Sunday, January 4, 2015

From my sketchbook: Kublai Khan, from the Netflix Mini-Series, Marco Polo

Did you see the Netflix mini-series, Marco Polo?  I enjoy sketching characters from costume dramas with elaborate, ornate costumes. Kublai Khan, played by Benedict Wong, was such a character. His costume was among the most complex and detailed that I have seen in any film. Unfortunately, 72 dots per inch doesn't translate well onto the screen. Much of the detail is lost. But Wong's character was fun to sketch.

Have you seen my other blog, The Trowbridge Chronicles?  

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I wish you a most joyous Christmas, and a happy, healthy and prosperous 2015!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Not Your Average Millionaire: The Hit and Miss Career of James Altucher

The career of media mogul James Altucher could be likened to a 20-year roller coaster ride, or a sprint through a minefield.  Few have experienced a career as erratic, and with as many highs and lows as that of Altucher. Despite his many setbacks, he has been a pace setter in the fields of finance, corporate ownership, management, writing, blogging and podcasting.

After studies at Cornell University and Carnegie Mellon University, Altucher did a three year stint at HBO, working in their IT department as an online producer. His first broadcast experience found him roaming the streets of New York at night as an HBO reporter, interviewing New Yorkers.

Altucher claims to have failed at 17 of the 20 companies that he has either founded or co-founded during his mostly chaotic career.  As he said on his podcast just today, “You gotta keep movin’”. And move he does. He founded Reset, a web design company, in 1996, then sold it five years later for around $10 million.  Within two years he had lost it all in failed business ventures.

Fast forward ten years. In 2006 he founded StockPickr, then turned around and sold the company for $10 million.

In the early years of Altucher’s career, TV stock market pitchman Jim Cramer hired him to write articles about stocks. That led him into increased involvement in the financial markets. From 2002 to 2005 he traded hedge funds. He then founded Formula Capital, an asset management firm, where he currently acts as managing director. He is also an angel investor in the fields of technology, biotech and energy.

Somehow Altucher has found time to write eleven books and countless magazine, newspaper, and blog articles. He began writing for the Wall Street Journal in 2009 and continues to the present day. In addition, he is a columnist for Financial Times,, and The Huffington Post, as well as a frequent guest on CNBC and many other television programs.

Not one to slow down and take a breath, Altucher launched a blog, Altucher Confidential, in 2010. It racked up over five million page views within the first year. Next came his podcast, The James Altucher Show, launched in January of 2014. In his first months online with his podcast he has compiled an impressive lineup of high-profile guests, including Mark Cuban, Dr. Wayne Dyer.

His newest book, as of summer, 2014, is The Power of No.

James Altucher’s books: The Power of No (Hay House), Choose Yourself (LionCrest), I Was Blind But Now I See (CreateSpace), FAQ Me (CreateSpace), Altucher Confidential: Ideas For a World Out of Balance (Round Table), How to Be the Luckiest Person Alive (CreateSpace), SuperCash (Wiley and Sons), 40 Alternatives to College (CreateSpace), The Forever Portfolio (Penguin), Trade Like a Hedge Fund (Wiley), Trade Like Warren Buffet (Wiley and Sons). 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Creating a Paradise Travel Map - Finished Art

This is the final installment in my Tristan da Cunha Paradise Travel Map series.

It may not be immediately evident by looking at it, but I spent a lot of late night and early morning hours working on this map...three months and 65 hours, to be exact. I started on it on March 23rd and finished on June 23rd. I must be a glutton for punishment to work on these travel maps in my off-hours since it's how I spend most of my on duty time, working on cartoon map projects. (

All of the text and header lettering were done by hand. Having taught myself to hand-letter in eighth grade has served me very well over the years. I drew the map on paper with Micron pens, then scanned it into Photoshop and colored in with a Wacom Cintiq. Prior to beginning the artwork, I spent many hours researching the island so that I could intelligently portray it graphically.

