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Rob Dunlavey
Editorial
NYT-Disruptions
posted:
A small commission from Bernadette Dashiel of the New York Times last week let me dust off my editorial skills a little. Maybe some of you got the call and turned it down? The job was a breeze and fun to do. These days, I do personal work mostly and I'm working on several children's books. …I wonder how one chapter ("editorial illustrator") ends and the next one ("children's book illustrator") reveals itself. It's all a continuum of course.
The Times article was for a tech lifestyle section called "Disruptions" and it was about high-profile companies like facebook and Uber's questionable and even amoral behavior. This, despite their public stances of "doing no evil."
I first did a few sketches in pencil and ink and they were tepid. I slept on it and at 5:00 the next morning when I was more focused, I created a bunch of drawings in watercolor detailing the antics of the blue tech guy and a randy red devil. I received feedback later in the day and a suggestion to show more of a "partnership" aspect in the tech-guy/devil relationship. Bing-bang: send in a few more sketches and later, approval of # 9.
They wanted my digital style so that's what they got the following morning. It ran on Thanksgiving day. 
ABOVE: first round of sketches: watercolor & ink. Submitted as a multi-page pdf.
ABOVE: a second round of sketches.
ABOVE: The sketch they liked.
Bernadette wanted my digital style so the final was done in a Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. I think the sketch is so much better!
In 1974, my older sister unwittingly gave me "Milton Glaser: Graphic Design" as a birthday present. I loved art but had no ideas, let alone ambitions, to be an illustrator or designer. But over the years of art schools, part-time jobs and countless trips to art museums, this book became as well-traveled as I was. I still refer to it subconsciously…as my sketches above might attest. The expressive ink silhouettes by Milton Glaser are another example of his elegant, witty and humane approach to Art. And that too is an inspiration.
Birdman
posted:
In a jungle of tweeting birds, how will you stand out?
A vector illustration created for Nancy Duckworth at California Real Estate Magazine. With so many people tweeting, how can you create a valuable & unique brand or find other useful twitter feeds to connect with? Does this keep you up at night??
detail: textures are 1-bit tiff files dropped into my Freehand vector file.
My sketch. I did a few others but Nancy chose the one I knew was the best option. It was fun from start to finish.
More birds done the same week for Tuck Today. AD: Laura DeCapua, Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College. The subject was the availability of online content for their foundation curriculum.
Here are some nice real birds that do not tweet. They quack and they do not know what tweeting is and they probably think you are really weird for even reading this far when it's such a nice day outside! I drew this pair of mallards this morning at the South Natick Dam. They are dabbling for bits of I-don't-know-what at the very top of the dam where the water flows down. It's a nice place. Come visit sometime.
December Errata
posted:
First: A recent passle of illustrations done for The Christian Science Monitor for their 2010 end of the year Gift Guide. It was a treat and a challenge to parlay my Pointy People into a commissioned job. The Christian Science Monitor gave me my first editorial assignments when I first moved to Boston in 1986. The art director now is veteran John Kehe and he has a loyal following among many illustrators.

a detail (colored pencil, water color, digital)

This illustration ran across the spread and bled off the top of the page

An illustration that led the Gift Guide section.

Second: I was invited by Alain Lachartre of the French design agency Vue sur la ville & Mister Brown to contribute a drawing to their 2011 calendar. A great honor to say the least. Naturally, I choked on the pressure to produce something that would span the briny and inhospitable Atlantic in its "savoir faire" and "je ne sais quoi". Other contributers include: Aline Zalko, Jamie Cullen, Laurent Courvaiser, Bruno Salamone, Yan Nascimbene, Laurent Auduoin, Laurent Lolmède, Fernando Togni, Frédéric Rébéna, Serge Bloch, and Steven Guarnaccia.
It's just a bit of nonsense. Alain only asked that, if possible, the art include the name of the month, the numbers of the days and some reference to "Mister Brown". Of course, it never hurts to add a few alligators or foxes.

Finally (I hope you've gotten this far) I've just gotten my 2011 calendar back from the printer and am sending them out. Please let me know if you want one and send me instructions as to how to mail one to you. Bonne Année et bonne santé!
The poster is 18 x 24" offset printed on a semi-gloss text weight paper. It is shipped folded.

