A few months ago my friend, Kevin, asked if I would help him illustrate a book he had been working on. The book is based on a collection of stories he had told to his daughter, Clara, at bedtime and over long plane flights to keep her preoccupied. The stories tell the story of “Jalapeña”, an 8-year-old red-headed troll and her human friend, “Raven”, as they go on a series of adventures. Kevin shared his manuscript with me and, although I really enjoyed the story, I was hesitant to illustrate it. His story was epic. It contained a huge cast of characters and creatures and traversed a wide variety of places over different time periods.
“You know”, I told Kevin, “I’ve never done this before!”
“…I’ve just drawn comics…”, I continued, before he could interrupt. “… and, it’s almost a given that my artwork will improve as the book progresses. The illustrations might be inconsistent!”
“That’s okay!”, he replied, calmly.
In that instant I realized that Kevin and I were in the same boat. He wasn’t a professional writer any more than I was a professional artist. It’d be a learning process for both of us.
And then I smiled.
“Okay then.”, I said.
“Let’s do it.”
The experience so far has been nothing short of awesome…
“Are there any tests available yet?”, Jodie asked me.
“No, not yet. I’ll check again tomorrow.”, I replied, discouraged.
“I’m going to forget everything before I get a chance to be tested on it!”, I continued.
“Same here.”, Jodie smiled
It would be almost three months from the point I finished studying for my California real estate agent exam to when I was actually allowed to be tested on it. The testing centers were either closed or restricting the flow of candidates to a small trickle. Thank you, COVID.
Fortunately, I passed.
Over a year ago my wife, Jodie, decided to get her brokers license. She started in real estate over ten years ago right after our oldest daughter was born. She had done really well, too, building relationships and selling and buying homes all over San Diego.
“Well, what if I get my agent license, too? Then I can help you out – maybe hold open houses or something.”, I offered.
I smiled back. In real estate, agents work “under” a broker. My wife would essentially be my boss.
“Unless you have something against sleeping with your employees?”, I smiled.
“Nope”, she laughed back.
So we studied together. Then, after we were done studying, we waited together for exam spots to open up. It took me almost a year. It took her even longer because, to become a broker, she had to prove her work experience, a process that took forever due to the glacial pace of the Department of Real Estate weighted down by COVID restrictions.
Jodie passed, too.
We threw around names for a while and decided on “Vandervort Realty”. Over the years I’ve realized my last name can be a bitch to spell for newbies, but instantly memorable – if only because it’s a bitch to spell. It would be perfect for a company name – as long as we didn’t have to create any musical jingles to go with it.
The company logo proved trickier.
Initially Jodie wanted to go with a design she had found on Etsy, but I insisted on designing one for her. Illustration and graphic design has become my “thing” over the last few years, just as real estate hers.
“I work cheap.”, I told her. “You can pay me in vegan brownies!”
“Deal!”, she said.
We went through countless revisions. The endeavor expanded into a business card, listing sign, and Facebook Page, too. But finally the day came.
“I like it.”, she admitted.
“Really, so we’re done?”, I asked, stunned.
“Yeah”, she smiled, “Well, for now…”
“Good”, I smiled. “You have a lot of baking to do, you know.”
Take care. Stay healthy. Live life.
Vandervort Realty is a family-owned real estate brokerage located in sunny San Diego. We pride ourselves on making relationships, not sales. Our goal is to educate people to help them make the best decisions in any market. For more information you can contact me here on DrawnAndCoded, or visit our Facebook Page.
My cousin Paul and his wife April just launched a new BBQ Sauce, “Daddy’s BBQ Sauce”. The BBQ Sauce is based upon a family recipe handed down by April’s grandfather. Paul and April have served it for years at family gatherings in their backyard on smoked and grilled meats. Before I eliminated meat from my diet due a prostate cancer diagnosis I looked forward to it’s unique sweet taste and how it caramelized on the meat. Without sounding like a hypocrite, it’s delicious.
I might seem like the last person that should be promoting a BBQ sauce, but I want to be the first to support my cousins’ endeavor because I believe in it. It’s good. So good that I volunteered to create a logo for them to support them. Over the next few months they’ll be promoting “Daddy’s BBQ Sauce” on a road trip across the United States. If you see them, tell them their cousin Scott said, “Hi!”, and pick up a bottle.
“Daddy’s BBQ Sauce” is also available on their online store.
I used Clip Art Studio, Gimp, and ultimately, Inkscape to render the logo. The logo went through several iterations, each focusing on a caricature of April’s grandfather. Some of the other finalists are below, but most people I talked to favored the “laid back” demeanor pictured above.
Take care. Stay healthy. Live life. Try “Daddy’s BBQ Sauce” ( you’ll love it )!
I’ve been working remotely from home for one year now and it’s been great….well, mostly. Like anything new, there have been obstacles. However, after many trials and tribulations I can now run the gauntlet like a soccer mom evading children playing in the street in her minivan.
Here are some things that I have learned ( maybe they’ll help you, too ) :
I’ve learned that there is no longer anyone to blame other than myself for burning the popcorn in the microwave
….and, that that horrible leftover smell in the fridge is, in fact, my own.
I’ve learned that having an “open door policy” doesn’t work when your officemates are two kids ( and dogs ).
I’ve learned that when everyone is working from home on battery powered keyboards and mice, he who holds the last two AA batteries is king.
I’ve learned that my wife showers at precisely the same time as my daily webcam meetings – and that the camera faces the bathroom.
Lastly, I’ve learned that pants are, indeed, optional.
Take care. Stay healthy. Live life. Forgo the pants.
Every Valentine’s Day for as far back as I can remember Jodie has surprised me with a delicious hand-made dessert. Three years ago I started reciprocating by drawing her a Valentine’s Day comic. This year, to celebrate our addiction to LEGO, I drew her the comic you see here. In return, to celebrate our almost two years on a whole food plant-based diet, she made me delicious Flourless Sweet Potato Brownies.
If you’re interested, here are some Valentines comics of years’ past…