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Jacqui Oakley 2013
Usually I get contacted by art directors to draw portraits or animals, so this job was quite a unique and a fun challenge! I always have such a good time collaborating with David Powell at InRe (South Texas College of Law Alumni Magazine). The article that I illustrated was about law graduates choosing to work at smaller law firms rather than joining bigger corporations, and this is what I came up with:
I wanted to do something slightly different with this job and rely more on pattern, adding a nice contrast between the small court house and the bigger corporate buildings. Neither of these options could be shown in a negative light, so I had to come up with a way to differentiate them from each other while still making each feel a favorable career choice for the recently graduated lawyers.
Here are some of the project’s process including my pencil linear, some reference and my inked illustration before I added colour digitally. For this project I wanted to go for a less vibrant palette than I normally would use and so I looked to other reference for inspiration and some new ideas.
Some business/corporate magazines can be afraid to think outside the box when it comes to design and illustration but this was not the case with the Fortune Magazine covers of the past. In particular I was taken with the colour palette and the gorgeous way the city was abstracted in this 1954 cover by the very talented Neil Fujita. With my illustration I wanted to have buildings as focal points since I wasn’t particularity excited to draw lawyers, so I took these illustrations (shown below) as jumping off points to try something different and go a little more stylized than I usually would.
Here’s a gorgeous 1951 Fortune cover by Jerome Synder which has a similar feeling to the Fujita piece and was also a source of inspiration. (via Unkee E’s Fortune Cover Tumblr)
Obviously I didn’t want the illustration to copy Fujita’s or Jerome’s style and so I’ve combined them with my own look using organic cloud forms, and trees and tweaking the colours slightly. What I loves about this project is that is helped me incorporate something new into my toolbox that I can use again down the road. Those moments in illustration where you try something new and it works out are always satisfying. It’s nice to know that as an artist you’re continuing to experiment and grow and not to just rely on tried and true techniques and subject matter. Throwing something new into the pot every now and again is always a good idea.
Along with this opening illustration I got to draw a whole bunch of lawyer portraits and David and I thought it might be fun to link them together with the building patterns and colours of the main spread. It was interesting to combine the black ink portraits with these graphic shapes. Again, here’s something new that I was excited to see work.
Here’s some more vintage Fortune covers that really stand out. Love how these are simultaneously both very painterly and really graphic. Artists/designers back then could really do it all couldn’t they?
Below: FORTUNE July 1952 – Illustration by Jerome Synder (via Unkee E’s Fortune Cover Tumblr)
It was a great to be able to go to NYC and do a live art installation with my husband Jamie Lawson for Basecamp (and Flexfit) at Agenda’s NYC show this past July 10th and 11th. The Agenda Trade Show is a forum for streetwear lines, such as Brixton, Reebok, Herschel, Vans etc., with a strong emphasis in style, art, music and culture. We were given a big 12×8′ freestanding wall and kindly given free reign by the awesome Basecamp folks to do as we please. We thought since this was the NYC Agenda show we’d go with a New York theme and the first one that came to mind was obviously everyone’s favourite monkey, KING KONG!
Day 1. We arrived at Agenda’s Soho location armed with paint, brushes and coffee.
Here’s the time-lapse video of the whole thing!
It began with a whole lot of yellow….
…. and then at about the 3 hour mark blue was added and I discovered I was too short for this kind of business.
It was pretty fun painting to the Agenda crowds. Even the most intimidating dudes decked out with sunglasses and $800 sneakers were really enthusiastic and sweet to chat with.
At this point Jamie meant business, bringing out a clipboard. You might be wondering about the addition of the baseball hats. Well, Basecamp is the visible face of Flexfit one of the largest vendors of custom, private label hats, hence the baseball hats added to the mural. They had a pretty great Wu-Tang hat that we are now the proud owners of. Basecamp promotes the intersection of art and culture and sponsored the artists at the Agenda NYC show as well as past shows in Long Beach and Las Vegas.
Nearing the 6pm deadline of day 1, it’s hard to stop painting. We’re having such a good time.
…and this is the end of the 1st day. Time to eat Chinese dumplings and rest our weary legs.
DAY 2. Surprisingly we got so much done the first day that on Thursday we could take our time and add some fun details and of course the finishing touches of neon orange.
