Sunday, July 22, 2007

Cheese Products!

Yes, it's finally come to this, Dear Friends..

Last month, I was contacted by a friend that works at a local Ad Agency.. I'd done some freelance illustration work for him, in the past. But this time, he promised me that he had "real work" for me to do..
Turns out his company had been hired by an International Foods conglomerate, to reinvent the Character Design for a line of their peelable Mozarella Cheese.. They'd been market-testing their existing Character model.. And found it wasn't really connecting with the 11-12 year olds, like it was intended to..

Now I'd done some freelance illustration work for advertising, before.. But this was going to be a bit different, in that it was purely "Development Art".. Rather than, finished packaging artwork.
They wanted something that was fun & light-hearted. A bit kooky. But with a little Hollywood "cool", as well.. He supposedly leads an "active" lifestyle. So they suggested he might possibly be an X-Gamer or Superhero -type, too..

This was my first pass, on the thing..

Really, I just wanted to try and nail down what Body Type he would be, first.. The long & wiry scheme that they had already, seemed to work best. It shows off the flexibility best, etc.. It's such an odd foodstuff, that I imagined maybe an off-the-wall Wally Wood -type Alien guy might work, too. But it ceased looking like the actual stringy Cheese product..
I did a number of different approaches.. I think they liked this guy, the most. Though they mentioned it was perhaps looking a bit too "retro". And was skewed too old for their target audience..

I kinda dug the idea of doing a few Superhero -types, too.. The one guy in the cape, was a riff on the character designs of cartoonist: Benito Jacovitti.. I confessed to the agency, that the small cheese snake, was (in fact) a verbatim ripoff of one of his designs. And really wouldn't be a good idea to use..

My girlfriend Suzanne & a few other Animation friends, liked that one best..
The "Cheezkateer" was a last-minute idea, of mine.. Trying something a bit different, just to see what the reactions would be..

One of the ad execs suggested that perhaps a Jack Cole 'PlasticMan' or FF's "Mr. Fantastic" might be a good jumping off point.. given their flexible/bendable nature? I liked the idea, immediately. But I wanted to retain the goofiness.. So I came up with "Cheez-Lad". Who I imagined as a kind of pimply/awkward Teen.. The kind that used to appear on those 'Firesign Theatre' comedy records! haha
As an afterthought, I also did a Surf Dude.. I wanted someone not quite as goofy. A bit more Beatnik & Bohemian.. Yet, still "active". I like the way the jaunty walk turned out, here..

Though I didn't tell the agency outright, I wasn't terribly keen on the 'X-Gamer' approach.. If only, because it would entail adding a lot of inane Safety Equipment (Helmet, Knee Pads, Elbow Pads, etc).. bogging down the overall silhouette. And killing the stringy hairlines, I'd been working out..

In the end, I think I liked the Surfer Dude idea the best.. It could just as easily be Snowboard or Skateboard, I suppose.. I amped-up the thin/stringy quality, and felt I was getting closer to what I wanted..
The one featured above, has the slacker/hedonist thing going.. But he still looks a bit too poufy/gay.. Maybe it's the damned Turtleneck, or something? He has that arrogant Parisian "look" about him.. And, that wasn't my intent.

Anyways, the job was real good FUN!!
It's not often you get paid decent money to just "play" with Visual Ideas.. And I'd certainly welcome the chance to do s'more of it again, soon!
Though I've been paid for my work .. I have (unfortunately) not yet heard how the Project is proceeding.. I know that there were a few other artists that were also contributing Designs for this.. So perhaps, they've chosen to go in a different direction entirely..

Sorry, for the long delay between Postings.. I'm hoping the next one, won't take quite so long.. See y'all later!!


Dominic Bugatto said...

Fun sketches Rich , though I've got a soft spot for the 'Plastickman' version ;)

Anonymous said...


Perhaps you could have the surfer dude rolling on those shoes kids now wear with wheels. The wheel is on the front of one shoe and the back of the other. When they put one foot forward, and the other one back they can slide. If you go to a mall you will see someone sproting them.

Good luck,


Rich Dannys said...

Thanks, Dom!
How much work are you gettin' done these days? Draz tells me that the wee one, is keeping you up most nights? Hang in there, dude..

Spyrunner --
I've seen those things, yeah.. They look like good fun! And they're probably ideal for the 11-12 year old market..
I dunno how well it'd translate tho, as 'Package Design' artwork?.. The Client would probably want something a bit more dynamic.

Thanks, for dropping by..

CaveMatt said...

I like the contrasts and shapes in the surfter dude with the jaunty walk best, but the pose in the plasticman one has a lot of cool Kirby exaggeration in it. Cool stuff, if I wasn't lactose intolerant I'd go out and buy string cheese right now.

Rich Dannys said...

Thanks for the comments, Matt!

BTW,-- how was the big San Diego ComicCon trip for ya? I read that you met up with that Jim Smith geezer.. Sounds like you had a pretty great time there? I'm hoping to make another trip to that convention someday, myself..

Yeah, I prefer that Surfer dude, too.. There's something about that wearin' cowboy boots with long boxer shorts, that makes me laugh.. Probably not the most appropriate choice for 'Package Art' tho, I s'pose.. heh

CaveMatt said...

Jim Smith Rules. Man I hope he sells Chestaclese to some lucky studio.

San Diego was great. I got to spend most of the week with family and then after that I hit the con for a few days, which really seemed almost too too short of a time span to really see it.

Y'know I was gonna mention the cowboy boots with shorts thing. The only thing funnier than that would be rubber galoshes with big knobby treads with the shorts.

Suzanne Dargie said...

Time for a new posting Sweetie!

el pancake said...

anyone with a Wally Wood avatar is okay in my books.
..and if you like Don's a little tale from days gone by...I visited the Mad offices in the twilight years of Bill Gaines(when DM was in exile)....taped proudly to Bill's office door, for all to see, was a letter from DM's wife, saying basically Bill, here's that thing you wanted go FUCK YOURSELF!
....ah what fun

Kieron O'Gorman said...

Hey Rich, I just released the comments link was actually on these blogs. I would have made a comment earlier...

Great stuff!

Rich Dannys said...

SoozyPie --

Yeah, I know I'm long overdue in that regard.. So goshdurned busy with the Work & whatnot, lately..

el pancake --

Glad you liked the avatar! It's from an ill-fated Animation pitch, featuring Wood's "BUCKY RUCKUS" character..

I've never heard the DM tale.. Thanks for sharing it! Sounds like the Missus was something of a protective Firebrand, for ole Don? I'm sure she probably had every good reason to be angry with MAD & Bill Gaines..

Kieron --

Yeah, the Comments section is half-the-fun behind ye olde Blogosphere.. Glad you finally figgered it out.. And Thanks, for the kind comments!

Blog Update coming very soon, with a little Luck..