Illustrator Cheryl Sheeler Returns to Portfolio Class

Cheryl Sheeler showing her portfolio to senior Arren Dawinan.
Cheryl Sheeler showing her portfolio to senior Arren Dawinan.

Profs Summer Doll-Myers and Vicki Meloney invite recent grads back to show their portfolios to portfolio class. Cheryl Geiger Sheeler, BFA ’12, visited this week. Cheryl was a non-trad student, who returned to study illustration after raising her family. Her inspiring story of being an older grad was featured in Berks County Living.

Cheryl Gieger Sheeler's portfolio
Cheryl Geiger Sheeler’s portfolio

Cheryl’s portfolio is a hot red leather horizontal book with a custom-embossed signature on the cover. Cheryl’s portfolio was crafted by Brewer Cantelmo of New York City. Custom portfolios can cost hundreds of dollars plus the cost of color printing for interior pages.  Cheryl was good enough to dig out her receipt for the portfolio pictured above. I get sticker shock looking at it. When I was starting out in illustration my portfolio cost less than the $47.50 she spent on the handle.

Total cost portfolio book with student discount over $400, before printing.
Total cost portfolio book with student discount over $400, before printing.

Cheryl told the class that she showed this portfolio just once, at the Spring KU event where grads share work with prospective employers.     “It is just a fact of life, at my age, a design studio is not going to hire me,” she said with a shrug.

Illustrations by Cheryl Sheeler © Demme Learning 2014
Illustrations by Cheryl Sheeler © Demme Learning 2014

Ageism is not certainly unique to the field of Communication Design, and Cheryl remains upbeat. She added that she has found a considerable amount of interesting freelance work by networking with KU classmates.

More work by Cheryl Sheeler © Demme Learning 2014
More work by Cheryl Sheeler © Demme Learning 2014

“Keep reminding your students to stay connected to people they meet at KU,” she says, “you never know where it may lead. I only met Dan Peiffer my last semester in greeting card class, but the connection turned out to be great.” Dan is now Lead Designer at Demme Learning, Lititz, PA, a growing publisher specializing in educational materials for home schoolers. Another KU classmate, Justin Kramer is Design Manager there. Over that past 2 years Cheryl has done about 9 months freelance work for Demme.

Launch page for her website at:
Launch page for her website at:

The work for Demme all began with an urgent Facebook plea by Dan for illustrators. Cheryl said she replied the instant she saw his note. She has since done a total of 242 illustrations for Demme. Turns out Facebook and her website have proved more useful for Cheryl than that red leather portfolio.

Concept for Cape May, NJ, local currency.© Cheryl Sheeler.
Concept for Cape May, NJ, local currency.© Cheryl Sheeler.

We’ll close with a few of her favorite illustrations from her web page. The local currency, above, is based on the gingerbread architecture of Cape May, NJ. The images below are details from her visual essay about a pair of fainting goats given as a wedding present to her daughter, country singer, Haley Sheeler. Below that are some fantasy barnyard characters that might someday appear in a children’s book.

Haley's goats © 2011 Cheryl Sheeler.
Haley’s goats © 2011 Cheryl Sheeler.
Barnyard creatures © 2011 Cheryl Sheeler
Barnyard creatures © 2011 Cheryl Sheeler


Return of the CD Grads

Illustration © by Jeremy Gilberto to raise awareness of testicular cancer.
Illustration © by Jeremy Gilberto to raise awareness of testicular cancer.

C.D. stands for Communication Design. I say C.D. so often I forget it is jargon used at Kutztown U, not everywhere. One of our annual events is the David Bullock Return of the CD Grads. This year we have two Renaissance men coming to campus to share their art and design. If you are in Kutztown come see them, if not, well, click the links below.  Jeremy is an Art Director at Red Tettemer. Greg is currently an Associate Creative Director at 160over90, both uber hip Philadelphia-based design firms.

White Rabbit design © Jeremy Gilbert
White Rabbit design © Jeremy Gilbert


Jeremy Gilberto writes: “I’ve given a good part of myself to advertising (not just time -it takes its toll). I graduated in 2010 and have since lived in two cities, been employed by two agencies and have had two very different experiences. In the past four years I’ve worked on about every type of client you can imagine, from those that will probably kill you, to ones that are used to clean you.

