Monday, April 18, 2011

New Macleans illo on newsstands this week!

Here's my most recent illustration for Macleans magazine. Because I've worked for this client a number of times, I'm always concerned that my work for them will start to look all the same. So I try to push myself to come up with new ways to approach the same basic compositional problem: Create a frame for a photograph. The sides and top and bottom need to be pretty much symmetrical, with ample room in the centre.

I've mentioned this before, but I LOVE working within strict requirements. It's like writing a poem with a specific meter. It doesn't hinder my creativity, it inspires me!

The subject for this illustration is a boy who died at fifteen years of age. It's always tough to illustrate a child's obituary, because it really is a life cut short. Sometimes there isn't much to work with, particularly (as is often the case) if the child was ill for a long period of time. One of the challenges of doing these obituary illustrations is to make it about the lives of the subjects, not about their deaths. When the subject is a chronically ill child, so much of his life is informed by his health issues.

This particular boy was healthy and active. He loved dirt bikes (worked at a gas station and on a potato farm to buy his own!) and was a Leafs fan. He was born and raised on Prince Edward Island, so I worked the design of the flag into this image. His name has a Gaelic, German, or Danish origin -- all of those cultures have a tradition of illuminated manuscripts so I used that as a design element, which also works with the lion that's on PEI's flag. The roots of the potato plant echo the gas pump tubing, and because he enjoyed motorized vehicles I wanted to put in a suggestion of tire tracks.

My initial idea was just do to use the tire tracks as the over-arching decorative theme, but I found it kind of overwhelming and I wasn't sure if they still read as tire tracks. Here's the sketch:

This first sketch took me a loooong time to do! From coming up with the idea and getting a design that looked like an illuminated manuscript, I was up for hours. My boyfriend assured me they looked like tire tracks, but I wasn't sold. I felt like it was too busy, too dark, and actually reminded me of those robots in the Matrix -- Creepy! Not a good look.

By this time, I'd worked straight through the night and had to hop on the bus to get to my mall job. My shift was 9-3pm, and the illustration was due at 7:30pm. I was in a bit of a tight spot, and a little panicky. Thankfully, my wonderful manager let me go home early. Let me tell you, I needed every minute to get from the creepy-Matrix design to the finished piece!

This was the second time I had to deliver a Macleans illustration with my mall-job somewhat getting in the way. The other time was for a job I haven't blogged yet, but I will soon. It's been tremendously rewarding, proving to myself that I can work under very tight deadlines and get everything done, with style. I live for this feeling!

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