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Work Happy Personal Projects

2017 was a turbulent year for many of us for a variety of reasons.  Through it all, Rapp illustrators found projects that brought happiness. Some commissioned, some self-initiated.  Below you will find a curated virtual gallery of each artist’s most happy image from 2017 along with a brief explanation of why it made them happy.  We all hope to do more happy work in 2018.

Shaw Nielsen

This illustration makes me happy because in a year of constant tumult I found it reassuring to take some time to stop, smell the flowers, and remember all the reasons we have to be thankful.


Traci Daberko

This one completely makes me smile and think happiness out of all the work that I did last year. I fixed it up with texture. I’m even thinking about making it as an animated gif for an opener to my website for the New Year.


Chiara Vercesi  “Colored shaving genius: shake thrice before wishing”

This image is the actual outcome of one of my 2017’s goodwill: I had promised myself to dedicate more time to personal and fun projects not directly work-related and makes me think about how easy and pleasant can be, doing something you are really in love with, just for the enjoyment of doing it.


Anna Godeassi

Happiness is for me this illustration of Woman’s feelings: nature is inside us in different shapes; sky, ocean, earth and everything you feel (empty profile.)


Bruce Morser

I’m not much of a watercolorist, but this quick little plein air painting represents the final climb of the cross country bicycle trip I took this May and June. My riding partner, Bob, and I kept our promise to complete 1 painting for each day we were on the road. With 54 paintings in the bag it was all downhill from there.

John Jay Cabuay

This past 2017 one of the happiest things I have done is the “I Was Born For This” picture book.
For 2 reasons:
1. I fulfilled my dream of doing a picture book.
2. I fulfilled a promise to myself to achieve it and have it read to my child before she gets too old for picture books.


Sean McCabe

I have done many pieces for numerous clients last year that brought me joy, but this one is different. This piece was created for a band from Chicago that I am friends with – Tiny Fireflies. It’s one of a few illustration options I presented to them for their new 7″ single, called “Nothing.” It’s somewhat personal in that I created it shortly after the death of my dog. I don’t know why I came up with this, but I had so much joy in creating it.


Greg Mably

This piece makes me happy because it represents a slightly different direction form from my other work. It’s whimsical with a touch of trippyness. It also came together very naturally with no need for revisions.


Michael Cho

A promotional image I created for Pantheon Books, this one had a great theme I could get behind, and was a pleasure to do from beginning to end.


Matthieu Forichon

I have chosen one of those I made for the Elliman Winter Catalogue few weeks ago because I do love drawing big cities like NYC and I do love drawing women too. I hope to make more images like this one in 2018 with keywords like architecture, interior design, lifestyle and fashion.


Phil Wrigglesworth

During 2017 a colleague and I launched our very own film magazine titled Beneficial Shock! And this is the cover illustration I worked on for the 2nd issue. It’s very exciting and makes me happy to have control over a cover that is now sold across the globe in over 50 stores, including MOMA PS1 and McNally Jackson New York.


Jon Reinfurt

I made this illustration to help raise awareness for pangolins, a species that is quickly going extinct as a direct result of poaching. The reason this project makes me so happy is because I always enjoy the challenge of capturing the inherent beauty of nature and I love that the singular goal of creating this image was to give back to the world we live in and help a really good cause.


Gwen Keraval

I like drawing architecture and the 70’s mood of this building, I love libraries and working with Mindy Kittay was great.Designing posters is always interesting, especially when this one can help remodeling a library.


Aldo Crusher

This piece makes me happy because when I made it, it felt like I wasn’t working. I was having a lot of fun making all the characters and playing with colors and textures. It reminded me why I wanted to be an illustrator in the first place. The illustration was for Mellow Mushroom Menu Cover.


Chi Birmingham “90’s Throwback Playlist”

For the past few months I’ve been making playlist illustrations for Google Play music. I got to really flex my “Saved By the Bell” muscles for this one. My own personal 90’s tastes leaned a bit more towards Billy Corgan than Zack Morris, but I’m in a much better place now:) (JK, Smashing Pumpkins for life.)


Elizabeth Traynor

Rusty was a last minute Christmas commission for my dentist – and I loved doing it. It’s gotten a tremendous response on Facebook (my best ever!)


Michael Witte

It’s always fun to do caricatures, especially of funny people, in this instance comediennes Lucile Ball and Melissa McCarthy. Lucy is an enduring classic and her comic riffs make me as happy today as they did in the 50’s.

Dave Brinley

“Hard Pressed” – a painting for the Society of Illustrators ‘Food Fight’ Members Open show Nov/Dec 2017. The piece makes me happy because it’s symbolic of what makes me feel happy and inspired – green food.

“Hard Pressed” Society of Illustrators Food Fight Exhibition November 2017


Richard Mia

Collaborating with designers makes me happy.


Jean-Manuel Duvivier

So happy when I listen to Chicago Transit Authority’s first album and it’s incredible horn section!


James Steinberg

I thought it might be fun to illustrate some well-known idioms. Here’s one of them.


James Kaczman

This piece that I did for Directory of Illustration’s marketing campaign made me happy because I got to work with David Plunkert as Art Director, and I have been an admirer of his work for a long time.


Andrea Cobb

Happiness often attaches itself to something new. Here’s a new illustration direction ready for new jobs!


Yuta Onoda

The reason why this piece makes happy is that the client gave me so much freedom for this project and I was able to come up with an image I was very happy with.