From Dean Ballas's blog on Jeremy Gilberto.
From Dean Ballas’s blog on Jeremy Gilberto.

When I’m not busy pushing pixels and making ads I’m busy pushing a stroller and being a dad. Occasionally, I’ll take a break from advertising and use my creative eye to take the cutest darn baby pictures I can. When I grow up I’d like to be an astronaut, but I probably should have made that decision earlier on in my life. Check me out here.

For an in-depth interview with Jeremy visit the dezignrogue.blogspot. This always interesting site is by former KU Prof. Dean Ballas.

Hairy Potter © Greg Christman


I wrote a post about Greg Christman when he came to visit in 2012.

‘Sailor Jerry’ press kit design by Greg Christman

Greg Christman is a designer, illustrator, typographer, husband, dad and cat blogger. He is currently writing this bio in the third person. Since 2007, he’s worked on Ferrari, Sailor Jerry Rum, Prince Tennis, Versus TV, ECCO Shoes, Tullamore Dew Whiskey, Hendricks Gin, The Philadelphia Eagles, countless bands, AAA, Mars Drinks, New Balance, Spike TV, US Open, and a ton more that he can’t remember because his wife isn’t here to remind him.

PA Hardcore Gig Poster ©  Greg Christman
PA Hardcore Gig Poster © Greg Christman

His cat blog has been featured on Comedy Central’s Adult Swim, BBC Comedy, and tweeted by countless celebrities. His design career is jealous of his cat blog.

Jeremy and Greg are both remarkable talents. I grabbed some of their illustrative work from their web sites, but they are great designers, too. The RETURN of the CD Grads is Thursday, October 16  4:30 p.m – 6:00 p.m. in KU’s SUB Alumni Auditorium. Shout Out to Prof. Elaine Cunfer who does the nearly thankless job (THANKS!) of creating the Return of the CD Grads every year.

Groot in a Box designed by Kelly Weihs

Groot and Rocket, out of the box.
Groot and Rocket, out of the box.

Invest now in Guardians of the Galaxy collectible toys! O.K, I was wrong about Beanie Babies & Longaberger baskets. But I should have trusted my gut and bought a second Pee-Wee Herman Doll in 1985.

10525946_807600575950868_4731335839473129566_nKelly Weihs is a 2010 grad from Kutztown University’s Communication Design major with a dual concentrations: graphic design and illustration. She designs the packaging for Diamond Select Toys, including the new Guardian of the Galaxy figures.

Grax, Rocket Racoon and Groot from Diamond Select Toys.
Grax, Rocket Racoon and Groot from Diamond Select Toys. Whole cast above.
Keely gets paid to play with this stuff.
Kelly Weihs gets paid to play with this stuff.

She and one other graphic designer do all the packaging there. I asked her how she came to have such a cool job….

Kelly: “My internship at Crayola is probably what made me seem appealing to my current employer. I have learned a great deal about packaging since my internship! I didn’t expect to end up at a job doing package design. Diamond is a small toy company in Maryland, part of a larger comic book distributing empire. 80% of the time I make packages for collectibles and toys. Since I’ve been here, the licenses have changed some and we’ve gotten some more popular things within the last year. Lately, I have gotten to make Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and My Little Pony packages and related things – and those are quite popular.”

10313481_772474246130168_5039475249172596406_nWhat are you working on?

Kelly: “We have a line of small 2-inch toys called Minimates – characters from films, comic books and even our in-house characters. Last year was their 10 year anniversary. We did Guardians of the Galaxy as Minimates. Since we make products so far in advance sometimes I lose track of time and think the movie has already been released.

What are your favorite projects?

Kelly: “My favorites are probably the ones that are Marvel-film related. Iron Man, Thor and Avengers characters have been fun because I enjoy the movies and they’re neat to see in action figure form.”


How much time do you get to work on a project?

“The time I have to work on projects varies. We have factory deadlines to keep up with and licensor approvals so things must get done in a timely fashion.”

