Chambers of Commerce – Get a Tattoo!

Back when tattoos were still novel and newspapers had readers and thus advertising revenue and thus budgets to hire freelance artists, I did this cartoon for The Philadelphia Daily News. My illustrations accompanied an article entitled Chambers of Commerce which promoted new, hip and happening eateries, bars and small businesses such as tattoo parlors.  It was aimed at suburban commuters in the hopes that they would stick around rather than hopping on the regional rail or a PATCO train home straight after work. Stay in town after you clock out, and SPEND that money!

This was back before I had purchased my first Mac and doubted whether proper illustration could even be done digitally. I had a PC and I did mechanical drawings on it which worked out great, but I thought the finesse of a hand drawn cartoon or illustration was out of the question for computers. Macs were pricey beige boxes used strictly for graphic design and illustration was done traditionally, and then scanned into the computer. I did this work on hot press watercolor paper with black ink and water colors. The animation cel technique that I used on the shivering banana was becoming a problem. It was 1997 and places that still shot photostats were getting harder to find.

Now that I look at these cartoons I see a number of things that I may have done differently as far as the rendering, but I remind myself that color was a crapshoot on newsprint back then. You were lucky if the printer could maintain registration between the colors on a big newspaper press. I learned the hard way that it was best to keep it simple. Otherwise that image you slaved over could end up looking like a mud puddle once it was printed.

Something I would have definitely done differently was the type treatment, but sadly, I had nothing to do with it. That wasn’t my job. I don’t know what the layout person was thinking with that disastrous font selection and the “playful” interchange between upper and lowercase. It wasn’t worth the effort, and it looks like something from a small city’s free weekly as opposed to a major metropolis’ daily.

…and what’s with the magenta C?

Above is the pencil sketch of the tattooist and his squeamish customer. The funny thing is I had only a vague notion of what a tattoo needle looked like so I faked it. I think I had to turn the job around quickly, and I didn’t have the time to do proper research. I didn’t have the internet which would have turned up reference photos in seconds even on a dial-up connection. A trip to the library and a laborious search through the stacks would have been order, but there was no time. Nobody said anything so I guess it was close enough.

I should have kept that tissue box in the final.

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