Special Delivery

The Magic of a Moment. That's the theme for the contest entries I finished judging this morning from some wonderful young artists at Mesa Verde Middle School in Moorpark, CA. This was the next step in the National PTA Reflections program which encourages students to explore the arts and express themselves by giving positive recognition for their artistic efforts. Reflections is a local and national showcase for our talented children where arts and skills from many disciplines are displayed and compete for top honors.  This is a chance to challenge our youth and celebrate excellence!

Another magical moment is in the delivery room and today happens to also be "Operating Room Nurse Day" to honor those important nurses, who care for patients before, during and immediately after surgery. Established on November 14, 1989, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad established "Operating Room Nurse Day" to celebrate this a very important role, during a period where a patients comfort and life is in another person's hands.

Even if it's just a simple, spoken "thank you", show your thanks and appreciation to Operating Nurses that you know. You can also send them a special card, Ecard or even a fun caricature like the one shown above! Commissioned for a friend, this caricature was illustrated to be used on baby shower invitations she was mailing out.

Can you think of a magical moment that you, a friend, family member, or co-worker will be experiencing soon? Send an email to VoogDesigns@gmail.com and let's plan a Special Delivery!


Duh-nce Day

"You don't know, what you don't know." Myself, like many others, thought that a "dunce" was a derogatory term for a person that lacked intellect. Well, today is all about learning as we celebrate "Dunce Day", the term "Dunce" and "Dunce Caps". So, lets get right to it and learn about it's creator.

Today marks the death (November 8, 1308) Bl. John Duns Scotus of Duns, Scotland who was a medieval scholar and is generally reckoned to be one of the three most important philosopher-theologians of the High Middle Ages. Scotus has had considerable influence on both Catholic and secular thought, developing a complex argument for the existence of God, and argued for the Immaculate conception of Mary. Perceptions of his views ranged from brilliant to less than complimentary.

Medieval thought was that cone shaped hats increased learning potential, and Bl. John Duns Scotus believed that knowledge would flow from the point of the cap, down and into the head of the wearer, making that person smarter. Scholar critics of his work derived the term "dunce" from his name and place of birth. Thus the term Duns Cap, or "Dunce Cap".

But despite the derogatory use of the term today, there was a positive side to Scotus' use of dunce caps. It motivated the wearer to learn more, and to eventually be rid of the the cap. So put on a Dunce Cap today while you learn and draw this fun character. And remember that if anyone calls you a "dunce", take that as a compliment. Have a very smart and educational Dunce Day!

Cartooning Isn't All Funny Business

Time x Talent = Rate. Below is a great image I found not too long ago that sums up what most clients want, versus what they are willing to pay for. And to that naiveté, most clients overlook the many factors that go into the pricing for a comic strip. So the purpose of this post is to take clients, "Behind-the-Scenes"...

What many see as an esthetically pleasing collaboration of lines with a funny punch line may appear like it took minutes to create. However, the speed of its creation from concept to completion is far from a few minutes. In fact it may have taken a lifetime. Just like cooking, singing, or solving a mathematical equation may seem second-nature to you, it's probably taken a good portion of your life to become proficient at doing those things. It likely didn't happen overnight.

Discussing: Look Into My Crystal Ball
As a client, you want funny, but you may also want the comic strip to reflect your company's niche and viewpoints, targeting a specific demographic while still being sensitive to the feelings of others. Figuring out what a client wants may require a significant amount of time to understand, because they assume that you already "know" all this. As a cartoonist, we are required to be many things, and one happens to be a mind-reader (and this isn't that far from the truth!) From only a few brief discussions or emails, we must quickly catch on to exactly what the client wants. Most of the time, I'm presented with a theme, dialogue and the basic idea. And sometimes, what the client wants may not be the best option. Therefore, EXPERIENCE, is one of the factors that are built into pricing. Clients may need to see both options illustrated in order to themselves ‘see’ the benefits and shortcomings of either. In this case I present them with alternatives to consider with my suggestions.

Writing: Finding Funny 
One of my clients is a CPA, and another is a Real Estate Attorney. Try finding the "funny" in that business! But the nature of a client's niche needs to be fully understood in order to find the humor in situations which are generally only known by those in that profession. This is where I rely on my client to carefully explain to me their concept for their comic strip. Now some of my clients choose to write their own comedic material, and if you also have this inherent "funny-bone" where ideas come to mind quickly and easily, time and effort can be considerably cut down because then I can do what I do best; bring your vision to life and ILLUSTRATE IT!

