bonehead move feature image

Warning: Bonehead Move in Progress

topdogArt and Design

Last Saturday The Missus told me about a Seattle open call for art to cover traffic boxes (those ugly metal boxes at intersections that control lights and such).

A cursory reading of the brief interested me, and if my art was selected for one of the boxes, I’d receive a $1000 honorarium.

One thousand dollars! I haven’t made that much for one job since Flu Manchu hit town. It’s amazing how a dying economy changes your perspective on the meaning of a low four digit paycheck.

The deadline for the project is, oddly, noon on Sunday, January 3.

Writers Forums Writer Falls

Books filed under "S" for soggy.

Each box consists of four sides and a top. The samples they showed had all styles of artwork and seemed to span many themes and concepts. Cool! I can do that too! To save time, I’ve been working on re-usable base art to which I can add characters doing interesting things on each panel. The concept I’m working with involves my latest art obsession: creating landscapes of big books and populating them with tiny people.

Does that sound weird? Here’s an example from a couple years ago that actually won an award:

The Bonehead Discovery

So this morning I’m getting ready to finish up the base Book Landscape, and just to remind myself of the specifications, I opened up the PDF containing the project brief.

Remember that cursory reading that interested me? Well, this reading was a bit more in-depth on my part. That was how I learned I had made a rookie bonehead mistake. Me, after more than thirty-six years in the business, made one of the most basic and easily prevented errors one can make in the field of graphic design and marketing:

I forgot to read the whole project brief, and in so doing I failed to note the purpose of the project: To promote “A positive representation of your city’s diversity and the potential of precision medicine research.”


“Precision medicine research”? Shit! There’s no way to elegantly make my art fit into that focus, and it’s too late now to start over. I just lost out on my biggest paycheck since Dung Lung Flu arrived.

But I’m not going to stop now. I like the way it’s looking, so I’m going to continue progress on my bonehead move, not because it’s going to make me money (I won’t be submitting anything now), but because it’s going to make me happy.

I’ll post the art as it is finished, but here is the base art in progress (about 70% done).

bonehead art

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About the Author


Topdog is Steve Merryman, a graphic designer (retired), and illustrator. Living in the woods, Steve can often be found working on portrait commissions. In his spare time he paints, writes, shoots guns, cuts trees, hikes with his dogs, savors a beer or two, and searches for the perfect cheeseburger. He studiously avoids social media and is occasionally without pants.

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