Monday, June 11, 2012

June: Gay Pride 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."™


June's featured holiday is Gay Pride Day. There is actually no set day to celebrate this holiday. June is reserved as the month of recognition, and cities can decide when to host their own festivities. The guys wanted to represent this holiday via a mash-up between a stereotypical gay pride parade and the iconic Spirit of '76 painting, by Archibald MacNeal Willard. StoneRokk and Graham would be the leaders, playing the fife and drum, respectively.


The Capts took part in a photo shoot, staying pretty faithful to the poses from Willard's famous painting. The intent was to be very much over-the-top, so, one alteration I would need to make to the guys, in order to have them properly fit in with the crowd and tell their story, is to increase their buffness levels, in the final art. More on that, later.

Like May, before this, the potential for storytelling is huge, here. The rainbow colors and free-for-all personal expression of the crowd invites a very animated approach to telling this particular story. I had permission to essentially go nuts.

My reference gathering included the basics, such as 1776 period clothing, the fife and drum, rainbow flag, and fireworks. But, the real interest comes from the details. I scoured the web for reference of gay pride parades, looking for the most ridiculous scenes I could find. I scoured the web for ridiculous scenes that were not part of a gay pride parade, but could inspire the folks in our parade.

Using the composition from Spirit of '76 as a basis, I created this winding, pyramidal scene

Upon review, I received specifics on what Stone and Graham wished to be wearing. Stone (the fife player) wanted the revolutionary coat, speedos, and combat boots, untied and folded down (to show he was a lover, not a fighter, to quote Matt, my art director).

Graham (the drummer) wished to be wearing a leather vest, cutoff jean shorts, and cowboy boots.

Okay, you got all that? Good, because it's time to take the next step.


I needed to book a buffed-up model, as body doubles for the guys. That's not such an easy task, as it turns out. My Craig's List ad got flagged and deleted, multiple times. And, for some reason, those who responded to the ad fell silent upon hearing further details of the project. Who knew seeking a buff male model to pose for a gay pride parade photo shoot would cause such a controversy? Bummer.

But, thankfully, I secured Rashaud, via Model He was absolutely perfect, and knocked it out of the park for us, not only as our main characters, but also as some of the other expressive folks mingling about. I extend many thanks to Rashaud for his excellent work.

In another happy twist of fate, the theater company from which I rented many outfits for this calendar project happened to have a leopard-lined leather vest used for productions of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Perfect!

How about some leopard-print cowboy boots to match? And, a bedazzled drum strap? Perfect!


Mustache research was an integral part of this project, since Graham was to be rockin' a unique mustache to punctuate each story. I've amassed quite a compilation of crumb-catchers. What's the secret to deciding on the right mustache for the scene? We had two alternatives, as I saw it.

1. Go for the silliest looking 'stache.

2. Go for a 'stache that relates their story to a similar popular culture story.

I opted for the latter, because there is an extra element of thought behind this option. It further adds another layer of interest for the viewer to decipher, and echoes the peppering of popular culture reference to just about every illustration in this calendar.

Graham is rockin' the "Freddy Mercury" 'stache, in this scene.

For fun, here are some of the inspired 'staches I deliberated about, throughout this project.


There is no controversy, that I'm aware of. But, my sources tell me this image has been one of the more talked-about, among the calendar illustrations. When I showed early concepts to someone, not directly involved with the project, their reaction was immediately laughter, followed by a cautionary warning that some might find the scene offensive. I don't know if anyone has found it offensive, but I do know that person's reaction was a positive reflection on the strength of the concept, devised by the guys. A thoughtful concept that provokes discussion can only be a good thing, in my opinion.

Besides, who can take anything seriously that involves a ball-gagged, leather-clad pooch?

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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