I ignite clarity in all. A window to the Art of Chuck Todd

Chuck’s illustrations

In Black and White: Family Immigration and Deportation Illustrations

For the Fall 2017 issue of VERDICT –a journal by the National Coalition of Concerned Legal Professionals – I created these quick, visceral black and white illustrations on what desperate families crossing our borders face. I drew these images in August 2017, they sadly have even more resonance today. What do people in this situation feel? What does a child feel being separated from parents? How would I feel? These are the questions I ask when I created these drawings to help me capture an emotional truth in each piece.

Illustration by Chuck Todd for Verdictstory on Immigration and deportation

Child Internment Illustration by Chuck Todd, Verdict 2017. Pen and Ink/mixed media on board

Illustration by Chuck Todd for Verdict story on Immigration and deportation

DETAINED Illustration by Chuck Todd, Verdict 2017. Pen and Ink/mixed media on board

Illustration by Chuck Todd for Verdictstory on Immigration and deportation

Pen & Ink, mixed media Illustration by Chuck Todd for Verdict story on Immigration and Deportation

 

The image below shows a young girl being taken from her parents by U.S. officials. I created this drawing for the January 2015 issue of VERDICT, about laws that allow children of foreign nationals to be taken from their parents. The drawing now seems like a foreshadowing of what is happening in 2018 on a massive scale.

Chuck Todd

Deportation Officials take a little girl away from her parents who are seen crying in the background. Pencil drawing by Chuck Todd. Published by Verdict in Jan. 2015

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Going Global: Chuck Todd illustrations for Global Press Journal

Since 2016 I have had the pleasure of creating illustrations for Global Press Journal, and in recent months I’ve been creating illustrations for GPJ Passport Podcasts on a variety of topics. It has been a joy working with the talented folks at GPJ including Cristi Hegranes (CEO and Founder), Krista Kapralos (Enterprise Editor) and on the podcasts with Kyana Moghadam (Engagement Producer and Podcast Host).

The artwork:

Spirit Healer and Truth (Memory and Truth)

“Memory and Truth” artwork by Chuck Todd for Global Press Journal Passport Podcast

Spirit Healer and Truth (Memory and Truth)

Detail of “Memory and Truth” artwork by Chuck Todd for Global Press Journal Passport Podcast

Image Pereception

“Image Perception” artwork by Chuck Todd for Global Press Journal Passport Podcast

GPJ Translation

“Translation” artwork by Chuck Todd for Global Press Journal Passport Podcast

Desperate Journeys

“Desperate Journeys” artwork by Chuck Todd for Global Press Journal

GPJ Food

“Food for Thought” artwork by Chuck Todd for Global Press Journal Passport Podcast

News Transparency

“Transparency in the News” artwork by Chuck Todd for Global Press Journal Passport Podcast

 

For great journalism stories from around the world go to https://globalpressjournal.com/
and check out the Passport extra podcast content at: https://globalpressjournal.com/passport-podcasts/
More of my artwork can be seen at http://www.chucktodd.net


My week @ The Illustration Academy 2017

My wife and two daughters gave me the best 50th birthday present ever: A week at the Illustration Academy in Kansas City! Learning, growing and pushing as an illustrator never stops. Getting instruction and inspiration from illustrators John English, George Pratt, Bill Carman and Bill Sienkiewicz, and Mark English, is a life changing experience.

July 2, 2017:

I arrived on the Rockhurst campus in KC on Sunday and was greeted by George Pratt in the workshop. (It was a joy to catch up with George, I shared a room with George and illustrator Bill Koeb at Comic Con in 1998 or 1999.) I felt right at home, many students were in the workshop working away on the week 3 assignments due on Monday. (A very talented, and amazing group of students! So fortunate to get to spend the week with these artists. ) John English gave another week 4 student, Beth, and I a rundown of the program, and some handouts on approaches and philosophies. Timmy Trabon helped me get settled into my townhouse dorm room for the week.

