One of the reasons I love editorial illustration so much is that I get to learn about all sorts of things I wouldn't think to look into otherwise. Last week I got to learn about the cultural roots of the banjo. I had no idea that black slaves brought the instrument and its music to America. Here's a link to the article.
I wanted to show the luxurious plantation houses of the sweltering south and the crystal-clear lakes and humbly built cottages of the Appalachian mountains. Banjos have been in many different hands. Minstrel shows are a rather awkward bit of American history but an important bit nonetheless. I knew I wanted to include it but I definitely didn't want it to look offensive.
The art director got back to me later to say that the article's title was "Many Shades of Grey", just at the time I was trying to decide how to colour the illustration. So I went with it!