Toward the end of last year I had a great opportunity to work on one of my favorite books, George Orwell’s Animal Farm, for Easton Press. I have to admit, I hadn’t read it… I know, such a classic… When I talked to Lee about it, she said she read it when she was a kid, and to her it was just a really sad story about a horse... Okay, I'll read it....
I wanted to make my own visuals, not based on anything; on anyone elses interpetation. After I read it I kind of agreed. it was a really sad story about a horse. But it also had some resounding parallels with modern day politics. I chose to keep the story as close to the actual descriptions of characters and scenes. I didn’t feel it was just a manifesto about communism, fascism…
Certainly as I worked through the visuals I tried to research each animal as far as breed and appearance, as Orwell had meant them to be. (Napoleon was a Berkshire Boar, while Snowball was a Middle White, a british landbreed)
From Wikipedia: Animal Farm is an allegorical novella by George Orwell, first published in England on 17 August 1945. According to Orwell, the book reflects events leading up to the Russian Revolution of 1917 and then on into the Stalinist era of the Soviet Union. Orwell, a democratic socialist, was a critic of Joseph Stalin and hostile to Moscow-directed Stalinism, an attitude that was critically shaped by his experiences during the Spanish Civil War. The Soviet Union, he believed, had become a brutal dictatorship, built upon a cult of personality and enforced by a reign of terror.
Orwell described Animal Farm as a satirical tale against Stalin, he wrote that Animal Farm was the first book in which he tried, with full consciousness of what he was doing, "to fuse political purpose and artistic purpose into one whole".
Forest acted as my editor in trying to help me stay on target with the text and descriptions of scenes. I ended up doing 10 color illustrations and 10 chapter heads as well. Can’t wait to see the finished books, so far we have only seen a mock up for advertising. There will be a limited 1,200 copies available through Easton Press. All signed and beautifully embellished gold and leather covers.The illustrations will be hand-mounted into the book as they were in the limited first editions of Rackham and Dulac from the early 1900s.
Many thanks to Easton Press and art director Michael Hendricks.
Radio Flyer's 100th Anniversary Kid's Travel Agency
Radio Flyer's 100th Anniversary "Kid's Travel Agency" Posters.
Radio Flyer is hosting the first ever kids travel agency to celebrate 100 years of inspiring imaginative play and unforgettable adventures. At Radio Flyer Adventure Travel, children are introduced to impossibly wonderful destinations they can visit only with their imagination and a Radio Flyer. https://www.radioflyer.com/travel-agency/
A new poster for Radio Flyer. FCB had a great idea to inspire kids to use thier imaginations through a series of travel posters to fantastic places that only could exist in dreams. the instructions and specs for the poster came in with a huge packet of materials and spec. More than I ever remember getting in the past on any project... But once I had gotten through going over all of that. It just started off in the normal way all jobs do, with a little research looking at old travel posters to get a feel for the atmosphere and feelling of a vintage poster to a fantasy destination. I am always drawn to bold, simple images so I explored in the thumbnails various compositions tackling the manditory elements. I wanted the octopus to be huge, larger than life. Looming and imposing, but not scary. I decided to make the wagon into a ship.
I tried two directions: one, the octopus as the island towering in the distance; the ship and kids in the forground. The other using the wagon as a bathysphere, exploring an underwater world in search of treasure. I'm not sure they really got the underwater thing from my thumbnails, but Kevin picked a couple very similar directions and i started refining the sketch.
thumbnail for Octopus Shiny Treasure Bay. They picked #1 and #8 both very similar directions.
Slightly tighter thumbnails working out proportions on size of the boat and octopus.
Final sketch with type
In process art for the octopus almost finished....
I know, airbrush, it's just so much faster for me... Some textures and highlights I will add in Photoshop later....
I wanted to add some cloudy atmosphere to separate the background, make it lighter against the silhouetted kids and boat. I decided to do the kids and boat separate from the octopus to give me the option of adjusting the size and placement. I added distant mountains, birds, and treasure to reinforce the size of the octopus without reducing the size of the kids and wagon. Ultimately I decided to have the ship coming out of the shadow slightly to allow some details to show.
When I first pulled everything into the poster I loved how the wagon and kids looked just floating in the sky.... After I had put the final poster together I roughly pulled together a variation to show the Art director. Ultimately they decided to stay with the original design.
I was really happy with where this poster ended up. I was great fun working with Kevin Grady and the creative team at FCB. They gave me a ton of freedom and that always pays off in the final result. Cant wait to see the final 24x36 printed posters... So much fun. I need a few more of these to work on.
A Time For Reflection - PLANSPONSOR's Year In Review
It's been sometime since I had done an illustration for SooJin. When I got this email about this project I couldn't wait to get started. It seems lately kind of a competition in itself. With all of the fabulous talent in each publication. You really feel you need to do your best. But when it comes to start it's just going to be such a joy.... Where do you start I did the normal thirty plus thumbnails and she picked two directions she felt would fit. I thought the one that worked best was number 26. I thought I would play around with the feeling and design of the image in two separate directions. One in a more classical style, probably painted in gouache to get the feeling of it coming from the past. The second one digital, and using a very different pallette. Cool colors and warm lights. They each had a very different feeling about them, but the warm colors seemed to work the best.
I loved the concept of looking into the past to find direction toward the future. It seemed to mirror some of the work I had been doing the last few years... this idea of using clocks seemed obvious, but most of my concepts are... I felt the color was an important part of the concept so I took the time to work up a little color study to give SooJin and myself a better idea of what i was thinking.
I painted this little painting in gouache and certainly did a bit of tweaking to try to push that warm glow I was going for. The conversion to CMYK seemed to kill the color a bit. We tried many many variations trying to get that luminosity back, finally got the best we could.
I was very pleased with the way this came together. In some ways a perfect way to use a more classic style. The design and layout done by Cherese and Alanna at PlanSponsor were so eligant and tastefully put together... These Ladies are so good. Much thanks to all of the folks at PlanSponsor and to SooJin. Always such a joy to work on one of these!
Some Beautiful Type design from Cherese and Alanna and the design team at PlanSponsor/Strategic Insight...
A Beautiful Spread design from Cherese and Alanna and the design team at PlanSponsor/Strategic Insight...
Something New I did recently for Smithsonian Magazine. It's a cover story about the possible return of the great American Jaguar. "El Jefe" is almost certainly born in Sierra Madre of northwest Mexico. He now lives in and roams the Santa Rita mountains south of Tuscon.
This cat's one seriously bad ass feline. There is evidence found that he actually crushed a black bears skull. El Jefe is the fourth documented male jaguar to make the border crossing in the last 20 years.
Such a blast working with art director Maria Keehan. Pretty much knew where she wanted the illustration to go. Sent me a comp she put together using one of my illustrations. A little back and forth on appropriate attire for a jaguar. Some searching to make the background feel close to the Santa Rita Mountains, south of Tucson, and this one seemed to flow out ahead of schedule.