Saturday, June 9, 2012

May: Kentucky Derby Day -- 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."™


May's featured holiday is Derby Day. In an homage to 1985's James Bond entry, A View to a Kill (starring Roger Moore, as Bond, Christopher Walken as villain, Max Zorin, and Grace Jones, as slinky red-caped villainess, May Day), the guys are posed as the team behind the Kentucky Derby winner. With restrained jubilation (as if they've been there, before), the guys bask in adulation in the Winner's Circle at Churchill Downs.


The Capts took part in a photo shoot, exploring different expressions and postures as the winning owner and jockey -- from subtle to over-the-top -- with their victorious horse. Their vision was very much with a nod to the Derby scenes in A View to a Kill. Graham (the owner) is Max Zorin. The Zorin Industries blimp flies, overhead, as a further punctuation to the scene.

The potential for storytelling is huge, here, from the extravagant hats and attire of race-goers, to the flamboyancy of the jockey's outfit, to the magnetic draw of the crowd, calling us to hide characters within.

How should I lay the foundation?

My reference gathering began with figuring out what the Winner's Circle really looks like. We want to lend integrity to the scene.

A perspective view, rather than a straight-on view, brings another level of interest and allows me to build space and depth. A low vantage point retains a sense of power which runs constant, throughout the calendar, and echoes the Blaxploitation posters we're using as inspiration.


My direction was approved and the favored poses were chosen. Now, it's time to fill in the blanks with reference -- including details such as the exact attire of Max Zorin (Which lapel does the flower go on?), the exact layout of the Winner's Circle at Churchill Downs (including the design of the flag atop the building), and the best jockey outfit to create for StoneRokk.

For the latter, I scoured the web, looking at contemporary outfits, vintage outfits, and all manner of jockey-inspired fashion from around the world. I decided on bold, geometric shapes -- a familiar constant, and favorite amongst the jockey community -- and used complementary colors for maximum attention. As a final flourish, I added a faux shoulder dressing to designate StoneRokk's royal position among jockey-kind.

Then, to my lovely models, Melodie and Ricky, to give me their best exuberant race-goer.

As promised, observant viewers will see dignitaries in the crowd, including Max Zorin, himself, as well as his pal, May Day. If you are very observant, you may even see Mr. Kentucky (Fried Chicken), Colonel Sanders, who is also the model for Graham's May 'stache.

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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