A.Richard Allen
More recent offerings. Am rather enjoying working with the New Republic (I was midway through a cover about a month ago but was bumped when events in Egypt displaced a feature on Timothy Geithner's career resurrection). I find the magazine itself is rather interesting; even some of the wonky Washington stuff and I've become quite a fan of Leon Wieselthier.
For The New Republic (AD, Joe Heroun) on a controversial book of which I wasn't aware, Amy Chua's 'Battle Hymn of the Tiger'. From what I gather, the book's a paean to an unapologetically overbearing style of parenting (predictably, the author learns sensitivity and empathy in the course of the narrative)
roughs for the above. The batch on the left were fairly wide of the mark- Joe suggested a less elliptical approach which worked well

For aiCIO (AD, the inimitible SJBuzelli): the live artwork can be seen here

For the Guardian UK (AD, Sarah Habershon). The aeroplane sat over the masthead.

Roughs for the above

Another couple of kids' recipe pieces for Вокруг Света, my fourth (AD Петр Хузангай). A little heavy on the Quentin Blake influence but I'm finding them really enjoyable to do. A lack of ⌘z when working in line and wash is v liberating.

Citizens of the world!
How've you been? I've been busy with potty training (I thought it was about time), visiting the Jurassic Coast, learning tree names and identifying cloud combinations- it's my fatherly duty to start knowing these things. Plus getting my head round a bit of Kant (settle down at the back, I'm talking epistemology) and building a vegetable patch. But you're here for the drawings, right?


After last time's decorative excursions, I'm back to what Matt Curtius called the Big Metaphor.

The pile of books piece is a cover for the Guardian Review on the decline of serious non-fiction (a nice mood piece rather than heavy symbolism referencing an observation in the copy about the Manhattan-ite habit of leaving one's book collection when moving apartment).

The safari snow-globe one is for the Boston Globe on indigenous people- the people most in tune with, and best qualified to manage their environment being displaced by the creation of protected national park areas.
And here's another Guardian (Money section) cover on the subject of tarting up one's home to lure hordes of prospective buyers. This one tips its hat (ahem) to Alfred Leete's famous 'The Lure of the Underground' poster (below) which hung on my wall for a few years when I was a lad.

Guardian Review roughs
Globe roughs
And so...
Revisiting an earlier image of crowd clustering round something. Here's it's a pork pie (British culinary gem). Telegraph Magazine (AD Danielle Campbell)
...another two months slip by without a post. I feel like I've neglected to call my parents- the longer the time passes the greater the paralysing guilt.

So how've you been keeping, Mum [ok Linzie]? Here are a few editorial spots to show for my absence. I'll try and ration my total output for January and February rather than- as is my wont- splurge the whole lot on you in a single post.

Away from work, a highlight of the time since my last post was a week spent in London housesitting for friends . The family Allen were immersed in all the metropolis has to offer (culture, gridlock, knife fights). I also managed to cram in a few work assignments. All in all it was super and made me pine a bit for The Smoke, though it's fairly easy to hanker after the life of the idle aesthete holed up in a sumptuously appointed townhouse (albeit hemmed on all sides by crack house estates). Such a Flaneur's existence had very little in common with my actual London experience- 13 years served. House envy and nostalgia aside, London left me feeling very upbeat about life and work. It could simply be a case of spring arriving but I'm trying my best to maintain my unseemly (dare I say it, almost American) levels of positivity, mainlining caffeine when my newfound joi de vivre flags.

Another point of interest in February was my grandfather's funeral. Is it ghoulish or bad form to say how enjoyable a funeral was? I mean it was a sombre occasion and everything but braving arctic conditions to get to rural Oxfordshire was pretty exciting and being with my family was a peculiarly joyful experience. I'll not attempt to eulogize Richard Allen senior (1915-2009) here but he was almost certainly the source of my artistic leanings. Plus some of my wit and irrascibility.
Roughs for the above
More food stuff for the Telegraph (here Uncle Sam grinds cornmeal)
...and this one's for a baking school called 'The Lighthouse'
roughs for the above two
Stain removal (Wall St Journal, AD Sue Foster)
roughs for the above
A series of spots for some intriguing short short travellers' tales (Wanderlust Magazine, AD Graham Berridge). The roughs are too close to the finals to post
Yo yo yo
A few pot boilers. Fairly interesting subjects.
For the 'Drowning in Wrinklies' (sounds like a Sioux carehome orderly, no?) piece the article's about how the number of those aged 65+ is expected to double in the next 25 years. Supposedly, a good thing for all, but with serious consequences for the way we organise our societies and economies.
The other's on the subject of Shrove Tuesday- or Pancake Day
The Brits are a little more restrained than the Americans when it comes to crepes- we tend to have a few with a sprinkling of sugar and a dash of lemon juice rather than what I understand is the traditional US portion (a stack of 30 with maple syrup, butter and bacon all served from a defibrillator cart).
Happy New Year
Happy New Year, Citizens of the Drawgerverse

Am still pleasantly bleary from the Xmas break. I'll start getting anxious soon enough about not enough work trickling in but for the moment I'm enjoying the lull.

The first pic here (a nod to Frank King/ Chris Ware) is a piece for SJB (here for PLANADVISER) on the general theme of 2009 and time passing. Refreshingly non-apocalyptic in comparison to some of the imagery I've had to generate for what the new year might have in store.

The second's another one for Mrs B: PLANSPONSOR this time on absences from work (here, a military posting).

The writer observing the world as a fragmented reflection
Thought I'd try not to leave it two months between posts so here are a few recent pieces.

The first is for Brown Alumni and the excellent AD Lisa Sergi. An intriguing article by author David Shields positing the theory that Brown U Alumni writers share a certain sensibility- a self-conscious, mainstream-yet-outsider-ish stance that stems in part from Brown's reputation as the poor relation in the Ivy League. The writer seems to be projecting his own PoMo literary attitudes somewhat but it's an interesting read. The to-and-fro of ideas with the AD was very enjoyable and I'm pretty happy with the end piece where I broke out my inks and watercolour paper (naturally retreating to the comfort of Photoshop halfway through the process)
1st batch o roughs
Second lot
The others are for the Telegraph (UK newspaper) Saturday magazine and another cool AD (Danielle Campbell). It feels a bit weak posting horoscope spots (the bane of many an AD who's had to look through endless graduate folios containing student horoscope projects) but I got such a kick out of doing these and it's years since I've been asked to do one. Infact so keen was I on the goat-fish Capricorn idea I churned out funfty sketches and worked up two- both of which'll be used during the month.

And off the back of that audition assignment I got a piece on food which I again approached with slobbering puppy-dog-like enthusiasm. Any non-financial assignments feel like such a treat.

