It's been some time since I last dropped in and for that I apologize. These are interesting times here at Chez Wacksman and chaos has ruled the day - day after day. I find myself compiling lists every morning that would test the fortitude of even the most resolved taskmasters, yet I am most content when busy.
Anyhow, here's a look at a few drawings I've managed to squeeze in between alpaca shearings, hand modelimg gigs and teaching wine-pairing courses to inner-city youth (volunteer, natch). Hope you enjoy them and if you don't please keep it to yourself. Remember: it's nice to be important but it's important to be nice.
"We Don't Need Another Hero'- Modern Reformation Mag
'Spring Cleaning'- Modern Reformation Mag
Georgia Tech Alumni Mag- Football Traditions.
Georgia Tech Alumni Mag- Football Traditions.
Portrait of Theater District Restauranteur Joe Allen- The New Yorker
*deliberatly provocative title designed to pique your interest. No actual presidents were harmed in the production of this illustration.
The Wacksman family is in the process of a major home renovation, one that's been ongoing for close to 6 months. So extensive is the scope of the work that we were forced to find alternate lodgings for the majority of it. One month in a mouse-infested (though fully furnished) rental in Bed Stuy was enough for us and we started looking for a more hospitable and vermin-free place to hang our collective hat. We found it a few short steps from our home - a lovely duplex in the upper floors of an enormous brownstone. And while it was preferable to the previous rental in almost every way, it was unfurnished. As all our furniture was wedged Tetris-style in a storage locker we were forced to improvise. Sawhorses and plywood made for a makeshift dining table and desk. It was far from ideal, but it was sufficient.
As luck would have it I found that under these less than ideal conditions I was suddenly swamped with commissions. In desperation I attempted to set my desk at a more comfortable height and found a task chair in the neighbor's refuse. After a thorough bedbug check it was determined to be suitable for temporary use. All in all I found my setup to be relatively comfortable. So situated I went to work on a cover for the venerable New Republic- my first cover for them.
AD Joseph Heroun contacted me via electronic mail with the following brief: " The idea is a counter-intuitive take on Obama's next term by forecasting why it will be a big success. The idea is to show a newly self-confident president strutting up the street, leaving a battered landscape (his first term) behind him. "
While this appealed to me from a visual standpoint I personally felt that the end result would be misinterpreted as Obama leaving a trail of destruction in his wake. I was fairly confident that the New Republic did not hold that view so I went to work on another concept, one that I felt fairly certain would project the idea more clearly. I envisioned the president climbing out of a hellish landscape. Charred thorny branches, mossy rocky outcroppings and spiky crystalline formations give way to a softer grassy trail amid rainclouds and eventually, at the top, a verdant field with bright flowers. See?
This concept however was rejected on the grounds that "we want to inject more humor in the concept. It's important to avoid seeming triumphalist or earnest". And when viewed in that light I think they were on the right track. We returned to the originally outlined concept. The fine mist on my brow was beginning to develop into a more conspicuous flop sweat as a quick check of my watch revealed that the deadline was approaching with the swiftness of a locomotive and as my first sketch was roundly nixed I was technically just entering the arena. I centered myself: envisioned my power animal (the pangolin), recited my mantra (' what doesn't kill me might still cripple me or render me otherwise incapacitated') and started pushing my pencil toward glory.
Alas, glory once again eluded me as it was decided that a more symmetrical 'head on' view was the preferable approach. It is suggested that the Capitol Building be visible at the end of the road as well. Sure, no problem I replied although at this point I'm sweating like a pregnant nun as visions of missed deadlines begin to dance in my head. I put on the headphones ( Jim Jones Revue "Burning Your House Down" ) and lower the pencil. I am a pangolin, I am a fierce and unyielding armored relative of the armadillo. But to be honest, this power-pangolin is starting to feel a touch defeated as this is a complex composition that requires attention to both perspective and detail with the added hurdle of containing a tiny likeness. All within my skill set to be sure, but as the ticking of the clock is becoming deafening it's a struggle to maintain composure and focus on the goal.
