I always get an adrenaline rush receiving an assignment from Rolling Stone.
The deadline is often short, the story's seldom available, but the creative team at RS are always amiable and helpful to work with. When I get it right I'm on a creative high, when I get it wrong, I kick myself mercilessly for weeks on end. But I'm learning to take that in stride, because the failures are part of what drives me to reach higher. They say you learn more from your mistakes than from your successes.
An interesting thing about working with Rolling Stone, is how they match up an artist with an artist. It seems serendipitous that most often (but not always ), I already happen to be a fan of the subject's music. Sometimes I've had the added benefit of having seen the musician or band perform live and that can greatly contribute to my point of view for the art.
Steven Charny recently commissioned me to create a portrait of John Mayer for the review of Mayer's upcoming album "Born and Raised". When I listened to the album, the lyrics seemed to be contrite, a confession of a young man who's made some big mistakes and is on a journey of renewal and self discovery. His website revealed very little information when I started my research, but I did see photos of him strumming his guitar against the backdrop of Monument Valley. To create a mood that would be convincing for me, I tapped into my photos and memories of my own solo road trip to the Southwest when I was 30, brokenhearted and searching for renewal. Echoes of vintage Eagles, James Taylor, and Neil Young also inspired this piece.
In the final I decided to take out the shining sun because it detracted from his gaze and the feather flying loose from his hat.
This is a perfect case of drawing reference from your own work, but here I go, way, way back to a drawing I did of Wild Bill Cody in art school.
I had an interest in cowboy culture back then. I remembered the fringes on the jacket, and retrieved this from my slide drawer. This is a scan from a slide. I have no idea where the original is.
Wilco "The Whole Love".
I truly appreciate the sincere efforts of creative director Joe Hutchinson and art director Matt Cooley in trying to push this tattoo concept forward but, alas, the final decision was to go with my flower concept, because it had a more classic portrait approach. The dog humping the leg was my response to Jeff Tweedy's comment "the album glows like a powerful smile". There's nothing like the joyous grimace of a dog humping a leg, I spend plenty of time in the dog park with Betty witnessing this display of affection. I used my photos of a dog like this ( without the Wilco markings ) in the park named Winston. I was also playing with the idea that the "Whole Love" was a fan who was so obsessed, she tattooed the entire band's portraits on her body.
Tweedy offering his band (and the album) to the world as a gesture of love.
I think this post might also respond to a comment from someone months ago… do any of us ever complete rejected sketches?
Often I don't have the time, or I've lost interest, but every now and then a piece haunts me until I see it realized.
A huge thanks to the Steven, Joe, and Matt at Rolling Stone. It's an honour and a pleasure to work with these guys.