Sunday, December 22, 2013

Pope Francis Book Cover for Loyola Press



THE CLIENT

Loyola Press

THE ASSIGNMENT

A cover illustration of the first Jesuit pope for the book, Pope Francis, by Chris Lowney.

THE CHALLENGE

Create a thoughtful depiction of a pensive and confident leader, in Pope Francis, reflecting a man whose uniquely humble life choices have prepared him for the role of 21st century leader of Catholicism -- a personal story that earned him TIME Magazine's "Person of the Year."

GETTING STARTED

I am very happy to announce my partnership with Paulette Rhyne of Rhyne Represents, who is now my worldwide illustration representative. I am pleased to be part of her team of talented artists.

Loyola Press contacted us about this assignment, based on a charcoal portrait in my portfolio. They loved the painterly style and the subject's pensive expression. They felt this would be the perfect look for their upcoming book on Pope Francis.



PRELIMINARY SKETCHES

My client forwarded me some reference of the pope. In conjunction with my own research, I gathered enough to give me confidence in creating a pensive likeness that fit into an interesting composition and the constraints of the cover design.

One of the keys to the portfolio image they like is the sense of Rembrandt light, which is a lighting pattern, made popular by Dutch painter, Rembrandt, who used it in many of his portraits. It is characterized by half the subject's face in light and half in shadow, except for an upside down triangle of light under the eye on the shadow side. It is created when the shadow of the nose connects with the shadow of the cheek. It is a good go-to lighting pattern in painting and photography, because it usually creates pleasing and flattering results for the subject, and an interesting visual for the artist.

I used my knowledge of the facial structure and my practice in photography to fake in a bit more pronounced Rembrandt lighting on our papal subject for two preliminary sketch options.





THE FINAL ART

Another good go-to look is the "head turn." It gives the viewer a feeling of connection with the subject, because he or she appears to be turning to give their full attention to us, the viewer.

The head turn version was my art director's choice. Off to the final charcoal on paper art, I proceeded.

Here is the final cover, which you can purchase for your own.



Thank you to my rep, Paulette, and the kind folks at Loyola Press for a wonderful assignment.

Allan Burch is an award-winning illustrator and portrait artist, providing solutions for editorial, book, advertising, and institutional projects.
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Sunday, August 4, 2013

August: National Aviation Day -- The Captains of Industry Calendar



THE CLIENTS

Eyerus + Visual Communications Studio
The Captains of Industry

THE ASSIGNMENT

A calendar, illustrated in the style of '70s Blaxploitation movie posters. Each month will focus on an extremely esoteric holiday (or a popular holiday handled in an extremely esoteric way), all staring The Captains of Industry.

The Captains of Industry are: Graham Funke and StoneRokk, two innovative and eclectic DJs known for their creativity, sense of humor, and opinionated worldviews. You may find them working high-profile corporate and celebrity events around the country, or at their Las Vegas residencies at the Palms Casino Resort. They are "Your favorite DJ's favorite DJs."™

THE CHALLENGE: AUGUST

August's featured holiday is National Aviation Day. National Aviation Day is celebrated on August 19 -- designated as the anniversary of Orville Wright's birthday, and an occasion to celebrate the creation and advancement of aviation. A Titanic-esque aviation snafu is no match for The Capts, as they celebrate their day by raising a glass to the high life.

GETTING STARTED

The Capts took part in a photo shoot to aid in my visual reference. As you can see, they had no trouble getting straight into character, complete with trophy pup. You'll also notice Graham (on the left) using his foot to deny some poor sap entrance to their private raft.



With these images and direction from my art director, it is time to marry concept and vision.

THE PROBLEMS TO SOLVE

- Tell a complex, visually rich story of of a Titanic nature with a sense of order and humor
- Cramming the scene with sight gags and pop culture references that complement the humorous story
- Bring a sense of over-the-top tropical ease to The Capts which aptly contrasts the fervent panic they are oblivious to all around them

For my initial sketch, I started from a low vantage point, giving the guys the majority of the story and power



We needed to give more importance to the interesting story happening, behind them. So, The Capts shrunk in prominence and the frantic passengers filled the water



Approved! Now to have some fun detailing the stories happening with the passengers struggling to distance themselves from the wreckage. A photo shoot allowed me to explore these folks. I asked Melodie and Ricky to take it over-the-top, which yielded some very humorous results.




THE FINAL ART

With the help of Matthew, my art director, we fleshed out quite a few interesting stories for those who take the time to feast upon the scene. They include a Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio Titanic reenactment, a few scenes from the 1970 disaster movie, Airport (look for a cigar-chomping George Kennedy), plenty of every-man-and-woman-for-themselves battles, a few nuns and sharks, for good measure, and Otto and his lovely inflatable companion, from 1980's, Airplane, calmly rowing away with a wink and a smile.