A fishing expedition
posted:
Most of my pictures are fishing expeditions.  The good ones that is. However, when an illustration job becomes a fishing expedition, the result is usually not so good. Those ones often stay in the drawer and rarely see the light of day. Two different fishing expeditions and two vastly different results. How to account for and accommodate them? After all, we all have to eat!
One very real and hard nosed fact about artist-client fishing expeditions is that you always catch something. The synergy may be great and you discover some new power you didn't know you had. Or your strengths were played to and you got validated. Of course, there are those times when you get burned coming, going and yes, every step of the way of long, drawn-out torture of seeing that project to its predictable conclusion.
But the other kind of fishing expeditions! Well, magical or mundane, depending on your attitude, even cleaning seaweed out of your net can be pleasurable and profitable. There may even be surprises in the tangles and the detritus. The only trick, and it's a big one, with this kind of catch, is deciding how to get it to market. For that matter, even finding the market can be arduous in itself.
Today then, a toast! Raise your glasses to the art of angling and the losers who bait their hooks daily. It really is an inside game that, alas, only other anglers ever really truly appreciate.
Fishing is just a way of life for some: you just open your mouth and see what comes in OR goes out.
This dachshund has amore conservative approach but, yeah, she's on the lookout too.
Boy meets Girl meets girl meets boy. Anything can happen when you go fishing so don't give up hope don't forget your manners!
For Patrick
posted:
The final image. Reviewing it now, I'd tweak a few things: the position of the slide or those chains on the swings for example...
Below is the progression of sketches for this half-page editorial illustration for "Rethinking Schools" magazine which is designed by Patrick Flynn in Madison, Wisconsin. It was a bit of a toss-up but we agreed that the last sketch would work best.
The article was written by a middle school teacher who believes that the pressures of standardized testing not only cause a stultifying "teach to the test" mentality in schools and students and that, in her case, teachers that protest are sometimes punished for advocating for their students. In her case, elective classes were removed in favor of remedial reading classes.
Innovation / Imitation?
posted:
The final approved art
This job for Greg Klee at the Boston Globe started out as a bit of a fishing expedition.
Because we anachronistic illustrators pride ourself on our ability to innovate, it was a little ironic that the article was describing the virtues of imitation. Imitators are often better at business than Innovators even though there is a pervasive "cult" of Innovation in American business. And that often, products, or whole businesses that we think of as marvelously innovative are, on closer inspection, just better realized versions of something that may already exist but is poorly focused or marketed.
Greg and I even joked about me imitating another illustrator as a kind of meta-commentary on the whole thing. But I reminded him that we illustrators are a pragmatic bunch and that amount of art-school cleverness was not my strong suit anyway! And old fashioned guy that I am, it was really nice to see my images on newsprint again!
The art director suggested a sequential design approach might be in order. Here is a busy pastiche of many sketches showing an innovator successfully prototyping a concept but he can't bring it to market. He is upstaged by an imitator (some mice) who improve the product and find and exploit a market for it.
Some vectorized doodles showing a basic color space. I envisioned the page being awash with these aggressive blobs and angular figures.
Simplified with fewer figures trying to show basic copying and improving process.
too much like stealing…?
6:00 a.m. the following morning: try a machine idea perhaps? The final is due in the afternoon. I had by this time resorted to using tracing paper. I never use it anymore!
vector sketch trying to clarify what Innovators and Imitators do. Nope. Back to the drawing board. Final art is due in a few hours!
Final sketch in response to very clear and limited design concept (Thank you thank you!).
There was room for a spot on the inside page. The additional asterisks are from a dingbat font made by Luc DeVroye called "Astuaa" part of his extensive typographic experiment called "Sugaku".
A mild case of schizophrenia
posted:
This was done last week for Patrick Flynn. It's a cover illustration for Rethinking Schools.
This was done last week as well. One of my entries for the Galician winery Bodega Terras Gauda poster competition. A votre santè!
Another contest entry from last weekend: A book fair in Rouen, France
Throughout all these delectable gyrations, the merry flow of doodles continues unabated. It's my world, welcome to it.
Where I want to be!
Cool it!
posted:
The hot doldrums of summer have assembled in a murky miasma of heat, humidity and lassitude. Sometimes I think of going to my cool, blue cellar to work. When I look at this image (commissioned by Planadviser) I think of that cool place. Unfortunately, while this becalmed gentleman is cool down in the depths, we all may wonder, in a sinking way, where that feeble ray of light is coming from and how, if possible we may get closer to its source.
Something completely different for the Christian Science Monitor about Spotify.com a free European-based music sharing platform.
And something hot off the presses for my good friend AD David Yount at the NFPA Journal.
Rethinking School lunch
posted:
Piling on here: More thanks to Patrick Flynn for this latest commission about a school system that rebuilt itself, its school lunch program and its currriculum to be more environmentally sound and healthy.