I watched George and John work on oil paintings, and I did some work in my sketchbook. Leaned up against the walls and setting on tables were other works by George Pratt and John English, as well as some drawings and demo works by instructors from previous weeks. A C.F. Payne mixed media portrait was on the table. I worked in my sketchbook and reviewed the handouts to prep for the official start of the Week 4 program on Monday.

July 3:

Monday morning illustrators Bill Carman and Bill Sienkiewicz joined George Pratt and John English as instructors for the week. (Wow!) I got a good sense of how exciting and challenging the week was going to be as I listened to the critiques of the week 3 assignments.

Illustration Academy 2017 week 4

Monday critique session led by Bill Sienkiewicz, John English, Bill Carman and George Pratt

 

Bill Carman presents:

Late afternoon we were treated to a Bill Carman presentation on his artwork and life as an illustrator. (Pugs, Fly Fishing and beautiful drawings and paintings of imaginative creatures. )  Bill does such amazing and original work. Wow! An inspiring presentation! One of the best things about the week was meeting Bill and getting feedback from him. He gave me some helpful advice and directions to think about and challenged me to take my illustration work to the next level.

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Bill Carman discusses art and yes, narwhals! Meanwhile George Pratt and Bill Sienkiewicz work in their sketchbooks.

 

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Bill Carman presentation July 3, 2017 at The Illustration Academy. 

For my week 4 assignment I had a choice between a book cover or comic book cover for an existing title.

July 4:

Thumbnail reviews and Bill Carman illustration demo.

I decide to jump in and do a comic book cover. Should I dare try to tackle a Batman Cover, especially with Batman artists George Pratt and Bill Sienkiewicz? I went for broke…if I was going to get my butt kicked doing a Batman cover…this is the best place to do it. I went with a Batman origin story concept…but wanted to illustrate the moment after the death of young Bruce Wayne’s parents, when the birth of the Batman occurs.

The talented artist, Jeremy Gordon, took this photo of me at the critique session.

Jeremy Gordon critque photo

More on the project later …

Bill Carman demo:

Bill works with golden liquid acrylics that are intense in color. He demonstrated a mixed media approach with matte medium, acrylics and ink on paper.

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Bill Sienkiewicz, Bill Carman and George Pratt prep for Carman’s demo on July 4, 2017 at the Illustration Academy

Here are a couple of photos that George Pratt posted of Bill Carman’s process:

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Bill Carman demo, photo by George Pratt

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Bill Carman demo, photo by George Pratt

Over the course of the week Bill continued working on the piece. It was amazing to see it come to life, change and transform into the final piece.

Here is the image Bill Carman posted of the final work:

Bill Carman demo finish

Art by Bill Carman

 

July 5th:

Bill Sienkiewicz presentation of his career in illustration and comics.

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Moon Night page that move clockwise through the panels.

 

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Bill Sienkiewicz discusses his approach to illustrating comics…and Batman.

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Batman’s cape is an expressive visual character

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Bill Sienkiewicz key art for the Clint Eastwood film, Unforgiven.

July 6:

Feedback and critiques on roughs in the morning. Bill Sienkiewicz demo in the afternoon and a 3 hour figure drawing session in the evening. Whew!

Over a couple of days I did more rough sketches, research and experimentation for the illustration. And lots of Bat drawings …

Over the next 2 days more thumbnail roughs and experimentation

KC IA 2017 July 6 and 7 - 1 batman smokeKC IA 2017 July 7 bats - 1

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Here are some iphone shots of the Bill Sienkiewicz mixed media demo. Pencil, ink, crayon, watercolor, clear gesso, bleach….  on an animation layout bound that takes abuse.

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George Pratt takes a photo of the Bill Sienkiewicz piece at various stages. 

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Show and Tell: The in progress demo art was passed around to students.

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Sienkiewicz demo at the 2017 Illustration Academy

Not sure how long this link will be available, but here a video of the Bill Sienkiewicz demo that the Illustration Academy posted:  https://www.facebook.com/visualartspassage/videos/1460484310664137/

The three hour figure drawing session was intense. I worked to try the Academy technique in pastel drawing. George Pratt gave me a demo….then he returned to his easel to create figure painting with a brayer and paint scraper.

