U.S. Air Force

One hundred miles north of Los Angeles in the middle of a dry lake bed is Edwards Air Force Base, the proving grounds for history's most accomplished and iconic test pilots. Each year, the Air Force welcomes a new crop of TPS (Test Pilot School) students who brand their class with often politically incorrect but always comical squadron art. Having worked mostly with the 416th F-16 squadron, my illustrations take the form of "nose-art" for the planes themselves or patches that adorn the shoulders of each class coming in and out of TPS.


Symbolism is key with every nose-art or patch design, the more hints to a deeper story the better.  My signature style emphasizes variable line weights, digitally imitating a croquille pen effect and creating depth with outline. The start of a new project is always fun, beginning with a wild abstract concept and cobbling together ideas with a sketch pad and pencil.


Illustrating for patches is a bit different because ultimately your work is being reproduced in thread on a machine and complex details have to be kept to a minimum. When digitizing artwork, fine lines often smash together in thread and fancy fonts can be difficult as well as shading. You have eight colors and five square inches to tell a highly symbolic story.


Over the years, working with the guys and gals at Edwards has been incredibly rewarding. Each project has been done completely pro-bono as a means of saying thank you to these brave flyers who risk their lives for us everyday. If my work makes one person laugh or leads to a greater sense of belonging, then I consider it a job well done.