Drawing: Where the Stylus Touches the Tablet
Art appreciation is broad and subjective. So how are cartoonists to know a client's tastes? Before discussions begin, clients are given a homework assignment; review my portfolio, style, and diversity of capabilities. For some clients, they know right away. For others, this process can take time and effort for a client to visualize their project through the cartoonists sketches. This is very normal, and most comic strip projects will go through various stages of drafts and revisions, which again needs to be factored into any pricing structure. The time one spends on any project must be taken into consideration. As with any trade, labor costs as well as parts make up the final fee. With art it's no different. The ‘time’ a cartoonist spends thinking about, researching, and sketching must be considered and given proper credit, in addition to, the beautifully executed final presentation.

Considering Your Own eComicStrip?
Art is indeed a gifted talent, but it takes practice and a considerable amount of ‘learned’ skill to be proficient enough to meet the needs of a commercial market. Digital art and the technical know-how takes time, skill, apprenticeship whether one self-teaches or studies via a college, university etc. The pricing includes the skill and knowledge of the artist, much like any other profession. This process of ‘concept to creation' can take hours, days, or even weeks, but it certainly never takes seconds. As with all my clients, it is important to know your budget and I will always try to work within that to deliver a product that you are happy with. I hope that this post helps you to better understand the steps that occur even before my pencil hits the paper. The process starts long before that stage was reached and you are paying for a substantial amount of talent and skill.


Look for Circles Day

They come in all shapes and sizes are all "around" us. We use them when exercising, solving mathematical problems, and designing artwork. Today we celebrate, "Look For Circles Day".

I could bore you with mathematical, geometrical and scientific explanations, but instead, your simple task is to open your eyes today and become aware of how many circles surround you. We suspect you will find them everywhere.

Here is another fun way to celebrate "Look for Circles Day"- DRAW! Circles are used all throughout this fun dragon cartoon. How many can you find? And, we hope that your search makes you very happy!


All Saints Day

What's in a name? What's your name? Do you know what does it means? Today we celebrate "All Saints Day", and at first, I wasn't sure what to post for today's holiday. Then me and my family attended Mass this afternoon and the homily by Father Joe Scerbo solidified my thoughts.

Friar Joe's homily today challenged us to celebrate our patron saint and connect with them by exploring the virtues they're associated with. Some may question the belief that our names can determine our destiny. Hey, I know it's not for everyone, and just because you are named "Rich" doesn't mean financial security. This was proven and disproven in the movie "Freakonomics".

For me personally, I feel that there is something to the name that I was given. Whether it's our birth name or baptismal names. My first name is Michael, and I have always been "drawn" to art. I love ART! Drawing, painting, music, carving, sculpting, even haircutting (YES, the next time you get your haircut, realize that every person has a different type of hair, and styling your mop is an art form.

At one point in my life I almost became a police officer. Now that's a change of scenery isn't it?! But I am also empowered by the warriors way. I have always been interested in the martial "arts". At a young age I even earned my own money to pay for my karate lessons. Later in life I discovered ninjutsu and after almost 5 years of concentrated training, finally earned my shodan in ninpo taijutsu.

I've always known that St. Michael was a warrior defender, but it was only today after researching him further, that I discovered that he is also the patron saint of artists! Go figure! So today I celebrate "All Saints Day" with this comic that I created for my parish. And although it's been said that "the pen is mightier than then sword," I choose to be proficient with both.


Help a Neighbor

The Fall is a great season to get out and do things. To take in the beauty of all the Autumn colors. And while you are outside, why not help a neighbor? Because today is also Make a Difference Day!

Initiated in 1990, and celebrate on the fourth Saturday in October, this is a national day devoted to helping others by doing volunteer work in the community. The activity can be almost anything. Millions of Americans participate in community improvement projects. It takes the form of cleanup, fixup, painting, and repair in poorer neighborhoods, parks and municipal facilities. It doesn't matter what project you take on. It doesn't matter whether you help a non-profit organization, the community, your town, nursing home, a church, a food kitchen, or any other group in need. What matters is that you participate. Make a commitment to help others for just one day.

Make a difference on Make a Difference Day!


Frankenstein Friday

There's Freaky Friday, Friday the 13th, and TGI Fridays. But TODAY we celebrate...
Frankenstein Friday!

Frankenstein Friday is recognized on the last Friday in October and celebrates the birth of Frankenstein and its creator. One of the best known horror characters, Frankenstein dates back to his birth in 1818 when Mary Wollenstonecraft Shelley, at the age of 21, wrote the story "Frankenstein". We can't imagine the Halloween season today without the presence of Frankenstein, lurking somewhere in the darkness.