We had some time on Thursday to check out the other Basecamp artists. The lovely Sofia Maldonado did this amazing piece bringing in some cloud installations. She was also sponsored by the amazing art blog Hy.gen.ic.
A close-up of King Kong. He’s getting there.
… and we’re done!
Thanks so much for having us in NYC Andy Song & Andy Chang of Basecamp / Flexfit and Corbin Cones and Stephan M. Timonier of the Promote & Preserve (formerly Hy.gen.ic) art blog. Many of these beautiful photos, especially the black and white ones, were taken by the talented Stephan. All these guys were so much fun to hang out with and so enthusiastic. It really was a pleasure to work with them.
I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to be asked to do this job by Cassidy Zobl the Art Director at Hour Detroit. It’s always great working with them and it’s wonderful to have an opportunity to do a cover inspired by the Farmer’s Almanac, garden gnomes, topiary and flowers. It’s like they read my mind.
Here is the Farmer’s Almanac cover from 1902 that I was asked to work from. It’s a beauty isn’t it? I’ve definitely learned a thing or two working from its gorgeous detail.
Here’s the linear I sent to the art director. As you can see I’ve squashed some of the elements of the Almanac design to allow room for the title and the different illustrative elements I planned to add.
Here’s the start of the rather long but fun inking process. I used a very very fine brush and ink for this and went through a lot of podcasts.
The cover is filled with hints to the stories inside including topiary hairstyles, baseball and gardening.
Nearing the end of my night’s work. I think I was hallucinating gnomes at this point.
The next step was to add colour! I scanned in my inked page and then started adding in painted textures, making sure to focus on greens. The line-work I changed to greens and browns, bumping up the contrast in some important focal areas. Then a sprinkling of some warmer colours to add some contrast and further emphasize the green. Here’s a breakdown of some of the colour layers….
….and here’s the final version with the very green background. Hour wanted the cover to look super green, so it was a welcome challenge to not add all the colour I usually do but to still create some focal points amongst the intricate detail.
I went a bit crazy on the detail on this piece, which I have a tendency to do, adding all sorts of little elements that probably no one else will notice but that I enjoyed.
Not sure what the weather is like in your neck of the woods but around the Toronto area it’s still cruelly clinging to Winter. We’ve had a few tempting peeks at Spring which has been enough to get me excited to start working on our new garden. It’ll be the first growing season we’ve had in our new house and I can’t wait to see what we’re going to do with the yard. It’s pretty barren now, but in a few months I’m sure it’ll be as green as this image….. hopefully!
Last year I was asked by Ryan Cox to contribute to a book filled with his poetry about the musicians he loves, A Circus Mind. Since I was asked to paint Elvis and Paul McCartney I jumped at the chance, especially since I got to work with a bunch of talented artists: Elissa Parente, Andy Potts, Julia Minamata, Samone Murphy, & Zela Lobb and my friend and one of the talented illustrators, Dushan Milic was the designer of the book. Everyone did a beautiful job and I was so excited to have the book delivered to me this week.
My first illustration was about the urban legend suggesting that Paul McCartney died in 1966 and was secretly replaced by a look-alike. For more about this legend check out this link. So I illustrated a sad confused looking Paul in his coffin surrounded by hints of his demise and the use of his doppelganger. I love the hilarious side note that the Beatles started resenting the fake Paul and nicknamed him “Faul”.
Alan Parson, engineer of The Beatles “White Album”, claimed that he created the phase “turn me on dead man”, which can be heard when playback “number 9″ from “Revolution 9″ in reverse direction. But John Lennon, who created Revolution 9 said that the “Number 9″ was just an engineer’s testing tape with a voice saying “This is EMI Test Series Number 9″. Believers of this “Paul is Dead” conspiracy believe that this hints to poor Paul’s death.
Another one of these hints to Paul’s death is visual clues on the Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover. If a mirror is placed horizontally across the middle of the Sgt Pepper bass drum, bisecting the words ‘Lonely hearts’, the phrase “I ONE IX HE DIE” can be seen. This was taken to mean “11 9 HE DIE”, a reference to the supposed date of the ‘real’ Paul’s death, 9 November. Another interpretation of this is that “1 ONE 1″ represents the three other Beatles, and the X represents the dead McCartney. A diamond symbol between HE and DIE points upwards to McCartney. Surely there must have been easier ways to suggest this wicked ruse? Just reading about it is exhausting.
