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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Here’s a detail from Ayars Animation’s Cozmo app. Every time I open the app and go to this page, I remember how much work it involved; not just because of the illustrating, but because it had to be done in, like, a bazillion layers in order to facilitate the animating and interactive elements (and if you’ve tinkered with the app, you’d have an idea of what I mean).

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 9.55.52 AM

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Cozmo’s Gingerbread House



Have A Cozmo Christmas



Alien Ideas

When I first created Cozmo, the Little Green Dude™ as a figurine line and presented it to my employer at the time, Cast Art Industries, I had also created a lot of other humorous, alien-based scenarios to accompany the line and which also never saw the light of day.


Back in the 90’s anything and everything could be made into a figurine with modest success. Unfortunately, by the time I had created Cozmo, the figurine market was on its deathbed and, like many of my artistic efforts, suffered from poor timing. This particular doodle was one of many ideas I would do more as a brainstorming exercise.

Something About Being “Worth A Thousand Words”

Cozmo - Raining Cats & Dogs

I wish I could say it’s finally starting to look like winter around here, but despite the rain and my chance to finally use the fireplace, I suspect things will clear up soon and we’ll be back to temperatures in the high seventies. In the meantime, I’m thankful for our brief downpour.

The Magic Kingdom

Yeah, I know, I haven’t posted since Christmas. So sue me…

My average day pretty much consists of waking up at the crack of noon, showering, grabbing a bite and a cup of joe, walking all the way to work (which is about ten steps from my bedroom), going through all the junk-mail in my spam folder, noodling around on my guitar for a few minutes, and then hitting the drawing board (or computer, depending on what the job entails). By the time I end my day, I’ve worn out my interest at being either in front of a drawing board or computer, so attending to the blog drops to the bottom of my to-do list.


Of course, I do try to take some time off on occasion, and last year we managed to set aside enough shekels to purchase annual passes to Disneyland, which, for our family of six, is equivalent to the cost of purchasing a small island. Thus far, we’ve availed ourselves of those passes and attended almost every week. The wife and kids enjoy going because, well, it’s Disneyland. I like going because I find it to be a source of artistic inspiration. My professional work is something I rarely find personally exciting, though on occasion I do get to do something that interests me (my work with Ayars Animation was really great fun, which I miss). So while I have very little time for personal projects, being at Disneyland helps me remain encouraged to keep pursuing my own ideas. So that’s where I’m off to…

Any of you sunny So Cal folk want to meet up and race me at Autopia?

More Character Design, Please

As I already noted in a previous post, I created a lot of characters for the Cozmo’s Day Off iOS app. Whimsical robots are always fun to design, and this was one of my favorites. Like some of the others, this character only makes a brief appearance, this time on page 8.Frank Grau Robot Design for Cozmo's Day Off iOS appWhat you have here is a robot dashing across the screen to get his coffee order. When he crosses back again, he’s relaxed as he carries his java fix in his grip. That’s right – even robots like a cup ‘o’ joe on occasion. Don’t you?

Never Let A Good Design Go To Waste

I originally created Cozmo back in the 90’s as a figurine line while working at Cast Art Industries (figurines made up a large percentage of the giftware industry at the time). Besides illustrating and designing giftware, I had various other art-related chores I would be called on to perform, from helping design sets for our catalog photo shoots, to creating a birthday card for the owner’s best friend (when you own your own company, you can get your employees to do just about anything as long as they’re on the clock).

One of the things I was sometimes asked to design were point-of-purchase (or POP) display headers for our products. A figurine POP was usually plastic or cardboard, with stepped rows, and usually had an illustrated header which served as a backdrop to help stage the figurines. When I designed the Cozmo figurines, I also created some rough POP header concepts. Cozmo point-of-purchase display concepts

Fast-forward to 2010 at Ayars Animation, where Frank Ayars and I are discussing what we might do for a second iOS app. I had plenty of intellectual property ideas, one of which was Cozmo, so I pitched that to him. He gave it the green light, and off we went. So there I was about to design a menu page for the app. I really liked certain elements about the earlier Cozmo POP concepts I did for Cast Art, so I looked to them for inspiration, and they formed the basis of what eventually became the final menu page design of the app. Cozmo's Day Off iOS app menu page

All of that to say, if you have a good idea that you’re not putting to use, don’t let it go to waste. If the need or opportunity presents itself, don’t be afraid to reach back in the past for something that can serve you well in the present.