Thursday, December 17, 2009

32 ways to wear a cap.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Learning with Elli

Friday, November 27, 2009

Children's book progress.

Made some time to work on my children's book yesterday. Hope to finish it soon. I'm spending a lot of time on the illustrations. I want it to be really fun for kids to look at. Let me know what you think?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Creating an editorial cartoon in 10 minutes.

I started this without knowing what the gag was. Just to see if I could come up with it on the fly in 10 minutes. It was more like 11:40 but I cut out some of the pauses so it would fit in the 10 minute YouTube restraint. It's all in real time. didn't speed up the video. I just draw in a manic nature normally. Hope you enjoy it. Cheers.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Do they say plagiarism is the sincerest form of flattery? hmmmm?

So here is the only cartoon I know of that I'm almost positive was plagiarized. You be the judge. This cartoon ran in the Henderson Home Newspaper on November 8th, 2007.

And this cartoon was published by cartoonist Randy Bish - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What should I do people? Does it look like I have a case?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Cartoon Caption Contest

Here is an old cartoon of mine. I've removed the caption so you could give it a shot. Send me your ideas. Post them in the comment box below. Give me some funny!

Here are some submittions I received from FB and Twitter:

Craig Galati
"That's it. No more listening to Rush Limbaugh!" or "Halloween has gotten out of control this year!" or "Dear, your parents need to quit spoiling the kids!"

Brian Rouff
"We're starting a new holiday tradition."

Teri Erhard Davis
"Shouldn't you be getting the kids ready for church?"

Gigi Raffi Blansett (My sister)
You shouldn't let Santa call my sister for gift ideas!!!!

Robert Crawford
"Just because late term abortion is illegal, honey, doesnt mean you should spend the rest of the kids childhood trying to find a loophole."

"Gladys, If worse comes to worse with this economy, yes, you are right, we could write a screenplay"

"When I said the kids could play "Red Neck Rampage" this Christmas I meant the computer game Amy!"

"Gift cards are sounding good now!"

F Andrew Taylor
Look, if they weren't safe, they wouldn't have let me buy them.

Amber Swanson
"You NEVER said no alligators in the house!"

Brandy Ferro
Hunny, what happens in Vegas is suppose to stay in Vegas!!!

Nikki Williams
You promised me UFC tickets last year and I got nothing, So I improvised!!

Joe Cygan
"I'll get the car keys."

Marek Biernacinski
"Must be from your side of the family."

Tom Fay
I know that your an environmentalist and I'm not. Really we need to think about the kids!

Candice Cummins
I told you NO COMMERCIALLY themed pajamas.

Melissa Anne Rothermel
"Our last babysitter left for ... personal reasons. She loved the kids though. I'm sure you three will get along just fine while I'm gone."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A few of my Paintings

When time allows, one of my favorite things is to put on some music pick up a brush and spend a few hours painting. The act of painting is the pay-off. The process is very satisfying. A while back i enjoyed a wonderful class taught by Tom Dowling. I learned a lot from him in that class. I realized that the gift is in the process. I'm grateful to be able to express myself creatively daily and in so many different mediums. Wether you consider yourself artistic or not, everyone should go out and buy a canvas, buy some basic colors and a brush and go crazy. It feels good to put color on canvas. It's kind of liberating. Give it a shot and let me know how it goes.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Thank you Home News and Boulder City News

The newspaper that hired me as graphic designer and editorial cartoonist has officially been discontinued. Another victim of the new economy. I really love that paper and all the people involved with its creation and distribution. All my best to Tim O'Callaghan and his wonderful family. Thanks for all you've done for me over the years. there is a very large hole in the Henderson, Nevada community. But the impact of the papers and the record it has kept will be evidence of it's importance to the growth of Henderson and Boulder City.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Elephant painting

This is a painting I did around 1985 I think. The quote below is what it says in the little rectangle under the image of the elephant. I always liked this painting. It’s currently hanging in my home. Funny how things stay with you. I’ve misplaced, given away or sold many of my older paintings. Wish I had the sense to keep better records of them.

