To follow up on Leo's post. Here in the states the Ebola outbreak is simply a media sensation-if you take a look at some of the pictures and read some of the reports from Africa-it's quite real, terrifying, and difficult for us to comprehend such misery. Thanks to fellow illustrator Otto Steininger for putting this together- Art Against Ebola
This is a campaign to raise funds for Last Mile Health, a frontline health organization in Liberia that trains local health workers in rural areas where medical coverage is scant. Liberia is among the countries most gravely affected by the Ebola virus, which is killing thousands of people and devastating fragile health systems and economies in its wake.The UN Security Council declared Ebola a "threat to peace and security". If it isn't contained quickly it will spread exponentially and turn into a global health crisis.
HOW IT WORKS: You buy a print and the money goes to fighting this crap where it's really a terrifying reality, and I mean terrifying. Please visit artagainstebola.org
This is the image you will receive if buying my print. I do not have a printer that is capable of doing a really nice print. But if you pay enough I'll be happy to get fine Giclee prints on bamboo paper-maybe we can make that happen for a $100 donation. I'll have to check with Otto to see how this works. I will of course sign it.
My process-we were asked to illustrate a snake head that would be cut off of a larger snake. I didn't want to just do a snake head as I thought they would all begin to look the same, so I ditched the eyes and scales, made it a bit more decorative, possibly implying virus, creeping sickness.
Summer is still here, or at least the warm days, I like it and want it to stay. Kids are back in school and after a summer of time off, long drives up north away from the crazy mid Atlantic, mountain hikes, beautiful vistas, time with sons, time alone to reflect, pond swims, lots of reflection, grasping at happiness and thinking of what's ahead. What's ahead is work-what I need to focus on-it's a difficult thing to do at all times-focus-so many distractions, big and small, the noise-but now I'm finding it the one thing that I can and should be doing-focusing on work. I have been trying to find a new vein of personal work--haven't found it yet-but it's coming-soon.
For now here are a few things from the past couple of weeks- a return to work and a living after the summer. I'm still not ready for fall and less light-kind of dreading the loss of light.
Last week I had a few jobs come in simultaneously, Newsweek, Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times. I also had a couple of jobs that were longer deadlines, Chicago Magazine and Golf Digest. This is the way I like it-busy-because busy helps shut out the noise.
Back to guns. For those of you who recall the Newtown stuff, there were lots of guns-and blood-and darkness. I kind of want to forget all that. But I suppose enough time had passed. Alexandra Zigmond called with a quick NYTimes piece for the Sunday Review section. I haven't really followed any news lately, the airliner being shotdown, the horror of the beheading, the unrest in Ferguson. I would only catch ancillary bits. It's not that I don't care-rather I think I care too much-and it all becomes too much. Empathy overload, painful.
So I get this piece on police shootings and race. I fretted over a solution for a few minutes, race can be tricky. I knew the solution would have to actually be easy-and it was. But when I put the image down I felt I hadn't even done it, like I don't recall a thought process. My thought was "this image is smarter than me"-that's actually how I felt, because I didn't really know what the image was saying-but I knew it was right. The deadline for this was overnight as usual, but it happened in about 20 minutes.
The roughs I sent for the shooting piece. This was an instance where I didn't want to provide any more solutions because this one felt right. Not with the Times but with some clients I'll add too many ideas. some not good, and then 9 out of 10 times they pick the one I like the least. It's a lesson I never seem to lear, weed out the bad stuff, only send ideas you feel good about. Happens.
I've done one other Newsweek cover, few years ago. The magazine had stopped publishing a print edition and was only available in digital media, I was happy to hear they have been back in print since last September. Robert Priest art directed this and I was happy to finally work with him after knowing of his work for a couple decades now. The pressure is kind of on when the piece is high profile, people will see it and say they like it even if I don't think it's very good. Also the subject, taxes, I always hit a wall with this, and it's a cover and for this client I don't think the solution could be too oblique. It's a cover and needs to be a quick read. The deadline on this was quick, roughs on Thursday and final Friday, the gun piece above and a WSJ piece all had same deadline, Friday before noon.
One of the cover roughs. I was sticking with pretty straight forward stuff here. Difficulty getting at their corporate cake. Would be like some sort of iron cake box.
Thought it might make for a readable cover image. Of course I knew concepts like this won't "fly" after 9/11.
Pretty quick, but I was just going to have every manner of destructive sharp things being plunged into the back of the chair, exec puffing a cigar, i know i know-cliche.
What they went with-simple
Along with the Newsweek job and the Times job there was this Wall Street Journal job. Article/opinion piece written by Henry Kissinger. I once did an illustration to accompany a piece written by Jimmy Carter, I was a bit more honored then, but either way it's as close as I get to brushing elbows with living historiacal figures, both men being apart and witness to very much history and events in my lifetime. The idea was pretty much set by art director Keith Webb, he was thinking like a Rubix Cube (sp?) type of image.
Along with the high profile and intellectually taxing and stimulating political work are some other jobs that I enjoy just as much. This piece for Golf Digest on the various time issues with teh game of golf, ie: how long you have to look for a lost ball etc. Second piece is for Chicago Magazine, article on house shopping, what nightmare properties you see, that kind of thing, something I have experience with.
And a little detail ffrom a piece that I'll show after it's published. Tried something new, inspired by clear ponds on summer days when you can see everything on the bottom.
