Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Yes, it's true. I once did a card (two actually) for Hallmark. I was hired to do two birthday cards for their Shoebox line sometime in the mid-1990s. I had been a (hard)working illustrator for a while at that point, taking any and all jobs I could get. Hallmark dangled the prospect of keeping me busy with regular gigs, so I happily (and somewhat cynically, I admit) gave it a shot. After all, isn't that what young illustrators always hear from their annoying relatives: "Have you tried sending your work to Hallmark Cards?" So, one day I did just that and, sure enough, they called.

Unfortunately, my work for them apparently didn't meet with the approval of one (or more) of the higher-ups and those two cards were all I ever did. They had sent me their illustrators' guidelines -- a brochure that included descriptions and showed examples of how to successfully draw in a "Shoebox style," but I had to ignore it, only because it would have been so unnatural for me to draw in the way they described (in short: very, very cute) - I simply couldn't do it.

I'm including my first sketch for this card. You can see they approved everything but the central girl's face. Then, after a couple more sketches, I got so confused about what they wanted her to look like that by the time I did the final card -- you can see -- her face looks almost abstract. Oh well... One of the good things was that they let me do my own lettering and even draw that toy bear on the back.

I was a bit disappointed that I didn't make the grade for Hallmark -- I wanted work. But I wasn't surprised. I'd had a lot of worse gigs and (luckily) a lot of better ones, too. Anyway, a couple of years later I was so busy I had to start turning work down -- then, eventually, I was able to start concentrating on writing & drawing comics instead.


  1. Pretty cool to see some more history of what you've done over the years.

    On a side note, do you do your own coloring or do you have someone you use?

  2. Just beautiful. Long time fan, first time commenter! Best from the UK.

  3. Thanks guys. Paul - no one has ever colored my work but me! It's watercolor and it's a part of the art, not a separate layer. -- Richard

  4. Good story - you are an inspiration. What the heck is "shoe box style"?

  5. Hey Josh. The Shoebox style, as shown in their guidebook at that time, was basically a variation on the Sandra Boynton school of art. I couldn't draw that way -- I always wanted to add more detail!