Friday, July 7: Visit to Mark English’s studio!

The visit to Mark English’s home studio was magical. When entering his studio we were encouraged to move things around and look behind paintings, in stacks and flat files. It reduces seasoned illustrators to kids in a candy shop.

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Mark English: The master artist in his element.

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Beautiful Mark English painting with collage

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detail

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Mark and John English

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George Pratt, Bill Carman (with back to camera), Mark English and Bill Sienkiewicz.

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Selfie time: Bill Sienkiewicz, Chuck Todd and Bill Carman in Mark English’s studio. 

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Yes, that is a Bison head and displays with Society of Illustrators medals. 

 

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This is one of my favorite painting from the visit to the Mark English studio. 

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The best part was getting to talk with Mark and tell him about how inspired I was from seeing him do a demonstration at the Academy of Art in San Francisco in 1997 or 1998. I spied a box of books and asked him if they were for sale, so I bought one and asked him to sign it. Timmy Trabon took the above  picture of Mark English and I in his studio with a work in progress in the background.

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Seeing George Pratt and Bill Sienkiewicz go though flat files in Mark’s basement was liking seeing young boys going through a newly discovered stack of old comics.

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Haunting, mysterious, violent and powerful Mark English illustration

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Two Bills, a George and a Bernie Fuchs

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Chuck Todd and a Bernie Fuchs magazine illustration. (George Pratt: ” Hey man, you want a picture with the Fuchs?”  Me: Yes, Please!”) 

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Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders drawing by Mark English

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Detail of Teddy Roosevelt by Mark English

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Mark’s dogs were part of the experience as well.

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Found this John Collier gem hiding under some artwork.

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Detail from the Fuchs illustration

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Detail from the Fuchs illustration

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A ghost story illustration by Mark English (sharing space with Collier and Fuchs) 

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Transfer drawing monotype using linseed oil. I think George said this one was for Sports Illustrated.

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Look! Bill Carman’s book on display in Mark English’s den!

 

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Bill Carman, Mark English, Bill Sienkiewicz, George Pratt and furry friend.

We went out to lunch. I sat down at a small table and John English invited me to sit at their table, and I sat next to Mark. We had more conversations about where he shows in galleries, etc. And listened to him tell some great stories. I had ordered a pizza and beer. I was sweating it, because for a dollar more I got the 22-ounce porter (instead of the polite 16-once size). He is going to think I’m a lush! When it was delivered to the table, Mark asked me what it was. I said was a crane brewery porter. I asked him if he would like to try it. So he took a sip of my beer. “That is a heavy beer.” And he returned to drinking his bottle water. So I can proudly say that Mark English sipped my beer!

Back at the Illustration Academy workshop, I asked George if they would be able to look at my website/portfolio and give me some feedback and direction.

Saturday, July 9:

Critique, and figure drawings.

For the students that were attending only Week 4, project critique was on Saturday morning rather than Monday. I worked through Friday night into Saturday morning to get my project to a finish for review. Got a couple of hours of sleep and back to the workshop. George, Bill S. and Bill C. had some great insights into the piece. I got some great direction on the cover, in terms of color and pushing it farther from each. Here is where I ended up on Saturday.

batman cover illustrationwithLOGOsmall

batman cover illustration NO LOGO Xsmall

Batman cover by Chuck Todd. Ink, pencil, nupastel and digital.

Before Bill Carman  and later Bill Sienkiewicz left, I got this photo of the group of phenomenal Week 4 illustrators and instructors. From left George Pratt, John English, Bill Sienkiewicz and Bill Carman.

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John English asked me to join in for a group photo:  George Pratt, Chuck Todd, John English, Bill Sienkiewicz and Bill Carman.

