I'm not normally much of one for going to the zoo, but this past Saturday night we went to a really cool event at the Oakland Zoo called "Walk in the Wild". I've illustrated the advertising material for this event for the second year now, and along with the gig comes free tickets.
This is the billboard out on 580. Last year we couldn't make it, but we'd heard from my clients Becca and Alex from Zipfly that it was a really great time. This year we made sure to keep the calendar clear, and man was it a cool, fun and delicious experience.
The idea is that the gates are closed for the evening for a tickets holder's party in the grounds among the animals. Local restaurants, breweries and wineries set up booths all throughout the zoo, and attendees meander around, seeing the animals while tasting gourmet food and sampling wines and beers. We were amazed to see tons of people here; it's a really popular event. There was even a steel pan band playing "In a Gadda Da Vita".
When Zipfly first commissioned me for this, they explained they were thinking of imagery that somehow showed chefs or vintners in and among the beasts, in their natural setting. I never imagined how this approach would literally be what is happening at the event. I tried to get some photos with my cell-phone of guys decanting Pinot Noir while chimpanzees watched from behind, but it was hard to frame. I guess that's why they hire illustration. Wig got this, which captures it a bit better - except the flamingos are a bit tough to see at this resolution!
The two commissioned images were used on a variety of materials. For this one, Becca suggested that the river otters might make for an interesting scene. I'm always down to draw an otter, and seeing how there's a dance party at the end of the evening, I thought it might be good to have some dancing action too.
I've never drawn warthogs before. They're hard to draw! This one was made also into a limited edition, signed poster.
It was great to see the zoo making huge areas for some of the creatures. The tigers had a big forested area that you look down on from above. I find nothing more depressing than watching a large cat pacing back and forth inside a tiny concrete cell. These guys seemed pretty happy.
The Meerkats had a large multi-tunneled mound that they darted in and out of.
Apparently, most of the Oakland Zoo's animals are rescued from other zoos. We were really impressed by them, I'd encourage everyone to go there, as it's also set in the beautiful Oakland hills above the city.