Saturday, January 26, 2008

Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen -- one of my favorite pieces. It gets a lot of hits on both my website and the various other portfolio sites in which I participate. It made the Communication Arts Illustration annual and both the Los Angeles and New York Society of Illustrators annuals. People have inquired about purchasing it (which I'm willing to do, by the way).

I did this illustration shortly after college, which initiated one of the "golden ages" of my development as an illustrator. I had moved back home, after my freelance work ran dry, working at the local Hy-Vee grocery store stocking shelves by night and working feverishly during the day building my portfolio. I found some reference one day that inspired me to create another Bruce Springsteen illustration. You see, in college, as an assignment, I did a Springsteen illustration. So why do another? All I do know, is it seemed like the right thing to do. But, it didn't come easily. I made one pass at it and failed. It had become labored-looking, and had no integrity or direction. It didn't look like I knew what I was trying to accomplish. So, I scrapped it and tried again. Some of my favorite pieces are the result of second attempts. This time it came together like the planets lining up. When a painting paints itself, as Bruce did, one tends to bookmark the occasion in their mind. When it was complete, I felt like it could be something special -- it said much with deceptive simplicity. When it fortunately snagged all kinds of space in the annuals, I decided I might be onto something. In many ways, it has proven a benchmark for my measurement of later pieces. It is also one of the few I have done that tends toward a cool color palette.

One thing that helps this piece hold up over time is the fact that Sprinsteen seems to hold on to this look. He looks about the same now as he did in 1995, which is good for me, as I can continue to ride this image. If an artist likes a musician's work, it shows in the illustration. Bruce is certainly one of the great storytellers in music. Today, he hangs on my wall, with the other illustrations that needed framing for one reason or another, keeping an eye on all things to his left.

Check out this version of "Fire." You can feel the energy aching to burst through. Bruce wrote this for Elvis in '77, but Elvis died shortly thereafter.

And, here is a duet with Melissa Etheridge. "Thunder Road" unplugged. Pretty cool.

And, speaking of Melissa Etheridge unplugged, here is a killer version of "Maggie May."

Sunday, January 13, 2008


Yet another of my San Francisco images. While I was people watching, a couple caught my eye. Particularly this woman. They looked to be not from the U.S., probably in their 40s. They were both dressed smartly and summery. She had a camera and they were both scanning the Union Square, looking at the people. Once and a while, she'd take a shot. They would talk to each other in lower tones periodically, perhaps conferring about the person she was about to photograph. It was a fairly high-end camera, and she looked to have had experience with photography. I wondered what she was looking for.

Her shock of red hair captured my attention, which drew me into her story, and looking at the clues to try and deduce her story. I thought an image of the attractive, seductive woman holding the camera, perhaps herself the voyeur, might be a unique take on the concept. Particularly when composed in such a way to ask who exactly is the voyeur -- the viewer or the woman. Maybe both.

The lines of the plaza become design elements to reflect the angles in the figure. One of my favorite parts is the foot terminating precisely in the lower left corner. The red throughout becomes a strong presence, stemming from the hair and accentuating a mood.

Maybe she has a photograph of me on her blog.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Let's Dance

I saw Rob Thomas do a version of the David Bowie tune, "Let's Dance," on PBS recently. It was shown as part of his concert at the Red Rocks Amphitheater. It was a pretty credible rendition, in my opinion. I thought it a fitting title for this illustration that was used on my 2007 Christmas card. My intent was to have this image up for the holidays, but work and travel precluded this. So, Obama remained for 2 additional weeks, which turned out very topical with the recent wave he's created.

But back to the image this week, which was prepared months in advance for the express purpose of my card. I thought it captured the celebration and color of the season, and also alludes to the partnership I engage with my clients.

Working with a great art director is a very rewarding symbiotic partnership. When you find yourself in a good professional relationship, it's something that should be celebrated, in my opinion. In this business, markets, situations, budgets, and positions can and do change. When the creative planets align just so, if for one job or many, I think it's important to take a moment and recognize it.

A blast from the past.