Zodiac roughs a go-go
The quest for the perfect chip (or French Fry if you insist)
Rough chips
Harvard Kennedy School- A piece on the nature of political states and how they exist mainly to segregate
...'Best of' from the last few months featuring- as always- a gift of an assignment from SooJin B and a few conceptual pieces.

Away from work, I've been attending a Creative Writing workshop to spur me into action away from commissioned work.

Meeting Quentin Blake at the AOI awards in June left me rather awe-struck and determined to be more dynamic about my own work and perhaps punt myself towards the mysterious land of kid lit. Unfortunately, I seem to be reverting to (surly, apathetic) type as a student (ah, how my BFA and MFA tutors must've loved me!) and after a week of conscientious scribbling, I've been shirking homework ever since. I was even tempted last week to turn up with my arm in a sling as a excuse for not turning in yet another assignment. Who knows, once the course is through and my sullen passive-aggressiveness-in-group-situations has passed I'll knuckle down to some proper writing.

Always kind of looked forward to testing out my freewheeling storytelling skills on my kids but they're both obsessed with superheroes and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles so any story not featuring Michelangelo or Cap'n America soon has them booing and chucking things at me. A tough crowd, I tells ya.

The fetching tshirt snap is a design I've posted before. The illo made it's way onto a shirt in aid of solar power for hospitals in Burundi (some links to the organisers: and thanks to my good friend Roman Milisic at House of Diehl. Cool to feel that I'm doing something worthy with v little effort. Tees can be bought here. Not as subtle or textural in print form as the original design but still perdy enough. I dig the tenuous yet plausible post-rationalisation on the JustOneFrickinDay site for using horses in the design ('The wild sub-Saharan horses representing the Eastern and Western worlds come together to show its support of the African continent seen as the emaciated shadow of the two').
roughs for the 'states' piece
PLANSPONSOR and SooJin B with another grand assignment. One word brief: 'distress' (which, apparently is also a financial term. I went for a figure somewhere between a dirty-vested Steinbeck character and a hero from Greek legend laboring under a huge rock...
PS roughs
Word on the street, Bonds are coming back (for European Pensions News)
My stock in trade at present is financial Armageddon pieces. Suicidal sheep investors, anyone?
A little stock-y but quite nicely atmospheric, I thought. About nurturing innovation
The Burundi horse tshirt. Breathable, roomy, exquisitely designed. Perfect for wearing round the house and taking photos of yourself in.
Once more
A Guardian section cover- 40 years of the Booker Prize
I'm phoning-in my Drawger contribution by just showing you the best of this month's editorial stuff rather than giving you too much back story.
With my regular editorial assignments being pruned by the week (yowzers) I should be able to spend more time on Drawger soon...
Away from drawing, my highlights for the month have been my daughter starting school and working my way through the Moro cookbooks (am getting a little obsessive about breadmaking).
Roughs for the above
And how it turned out: stretched a bit but all the better for it, I reckon
Postage sized coceptual spots for public sector magazine, Guardian Public. V dry, involved copy so it's always rewarding to wring out some interesting imagery: Top left- giving control to end-users Top right- NHS doom-mongers Bottow left- giving local councils control of hospital funding Bottom right- disabled users disenfranchised by the internet
Roughs for the above (few changes, you'll notice)
More Guardian Public ones: T left- co-operation between departments T right- macho, target-led management B left- monitoring private contrators B right- putting ethics above profit
One of 7 for a Financial Times supplemet called, 'How to Run a Bank'. This one's on benchmarks for fund performance
'How to Run a Bank' 2. Transaction banking is (apparently) the circulatory system of the world financial markets. Or something like that
'How to Run a Bank' 3. Risk management
'How to Run a Bank' 4. What's missing from customer experience
'How to Run a Bank' 5. Banks of the future
'How to Run a Bank'. Can't recall the subject here
roughs for the above batch...
For FT Mandate Magazine (investors ignoring the attractions of hedgefunds. I think)
A Chick-lit flavoured piece for Red Magazine
'Have we reached Peak Oil Yet?' for Fortean Times
'Urban Brawl' for Seattle Metropolitan Mag. Point and counterpoint about Car pool lanes
Gordon Brown under attack- New Statesman Magazine
1st rough (as suggested by the AD:) Brown as rather inadequate Knight on White Charger deemed too comical and negative towards GB. Brown under attack was seen as preferable
One of these days
A grand assignment for the legendary SJB at PLANSPONSOR. The brief? 'Exploring the criteria underlying 130/30 benchmarks. Measurement theme. Olympics will be over by the time this comes out, but you can still explore athlete performance angle. Or do something totally different.'
I’ll get back to posting something less work-y but for the moment, it’s another batch of editorial assignments for your viewing pleasure.

A thankyoukindlyma’am to the Association of Illustrators for another gold in their annual Images awards (for the Self-Promotion and my gat-packing Cat image). No photos yet online of me mugging to the camera and clasping the hand of the prize-giver (the marvellous Quentin Blake- a hero of mine). I’m grateful as always for such accolades and the show itself and the assembled throng were all lovely. Every last one of them. Hey, studiobound hermit that I am I welcome any opportunity to leave the house for a few hours these days.
the roughs
Yes folks, I have added to the Landfill-the-size-of-Rhode-Island that is already overflowing with fish-predating-other-fish illustrations. I humbly beseach your forgiveness. It won't happen again
For 'Parenting' Magazine. Dads in Charge. A subject close to my heart right now as I've been left with the kids for two weeks while my wife does a stint at her London employers. I really should go and check on them in a bit. Or oder them a pizza
The roughs
The Greenification of Honda for DB at BusinessWeek
da roughs
A self-prom image- chucking meds to chooks
A Section Cover for the Guardian Newspaper on capping your Natural Gas bills (does the steam as feverline work?)
Interesting theme about the US and how right wingers when in power actively set-out to destroy the apparatus of government
Vacation (slight return)
American Lawyer- 'Breaking with Lockstep'
Another extended absence from Drawger and not much to show for it but a collection of illustrations (hey, what more could you want?) and a suntan. I took another vacation the other week, conscientiously taking with me my laptop, wacom tablet, scanner etc. My plans were scuppered by The fates making me forget my mains cable. The tiny Channel Island tax haven of Guernsey didn't have a spare on the whole island (I went door to door asking) but it was probably just as well. I don't much enjoy working away from the comforts of my studio and it gave me a chance to switch off for once.

