Is Debbie Tilley Available?

Is Debbie Tilley available?
On June 28, 1995, yes that was 15 years ago, my rep, Richard Salzman received a call from the art director at Gallaudet University Press. Is
Debbie Tilley available to do samples for an up coming project? We're going to be publishing a signing dictionary for children, needing
around 1000 illustrations.... and that's how it all started....

Fast forward 15 years:
On December 4, 2010, Richard, my rep received an email from the Editorial Director of Gallaudet University press, they were ready to get started
on the Children's Sign Language Dictionary! I think that is the longest lead time in freelance history! As it turned out, I had been illustrating children's picture
books nonstop for a long time. The thought of doing 1,000 individual drawings sounded so great to me, I couldn't wait to get started.......

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Once In A While

Sometimes I think it would be funny to submit a sketch like this one.  I just did it to amuse myself, I doubt the client would find it amusing.  I just finished 100 more sketches, think I need a break.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Word OUT
I've just been corrected, Bell did not invent the telephone, he only patented it. It seems as though AGB was a bit of a slimy opportunist... well I guess I learned two things today

I Learned Something New Today...

For the word TELEPHONE I decided to draw Alexander Graham Bell, who invented it.  What I learned was, his mother and wife were both deaf, which is why he was interested in experimenting with hearing devices.  The result of all of his research resulted in the invention of the telephone!    He refused to have a telephone in his study because it annoyed him. I'm pretty sure he started working immediately on inventing the answering machine.
Sketch for the word TELEPHONE

Monday, July 25, 2011

Christmas in July

I have been coming across the word DRESS on my list now for a couple of years.  Every time, drawing a big blank.  Maybe because I don't wear them much, I don't know, just couldn't bring myself to draw a dress.  Then, plink! an idea!  The sentence will be, "She loved her new Christmas dress."  A lot of times if I stop trying to think of an idea, somewhere in the back of my brain the mulling process starts.  When I get back to it I'll get an idea, although two years of mulling is a little ridiculous.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Fairy Tales

Word: LIE
One way I used to get ideas was to list some fairy tales or known characters from children's stories. These are a couple of examples.
Word: WOLF

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Word: DRAW

This drawing was inspired by my friend Tuko who lives in Hawaii.
I took my work to the beach this past Wednesday, as planned.  There was only one problem, I took my sketch book out of my bag, looked at the list of words, then put it all back in my bag, rolled over on my towel, and took a nap.  So much for my mobile office.

Friday, July 15, 2011


It's summertime here in San Diego.  Let's see, what would I rather do...sit at my desk and work... or go to the beach ?  Luckily, I have the best job in the world because I don't have to choose.  I just take my work to the beach! I have to admit though, wouldn't it be so nice to have everyone in the world stop working for the summer?  No bills, no worries, no work. We could all be kids for July and August.  Discuss amongst yourselves.......



I'm back!  I just finished another batch of words, which brings me to a grand total of 800!  I haven't really taken the time to look back at the entire 800, but... man, that's a lot of drawings.  Now to get started sketching the next 100.  I hope somewhere in my little brain are a few more fresh ideas.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Word: SLOW

I've been working away on the next batch of 100 sketches.  Six more to go.... Sometimes it feels like it's going so slowly, I've now been working on this dictionary for 2 1/2 years.  When I saw this article on the computer yesterday I felt a lot better.  This project should be done by the end of the year.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Later Dude, I Mean, Bye Oprah...

One of my California Christmas t-shirts
Quite a few years ago I illustrated and produced a line of t-shirts with the theme "California Christmas". One of  my bright ideas was to send a box of them to Oprah Winfrey.  One day I came home and on my answering machine was a message from Oprah Winfrey herself!  She just wanted to call me to thank me for the shirts.  One of the designs was of this reindeer looking up from a surfboard at a giant wave.  The caption was " Think Big".  At the end of Oprah's message she added, " I'm thinkin big girl".  Yeah, Oprah's the real deal.  This doesn't have anything to do with the dictionary, but  since this seems to be celebrity week here on my blog, and it's her last show tomorrow, I thought I'd throw it in. Plus, it's a pretty cool story...bye Oprah.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Congratulations Marlee Matlin !!

I just wanted to congratulate and thank Marlee Matlin for the great job she did on Celebrity Apprentice.  I don't normally follow that show, but Marlee made it interesting, being one of the most famous deaf people in this country.  She is beautiful, talented and smart, an awesome spokesperson for deaf children.  Watching the finale with the New York School For The Deaf kids signing a song with Marlee, then the whole audience applauded (the deaf way), GREAT!   That was just what I needed to get me through the last 250 drawings.  I really hope this dictionary makes it fun for deaf kids to learn sign language.  If anyone out there knows Marlee, tell her about this dictionary, she can be the project manager on this task any day!!

Sunday, May 8, 2011


                                  HAPPY MOTHERS DAY

Just wanted to wish all of you Moms out there a great day.  One thing I've noticed on mothers day, you see a lot of dads and kids out at the park or the mall or where ever.  Who you don't see joining them is the mom.  You know why?  Because the last thing a mother wants to do on Mothers day is spend her day taking care of anyone!  The only women you see with their families are the poor senior citizen moms, who have lost their drivers licenses a long time age and are taken hostage and forced to have lunch at an all you can eat buffet. 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Word: TREE

This is what's so great about little kids, who wants to sit around and draw a tree, when you can actually make your self INTO a tree.  Although, if  I saw two grown women  doing this, I don't know, just the visual of that would be kind of ugly.

my drawing of a TREE
Gilly and Rosie being TREES!