There is a fine line between cute and ridiculous.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ebonics cartoon fiasco

This is an editorial cartoon I did for Rebel Yell newspaper from the University of Las Vegas Nevada back in 1997. It caused some trouble for what I see now as obvious reasons. The cartoon was trying to illustrate how in my opinion we don’t need to teach our teachers how to understand and speak ebonics to communicate to African American students. I had read a story that some schools were doing this. Needless to say the irony of the cartoon was lost on the students. I received many letters and phone calls at the paper, all pretty much the same. “Alex Raffi is a racist and an idiot.” The newspaper editor was very supportive. (You can see the editorial response to this cartoon here) And I did have the opportunity to explain the point of my cartoon to some of the angered readers personally. But still I really felt bad about it so I decided to ask for some advice from someone I respected very much. Berkley Breathed, creator of “Bloom County” & “Outland”. Amazingly he offered me his advice. I learned a lesson early on that doing this kind of work is a privilege. Yo better be clear on what you mean. I still believe in the point of the cartoon but I executed it very poorly as Mr Breathed explained in his letter. (You can see the letter by clicking here).

Here is the response cartoon and some of the letters I received from angry readers. Just found this in my old files and thought I would add it. (You can click on it to enlarge for easier read.)

I really felt bad about it so I decided to ask for some advice from someone I respected very much. Berkley Breathed, creator of “Bloom County” & “Outland”. Amazingly he offered me his advice. This is the letter bellow.

Poetry & Perspective

There is a poem I love by the great Pablo Neruda. I love it for a few reasons. It has an oceanic theme throughout that I appreciate. I have a deep love for the sea and always feel at peace when I’m near it. I love spending time in the poem. It helps me put things in perspective.

Enigmas - By Pablo Neruda Abridged

You ask me what the lobster is weaving there with
his golden feet?
I reply, the ocean knows this.

You say, what is the ascidia waiting for in its transparent
bell? What is it waiting for?
I tell you it is waiting for time, like you.

You ask me whom the Macrocystis alga hugs in its arms?
Study it, study it, at a certain hour, in a certain sea I know.

You question me about the wicked tusk of the narwhal,
and I reply by describing how the sea unicorn with the harpoon in it dies.

I want to tell you the ocean knows this,
that life
in its jewel boxes
is endless as the sand, impossible to count,
and among the blood-colored grapes time has made the
petal hard and shiny, filled the jellyfish with light, untied its knot,
letting its musical threads fall from a horn of plenty
made of infinite mother-of-pearl.

I am nothing but the empty net that has gone on ahead
of human eyes, dead in those darknesses,
of fingers accustomed to the triangle, longitudes
on the timid globe of an orange.

I was like you, investigating the endless star,
and in my net, during the night, I woke up naked,
the only thing caught, a fish trapped inside the wind.

Art that is done well should always be open to interpretation so I would like to take a moment and tell you what this poem means to me.

We are all inquisitive by nature, some more than others, but we all posses a general curiosity about life, the universe and everything. This poem is a discussion that takes place in a dream. It describes an abstract conversation between man and his perceptions. Neruda uses abstract thoughts to represent something deeper than the literal meaning. Taking a moment to consider the non-obvious nature of the world is difficult at times. You need to open yourself up and look at the world in a pragmatic way. I find comfort in the fact that the scope of our understanding of life is in no way diminished by our total lack of understanding of it. We need to first know what to ask. At times it seems we give ourselves so much credit for answering the wrong questions.

Neruda takes you to the beginning and attempts to help the reader realize that the answer to every question lies within our own perceptions. They are not shared as truths universally. And with that understanding, at least for me, it helped me to appreciate what I have and what inspires me to try to act accordingly.

Neruda suggests in his poem that the reader has asked a question.

“You ask me what the lobster is weaving there with his golden feet? I reply, the ocean knows this.”

Our unrealized perceptions find it quaint that we are curious. The answer given is a call to action. The search for the answer becomes the solution to the question.

“You question me about the wicked tusk of the narwhal, and I reply by describing to you how the sea unicorn with the harpoon in it dies.”

