Go Kids – Beyond The Illustrations

In 2013, Plain Joe Studios subcontracted my services to produce some character designs and illustrations for the Go Kids children’s ministry of River Valley Church. Since then, I’ve been doing illustrations and children’s books for the Go Kids program using these characters. gokids_group-pose

Recently, Justyn Smith, co-author of the Go Kids series of children’s books, shared images on Instagram of costumed characters and products based on my character designs and illustrations. I asked his permission to share those images and he graciously gave his consent.

The image of Tom E. Squirrel on the left is a poster I created for Go Kids. The watch and pins on the right are products based on my illustration.

The image of Tom E. Squirrel on the left is a large poster I created for Go Kids. The watch and pins on the right are products based on the illustration.

The cookies on the right also utilized my illustrations, like the image I created on the left.

The cookies on the right also utilized my illustrations, like the image on the left.

gokids_mug-tshirt

Go Kids t-shirt and mug.

Justyn Smith with Robbie the parrot.

Justyn Smith with Robbie the parrot.

gokids_tom-costume

Tom E. Squirrel in the flesh… or, in the fur.

gokids_carlos-costume

Justyn Smith with Carlos.

When I showed my wife these pics, she immediately asked if we could get some of the items, so I wrote to Justyn and he generously offered to send me some stuff gratis. What a guy!

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How It All Began

I’m way too busy to think of anything original to post, so I’ll be recycling some older posts from my Facebook page. Therefore, the three persons who read that can just ignore this rehashed nonsense…

Frank_Grau_Woody-Woodpecker

People sometimes ask how I began my non-profit business, i.e., a career in art. Well, the non-profit part comes easy. One day I plan on writing a book entitled, “You, too, can run a business into the ground”, a.k.a., “I should’ve learned a trade like my pop kept telling me to do”. Anyway, back to the subject at hand. So, here I was, a little squirt of five. Someone (you’ll forgive me for not recalling exactly who, since it was, after all, quite some time ago) gave me a gift. It was a small box with, well, I don’t really remember what it was (a cornucopia of games, stickers and other ephemera), but it had, as a theme, Woody Woodpecker images and stuff. At the time, I liked the Woody. What did I know––like most kids, I had bad taste. So here I was with this Woody Woodpecker-themed box of something or other, and I suppose I got it into my head to trace a picture of the Woody and then lie to my pop, telling him I drew it––as in, freehand. I don’t know if it was the lying part or that my pop frowned on the practice of tracing, but I realized that if he asked me to repeat my prodigious feat of fine draftsmanship I’d be in a tough spot. My only recourse was to learn to draw the Woody for real, sans tracing––so that’s what I proceeded to do, which explains the crappy drawing you see here. This probably isn’t the exact drawing that began my life-long journey into poverty, but it was one of the first. Had I known then what I know now, I would have confessed to my pop how I had lied to him about drawing the Woody, and then, fearing I would take up a life of forgery, he would have beat out of me any further desire to put pencil to paper. At least, then, I could have gotten into a more reliable line of business, like hosting chicken-fights in my backyard.

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Cozmo’s Billboards

Cozmo's Day OffOne of the backgrounds I created for the interactive iOS children’s book app, Cozmo’s Day Off, by Ayars Animation contained an alien city scene, with ships and rockets zipping about. As on all of the pages, there were many fun little interactive elements on this page for kids to discover.

One of the interactive elements on page 8 is the ability to rub a couple of billboards which exposes different ads underneath. You can see below where they’re located on the page.

Cozmo's Day Off page 8

Here are some of the silly billboard designs I created for this interactive feature. The really fun thing about producing this book app was the freedom I had to be as creative or goofy as I pleased. In fact, we had far more ideas for this book app than we could feasibly implement.

Cozmo's Billboards

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Guitar Break #5

Noodling around on my orange-sparkle, 2000, USA Hamer Newport hollow body guitar with Seymour Duncan Phat-Cat P90 pickups. I made this “tune” up, which is why it’s so lame.

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Tom E. Squirrel Saves Christmas Cheer – Children’s Book

Tom E. Squirrel Saves Christmas Cheer

 

Plain Joe Studios commissioned me to illustrate a children’s book, Tom E. Squirrel Saves Christmas Cheer, in 2016. The book was written by Justyn Smith and Monica Morgan for the River Valley Church children’s ministry, Go Kids.

 

You can check out a flip-through video below:

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Food Chain

Something I doodled yesterday just for fun.

crocodile-frog

Guitar Break #4

Taking another break to play some nonsense I made up on my 1989 USA Hamer Californian.

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Carlos Comes Home – children’s book

Carlos Comes Home

Plain Joe Studios commissioned me to illustrate a children’s book, Carlos Comes Home, for River Valley Church in 2015. The book was written by Justyn Smith and Monica Morgan for the River Valley Church Go Kids children’s ministry.

You can check out a flip-through video below:

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Comics – Dandelion Odyssey

For those who’ve never bothered viewing my website, here’s a cover I did some time ago for a comic called Dandelion Odyssey (actually, I illustrated the entire issue, not just the cover).

This style was a departure of what I normally do, but it was fun trying something what for me would be out of the ordinary. I hate feeling like I do the same thing all of the time, so attempting to do different styles is a good change of pace. Falling into a creative rut or settling on doing one thing over and over tends to stunt creative growth (or perhaps is a symptom of some other issue).

Dandelion Odyssey

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Guitar Break #3

Taking a break from the drawing board, here’s another piece of guitar nonsense I came up with several years ago. There are a few obvious mistakes, but I can’t seem to get through a song without making errors no matter how many times I’ve played it. Anyway, let me know what you think…

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