Pulp Fiction is not for Children under 3, -Choking Hazard.
Note re: Pulp Fiction – Not for Children under 3 – Choking Hazard.

“Besides Marvel, I design packages for Disney, Star Trek, Star Wars, Universal Monsters, The Walking Dead comics, Batman, Kevin Smith properties, Mass Effect games, Miramax films like Pulp Fiction and other things I am probably forgetting.”

Sin City packaging by Kelly Weihs.
Sin City packaging by Kelly Weihs.

“We’ve been branching out at work into new products besides action figures and toys – we even make silicone ice cube trays and bottle openers featuring your favorite characters.”

When Kelly is not sitting at a computer she likes to time travel by reenacting history at the actual historic sites. This summer she was at Monocacy Battlefield, Maryland, on the side of the Union Army.

Kelly and her beau Kyle are civil war reenactors, here at the 150th anniversary of Monocacy. Photo my Mel Sessa.
Kelly & her beau Kyle at 150th anniversary of Battle of Monocacy. Photo by Mel Sessa.

More of Kelly’s design and illustration work can be seen on her Behance site here. Diamond Toys has a blog worth visiting if you are a collector.

Gabby’s Dinosaurs: Not Based on Photos

Dino Day Out, cover detail © 2014 Gabby Shelley
Dino Day Out, cover detail © 2014 Gabby Shelley

Gabrielle ‘Gabby’ Shelly, class of 2014, shared a coloring book available at Amazon. I asked Gabby to tell us a bit more about the project.

Gabby Shelly, KU Communication Design grad, 2014.
Gabby Shelly, KU Communication Design grad, 2014.

Gabby: “Dino Day Out was created primarily for my Senior Illustration Seminar at Kutztown University with Prof. Denise Bosler. I created it for the class, but also kept in mind that I wanted to make something marketable,– something that was believable enough to hold up in the real world of publishing.”

From Dino Day Out ©2104 Gabby Shelley
From Dino Day Out ©2104 Gabby Shelley

Question: You graduated from KU with a degree in Communication Design, -What were your concentrations?

“Graphics and Illustration, which I tried to combine in this project.”

Q: Where did you intern?

” Lunchbox Communications in Manayunk, PA. I helped to design printed pieces to aid in pitching possible new television shows and documentaries. Their on-staff designers, Leah Houck and Nick Madeja, also went to Kutztown and are awesome people!”

Dino Day Out art © 2014 Gabby Sheeley
Dino Day Out art © 2014 Gabby Shelley

Q: Why dinosaurs?

“Well, I love drawing animals! Drawing people has never really been my thing; it is a lot more fun to draw adorable creatures. And as a little girl I was always more interested in dressing up as a dinosaur for Halloween than a princess. There is also an educational element to the book; there are recognizable dinosaurs along with the lesser-known ones.”

From Dino Day Out © Gabby Shelley
From Dino Day Out © Gabby Shelley

Q: What was the hardest part about the Dino Day Out project?

“There were a few things… I am still struggling a bit to find my style as an illustrator, so drawing different creatures in a cohesive style was difficult for me. Also, there are (obviously) no photographs of dinosaurs, so it can be challenging using other artist’s representations. You have to put a certain faith in them that their drawings are accurate; You also have to be able to compile those references into a generic idea of this creature that lived so long ago, then be able to “cartoon-ize” it. And besides all that, I had to match the right dinosaur with the right activity – their anatomy can make certain positions completely implausible. Try making a t-rex do anything with his tiny arms!”

Playing Cards, designed and illustrated by Gabby Shelley. ©2014
Playing Cards, designed and illustrated by Gabby Shelley. ©2014

Q: What media and software did you use?

“The drawings were done at first with good old pencil and pen. I then scanned and vectored the drawings using Adobe Illustrator. That part went pretty quickly. The book itself is assembled in InDesign.”

Q: Why did you choose the POD (print on demand) publisher Createspace rather than other platforms, like LULU, for example?

“To be quite honest, I had never heard of LULU until now. I only knew about Amazon’s print-on-demand, –Createspace.”

