Work really picked up for me this month. I was recently hired by a local design firm, Firebrand, as a freelance design consultant. My first job with Firebrand is a doozy: to upgrade 70 posters created by grade school kids across the state for an anti-drug campaign through Penn State University called “Keepin’ It Real.” The top ten posters were selected by Firebrand  for a poster contest, and what I have to do is take the ideas and spirit of the kids’ designs and redesign them professionally.

This job is a lot of fun and quite a challenge! Some posters are incredibly elabourate; others quite simple, but each one of them is unique. For someone with a short attention span when it comes to artwork, I like that each style is different…it gives me some room to play. I love the kids’ senses of humor and their earnestness in the anti-drug message. There’s a few in the pile that are hilarious: a smoking frog; a cigarette train heading into a cemetery. Tapping into their creativity brings the kid out in me and is a nice change from the usual stuff I’ve been working on. It’s also given me some inspiration to change up my styles radically. Because every poster the kids made is different, I thought all of the “pro” posters should reflect that. It’s forced me to learn how to illustrate on my new Wacom tablet in a short time span and stop procrastinating on it…and drawing with it ended up not being too hard after all.

The biggest challenges I’m having are finding images to work with…I’m using Photoshop brushes, stock photography, and my own (dormant) drawing skills. I may use my own photographs if I can find anything that works, but for the most part I’ve been looking elsewhere. (It’s made me think that perhaps I should start my own stock photography stash.) Learning how to draw on a Wacom after a lifetime of drawing with pen and ink isn’t that bad, though I’m still trying to work out the disconcerting feeling of using a mouse like a pen and looking up instead of down.

I don’t have the kids’ posters scanned, but here are some of the professional posters I redesigned.