Saturday, November 22, 2008

Pleading Insanity

Here is an illustration created a few years ago for Phoenix Magazine. Unfortunately, as some jobs are, this one was killed for one reason or another. However, one of its results was this dark piece from my archives.

The story it accompanied had to do with prisoners and the potential abuse of the insanity plea. The client knew what they wanted, so it was just a matter of my translating their concept to the page.

As you see above, the intent was to depict a gruff-looking prisoner -- maybe qualified to plead insanity, maybe not -- with shadowy, dreamy figures flitting about, at least raising the possibility of the instability of his mind.

The textural quality of the charcoal on paper drawing lends itself to the cold mood and sense of uneasiness the client was looking to achieve. The harsh light, bisecting the guy's face, both creates drama and alludes to the decision between right and wrong (good and bad, light and dark) when it comes to the issue.

So, who is posing as the prisoner, you are probably asking. Since I tend to pose for my own illustrations, whenever possible, I can say, from the neck down, I am loosely represented.

But, as I'm such a non-threatening sort, my head just would not cut it.

Luckily, a friend, who taught a college-level life-drawing course at the time, happened to have a model who looked like he could have slipped through the barbed wire at the state facility.

It turns out he was a prince of a fellow, but had the mug of a least a prisoner in my illustration.

The end result worked out just perfectly.

Everyone was thrilled, which thrilled me, doubly.

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