Jack of Spades from Gabby Shelley's Unfriendly Forest deck. ©2014
Jack of Spades from Gabby Shelley’s ‘Unfriendly Forest’ deck. ©2014

Q: What do you have in mind for your next project?

“Ha, my major project now is finding a full-time career in design, or at least some rewarding freelance work in design or illustration. On a personal level, I want to try to improve my hand-lettering skills. I’d like to take a printmaking class, since it never fit into my schedule at KU.”

Monsters of the Deep posters © Gabby Shelley
Monsters of the Deep posters © Gabby Shelley

Gabby’s “Monsters of the Deep” bus shelter ads (above) are based on her original linoleum prints. Visit Gabby Shelley’s website at Behance to see her virtual portfolio book and a wide variety of illustration and design projects. Let her know of any job leads!

Murray Tinkelman at the Norman Rockwell Museum

Murray Tinkelman awarded the Rockwell Artist Laureate Award.
Murray Tinkelman awarded the Rockwell Artist Laureate Award.

I know of 3 Norman Rockwell Museums*, but only one Murray Tinkelman. The best of the Norman Rockwell Museums, the one in Stockbridge, Mass, bestowed the honor of “Artist Laureate” on Murray Tinkelman this weekend. He is only the third person to receive the honor, after artists Barbara Nessim and David Macaulay.

Self-portrait © Murray Tinkelman
Self-portrait © Murray Tinkelman

Tinkelman’s distinctive pen and ink drawings have gained gold medals from the Society of Illustrators, The NY Art Directors Club, and the Society of Publication Designers. Tinkelman began his illustration career in 1951 inking backgrounds for Sheena of the Jungle Comics. “Just vines and leaves, they never let me draw Sheena,” he said. Now in his 80’s, the man is still as sharp as a push-pin.

Tinkleman did many Sci-Fi and Fantasy covers in the 60's and 70's.
Tinkleman did many classic  Sci-Fi and Fantasy covers in the 60’s and 70’s.

Murray Tinkelman has taught hundreds of illustration students at Parsons School of Design, Syracuse University, and now at the Hartford Low Residency MFA program.  Bob Dahm, a 2007 grad of the Hartford program, rightly calls Murray “a walking encyclopedia of illustration.”

Knight on Rhinoceros, pen and ink, 1971, © Murray Tinkelman.
Knight on Rhinoceros, pen and ink, 1971, © Murray Tinkelman.

I learned that Murray is color blind. He jokes that he prefers the term “chromatically challenged.” Perhaps this explains why his most iconic work is black and white, done with a technical pen and india ink. His Knight on the Rhinoceros was on exhibit at the Rockwell Museum. The drawing is surprisingly large, about 20 inches square. It won the Society of Illustrators Gold Medal in 1971 and led to editorial work for the op-ed pages of New York Times, the Washington Post, and Atlantic Monthly.

58 Caddy, pen and ink © Murray Tinkelman
58 Caddy, pen and ink © Murray Tinkelman

His wife and partner, Carol Tinkelman was by his side during the event, as were their daughters and grandkids. Murray Tinkelman has a lot of accolades on his resume, but it was clear that he was touched by his new title bestowed by The Rockwell Museum: Artist Laureate.

The award is based on a sculpture by Peter Rockwell, Norman Rockwell's son.
The award is based on a sculpture by Peter Rockwell, Norman Rockwell’s son.

Illustration superstars attended the gala award ceremony, including Istvan Banyai, Kinuko Craft, and William Low.  Mark McMahon, who taught with Murray in the 90’s drove out with his wife Carolyn from Chicago. But, Bob Dahm certainly came the greatest distance – from Dubai!

NY Times Op-Ed Illustration © Murray tinkelman
NY Times Op-Ed Illustration © Murray Tinkelman

Many former students, now teachers, were there. Jack Tom and Cora Lynn Deibler came from Connecticut. Deibler is a Kutztown U grad who earned her MFA with him at Syracuse. She recalled Tinkelman forcefully insisting (“He nearly grabbed my lapels!”)  that she never neglect her own creative work for the sake of teaching. That jibes with my first Tinkelman sighting. In 1972 I took continuing ed illustration classes at Parsons in NYC. I never studied with him, but I saw him working in his faculty office on a massive line drawing during his breaks between classes.

