Service Stars! PLANSPONSOR

One of my favorite Art Directors SooJin Buzelli called me about doing a new job for PLANSPONSOR, a simple one page Illustration. This was a very simple concept taken from one of the usual 50 or so thumbnails. I think the design on this spread worked so well and really played off the color in the sky. Some last minute scrambling to get it all tweaked right  I added the northern lights to give the horizon a sort of mystical feeling. 


A very simple limited color palette to keep that starry evening feeling. Conceptually the advisor on the bottom is helping the client reach for the stars. Really a literal interpretation of the "Service Stars" line.

Originally the figures were obscured by clouds, but in the final version I decided to nix the clouds to make the image read faster.


 This lower illustration was an after thought. A naive, graphic direction I thought of and presented as an alternate. It received warm reviews but we stayed on track with the original direction, which SooJin felt was more appropriate. 

Much thanks to SooJin and the folks at PLANSPONSOR.


50th Anniversary of the Assassination of MLK

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I got call from an old friend and fabulous art director BA Albert asking if I would do a quick turn around poster for the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s murder. A local underground newspaper wanted to do a special promotional issue. They were going to print a letter our Senator John Lewis had recently written to MLK about what it had meant to him as a 16-year-old meeting with him, and how it had changed his life and path to the future. The wanted me to do a 24 x 36 poster that would be folded into the paper.


It was Monday, and posters due Friday. Seemed tight, because I was in the middle of a large publishing project and that would have to be set aside to make room.

It felt like something that needed to be done with the right tone and feeling. I had a short conference call with BA and Blake Tannery, the art director at ICON. pulled together some reference on JL, and MLK and started on thumbnails. There was a police photo from John Lewis's past that just struck me as such a strong photo.

I always love the beginning of a job, conceptually somewhat open and direction not tied down. It’s just a visual stream of ideas that sometimes play off one another. Sometimes when I do a poster I add color to my thumbnails. It’s important perceptions that sometimes help things read. There were some great ideas. We hashed them out in a conference call and they suggested the possibility of doing a two-sided poster. I decided to do three of the posters. They loved the idea of the police photo but we all agreed it needed some conceptual element to make it work.


Things didn’t really go that smoothly. I have a hard time with portraits and I must have started over four or five times, finally stayed late and got one that seemed to have the right feeling. The mug shot of John Lewis was painted in Gouache, the type at the bottom a combination of blown up digital print and bad Xerox copy. But I loved the weird way it distorted the type.

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My initial idea for the JL poster was to have flowers on his eyes like a nod back to those peace posters from the 60’s. I thought it was an ironic contrast with the stark police photo but Blake got some push back from CL saying “I’m getting everything from white appropriation with flower power to Day of the Dead. Geesh. ” Lee had already expressed some feeling that it was not the right approach so I quickly came up with a simpler solution making the reflections in the eyes into doves. Forest thought it made his eyes sparkle. A much better poster.

In my initial thumbnails I had tried a cople of variations with hand written type that seemed problematic with my spelling and the time for editing nonexistant.

The three posters were designed to have the letter included on the front in a column. The yellow poster to have the Letter on the back. I thought the yellow poster was by far the strongest direction.

Much thanks to Creative loafing, the folks at ICON, my old friend BA and Blake Tannery. Much fun working with you guys.
Read the letter here,

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Radio Flyer's 100th Anniversary Kid's Travel Agency

Radio Flyer's 100th Anniversary "Kid's Travel Agency" Posters.

Radio Flyer is hosting the first ever kids travel agency to celebrate 100 years of inspiring imaginative play and unforgettable adventures. At Radio Flyer Adventure Travel, children are introduced to impossibly wonderful destinations they can visit only with their imagination and a Radio Flyer.

"See Octopus Shiny Treasure Bay" © Bill Mayer 2017

 A new poster for Radio Flyer. FCB had a great idea to inspire kids to use thier imaginations through a series of travel posters to fantastic places that only could exist in dreams. the instructions and specs for the poster came in with a huge packet of materials and spec. More than I ever remember getting in the past on any project... But once I had gotten through going over all of that. It just started off in the normal way all jobs do, with a little research looking at old travel posters to get a feel for the atmosphere and feelling of a vintage poster to a fantasy destination. I am always drawn to bold, simple images so I explored in the thumbnails various compositions tackling the manditory elements. I wanted the octopus to be huge, larger than life. Looming and imposing, but not scary. I decided to make the wagon into a ship.

I tried two directions: one, the octopus as the island towering in the distance; the ship and kids in the forground. The other using the wagon as a bathysphere, exploring an underwater world in search of treasure. I'm not sure they really got the underwater thing from my thumbnails, but Kevin picked a couple very similar directions and i started refining the sketch.

thumbnail for Octopus Shiny Treasure Bay. They picked #1 and #8 both very similar directions.

thumbnail for Octopus Shiny Treasure Bay. They picked #1 and #8 both very similar directions.

Slightly tighter thumbnails working out prportions on size of the boat and octopus.

Slightly tighter thumbnails working out prportions on size of the boat and octopus.

In process art for the octopus almost finished.... I know, airbrush, it's just so much faster for me... Some textures and highlights I will add in Photoshop later....

In process art for the octopus almost finished....
I know, airbrush, it's just so much faster for me... Some textures and highlights I will add in Photoshop later....

I wanted to add some cloudy atmosphere to separate the background, make it lighter against the silhouetted kids and boat. I decided to do the kids and boat separate from the octopus to give me the option of adjusting the size and placement. I added distant mountains, birds, and treasure to reinforce the size of the octopus without reducing the size of the kids and wagon. Ultimately I decided to have the ship coming out of the shadow slightly to allow some details to show.

When I first pulled everything into the poster I loved how the wagon and kids looked just floating in the sky.... After I had put the final poster together I roughly pulled together a variation to show the Art director. Ultimately they decided to stay with the original design.

I was really happy with where this poster ended up. I was great fun working with Kevin Grady and the creative team at FCB. They gave me a ton of freedom and that always pays off in the final result. Cant wait to see the final 24x36 printed posters... So much fun. I need a few more of these to work on.