Bill Mayer
"The Future of Farming" The Nuts and Bolts of How We Will Feed the World.
Detail of robot head from the spread.

I got an email from My Rep Tricia about a new job for Newsweek. She said the art director had emailed me but had not heard from me. I had been travelling to Kansas to do a symposium at Kansas University, and out of pocket. I found the email in my junk mail file so responded right away, just picked up the phone and called Grace directly.
Grace Lee at Priest+Grace, Just love the stuff they have been doing in 8x8. So smart... great design work... I really wanted to do this, and cover for Newsweek. I had not done a Newsweek cover since the early nineties. Anyway she said she really loved my gouache drawings but that I could do whatever style I wanted. I thought it would be a little different, painting it rather than airbrush/digital like the "Beasties." The timing was great, they had a couple of weeks to get it done. Grace had a great idea to do a take off on American Gothic by Grant Wood. I have always loved his paintings. Such rich color. His landscapes are full of movement and detail...

 I think getting started was not so easy. I got back to the studio to some normal distractions. I left with a tree crew cutting up a huge tree that I watched fall from the window next to my drawing board. Fortunately it didn't destroy anything . and unfortunatly, since it didn't destroy anything, the insurance would not cover removal of all the debris.  I had to fly out and leave the guys chopping up the trees and debris and head for the airport. When I got back into the studio there was still alot of storm stuff that needed to be addressed but I decided first things first. COFFEE... coffee brewing. i heard a drip in the hallway. Leaky roof... ugh... went to grab a bucket out of the bath and noticed there was water all over the floor... Leaky roof, leaking sink... Okay shut off the water... bucket under the dripping hall ceiling... Now on to thumbnails....
tighter thumbnail sketches trying to work out the robots...

 I don't know why, but when i started I felt like I had forgotten how to draw completely. The best way to get over this is usually to just jump in both feet, and start doing thumbnails. I did a page full of about thirty or so. the next morning another handfull. I didn't really come up with anything better than Grace's idea. so we took off in that direction.
Revised sketch of the cover robots... Now that I am revisiting this I think I like that down turned mouth on the lady-bot... At the time I thought the expression was too negative.

 Somehow I did put down a few ideas that seemed to fit... I thought Grace's idea was my favorite also, so i did a tighter sketch... This sketch was a little awkward...I think the revised robots worked much better... Too much time is sometimes a bad thing. I tend to procrastinate... do color studies... FIx the drippy sink... take a long walk..
color studies... trying to work out colors before starting on the finished painting... (Really just procrastinating)

I tied shifting the color from the orange to green to try to make it work well for the type and design. But Grace decided the over saturated version worked best for her.

Back to the original thumbnails for a quick idea for the spread....

I had two week to do the cover... I took a week and a half to get it done. Sometimes work expands to fit the time available. We delivered the cover art on Wednesday....Wednesday afternoon, Grace wrote back and said they were planning to do a farming issue and wondered if I would like to do a spread.... Forest called me while I was driving out to take a hike. This art had to be done by Monday morning... Tighter deadline... I did the sketches, sent them off when I got back to the studio.
Added a few more the next morning. Grace had me fill out the page more. She said they really didn't need so much room for type. She chose the "Heroic" robot C. I filled the frame more. When I painted it I thought it would be appropriate to keep that same "Grant Wood" style in the landscape... I pushed the colors warmer and more fall like... Fall has not gotten down here yet... but cool weather has and the chill in the air means it will be here soon.

The cover illustration took a week and a half; this one took two and a half days including sketches...
I kept the background saturated with warm evening light and the robot in a pure shadow, to make him stand out. I really had intended to keep it darker, but opted for kind of a medium shadow acoss his body and face. This would allow his eyes to glow...
final art of the spread. © Bill Mayer 2015

Cover for "The Future of Farming" Nuts and Bolts of How We Will Feed the World. © Bill Mayer 2015

Spread for Newsweek © Bill Mayer 2015
  I thought the paintings worked out really well. Big thanks to Grace Lee and Priest+Grace for thinking of me for this project... It was certainly a blast getting to work with them... And the cover and spread looked great put together...
Grace wrote back and said they loved the art, and they had another magazine called 8x8 and would love for me to do something for them on that down the road. Wouldn't that be a BLAST?
New Little Experiments...
I have been experimenting with some new digital directions. Always searching for new directions and techniques to play with. These three pieces turned out pretty well.
I was trying some limited color pieces to add to the somber tone. The text on the bomb hanging in the top piece is persian for "Peace." another piece I did for Earth Day... also a little dark and forboding. All of these pieces had a similar feel and theme.
The Waiting Game © Bill Mayer 2015

