Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Bad Puppy!

Middle grade book illustration

As with all dogs and many children, this pup has NO idea he did anything wrong.

I kept things simple with this illustration- stingy with colors except for a few accents, and a simple composition.

Sometimes it's fun to hold back a little...

Monday, March 26, 2018

How to Pit an Avocado

Have you ever wondered how to pit an avocado? Neither have I.

Have you ever wondered how to pit the knife you used to pit the avocado?

Now we're talking...

That's the question I tried to tackle with my poster, using easy to follow directions, and a little bit of an homage to Chris Ware.

This poster is available at my Etsy store

Friday, February 2, 2018

Groundhog Day 2018!

Happy Groundhog Day!

What's Worse Than 6 More Weeks of Winter?

This is a little departure from my usual Kidlit and Kid's education work. Normally I don't go political with my yearly Groundhog Day illustration, but this time around it couldn't be helped.


And here's an alternate version:

Thanks for looking and sharing- I appreciate it!

There are MANY more Groundhog Day illustrations on this blog.

I have a collection of my favorite Groundhog Day illustrations on Behance.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Groundhog Day 2018 preview

Check back tomorrow for the answer!

There are MANY more Groundhog Day illustrations on this blog.

I have a collection of my favorite Groundhog Day illustrations on Behance.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Coming Soon: Groundhog Day

Anybody who knows me is well aware of my interest (Or obsession, really) in Groundhog Day

In the very early days of my career as an illustrator, I wanted to celebrate a lesser-appreciated holiday to promote my business, so every year, I drew a groundhog illustration, and sent it out into the world. 

In the early days, I simply printed the illustration or cartoon on a postcard and snail-mailed it. These days it gets posted on every social media platform known to man.

Every now and then I find a little extra time to do some one-off sketches leading up to the holiday, and below you'll find one of them. 

For this year's illustration- keep an eye out on February 2!

Thanks for reading and looking! If you want to see my Groundhog Day illustrations from years gone by, click HERE.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Challenges of a Student with Poor Time Management Skills

The first student I illustrated for Engaging Minds is physically and mentally disorganized.

The second student is stressed out and has trouble concentrating. 

The third student (below) has poor planning and time management skills. He has trouble following directions.

Attributes of student 3 include:

  • Poor planning and time management skills
    • Doesn’t use a planner (s/he says she can just remember things in her head or just find it online)
      • S/he doesn’t even really know how to use a planner to begin with so s/he jettisons it
    • Doesn’t know how to prioritize
      • Doesn’t know how to make lists
    • Doesn’t know how to break down tasks into manageable pieces
    • Never learned how to effectively plan out long-term assignments
    • Doesn’t know how to create an agenda and estimate time on task
  • Poor self-monitoring
    • Doesn’t read directions
    • Doesn’t follow the rubric
    • Doesn’t use an assignment book effectively
    • Doesn’t follow through on goals and plans

Engaging Minds is a learning and tutoring center in Massachusetts that helps students to enhance their academic engagement, and strengthen executive function and learning skills.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Challenges of a Stressed Out Kid

The first student I illustrated for Engaging Minds is physically and mentally disorganized.

The second student (below) is stressed out and has trouble concentrating. 

The third student has poor planning and time management skills.

The top image was a lot of fun to put together. How often does one get to include a 'poop' emoji in one's art?

Attributes of student 2 include: 
  • Stressed out!
    • Procrastinates and struggles with task initiation
      • Always leaves things for the last minute
      • Constantly thinks s/he has more time
      • Easily overwhelmed
      • Doesn’t know where to begin
      • Doesn’t know how to break assignments down into manageable pieces
      • Doesn’t have a homework routine
    • Can’t focus
      • Has a really hard time sitting and doing work for more than 20 minutes at a time
      • Constantly daydreaming while reading
      • Easily distracted – even by the squirrel out in the front yard
    • Inflexible
      • Unwilling to try new approaches; stuck in a rut and can’t see another way out
      • Has a hard time shifting from one activity to the next
      • Doesn’t do well when things don’t go as planned
Trouble focusing:

Procrastinates and struggles with task initiation:


Engaging Minds is a learning and tutoring center in Massachusetts that helps students to enhance their academic engagement, and strengthen executive function and learning skills.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Challenges of a Disorganized Student

Engaging Minds is a learning and tutoring center in Massachusetts that helps students to enhance their academic engagement, and strengthen executive function and learning skills.

