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Optimized Popeye

JUNE 5, 2007
Here's a view of a final bit of cover art I did last week. The concept started as  a doodle along with a few more straightforward ideas for an issue of Network World devoted to what engineers can do to optimize existing computer networks.
Sketching is a funny process: I see-saw between ideas that seem like good concepts that will sell the idea and those that will work in with my personal artistic agenda du jour. I was surprised when Brian Gaidry, the art director chose the Popeye idea.
Here are some of the sketches ganged up. Since it was  a cover I had to work around the title, cover copy and place for the address label. Network World contacted King Features Syndicate and was given the green light to use Popeye.
I found it challenging to turn the Popeye icon into something I could call my own. I kept thinking of Richard McGuire's "P+O" book of Popeye and Olive Oyl silhouettes.

I tried keeping my approach  primitive and simple while still clearly existing as a digital concept. I even made a 3-d computer model of Popeye. I ended up scrapping all that as too much distraction or trickery and just drew the darn thing and tried to make it as pretty as possible.
This was created in Adobe Dimensions. I thought it would  give the image a primitive yet "cyber" quality. It just didn't seem right for the concept or, more importantly, for me. I was very conscious of one of my illustration heroes: John Hersey. I kept thinking, how can I do this assignment and have it clearly be my own (even though working with an graphic icon like Popeye) and still acknowledg my debt to people like Hersey and McGuire. Hopefully I've found a little stylistic toehold to call my own. A place to continue the evolutionary process of articulating my own voice.
Topical: work