About Jeff

Professionally, I’m a Boston Area Architectural Designer and Illustrator.  I’m trained as an architect,  and I have been in the field of architecture, full time, since about 1986.    Started out in residential and small scale commercial architecture, but my last projects were all large scale commercial , urban planning, or academic projects.  The last project I designed which was ultimately constructed was the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, in Boston.  I was a Senior Associate, as the senior designer, under Alfred Wojciechowski, Principal, and Richard Bertman, as Managing Partner, both of CBT Architects.  After I left the project, following the public approvals process and schematic design, the design was developed by Margaret Schiff as the senior designer.   After 20 years or so of working for others, in the corporate world of architecture as a senior designer and senior associate at perhaps Boston’s biggest and busiest privately held firm, I had to get away from it to do my own proverbial “thing”.   The reasons are many, but essentially it came down to the fact that I needed to do something else, as I wasn’t practicing architecture professionally the way I had imagined I would back when I was a passionate student in Architecture School.

    The first sketch I did for what would eventually become the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Boston

                                  The first concept sketch I did for what would eventually become                                         The Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Boston

For nearly the last ten years or so, architectural illustration had been becoming a major portion of the work I was doing.  I would be responsible not only for designing the building, but also producing the images (rendered plans, elevations, and perspectives) which helped to illustrate the building for (and attempt to endear it to) the public during the approvals process.  Boston’s approval process is famous for its rigor, and I had a great time doing sketch after sketch of scheme after scheme.  But I found myself working until 2 or 3 in the morning, or pulling all-nighters, trying to illustrate a building I had also spent the week designing.  Something had to give.  And it did.

I started my architectural illustration studio in Fall of 2007, and now work mainly in the Boston and New York markets. My work is in both the traditional (watercolor, pencil) and digital mediums. I always strive to deliver the best possible work, often despite short deadlines and tight budgets.  Because I was a practicing project architect and senior designer, my process  is a production-based one, highly flexible, and exceptionally fast.  With architectural illustration it often comes down to “what do you need and when do you need it?”  And if my process allows my client to have their staff continue to work on the building even as I am executing the final renderings, so much the better.  Rarely do I ever receive complete design documents, with a week to linger and produce an unhurried image or two.

I have been honored to work with the best, both as an employee and now as their consultant, and I simply try to make every new piece of work better than the last.

My personal side is given to being a husband to my (1982) junior high prom date, and father to two boys.  I work in a small studio, in a small house, on a small city-lot, in a small 350-year old ‘burb north of Boston with enough lakes and ponds to let me sneak out to go fishing a couple hours a week. I’m a horrible fisherman, but frankly it’s more about getting out than it is about catching anything.

After family, my personal priorities are, well, personal.  They’ll sneak in here at the edges over time.  For now maybe it’s enough to say that I am a collector of rare books and bindings (“Stikeman & Co., NY”, Binders, especially);  that I am a reader (especially Joyce’s “Ulysses”, which I have been intriqued by for about fifteen years now); that I suffer from the architect’s curse of designing and building everything in my house, never really finishing it; that I am a hopelessly amateur cook with high aspirations.  That’s about it for now, no need to bare the soul here in an “about me” paragraph, right?

A typical Stikeman & Co. binding, ca. 1910

A typical Stikeman & Co. binding, ca. 1910.

“I’ve got a second chance at life. I’m not going to waste it on a big house and a new car every year and a bunch of friends who want a big house and a new car every year.” – Somerset Maugham, ‘The Razor’s Edge’


10 responses to “About Jeff

  1. You are a master, I thank you for the inspiration.

    David Derks

  2. robert kraus/ akron

    Are architects in Boston not registered by the state? I presume that they are. Why are you not registered?

    r m kraus/architect/akron

    • I am not registered simply because I never bothered to take the test. I also do not refer to myself as an architect, nor do I offer architectural services professionally. Concept design, sure. And schematic-level design occasionally.