In the afternoon another figure drawing session. Here is a George Pratt drawing:

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George Pratt nupastel figure drawing

 

Sunday, July 9:

Great way to end the experience. Hanging out with John English and George Pratt waiting for my ride. Great conversation with John English comparing notes and observations about illustration and my week 4 experience. We discussed John’s series of clay court tennis paintings I’d seen him painting on during the week. I expressed to him how transformative my one week at the Illustration Academy had been. Then, chilling and talking art with George Pratt. Going through Pratt’s Morocco sketchbooks and  on his ipad the works he is assembling for an artbook. Oh…and he created an amazing watercolor illustration in my copy of Enemy Ace.

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A beautiful in progress oil painting by John English

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This John English oil painting gem leaned up in a corner of the Illustration Academy workshop.

 

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I think this is a George Pratt in progress oil painting.

 

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Worktable is more like a George Pratt shrine with demos and in progress pieces.

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Drawing from George Pratt’s Morocco Trip Sketchbooks

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Watercolor and ink from George Pratt’s Morocco Sketchbook

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Drawing George Pratt’s Morocco Sketchbook

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I asked George if he could sign my copy of his Enemy Ace graphic novel. He signed it…after he created this beautiful ink and watercolor illustration. We talked as he worked and he asked if I had seen his Morocco Sketchbooks. As I was transported to Morocco through his sketchbook and stories he was telling me…I had to remember to watch him work on the painting in the book.   

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George Pratt’s finished illustration and note in my worn copy of Enemy Ace. An amazing illustration and visit with George was an inspirational way to end my week at the Illustration Academy. 

How was my Illustration Academy 2017, Week 4 experience?: Amazing, transformative, exhausting, challenging, difficult and inspirational. I have a lot of great information and input to put to use… better get to work!

Thanks to Timmy Trabon for working with me on all of the logistics ( and taking the photo of me with Mark English). Thanks to the instructors: John English, George Pratt, Bill Carman and Bill Sienkiewicz. And also to Mark English, the trip to Mark’s studio and sitting next to him at lunch I’ll never forget.

The final of the Batman Cover Project:

After getting back home to California, I took the critiques and suggestions and pushed the cover much further. Everything has been reworked and refined, and a background color added. Some background textures peak through from the earlier state:

Chuck Todd batman cover illustration Week 4 small

Birth of Batman Cover Project by Chuck Todd

 


Injustice: When justice attacked and rendered powerless

It seems that too often in America justice fails us.

Yesterday’s grand jury announcement that there would be no criminal charges against the police officer who killed an unarmed 18-year-old named Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri sparked more rage, unrest, looting, riots and violence. Many more people were hurt and buildings destroyed in Ferguson. Unrest, protests and riots happened around the country last night and including close to home in Oakland.

Today, It seems fitting to post a b&w illustration I did last year for VERDICT on the theme of justice being cut down and rendered powerless.

We should not let injustice, racism and violence rule in any form. We have work to do as a nation and in our communities to mend justice and find true peace and equality.

Chuck Todd Illustration of Lady Justice being attacked and cutdown, rendered powerless. Created for VERDICT

Chuck Todd Illustration of Lady Justice being attacked and cutdown, rendered powerless. Created for VERDICT


Chuck Todd’s Smartphone Kill Switch artwork featured in newspapers; Huffington Post story

Artwork by Chuck Todd for Bay Area News Group; Illustration was also used by Huffington Post. "Kill Switch" technology locks down smartphones in an effort to keep phones and private information out of the hands of thieves.

Artwork by Chuck Todd for Bay Area News Group; Illustration was also used by Huffington Post. “Kill Switch” technology locks down smartphones in an effort to keep phones and private information out of the hands of thieves.


 

I created this illustration for Bay Area News Group to go with a Dana Hull story on lock down technology used by Apple and other smartphone makers to thwart thieves from stealing private information from a cell phone.  In print the illustration ran in the San Jose Mercury News and in the Contra Costa Times in the TechMonday business section. I few months later I was delighted to learn that my artwork was also picked up by The Huffington Post and ran with this story: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/16/smartphone-kill-switch_n_5158926.html

The illustration was created with pencil, photocopy and Photoshop. I wanted to really push the threatening feeling of the hands trying to snatch the iPhone. I did this as a separate drawing, xeroxed it to push the blacks and texture and then worked back into it some more. On another piece of bristol board I drew the hand and the lock with chains wrapping around the iPhone to keep it locked down. I scanned both in and accented the hand and phone with color in photoshop. Keeping the background black and white was more striking and sinister. This approach harkens back to my love for printmaking and etching.


