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This week in the Times
I was fortunate to be in the Times twice this week, both assignments fun to draw, and both art directors incredibly receptive and easy to work with. Thanks Peter Morance (Science) and Ken Mcfarlin (Home).
The first piece (science) was on a pretty interesting article, how the military buys some of it's computer chips from outside vendors, increasingly from overseas vendors, and how this poses a possible doomsday scenario to some of our high tech weaponry. Plausible scenarios like missiles being shut of with a kill switch mid flight. Anybody read about the drones in the New Yorker? scary. I thought we were against targeted assasinations.
Second piece was for the Home section. I've done this column before, sort of a how to, this one on how to buy a deadbolt lock. This type of material would make some illustrators cringe but I don't mind and actually enjoy trying to do something more with it, as long as the a.d. and editors are receptive.
A few roughs for the locks story.
The other idea for the computer chip story. I liked this one but was happy with the other, can't publish both.
Quick cover for the Boston Globe. I'm sometimes a bit too cautious about which jobs I take, I generally like to query the art director, see the text, and even ask if the editors are literal minded, hard to please etc. before I sign on. Sometimes the art director comes with an idea that is just not what I do, a solution I wouldn't be comfortable with.
My rep will convey a request from a client which at first may seem like something I wouldn't want to do,this appeared, at first, to be one of those jobs.The request came from the B Globe, they wanted a cover with the new Boston Opera logo-construction workers about it. My concern was mixing my line with an established logo and of course the concept has been done before. I just thought there had to be a better way to show the unveiling of this new revamped Boston Opera, first peek, something like that, so I called the a/d Chin Wang, and am glad I did.
I came away with a totally different idea of what they were looking for and she was very open to my ideas. I was also swayed when she sent samples among which was a piece by Shout, recently posted here. Okay, bar raised, and that is a good thing, thanks Shout. Also, the logo is very light and gentle, so I needed a way to have it work with my style, and I thought by just sort of taking it out of the problem, placing it on a big board in an environment as opposed to trying to have little people climbing on a logo that is so airy.
I got this job on Friday, I get this a lot, you know the week is kind of slow or at least manageable then a bunch of stuff comes in on Friday for Monday sketches. Hey kids, do you want to eat next week? next month? Okay then dad will be working this weekend.
Chin was great to work with. Love getting e-mails where the a.d says stuff like this is beautiful. "lots of gasps of delight from my colleagues."
I was given the option of working the (g) into the illustration, so I did. I left out all the detail in the hand to draw attention to the detail on the right, and this also allowed for text or subhead to be placed over.
I'm not happy with teh rendering of my people, I sometimes like doing these stiff little figures, but when pressed for time...
I think next time I will sketch them out freehand as opposed to drawing directly in illustrator.
I've been doing Op-Ed work for about five years, thrilled when I got that first call from Steven Guarnaccia back in 04. This was right when I began working in this new way. Since then I've worked for Brian Rea and now Leanne Shapton, and of course I've had the pleasure of working for their assistants who I might add have launched out of there like comets, John Hendrix, Sam Weber, and Kim Bost, who I believe is still Leanne's assistant.
Anyway, I just finished up a double header, letters piece for Thursday and Op-Ed for today. The deadlines are always fast but the letters piece came in at 11 am, needed roughs by noon, final by five, no problem. Leanne is great to work for as have been all her predeccesors, always open and encouraging to the best ideas. The editors are sometimes finicky as was the case with this multiple births letters piece. My frst round of roughs had the obvious pregnant women with double fetuses, or rather more like full term babies. I kind of had a feeling that they may take issue with fetuses as we have all become so used to seeing the anti choice people flinging the image around in various forms, no need to mention more. And as I was doing the roughs I recalled a piece I did for Steven Guarnaccia back in 04 where I had a naked Barbie doll who incidentally had nipples. If I remember correctly it was an article about objectifying women and how with plastic surgery some women end up looking the same, and how that is sometimes the intent, smooth skin, blonde hair, big breast etc. Not all women of course just a particular demographic. Anyway the nipples had to go and not only that but I had to clothe the doll, crazy right? So the "naked" pregnant women with fetuses had to go.