Guernsey- my family holiday destination for most of my childhood is a bay-oo-tiful place and I'm glad to've had the chance to take my own kids there. My parents came along too for a nice piece of added continuity (and some welcome child-minding). If I had several million to hand, I'd rather like to set up home there amongst the portly tax exiles.
...and these were only one of three lots of roughs...
Portrait of author, Flannery O'Connor
For your favorite and mine, SooJin B at PLANSPONSOR, on someone siphoning off money from a fund and claiming to be investing it in a second hand submarine
Another version of the sub piece
roughs for the PLANSPONSOR ones
Jewish Living- 'Forgiveness 2.0'
Roughs for the JL piece (originally a full page)...
...but downgraded to a half page
A regular spot I've just got for UK Women's Mag, Red. This one's on- what?- slobbish, complacent male partners?
the roughs
'Don't Have Kids, I'm Telling Ya!' or something similar (for Utne Reader)
'Keeping Up With the Joneskis' (London Magazine). How wealthy metropolitan types can adjust to the credit crunch without feeling inferior to their megarich (Russian) neighbors (I know we can all relate to that, right?)
For Pete Hausler at the WSJ. Nicely AD-ed. Amusingly I ended up doing three versions with the rocket at different angles as- during the course of the day- the Dow Jones rallied
For fDI Magazine (UK). It's hackneyed imagery (going against the flow, etc) but I rather enjoyed doing it
And finally, of course you're dying to see some holiday snaps. The obligatory Guernsey cow
A Guernsey landmark. The tiny, kitsch, concrete and broken crockery shrine, The Little Chapel
The descent to the gorgeous Moulin Huet bay
How to Live to 100
For Time Out NY on gay life in NY
Some more busy editorial pieces from recent weeks (I will try and dig out some calmer, conceptual images to contrast)
The rough for the above
Spots to accompany the above piece ('Why Wont Drag Die?', 'Why are LGBT films so bad?' and another one I can't quite remember the idea behind)
'New Statesman' Magazine- Young People (unconcerned about) drowning in debt
Guardian Newspaper Section cover about UK rail fares being simplified
Roughs (1) for the above- tried to go for something simple to represent reduced fares (train cutting through banknote/ sign)...
...but they were adamant they wanted a crowd scene!
CiB Magazine- Access to information
SMT Magazine- Surveillance of employees
Roughs for the above piece
Jewish Chronicle- Secrets of reaching 100 years. AD-ed by the great (and exacting) John Belknap. The formula for longevity, apparently is 1 Exercise 2 Good food 3 A sense of belonging to a group 4 Religion 5 Love 6 An ability to adapt to change I reckon I've got three out of six. Plus pretty good genes on both sides
A section cover for the (UK) Guardian newspaper on the subject of Slow Working. The article's author investigates the idea of applying the principles of the Slow Food movement to working habits, introducing a little calm when we're all expected to be throwing ourselves into gainful activity the whole of our waking lives.

Me, I'm an mixture of loafer (idler, not shoe) and workhorse. I guess the stop-start nature of freelance life makes it difficult to relax completely, as I found on a recent week away with my family.
The red outline on my chosen rough is me doing the hard-sell on the anthropomorphic animal solution. Luckily, the AD succumbed to my pleading
A busy
Businessweek. The last of my monsters-destroying-cities-illos for a while, I promise. I did propose other ideas to represent an out-of-control Wall Street (raging bull etc) but Kong won out
busy month resulting in plenty of RSI in my arm and wrist. To counter it I'm popping codeine and ibuprofen and curbing much of my superfluous typing; reining in rambling emails, Scrabulous and Drawger posts.

I know that a slideshow of recent stuff, sans commentary/ roughs makes for a dull post but, just to keep my hand in, here are a few from April's illustratothon.
For a pensions mag. Obvious imagery about corporations neglecting environmental impact but I liked the composition
'Ox Populi' For Reader's Digest Germany. An interesting brief about how 'Asking the Audience' for guesses (here, the weight of an ox) often results in a surprisingly accurate average figures
First in a series for 'People Management' Magazine, '1000000 Tiny Plays About Work' a series of tragi-comic observational pieces written as dialogue about the minutiae of life.
More from the '1000000 Plays'
...and another
Ok, so it's kind of got that disaster movie thing going on but it's not a monster destroying a city, right? This one's for a pensions magazine relaunch
For Christopher Benfey's review of 'Dictation, A Quartet' by Cynthia Ozick. Shown here: Henry James dictating to a typist
It's taken me a while to post since getting back from New York; a heavy workload and a heavier cold have kept me away. Traveling light (as anyone who saw me two days running will testify, I barely had a change of clothes) I didn't bring a camera so you'll have to take my word for it that I was ever there.

The best I can do by way of visuals is a couple of recent illos one for Nicholas Blechman at the NY Times Book Review, one for (who else) SooJin Buzelli at Plansponsor.

In contrast to my previous trips to NY where I've always been ensconced in midtown, this time I stayed downtown in Tribeca. My hosts for the four nights were the estimable Roman Milisic, his wife MaryJo and their cute as a button/ sweary as a stevedore daughter, Giovanna. I owe them a bunch for their bounty (I went through two rolls, arf), their good company, their inflatable bed, and their English muffins (note to all those thinking of playing host to an Englander: it's all we will eat). Mind, they did give me this stinking cold too so I think really we're quits.

I filled my days with plenty of traipsing, seeing various ADs (thank you Nicholas Blechman, Dave Bamundo, Chrissy Dunleavy, Max Bode, et al) and trying to get all the items on the Herculean shopping list I'd been issued by my wife.

I didn't manage to notch up anything terribly cultural. Unless you count trips to Clinton Hill to visit the family Wacksman. And I know I do. But I think I'm wont to get hung up on genuflecting at temples of high culture when just hanging out and being somewhere new is experience enough.

Drawger kingpin Dave F organised a meet on the Tursday night and all in attendance were impeccably behaved. It was a real pleasure to meet Robert Hunt, Dave Bamundo, Tim O'B, SKron, Edel, Thomas Fuchs, Yuko, David Goldin, Wax, Ellen Weinstein, Laura Tallardy, Rich Goldberg, Hal Mayforth. Have I missed anyone out or shoehorned-in anyone who wasn't really there?

The SoI awards was the following evening and Steve W was my prom date. A perfect gent he was too. Through a martini haze I recall meeting John Dykes, Felix Sockwell, the amazing Buzellis (I make them sound like a circus act) Randy Enos, Dale Stephanos, Joe Ciardello, Patrick JB Flynn, Man Mountain Brian Stauffer, Scott Bakal, Peter de Seve. Call me a simpering fool but they all seemed like good people.

