A.Richard Allen
SooJin Buzelli received an award earlier this year- the Richard Gangel Art Director Award- from the Society of Illustrators. Recognition for promoting and nurturing illustration comes as no surprise to me. SooJin is- for many illustrators- the model AD; trusting and authoritative, instinctive yet reasoned, she directs with a supreme lightness of touch.
Perhaps the content of the titles she oversees helps. The copy often consists of abstruse financial forecasting, forbidding to the layman. In the initial commission the article is summarized in broad conceptual strokes for the benefit of the illustrator. Being given a broad theme rather than agonising over specifics is- for me- a fascinatingly free way of creating imagery.
This piece from last year may be a fairly unremarkable assignment in many ways but the enthusiasm I felt towards the job- evident in the reams of rough ideas I happily delivered- and feel towards the vast majority of assignments I get from SooJin- is noteworthy and is reflected in the pride I had in executing the piece. Much of this has to do with SooJin's communication skills and creative judgment.
Finished artwork

roughs batch 1

roughs round 2: pop-up world, lift to the moon

The Moving Toyshop
A Folio Society assignment is something I delight in doing and I received another one from AD Sheri Gee last year.
This one is a 40s caper by Edmund Crispin called The Moving Toyshop. The book gleefully throws together elements from various genres; whodunnit, thriller, farce and locked-room mystery. The key puzzle (or maybe it's more of a McGuffin, given the plot's willful convolutedness) is how the titular toyshop murder location vanishes overnight. The story finds time for the occasional, knowing literary aside and the odd bit of fourth wall puncturing.
The carrousel setting of the climactic confrontation between sleuth and culprit will be familiar to fans of Hitchcock: the director lifted it for the final scene of Strangers on a Train.
The cover plus seven interior plates

Wraparound cover
A suspect pulls a pistol on our two heroes
A moment of high farce as an elderly conspirator in the central crime flees on a stolen bicycle, pursued by drunken students
The haywire fairground ride culmination.
A sheet of thumbnails. A challenge with the Folio Society assignments is pacing the illustrations and not giving too much of the story away.

I've had a fair number of portrait pieces commissioned by the New Yorker over the last few years, coinciding with my break from Drawger. I've gradually learnt to tailor rough compositions to available reference, rather than proposing wonderful angles and settings, only to be scrabbling around for non-existent reference.
Achieving likeness is, of course, a challenge. I feel that it's cheating to lift poses directly from photos, so, making a rod for my own back, I'll often attempt to amalgamate various shots and take stills from Youtube footage.
↕ Sting's Broadway musical, The Last Ship (AD Jordan Awan)

↕ Sir Ian McKellen & Sir Patrick Stewart in Samuel Beckett's 'Waiting for Godot'. (AD Christine Curry)

↕ Blythe Danner in Donald Margulies' play 'The Country House' (AD Jordan Awan)

Tim Hayward
I've been providing the illustrations for award-winning food writer and restaurateur Tim Hayward's column in the Financial Times Weekend Magazine for a while now (AD-ed expertly by Shannon Gibson and Paul Tansley). The writing is charming, witty and invariably provides me with interesting visual cues.
The invasion of (restaurants serving) the King Crab
And, yes, before you say it, the B-Movie poster is a default trope for me
Room With a View's Cecil Vyse, Baedeker in hand vs our hero, Tim, hunting Lambredotto using voice-activated Google Now 
The lure of provincial- and by most measures, inauthentic- local Italian trattorias over more sophisticated restarants
Slow Food vs Convenience
Demanding customers.
Restaurants building online followings.
Tim rails against the fecund yet inedible (fec'n inedible?) courgette
Impossible-to-follow recipes
TV cookery shows: do they actually increase our appetite for cooking?
A youthful Mr H is put up at the George V Hotel in Paris and treats himself to room service
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