Off the Page: Illustrations as Gifts

Off the Page

As an illustrator I’m in the unique position of occasionally being able to give friends some very personal gifts for birthdays and holidays.

While “I made it with my own two widdle hands” might seem a bit juvenile, there really isn’t a better gift I can give than a drawing and all of my closest friends have something I’ve drawn for their walls or offices.

My RevPub co-chair has countless pictures decorating her space, my buddy Mike used to have several originals of characters he’d carry in his massive wallet!

I’m not a portrait artist as such. I did some portraits for money in high school and college but I hate the work. It really stifles my creativity and while my artwork does usually lean on the realistic side, doing an exact copy of something, even of a person, kind of takes the fun imagination out of everything.

Instead I do “insinuations” or “approximations” of people I draw for. Not true portraits, just illustrated versions capturing some essence of their character.

I did this piece a few years ago for my friend Misty’s birthday. Not only did I get to have loads of fun torturing her by not letting her know what I was doing for her, I got to get very creative with the drawing. She loves library work and some of the pictures I saw of her working in the field were of her doing a puppet show for kids. She’s wearing some rain boots (she never gets to wear when it’s raining…) and has a nice stack of books behind her.


This is the most recent one I’ve done for my friend Jessica. Her passion is teaching yoga and she is a superlative Hot Yoga instructor. I started doing little pics (starting with my Turbo Snail) and thought this would be a nice birthday present for her. After some minor Facebook stalking so I could approximate her face (my memory is good but not so good I can draw details from it…I’m not Hannibal Lector…) I came up with this.


I’ve never had someone dislike or respond with anything other than excitement upon receiving one of these as a present. Not everyone can draw, or paint, or write, but everyone has something they can do to let their friends know they’re thinking about them. Be creative for your next presents; modern gifts don’t have to begin and end with the gift card!