To celebrate this day, you can watch a Frankenstein movie, read the novel, or...

Frankenstein likes to party too... just WITHOUT the candles!

This special day was created by Ron MacCloskey from Westfield, New Jersey in 1997. But Ron's interest in Frankenstein comes as no surprise because his hometown of Westfield, NJ is also the hometown of Charles Addams, the New York Times magazine cartoonist who created The Addams Family. Ron picked Friday to celebrate this day for the "FR" connection, and because more people can party on Friday than on any other night of the week. Just don't bring the candle flame too close to ol' Franky!


Using Your Noodle

In our last post we discussed how to market your business using the 365 Quirky Holidays throughout the year. Well, pile up your plate with a big dish of pasta and your favorite sauce, because today is World Pasta Day!

World Pasta Day was established as an annual event at the first World Pasta Congress held on October 25, 1995 in Rome, Italy, and is promoted by pasta manufacturers around the world. Does this mean that you have to own an Italian restaurant to reap the benefits of this holiday? It helps, but NO.

There are countless ways to market this unique celebration with your customers. How about a funny cartoon/caricature of YOU as a chef with the headline, "We're COOKING UP a special offer just for YOU!" Or maybe it's giving away a $25 coupon to a local Italian restaurant with the purchase of your product or service?

The point is, USE YOU NOODLE. No matter what your business or industry, think outside the box and do what everyone else isn't. One of the number one rules in marketing is to stay in front of your prospects. Now, once you have "catered" your marketing to incorporate a bizarre holiday, you can visually grab the reader's attention with a uniquely creative cartoon. Yes, CARTOONS!

Almost everyone will take a few seconds out of their day to "indulge" themselves with a comic strip or  "feast on" a funny picture. And a few seconds is all you need to grab their attention! At VoogDesigns, we produce high-quality custom cartoons, comic strips and caricatures for clients like YOU, that are designed to create a marketing banquet. Customers will buy when they're ready, so even if they aren't ready for your product or service today, you're likely to at least get a laugh. And a laugh means they like you. And if they like you, they are more likely to buy from you at some point.

P.S. The caricature in this post was created for a client in Germany. Here's the email I received from her describing what she asked me to illustrate:
Hey there! I saw a few caricatures you made and I think they are really good! My godfather has his 50th birthday in September and I would like to give him a caricature as a present. Actually, I want it to be more like a big picture of things he likes and that are important in his life with him in the middle. Maybe you can help me with my imagination if you're interested. He loves Apple [products] and photography. He drives a Mini and likes to go biking. And he loves to cook Pasta; that's why he got the nickname "Nudelninja"! I hope this will help you creating! Danke (:
And VoogDesigns can create the same high-quality artwork for YOU! Say "goodbye" to boring and over-used clipart. Get your emails read and your offers engaged using our custom cartoons, comic strips and caricatures. In fact, rather than deleting your emails, they'll be waiting to open the next one!

P.S.S. What's MORE important that 10,000 twitter followers and 500 facebook friends? Send us an email to discuss a marketing strategy for your business, and we'll send you back this MOST IMPORTANT piece of information.


Marketing Macabre

Macabre. Synonyms: appalling, atrocious, awful, dreadful, frightful, ghastly, grisly, gruesome, hideous, horrendous, horrid, horrific, horrifying, lurid, horrible, monstrous, nightmare, nightmarish, shocking, terrible. So what's KILLING your marketing? You produce great content for your newsletter or blog, but can't get customers to read it, let alone open it.

Well, one fun way to get your emails opened and your offers responded to is with cartoons! Yes, CARTOONS! Almost everyone will take a few seconds out of their day to read a comic strip or look at a funny picture. And a few seconds is all you need to grab their attention!

No matter what your business or industry, think outside the box for a minute and do what everyone else isn't. Did you know that there is a wealth of bizarre, unique, and otherwise special holidays every day of the year? Today, for instance, is "TV Talk Show Host Day".

Now combine this "unique holiday" with a "special offer". One of the number one rules in marketing is stay in front of your prospects. They will buy when they are ready. So even if they aren't ready for your product or service today, you're likely to at least get a laugh. And a laugh means they like you. And if they like you, they are more likely to buy from you at some point.

Now, once you have catered your marketing to incorporate a bizarre holiday, you can visually grab the reader's attention with a uniquely creative cartoon. At VoogDesigns, we produce high quality custom cartoons, comic strips and caricatures for clients like you, that are designed to BRING LIFE BACK to your marketing.