The narwal is an odd looking whale with a tusk that protrudes from its mouth. An animal feared and once thought to be a monster. The creature is used to describe how we make snap judgment. The answer is relative to the asker. People live within their own values and morals. In my view that is what Neruda touches on with this verse. We are all slaves to our experiences. A person who lives a peaceful life is affected by cruelty differently than a person who had never known a life without cruelty. It’s natural to see how difficult it is to make judgments on choices or what is right and wrong when the fact that all of us are so tightly wound in our experiences and fears that it makes highly improbable that any of us will ever see things the same. I have always felt that understanding people instead of vilifying them for believing differently is instrumental in the evolution of humanity.

“I want to tell you that the ocean knows this, that life in its jewel boxes is endless as the sand, impossible to count, pure, and among the blood-colored grapes time has made the petal hard and shiny, filled the jellyfish with light, untied its knot, letting its musical threads fall from a horn of plenty made of infinite mother-of-pearl.”

He starts these verses with “I want to tell you...” There is so much to be excited about in the discovery. I think here he is speaking of the need for fluidity with ideas. Time can shift mountains, heal wounds, build forests and ruin great empires, I’m pretty sure it has the ability to change an opinion or two. Life is ever changing and evolving. We may as well enjoy the ride and follow suit.

“I am nothing but the empty net that has gone on ahead of human eyes, dead in those darknesses, of fingers accustomed to the triangle, longitudes on the timid globe of an orange.”

Again the idea that we live in our own perceptions is humbling. We capture information and hold it from whatever place we are dwelling. The only thing we have to temper and form that information is our experiences and familiarities – things that are comfortable and safe, not necessarily the truth.

“I was like you, investigating the endless star, and in my net, during the night, I woke up naked, the only thing caught, a fish trapped inside the wind.”

I love this metaphor. We are always casting our nets out hoping to capture wisdom. We try to unlock the world’s mysteries, but at the end of the day we discover that the answers we capture in that net are just our own core beliefs and perceptions molded from our experiences and motivations. We judge the answers and only keep the acceptable parts that are comfortable to our existence.

Perception is everything. But being a little more thoughtful about our own perceptions might lend a bit of wisdom we never expected to find. The trick is to keeping fishing.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Study for a new painting on apathy.

This is a sketched out study for a large format painting on apathy. The visual came to me many years ago during a creative art class.

My children's book

I've been working on this book so long now. I need to finish it. I'm ready to get it done and start working on it full boar and then my ADD kicks in and I stop. I'll get it done this year. I have to. I promised my daughter.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Liberals, Conservatives..... & Moderates?

I created this cartoon in 2004. I still think it holds water.... No pun intended... Maybe a little.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Okay, I think this is my last healthcare cartoon for a while. I'm often amazed at the inconsistency of where people draw the morality line.

Working on my next cartoon idea.

Hmm. All I can think about lately is healthcare. So I think I'll give it one more shot. Next topic may be the environment. We'll see. Have you guys got any suggestions for future cartoons?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Thursday, September 10, 2009

This one is out of order but It's still one of my favorite. It sums up my feelings on the futility of dealing with problems with force.

This is an image I've been sketching for years. I can't get it out of my head.

American Healthcare. It's neither Healthy or Caring.

It's amazing to me that we are still able to find reasons to be cruel to each other even after we gaze into the face of a child. Life is mysteries.

I like to be reminded of the insignificance of our own small perspective on life. It takes the edge off on those days you feel so put upon.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Governor Mark Sanford

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Alex Raffi 10-12-04

I see the conscious look on my daughters face
as she governed each step along the wet sand.
Like a starfish holds to old wood.


Realized in a glance.
The window left open.
We’ve come to a place wet with delight.
And yet that jagged rock rattles in my scull.
Leaving each scare permanent and forgotten.


Worthless words end suddenly when the fuse goes out.
Disengaged like the great pause of a wake.
Like the drop of a glass in a church.
Like the silence after a bomb.

Nothing is simple.
Everyone is wrong.
No one will listen.
And nothing is said.

Have you ever felt someone else’s life?
Have you ever smelled a flower that reminded you
of something that happened to someone you’ve never met?

