Sunday, March 14, 2010

Calling a turd a turd.

I worked for Steven Brodner for a while when I first moved to NYC. Among the many things I learned while helping out in his Studio were two very wise quotes that stuck with me....

1: The most important drawing is the next drawing.
2: If the wine is no good, throw it out!

Both are basically his philosophy on work ethic. I'd watch him eat a stack of paper making sketches for a single likeness, most of which I'd drool over, but he knew his standard and wouldn't settle. He also was a believer in not falling in love with a drawing if it wasn't the right one.

Now here is a story of me not heeding this advice.

Normally when creating a rollover I have a plethora of imagery to think about and skew to my whim. Usually a holiday is associated with its own managerie of icons, mascots and folklore. This time, however, I was tasked to create something for the obscure "Pi Day" (aka 3/14) celebrated by math fans everywhere (or maybe just MIT.) So, what do I have for Pi Day? The irrational number starting with 3.14 and the symbol π. I had to relate it to something would be interested in, so something scifi/fantasy/literary/comic booky. I thought something that was a classic riddle in stories could rollover to reveal the shapes in π. My buddy, Frank, mentioned the Mad Hatter's Riddle "How is a raven like a writing table?" which is a riddle with no answer (the Mad Hatter is mad). Seemed like a good excuse to do an Alice illustration.

My first clue that I was on the wrong track should have been that I'd never heard of that riddle.

But I went for it.
I tried to figure out how I'd like to show the scene of him asking the riddle. Something that wasn't too obviously inspired by Tenniel and Rackham.

Then I played with the shapes of π and ravens and desks to get them to be somewhat similar.
And I had the great idea of framing the drawing in cards. But ho! The cards are in order of Pi's digits!
I got to about this stage before I realized that the idea was bad. Very bad. Only a handful of people would understand what was happening, and the fact that the table and raven looked like π didn't actually mean anything.

So... even after committing to paint every-effing-one of those cards accurately, I knew it was toast. I had to start completely anew. (notice the creases from when I threw the painting out, only to dig it out of the trash to blog about the experience)

Now, with much less time to work, I rethought my whole Pi dilemma. In about three seconds I realized the word Pi was extremely accessible and had a much better idea involving the Pied Piper.

Moral of the story: Don't fall in love with an image if you know it isn't the right one. A pretty illustration that makes no sense is a bad illustration.


Friday, March 12, 2010

Valentines in Oz and bloomin flowers.

Another holiday rollover for Tor, this time addressing Valentine's Day.

A lot of these holidays are fun to explore because of the either traditional or completely commercial imagery associated with them. Valentine's has a great variety of love, religion, and hallmark-ish symbols and images to choose from. I figured the most fun to paint would be cherubs or cupids following lovers in a very saccarine sweet scene of whimsical romance. I could avoid doing anything using hearts or chocolates that would have been a lil obvious.

So... even picturing possibilities in my head, I started thinking of Rococo style painter, Fragonard. He is primarily famous for (what I consider) over the top romantic paintings. Rosy cheeked men fawning over plump women with enormous dresses in flattering sideways light, in the middle of a lush garden. Adorable.

Beautiful, and very very ridiculous. So, one goal was to attempt to reach that level of overthetop ridiculosity. I started figuring out poses that would be graceful and flowing to see what possibilities would lie in the shapes. I quickly found that the cherubs would easily translate to flying monkeys, and with such an opportunity, I had to make the rollover involve the Wizard of Oz.
Narrowing down the scene a bit more to what I really wanted to show, thinking what could possibly relate to the rollover image, I settled on a carefree lover's chase. Cherubs circling above, aiming arrows of love.

Some tracing paper and photoshop magice later, I had my translation to the world of Oz.
And painted the finish.

... and another heartwarming image to leave you with.