In an edition of Life magazine dated 7 November 1969, McCartney reassured fans that “Rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated,” paraphrasing Mark Twain. “However,” he continued, “if I was dead, I’m sure I’d be the last to know.”
Here are my linears for Elvis and Paul. With Paul’s concept I was toying with the idea of adding even more symbols in the flowers that relate to the controversy of his supposed death as you can see from those wee pics I pasted in amongst the lilies. At the end I though this was a bit too much, although it would have been fun to paint doll and a walrus head.
He’s the process for chubby Elvis. It was actually really hard to do a portrait of Elvis in his last days. He really didn’t look like himself at all so I had to merge a bit of the younger Elvis with some extra flesh and a disheartened look. As usual with portraits I print out multiple images from the web and combine them so I understand the structure of the face and at the end the illustration has a more unique look. For me, the most important aspect of this portrait was for his eyes to communicate a subtle weariness over his life.
At some point my Elvis was looking a bit too much like a sultry Bollywood star with his dark locks, his long eyelashes and seductive eyes, but I think I turned him around. Phew! There’s a lot of pressure to paint “the King”. Here’s some of the process:
My Paul McCartney:
Dushan Milic’s portrait of Rick Rubin has to be my favourite. Such good colours and just look at that magnificent beard!
Elissa Parente has tons of work in the book including this fabulous Bob Dylan piece. Her loose painterly style is so expressive.
and my chubby Elvis:
As I mentioned before there are tons of great images in this book, check out all the illustrators’ sites for more sneak peaks and be sure to buy a copy of The Circus Mind here. Thanks so much to Dushan and Ryan Cox for having me on this project. It turned out so great.
Last week I got a call from Minh Uong for a job for the New York Times about an issue that I’m sure we’re all well aware of: email overload. This piece written by Jenna Wortham did a great job at encapsulating how email has overwhelmed our lives. Appropriately, it’s actually been difficult for me to finish writing this post since I keep having to reply to new email messages! Not that I’m ungrateful for all the correspondence I have been getting lately, but it is hard to figure out an email system that works.
IN the not-so-distant past, the chipper AOL sound of “You’ve got mail!” filled me with giddiness and glee. I would eagerly check my in-box, excited to see what message had arrived. Those days are long gone. Now, when I examine my various e-mail accounts, my main emotion is dread.
“It’s not the quantity of e-mails that get us into trouble,” Mr. Lyman says. “It’s the ones that require us to slow down, find the file, compose a great e-mail back. Humans only have a certain level of information processing. We get overloaded.”
This piece was inked by hand as you can see in the photo below (please don’t judge my terrible finger nails), afterwhich it was scanned, tweaked and then coloured digitally using scanned-in paint textures.
Here are the three linears I sent to Minh. Of course it’s the New York Times so the deadlines are quick. I got a call Wednesday night, then sent linears Thursday, taught at OCAD and then came home to do the final illustration to get it on on Friday before the big snow storm hit NYC. Luckily I had a fun time with this one since the water was so fun to ink and so staying up late working with an audio book to keep me company was good.
Usually publications want your run-of-the-mill basic white male business man in their illustrations and any time I’ve tried to veer from this obnoxious stereotype I get pulled back. I was pleasantly surprised that the art director Minh suggested to make the main character into an African-American woman, namely the article’s beautiful writer Jenna Wortham. It is a tiny little portrait so it was hard to get the facial features just right, but hopefully I’ve captured a little bit of Jenna and she gets a kick out of the scenario I’ve put her in. Maybe it will even provide a little boost to help her overcome the email deluge. Below you can see the tweaks I did before I moved onto the final.
The article does end on a positive note, highlighting all the coming options to help us cope with the flood. It seems our etiquette about email has to catch up the reality of the situation. I’m really excited about programs like Mailbox which will allow us to sort through our emails in a more efficient manner and even set alarms on when to respond to certain ones. Such a simple solution that it’s shocking this hasn’t been implemented yet.
Anyway, I best be getting back to work, and responding to emails. Sigh…