Saturday, October 23, 2010


Thought I'd post a handful of the preliminary sketches and concept roughs for an upcoming cover gig for Aurora Magazine, a biannual publication for alumni of UAF. The featured article's topic is on "academic freedom" and I've been keeping a drawing pad on the coffeetable for a couple nights, and the ever-present sketchbook is starting to fill up with inspirational doodles and random notes about potential material. This is basically just reiterating the same point I incessantly drill into my own students each and every semester about instilling the habit of generating ideas well in advance of any deadline. This is also coupled with my ever-increasing demand for speed: matching volume with high-output effectively increases the odds of producing a successful image. It's the hand-in-glove approach to my the entire creative process: checking preliminary thumbnails of all assigned work a week before critiques are due is part of the esrablished and expected routine. And incidentally it's also why when they look deep into my bleary and bloodshot eyes there isn't any sympathy for slackers, since chances are pretty good my own haggard ass has been up all night as well.

I keep one eye cocked on the need for any drawing to ultimately be flexible enough to accommodate other design elements that will eventually have to be plugged into the cover. That and being aware of the other basic requirements that each client will need to fit their respective needs. I just had a painful reminder of this after missing an opportunity to have another piece be a cover illustration solely on the grounds the image size wasn't big enough - my bad since I accidentally saved after flattening and resizing it to smaller dimensions.

A few ideas just don't pan out or even miss the mark entirely as far as illustrating the core concept. For example, the one to the left would work much better for a freedom of speech piece. And the salmon with the school was a great direction (especially love the UAF-brand lure for reeling in errant faculty) but was ultimately trumped by the last series of sketches. Again, it proves that this stuff very rarely just magically appears out of thin air, it quite often takes hours of seemingly aimless scribbles to eventually coax out a winning concept. Call it creative midwifery with a muse screaming "puuush!!!" in the studio background, and it might even wind up taking multiple sessions over the course of several days before anything remotely resembling the finished product is whelped into being. And nothing is ever wasted effort either, as the recycling center in my brain is constantly pulping up and pooping out an continual cycle of ideas that can be turned over again and again while fermenting in the mental mulch-pile. 

Feedback settled most favorably around the looming bear: a silent presence who could either break into a big ol' bear hug, or just as easily commence to mauling. The final version (at this point an amalgamation of the two seen here) will still undergo a series of revisions and tweaks, which I'll eventually post post-publication. Also there'll be a couple additional spot illustrations based on the cover piece where the bear will express the two extremes. This particular gig is concurrent with coming up with material for a few other clients, including illustrating another book, a series of newspaper spots for a special issue of the Anchorage Press, another calendar, and the usual editorial cartoon nonsense along with passing some fresh, steaming Nuggets. Taken together with teaching, retrieving works from three separate shows, and putting together new pieces into two others, I'm just about OD'd on the art scene. It's always a dynamic balancing act trying to juggle the time and energy between multiple projects, and the one can usually tell by the bean-count passing through the grinder just how much the ends quite often fail to meetup in any harmonious and sane fashion. This time of year is often marked by a sudden flurry of last-minute hyperactivity before settling down into the abyss rhythm and routine of another long-ass winter. 

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