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!


Emily Anthony said...

Congrats, very well done, conveys negativity just as you intended. Yuck!

Neil Davies said...

Thanks Emily!