A couple more illustrations from earlier this year for This American Life. The first, above, "Swtiched at Birth," we follow the lives of two families whose daughters were born in the same hospital on the same day in 1951 in Wisconsin. The aspects of shifting crossover/symmetry in their lives jumped out as key to represent in the drawing.
The second piece, "Chip in My Brain," a new episode premiering earlier this year, we follow a seemingly mundane series of events over ten years of childhood as Cody Treybig. The episode is fascinating and unexpected, I highly recommend listening to it. Process sketches below.
Thanks again AD Whitney Dangerfield.
Happy to report this years Communication Arts Illustration Annual includes a piece that I worked on late last year for The Hollywood Reporter.
"Murder, Mayhem and Torture" Off the Sunset Strip" is a true crime piece covering the days and months leading up to the night police apprehended Blake Liebel with the scalped, murdered body of his girlfriend in their Los Angeles apartment.
Below are some of the development process for the final illustration. Rough thumbnail sketches to explore the visual elements, tone and composition, and then from there taking the strongest ones to a tighter final sketch to discuss with the Art Director. Ultimately we went with the drawing of the arm and bed melting into the interior apartment crime scene.
Thanks again to AD Kelsey Stefanson and everyone at Communication Arts.
Above are some of the process steps from early thumbnails, sketches and an alternate for the third act piece with a more digital fragmenting effect that was a fun experiment. Massive credit due to Eric for tying all the pages together so well, and thanks again to Greg and Michael and the team for the invitation to be part of the issue.
In related news, the original inks for this issue's cover (and others) are now available through Splash Page Comic Art. It's incredibly nice to be in such good company there as well.
Lazarus 11 hits stands today from Image Comics and with it the "Conclave" arc begins with the emergence of another Lazarus from the family Bittner and growing shadows of doubt haunting Forever's past, present and future. Written by Greg Rucka, art by Michael Lark with Tyler Boss, colors by Santi Arcas, lettering by Jodi Wynne, Designed by Eric Trautmann and edited by David Brothers; I couldn't ask for a more dedicated team to work with.
I've included a small process animation to the left layering steps from brush and ink drawing through Photoshop, as well as cover sketches for different approaches to Bitter and Carlyle's icy introduction below. A preview of Michael's epic opening pages for the issue is available here.
I really enjoyed illustrating this weekend's New York Times Book Review of Ben Lerner's second novel 10:04 with AD Joele Cuyler. Visually reinterpreting another's creative work via the interpretation of a third reviewer is often a telephone game-like experience, but in the case of a story that itself cites coconstruction and shared experiences of art, the layered/perception sketches below came together quickly.
I've included something that I don't always mention but is integral to most illustrations I work on: inspiration beacons. After I've worked out the content of the illustration in sketches, I reach for the shelves and folders of art books and JPGs and usually unconsciously pull a few that serve as these beacons. I place them next to the reference on a second monitor to play the role of corner-men, long lost teachers, or idea-maps to something I'm fixated on at the time. In this case, they happened to be a collage by Josep Renau, a book cover illustration by Mitchell Hooks, and a photo by John Cho.
Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of working with Robbin Schiff at Random House on the book cover illustration for “Brief Encounters with the Enemy" by Said Sayrafiezadeh. The characters in the stories had a quietly haunting quality as they moved through their seemingly mundane city; exploring those elements in the sketches below was a lot of fun.
McSweeney's fourth Grantland Quarterly is out now and includes a two-color illustration I did for a piece on the St. Patricks Day Macklin vs. Martinez fight and the racial politics of boxing. I thought it was an interesting read, touching on the how the crowds drive promoters and how "...being the best is second or maybe third on the list of qualities needed to become a superstar..."
The sketches below were approaches to the idea of the fighters being overshadowed by their nationalist bases, and how many other layers besides the fight were at play. AD Juliet Litman.
Last fall I started working with Nike to illustrate a series of comic-book-type cityscapes designed to be staging backdrops for large-format displays for the just released Jordan 'Dominate Training' campaign, featuring photos of Chris Paul.
The sketches emphasized familiar, but not-quite-recognizable, cityscapes and alleyways, balancing dark corners and highlights to show early morning light. The left top and bottom sketches were selected, with some adjustments, and the addition of a basketball court.
Here are a couple of the details from the finished line drawings (developed at 1200 dpi for the sake of enlargement) and below are the layouts from the Nike design team and some shots of the finished displays. Much thanks to David Frank and the whole team at Nike for the great collaboration.
The new issue of Grantland, McSweeney's sports quarterly is on stands now with a huge amount of really nice artwork and essays. I had the good fortune to get to work with Juliet Litman on an illustration for a piece by Eric Raskin recounting the hotly debated oral history of the 1987 Hagler vs. Leonard fight. The crux of the piece being how subjective the calls were depending on perspectives and tastes of the judges, and how far from clean-cut the final decision was. Below are a few of the steps of the process, beginning with thumbnails done while reading the article, followed by sketches on the idea of conflicting viewpoints, and then the ink drawing layers.
This is an illustration I just finished for an article in last Sunday's New York Times Magazine about the disproportionately high number of engineering degrees found among members of radical/terrorist organizations. The initial three sketches were based on the discussion of detachment and calculation, which are characteristics of members of both groups in the article.
After going over these sketches with Leo Jung at the Times, I went back and expanded further on the second one and the miniature city idea from a little more claustrophobic angle. In the process, I noticed the rough colors on the wall had a strange smudged look, almost a burn-mark feeling that worked unexpectedly well with the rest of the piece.
Here is an illustration I did for the LA Times book review. The book is Jon Clinch's latest book Kings of the Earth: A Novel about the lives and deaths of a family on a rural upstate New York farm. After going through the first half dozen sketches based on the short synopsis available before the book's release, I realized the ideas were really just guesses at plot points and character descriptions. For the final sketches (the last three which I submitted), I tried to keep the themes broader and more symbolic rather than narrative.
Ultimately the obscured, voyeuristic family photo idea was selected, and the finished piece ended up running in black and white (below right). But as luck would have it on newsprint the black and white version gives off an eerie documentary feel that hopefully helps drive home the concept of the story's unsettling, incomplete history. Much thanks again to Judy Pryor for the assignment.
Getting the chance to illustrate short fiction has been such a pleasure that I'm actually starting to feel a tiny bit guilty about it. I received an assignment from the Atlantic last month for a piece by Stuart Nadler entitled "Visiting" which, after reading, had already conjured such an atmospheric picture of this quiet, slightly suffocating afternoon trip by a father and his estranged son that I really just felt like I was reporting sketches from the scene.
Here is my cover artwork for the upcoming French sci-fi novel La Digitale by Alfred Boudry. The story tells of a sudden death involving a mysterious perfume, so the book's editor Eric Holstein and I were inspired to play with the style of contemporary perfume ads, while still retaining the ominous undertones of the detective story. The book will be available later this month from ActuSF. Also owenfreeman.com has been updated with new work and sketches.