2019 Year End Illustration Recap! Thank you!

It’s been a great year for me and I owe a big thank you to everyone who has thought of me and my work this year. I love working as an illustrator and I’m grateful to have the opportunity to draw for so many different clients. I have a few personal projects planned for next year that I’m looking forward to working on and showing you. I may write a book, I may draw more basketball players, and I definitely have more chip stands to draw and paint as our Every Chip Stand Project continues. As always I have many goals to achieve and continuing to work with great clients is always number one.

Here are a few projects I haven’t posted about yet. Enjoy! All the best in 2020.

I’ve been enjoying drawing a number of monthly portraits for American Way Magazine.

I drew these lovely people for The Los Angeles Times.

I have a recurring gig drawing teachers for Lawrenceville School’s magazine.

What a fun one for Reader’s Digest Canada. For a cool story about a man who created a directory of Canada’s big roadside attractions.

I’ve been drawing portraits on a monthly basis for ROBB Report. Here are a few from the last little while.

Drum major flip! For Penn Stater.

I drew this as a gift to a friend of mine. This is a depiction of his lakeside cottage.


ESPN 30 for 30 Podcast

This was a really fun project for ESPN‘s Season 6 of their 30 for 30 podcast series. I was given a rough cut in advance of the four episodes of Season 6 and asked to have a listen and come up with some imagery for each episode. We had a couple fun concepts for these and in the end went with images that show the main characters of each episode. The stories are so specific to these main characters it made sense to highlight them.

Since these will be used to represent the series and each podcast episode it was important to be bold so the work holds up at tiny sizes on your phone and in the app store.

Each of these episodes was really fascinating, telling stories I hadn’t heard before. These stories are about scandal, murder, money, salvation and subterfuge. I highly recommend you have a listen to each one, there are some great twists and turns. https://30for30podcasts.com/

One of my favourite episodes, this one is about Roberto “The Condor” Rojas and the Chilean soccer team in the late 1980s. 

I did not know the story of Kari Swenson. I won’t spoil it for you, but it’s pretty amazing. Cabin in the woods, biathlete, mountains of Montana… sounds good! 

This accompanies the story about the New Orleans Superdome, from its construction to its use during Hurricane Katrina.

A fun story about money, murder (and probably earmuffs) in Russia, as Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird make bank playing basketball in their WNBA offseason.

Forbes Japan

I have worked on a couple of projects this year for Forbes Japan and they are always a pleasure to work with. I’ve had the chance to draw quite a few famous faces for them and their magazine design is beautiful.

Fyodor Dostoevski – Fran Lebowits – Hannah Arendt – Henry Wadsworth – Hugo Hamilton – Thomas Wolfe – Shirley Conran

Arunachalam Muruganantham – Soichiro Honda – Steve Jobs – Malcolm McLean – Wilbur Wright – Orville Wright

Toronto Raptors

The first Toronto Raptors game I went to was March 26th, 1996. The game was at the Skydome in Toronto, a stadium meant for baseball games with a seating capacity of 53,000. It was not an ideal place to play or to watch a basketball game, but it was the Raptors’ inaugural season and as a basketball fan I had never seen an actual NBA game before, aside from an exhibition game a few years before. To top it off, the Raptors were playing the Chicago Bulls. Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen’s Bulls. And Dennis Rodman! And Steve Kerr! And Toni Kukoc! I loved that team. I still do. They went on to win 72 games, losing only 10 and setting the NBA record at the time. The Bulls were amazing, the Raptors stunk.

The Raptors beat the Bulls. I was crushed. Looking back, it is actually a cool moment, the first great win for the Raptors and a it was a highlight in their franchise history for a long time. I think it should still be a highlight. Any of the 9 teams that beat the Bulls that season (the Pacers did it twice) should mark those games as wins to remember.

Fast forward over two decades and the Toronto Raptors are the NBA Champions. It was a fun playoff run, and I spent a good portion of it watching games while on vacation in Italy and England on NBA League Pass a day after the games were decided, doing my best to avoid spoilers.

Kawhi was incredible to watch, and before the playoffs started I drew this illustration of him. From 1996-1998 and Jordan’s second retirement I would draw Chicago Bulls players, photocopy them 50 times and hand them out to my friends in high school. It was a good luck thing for me that paid off with 3 straight championships for the Bulls. So I decided to try it again this year (I tried it back in 2012 for the Chicago Bulls and Derrick Rose proceeded to tear his ACL and the Bulls still haven’t recovered), in the hopes of giving the Raptors some luck. It worked! You’re welcome, Raptors fans.

Kawhi Leonard

Fred Van Vleet