Anyone who’s followed my work knows that I just love drawing cute animals. I also like putting headphones on them. (A friend once told me I don’t even need to sign my QSL art any more; if the drawing shows a cute animal wearing headphones, N2EST must have drawn it.)
Given all that, the request by Chuck, KK6DOA, that I draw his pets operating his shack was right up my alley. I resisted the urge to have the station go multi-op with everyone wearing cans; only Chuck’s German Shepherd, Maggie, gets headphones, in this case with a boom mic.
This was a fun one to draw. Want a QSL that shows your animals on the air? Drop me a line and we’ll design it together.
Chris, W7BMD, is a Seattle physician who, according to his QRZ.com page, specializes in “bone strength, bone density, osteoporosis and fractures.” He’s literally a bone doctor — hence, his call sign phonetics, Whisky Seven Bone M.D.
Chris wanted all of that referenced in his QSL card, plus a picture of his home QTH. The challenge was tying it all together.
I started with the call sign itself. Why not build it out of bones?
Next came the house. Chris sent several reference pictures, and I illustrated a cartoon version of it, with a cartoon version of Chris himself in the foreground.
Then there’s Seattle. What’s more symbolic of Seattle than the Space Needle? I drew that, too.
But … how do you tie it all together?
Chris solved the problem with a fanciful suggestion: Connect one end of his wire antenna to the Space Needle itself.
It works for me. Any ham would want that kind of elevation for his antenna.
One of my favorite QSLs — penguins in Antarctica — is back in circulation thanks to Felix, DL5XL. Felix works for several months at a time at Neumayer-Station III, a German Antarctic research station. When he’s not on duty, he’s on the air as DP1POL, providing a much-needed DX entity to hams around the world.
“We have a busy schedule, but I try to get on the air after work whenever I can,” Felix wrote in an email. “Usually, I can be found on 30 meters after 2200 UTC, either in CW or digital modes.” Felix expects to be there through the end of January 2019.
Felix’s QSL manager, Ray, DL1ZBO, verifies reliably with the penguin QSL shown above for anyone who requests a confirmation, either direct or via the German QSL bureau.
Before I illustrated this QSL in 2015, I prepared by watching “Antarctica: A Year on Ice,” an amazing documentary about the life of researchers on the southern tip of our planet. The trailer is on YouTube, and the documentary itself is available through several streaming services. If you want to see what Felix’s life is like when he’s not on the air, this is well worth watching.
KC1DMA’s monster-truck QSL is one of the most challenging QSLs I’ve drawn. Because I happen to like drawing cool vehicles, it’s also been one of the most rewarding.
Here’s the back story:
Ken, KC1DMA, was referred to me by John, W7SAB, whose hot-rod QSL I lovingly illustrated in the style of “Big Daddy” Ed Roth. It’s one of my favorite QSLs.
Ken’s thing is monster trucks, those jacked up pickup trucks and SUVs with the oversized tires. Ken sent me a few pictures, so I got to work and came up with this, keeping it cartoony and loose.
“Not quite,” Ken said. Could I make it a little more dynamic? He wanted his truck literally crawling over his granite call sign, with the letters more dimensional. It was a cool angle, but it would also force me to draw the truck’s complicated undercarriage (or at least a reasonable cartoon facsimile of it).
This was my second pass. With a few minor cosmetic changes, Ken signed off on it. The finished product is above, and it may be another one of my favorite QSLs thus far.
When Neil, N3DF, asked me to create a QSL naming Dayton, Ohio, “the birthplace of aviation,” I was a little confused. After all, didn’t the Wright Brothers first fly a heavier-than-air aircraft near Kitty Hawk, making North Carolina the birthplace of aviation?
The answer is yes and no. In fact, the Wright Brothers hailed from Dayton — Orville was born there — and developed their flying machine in Ohio. In 2003, the U.S. Congress honored this fact by officially naming Ohio “the birthplace of aviation.” (North Carolina had to settle for “first in flight.”) The Dayton Daily News makes a compelling case here for why aviation while always call Ohio its home.