Freud and Siri

Freud attempts to get inside the mind of Apple's enigmatic Siri.

Freud attempts to get inside the mind of Apple’s enigmatic Siri.

Recently I got this illustration assignment for a Pat May story published in the San Jose Mercury and Bay Area News Group papers. Pat was interested in finding out what made Apple’s enigmatic, helpful (sometimes) and mysterious female concierge tick. He wanted to get inside SIRI’s head. To do that he enlisted the help of a local psychologist to probe and ask SIRI questions to discover the mind behind the iPhone voice.

Trying to psychoanalyze SIRI was a fun assignment to get. When the story was pitched to me by the Business editors we hit the idea of putting SIRI on the psychiatrist’s couch. I took the idea and ran with it. And what more famous couch…or psychiatrist to dive into the mind of SIRI than Sigmund Freud himself. No kidding on running with this assignment….with other newspaper deadline work I had just a morning and part of the afternoon to go from thumbnail to finish.

You’ll find in the illustration a few apple and female related symbols.

You’ll find Pat May’s story at this link:

http://goo.gl/xhi27Z


A goodbye to James Gandolfini and Tony Soprano

James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano in boxing gear. Illustration by Chuck Todd

Detail of James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano. Illustration by Chuck Todd

The funeral for actor James Gandolfini was held today in New York City. Gandolfini died last week of a heart attack in Italy at the age of 51. Gandolfini brought the character of mobster Tony Soprano to life in HBO’s “The Sopranos.” He breathed into the character complexity, vulnerability and a violent power seething under the surface. So sad to lose such a great actor in the prime of his life.

As friends and family of the actor gathered to celebrate Gandolfini’s life I thought I would share this illustration I did of Tony Soprano for the Contra Costa Times when “The Soprano’s” ruled.

Pencil and watercolor illustration of Tony Soprano (James Gandolini)  for The Contra Costa Times

Pencil and watercolor illustration of Tony Soprano (James Gandolini) in boxing gear for The Contra Costa Times

Battle for the Emmy's A&E cover for the Contra Costa Times. Illustrations by Chuck Todd. background and design by Dave Johnson. Art direction by MaryAnne Talbott.

Battle for the Emmy’s A&E cover for the Contra Costa Times. Illustrations by Chuck Todd. background and design by Dave Johnson. Art direction by MaryAnne Talbott.

The A&E cover for the Contra Costa Times featured boxing poster take on “THE BATTLE FOR THE EMMYS” with James Gandolfini and Martin Sheen portrayed as boxers as “The Sopranos” and “The West Wing” fought for Emmy Awards supremacy. I created the characters of Tony Soprano and President Bartlet in pencil and watercolor adding in boxing gloves, shorts and some details that matched each character. Fellow artist Dave Johnson did the design, background photographer and combine them in photoshop…art direction by MaryAnne Talbott.

RIP James Gandolfini.


Priority Based Budgeting graphic and Budget Story project get national attention

An infographic created for the city of Walnut Creek to explain how the process works in their city. Part of a group presentation I gave at the "Transforming Local Government Conference"

An infographic created for the city of Walnut Creek to explain how the process works in their city. Part of a group presentation I gave at the “Transforming Local Government Conference”

I was honored to be part of a group asked to give a presentation at the Alliance for Innovation “Transforming Local Government Conference in Atlanta on April 10, 2013. Our presentation was entitled “Think Outside the Bar Chart! Creating Compelling Budget Communications for Public Engagement”  Walnut Creek Assistant City Manager Lorie Tinfow, , Multi-Media Producer Liz Payne and I were joined in spirit by Communications and Outreach Manager Gayle Vassar in spirit though she could not be at the presentation in person.

