New Work for Mental Floss Magazine

Mental_Floss has been keeping me busy with interesting projects lately, so when they got in touch with a few off-the-wall ideas to help illustrate their FUN issue, I was all ears.

They gave me a host of topics as options from the time the Rubik's cube made its way to China to the day Russia ran out of vodka. . . perhaps the most mind-boggling topic was real-life hamsters that get drunk!

All of the briefs were hysterical and ripe for interpretation, but I ended up pursuing:

1) The unpoppable balloon trick: a ruse where carnies use under-inflated balloons and very light darts as a means to take all your money at the county fair. 2) The birth of miniature golf courses in England and America. 3) The Syrian golden hamster which has evolved and adapted its body to ingest alcohol as a means to get through lean times.

My art director, Winslow Taft, and I started straight in on the miniature golf idea.

My caveat to him was that it'd cost a little more to make since I'd have to tap a prop builder given the turnaround time. Without hesitation he said, do it and my heart swooned in forever bromance/client crush'dom.

I gave my good friend and colleague, Mr. John Lavin of Lavin + Stacey, a shout. We chatted for twenty minutes and John just got it since we have a similar sense of humor.

I sent him the sketch above with this direction "you know, like tiny sand traps and model train trees. . . imagine a 400 yard hole or whatever at the Master's."

A couple days later, John sent the image above, and I damn near had a seizure over the excitement of seeing it come to life.

The necessary props were procured and a couple days later my wife came into the studio - with our baby on her back - to be my golfer since men's legs read like hippopotamus thighs on camera.

After wrapping up the golf component, the next phase was tackling the most important part of the project - an interior shot and cover image illustrating drunken Syrian hamsters.

I should note that there are indeed hamster wranglers out there, but they're super flaky and take five days to respond to you by email or phone. So after being in the dark for a spell, I made an executive decision and headed to Petco.

At 9pm on a Friday night, one's options for Syrian golden hamsters are rather limited, so my choice was made in two parts:

1) Mrs. Mark C. Taylor (yes, she's a famous Deconstructivist Philosopher Theologian) didn't bite me after a minute of handling. 2) When you've got Gretchen Hilmers of G-tou doing your retouching and post, making brown hamsters golden is the least of your worries.

Gretchen confesses that her favorite image we've done lately has to be the hamsters. Here's from her:

I really enjoyed putting the elements together, even down to the little party hat..really put my 'AWWWWW' factor into overdrive. My favorite ultra dorky photoshop thing was turning them from gray to orange! Is that too nerdy? If I had some glasses I'd adjust them for seriousness.

That's Mrs. Mark C. Taylor above in Gretchen's notes image to Winslow in prepping the cover. Below is how the hamster image ran on the interior of the mag along with our county fair balloon image.

Should note that the cover was a bit of a collabo as well since my brother-from-another-bama-mother, Cary Norton, shot those shiny balloons to letter the FUN of the FUN issue.

No lying, this has got to be one of my favorite jobs of 2012. Keep posted for new updates coming down the pipe very soon!

More always,