Chump that I am, I hadn't prepared a speech and so whilst other award recipients spoke with authority and/ or wit, I most likely mumbled charmlessly. Thankfully, drink has helped airbrush the speech and in my recollection of events I was a regular Oscar Wilde, commanding the podium and captivating the room with my warmth and a ready stock of anecdotes.

And before I knew it I was being driven from Manhattan, bundled blindfold into an unmarked plane and disgorged back to England (it's how your State Department rolls these days).

In some ways New York didn't seem quite so exotic to me as it has done in the past (I told Roman that catching sight of the NY skyline on the cab ride in hadn't given me the thrill it had on previous occasions. He sniffily retorted, 'So what does the Bournemouth skyline look like, then?'). But the City also felt more comfortable and familiar, despite not having been there for 9 years. I'm looking forward to having an excuse to visit again.
Plansponsor piece about a dodgy wedding (or a widow's pension plan that was declared invalid after the marriage was found to be a sham. Or something along those lines)
First round of roughs. The AD, SooJin suggested something that combined the two themes I'd gone for (wedding cakes, skating on thin ice)
Shared palettes
Some more editorial pieces. The first is for my favourite AD, SooJin Buzelli at PLANSPONSOR. This one's about going back to basics with selling financial products.
A batch of roughs- the food ones relate to an analogy made in the article about eggs. The books ones are about concealing a copy of 'Fun With Dick & Jane' inside a hollowed out 'War & Peace'
For Radio Times (TV/ radio listings) Magazine
The second one (and I only noticed the identical palette when putting this post together) is for a radio programme about a survey of how kids spend their time in the playground (or schoolyard if you insist). Here's the synopsis I was given:

For nearly forty years, Iona Opie worked with her late husband collecting the material for their books, starting with “The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren” which was published in 1959.  From the 1970s onwards, as part of her fieldwork, she visited her local school playground, in Liss, Hampshire, every week.  These were the children whom she called “The People in the Playground”.  Already, then, there was anxiety that their spontaneity and expressiveness were being extinguished in the face of the mass media and increased consumerism, though the Opies refuted this claim.  Can it be refuted any longer? 

My approach was slanted towards today's kids being in thrall to electronic devices. Whilst it makes for a provocative image, judging by the raucous din that comes from the primary school nearby every recess I'd say that this pretty wide of the mark.
Some recent editorial ones that I've got a kick out of.

The horses piece was for the New Statesman to go with a piece about how progressives within the (governing) Labour Party need to recognise how much ground they share with the Lib Dem (formerly Liberal Party). The article's here

I'm glad this went down a conceptual route tying the headline ('Lib-Lab rides again) with the colours associated with the two parties. Initially there were ideas of Gordon Brown looking in a mirror and seeing a historical liberal figure (Milton, Gladstone) reflected back...

I think that there's possibly something symbolic missing in the final image. Maybe the intersection between the two horses should form some sort of shape although that might've strained the imagery too much
What's certainly missing is a rather suspect protruding limb from the rough image.
The second one has much in common with my Fashion Cafes image (here) from September. Not quite as satisfying a composition with a more conventional perspective but  still a pleasing design.
A few recent pics. First up a portrait of my favourite short story writer (and second fave Lieutenant from the USS Enterprise), Chekhov.
Next is an editorial potboiler that I rather liked about poor hygeine in spa pools. Yum
One year on
A spot for a Financial Times magazine about- you guessed it- flourishing Post Communist economies
When Leo invited me along to Drawger last February I really didn't have that much of an idea about the place and my knowledge of big name US illustrators was limited so I didn't really know what sort of (stellar) company I was keeping. Then again a willful ignorance/ lack of decent research has been a hallmark of my career to date.

Looking back I marvel and wince at the tantric stamina, the verbal diarrhea I had as a Drawger Pup! 17 posts in that first month!

It really has been a very interesting time for me (I won't ask how it was for you, gentle reader). Drawger's been instrumental in making me take a look at my work and it's given added impetus to the experimenting I was doing when I arrived. It's also made me a bit less blinkered and locked into a particular aesthetic and keen to try new ways of working. I guess it's something like doing another MFA as a correspondence course and this time actually bothering to turn up to crits (as I managed to avoid throughout pretty much the whole of my undergraduate and postgraduate years). The warmth of the welcome I've had from Drawgerites has been touching and I feel as though I've made some genuine, lasting friendships with fellow artists. I'll be over for the SoI show in late March and will be hooking up with E Coast Drawgers when I'm in NYC. Whether they like it or not.

Oh, and here are a few recent offerings since this is an illustration blog.

Thanks again, Leo, The Great and All Powerful Zimm and all in the Drawgerverse.
Does the world need another Hokusai 'Wave' pastiche? Maybe not but I quite liked doing it. It's for a piece about Risk Management
For the WSJ on the subject of Austrian Wines (it seems they've been rehabilitated after the antifreeze scares of the 80s). Not too heavy on the concept but quite pretty anyhow
The wines piece went through the mill at the roughs stage. Most of the neat conceptual bits (restaurant tables as symbolic alps, wine bottle as red-white-red Austrian flag) didn't make the final edit. Then again nor did some of my cheesier devices (Tyrolean hats)
Mail shot
Who can resist when an AD says, 'I was thinking of maybe a giant robot destroying a city'? The subject of the article was the UK newspaper the Daily Mail. For my sins, I've done the odd illo for The Mail. I was young, I was naive. Actually, I worked for them last year so that doesn't wash.

A few personal pieces too
I did a lot of storyboarding for advertising five or six years ago, I made a conscious decision to let that side of my work slide in favour of editorial.

Storyboarding can be well-paid but involves a lot of pressure, sailing close to deadlines, churning out 30+ keyframes a day, the sort of pressure that- ahem- caffeinated ad creatives in their twenties thrive on but that just doesn't suit me. It's not that I'm not fascinated by advertising, I love the faux showbiz (fauxbiz) buzz about it and the collaborative, improvisational nature of the creative process is incredible to observe. And for me leaving the house and interacting with people other than my immediate family was also good. I suppose as much as anything, I always felt very self-conscious as a storyboarder having people looking over my shoulder, chipping in with suggestions (kind of how a police sketch artist must feel). I felt especially conspicuous when working alongside real pros; my style was neither Marvel comics-slick (an old hand described it as Picasso-esque which in any other context I'd've taken as a compliment) nor was it idiosyncratic and quirky enough for my own liking.

So it was with a mixture of trepidation and excitement that I took the call earlier this week from an ad agency- my first for a few years- wanting twenty keyframes. I was curious about how I'd approach the assignment and what my work would look like without having the luxury of time to whittle away at things. I've been looking at Gipi's sublime art in Notes from a War Story this week and was wondering if I could bring some of that scratchy assuredness to my storyboarding work. I was hoping maybe even to post a few things here.