      In a large firm, the liability is taken on by the partner-in-charge, so I never would have been stamping anything. I honestly never needed a stamp as some form of trophy or personal validation, so it was not a priority. I spent the majority of 20 years designing a large number of buildings in the Boston area, all of them with a managing partner (and the firm) as the architect of record.

      When I graduated from the BAC, I had been working full time for almost nine years, designing, detailing, solving problems in field… The ‘stamp’ was (for me) superfluous.

      Outside of the firms I have worked for, I have designed a number of larger residences and smaller special projects on my own. And frankly, the exposure to liability and the fees for executing construction drawings are so inversely proportional, that in all cases I have contracted with the client for the conceptual and schematic design only. The construction documents have been executed by others.

      My full-time practice today is as an illustrator, and I take pains professionally to never refer to my being “an Architect”.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  3. Dr. David B. Harley

    I have two leather bound sets of the H.G. Wells Collected Works published by Scribner’s in a limited edition during the 1920’s . The one is in a half leather publisher’s binding which is from all accounts done by the Strikeman company and I have seen other set listed as such. The other binding is a full leather binding with leather inside pastedowns and silk endpapers of extremely high quality. This set is numbered 3 of the run and the bindings appear to be contemporary to the books. Can I assume that these bindings are also by the Strikeman company as they appear to match closely with some of your examples?

    • ‘Stikeman’, actually, not ‘Strikeman’. …but that’s ok. It’s a common mistake.

      It’s a fair chance the full leather set is also by Stikeman & Co., but they almost always signed them, especially the full-leather sets and especially later bindings. if you’d like to, feel free to send a few photos of each set to info @ jeff stikeman dot com (no spaces), and I’ll see what I can tell you.

  4. Mr Stikeman
    I was fascinated and enthralled by your tutorials and your personal history.
    Your insightful and common sense approach should be an inspiration to students and designers worldwide, who may otherwise become caught up in vogues and trends of thinking instead of being true to their own individuality and beliefs. Your approach is inspired and refreshing. Long may you continue to share your thoughts.

    Inspirational stuff which I intend to return to and share with many others.
    SIncere thanks.

    James Lynch
    Design Visualiser and entourage publisher

  5. Hi Jeff-
    Enjoyed your sketches and renderings-Would like to chat with you at some point in the future of collaborating with our Boston Office.
    Feel free to call me at your convenience.
    Best Wishes
    Neil Martin

  6. pk

    Hi Jeff,

    I have a bit of an unorthodox proposal for you, would you be able to contact me via email?

  7. Peter Eggers

    I have a fun story to tell you about the Lincoln Memorial proposal by Otto, my grandfather.
    My father Dave always had a small statue of Lincoln at the house, which I always admired. It was similar to the Lincoln in the existing memorial, but not exact. One day when I visited him I noticed it was missing. He said it had been stolen by some service person perhaps. He then told me the story about it. Pope’s office had commissioned A.A. Weinman (of Walking Liberty dollar fame) to make a maquette
    of Lincoln for their proposal for the memorial. When it was turned down, Otto kept the maquette and eventually it ended up with my dad. He was pretty sad about it. I know my brother Dave has been contacting you about Otto. We had the opportunity to visit the National Gallery with our families last summer to see his renderings. What a treat. My son has some of these same skills, and he was truly inspired. I appreciate so much your comments about Otto. We really revere his work and are very proud of the art we all have on our walls. Keep it up.
    Peter Eggers

    • Thanks very much, Peter.

      The images Otto did for the National Archives (I presume those are the ones you saw) are wonderful huge productions. Today, we work around 11×17. Early on I did some images as large as 30×42, but Eggers’ National Archives drawings included a longitudinal section that stretched to four, maybe five feet wide. Beautiful stuff.

      Sad story about the Lincoln maquette being stolen.

      Thanks for you comments, and look for a separate private email. I wrote you a quick note with a little more to say.
      Jeff Stikeman

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