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Innovation / Imitation?

APRIL 19, 2010
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".
Topical: Editorial