Stephen Kroninger did the cover. Randy Enos and JD King (and maybe a few other?) also contibuted to the effort.

Dunlavey/Bakal Sketchbook 2007-2009
posted:
2007? Was it 2007 when Scott Bakal and I first talked about sharing a sketchbook? Seems like it wasn't that long ago. Oh well. I DO remember there were lulls in the action and subsequent flurries of fast-paced catching up because I'd held on to the book too long.

left: we'd post little notes to each other mostly to be civil. These got pasted or taped inside the covers with other more lengthy notes, train tickets and post office ephemera. Some of these elements got recycled into the final pages.

The whole thing started out kind of slowly as we built a critical mass of marks, textures, forms, methods of applying media. Gradually, pictures got settled. Some were rather obvious; others not until the last moment when we were ready to be finished with the project. Below are a few of my favorite pages with some commentary.

I think we both collaborated on the overall head concept on the right page. It looked awkward though and unsatisfying. Various attempts at isolating the head only served to highlight it's generally muddled presentation. I think Scott connected the eye to the left page and eventually he painted the irregular blue bands on top. At this point, the picture's needs became clear and I added the collage elements to rescue the face of the man.
This one started with some cartooney elements that just weren't working. One of those elements was an alligator. I got disgusted with that direction so I painted the things out with yellow and gray. A few days later I added a realistic alligator (in black china marker) in this tortured pose. And then the picture was basically done. Scott had nothing to add for a long time. Finally, at the end, he found a new way to contribute with the red dots
Four separate pages that that are equal combinations of both our problem-solving strategies.The figurative ones all involved abstract painting and mark-making. Usually (I think?) I would isolate a profile out of the blobs of marks and scratches. That would stabilize the concept and we'd then tinker on and off for months. Usually Scott had a real knack for finishing images so that our voices were both equally distinguishable. I'm still trying to get used to the red blobs on the crow painting though. I like them but I'd thought that that image was done. But Scott had a different idea… and so it goes!
This one got finished early on. My contribution was the large blocks of color and the black stenciled figures. We started designing spreads pretty quickly. Scott's signature organic line work stitches the painting together. In some ways, the most satisfying pages were the ones that went back and forth constantly as we searched for a way to help each other make a satisfying composition while attempting to put our own individual stamp on it. Below, you can see the book in its entirety.
Not Valentines Day
posted:
the final (digital)
This was for a piece that ran in the New York Times last weekend. It was  for an essay by a man marvelling at how the woman he's been married to for decades and raised a family with, really have very little in common. Except that they happen to be happily married. What a concept! Here are some sketches and the final. Thanks to AD Richard Weigand and his team for insightful and relaxed art direction!
sketch 2 (pencil or pen)
I sent in about ten sketches (including a few variations). I was only asked to not emphasize the potential Valentine's Day angle to the article.
sketch 3a (pencil, ink)
sketch 4 (the one they chose)
sketch 5 (a fishing expedition). I included it because there were some good ideas in it that might have sparked discussion.
sketch 7 (cardboard collage, pen): just trying to stay loose and let the ideas flow. That's the hardest part of this job kids.
Kneejerk
posted:
the final artwork. Art Director: SooJin Buzelli | PLANSPONSOR
This was about a guy who sued his employer for firing him while he was recovering from knee surgery and on a medical leave. Unfortunately for this man, the judge agreed with the employer because the reason for the termination was that the jerk had also embezzled the company. Embezzlement trumps FMLA (Family & Medical Leave Act) claims. So there!
I liked this darker version
The approved sketch
unused sketch
another unused sketch
and even more unused sketches!
Integrated Building Systems
posted:
"Integrated Building Systems" for NFPA Journal | digital | AD: Dave Yount
pen, charcoal, Photoshop
The process of making an illustration is often like the subject of this spread I recently completed for NFPA Journal. NFPA is an excellent editorial client and I always look forward to working with the talented and sympathetic art director Dave Yount.