If you haven't been following my articles, some time ago I discovered a far-flung, remote, populated island in the South Atlantic. It was Tristan da Cunha. I found it to be such a fascinating locale that I was inspired to create a map of the island to add to my Paradise Travel Map collection.

One of the first things that I want to do with the map is to send it as an attachment to the editor of the Tristan da Cunha newsletter, plus some other prominent Tristan islanders. That should come as a huge surprise to them since Tristan is rarely if ever mapped at all because of it's remoteness. I have yet to see a single map of the sole settlement on the island, Edinburgh of the Seven Seas. My Edinburgh of the Seven Seas inset map may be the only such map in existence.  

I might point out that the map was created in CMYK so the colors are very gaudy onscreen. I wish there was some way that this problem could be corrected.

If you have any ideas for a Paradise Travel Map, I welcome your suggestions.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Creating a Paradise Travel Map - Part 12

This is the 12th in a series of articles describing my process in creating a Paradise Travel Map.

The map may appear to be completed. Actually, all the elements are more or less finished on the map, except for the island itself. There is still a lot of rendering to do on the island. I have painted in the base colors, and now I have begun the rendering process. I have been experimenting with how I will render the details on the map, especially the gulches. Every stream, with its accompanying gulch, originates on Queen Mary's Peak, the volcanic peak in the heart of the island that erupted in 1962, causing the islanders to take to the sea in fear of their lives.

There is one small area on the island that may be close to complete. It's the gulch area between the Queen Mary's Peak banner and the notation in the water saying: "Healthcare is free on Tristan". I've found it a challenge to accurately render the craggy gulches to my satisfaction. I think I am satisfied with this area, so I may proceed around the island, rendering all the streams and gulches accordingly.

I have derived immense satisfaction from working on this map, though it has extended out much longer than I had planned. I began the project on March 23 (2014) and I have been working on it off and on, late nights and early mornings since then. In the process, I have become fascinated with this tiny, remote, little known island nation. I have spent hours watching documentaries and reading everything I can find about Tristan da Cunha. It is truly one of the most unique populated places on earth.

Not that I would choose to visit Tristan da Cunha. You would have to be very motivated to actually visit the island. First, you have to get to Capetown, South Africa. Then you're looking at a week long boat ride halfway across the Atlantic Ocean to get to the island. Then, once you're there, you better be prepared to stay a while. Boats call on Tristan only about ten times a year, and there's no airport. So if you travel to Tristan, you must stay for several weeks until the next boat comes to get you. Oh, and don't get sick on Tristan. There's no air service to airlift you out to a hospital. There's no airport on Tristan da Cunha.

Hopefully, only one more update post, and the map will be complete.

To get a glimpse of what Tristan da Cunha is like, click here

If you'd like to see more of my cartoon maps, go to

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Creating a Paradise Travel Map - Part 11

This is the eleventh in a series of articles describing my process in creating a Paradise Travel Map. If you've been following my posts, you can see that I'm on the home stretch now. I just finished coloring in the two corner panels on the right, and I toned the background for the text banner on the right. I also toned in the art for Tristao da Cunha on the text banner.

All that remains to color are the images to the right of the island, and the island itself. Stay tuned for the next post, which will probably be the last one for this series.

To see more of my cartoon maps, go to

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Creating a Paradise Travel Map - Part 10

This is the tenth in a series of articles describing my process in creating a Paradise Travel Map. Feel free to scroll down to see all of the previous posts.

The coloring process is moving ahead, slowly but surely. The left two corner panels are now completed. Also finished, the Five Finger fish, the Tristan Longboat and the Spectacled kestrel, to the left of the island. Most people would never imagine the hours that can be invested in an illustration.  A lot of feather rendering was involved with the Spectacled kestrel in the lower left. I worked on the kestrel for an hour and 15 minutes.

Stay tuned. I'll be posting the next color steps very soon. To see more of my cartoon maps, go to

Have you seen my other blog, The Trowbridge Chronicles?