Dan Levine, President and Founder, was in need of visuals to help convey certain types of students and their challenges in his presentation to parents, and he called on me to create them.

The first student (below) is physically and mentally disorganized.

The second student is stressed out and has trouble concentrating.

The third student has poor planning and time management skills.

Attributes of student 1 include:

  • Disorganized
    • Physical disorganization
      • Messy backpack, messy binders, messy locker, messy bedroom 
      • Consequently, s/he can’t find their homework, the book they’re reading for class, or their assignment book. 
    • Mental disorganization
      • Can’t get ideas out of their head and onto paper, doesn’t know how to take notes, doesn’t effectively prepare for exams, can’t follow multi-step directions.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I'll post the other 2 kids another time.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

All You Need is STUFF; logo, print, icon

Does it sometimes feel like we only want more and more stuff? The new iPhone, apps, cars, and anything else you can get from Amazon with a single click…

That’s where this design was coming from.

Resist the STUFF

Monday, September 25, 2017

Drawing with my son

My son is smart- if he wants to stay up later than usual, all he has to do is start drawing. I never want to make him stop, plus it encourages me to draw more!

Here's the grandpa rabbit I drew:

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

What My Kid is Reading- Spy School

Spy School
Written by Stuart Gibbs
Age range: 8-12
Released: 2012

What's this book about?
It's about a kid named Ben who gets enrolled in a school focused on training kids to be spies for the U.S.

Does he know what he's getting himself into?
Yes, however there's more to the school than he thinks and he starts to figure it out throughout the book.

Is the story told by Ben?
It's told in the first person from Ben's perspective.

Who are the main characters besides Ben?
Throughout the story, Ben finds many accomplices, friends and enemies. Most characters you meet become main or strong supporting characters.

Who was your favorite?
It's tough to decide who was my favorite, but one of them was Zoe. The writer (Stuart Gibbs) developed her personality very well. Also, she has a tendency to give nicknames to every students in spy school, based on their first appearance, skills or anything about them.

Why did you enjoy this book so much?
It was brilliantly written. A lot of the plot twists were completely unexpected and went really well with the story. The characters were well developed and there was always something new added to the story.

I also really loved how at the start of every chapter you would find the chapter title, Ben's location, the date, and the time (army style). It made it feel like I was reading a top secret file.

Are there any illustrations in the book?
There are no illustrations but everything is described so well that the pictures pop up in your brain as if you (the reader) was in the book yourself. The book really makes you lose track of reality!

Why did you decide to read this book?
It was recommended by my friend, Owen. As I started reading it, I got sucked into it for days, it was so good.

Is this a funny book?
It's incredibly funny, with some slightly immature humor.

Who would you recommend this book to?
Anybody. The grammar isn't that complex, but when it's on the trickier side, Ben will always ask what it means, and one of his friends will always explain.

Is this book part of a series?
Yes. It's made up of 4 books so far and I've read them all! Spy School, Spy Camp, Evil Spy School, and Spy Ski School in that order.

How would you rate this book?
4.8 stars (out of 5)

Thanks Leo!

Support a local independent bookstore 
Buy this book from Amazon

More book reviews from Leo

Friday, April 28, 2017

Tintin Car Chase Book Cover

Another Tintin book cover commission (this is the 4th for my client) and this time it's a car chase in Spain. 

Their son is getting older, they have a new dog, and their grandmother has joined in the fun. In fact, that's her home in the background!

Some work in progress images:

Constructing the house:

Monday, April 10, 2017

Spring Animals

It's finally feeling a bit more like Spring!
This is a version of an illustration I created for my long-time client, Groovy Baby Music, a school of music for kids, to advertise their Spring semester.

Spring is all about COLOR! FUN! And finding animals in your backyard playing musical instruments!

And this is what Groovy Baby Music's version looked like:

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Yoga for Kids Video

I created a video for my Yoga for Kids poster on Etsy. Check it out below and then if you have a kid who loves yoga, you can pick up a print HERE.

The poster on a wall, enjoying some sunlight.

Detail of the poster

The poses are also available as single prints

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Mr. Morally Corrupt

Roger Hargreaves began creating his Mr. Men and Little Miss series in 1971 with characters whittled down to their most basic traits. 

