Thursday, July 16, 2015

Arthur J Simms, for Eyerus Visual Communication Studio and The Arthur J



THE CLIENT

Eyerus Visual Communication Studio and The Arthur J steakhouse

THE ASSIGNMENT

A portrait of Arthur J. Simms, patriarch and pioneer of the Simms’ Restaurant Group — the family venture behind some of Southern California’s hottest eateries — for their newest Manhattan Beach steakhouse, The Arthur J.

THE CHALLENGE

Create a portrait reflecting the colorful character of Mr. Simms, while illustrating a timeless piece of art with Mid-century Modern styling, to reflect the vibe, color, and decor of this brand new restaurant.

GETTING STARTED

Arthur J. Simms was quoted in his obituary as “wanting to leave no tread on the tires by the time I’m done.” His colorful fashion style reflected his flamboyant personal style. According to those who knew him, Mr. Simms' tires were threadbare upon his passing, in 2000. The Arthur J is a celebration and homage to the man. Decked out in Mid-century Modern colors, shapes, and spaces, the restaurant takes patrons back to the time when Mr. Simms was at his most powerful, and gives diners an experience as delicious as their meal.

I’ve been fortunate to collaborate with Eyerus Visual Communication Studio on several occasions. It’s always been a fun and rewarding experience. Being part of Eyerus’ branding of this important South Beach steakhouse would be no exception.

My first step was to review the reference provided me, about Arthur J, his story, and the restaurant Eyerus was helping to brand. The portrait would hang in a very visible position, greeting visitors, upon entering. It should complement the warm colors of the decor, and blend with the bold styling of the 1950s-60s Modern design, gracing the restaurant’s interior. Equally important, the portrait should reflect Arthur Simms’ style and personality.

He was no stranger to vibrant fashion. But, we also want something that people can look at, every day, and still capture the essence of his atypical style. His signature pink jacket was my choice, because it provides a sense of presence with vibrance. A yellow sweater and pants complements the pink, as well as the decor, and reflects his warm personality.

For the art's visual style, I took some cues from the art and design of the period, often perusing the wonderful collection of Mid-century Modern art found at Shelby White's blog. I wanted to keep the strokes graphic and somewhat simplified, while maintaining the general illustration style my client expects from me.

SURPRISE!!

The luxurious three week deadline? It has been tweaked a bit. It’s now three days. Can we make it happen? Of course we can!

PRELIMINARY SKETCHES

My client wanted something standing, head and torso. As I tend to do, I utilized the services of myself, as test model, to work out the best poses.




I always like to cover the gamut and provide several options for my client. These were the preliminary sketches...





Since color is so important to this piece, I knew it would be helpful to include a color comp. This helps minimize any surprises, for the client, with the final art



THE FINAL ART

My client chose sketch #1.

Shifting into high gear, it’s time to race forward and show our new deadline whose boss. West coast client vs midwest illustrator = two hours extra, for me, before they get into the office. This is important for wringing every last second out of my workflow.

Deadline day comes. A jpeg version is sent for final approval. Everything is a-okay! Time to upload the high-res file. One day, high-res file transfer will be instantaneous, but, on this day, it still took what seemed like forever. There I sat, confirmation email composed, ticking down every last byte, my cursor on the “send” button. Will the power go out with one byte left? Will my system corrupt, spontaneously? All possibilities, you know? But, not today! Upon full transfer, I click “send,” and the talented folks at Eyerus complete the framing and presentation of this portrait in time for the eagerly-awaited opening.

Many thanks to Eyerus Visual Communication Studio, for the opportunity to work with you on this fantastic project.




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»

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Brian Grazer for Hemispheres Magazine



THE CLIENT

Hemispheres Magazine/Ink Global

THE ASSIGNMENT

A full-page illustration of Hollywood super producer, Brian Grazer, for a Q & A feature about his new book, A Curious Mind. It is a book chronicling the conversations Mr. Grazer has had with some of the best and brightest minds on the planet, and what he has learned about the power of curiosity.

THE CHALLENGE

Reflect Brian Grazer’s distinctive style and personality, while communicating the theme of the article, which is his conversations with amazing people.

GETTING STARTED

I was very excited to receive this assignment, having admired Hemisphere Magazine’s stellar use of illustration, over the years. I was extra-excited after learning more about the nature of the article.

Brian Grazer is a partner, and co-founder, with Ron Howard, at Imagine Entertainment. Doing a Google search on Mr. Grazer will turn up the biggest names in show business. One day, he decided to seek periodic discussions with extraordinary people, all for the purpose of learning about them and their world. Over the years, these people have included, Steve Jobs, Andy Warhol, Carl Sagan, and Barack Obama, among many others. These conversations have fueled many of his creative projects, and, in the process, taught him about the hidden power of curiosity. In his new book, A Curious Mind, he shares insight to these conversations and what we can all gain by living a curious life.

Tracy Toscano, Art Director with Hemispheres Magazine, sent me a draft of the article, to help me get a feel for the tone and content. When doing a portrait, I like to get a clear grasp on my subject, in order to best portray him or her with authenticity.

My first step was gathering photos and searching YouTube for interviews, to hear him speak and observe his mannerisms. I learned that Mr. Grazer is not often shown, wearing a tie. He is also a creative, free spirit, with a great sense of humor. His trademark spiky hair is not only part of his memorable style, it helps to filter out people who can’t see beyond it. It’s a big part of his persona, and should be a significant part of the illustration.

One of the many projects with Brian Grazer’s name attached, is, A Beautiful Mind, for which he won the 2002 Academy Award for Best Picture. Because his book's title is influenced by this movie's moniker, I took an evening to see what else I could learn about him, from this film, as part of my research.

I took away some visual cues that I utilized in my sketches...

PRELIMINARY SKETCHES

My client wanted something, generally, head and shoulders. They also wanted to enhance the spiky hair aspect. In addition, they wanted to explore the possible superhero vantage point, to reflect his stature in his industry and the wisdom he has gained in his discussions.

I always like to cover the gamut and provide several options for my client. These were the preliminary sketches...





Light is magic. In this instance, I like how it draws attention to his hair and adds a graphic element. It’s a device I use for several of our sketch options. In case you are wondering, sketch #5 includes photos and writing superimposed in the sky, reflecting the many stories he gathered in his conversations. This visual device also loosely mirrors one used in A Beautiful Mind.

To help attain the right pose and light, I used myself as a model, as I often tend to do.



THE FINAL ART

My client chose sketch #3 — the smiling, conversational pose. They also wanted to be sure there was plenty of warmth, in the scene. I proceeded, making sure the lighting would provide ample opportunity to inject warm tones into the illustration.

I utilize a mixed-media approach, combining acrylic painting and Photoshop. It’s a technique that allows me to maintain a traditional, painterly look, while giving me unlimited control over every part of an illustration — color, tone, texture, and content — in a way that traditional painting cannot. Each aspect is manipulated, independently, and allows me incredible versatility, should a change be required, in either a client request or in my artistic vision. Several years, ago, a change would necessitate laborious re-painting. Today, it is a much more streamlined, exact approach.

Here is the Hemispheres article about Brian Grazer and his new book. It is well worth a read.

Many thanks to my representative, Paulette Rhyne, and to Hemispheres Magazine and Ink Global, for the opportunity to work with you on this wonderful assignment.




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»

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.
View more of his work»
Sign-up for his newsletter»
Purchase prints»

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.
View more of his work»
Sign-up for his newsletter»
Purchase prints»

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.
View more of his work»
Sign-up for his newsletter»
Purchase prints»

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.
View more of his work»
Sign-up for his newsletter»
Purchase prints»