This spring arrives with the release of this book from Storey Publishing that I illustrated, "Tag, Toss & Run," art directed by Alethea Morrisson. It's a really nice concept for a book, a compilation of lawn games along with their rules, histories, some diagrams and illustrations. Everything from more commonly known games like badminton and croquet to lesser known games such as Quoits and Cherokee Marbles.
I did these drawings in the summer of 2011, and will always remember the book as one of the toughest deadlines I ever had. This is because right before the finals were due, I had to go and have wrist surgery on my drawing wrist, which put me in a cast for three weeks and, after the cast was removed, projected me into months of hand therapy. There were a ton of drawings, a rigorous schedule, and a further challenge: the interiors needed to be colored in "channels" using 2 Pantone Spot colors.
Sometimes it's fun to do a project that is pure design and gesture. Conceptually, the only challenge on these was to show the idea of how the game works, and do so in a way that focuses most on the fun of the play. Before the surgery, I made a point to finish all of the interior sketches. Here are a few of them.
While in the cast, I had my assistant Catalina Bastias transfer all of the sketches onto board. When the cast was removed, my forearm was extremely weak, but fortunately the small movement of painting the line art with ink was therapeutic.
After finishing all of the line art, I set about educating myself on how to work in channels. With a good bit of help from Storey's production department, once I figured it out it was a fun way to work. Channels allow for an interesting play with transparency, something I'd like to explore more in the future. For this, in order to stay on deadline in semi-gimp mode, I worked them in a more technically straightforward approach, using Illustrator, Painter and Photoshop.
Something I've noticed recently in the publishing world is that covers are getting more and more obsessed over. In this case, the title kept changing. It originally began as being called "Olly Olly Oxen Free," which I loved. As a kid in Missouri in the 70's, we used to scream that out while playing neighborhood games. However, it got changed a few more times before being finalized. As my cover treatment was typographically focused, it was a bit of a shuffle.
In the end, I look back on this project and realize it was a lot of fun and a great opportunity to work on a unique product with an excellent art director. I'd worked with Alethea once before when she was at Chronicle Books, on a gift book called Angel Catcher for Kids. Stressful at times, but a good learning experience and a productive way to help heal a wrist.
California College of the Arts has the great pleasure to have the one and only Calef Brown come and talk about his art, poetry and books. If you're in San Francisco, you can't just miss him! Monday, March 26 at 7PM, 1111 8th Street San Francisco.