Last year I was asked to work on a project that grew into “A COMMUNITY CONNECTED: THE 2012-14 BUDGET STORY” for Walnut Creek, CA. The project grew out of a desire to create a more visual, informative and engaging publication than the typical large budget binder. To create something with more context and to also help the public understand the work the city is doing…and the tough challenges and choices ahead. Gayle and Lorie assembled a team that included Finance Manager Cindy Mosser, Liz Payne, Blue Ribbon Taskforce member Karen Majors and myself.

As a visual journalist on the project I was brought in to find visual ways to tell the story. And in the presentation I got to discuss what a visual journalist does and the process of working on the publication, cover and the Priority Based Budgeting infographic. A visual journalist takes complex information, data and ideas and turns it into a visual story….focusing on key messages and what is important to connect to the reader. Visual Journalism is visual reporting using illustration, infographics, design and/or sequential art.

Priority Based Budgeting is a process where a city establishes goals and with input from The City Council, city staff and citizens rank programs and spending in how well they met the goals. It is new, innovative way for cities to aproach budgets and the city of Walnut Creek is one of the first to embrace the process. 

The graphic and publication has been well received by the citizens in Walnut Creek and has garnered national attention. It was a great honor to be asked to give our “Think Outside the Bar Chart!” presentation at the TLG conference.  I’m including here the cover and a two-page spread from the Budget Story.

It was a great experience and I even got to meet the folks who came up with the idea of Priority Based Budgeting. Getting compliments from them on how well the graphic described the process was high praise indeed! For more about their work go to ( For more on Priority based Budgeting go to: http://www.pbbcenter.org)

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VISUAL TRIBUTE TO GARY BOGUE

After 42 years Gary Bogue’s final column published in Friday’s Contra Costa Times.

http://goo.gl/au1jt

Gary wrote his pets and wildlife column for the Times for 42 years. Amazing. More amazing is his wealth of knowledge, his empathy for wild critters and his connection to his readers. I have had the honor of working with Gary at the paper on graphics, wildlife posters….and on our three books for HeyDay Books. Gary is a great resource, a gracious and incredible collaborator and a dear friend. We have been on many adventures together to the Lindsay Wildlife Museum for research and events…and giving talks to schools and civic groups throughout the Bay Area. Gary is a pure storyteller, in his columns, in his books….and on our roadtrips to various events.

I’ll miss working with Gary at the Times…I don’t think the place will ever be the same. But, I better clear off my schedule. Now that he has more time…he’ll be hitting me up with many more book projects to illustrate. Bring it on Gary, let the adventures continue! And congratulations on 42 wonderful years of columns that connected, enlightened and raised millions in funds to help preserve open space and care for animals in the Bay Area.

Here is a link to a story on his amazing career in today’s CCT Times.

http://goo.gl/z7OjW


IDEA INVESTING

Illustration by Chuck Todd.  Story by Peter Delevett. Centerpiece design by Daymond Gascon. For the Monday TECHNOLOGY section in Bay Area News Group print and digital editions

How do you illustrate the concept of Investing in Ideas? One of the two startups highlighted in Peter Delevett’s story called MOTIF aggregates companies into motifs or ideas. Say an investor likes PETS. Yup you can invest in a grouping of PET companies.  Or GREEN companies, or FAST FOOD companies or MOBILE TECH companies, etc.

I thought of an idea taking off, earning money. The concept of turning light bulbs into a flock of ideas flying up and away popped into my head. After a couple of thumbnails the idea gelled. I used $100 bills to construct the wings, which created some fun, bird like patterns. I kept this one loose and fun, I painted up one light bulb and incorporated the finished wings all in photoshop. Then I duplicated the ‘light bulb with wings’ image on multiple layers and made the smaller ones more transparent. I used my artistic license to keep an old style of light bulb…allowing me to leave a subtle birdlike beak on the bulb.

This appeared in Monday print editions. To read Peter’s story online go here:

http://goo.gl/zRLCm


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