P.S. What's MORE important than 10,000 twitter followers and 500 facebook friends? Send us an email to discuss a marketing strategy for your business, and we'll send you back this MOST IMPORTANT piece of information. You'll never bore your customers again. Get your emails read and your offers opened using our custom cartoons, comic strips and caricatures. In fact, rather than deleting your emails, they'll be waiting to get the next one!


Art Academy Welcomes New Patrons

Ready to "DRAW" Partner? School is back in session and so is the VoogDesigns Art Academy!

Over the summer we were fortunate enough to make two new connections, which has allowed us to reach out and help even more students learn about the magic and joy that comes from drawing.

We are proud to now teach for the following patrons:

Thank you for the opportunity to serve you!


A Tale of a Tail

Date: 2011-05-07, 9:54AM PDT Animator/Concept Designer
Seeking someone to assist in initial designs for 3 interactive, family oriented eBooks. Characters range from human, animal, and graffiti. Stories are complete and written in rhyme. Hand drawn or computer skills fine. Open to style, but loose and elastic preferred (Disney / Pixar for example). Initially, three pages of Character Design or Story Illustrations would be sufficient. Forwarding of website or samples appreciated.
And that is how it all started. Over a year ago, I have been collaborating with Gary Frutkoff, a wonderful gentleman and founder of iTaleStudios, who has entrusted in me the privilege of bringing 2 of his 3 stories to life.

I'll share some fun stories in future posts, but for now, I'd like to introduce to you...

Gary Frutkoff, Michael Voogd, VoogDesigns


A Brave Birthday

Red Rider. For me, like many others, those words bring only one movie to mind, A Christmas Story. And just like little Ralphie was obsessed with getting his Red Rider BB Gun for Christmas, my daughter was persistent about getting a Bow and Arrow set for her birthday after seeing Disney's 'Brave'.

So as a tribute to the movie, I created this fun Brave Banner for the birthday girl.


'Braving' the Anticipation

Patience. Try telling a 10 year old girl that is anxiously awaiting to see the newest Disney-Pixar film that she needs to wait a week to see it.

Due to my work schedule and her summer activities, we were not able to see Disney's 'Brave' until this week. I promised her that I would take her and a friend to see the film at the historic El Capitan Theater on Sunset Blvd in Hollywood. And WOW was the wait worth it!

We arrived at 9:30am for the 10:00am showing. Upon entering the lobby there was a great photo display set up for taking some memorable photos of the occasion. Then of course we stopped by the concession booth to grab a little something before finding our seats. (Nothing like an over-sized bag of popcorn for breakfast!)

The ambiance inside the theater was 100% Hollywood, with the velvet curtains, balconies and colorful lighting. A organ player was even on stage to resurrect classical musical melodies from Disney films of old. When at last, several screens began to retract upward, one after another until the movie screen was unveiled for us to watch the previews of all the newest Disney films in the works. Then the curtains dropped again, reminiscent of the way movies used to be preparing us for a big surprise.

Spotlights suddenly illuminated a group of entertainers who performed songs from Hollywood's best musicals while they introduced Disney's beloved characters to the stage! As soon as Donald appeared I found myself grinning ear-to-ear as if I was transported back in time to being a kid all over again. It was the most amazing feeling, and one that continued throughout the entire performance. We saw Mike and Sully, Buzz and Woody, Donald, Goofy and of course, Minnie and Mickey! To top it all off, they added a special patriotic performance for an Independence Day celebration!

The show ended with an appearance from Merida, before the curtains opened one last time to show the movie. Not only was 'Brave' stunningly beautiful to watch, with all the cinematic scenery, I thoroughly enjoyed the story as well. And as much as we've heard about the "Disney Formula" for making movies, it once again works.
Although this was a daddy/daughter day, I recommend that mothers and daughters see this movie see together as well. It tackles the struggle that so often happens as girls mature, leading to sometimes very nasty arguments with their mothers.

The afternoon ended with a trip to Mickey's Soda Shop which is right next door to the theater. We enjoyed a nice lunch and dessert before heading back home. This was another magical afternoon that this father will continue to cherish before his daughter grows up.


Exercise Creativity

Go Play. As kids our parents often told us to "Go outside and play." It's not until we become parents ourselves that we fathom the wisdom of their ramblings. While many artistic people believe that it is going outdoors for a run that eases their 'block' in composition, scientific evidence suggests it's physical exercise, or playing.

Musicians, artists and writers say running can aid their creative thinking.  
“Bid me run, and I will strive with things impossible.” (Shakespeare, Julius Caesar).