Ted Michalowski, Bob Dahm, Murray and Carol Tinkelman.
Ted Michalowski, Bob Dahm, Murray and Carol Tinkelman. (photo courtesy of Bob Dahm)

I am grateful for the pleasure of carpooling to the event with the irrepressible Scranton-based illustrator, Ted Michalowski. During the drive to and from Massachusetts, Ted regaled me with legends of Tinkelman.

Norman Rockwell's art studio, Stockbridge Mass. Photo: K.McCloskey
Norman Rockwell’s art studio, Stockbridge Mass. Photo: K.McCloskey

* NOTE: Years ago I visited the Norman Rockwell Museum of Philadelphia. It is now long gone. I’ve also visited the Norman Rockwell Museum of Vermont in Rutland. It is a sweet little place with some memorabilia and quality reproductions of Rockwell’s work. The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass, however, is the real deal. This was my first visit. The museum is substantial and houses an impressive collection of original Norman Rockwells. The view from the grounds of the museum is postcard perfect.


Q & A with Mellen

Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 5.26.28 PM

As noted in prior post, December grad Melissa Rae Reinbold, who goes by Mellen, landed a job a Crayola.

Mellen, photo by Ben Hallman
Mellen, photo by Ben Hallman

She also was awarded the Don Breter Award for Best Illustrator in KU’s class of 2014. I sent Mellen a few quick questions about her success in landing such a great job. I’d heard folks at Crayola were impressed with how she incorporated her zines into her portfolio.


Q. What was the book you sent to Crayola?

Sketchbook spread from Mellen's self-promo book.
Sketchbook spread from Mellen’s self-promo book.

A: The book I sent to Crayola was an original Pop-Up book I handmade (one of ten) that talked about who I was and what I do best… Illustration + Design!

Mellen included her zines, like 'Bediquette" in her self-prom pop-up book.
Mellen included her zine ‘Bediquette” in her self-promo pop-up book.

Q. What is your job title?

A: Freelance Illustrator.

Mellen tipped in her Zines, like Tonight, in her self promo book.
Pages from the  small zine “Tonight” in her self-promo book.

Q. How did day one go?

A: Day one went very well. I was given my own desk (so fancy) and learned how to log into my company email and calendar. They explained the servers they use and how to access them. I also started working immediately on creating digital mock-ups for store displays and more! Everyone was very friendly, and employees came over to my desk throughout the day to introduce themselves.

3 talented KU illustratos at MOCCA '13. Hannah Stephey, Lauren Gillespie, and Mellen.
3 talented KU illustrators at MOCCA ’13. Hannah Stephey, Lauren Gillespie, and Mellen.

Q. Was there something you meant to say to current students in your recent ‘Taking the Plunge’ talk that you didn’t get to?

A: I meant to say a lot of things in my Taking The Plunge talk that completely slipped my mind. Here is a list of cool stuff I completely skipped over :

– Explain where I was earlier that day. -In Brooklyn, New York filming February’s Creative Mornings talk. I do this work through Hallman Productions, a videography company run by my boyfriend, Ben Hallman. Creative Mornings is a great project to be a part of, overflowing with creative people within the industry!

– Explain creative and freelance jobs (some not in my “field”) I held before Crayola and how they helped me (not only monetarily) but also to prepare for a full-time job.

from "The Mountain" illustrated storybook © Mellen
from “The Mountain” illustrated storybook © Mellen

– Explain how many, many, many, many people told me NOT to pursue illustration as my concentration. I was told on so many occasions that I’d never get a job with a portfolio full of tons of illustration. Illustration is what I love though, so I ignored their warnings and went for it.

An illustration concentration does not mean all you can do is draw. I have many skills, and they showed through. Even in my illustration heavy portfolio.

Coraline cover, a  KU class project. © Mellen
Coraline cover, a KU class project. © Mellen

This year Kutztown University is fortunate to have truly exceptional illustration talent in our senior class. Congrats to Mellen, a December grad, and congrats to the other talented illustrators graduating in just a few days. 