Hello all. I have been away, I think it's been a year, I'm not sure, I know I posted the NYTimes cover stuff, but I mean I've been away-from Drawger-from feeling high on something I'm working on, from that feeling of excitement in new assignments, looking at each assignment as a challenge and an opportunity to do something good and different, something to surprise myself. I need that reason to wake up tomorrow morning-and it's been missing. I won't go into any of the distractions of the past year-they continue-and at this point this is just life-not a side show-or something that distracts from everyday life, it is everyday life. Yeah philosophical jibberish perhaps, but I think what I mean is that I need to find a way to create and think while going through the ups and downs. I imagine and I'm not comparing, but I'm imagining that some of the great artists put down marks up until their last breaths. I'm not even close to that point but I need to find my way back. I have refused a few jobs recently to clear space for this back thing and recovery, I took two jobs and man is it hard to even get myself to sit and focus on those, may be the lingering anesthesia, depression,or just mental exhaustion. It's a terribly frustrating feeling that I haven't had too often. This is why writers and artists go mad right? Their demons and muses battling for control.
Okay so if you've made it through that nonsense there's this. As I was struggling to work yesterday I got an e-mail from Kate at the Society of Illustrators, I just love Kate, Always smiling when I pick up my name tag at the annual openings- and Anelle, and everybody else there, always smiling when I see them. I've said it's my favorite place in NY, like walking in my front door, I am a member, but I live not close enough. My last visits were no fun because of that back thing of which we will no longer discuss, but their smiles and the faces of friends not seen often enough made me feel welcome. Kate asked if it would be okay if they used this image, that I did for SooJin Buzelli, as the cover of the Illustrators 56 book. Uh yeah Kate that would be just fine, what are you kidding me? an honor.The piece was in the show, obviously, didn't win a medal, and that is fine with me, I haven't created my medal piece yet, but the print also hangs in Anelle's office, the director of the Society, which in itself is a great honor.
So my boy Evan today comes into my studio, he is the picture of the sullen introverted young artist, and god damn I swear he's going to blow my mind for years with his work. I tell him about this news, and he says "you mean The Society of Illustrators? (He's picking up way more than I know) I say yeah that's the place, and that's the book. "cool" is his response but I see him smile-which is rare, it's a half hidden smile that he reveals when he's proud of something he's done and get's a compliment. This time maybe he's proud of me.
I told him how I used to sit in the MICA library a very long time ago and leaf through copies of the Society annuals, never really imagining being in one of them let alone on the cover. He has his sights set on RISD. It made my day and was also sort of a kick in the head and a sign for me to get my head out of my ass, damn the distractions of health and children and tuition and money and focus on what I'm making-because all those other distractions will persist and perhaps even multiply until I'm old and time slows and there are no distractions and it's still time to do something new.
It occured to me this morning that my absence from Drawger although due to schedule, life, other distractions, is kind of irresponsible in a way, I mean I signed on to be a part of this group, was invited to this group, and there is really no other place like it out there where illustrators can freely talk about what they do aside from being featured in a design mag or website.
So for the past few weeks I've been fairly busy, a variety of jobs, but I can fall into a rut of uninspired just get it done sort of complacency, it's no fun, and not sure why it happens, because I love what I do. Sometimes I blame age, getting older, maybe I'm tired, can't hustle like I used to, can't mentally handle having more than a few jobs going at once. But honestly I do still love the work and have to ocassionally try to do something to break the day to day monotony. The idea of taking every job abd doing your best possible work, it's just not possible-for me at least-takes a lot of mental energy and focus.
I got this call from Aviva Michaelov to do the cover of the Sunday Review-"Yes! of course I'd be happy to do it" no matter the subject. The story was on how it's getting harder to get into the ivy league schools-for a variety of reasons-most of us can't relate.
I came up with a few ideas, out of reach, something hard to obtain. The ivy thing just seemed obvious, and I really enjoy drawing interwoven wires, vines, rope, so I was glad when Aviva said it was just what she was hoping for.
The NYTimes jobs are always a tight turnaround, I'd realized that my idea would be very very time consuming and the final was due next day, mid day. I quickly realized I was going to be up all night because there simply weren't enough hours to finish this. I was never good at all nighters, at some point I just become dead and nothing meaningful is happening, so I stayed up until 1:30 where I felt I was at a place where I could finish it up next morning, climbed into my sleeping loft-set my alarm for 5:30 and resumed working then. I was okay with this because one of the recurring thoughts I have these days is that I just don't spend enough time per piece and to reach a place in my work that I want to be will simply require long hours-and focus.
I had another NYT cover job come in a few days later which will run this Sunday, and I had one a few weeks back. It's funny because I had sort of a long dry spell with the Times, used to do lots with Brian Rea for the Op Ed page and prior to that with Steven Guarnaccia. I like having my work there, especially covers, but you are exposed, and lots of people are seeing the work. I like that pressure.
As I said, I had another cover a few weeks back, assigned by Paul Jean. Paul is another art idrector at the Times who lets me pretty much do what I want. The article was on the new HBO series Silicon Valley, a show about programmers. My approach is kind of like this big complicated TV set to focus on a guy programming-obviously. This piece is more narrative, people doing things, it's kind of rare for me and something I wrestle with, doing people in my vector way of working is a challenge, but I'm working on it since there's a whole direction I want to go in with that. Paul called me this week as well for another cover, Summer Movies cover for tomorrow. Small snippet from that below.