There was Mr. Tickle (the first character created) and Little Miss Bossy, Mr. Good, Little Miss Helpful, Mr. Sneeze, Little Miss Curious, and so on.

If we were to whittle down our current president to his most basic trait, what would be the name of his character?

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Groundhog Day 2017

Happy Groundhog Day!
Welcome to another installment of the groundhog's quest to see/not see his shadow!

This year, the illustration is connected to a chapter book I've begun writing. 

In this story, the groundhog has banded together with other buck-toothed creatures of the forest to travel to the Shadowlands and get back his shadow.

I currently have a 200-page manuscript for a middle grade book getting shopped around with my literary agent, Rick Richter of Aevitas Creative Management and I'm excited to see which publishing house picks it up!

There are MANY more Groundhog Day illustrations on this blog.

I have a collection of my favorite Groundhog Day illustrations on Behance.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

New Illustrated Books for Sports Illustrated Kids

I illustrated a couple of Starting Line Readers for Capstone Publishing and Sports Illustrated Kids and they're out now! 
Plus we got a new puppy- her name is Rogue.

Below are some sample illustrations from both books.
If you're interested in purchasing these books, please consider supporting your local bookstore.

Baseball Buzz

Gymnastics Jump

Monday, November 21, 2016

Safety Pin Movement prints

An illustration of friends showing the special friendship between girls. I added two versions of this image for sale as a print on ETSY
  • The "Friends" message 
  • The "You Are Safe With Me" safety pin movement message*

The Safety Pin Movement promotes peace, love and safety. It originated as a Brexit message and has been adopted in the US after the 2016 presidential elections.

Detail where you can juuust see the safety pins on the girls' shirts:

Here's the Friend version of the print in a frame:

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Portraits From the Third (and final) Debate

Portraits from last night's presidential debates. 

Trump was drawn with a ball point pen and Clinton was drawn with a Faber Castell PITT pen (shown in the photo). Tones were added later in Photoshop.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Portraits From the First Debate

The first debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton was a great time to work on getting their likenesses down. Admittedly, I have more work to do before my Trump looks enough like the real one but these were fun to create.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Comrade Trump

Update: I have shirts and prints of this image available on Society6. 

Headline from the New York Times on July 27, 2016:
Donald Trump Calls on Russia to Find Hillary Clinton’s Missing Emails

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Mr. Trump said during a news conference here in an apparent reference to Mrs. Clinton’s deleted emails. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

From the Observer on August 5, 2016:
Yes, American Spies Really Think Trump Is Putin’s Guy

Former Central Intelligence Agency director Mike Morell was quoted as saying: “In the intelligence business, we would say that Putin had recruited Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.”

Friday, July 22, 2016

What My Kid is Reading- Dogopotamus

Dogopotamus: The Most Awesomest Pet Ever. Maybe.
Written by Michael Andrew Fox
Illustrated by Ed Shems (that's me!)
Age range: 7-10
Released: November 28, 2012

What's this book about?
A boy named Coby wants a pet, but he doesn't want a normal pet like a dog or a cat, he wants something bigger like a hippo but his mom says no (for obvious reasons). So Coby wonders: "What would happen if I combined a hippo with a dog?"

So I'll bet that doesn't work out too well, right?
Well, what do YOU think would happen if you mixed an energetic dog with an animal the size of a tank?!

So there must be a lot of mayhem!
This is worse than a tornado!
This is worse than an earthquake!
This is worse than dropping your iphone in the bathtub!

Is the book illustrated (as if I don't know)?
Yes, it is and it has some AMAZING illustrations! I especially love the cover because I love the Dogopotamus running around in the middle of the street while everyone is staring at him! 

Do the illustrations inside the book help tell the story?
Yeah! And they do it very well. I love how sometimes there are different textures to the artwork.

Why did you decide to read this book?
Duh. Because my dad illustrated it. And I could tell something hilarious was gonna happen. Especially from pages 28 and 29- you'll see what happens!

How many times have you read Dogopotamus?
I have no idea but it's at least eight times because I like the book AND because it was illustrated by my dad.

Who would you recommend this book to?
Anyone who wants a pet but their parents say no. Also anyone who likes to be creative because Coby was very creative when designing Dogopotomus.

How would you rate this book?
4.3 stars (out of 5)

Thanks Leo!

Buy this book from Amazon

More book reviews from Leo