I know I'm fakin' it

SEPTEMBER 19, 2018

If you take a look at my by-the-numbers gallery, you'll notice I get assignments because people keep track of the year. Sometimes there's a specific theme that feeds the context of the illustration, but often, it's just pretty numbers, which allows me to choose from among the many styles I like to emulate. I threw out a bunch of options in rough sketches for this cover and, just my luck, they chose one of my favorite themes: Art Deco book binding. Despite my clumsy use of commas, and without further ado, Wealth Management's Guide to the 2018 Industry Awards Initiatives and Profiles. 

I'll usually create a handful of different styles in rough sketches but, the design is always driven by the shapes of the words.
Starting with the chosen rough as a template in Illustrator, I created the art in line and gradually moved towards tone and contrast, eventually arriving at a weird green/yellow combination that I couldn't get out of my head from the beginning of the job.
While obsessing over the art during a last minute, late night session, I adjusted it to a slightly more mellow palette, including "leather grain" and "metallic foil embossing."

Once more with feeling.


So, another large letter postcard job came in. That's four in one year, each an opportunity to fall on my face for parodying a classic genre. Here's a post with a bunch of them. I have to credit AD Doug Snyder at Guideposts for knowing what he wanted and trusting me.

I didn't even have to do a rough for this one. Doug gave me a beauty with everything I needed, including the sun, angel, clouds, car with bicycle and, of course, the words "Costa Mesa" filled with a delightful Southern California beach scene.
My first step was to make the letters out of single weight strokes, fat enough to fill with a picture but, fine enough to be readable.
A little (maybe a lot, actually) of fiddling around in Illustrator resulted in these nice dimensional characters ready to accommodate the imagery.
Working in pencil! That's right. Determining how the imagery could be cropped by the letters but still hold together as a montage.
The final beach scene drawn over guides to the character shapes.
Voila! Cropped and contained within the letters.
Always work out a final grayscale version to make sure everything reads. Particularly pleased to get a plug in for the Infiniti EX35 in which I'll be picked up at the Scarsdale train station this evening.

Tanks for the memories.

JULY 7, 2018

So, I get a text about a cover job for Successful Farming Magazine. Never heard of it? It's going strong into it's second century, owned by Meredith Corporation (which happens to have just purchased Time Inc).


I've had the good fortune of doing many covers for my good friend Matt. I look up to him (he's 6'5"), he always presents a creative challenge and, occasionally, enough time to get it right. For this one we're talking about rural America, the heartland, heart and soul of this country, and reports from local correspondents about how things are going.


Matt has found the classic billboard of rural America, a water tower, and wants the headline "painted" on, making it feel like it could be "anywhere" across the USA. I put on my rural America sketching hat and knock out a bunch of incomprehensible scribbles. Miraculously (but, not surprisingly) they like the first sketch. I sometime wonder why I even bother doing so many.


The tower they've found has a ladder that's going to have to be removed to properly fit the headline. Matt says he will have it retouched but, unable to control myself, I leverage my own Photoshop skills into seamlessly disappearing ladder.


The next step is warping the type so that appears to wrap around the surface of the cylindrical tower.  For this, I rely of Illustrator's 3D rendering and mapping features and hand off a perfectly curved headline which gets rendered with just enough transparency to give it that "painted on" effect.


I am grateful for this opportunity to wish America a Happy Birthday in patriotic colors and pray we'll still be able to celebrate another one next year.

The finished cover in all its Fourth of July glory.
Rough sketches going for a generic, homespun American look.
Left: the original pic with offending ladder. Center: coverup layer with help from the clone stamp tool. Right: both layers combined. Voila, no more ladder!
Left: the headline and shape it will be mapped to fit. Center: shaped to match the curvature of the water tower on right.