Inevitably,  the project got canned. Another aspect of working behind the scenes with ad agencies that I'm not crazy about- there seems to be alot of hanging around followed by either frenzied activity or being summarily dropped.

So the storyboard preamble here was all a bit irrelevant...

In lieu of the any frames to show you (and, nope, I don't have any of my old ones to post) here are some portraits I've been working on. They're for a European project called 'Football Heroes' that I was invited to take part in: it's a book to coincide with this summer's Euro 2008 football tournament. Previous versions of the thing are at I guess it's a nod towards old soccer sticker albums- our schoolyard equivalent of baseball trading cards.
They've curbed illustrators' excesses with the latest edition by demanding that depictions are 'respectful' and don't include 'animals' or 'gross injuries' . I didn't want to spend too long on it as it involved 14 pictures + a self-portrait so I condensed it all into a couple of days. Whilst the pics are all pretty straight forward and mugshot-y (despite the fact that they're taken from various references and aren't just straight lifts from photos) I'm quite pleased with the results.
ZZ and DB
In case you're wondering the ones on red are the Bulgarian football (soccer) team (some amazing faces in there) whilst the other two are headbutt specialist, Zinedine Zidane and my own favourite footballer, Dutch master, Dennis Bergkamp.
Happy New Year
When does it become a bit tired to be wishing people happy new year? Here's hoping I can keep doling out the 'Happy New Year's in early March.

New Year's resolutions? Am putting all my energies into growing an old testament style beard, does that count? Not so much a resolution unless I phrase it, 'I resolve not to shave so much'. Inspired by watching Fiddler on the Roof over Christmas I've made a Topol-esque number my mission for Spring. Can any of the beard sporting Drawger brethren tell me when it stops feeling like nettle rash? Or maybe that's the point- it never does, it's a hairshirt for the chin. Also can anyone give me some idea of when my wife might actually kiss me again? Or maybe you're not that familiar with my wife.

Enough with such fripperies. Here are a few supplement covers from recent weeks. First up is a piece for the Guardian about How to Resign. The ideas suggested were of magicians vanishing. I proposed an office ejector seat.
The space originally laid out was a rectangle- the approved rough- bottom left- suggested a reverse L-shape so the text was repositioned. V enjoyable when working with an AD is (painlessly) organic and collaboartive
Next up was a tv supplement for the Times with Santa, supping a detox smoothie and soaking his feet after the Xmas rush. Rather enjoyed both pieces as I pared back on roughs and submitted only the ideas/ compositions that I liked. This may sound obvious but I'll often be so keen on proving that I'm brimming with ideas that I'll overlook the fact that some roughs will not make for an interesting final. Maybe that's my resolution- only offer suggestions that I'll enjoy working up.

Wishing you all a creatively satisfying, spiritually enriching (and, perhaps most importantly, lucre-choked) 2008
More billowing smoke (or steam). I'll see if I can scan in the final to show you how it sat on page (though the mini-version that Santa's flicking through gives you an idea. Cheekily inserted one of those adverts for corduroy slacks on my rendering on the paper. Are adverts for ill-fitting middle aged clothes by mail order a uniquely British newspaper institution?
Recent images commissioned and otherwise.

The avalanche of gifts one is for a Guardian (UK newspaper) section cover on why Xmas can be hellish for personal assistants. I'm pleased that they went for this solution. There were a few more jokey options proposed (PA as Elf Santa as boss, etc.) but (as is always the case these days) I wanted a more graphic result.
The others include another tribute to HBO's glorious, 'The Wire' here featuring Avon Barksdale and Stringer Bell (as played by Wood Harris and Idris Elba) and a crowded escalator scene. The rather understated background-y gag/ hook is a wide eyed kid mistaking a homeless guy for Santa.
Some good news to relate, I found out recently that I won a Gold Award in the Society of Illustrators of LA Illustration West 46 Annual Uncommissioned section with this and got a few other pieces in their show too. Over on the East coast with the SoI I won a Silver for Uncommissioned for my portrait of John Updike and I got the beach scene and my pic of Dashiell Hammett into the annual. Many thanks to both Societies and all the jurors. Looks as though I'll be heading over to see Drawgers for one if not both shows in the New Year.
Some more
Music themed portraits for your viewing pleasure. First up we've Brazilian muso colossus, Chico Buarque. His 1971 Long Player, Construção is, im[ns]ho, one of the greatest albums ever.
Next up, it's everyone's fave West Coast arthausers, Deerhoof.
The third one doesn't really relate to music (I guess there might be a reggae subtext) but this one's a snapshot of a killed job. It was to accompany an article about changing political allegiances amongst Black Britons. A fascinating article about how most West Indian and West African immigrants have tended to favour the Labour party (our Democrats) but that how many from the ethnic minorities find themselves drifting towards the Conservative party (our GOP) although the Conservatives still have to shake off a common perception that they're a party of bigots.

My initial feeling on reading the text was having an image of a black Conservative candidate being elected to government with multi-ethnic voters in the election hall. Various ideas were knocked back and forth before the concept of a rasta with a blue (Conservative) rosette was suggested by the AD. It's easy to say after the event but I had some real misgivings about the rasta. It wasn't that it seemed racially insensitive, more that it was a clunky, slightly dated piece of iconography that spoke more of a specific subculture than it did about multiculturalism and shifting psephological allegiances. I worked up the image but at the 11th hour the Ed and Dep. Ed. spiked it because of reservations about the concept (not the execution, I hasten to add). With hindsight I can't say I was surprised and whilst the AD (a great guy, v experienced, creative and professional) was contrite about having led me in the wrong direction, I felt that I was equally to blame for not proposing alternatives, not voicing my doubts about the imagery and blithely going along with things for an easy life. Ah well, I still think it's a nice pic.
family illness to peg a post around so I guess I'll have to focus on worky stuff.