Physical Exercise, Mood and Creativity
The  ideas was debated in sports science 10-15 years ago that physical exercise could enhance creative thinking. Some scientists found that exercise enhanced creativity occasionally. Other scientists researched the impact of various physical activities on mood and found that for some sports a single session could improve an individual’s mood.

Physical Exercise Enhances Creativity
In 1997, Scientific evidence of a definite link was reported between exercise and creativity – giving some support to the stories of artistic runners. Psychologists found that exercising or playing enhanced an individual’s creativity. Published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (Volume 31, Issue 3), Steinberg and colleagues from Middlesex University, United Kingdom reported findings that mood and creativity were improved by physical exercise independently of each other.

Exercise for Creative Breakthroughs
The Runner’s World Guide to Running states that running ‘helps you to reach creative breakthroughs’ (p.25). Psychological research has found that bodily movement can enhance creative thinking. This supports the belief held by many men and women that going for a run can help them problem solve and overcome mental blocks. Running as a creative outlet can also bring wider benefits to health and wellbeing.

Benefits of Creativity
Studies have shown that there are several wider health and social benefits to creativity. Most creativity experts do agree that the benefits of creative expression include:
  • Concentration on creative works strengthen the immune system
  • Creativity releases emotions, reduces pain and contributes to repair of physical injury
  • Personalised creations – of music, art, storytelling and writing – can lift self-esteem
If exercise can enhance our creativity regardless of our mood and bring such rewards, then let's "Go outside and play!"


Draw In Your Audience With A Comic Strip

Just like public speakers begin their seminars with a joke to get the attention of their audience, using comic strips can help brand your marketing and drive home important messages. Although surprisingly inexpensive to acquire, humor can be one of your most powerful marketing tools.

Humor puts your readers at ease. Readers appreciate a touch of humor in an otherwise overly serious world. Humor operates on an emotional level, driving home your message in a far more memorable way than words alone. Humor makes sensitive topics more approachable while summarizing and reinforcing points that would otherwise be lost.

Why does this make comic strips perfect for print communications? Because readers will typically check them out before reading the adjacent articles. More importantly, comic strips communicate at a glance. A comic strip can attract your reader’s attention and drive home an important point in a memorable way.

Humor also adds a visual dimension to your marketing, differentiating your message from your competitor’s. Comic strips encourage readers to look at topics they might otherwise skip.

Where do you get custom created comic strips that market your message? If you see a comic strip you like on a blog or website, write the cartoonist in care of the publication and ask about availability and pricing. If there is a particular cartoonist whose style you like, contact the cartoonist about a custom comic strip. This has worked very well for Bruce Sallan and he owns total rights to use the comic strip as he wishes.

Comic strips are great for the home page of your website, newsletters, training materials and presentation visuals. In each case, the unexpectedness of a comic strip immediately captures your audience or reader’s attention and visually reinforces your message.

Using humor in the form of comic strips is a powerful way to brand your marketing and drive home important messages to your prospects and clients. Not only are comic strips fun, it’s easy to get started and they work like magic to increase sales and attract brand new clients. Contact VoogDesigns@gmail.com for a creative consultation to discuss your custom comic strip today.


Drawing, Dinner and Disney

As I know we are all making our summer plans, I wanted to share with you what VoogDesigns Art Academy has in store for the Summer of 2012.

On the fourth Friday of every month this Summer, we will be hosting an opportunity for parents to celebrate "Date Night"! We'll entertain your kids while you take advantage of 4 romantic hours together. Enjoy a dinner on the beach, be enchanted by a trip to the theater, or simply relax in the quiet.

Here is what we have planned to entertain your kids for 4-FULL HOURS:
  • 5:30-6:00 Check-In at VoogDesignStudios
  • 6:00-7:00 Draw the featured Disney character (who may even show up!)
  • 7:00-7:30 Dinner, Drinks, Dessert and Snacks will be provided
  • 7:30-9:00 Watch their favorite Disney Movie on a 12' x 7' Jumbotron Screen!
  • 9:00-9:30 The pixie dust has landed and they're ready for Pick-Up
Because of the size of the lawn, we're limiting this event to 25 kids, but please feel free to invite your friends and neighbors as well. Registration is $40 per child.

Call (805)768-4503 or email VoogDesigns@gmail.com

I hope you are as excited to bring your child(ren) to this "Cinemation Experience" as I'm sure they are. For June 22nd, we will be showing Disney's Aladdin.

Remember to RSVP by June 7th for the 40% Discount!


