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

Posts tagged “stories

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


THE AURATOR: DEADLY SECRETS by M.A. KROPF

Illustration and logo design by Chuck Todd for "The Aurator: Deadly Secrets." "The Aurator" is a sci fi / fantasy, medical thriller by M.A. Kropf. The first of a trilogy of book covers I'll be illustrating. The first book is NOW AVAILABLE as an ebook, in hardcover and softcover from Xlibris.

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IT WAS A REAL JOY AND FUN CHALLENGE TO WORK ON THIS SCI FI / FANTASY BOOK COVER. This artwork has the kind of visual storytelling I love the most. Mystery and drama..think Sci Fi and Film Noir..that really gets the creative juices flowing. A lot of fun elements to play with for an artist: fog, threatening shadows, a San Francisco landmark….and The Aurator, Megan, entering the scene with her glowing red aura. The book written by M.A. Kropf has just published and is the first of a trilogy. I better get busy on the next two cover illustrations.

You can find the book here: http://bookstore.xlibris.com/Products/SKU-0111572049/The-Aurator.aspx

UPDATE: Now available as an ebook as of Friday, March 9.

Here is a description of the book:

THE AURATOR: Deadly Secrets by M.A. KROPF

First book of a Trilogy. Genre: Fantasy/Sci Fi

Illustration and logo design by Chuck Todd

“Megan is a nurse, wife and a mother who learns that her lifelong heightened sensory perception puts her among an ancient elite group known as Aurators—those who can read people’s auras. Mentored by Max, leader of the Aurators, she is swiftly thrust into membership within a secret historical medical society originating back to ancient Greece and her world quickly wobbles between reality and the supernatural driving her to the brink of insanity. In discovering her powerful bloodline, she also learns the prophecy marking her to protect the world from the Caduceus, an equally ancient society intent on world destruction. Conflicted between her professional oath to do no harm, and her prophesied calling to protect the innocent, Megan cannot deny an inherent and swiftly growing urge to do the unimaginable. Barely juggling her new Aurator life, work and family, Megan tries to confide in her rock solid husband only to discover that he too has secrets of his own—leaving Megan to question if her marriage and family will ever be the same.”

For more information on the book, an excerpt from the story and on author M.A. Kropf go to: http://www.theaurator.com

You can also visit the Facebook page for more updates: www.facebook-the aurator.com.

The Aurator: Deadly Secrets by M.A. Kropf Detail of artwork by Chuck Todd


Illustrations related to 9/11

On the somber 10-year anniversary of 9/11 I thought I should post a couple of 9/11 related images I have done.  The first illustration went with a story published in the Contra Costa Times a month or so after the horrific terrorist attacks. It went with a story about how we are coming to terms and coping with the terrible events and images of that day.  I contrasted a linear portrait of a woman, head bowed, with an abstraction of the twin towers.

The second illustration went with an A&E cover for the Contra Costa Times on how the Arts have been impacted by 9/11. I painted a stage with Hamlet raising a sword, twin lights beaming down from above against a backdrop of the ruins of the twin towers. This published a year or so after 9/11.

Hamlet on stage with ruins of the twin towers in the background...and two lights from above shining down.

The third illustration I painted to go with a story on athletes that have a fear of flying…even though they have to fly on planes to competitive events.  9/11 made this fear more daunting to overcome. After 9/11 I think all of us had to deal with a fear of flying in one way or another. In this painting I tried to portray the emotional conflict and fear the person had to confront. Lines connect different cities he has to travel to. Dramatic lighting, a shadow of a plane and hand lettering for the headline echoed those feelings.

Looking back on these images now, I see that I was also coping with the 9/11 events in my artwork.

Illustration for story about athletes who have to confront a fear of flying, as many of us did after 9/11.


Jazz Greats: Duke Ellington, Louie Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Charles Mingus and Chick Webb

Jazz Greats: Duke Ellington, Louie Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Charles Mingus, Chick Webb created as an illustration for LeapFrog by Chuck Todd. (Pencil, Watercolor and Acrylic.)

In honor of Smithsonian’s Jazz Appreciation Month in April my friend Ed Peaco just posted on his blog about one of Duke Ellington’s works. “Harlem Air Shaft.” It inspired me to share this fun piece I did a few years back for LeapFrog.

You should check out Ed’s post: http://edpeaco.blogspot.com/2011/04/can-you-hear-smell-of-dried-fish.html

I created this several years back for a Chicago design firm for their client LeapFrog. LeapFrog does interactive, fun and educational products for kids. This was for an interactive kids magazine. Using the LeapFrog reader kids could use a stylus and click on different images on the pages and hear information on each musician. They could click on each piano key and play music.  In the yellow area of the mural the music and lyrics of “When the Saints Go Marching In”  it would enable the kids to select the music and hear it…or play the notes, etc.

In my rough sketch all of the jazz musicians in the composition were completely different characters and fictitious…with a variety of instruments. The mural idea was part of the assignment with the family dancing in the foreground. I added the concept of the mural itself being in the process of being painted.

After submitting my composition, the design firm responded that the client loves it…but wants to change this character to Duke Ellington, this one to Benny Goodman…etc. Glad they loved it. I got busy with research and turned in a real dandy on time. I got paid, but unfortunately the piece never got published by LeapFrog. They stopped publication of the magazine it was for. Too bad. But I loved how this one turned out and am really appreciative that I got to illustrate all of these jazz icons.


Connecting and igniting clarity

One of the great pleasures I have in painting and illustrating stories is connecting with people. The last few months with the publication of our new children’s book, “There’s a Hummingbird in My Backyard” author Gary Bogue and I have had a lot of fun chatting with fans of the book at various events and signings around the Bay Area. I particularly enjoy talking with kids about the artwork and being an illustrator. I can often see a little spark in the eye as a kid talks to me. Suddenly illustrating for a book goes from being an abstraction to something that is tangible and possible. Hopefully I am igniting that spark in some of these young minds. It would be rewarding to meet a kid someday that started illustrating in part from meeting me and seeing my work.

I am excited about sharing my artwork and musings about illustrating for books and newspapers. Thanks for joining me in this new adventure.

www.chucktodd.net