) as Art Director marketing their initial entry into the PC market. In the summer of 1985 Intech decided to relocate to Texas, and several of the local employees unwilling to make the move left the company, myself included. The executive assistant from our marketing department went to help a small start-up company called Quantum Computer Services. Quantum was developing a computer telecommunications service for owners of Commodore 64s and 128s: a service that included online chat rooms, software download areas and even an online shopping area. This company with just a handful of people, including a very young Steve Case went on to become America Online
Through my relationship with that executive assistant from Intech, I was asked to do freelance work creating marketing and promotional products for Quantum and their "Q-Link" online service. (It would have been nice to have been offered a full-time job and stock options at the beginning, but who knows if I would have been smart enough to accept!) From early 1986 until late 1988 I was responsible for most of the graphics work done for Quantum, including an award-winning newsletter/scheduling guide which grew rapidly from a single page, two-color calendar to a 40-page full-color booklet. You can view some of this material by clicking on the links at right.
Unprecedented growth and success (and the addition of Apple computer compatibility) eventually dictated that Quantum switch to an ad agency for their graphics work. The market plan was to expand the service to all computer users including Amiga and IBM machines. The rest, as they say, is history.
A HISTORY OF THE ONLINE SHOPPING CART
Occasionally, something that becomes a universal standard comes about by an act of serendipity. Such is the case with the use of a grocery type shopping cart as an icon for collecting items for purchase on the internet. I chose a version of that image very early on for use on the QuantumLink/AOL service, and while not claiming sole responsibility for the adaptation of this symbol, I was certainly among the first to do so.
From the beginning of the Q-Link service, there was a concerted effort to have the supporting print material look high-tech. One of the techniques I chose was to use button-like icons to represent the various options offered by the service. (See an early example of those icons at right.) One of the engineers had informed me that those buttons would ultimately need to be converted into pixel-based digital images for the opening screen, and that there would be a size limitation of about 28 square pixels. I played with different visual concepts for many of the services, and some came more easily than others. For the image representing shopping, my first idea was a handled paper shopping bag. That, however, proved difficult to convey as a simplistic drawing. The thought of using a grocery cart struck me as being easier to depict, but would a grocery cart would work well as a visual when the service wasnt selling groceries? (At that time, those carts werent in wide use at other types of retail stores.) The final decision was that the visual of a cart represented shopping better than any other option and so, with little fanfare, it was adopted.
Who knew this concept would ever become so widely used and universally accepted?
PARTIAL CLIENT LIST
Over the past 2 decades, I have had the privilage of doing work for many fine individuals and organizations. This is just a partial list of those clients:
- Advanced Solutions International
- The Aluminum Association
- The American College of Preventive Medicine
- American Pride Builders and Land Development
- BeeLabor Janitorial Services
- The Birchmere
- Capital Church
- Comprehensive Health Services
- Conquest Systems
- Crystalake Engravers
- The District of Columbia Dept.of Health
- The District of Columbia Dept.of Insurance and Securities Regulation
- Eurasian Service Center
- Federal Employees News Digest
- Four Seasons Hotel Georgetown
- Four Star Printing
- The Embassy of Grenada
- Hager Sharp
- Helgas Caterers
- Holtje Communications Group
- Innovative Concepts, Inc.
- KCR Digital Printing
- Keyware International
- King Street Blues
- The Lay Counselor Institute
- The National Center for Black Philanthropy
- National US-Arab Chamber of Commerce
- The National Wildlife Federation
- Psychiatric Rehabiliation Services
- Quantum Computer Services
- Special Agents Mutual Benefit Association (SAMBA)
- The Stephen Fossler Company
- Strobel Marketing Group
- The Washington Redskinettes
- West End Dinner Theatre
- The Virginia Beverage Company
- Virginia Delegate Kenneth R. Plum
- Yohnnex Nutrition