Oak Island, North Carolina

If you were to go to Oak Island, NC for a beach vacation, you'd probably want to know about Oak Island Accommodations. And if you were to go there, you'd probably need a map to get around. (Unless you're like me in which a case a map does little to correct a broken internal compass) They had been using a traditional map for a while and they wanted to add something with a little more personality to their marketing collateral and welcome brochure. Something that would remind people of the good times to be had there. So off to work we went. 

As I usually do, I provided my lovely client with an introductory draft to ensure the tone was right and we were on the same page. Said intro draft looked like this:

oak island map billy simons

Then came the fun part: adding more content and moving things around. Because the map was going to be printed from a digital file, I could scan in pieces and assemble the map digitally. This was a YUGE benefit in the creation process as it allowed the client to put different elements exactly where they wanted them. (Also, I could make mistakes and fix them digitally!) For example, my first complete draft came back to me with these notes: 

As the project went on and we moved to various drafts, my working copy transformed from a functional map to a collection of Frankenstein parts to be assembled later. Airplanes and jetskis were removed, sailboats eradicated, dogs were added to biplanes and fishing fish to piers... you know how it is. So by the very end, this: 

...was scanned in and digitally reorganized to look like this (click it to enlarge): 

Furthermore, deliverable to the client is a Photoshop file with all the elements individually available so that they may use the separate components across their marketing materials. Here are some closeups for your enjoyment.

So that all being said, if you know anyone that needs a map, I'm your guy. Thanks for reading! Enjoy!

House Guest - France

My first foray into this style of architectural portraiture. (2 words, 8 syllables.) This piece was commissioned by a friend who plans to give it to the owners of the home as a thank you gift for hosting her over the holidays. 12x18. Ink. Lots of tiles. Lots of vines. Lots of time. 

A Vineyard Vines Vacation

As soon as Andrew emailed me about a Christmas commission, I couldn't wait to get started. It had all the elements of a project that I love: fun architecture, animals, family, and personal details to fill in the gaps. Andrew's family had rented a house in Martha's Vineyard over the summer and what he wanted was a family portrait that would capture their time together in a fun, quirky, and personal way. Here's the house:

After a brief conversation and a few emails explaining the details (including photos of everyone and their signature traits and features), I sent him this highly detailed draft of how I wanted to build the scene:

This draft, which shows everything from their lobster boil dinner plans to Air Force One flying into town to a niece obsessed with Frozen and a cousin infatuated with Vineyard Vines, and a mom who really loves her white zinfandel, was then discussed wherein we sorted out some details before the real thing was underway. (For example, the alpacas were obviously on the wrong side of the house.) Here's the process:

This draft, which shows everything from their lobster boil dinner plans to Air Force One flying into town to a niece obsessed with Frozen and a cousin infatuated with Vineyard Vines, and a mom who really loves her white zinfandel, was then discussed wherein we sorted out some details before the real thing was underway. (For example, the alpacas were obviously on the wrong side of the house.)

Here's the process:

Andrew ordered five copies so that all the families included would have their own piece of revisionist history for their homes. And it really lit up my Christmas Eve to get a text from Andrew that said,  "You have no idea how much people love it!!! Thanks again Billy!" along with a photo of the reveal:

Thank you, Andrew! It was a ton of fun making this for you and your family and I'm grateful to get to help commemorate such a great time for you all. Merry Christmas!

Hamsterdam

A few months back, I hit a bit of a creative drought and was looking for new things to draw. In my Google image searching and Pinterest browsing, I stumbled upon a photo of Amsterdam and thought, "well, obviously." I did some more "research" (meaning I stared at pictures online for extended periods of time) and created a few sketches of fictional Amsterdam blocks with anthropomorphized animals all over the place. Many of those animals were pigs and so that sketch took on the name "Hamsterdam." 

Fast forward a couple months when I'm showing the sketch to a friend and he says, "My brother loves illustrations, comics and cartoons and he lived in Amsterdam for a few years. Can I commission you to draw his building and his block like that?"

After I said "Of course!" said friend provided two things.

1) A Google streetview of the block:

2) A list of demands which included but was not limited to: The Muppets' Lew Zealand throwing fish, a pig in a squirrel suit riding a bicycle, the Hamburglar, select friends, a T-rex carrying a rolling bag into John(his brother)'s building, a pig napping in a top floor hammock (John's apartment), two friends (initialed AY and RG) smoking outside a local bar, and lots of bicycles and blazers, etc. etc. You know, the obvious stuff. 

SO... the final product was just delivered to John as an early Christmas present. And while I finished this on November 2, I've been waiting to post this write-up. I'm not an incredibly patient person, so I'm really excited to finally be able to share this all. 

Here's the process shown through time-lapse video, followed by the finished product and some detail images. Enjoy!