THE SECRET 'STACHE

Each month of this calendar features Graham rocking a different mustache, integral to each story. This month, he is sporting what I affectionately call, "the Isaac." The name refers to the grinning, epically-'stached bartender from the 1977-1986 television show, Love Boat, memorably portrayed by Ted Lange.




Thanks, again, to the amazing team at Eyerus for allowing me the opportunity to be involved, for their direction, and for fostering an environment for creativity that any illustrator would cherish. Thanks, too, to The Captains of Industry for conceiving such a wonderfully-inspired collection of ideas for the world to devour, as well as for their very generous write-up about the project and their kind words toward me. See it, here.

You may still be able to secure your own calendar at The Capts Online Haberdashery.

Allan Burch is an award-winning illustrator and portrait artist, providing solutions for editorial, book, advertising, and institutional projects.
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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Nancy M. Schlichting for HealthLeaders Magazine



THE CLIENT

HealthLeaders Magazine

THE ASSIGNMENT

A cover story illustration on HealthLeaders' 20 honorees for 2012, selected for their efforts to make health care better. Their cover features Nancy M. Schlichting, Henry Ford Health System CEO and Detroit Regional Chamber's chairman of the year.

THE CHALLENGE

I need to tell the story of Ms. Schlichting's influential position in the health care industry, and with the Henry Ford Health System, while portraying her in a flattering way and conforming to the cover layout.

GETTING STARTED

I was provided a few head shots of Ms. Schlichting, but I needed to give her a standing stance of strength that fit the cover layout. The wonderful Melodie is one of my go-to models for such purposes. After a trip to the thrift store for a business outfit, we conducted our shoot, exploring a variety of poses, giving me lots of material to play with.




PRELIMINARY SKETCHES

We knew she would need to stay on the left and the Henry Ford Health System building would be in the background. The decisions would involve the size of the building and exact pose.

I narrowed it down to the two poses I felt flattered and strengthened her, best, and two unique building views.




FINAL ART

The last sketch was approved with the caveat to alter her size to fill the page with her torso. A nice warm color palette rounds out the scene.

Thanks to the great folks at HealthLeaders Magazine.

Allan Burch is an award-winning illustrator and portrait artist, providing solutions for editorial, book, advertising, and institutional projects.
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Sunday, February 3, 2013

John Bogle for Research Magazine



THE CLIENT

Research Magazine

THE ASSIGNMENT

A cover story illustration on John Bogle and his thoughts on ETFs (Exchange-Traded Funds -- an investment fund that holds a basket of assets, like an index fund, but trades like a stock on an exchange).

John Bogle is author of the bestselling book, Common Sense on Mutual Funds: New Imperatives for the Intelligent Investor. He is also founder and retired CEO of American investment company, The Vanguard Group. TIME Magazine named him one of the "world's 100 most powerful and influential people" in 2004.

Mr. Bogle had been a skeptic of ETFs, but had recently softened his stance. Research Magazine asked me to create a portrait of him for their cover.

THE CHALLENGE

This was a fairly straightforward portrait assignment, but I still needed to tell the story of his influential stature in the financial industry while conforming to the cover layout.

GETTING STARTED

I scoured the internet for reference images of Mr. Bogle, including YouTube, which is the second largest search engine on the internet. The nice thing about YouTube, is I can get a sense of how he walks, sits, and stands. He will be 84 in May 2013, so he has a posture that is unique to him and certainly to those that know him. However, to project a sense of strength, I chose to give him a taller, longer posture than he is typically seen with.

PRELIMINARY SKETCHES

I kept the composition to head and shoulders and head and torso to best fill the frame with a bold eye-catching image. I've found, in general, that a strong, eye-catching portrait can be best achieved when the face fills 1/2 to 1/3 of the frame.

I like to solve most of my visual problems at the sketch stage, so I took the opportunity to use myself as a model for the body, taking photographic reference to help figure out my compositions.

I used a tip from portrait photography by using strong, masculine poses to tell the story of his strength and stature in his industry. The solid, balanced angles of his body and firm, thoughtful placement of his hands gives the viewer a visual cue to think strength over weakness.

I chose an array of subtle stories for his line of work, mainly utilizing the background, and providing just enough flavor to let the viewer know he is a financial person.









FINAL ART

The last sketch was approved with the caveat to make his head a bit smaller in relation to his body. The blurred out stock ticker in the background provides some nice dynamic angles and a splash of color. My research showed he is very often seen with a blue shirt and red tie, which happened to work nicely with my color palette.

