Friday, August 30, 2013

Syria cover illustration for The Week

I'm really pleased with this not because it's that great an illustration, but because it was my idea (unlike my earlier covers for The Week which were the editor's). This was decided Monday lunchtime and a lot has happened since then, so I'm glad they went with my idea rather than another less important story. I'm doubly pleased because it was a real joint effort to get it to the final stage.

After pitching my idea, this is the rough sketch I sent for approval:

This was the image I had in my head - a pair of UN inspectors almost silhouetted against a ruined Syrian street, with a UN white 4x4 in the middle ground. I got the go ahead and worked on it a bit more. The UN guys were way too dumpy and badly proportioned so I adjusted them as well as putting more detail into the scene:

At this point the editor wasn't sure they UN guys were really connected to the rest of the picture and he wanted it to feel like you were looking over their shoulder at the devastation beyond, to increase the impact. So he suggested pulling them back much closer to the viewer. I really didn't want to do that as I was attached to my two-man silhouette, but I agreed to give it a try. I knew that I couldn't fit two guys that close without losing half the scene so I just pulled one back and put the other in the middle ground with the car. Of course the final image looks SO much better, the editor was 100% spot on and now I'm really happy we got a decent image that does the story at least some justice.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Cover for The Skeptical Inquirer! But not...

I was lucky enough to be asked to do a cover illustration for The Skeptical Inquirer, which is the official journal of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry over in the USA. Fantastic! They wanted a caricature of the "psychic" (or twisted, lying fraud as I like to say) Sylvia Browne. This person really is a piece of work (get a copy of the mag and read the article if you can, it's unbelievable). She's recently been in the news for telling a mother, on TV, that her kidnapped daughter was dead, when in fact she was alive and being held prisoner. The mother died without knowing this. A truly horrid story, but just one of many for Sylvia.

I was excited to do the illustration but I didn't want to do a funny caricature, or anything that made light of this person - I really wanted to illustrate her as creepy and evil, but not in a way that would be too jokey. What immediately came to mind was a painting my friend and fellow illustrator Jason Seiler had done for The Weekly Standard (scroll down his blog page to find it). It was a straight portrait done in a very loose painterly style that had such a great feel. Now Jason is leagues ahead of me as an artist and so I thought I may have been taking a bit of a risk to try and do something similar, but I could see in my head what I wanted and so I suggested the idea to the SI art director. He liked it so I went ahead. Here's the illustration:

As well as making her look as creepy as I could, she's well known for her long red talon-like fingernails, so I switched them to black, just to suggest her digging her claws into the poor grieving family... etc, etc you get the idea.

I'm pretty happy with how it looks, like I said I'm no Jason Seiler so the quality of the painting is not what I'd want it to be. But it does what I wanted it to.

Unfortunately, even though they liked the illustration, the editors of SI thought that being on the cover of the magazine has an honorific status to it and so didn't want to put her there so prominently. Which I totally understand and agree with. But it is a real shame, as the illustration does loses all its impact on the cover as small as it is:

So it's a little bit disappointing it didn't quite work out how I would have liked it to, but I'm still really glad to have been asked to do something for SI, hopefully it won't be the last thing!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Paul Moyse - Heads and Shoulders Kickstarter project

My friend and fellow caricature artist Paul Moyse is working on a new book of caricature work, all original drawings and paintings. I've already got Paul's first book and also an original drawing hanging right in front of my computer, so I'm really hoping his Kickstarter project is a huge success for him!

Check out this video where Paul talks about the project:

If you're a fan of caricature (and if you're reading this you probably are) please consider backing Paul's book project, the rewards on the Kickstarter page are awesome. There are already some sneak peeks at a couple of new pieces, and you could even buy the original drawings and paintings if a book just isn't enough for you!

Here's the link: Heads and Shoulders - A Caricature Book

He's even managed to get Derren Brown involved, both to help promote the book and be a caricature subject in this awesome painting:

Can't wait to see who else is going in the book!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A few gift caricature jobs

Here are a few recent jobs, plus a card I got in the post today to say thank you (for the caricature of the triathlon runner below) - how sweet is that?