Taking the Plunge! Trending: Social Media Design Jobs

'Taking the Plunge' graphic designed by Prof. Karen Kresge
‘Taking the Plunge’ graphic designed by Prof. Karen Kresge

“Taking the Plunge” is an annual event at Kutztown U’s Communication Design Dept. where (very) recent grads share with current students their experiences after graduation. Prof. Karen Kresge runs the show. Someday, KUCD is supposed have its own social media campaign, meanwhile Prof. Kresge’s personal Facebook page serves as the resource for recent grads to find and share job news.

One Trick Pony's mascot  © 2013 One Trick Pony
One Trick Pony’s mascot © 2014 One Trick Pony

Speaking of social media campaigns, Danielle McShea worked on a wild one at One Trick Pony, a creative agency in N.J.  She handled social media postings for Virgin Mobile’s FreeFest 2013. Virgin may not be the biggest phone company, but thanks to Danielle, they have a lot more Facebook friends – like hundreds of thousands of friends! Danielle shared advice from her first meeting with Bill Starkey of One Trick Pony at a portfolio review. Starkey asked to see only the one worst piece in her portfolio, saying,  “You are only as good as the worst piece in your book.” By the way, according to their website they are hiring ‘client whisperers.’

Image from the Phillyosophy campaign from
Image from the Phillyosophy campaign from

New York, New York, or NOT!

Kelsey Kolvacik got a job for a big NYC agency, McGarryBowen, working on American Airlines social media. One day in NYC she saw a Visit Philly ad that she recognized as the work of the cutting-edge Philadelphia agency, Red Tettemer O’Connell. She had interned there and realized that it was her dream job. Kelsey got in touch with her old supervisor. At the exact moment she clicked the email from Philly offering her the job, You Make my Dreams Come True by Hall and Oates came on the radio.

From Possibilities, the Nike ad that changed Jessyca Pacheco's attitude.
From Possibilities, the Nike ad that changed Jessyca Pacheco’s attitude.

Living Here in Allentown

On the other hand, Jessyca Pacheco, had her sights firmly set on NYC. She went so far as moving in with an aunt and uncle who live in New Jersey. She managed to do bit of freelancing, but needed to waitress to pay her bills. Then a job opened up at the Media Arts Group, the in-house design studio at Allentown’s Morning Call. She got it, but admits that at first she felt she had failed by returning to Pennsylvania. Then a one-minute Nike commercial called “Possibilities” turned her attitude around. She sent me the link. Just click it. Taking the message of Possibilities to heart, Jessyca says she is thrilled by the challenge of projects like this “Red Hot Chili Pipers” cover for Go Street.

This week's Go Street, cover design by Jessyca Pacheco
This week’s Go Street, cover design by Jessyca Pacheco

Kelly Arsi talked enthusiastically about her work at Allebach Communications in Souderton, PA. As a transfer student to KU she had to stay a fifth year, but felt the extra workshops paid off as she designs everything from packaging to annual reports. Jessica Savard is doing a wide range of graphics at MCS Industries. Matt Stachewicz got hired by recently at MAG/Morning Call, joining Jessyca there. Court Woytko, who is a sports and entertainment fan seems to have landed her ideal job at the Sands Event Center in Bethlehem. She met Iron Mike Tyson this week. Raychale Fulginiti and Kelsea Ashworth couldn’t be in Kutztown, but phoned in video greetings from Disneyworld (Rachel) and Boston (Kelsea) where they are happily employed.

Self-portrait illustration by Mellen from
Self-portrait illustration by Mellen from

This blog is called Illustration Concentration, which admittedly is the smallest subset of the larger Communication Design major at Kutztown. Typically, only a handful of students complete the illustration concentration. One who did so is a wonderful illustrator who goes by “Mellen,” Melissa Rae Rheinbold. She graduated in December and just began her job yesterday at Crayola. Mellen said Prof. Kresge suggested she send a copy of her illustrated book to Crayola, and the job offer came quickly. We will give her a few days to settle in, but hope to have a future post devoted to Mellen and her illustration work.