It’s amazing how little we care about each other.
It’s truly amazing how unimpressive we all are.

We forget about the great swell inside.

It’s easy to forget things we can’t control or define.
It’s unnerving to love too much.
It’s chews on us like gum.
You make it the source of all you know.
The only thing that makes sense is nonsense.

Men grate at the fabric of life.
Men define it.
Men sneer at it.
We denigrate, belittle and categorize life.
Men, most men have proven they hate life.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Revisiting Moments of Discovery

Every business is born of a vision. Someone somewhere had an idea that was meant to fill a void. During this global struggle, we have been forced to change the way we do business. We’ve had to shift our focus and “wise up.” Now is the time to create our own opportunities. We need to focus on developing new relationships and nurturing our old ones. Things are in flux, but one thing has not changed: that thing that drove us in the early days.

My parents were very supportive of my artistic abilities in the early days. During the ‘80s, my family lived in Orange County. The city held a “Fish Fry” where, for a fee, people could hawk their wares. My father always ponied up some cash so I could display my paintings. I’d sit there humbly with my artwork displayed for the world to see. People would pass, look at my work, look me over and continue to the next booth.

It was during one of these events that I was visited by a man who had stepped away from his booth to take a look around. He stopped at mine and looked at one of my paintings. I remember being intimidated. He was working at the POW booth and looked like a man who had seen quite a bit in his life. He stared at one of my large format acrylic paintings. The piece had been inspired by a Marlboro ad I had seen. Instead of depicting the cigarette-smoking cowboy, I had replaced him with a nondescript and rough sketch of a Native American riding a horse at full gallop through the desert at sundown.

He stood there just long enough for the moment to feel uncomfortable. Then he turned to me and asked me if I’d painted it. I noticed all his medals. Even at that young age I understood what a man had to go through to earn a purple heart. I said yes. With tears in his eyes he began to tell me about a man he had served with in Vietnam. He told me about their friendship and of the pride his friend felt about being Native American. He said his friend was killed during the war, and he hadn’t allowed himself the thought of him until this moment.

As a 15-year-old, I knew nothing about life – let alone death and war. Yet, a painting I created stirred something powerful in a man who had endured losses I couldn’t imagine. That was the moment I recognized the power of art as a tool to communicate and touch people. That was when I knew I wanted to become an artist. I often think of that when I work. It helps me realize how privileged we are to be contributing.

During these challenging times, it’s important to remember those moments of discovery. That’s where we get the drive to continue and succeed. My journey has brought me here. I’m able to draw from the inspiration of business owners all over our city, and if I’m lucky, remind them why they love what they do. I think that if we all realized the influence we had on the world as individuals, we would be ready to meet any challenge that comes before us.

Friday, April 24, 2009

"The more things change the more they stay the same."

This is a great old editorial cartoon published in the Chicago Tribune in 1934. I don't agree with the politics but appreciate it as a piece that reflected a lot of the attitude of the public at the time. The rush, rush nature of todays world might not allow an editorial like this to be published now because there is just so much information. I love the more is more attitude of the old days. You're forced to spend more time with it so you can get the full message. I count at least 7 messages in this illustration. A lot of cartooning as in advertising is telling people what they already know and directing that feeling to a business or in this case FDR.
Are there any marketing lessons we can learn from this illustration on how to communicate multiple messages in advertising? What makes people want to read it? Could todays lifestyle be interrupted long enough to relay this much content in an advertising piece.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Stafford's "The Well Rising"

The well rising without sound,
the spring on a hillside,
the plowshare brimming through the deep ground
everywhere in the field —

The sharp swallows in their swerve
flaring and hesitating
hunting for the final curve
coming closer and closer —

The swallow heart from wing beat to wing beat
counseling decision, decision:
thunderous examples. I place my feet
with care in such a world.
© William Stafford

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Opportunities surround us

One of my favorite things about my work as a creative director and artist is the variety – the constant mental gymnastics required to keep things fresh and interesting for myself and my clients.

