Saturday, July 02, 2011

A True Honor

I am honored to do a magazine cover twice a year for the same company for several years now, and each cover somehow turns out better than I imagined.  This shouldn't be a surprise, since a) I work my butt off spending usually three weeks on each cover, not counting research, and b) I try to top myself each time.  This may sound simple, but honestly, until the cover is done, I have no idea if the end result will be what I hope for.

Then again, I don't stop until I'm truly happy with a piece, and pray that this point will come BEFORE the art has to go to the printers!

With a magazine cover, a painting, a cartoon... I usually work until I feel the piece is 'alive'.  I juggle all the elements using whatever instincts and knowledge I have developed over the years about design and color theory, until the art is dynamic.  To me, fine art is something that captures your attention, and makes you take a second look, and pulls you in although you don't necessarily know why.

Anyhow, my latest cover was a special piece... a tribute to the fastest passenger ship known to man, the SS United States.  The ship was launched in the 1950's and was featured on many a travel poster. So, having a love of those glamorous old travel posters myself, I set out to design my own.  Sadly, when deadlines loom, it is possible for any artist to panic, and this I did.  I rushed a design, hoping it would turn into something, but a very important lesson for any designer is this:  think before you start.  It's always best to have a clear design in mind, and to work out the kinks in thumbnail sketches before you begin your final work.
If I had been working with real paint, like I originally intended, instead of digitally, I would have been in a lot of trouble. Fortunately, I was able to take a deep breath, admit my mistake, and scrapped it all to start over.
Not the best thing to do with a deadline looming and a week or two of work under your belt!

Fortunately, I was working digitally, and was creating a two page spread. By taking all of those elements and putting them together on one page, I had a much more exciting design.  I then changed the angles and viewpoint to make it much more dynamic and exciting... a true tribute to such a fascinating ship!

More fortunately, my clients loved the final image, enough to make posters of the work to give as gifts to their clients. 

Having someone give your art as a gift to someone else, especially on this scale, is a true honor, and one that makes all the struggle to be an artist worthwhile.  Of course, these moments are few and far between, but the next one keeps us working away, and doing our best.  And that is what we should always aim for; our best.
Cheers,    JOHN :0)

Photos: Above, the line art view of the illustration as seen in Adobe Illustrator. I usually work from scanned sketches, to Adobe Illustrator, and then finish in Adobe Photoshop.
Second, the final artwork as shown on the printed posters. Note that I 'aged' the illustration to make it look like a poster that's been around for the last 50 years.

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