Caricatures, Cards and Comic Strips

Life. In any given month we have weddings, birthday parties, kid's sporting events, dance recitals and endless other important activities that we either attend or host. All of us have a story to tell. Our ups and downs in life. Birthdays and memorable moments. Next time you are planning an event, celebration or need to send a special gift to a co-worker, friend or family member, why not give them the gift of a custom card, caricature or comic strip? 

Below is a Retirement Card I recently completed for my grandmother.  
What's your next event? Give us a call at (805)768-4503 to discuss your ideas.


VoogDesigns Vlog #3

We continue from our secret location as I share an old letter I wrote to the Walt Disney Studios, and discuss the academic approach I took to animation after receiving their response.

In the VoogDesigns Vlog I will be sharing with you my process of creating my comic strips, caricatures, children's book illustrations, animations and lessons from the VoogDesigns Art Academy every week.


VoogDesigns Vlog #2

Welcome to the second VoogDesigns Vlog! This post is being recorded from a secret location known as an "attic". In this vlog I discuss the importance of saving your artwork so that as your skills develop you can look back and see how much you have grown as an artist.

In the VoogDesigns Vlog I will be sharing with you my process of creating my comic strips, caricatures, children's book illustrations, animations and lessons from the VoogDesigns Art Academy every week.

Twitter Toons

Technology. We can choose to embrace it or be afraid of it. I must admit that one can get a little paranoid with all the information that is floating around on the Internet, especially after watching a special on one monopoly in the Cyberverse, and another in the SoMe-sphere.

In life, everything is a balance and I choose to stay current and utilize the technological advances, while still taking moments to get outside and enjoy the fresh air with my family.

Recently I embarked on an adventure to learn Twitter. Like many I am sure, I had no desire to share with people what I was doing every second of the day, but was encouraged by my good friend @BruceSallan, whom I illustrate his weekly comic strip Because I Said So, to give it a few weeks and participate in his weekly #DadChat.

After reading a few books on how to most effectively use Twitter, I can now say that if I had not taken that step to learn, I never would have met a new client over 3000 miles away in Massachusetts on the other side of the country.
Meet Brad Marmo (@ReadBradTheDad) who took the opportunity to strike up a conversation with me on Twitter during a #DadChat, and after some wonderful idea-sharing, we were able to produce his very first comic strip together: There's Something About Daddy

We all have wonderful stories and ideas to share and I would love to 'toon yours. You can follow me at https://twitter.com/VoogDesigns and tweet me your ideas.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve you!


DadChat Caricature Offer

Welcome DadChat Members, Bruce Sallan Fans, Because I Said So comic strip lovers and A Dads Point-of-View followers! If you are visiting this link then you likely arrived here through www.BruceSallan.com and you are in the right place!

VoogDesigns has been creatively collaborating with Bruce Sallan for over 28 Because I Said So comic strips now, and we're just getting started. For Bruce's birthday last year, we surprised him with the custom color caricature you see below. Bruce loved it so much that he asked if we would make a special offer for his DadChat Members.
If you have been on our facebook page, or even here on our website, you know that we normally charge $40, for a custom color caricature. But for Bruce Sallan, we are making this Special Offer and reducing our fee by 40%, which means that you can have your very own custom color caricature by VoogDesigns for ONLY $25! Use it on your website, business cards, SoMe Profile Pictures, or even print it and hang it in your home.

Here's what you have to do:
  1. Send an e-mail to VoogDesigns@gmail.com with a special high resolution photo of your choice.
  2. We will send you back your custom color caricature within 24-48 hours.
  3. We will then send you a PayPal invoice to pay for the service.
  4. Let others know about this fantastic offer!
Thank you for the opportunity to serve you!


VoogDesigns Vlog #1

Welcome to the very first VoogDesigns Vlog! I don't sing or dance, but what I will be sharing with you is my process of creating my comic strips, caricatures, children's book illustrations, animations and lessons from the VoogDesigns Art Academy every week.


Never Say Never

Lyrics. Back in Junior High my class was given an assignment to pick a few songs and analyze the lyrics. I chose a few Simon & Garfunkel songs like "I am a Rock", "The Boxer" and "The Sound of Silence". Ever since then I try to find meaning in the songs I listen to.

Recently I was listening to my daughter's iPod, looking for a song to add to a video I recorded on how I create a comic strip. The song I chose had lyrics that took me back to the last few years which were a very trying time for my family. But deep in my heart there has always been a desire to persevere and to never give up; not just in life but in your dreams. Every since I was a kid I knew that I wanted to draw.

Fifteen years ago VoogDesigns was just a dream. Now it is a reality. Through the trials emerge the triumphs. If you have a dream, never say never.