A few weeks back, a client that I really wanted to work with commissioned me but then my illo didn't run; then I hear that I won another illustration award, to be announced next year. Yin and yang, yo. To be honest, both things left me a little ambivalent. I know for the award that might sound a bit blase- but maybe constant tiredness has blunted my emotional responses a bit.
Here are a few recent bits and bobs. The ice fishing on the Rockefeller rink one's a wintery-themed possible self-prommer. I just can't help myself doing crowd scenes although here I've tried to make things a bit better composed than I might've in the past.
The red carpet one is for an airline magazine on the subject of The Four Hundred- a club for highrollers that- for a mere seven Gs a year- lifts the velvet rope for you at lots of exclusive events and puts you in touch with all manner of movers and shakers. Naturally if the Allen Learjet weren't out of action right now (we're having it reupholstered with albino gazelle hide. Inside and out) I'd be heading straight over to the US to make the most of the complementary membership that this pic will no doubt be earning me.
Something from my recent archives and this time I’ll spare delicate readers the vomity anecdotage that stank out my last post (though I have got a story about someone’s dog yacking on my kids’ clothes at the beach if anyone’s desperate to hear it)
Here’s a picture of Steve Heller Or St.Heller as he’s occasionally known. And here's a link to Zina's interview with the man himself. I’ve done him framed by some of his collection of figurines, here forming a gang of mini Steves. It may or may not form part of a show of funfty-thousand Heller portraits by people he’s worked with in the past that’s on at the SVA from October 22 put together by the SVA’s Kevin O’Callaghan.
Still lost on my extended portrait riff. The attached image is of Dashiell Hammett. Tried to avoid too many Noir-ish props and make it more of a character study.

It's been a wearying few weeks away from the drawing board. To kick off, instead of the planned wedding anniversary meal à deux we had a blood-soaked visit to the local hospital with my son. Apparently he's decided to start notching up scars to give his face character and impress future ladyfriends. Gushing but superficial forehead wound superglued, the trauma dovetailed nicely into a kindergarten-incubated gastic bug that whipped through the Allen house. This in turn segued into colds all round, with the kids taking it in shifts to keep me awake through the night with hacking coughs. My wife gets both kids all the live-long day so I shouldn't gripe, she tells me.

My daughter really milked it when I was on duty the other night. At 11pm she needed the toilet, 1am she wanted a drink, 3 am she was jonesing for cough medicine, and at 5am she had- and here I quote- some 'dust in her eye'.

the final image- space top and left for masthead, header
WSJ (Europe) called with a v pleasant assignment last week. I think they'd got in touch off the back of my vaguely fashion-related stuff on theispot.

The subject was the rash of cafés and restaurants springing up in Milan extending the brands of various high-profile designers (D&G, Gucci, Armani, Bulgari, Trussardi). Cool to combine some detail and humor with a little style.

I could quite get used to doing stuff in this vein- having a dig at fashion's self-importance (and the earnestness of its followers) whilst secretly enjoying the shallow ostentatiousness of it all.
Roughs- 2nd one rejigged to accommodate text. Quite a slick sketch and a level of finish some of my longstanding clients may not recognise
Mad Men
little excuse for not showing my face round here for over a month. I could blame it on the fact a belated summer has finally arrived and that I've been devoting alot of time to working on some more portrait-based things.

Went to a rather grand party in London last night for the New Statesman magazine at the Whitehall Banqueting House
the great and the good (and myself) were in attendance and I ligged for all I was worth stuffing my face with doll's house food and chugging champagne. Gordon Brown was there but I didn't get a chance to gladhand him (nor did I Will Self whom I spotted across the room and meant to accost). Hobnobbed with a few media-types and strangely, for a left wing magazine party I spent some time talking to an unapologetically Conservative City lawyer.  Thoroughly affable guy (as Old Money, British public-school boys often are)

Decided that drunkenly knocking a champagne flute from the first floor banister to the lobby below was my cue to call it a night. Mercifully, the glass didn't even smash. The only person who'd witnessed the incident started bizarrely berating me, 'Why did you do it?' as though I were some sort of thrill-seeking sociopath. Said my goodbyes and sloped off to get a $10 sandwich from the railway station to sober me up.
Queens of the Stone Age
House MD
Rob's post, I thought I'd offer up my latest billet doux to SooJin at Plansponsor. She's just so chilled it's unbelievable, whilst the mag itself is incredibly beautiful- a testament to her powers and the free rein her publishers give her.

The story's a light-hearted anecdote from a helpdesk operative who's sorting out an employee's computer trouble. It's some way into the call that it becomes apparent that the caller is in hurricane-hit Florida and has no power.
A couple
of recent assignments, posted, more than anything to bump that picture of my trophy down the running order on my front page.

the first is on the subject of testing how secure a computer network is by subjecting it to a dummy break-in.
The second's a more interesting bit of copy- a speech by director Wim Wenders where he suggests that European cinema has a vital role in defining European identity. It would seem that many Europeans are increasingly cynical about the role of Europe. Nationalist parties across Europe exploit the perception that Europe is nothing more than a bureaucracy with little relevance or cultural resonance to individuals. Wenders argues that there has never been a European equivalent to the American Dream (articulated and propogated so well through US cinema) and that European film makers have a responsibility to debate and define the European soul.

I'm not sure how possible or desirable it is to steer culture in this way but Wenders makes an interesting case (hey, and look, there's my pic again on their website; web use, eh? that's news to me;)

The AD initially wanted Wim Wenders to appear prominently in the illo. This was reigned in a bit (when the Arts Editor ventured that no-one would recognise him) but I still was really keen to include him (bottom right- but you all knew that, right?) as I get more and more keen on stretching myself with nailing likenesses    
A gift of an assignment from top-notch AD Etienne Gilfillan from Strange Phenomena/ Conspiracy Theory magazine, Fortean Times. The copy here related to accounts of a giant woman washed up on an Irish beach in the 10th century...

Etienne asked for something in a more graphicy/ print vein- which, as you all know- is the way that I like working right now. I tried to steer him towards a more cropped, top down view of the legs from the roughs below. Etienne had reservations about this not being the most suspenseful route and favoured a version from the point of view of the beachcombers who find the giantess. In the end I worked up two versions and, pleasingly, the legs version's the one that flew.

Interesting trying to suggest atmosphere in a spare, graphic way. Also rather novel working with rather gothic themes- not my usual bag but all very enjoyable.
Roughs batch 1 (spot the difference)
batch 2
A spot
For my new fave AD, SooJin B. This one was to accompany a survey so the theme was 'gathering different voices'. In some ways the concept isn't ground-breaking but process-wise I found it a very satisfying job. In the end I worked up two versions just for the hell of it. The multiple faces was the one that she went for.
Roughs with my preferences highlighted in pink- thankfully the AD ignored my promptings (including an homage- ahem- to a Ben Shahn farmer image)
An eventful week
Well, more like a week of blissful inactivity with a violent coda.

The week relaxing was spent in darkest Somerset with my wife and kids, my sister's bunch and my parents. A swish old farmhouse with its own pool. The familial tensions that I'd been dreading by and large didn't materialize (we're more the family from Jonathan Frantzen's The Corrections than The Waltons) so it was grand. Funny to think that a few years back I was living in London and would have laughed at the idea of leaving The Smoke. I guess once you make the initial flight from the city, it's only a matter of time before you hanker after being Grizzly Adams. A few jobs came in while I was away but despite having all my kit with me (easel, smock, beret, maul stick, etc) I didn't so much as pick up a pencil in anger (long deadlines, not me turning anything down).