Neil wanted his QSL card to convey that fact, with “perhaps a Wright Flyer circling a shack with a Yagi.” I gave it my best shot, and here’s the result.
Some QSL cards — like this one — are pretty straightforward.
Eric, KC3GUY, kept it simple: He wanted to be seen climbing his tower, with a hex beam atop it. Initially Eric wanted to be shown holding a handi-talkie, but when we realized that it was hard to see at that size, we substituted a wrench that symbolized his profession as a heavy diesel mechanic. This is the result.
If you like chasing counties, you’ll like this QSL card.
Ed, N8OYY, told me he enjoys “county hunting all 3,077 U.S. counties and driving from county to county making contacts from my SUV.” He wanted something to illustrate that, showing his specific vehicle, a Kia Sorento. I suggested conveying the idea with a faux map of various counties and his SUV wandering through it. Ed liked the idea, so I went to work.
The map I drew isn’t an exact representation, but it tells you what you need to know. The SUV, however, is definitely a Kia Sorento. (I’ve liked drawing cars since I was a kid, so it was easy to do it right.) I then added the call sign in 3-D and a burst with the words “county hunter!” … and there you have it.
Ever seen Bigfoot on a QSL card before? Me neither. Until now.
Jim, K7QI, lives in the Pacific Northwest and wanted something unique to his region. Bigfoot reputedly lives there, so why not put Bigfoot on Jim’s QSL card?
That’s exactly what I did. He’s sitting there sending CW on a cartoon approximation of Jim’s Elecraft rig. And because Bigfoot sightings are rare, I drew a squirrel in there to take a picture of him. Now you know what that Summits on the Air station from Washington looks like …
The back of Jim’s card is as personalized as the front. I offer two report forms: a generic one that fills only half the card and allows mailing your QSL as a postcard, and a more complete one like this. Most clients go for the more complete report form. It includes a state map with your QTH marked, complete QTH information, your call sign set in a style that matches the art where possible, and whatever logos you care to include. Most clients go with the ARRL diamond and perhaps their home club’s logo, but Jim went for logos that highlighted his military experience and his involvement with the National Rifle Association. If it fits, I can give you any logo you want — and it’s included in the price of your card.
With fall upon us and much of the U.S. still experiencing warm weather, it’s easy to forget that parts of the country will experience serious cold within a few months. One of the coldest places in the country: Buffalo, New York.
Phil, K2QWK, lives in a suburb of Buffalo and wanted a QSL that commemorated exactly that quality about his QTH. He also wanted his ill-tempered cat on the card as well. (If you were that cold for months on end, you’d probably be ill-tempered too.)
To do that, I made an ice sculpture out of Phil’s call sign. I added snow, lots of snow, with a few snowflake “dingbats” placed in the bottom line of type. And to top it off, I dressed the cat (scowling, of course) in a stocking cap and a scarf.
This brings up an interesting question: If you experience severe cold weather where you live, what do you plan to do to “winterize” your antennas, towers and feedlines?
Mathias, K0WBG, wanted a lot on his QSL — a caricature of himself, something about ham radio, something about Albuquerque, and a Cessna plane with a very specific color scheme from his flight club. Oh, and could I make sure to use a certain tail number?
I squeezed as much as I could onto this QSL card but ultimately had to choose between his caricature and an accurate representation of the plane; I couldn’t do both because their scales just didn’t match, and a postcard is too small to make it work. I ultimately went for the plane, using a combination of lightbox and eyeball to get it right. Ham radio is there through his call sign in the clouds, and that tower on the left is from Albuquerque International Sunport.
Maybe it’s a guy thing, or maybe it’s just my left brain giving my right brain a rest. In any case, I’ve always loved drawing hardware. This one was fun.