See I never thought that I could walk through fire
I never thought that I could take the burn
I never had the strength to take it higher
Until I reached the point of no return

And there's just no turning back
When your heart's under attack
Gonna give everything I have
It's my destiny

I will never say never (I will fight)
I will fight till forever (Make it right)

Whenever you knock me down
I will not stay on the ground
Pick it up, pick it up
Pick it up, pick it up
Up, up, up, up, up and never say never

I never thought I could feel this power
I never thought that I could feel this free
I'm strong enough to climb the highest tower
And I'm fast enough to run across the sea

And there's just no turning back
When your hearts under attack
Gonna give everything I have
'Cause this is my destiny

Never say never...


Spotlight: KidGripz

Last post we spoke about DREAMS:
Happy talk, keep talkin' happy talk,
Talk about things you'd like to do.
You got to have a dream,
If you don't have a dream,
How you gonna have a dream come true?

This post is all about how VoogDesigns is helping dreams come true for others.
My name is Donna Ontiveros, with my husband Andrew Ontiveros and sister Kathy Hillman we created a removable handle we call KidGripz.

One afternoon our 3 year old was going in and out of the house into our backyard each time pushing on the glass of our sliding glass door leaving messy fingerprints behind. It was the moment he just about slammed his fingers in the slider that my husband set out to help him. He went to his car and took out the suction cup holder from his GPS device and stuck it to our slider right at the height for a 3 year old. Watching how easy it was for my son to open and close the door safely…KidGripz was born.

Working with local artist Michael Voogd, of VoogDesigns, our first design is a lady bug. There are additional designs, including a turtle and a bumble bee.

Already looking to expand we are currently working on EzGripz. EzGripz is the same concept as KidGripz but geared toward adults. The designs would be sunflowers, teapots, etc. We see this product being marketed towards elderly adults, people with motor disabilities or anyone that requires a larger handle to hold on to. The handle can work on not only sliding glass doors but mirrored closets, bathroom shower doors and any other surface that a little extra support is needed.

Lastly is MiniGripz…MiniGripz are small suction cups with a hook that can placed on mirrored closet doors, bathroom mirrors, sliding glass doors and anywhere a hook is needed. Designs are endless anything from flowers to baseballs it can be used to hang towels, backpacks, jackets, etc.

We are currently in a contest sponsored by Walmart called "Get on the Shelf". If we are lucky enough to win, Walmart will manufacture and sell our product in their stores nationwide.
To vote, please go to:

You can also vote for KidGripz by texting:
From your mobile phone, text 3160 to 383838.

Remember, you can only vote for this product once per day* from your phone number. Any extra votes from your phone for this product will be disregarded. And please tell your friends about the product. Thank you!


Happy Talk

Every week my daughter attends singing lessons from a wonderful woman who's "singing just makes you feel happy", as expressed by one soldier on a USO Tour she once performed in.

This "happiness" also comes across in the songs that she chooses for her students, which I didn't immediately realize until one day I began humming one of the tunes my daughter routinely rehearses. It is from the move South Pacific called "Happy Talk":

Happy talk, keep talkin' happy talk,
Talk about things you'd like to do.
You got to have a dream,
If you don't have a dream,
How you gonna have a dream come true?

Our thoughts create our words, which formulate the actions that manifest into reality, and the lyrics from this happy song gives some sound advice.


FREE Caricature Contest

Every week VoogDesigns creates a heart-warming comic strip for our wonderful client Bruce Sallan titled, Because I Said So. Bruce is an author, motivational speaker, radio show host and his most important role, "Dad".
Visit www.BruceSallan.com to view this Comic Strip
Last week Bruce announced on his Radio Show show a "Secret Word", which is the key to entering to win a FREE Color Caricature by VoogDesigns. 
Discover the "Secret Word" and Enter the Contest HERE!
On January 26th from 11:00am-12:00pm PST, VoogDesigns will be a featured guest on his radio program to discuss the comic strip and the contestTUNE IN to am1290



4 years. They say if it's worth having, then it's worth waiting for. On August 27, 2007 I read this article in our local paper about a very special museum located in Santa Rosa, CA that I immediately decided would be a fun place to take my then 6-year old daughter. I anticipated visiting the Charles Schulz Museum every weekend since Santa Rosa Valley is only 10 miles from my home.

After searching the Internet and mapping out directions, I was suddenly deflated. The Santa Rosa they mentioned in the article was 430 miles away! And a 7-hour drive to get there was going to need a little more planning than a quick weekend jaunt in the car.

Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans. 

