Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Sodom and Gomorrah New Year! -- The Captains of Industry Calendar


Eyerus + Visual Communications Studio
The Captains of Industry


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."™


January's featured holiday is New Year's Day. In the style of The Captains, this can be no ordinary Rockin' New Year. This must be epic. It must be biblical. Its debauchery must cause the cursed to want to return to the nefarious bosom of Beelzebub just for the safe haven. Amidst the wrath of the Almightly and ensuing eternal chaos, The Captains emerge from the charred rubble, Baby New Year in-tow.


Prior to the sketch phase, The Captains took part in a photo shoot, wearing approximate clothing and staging various poses appropriate to each month's scene, as they envisioned it. The resulting images allowed us to pick and choose from a variety of angles and expressions to create the best illustration. The photos made for quite entertaining viewing, too.

Here they are, preparing to rock in the new year with faux toddler (aka -- paint roller).

Also prior to the sketch phase, I did extensive research on '70s Blaxploitation movie posters, to be sure I understood their pulp magazine-like color palettes, dramatic compositional stylings, and in-your-face narrative approach. Favorite inspiration included: Superfly, Shaft's Big Score!, and Coffy.


An epic New Year's Eve party requires plenty of debauchery. So, naturally, I spent time researching debauchery. The trick is to present it in a way that is not gratuitous and uninteresting, but witty, engaging, and allows one's mind to create a final punch line. Engaging the viewer's mind adds another layer of interest, as well as adds real and perceived complexity to a scene.

Part of the look of '70s Blaxploitation movie posters is in the perspective. I decided to use a lower viewpoint, here, to make the scene seem larger and more imposing. The lower angle also adds a sense of heroism to The Captains, emerging in front.

Before launching into the final art, I staged a photo shoot to give me information for the passed-out partiers. A reminder to illustrators out there: don't skimp on your reference! Your college professors weren't joking. Make it easy on yourself in the long run.

My fantastic models (and me) all had fun pretending to be passed out and completely out of commission New Year's revelers. The resulting images gave me plenty of options to create a middleground of spent humanity. Here's one of my faves. His identity has been hidden to avoid incrimination.

I wanted to create a visual flow around the guys, subtly pointing the eye back to Baby New Year, kicking and screaming its way into 2012. The blazen cave entrance is a good place to start. If you get lost, there are plenty of visual helpers to point you in the right direction. Take a look around and you'll be either entertained or offended. Either way is perfectly okay.


I had, probably, too much fun coming up with debaucherous detail, strewn throughout. I'd still be adding things, today, if I could. Although, it's one thing to have a mountain of ideas and a creative concept, it's totally another to execute them in a way that tells the story and doesn't waste a millimeter of space -- meaning every item should be composed in a pleasing way which both leads the eye and successfully helps tell the story.

The largest items, like The Captains and the high-contrast cave opening, are very prominent, and among the most important components of the illustration. Like a theatrical play, they set the stage. Using details to both lead the eye and allow some visual rest, I created subtle breaks in implied lines where I wanted the eye to gravitate. For example, the "road sign" breaks the edge of the composition on the left, drawing the eye into it and its goings-on, as well as helping to lead the viewer through the complex composition. The pointy party hat on the supine partier on the far right also breaks the edge of the composition and directs the eye back up to StoneRokk, whose bottle directs the eye back down through the scene.

Use your skills of perception and see how many details you can find in the illustration. Drop me a line and I'll point out some hidden gems.

To put a punctuation mark on the holiday, Graham is rockin' a mustache (and accompanying sideburns) I affectionately call, "The Ron Jeremy." Each month features a 'stache integral to the story.

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.
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