Illustrator Uses Wit to
on Business—AND Parenting
Peaco Todd’s career has taken her from a San Francisco walk-up to a sixty-foot
yacht, from the Persian Gulf to Route 128, from the beaches of Greece
to tweedy Cambridge. She’s never fulfilled her girlhood dream of writing
novels, but she’s delighted hundreds of thousands with the wit and whimsy
in her cartoons, cards and even a tongue-in-cheek “girl’s guide” to football.
Today Todd is settled in a quiet studio in a Boston suburb, where she
delights in “psyching out” the books she’s hired to illustrate. She especially
enjoyed the process of creating the cartoons for Family Matters: Parenting Tips from the Business World, written by Roni Jay and just published
by Parenting Press.
Despite the fact that Todd didn’t grow up in a large family, has no children
of her own and has never worked in a large corporation, Jay’s recommendations
ring true for her.
“This book is really about respect, about treating children and their
problems with respect,” she notes.
Jay’s suggestions that parents treat children as customers also resonate
with Todd, who as an entrepreneur has had years of experience with customers.
Starting out as a department store advertising copywriter, she later did
freelance writing, including user guides for software companies. She got
started on one of her current career paths about twenty years ago, when
her then-neighbor Amy Tan, now well-known as the author of The Joy
Luck Club, recommended a workshop on selling illustrations to the
greeting card industry. The samples Todd worked up for the session resulted
in a five-year contract for sixteen word-play cards that were sold around
the world. Not long after, Hallmark Cards hired her to draw images being
used in a product licensing project.
Within a year or two, Todd was back on the East Coast, living on Martha’s
Vineyard on a sailboat and developing yet another entrepreneurial skill:
painting names on boat hulls. Soon she and her then-fiancé were off to
deliver the trimaran “Rogue Wave” to Dubai, U.A.E. After 6,000 miles of
sea and sun, she was ready to go home. But the job she found herself in
on Route 128—writing yet another user guide—was so boring she decided
to create a set of accompanying illustrations. By that time Todd had found
yet another career path for herself: teaching. She had hired on at the
Cambridge Center for Adult Education, a well-respected noncredit program
just steps from Harvard Square, and joined the faculty at what is now
Today, besides teaching and illustrating, Todd is still selling. Her
cartoons are syndicated by Artizans and her web site, www.peacotoons.com,
sells mugs, mouse pads and other merchandise imprinted with your choice
of cartoon. That’s not all: committed to demonstrating the value of sports
for girls, especially “tweens,” she’s developing a new story and product
line as well as an interactive web site.
Feeling Elf Cards