The author: Searching for value in ludicrous ideas

Photo: Alex S. Johnson

Since the early 1970s, I have toiled away quietly in my free time creating a “line” of alternative products and systems that I hope will benefit or at least amuse my fellow consumer-citizens. I have also ventured into an edgier area, making predictions about the future. My ideas, and methods for arriving at ideas, are somewhat unique. I have perhaps benefitted from having little formal instruction in art, nor training in engineering or industrial design. Curious images filled my mind during weekends and odd free moments, while earning a living as urban planner, newspaper artist and future trends analyst at California companies. Only after I turned 36 did I discover that I had an inventor and designer inside myself waiting to come out.

     On long trips or during boring commutes, I have made use of time that is normally wasted watching scenery by sketching product ideas and cartoons on my home-made “automobile drafting board” The board sits at an angle against the dashboard and is fitted out in black naugahyde to match the car’s interior. I am unaware of any California law forbidding drawing while driving.

     My drawings have been featured in newspapers and magazines both nationally and abroad, including Cry California, The Sierra Club Bulletin. and Wilderness. Road & Track, Harper’s, Utne Reader, Whole Earth Review, Esquire, The Futurist, Design Mind, Good, Fastcompany, and Box and Brutus (Japanese magazines).

       Ten books of my work have been published  listed in the BOOKS section of this website.

Oil companies eye Everglades National Park for possible drill sites. Sierra Club Bulletin, 1973

At various times, I have chosen to sketch on my homemade automobile drafting board. The 2009 note (left) was drawn at 80 mph on highway I-5.

    I was born in 1938 and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. My undergraduate studies were at Yale University and U.C. Berkeley. I live in Northern California with my wife and son.

My survey of strip commercial businesses along the shores of South Lake Tahoe, CA revealed a tangle of ill-planned and cheap commercial enterprises.  My report was in Cry California magazine, Winter, 1977-78.

At Yosemite National Park, MCA Corporation was eager to expand its concessions.  Sierra Club Bulletin, 1974

In 2017, I began drawing “from the subconscious,” I displayed my color studies and unusual ideas on my Facebook page.


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