What is middle class in Manhattan?

JANUARY 21, 2013

Leaving the gym on Friday, I got this email message:

Hi Danny,
Are you available?
I need a cover type design. You would do a beautiful job!
The cover will be just type saying
What is the Middle Class in Manhattan?
11.5" x 11.5"
Final Next Thursday 1/17.

To which I answered:

Yes, yes, yes!

During a solid weekend of panic and procrastination, it became clear to me that there was only one way to solve this problem: turn these words into a variety of the homes occupied by Manhattan's middle class. On Monday morning the rough sketch just seemed to flow from my pen as though it was already in the sketchbook and I was just making it appear. I did a few other sketch ideas but, ultimately decided to show only this one. Then came two and a half solid days and about 20 hours of work resulting in this final.

The trick, as I saw it, was the get the buildings to read as words but, not get lost as buildings. I used strong shadows to model the shapes of the letters and desaturated the windows and other details so they would not be so distracting.

While the rough sketch just seemed to flow forth without much effort, the precise and tedious job of carefully rendering all the details took many hours over a three day period and confirmed that my OCD is not failing me yet.