I used to work for a company that was based on the idea that
newspapers had a future. And that company was full of talented people
who knew how to print, how to design pages and prepare them for print,
how to create color-matching high-resolution photographic scans, how
to proof copy and how to maintain quality over a print run.
To me, the heart of the place belonged to the magicians: the freehand
illustrators, the people who knew how to draw. At one time, the
company’s food illustrations were the basis for just about every
grocery advertisement in the nation. And its car illustrations held
the same place of importance in that industry.
One of the magicians, Bob Patton, worked for the company in the early 1990s.
I remember there was a white board on the wall near where the
illustrators sat. I don’t remember what the board was actually for;
all I remember was that every day there’d be a new single-cell cartoon
drawn there by Bob. Drawn not for the job, but for the enjoyment of
Which meant that every day, the previous day’s cartoon was erased and
forgotten. Another well-crafted sandcastle destroyed by the sea.
I don’t know what amazed me more: that someone could draw the way Bob
did or that he could just as easily consign his work to the void.
All I know is that I am lucky enough to have had one of his more
permanent illustrations, drawn on a large piece of card stock, above
my bench for about 20 years. I look at it every time I work on my
He said it would be okay if you saw it, too.
If you’ve read this far, you need to see more of Bob’s work. Check out
the best that Iowa City has to offer at bobpattonart.com. I especially
recommend his “Between Jobs” series.
And if you need to order some custom work, or just need to say, “Nice
job, Bob,” contact him at bobpattonart.com/Contact_Bob.htm.