Fast forward to December 29, 2011. After four years of waiting, my Christmas present was not a new iPhone, but what would prove to be very special "Cartoons" Trip with my 10-year old daughter.

The museum opened at 11:00am and it was a 7-hour drive, so that meant we needed to leave at 3:00am in the morning! Sure I could have chosen to leave a day earlier, or travel by plane, but drawing from my childhood memories, road trips are something special. They provide ample quiet time to ponder life and detox from the stresses of the daily grind. It's also a great bonding opportunity with my little traveler!

So with a full tank of gas, a surplus of coffee, and a quick donut shop stop, we were off. Shouldering the responsibility of getting us to our destination safely, I repetitiously sipped coffee as I listened to motivational CDs, while my daughter rested soundly in the back of our car. Our first stop came shortly before 7:00am in King City to refuel the car and our stomachs. C'mon, you can't have a road trip with out a #2 Breakfast Meal!

We spent the remaining trip in the car listening to audio books of Geronimo Stilton and The Spiderwick Chronicles to help pass the time. At 11:00am we finally entered Santa Rosa to check into our hotel and freshen up before travelling the remaining 2 miles to our destination- The Charles M. Schultz Museum!

Because of the theater schedule, our first stop was watching a short documentary on Charles Schulz titled, A Boy Named Charlie Brown. This set the tone for what would be an enlightening and inspiring trip through the museum. My daughter was entertained by the history of all the classic Peanuts comic strips on display throughout the gallery. She also posed with numerous Peanuts gang statues and participated in drawing some of the characters herself in the Education Room.

One highlight for me was visiting Schulz' Drawing Studio. It was motivating to see where all the magic happened as this room showcased his vast collection of books, materials and memorabilia. At the museum we also met some friends that live in the area to play some miniature golf and catch up over dinner.

Part of our trip was to visit Snoopy's Home Ice located next to the museum. Because open ice was sold out earlier, we had to come back at 7:30pm. In anticipation we watched the Peanuts-decorated Zamboni renew the ice before we made our way onto the rink. What a magical 2-hours that was as me and my daughter held hands skating around the colorfully lit ice decorated with Christmas lights.

The next morning we stopped at The Historic Railroad Square District to take a few more pictures with a bronze Charlie Brown and Snoopy statue before visiting San Francisco on the way home. In San Francisco we planned to take pictures at the Golden Gate Bridge, have lunch at Fisherman's Wharf, ride a Trolley Car, and visit the Cartoon Art Museum. It was a this point where I was rethinking the purchase of that new iPhone because with out a GPS in the car, getting around San Francisco delayed our first stop by over an hour. But the delay was worth it because our first and only stop was in the presidio at The Walt Disney Family Museum.

My daughter was fully entertained by all the colorful and interactive displays that chronologically toured us through Walt Disney's historic life journey. But with another 7-hour ride ahead of us,  it was time to return home. Low on fuel and energy, we made a perfectly timed pit stop in Sunnyvale at PF Changs China Bistro to enjoy our last meal of this special trip together. My daughter then slept the rest of the ride home while I enjoyed the quiet reflection on what I hope will be a trip she will always remember.


Creating a Comic Strip

Deadlines. It's part of the business. Every week I have the pleasure of receiving ideas e-mailed to me from my clients to create the comic strips that I illustrate for them. And it is my challenge to provide the layout to them on how I "see" their idea illustrated in a comic strip. My approach is rather systematic, so I thought I would share my process with you.

I know many artists that choose to draw out what are called "thumbnail sketches" of their ideas to get a feel of how it will look on paper. Time permitting, I will use this approach as well, but more often I will find a quiet place, close my eyes, and let my mind wander. I picture in my mind how I would like the comic strip to flow, and visualize different perspectives and viewpoints to determine which images will illustrate the story best. 

Here is that process for a recent comic strip I completed for our church bulletin. Enjoy!



New Life

Animation. When most people see or hear this word, they of course associate it with cartoons. But animation is also defined as:
1. The act, process, or result of imparting life, interest, spirit, or activity.
2. The quality or condition of being alive, active, spirited, or vigorous.

New Years Day is the beginning of a new calendar year and symbolizes a fresh start and the promise of a new life. Like many, I get re-energized at the thought of the tremendous possibilities awaiting my pursuit over the next 366 days... just seeing if you are paying attention. (It's a Leap Year!)

The Bible says in John 10:10
"I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."

Enjoy this latest Character Matters comic strip below, and let us approach 2012 with animation! To wake up with an "Attitude of Gratitude" being thankful for the new day and the potential we've been given to make the most of our time to live life to the full.