I manage, however, and turn in this admittedly rough sketch. And in no time I receive the directive: Let's return to the prior composition. With this decided I hit the lightbox and finalize the linework with such singularity of purpose that I find it complete in just over an hour. Scan, cleanup and color - again, as if some divine hand is guiding me. I love it when this happens although it happens far too infrequently. In any case I'm in the pocket and feeling quite pleased with myself. I mail it off and hit the shower then off to the air mattress where I sink almost immediately into a dreamless sleep.
Two days later I am met with the news that the cover is not to run. Such is the capricious nature of this business- one has to remember not to take it personally and move on with a bright eye trained on the horizon. Thanks to Drawger no piece shall ever go unseen (unless it's amongst the literal hundreds stored on my hard drive that I'm not showing you no matter what). Thanks to Joe Heroun for the opportunity. As for Mr Obama, I do hope your second term manages to become less calamitous although a power animal and a mantra I've found can work wonders in high-stakes situations.
Recent Portraits Of People You've Never Even Heard Of.
Mr Sam Kunz, Head of the Chicago Policeman's Annuity and Benefit Plan.
Looking good, Sam!
Hello, reader. I assume your presence here means you've already completed your 'Cyber-Monday' shopping. I'm sure your Aunt Olive in Waukeegan will truly appreciate that 4 slice toaster in tangerine orange and what recent college graduate in his right mind wouldn't relish a pair battery-operated and fully machine washable 'electric cozyfoot' slippers? Lucky you, cousin Chuck! Happy holidays!
I thought you might like to have a look at some portraits I've done recently. The subjects are neither stars of stage nor screen. Nor are they political lynchpins, criminals, or popular musicians. These folk are business-folk and in the interest of complete and total honesty ( something I've always cherished in our relationship, dear reader) I have almost no idea whatsoever what business they're in or what makes them exemplary in any way. I trust in the expert art direction that I receive and forge ahead. Here for your delectation are the fruits of my labors.
Mr Richard Wallis, noted Auto Enrollment advocate.
Here I've dusted off the brushes and ink for portraits of extrordinary salesmen Stoots and Joliff.
Thanks as always for visiting. I'll try my darndest to blog more frequently. Keep those cards and letters comimg and enjoy the holiday season.
Hybrid: When Too Much Freedom Leads One To Steer Directly Into A Wall
Soojin Buzelli is, as anyone who reads Drawger even occasionally knows, the absolute bee's pajamas and an illustrator's dream ally. She knows exactly what to say and more importantly what not to say when commissioning an illustration. Her rules are simple- don't be overly literal and whatever you do, no people in business attire. Ever.
In almost every case this inspires the picture-maker to greater heights as imagination is let to soar. I'll come clean and admit that I've browsed an issue or two of Plansponsor and I can't make heads nor tails of a single article so 'interpretive' is about the best I can give.
In this case Soojin was as clear and succinct as ever - Hybrid, two animals that are dissimilar coming together. I was feeling pretty good about the arboreal leopard-snake scenario but Soojin came back with a decisive 'Number 3, please' and so the Liongator it was.
As so often happens I'm not entirely clear when or why the passenger jet, snack-food packaging and 55-gallon oil drum worked their way into the composition, but there they were. I was satisfied that they added to the image and thought nothing of sending it off. Soojin, upon receiving the image was understandably confused and contacted me with a request that they be removed. I was happy to do so and revised the image in no time to better reflect the sketch. I was so in thrall to the freedom that comes with working with Soojin that I lost sight of the goal.
In any case, the liongator was placed in a more natural and decidedly less polluted environment and that version went to print.
Just out of the frame, however, there's the remnants of a White Castle 'Crave Case', the dented grill of a 1995 Nissan Altima, and the mildewed carcass of a 'Tickle Me Elmo'.
...and butterflies are free to fly. Fly away, high away, bye bye...