First round of roughs on the letters piece. I kind of liked C, just a simple organic shape.
The final letters piece.
The Op-Ed piece was on Afghanistan. The writer suggests that perhaps the best strategy is to have a naval force in the Persian Gulf and not boots on the ground-that coupled with Afghan security forces. The article goes on to say that more troops create more trouble, how there weren't any terrorist attacks in Afghanistan before 2001, how the current government is corrupt etc. Basically that more boots on the ground won't fix the situation, just make it worse. Their opinion of course. I heard a report on NPR this morning about Al Qaeda and it's recruting efforts and how it is still a huge threat. Personally, I believe that to be true, and like most everybody else I'm not sure what the answer is except for good police work to root out possible plots. I'm not sure more and more troops in foreign lands is the answer and I think I agree that more troops = more trouble. We're an occupying force and they'll just keep picking our guys off bit by bit, despite scores of their own fighters being killed.
Brian used to always encourage more black. I always hope for a big space on the page or to be able to work with the page. Leanne gave me a great big space on this one.
The first unedited doll from that assignment back in 04 for Steven Guarnaccia.
I've been working with Adobe Illustrator for over 15 years. I used it as a designer in NY when I was working at Warner bros. and Nickelodeon. Back then I was designing packaging, hang tags, fabric patterns, as well as performing grunt work like coloring for Rugrats refrigerator magnets. I miss the people I worked with then and often find it very strange to be sitting in my garage in Baltimore-alone.
Anyway-I digress. Somebody once asked me back at WB what my favorite tool was in illustrator, simple, the pen tool. That the reflector, rotate, and oval tools are pretty much all I use. I use the reflect quite a bit and what it to be kind of obvious. They also asked me what my favorite reduction was. 85%. We were often fitting designs to garments, things like that.
In my other illustration life where I drew cartoonish characters (see below) I still used Illustrator, mostly to draw masks of color. Most would just paintbucket the color but I felt more comfortable "cutting" my masks. I think it comes from early days of actually cutting Rubylith, a process that I rather enjoyed.
It's that tactile experience that I miss and have been getting farther from as the years roll on. I was never a great draftsman but I'm trying to get back to drawing and incorporate that into my work, basically drawing, scanning and tracing over my own work, kind of like inking. Up to now I pretty much just start drawing in Illustrator. I think this will bring a more human element and allow me to stretch out a bit.
This is obviously a work in progress. You can see more of the skeleton on the right. Not sure where I'm going with it, just seeding my body of work with new images and hopefully it will make it's own direction.
My apologies to any of our viewers fluent in Japanese )YUKO!) these characters are just for place holding. I jacked them from a recent site where I ordered a book Leo mentioned. Thanks Leo!!!
My drawing skills are rather klunky but this was enough to get me started. I'm at the point where working in illustrator seems more natural, but I hope to bring the two together, equal time on the board and screen.
I've been a fan of Chinese imagery for a couple of years, some great books from Taschen and I think this one is from Chronicle. I have a great big book of Chinese propaganda posters, great stuff. I know my image above is following more of a Japanese look but this is where the stamp like idea came from.
I've been doing quite a bit of soul searching lately, nothing new really,been reflecting a bit more than can be healthy. When I was in HS I was totally into this magazine Heavy Metal. Not sure if it was for the great art, I mean of course it was, but there may have been some interest in the rather raunchy content displayed between the pages. I still have a box of them in the basement, so I pulled out a few issues. Man I loved Moebius, Bilal, and a few others I've forgotten. Oh Bernie Wrightson.
A long time ago.
An example of my "old style". I did a lot of work for Disney Adventures, Nick Mag etc. The lineart was brushed and then I added the color behind the line using Illustrator.
I actually had to go out and buy tracing paper and pencils. Felt like I was getting supplies for my first art class. Need to find the Colerase pencils I used to love using.