"Peace" © Bill Mayer 2015

Alternate idea for a time magazine article...but really this was sitting around in my head unfinished for a while... just good to get it out...©Bill Mayer 2015

I love the drama this simple image created... it has a kind of retro feel like some thing from the Sixties...©Bill Mayer 2015

Also continuing to play with some expansion in the gouache paintings... A few more interesting palettes that seem to work... In between deadlines it has been a good way to keep the hands busy... Some revisited themes that always seem to surface...
This painting stated off as a portrait of "The Donald" (Trump) and just sort of went off all rooster.... © Bill Mayer 2015

The "Buffalo Hunter" I loved the texture of Buffalo hair... I could paint that one again and again... ©Bill Mayer 2015

Another from the dark side... The Dark Angel... just playing around with a cooler palette.. © Bill Mayer 2015

Another surreal image with crows and boats...This one reminds me of a scene from Time Bandits... But I loved the color...©Bill Mayer 2015

I was trying to paint something that was not creepy... somehow just made it creepier.... The Flower Lady.. Gouache on paper. © Bill Mayer 2015

A rather simple but melancholy image of a fish out of water...Sometimes clichés can be poignant. Everyone loves to draw gold fish...(so why not...) Gouache on paper © Bill Mayer 2015

Butterfly Girl. I think might have worked better if I covered her face with butterflies...or at least maybe more of her face... (I did that) © Bill Mayer 2015
Bird Lady... Started off kind of like a blue fairy and just grew into a freak... I was not happy with it until I added tentacles and horns... © Bill Mayer 2015

Old Crow... Bible touting steamship for God and Country.... © Bill Mayer 2015

 Just before the break this summer I started on a poster for a short movie called "Seth".
It's a gem of a little short about trying to gain your fathers approval. Insanely funny... Horse dicks and all.... A little corny in spots...
The Writer/Director Zach Lasry does a marvous job, and when you take the time a watch you'll agree. Just so ...uh...endearing?
We had about a million ideas but this was the one that stuck.... Here is a link to the trailer...  Watch for this film coming to a theater near you soon.
There was so much great material in the movie to pull from.The ideas were really easy.  The hard part was figuring out the right tone for the poster. It felt right to almost go as absurd as the "horse Dick" joke but just pull back a little.

And the four we picked to send Zach as candidates for a great poster....
The winner of course a kind of classic portrait of Cristopher, the insanely menacing mute of a stuffed animal.
New Technologies. Cover, American Gas Magazine

Interesting project I recently did for American Gas Magazine. Always starts with some thumbnailing... lots of great ideas. there were a few I thought worked best so I tightened those up and sent them off.  have been playing around with some digital directions. This seemed a perfect fit. The articles were about some interesting technologies in industry and agriculture, They really liked the "giant tomato".and the "tomorrow land" .....We decided to keep the cover more directed at the futiure technologies side, a bit more of a broad direction for the cover.

 I really liked a few of these ideas and I am sure a few of them may show back up down the road. For now the winner is "Tomorrow Land." I loved those old pulps-ish covers from the Thirties and forties...  My initial thought was to have old industry represented by gears with a bridge tied to the new tech of fuel cells. They didn't get this conection and wanted the gears replaced with more of the tanks and cells. Kind of a scifi look to it. I made all the buildings made of fuel cells conected with walkways and piping.... Once i got deep into the finish it seemed just too hard so i pulled some trees and birds into the environment to soften it up a bit....They also help add some wieght to the bottom.

 I wanted to add spires in the back and decided that clock hands worked wellconceptually and visually. There was some thought that they looked a bit to much llike the Islamic towers... But no one mentioned it at the magazine.

 Blue is the color for gas so the obvious choice for a color sceme.... I tride a quick hue slide and saturation to the green side but Tina liked the blue and that's where it stayed.

 Big thanks to art direcrtor Tina Enck at The YGS Group for thinking about me on this project ... great fun....LInk to Magazine
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