Since getting back? I did the attached piece on new Eastern European immigrants living below the poverty line in the UK. Quite pleased with the results- I thought that echoes of Shahn would be more appropriate to the subject than my usual echoes of Herge.
And the violent ending? Living room door was hanging off its hinges so I decided to move it out of harm's way. Ended up dropping the thing from about a foot in the air onto my foot. I was wearing socks and the floor was terracotta tiles so I'd like to say that I was stoic but I squealed like a pig as a puddle of blood welled up round my foot. Hopefully, witnessing it all will have turned my daughter against her planned career in medicine (though she was pretty calm so maybe not): the whole exercise might've been worth it if it spares me 7 years of med school fees.

Four tedious hours later I was home from the hospital- fractured big toe bound, tetanus shots up to date. Naturally, I'll post holiday snaps plus a picture of the foot at a later date.
Line not dead
As a counterpoint to the last post, here's one where the AD was having none of my textured, artsy, graphic shenanigans and wanted things in a busy, line-heavy style. And who am I to argue? The article for a newspaper supplement cover was on the rise of private detectives in the UK. I have to admit to taking a iddle, biddy shortcut on this one by warming over an old, rejected composition. I was commissioned through my reps to do a series of kids' books covers. Having waded through five of these (rather wearing) modern noir books for teenagers and worked up two covers the author took against my style and the whole thing was canned.

So here I managed to wring some use out of the killed cover.
The roughs
As it appeared- window bricked in to accommodate type
As a bonus, I got on the main masthead
The book cover roughs. I can't find the finshed version otherwise I'd post that too
Two, Three, Four-
It's difficult trying to foist a new way of working on clients who already associate you with working in a particular way. So when the AD on this one sent through two of my 'line free' images as guides to how the finished thing should look I could scarcely contain my delight ('I'll do it for free!' I almost shrieked. Almost). The copy was dry (though not impenetrable) and related to global corporations needing to standardise employee benefit packages across their global offices. The idea proposed by the AD was of subtly different houses being built in the background working to one blueprint. I duly did the roughs but also sent one idea of a shepherd herding his flock (hmmm) and of a conductor with his orchestra. And, thankfully it was that one that they went for. I politely ignored the client's suggestion of the musicians wearing the flags/ national costumes of different countries and went for a varied colour palette instead. The musicians poses aren't quite as angular and dynamic as I'd envisaged but I do like the overall composition alot
A very satisfying job...

The AD- SooJin Buzelli- gave me the instruction, 'think of it as being a portfolio piece and not being for a financial magazine' (ironic as, not having seen Plansponsor, I wasn't entirely sure exactly what sort of magazine it was).

Banishing all pat solutions and stock props from my mind, I took in a big lung full of fresh air and set about the task. The subject was paperless offices so I came up with a few solutions, some more conceptual (an origami dodo) some more narrative (a sheet of paper exhibited in a future museum, an old guy in the future wowing his grandkids by showing them an actual piece of paper), and something that fell somewhere between the two approaches (paper in a showcase amongst a selection of extinct artefacts). SooJin went for the latter- my preferred option.

The finished version did go through a few last minute revisions- which makes me rate SooJin all the more (hope this isn't sounding like a frothing fan letter)- she didn't interfere in the process but showed that she actually cared about details within the final piece.
Seeing Linzie's lovely screenprints transported me back to college days. I was more of an etchings man on my BA(Hons) (BFA, y'all) but dabbled in screenprints with my MA.

Coming from a painting background I always felt that there was a certain bluff, macho vibe in the print department which was housed in a different building. The fume cupboards! The heady chemicals! The heavy, archaic machinery!- to an effete dauber like myself it was always like visiting the gym or doing some strenuous blue collar work. I always enjoyed being there but felt that, at any moment I was going to be unmasked as a thrill seeking Flâneur, a limp-wristed painter and forcibly ejected.

The print room denizens would want to kick my fey hiney all the more for this effort as all the print effects are digital.

Interesting bit of copy for this one about maketing types glibly chucking around cliched visual imagery but how hackneyed visual analogies can actually help workers to visualize their objectives better (sounds a little Dungeons & Dragons-ish to me).
Line begone!
More vacillating between using and avoiding line. This is a regular job that I mentioned before (as predicted the magazine's getting a redesign in a few months so I'll be getting the heave-ho). The two pieces were on working while colleagues are taking their vacations and mooted legislation against weight discrimination. I ended up working up  both pieces in my regular style (I'll spare you those versions) before deciding that a less line heavy solution was called for
An English faux pas
Apparently it's a big no-no to blurt out how much you're earning in Britain (well it is a trifle vulgar). The French too seem to have a bit of a hang-up about it (but with fairly fixed salary scales there it's easy to figure out how much your friends are getting). In all other parts of the world (so this article says) they're forever yammering on about their salaries. Sounds unlikely to me.

 I suppose the British manage to channel all that status conscious money talk into chuntering on about house prices.

This is for the Guardian newspaper's Office Hours recruitment section cover.
Illoz rocks
My first assignment through the mighty came in on Tuesday  from a US airline magazine. The Design Coordinator was very apologetic about the tight deadline (Friday) but shouldn't have been- three days seems quite a luxury for me. The subject was a quiz testing readers' knowledge of Asia so there was lots of potential for detail. The scene has a couple of characters in the foreground (westerner unsure how to tackle a huge hunk of meat he's being served up just with chopsticks) and various elements from the quiz filling out a kind of Ukiyo-e (well- as interpreted by me) style mural beyond. The whole thing couldn't have gone more smoothly.
You want a crowd? Who you gonna call? The headline was something like, 'It's time for the rich to pay' and once I'd got rid of the pun going round in my head of the 'rich toupee' the best solution seemed to be a modern-day Robin Hood.

As a contrast, here's a marginally less cluttered one. Something to do with elephants buying nuts off mice. Or it might've been a rather overblown metaphor for something about big companies and small suppliers, I forget which.
Kiev Clinch
This assignment was to accompany a short story but I really didn't want to render it in my usual way so opted for pencil and working smaller than print size to retain something of the quality of my roughs. Ever since the middle of last year I've been feeling a bit twitchy about the way that I work- having spent 5 years buffing my inked line and flat colour style I started feeling a bit dissatisfied that it didn't really allow me too much room for manouvre.
1st version- too light
The story's about local government officials visiting a newly independent Kiev in the 1990s and one of the party ending up with a young Ukrainian who may or may not be a call girl.
Final version (black line that I was kind of trying to avoid)
sketchbook page
submitted roughs (LH one- my preferred rejected as gutter would cut through detail)
detail (line in pencil, done smaller than print size)
Ordering out
So what shall we get, guys? Thai? chinese? Two kids under 3, new town with limited baby sitting circle means that we've had a few take-aways and deliveries in recent months.