The article was about the evolving state of building design that anticipates the integration of various mechanical, climate control and fire safety systems. My immediate thought was to show cranes assembling mismatched modules that represent different systems.
Like the real-world issues described in the article, this illustration for me, resulted in a hard-to-reconcile combination of abstract concepts and realistic rendering that ultimately undermined my original artistic concept. The illustration is pretty and was fun to paint but I think that once I went down the 3-d road and incorporated the letterforms (I, B and S), we lost the streamlined communicative and graphic power that was in the sketches. I'm not going to lose any sleep over this but I'll be more attentive as I sketch in the future. Also, mind your step as you exit the concept phase of an assignment and enter the rendering phase. In the best jobs, they are somehow magically integrated.
sketches: watercolor, collage, pen, digital color
Dave's reaction to the first round of sketches was lukewarm and I decided to suggest an intricate puzzle rather than an abstract solution that clearly couldn't fit together. I created a 3-d wooden puzzle and started to disassemble it and create an interesting composition.
Flashbacks anyone? This is Adobe Dimensions 3.0 running in Classic. I render the shapes in postscript and copy them into Freehand where I do the bulk of my work.
left: hybrid sketch with abstract shapes and 3-d puzzle. right: Hmmm second thoughts: maybe the article is really about miscommunication between different engineering disciplines.
The job started out as a single page illustration. Below are some details:
echoes of Doug Fraser!
Credit Default Swaps
posted:
The art ran as a spread that bled off the right and bottom.
Newsweek Magazine Senior Art Director Dan Revitte asked me to draw him a picture of these financial "weapons of mass destruction".  I gladly obliged. Here's the illo and a few outtakes.
detail
detail
The CDS monster was inspired by an illustration I did for the BC Law Magazine that Dan saw in my illoz portfolio.
Dan wanted texture so I piled it on and got some nifty effects going.
My sketches were done in pen, washes and charcoal. The wash helped me stay focused on the mass of the monster figure and qualities of lighting that we had discussed. The final illustration was a hybrid of a few of sketches.
early and unused sketches
Sketches - Finals 3
posted:
Jumping through hoops. It's what we do!
Some of you may know Tim Davin, the art director at Canadian Business Magazine in Toronto. We hadn't  worked together for a long time so it was a pleasant surprise to get his call a few weeks ago for a new assignment. The job involved about ten icons, several spots,  five or six 1/2 page illustrations and a full page image. I had to cram most of the job into a brief flurry of activity before a family trip. The plan would be to tie up any loose ends when I returned.
The magazine publishes an annual stock market rating called the I500. Previous illustrators for this job include Federico Jordan, Philip Anderson and Keith Negely. Big shoes to fill!
These were sketches for the Small Cap illustration.
The job was fun and challenging for the usual reasons:
- how to interpret staid business graphics in a new way?
- I got to draw animals (cows mostly)
- the art direction was precise, demanding and subtle (while working under the conceptual constraints of business, money, finance, and possibly a "male" aesthetic of sorts)
At first, I tried a narrative approach to a series of illustrations for the sections about Small, Mid and Large Cap Fund rankings. After a few tries we decided that "businessmen dealing somehow with variously sized bulls" would have to be the strategy. This is the "male aesthetic" I alluded to. No cute picture book concepts here!
the final illustration
The Mid-Cap illustration. The bull is bigger and pretty well tamed.
The Large Cap image. All were done digitally.
The intro illustration
Here are a few of the icons
icon for Best Growth funds
Sketches - Finals 2
posted:
left: the sketch - right: final
This full page illustration was done recently for a college law journal article about a steel industry merger that involved many players in many countries.
When I was first contacted by the art director she suggested some sort of a rampant monster or robot sucking everything in concept. She referred to her favorite works in my portfolio in an attempt to help guide my painting decisions.These initial sketches were done in Painter.
This one was my favorite from the first round.
pencil on blue colored paper. Shading added in Painter.
After seeing these ideas, the concept was changed slightly to more of a clash between equals rather than one monster getting out of control. So I did a few figure studies; basic comic book, wrestling or boxing compositions would be fun to do.
a more complete second round sketch with some color added to help clarify the scene.
The final was done in Freehand
detail
detail
detail
Hear hear: To Patrick!
posted:
"Dystopia" for Rethinking Schools article about the harmful effects of mandated standardized testing.
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