Sunday, January 2, 2011

"Books" illustration...

... from 1990. Another early newspaper illustration for one of the several "Best Books Of..." or "New Fall Books" articles I was assigned over the years. This one, I think, was "Spring Books".

I always enjoyed getting those particular jobs, because you could be more creative than you could be with articles that were about a more specific subject. The problem was always how to depict the subject ("books") in any kind of fresh or unique way. You know - there has to be a book and maybe a reader and... you have to do something conceptual with only that to go on.

I've seen many other illustrators tackle this kind of assignment over the years, often coming up with terrific solutions that I envied and wished I'd thought of. I don't think I ever really succeeded in coming up with a truly great solution myself. Maybe this one came the closest, I don't know. It's a little too cute, maybe, and certainly more rushed than I would have liked -- (if I'd only had one more day...) but I was fond of it anyway, probably because of the memory of getting the job & doing it in one night. Back then, if you did an illustration for a local newspaper (which this was) it was always a rush. You got the phone call from the art director with the details, then either that afternoon or the next morning you had to fax them a sketch (or - if the deadline was really tight & they trusted you - you wouldn't have to do a sketch). Then you had one day (or two, if you were lucky) to do the finished art.

On the morning the work was due, I'd have to get in my car - my old beat-up dark blue Toyota wagon - and drive into San Francisco from Berkeley (during the morning commute!) and hand in the art to the art director in person. Then there was always that moment - I'd hold my breath as they took the art out of the envelope and looked at it. I was lucky enough that they always at least smiled and thanked me, but - argh - the rush of insecurity at that moment. For a split second I'd have a vision of them holding the art, grimacing -- "This is not what we had in mind AT ALL" and -- "Riiiip!" -- tearing the thing in half. I suppose I'd always imagine the absolute worst possible scenario so that I couldn't help but be relieved, even if they just responded with a curt "Okay - thanks." Luckily nowadays you can just scan the thing & send it to them with the click of a button. It's a lot less stressful that way!