The worst thing that could happen to you in this line of work, or any creative endeavor, is boredom. It is so easy to read the commitment and enthusiasm of an artist in his work. A project that may seem mediocre or bland to some is by its very nature pleading to be explored thoroughly.

Opportunities surround us every moment of every day. Sometimes if you try hard and pay attention, you may be lucky enough to notice the magic and surprise yourself. Children are great at this. If I ever feel bogged down or creatively empty and need to get a recharge, I play with my daughter Elli. She lives in her creativity. She hungers for the joy of discovery. All kids do, I think. Observing the process of their discovery is inspiring. I’m addicted to that feeling – the ability to, at the end of the creative process, stop and reflect on it as an observer and say “How the heck did I come up with that?”

These challenges are as endless as they are limitless. The essence of creation is an openness to allow yourself to be inspired. The very same mental muscles used by a musician to create a beautiful piece of music are used by the physician, the gardener, the teacher or even the lawyer. It’s all problem solving. It’s the thing that allowed us to evolve. It’s what makes us human. Some of us live as observers of others’ creations and define ourselves by our judgment of them. We all have the ability to express ourselves.

I will be using this blog to offer up ideas I’ve found helpful in exploring creativity, and hopefully along the way, someone else will feel inspired to pick up a paint brush or pencil and begin exploring a bit as well. Opportunities are always laid out before us. The question is, are we willing to dive in and swim for a while? I think you should. The water is warm.

Thought of this idea in the shower. Odd how that happens. Not even sure why I mentioned that. Maybe just to let people know that I shower. Hopefully the cartoon speaks for itself.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

This is this weeks cartoon. We have several casinos that are for sale in Las Vegas, NV some are on the strip and others are off the strip. They can start at 10 million. The ones on the strip start at 500 million and go all the way up to 5 Billion. All of these casinos have a great cap rate. In case you are interested.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Just a thought. A problem unfixable.

Nine hundred and twenty three million people across the world are hungry, and no one can fix this problem.

Every day, almost 16,000 children die from hunger related causes--one child every 5 seconds, and no one can fix this problem.

For the price of one U.S. made U.AIM-9X Sidewinder missile, a school full of hungry children could eat lunch every day for 5 years. No one can fix this problem either.

There is one thing everyone on the planet wants. Choice. The ability to choose the path your life will take. Only 6% of the world can boast the ability to give it’s people choice. The United States is a part of the high-income group of nations. The list of high-income nations consists of about 65 countries with a combined population of about 1 billion. In a world of 6 billion people.

No one can fix this problem.

No one man, or woman, be he President, or Royalty, can fix these problems. Choice can be given to these poverty stricken countries when humanities has a shift in perspective. My country is able to come up with $700,000,000,000 to bail out Greedy Banks so we can preserve a way of life only 6% of the worlds population enjoys.

If everyone tries to make a difference locally in some small way. Our perspective may change. Empathy begins locally. Empathy is infectious. Empathy saves lives. Apathy ends lives. 16,000 children die from hunger related causes every year. These lives are irreplaceable. Lost forever. Never given a choice.

The World Bank estimates that these deaths could be stopped globally for $16,000,000,000. A dollar amount that once seemed impossible to gather.

No one can fix these problems. But if every one who had a choice made a choice to try. Then maybe our good work could finally begin.

Just a thought.


Cat Survivial

This is a little video I did. I would love to have more time to publish animated editorial cartoons.

A Crooked Tree

In the forest, there was a crooked tree and a straight tree. Every day, the straight tree would say to the crooked tree, "Look at me...I'm tall, and I'm straight, and I'm handsome. Look at're all crooked and bent over. No one wants to look at you." And they grew up in that forest together. And then one day the loggers came, and they saw the crooked tree and the straight tree, and they said, "Just cut the straight trees and leave the rest." So the loggers turned all the straight trees into lumber and toothpicks and paper. And the crooked tree is still there, growing stronger and stranger every day.

Land of Nott Revival

I'm going to try and revive my old comic strip in May. I've got so many other projects but think that it may be a great outlet. I may update it and change some of the characters all except Nigel. No all I have to do is find time to finnish the book and keep up the editorial cartoons as well as my real job which is always my top priority.