Thanks to the great folks at Research Magazine.

Allan Burch is an award-winning illustrator and portrait artist, providing solutions for editorial, book, advertising, and institutional projects.
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Saturday, July 28, 2012

July: Bastille Day -- The Captains of Industry Calendar



THE CLIENTS

Eyerus + Visual Communications Studio
The Captains of Industry

THE ASSIGNMENT

A calendar, illustrated in the style of '70s Blaxploitation movie posters. Each month will focus on an extremely esoteric holiday (or a popular holiday handled in an extremely esoteric way), all staring The Captains of Industry.

The Captains of Industry are: Graham Funke and StoneRokk, two innovative and eclectic DJs known for their creativity, sense of humor, and opinionated worldviews. You may find them working high-profile corporate and celebrity events around the country, or at their Las Vegas residencies at the Palms Casino Resort. They are "Your favorite DJ's favorite DJs."™

THE CHALLENGE: JULY

July's featured holiday is Bastille Day. Bastille Day is celebrated on July 14, and commemorates the storming of the Bastille in 1789 -- the start of the French Revolution and a symbol of liberty and the fight against oppression. When told the French people were starving while the royalty were languishing in comfort, Marie Antoinette allegedly said, "Let them eat cake!" These words figure prominently in July's art, as the guys play the parts of French royalty, gluttonously indulging on a gold-studded Chippendale table, while the peasants rise in rage, from behind, deciding they've had enough.

GETTING STARTED

The Capts took part in a photo shoot. They cover the bases from regal and proper to gluttonous and over-the-top.



With these images and direction from my art director, it is time to marry concept and vision.

THE PROBLEMS TO SOLVE

- Tell a horizontal story in a square format (a long table needs to have its longness aptly shown)
- How to bring a French landscape into the picture that screams "French!"
- How to bring integrity to French Revolution period clothing.
- How to depict desserts that are unmistakably decadent and truly fit for a king (or kings).

For my initial sketches, I started with the first visual problem -- portraying the scene in a square format. I started by showing an angle shot, attempting to use perspective to relay the longness of the table, while filling the frame with the guys, and telling the remainder of the story happening in the distance.






The sketches worked okay, but didn't fulfill the objective of showing the table as the guys envisioned. So, I turned the "camera" to show the table and desserts in all their glory, bringing more prominence to the uprising happening across the landscape in the distance.

In order to keep some diagonals in the scene (remember, diagonals are generally more interesting that static vertical and horizontal lines), I played up the flow of the landscape and its hills, leading their lines down to The Capts.



Approved! This solves the challenge of telling a horizontal story in a square format.

THE FINAL ART

Now to solve the rest of those visual challenges.

Remember, reference is key. Don't skimp or make up stuff. There is a plethora of information to aid us illustrators on the web. And, for those specific needs, set up your own photo shoot. That's exactly what I did, recruiting Melodie and Ricky to don my rented French period attire. Costume shops and theater companies are filled with knowledgeable folks who love to help on the subject of period clothing.



I also enlisted myself. Notice my yellow notepad with scene notes and my early sketches for inspiration, as I get into character.



How about those other challenges...

The French scene that screams, "French!" Through diligent research, I found rolling hills and pastoral colors from French countryside that screamed, if not hollered, "French!" to me. Problem solved.

How to depict desserts that are unmistakably decadent and truly fit for a king (or kings). The basic cupcake just won't do. We need concoctions that are as much an architectural feat as they are an indulgent feast. To the web I go to scour for ideas. Like any composition, this table of food is its own diorama. It needs a pleasing flow with large focal point "stars" and smaller supporting characters. It's a character of its own.

THE SECRET 'STACHE

Each month of this calendar features Graham rocking a different mustache, integral to each story. This month, he is sporting "the French curl" (third image, below).






Thanks, again, to the amazing team at Eyerus for allowing me the opportunity to be involved, for their direction, and for fostering an environment for creativity that any illustrator would cherish. Thanks, too, to The Captains of Industry for conceiving such a wonderfully-inspired collection of ideas for the world to devour, as well as for their very generous write-up about the project and their kind words toward me. See it, here.

You may secure your own calendar at The Capts Online Haberdashery.

Over the coming weeks, I will show and tell the stories behind each month's art. Stay tuned. Tell your friends. You won't be disappointed!

Allan Burch is an award-winning illustrator and portrait artist, providing solutions for editorial, book, advertising, and institutional projects.
View more of his work»
Sign-up for his newsletter»
Purchase prints»