Gator Wrasslin'

In the mid-90's, pre-internet, I was trying to get my illustration career going. Because I did a lot of simple pen and ink (actually brush-tip marker) work at this point, and because digital printing was still fairly uncommon, expensive, and not the quality it is today, I did a lot of black and white promotions for my work. This one - "Gator Wrasslin'" - was one of those pieces.

While some may question the logic of representing yourself in an illustration sample (hey, it is a self-promo), I was so happy with the line quality on this one after I did it (originally with no intention of showing it to anyone) that I added my name and some rough-hewn text that said "Gator Wrasslin'", printed it on a postcard, and sent it off to magazines, newspapers, and other publications that I thought really wanted to see a drawing of me in a tank top, rubbing a reptile's belly. It was a short list, but a good one.

I think I toyed with the idea of coloring the piece, but thought better of it. For one thing, I spotted the blacks a little more thoroughly than I'd done on previous pieces, and that made me more confident that it would stand on its own. That also would have made it tougher to color - filling in those areas, all surrounded by solid black, tends to look like an afterthought to me. So colorless it remained.

I did manage to get a few magazine projects from this. One Art Director told me I had a "sensitive line style". That was a very nice compliment, but seemed slightly creepy when I thought about it too much. Eww...

If I were to do this again, I'd have kept the gator's belly white and not filled it in. I may have also removed the machete from my teeth - it looks kind of cool on its own, but I'm not sure if it really goes with the theme - am I wrestling the alligator, or preparing to fillet it? And I definitely would have given myself long pants and at least a t-shirt. No one needs to see all of that body hair, no matter how nicely rendered it may have been.

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