Actually, we went out en famille to a swish noodle bar earlier today. All going pretty well until the boy barfed all over the shop.

Who ordered the swan?
Happy Purim!
A piece for
the Jewish Chronicle that's allowed me to - ahem- brush up my old testament knowledge. The writer's updated the story of the festival of Purim- setting the tale in the Big Brother reality tv show. A rather contrived premise leading to a rather strained composition.

I will, of course, be marking Purim now that I know that it's all about boozing, eating pastries and twirling a rattle.
Old Lady with a stick
Yo momma
Thought I'd post something to show a bit of the (slightly uptight) process behind my work. This isn't maybe the best example- because it was one of those ones where an AD doesn't have the copy so suggests an idea and there isn't too much latitude (I'll try and post something- say an NY Times book review- to show a less prescriptive, more organic approach).

With this one, the call came in Friday with finished art due Tue (quite a leisurely schedule). The piece (sans-copy at that point) was on baby boomers' lifestyles being propped up by hard-working 20-somethings. The idea suggested was of baby boomers mugging a youth. It was a single page but also to be used (at roughly 1/4) on the cover. I had other work on over the weekend so agreed to do everything on Mon/ Tue- also the AD wouldn't be able to get approval 'til Mon, but meantime I sent in a scamp of 2 possible compositions.
It was just as well that I hadn't worked things up over the weekend as, by Monday they wanted the scene altered, with just one mugger and one victim (I was a little concerned that it might look a bit empty on the full page but ok for the cover). First a man jumping out on a young lady was proposed, then- for obvious reasons this was switched. What I had done in the meantime was to put together a page of body parts for each of the figures. All very Madame Tussauds.

The next rough was approved and from here I went straight to inking and colouring on Monday pm.
2nd spot rough
At this time the AD told me there was a companion article with the reverse perspective (twenty-something slackers still sponging off their parents). I was keen on doing something a little less literal with this one (a huge cuckoo child being fed by tiny parents maybe) but the space available was tiny (60mm sq) so I just opted for a couch potato youth taking a handout. All approved and worked up fairly smoothly.
My daughter in 20yrs' time
dingy palette- mugger not looking gleeful enough
Tuesday morning and the AD made some- not unreasonable- points about the colour palette on the main one being a bit muddy and the figures needing to be closer. Changes made, it was all put to bed at about midday.
What a difference an AD makes
pic about CEOs being liable for corporate manslaughter cases
I do a couple of spots every fortnight for a personnel magazine.  Sometimes it can feel a bit hack-ish, particularly when finding the umpteenth way of tackling a fairly dry subject. I really should post some of it as stock imagery on theispot or something. This week there was a new AD in post to keep me from getting too complacent. It's interesting comparing different ADs' approaches to commissioning. The outgoing AD was very easy-going: good when I was on autopilot and juggling numerous jobs, but the new fellow reminds me of how it should be, having someone challenging my occasionally lazy thinking and weighing in with ideas of his own. I'm not talking about pernickety, heavy handed direction (of which I've experienced too much over the last fortnight) but it's refreshing to have someone who seems to be investing thought into a project.

I'll probably be less well disposed towards him next time when I've got other jobs on and as he settles in he may become less exacting. The slot's been going for over a year so experience tells me it won't continue for much longer...
I’m a regular droring machine

Here’s my output for the last four days. I’m nothing if not productive. I’m also stinky and unshaven and wondering quite how I can wriggle out of this editorial straightjacket I’ve made for myself. I reckon on about 1 in 4 of my drawings turning out to my satisfaction (with all the others making me wince). I’m not sure that I got anywhere near that ratio with this batch.
The orange one’s for a pensions mag- if in doubt a bit of a Soviet Socialist Realism pastiche always does the trick.

The cloud ones are for a piece about school leavers applying to college (some sort of safety net exists if they fail their entrance exams). I quite like the detail version but I’m not sure I’m cut out for these type of jobs- I don’t think the heavy symbolism sits well with my clear line style. Then again it’s a solution I suggested so I’ve only got myself to blame!

The tv one is a newspaper section cover: a bit on tvs no longer having off switches. Interesting composition but a little-I dunno- straightforward.

The newsreader on a trapdoor one is a regular spot (from ‘Newsreader on a Trapdoor Weekly Gazette’). Whilst the copy, though doesn’t give too much scope for flights of fancy., the AD and Editor are always nice guys to work with- they’re never difficult about roughs and give me pretty much free reign.

The clones piece was quite the opposite- directed by three people (2 in the US one in London) with amends coming in throughout the weekend. I always used to think I didn’t mind being spoon fed an idea but when a commissioner has a very particular scene in mind it can make for a fraught job. (It can feel a bit like being a police sketch artist: ‘no, I think the eyes need to be a little more menacing’).
Ah, whatever. I've cleared the decks for the moment. Now to catch a shower and think about some personal projects
Po Man's Poe
Thought I'd chime in with my own Poe- neither as sumptuous as Scott's nor as graphically sublime as Steve's. Infact it's a rather overblown gag cartoon
Caricatura obscura
The Fiery Furnaces and James Murphy (LCD Soundsystem, DFA Records). Chosen as subjects purely because I dig some of their music and because they’ve got faces that invite caricature (the lantern-jawed, curtain haired Friedberger siblings and Murphy’s weary, doughy mug) AD at a well-known music mag said- politely- that he knew of them by reputation. Which made me realise that they were a tad obscure. You’d think virtual unknowns would be easier but I agonised over these for days even though they were just personal projects, watching hours of Youtube fan footage of the subjects.
Baby Boomers
Baby Boomers
Another interesting bit of copy (a rarity amongst much of my steady editorial stuff). This time it’s about Baby Boomers. The author of the piece (himself a BB) was bemoaning that his contemporaries- now today’s world leaders- are a whiny, touchy, self-absorbed, insecure lot who refuse to grow old gracefully. And they’ve made society in their image: all about instant gratification and everything overly regulated and signposted (this last point lost me a bit but we’ll allow the author to go a bit tangential). I don’t necessarily agree with the thrust of the piece but it was an absorbing bit of sociological riffing. The peripheral figures here are a bit ropily rendered (what can I say? it was an overnight deadline) but I quite like the expressions on a few of the Boomers.
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