Sunday, February 3, 2013
A cover story illustration on John Bogle and his thoughts on ETFs (Exchange-Traded Funds -- an investment fund that holds a basket of assets, like an index fund, but trades like a stock on an exchange).
John Bogle is author of the bestselling book, Common Sense on Mutual Funds: New Imperatives for the Intelligent Investor. He is also founder and retired CEO of American investment company, The Vanguard Group. TIME Magazine named him one of the "world's 100 most powerful and influential people" in 2004.
Mr. Bogle had been a skeptic of ETFs, but had recently softened his stance. Research Magazine asked me to create a portrait of him for their cover.
This was a fairly straightforward portrait assignment, but I still needed to tell the story of his influential stature in the financial industry while conforming to the cover layout.
I scoured the internet for reference images of Mr. Bogle, including YouTube, which is the second largest search engine on the internet. The nice thing about YouTube, is I can get a sense of how he walks, sits, and stands. He will be 84 in May 2013, so he has a posture that is unique to him and certainly to those that know him. However, to project a sense of strength, I chose to give him a taller, longer posture than he is typically seen with.
I kept the composition to head and shoulders and head and torso to best fill the frame with a bold eye-catching image. I've found, in general, that a strong, eye-catching portrait can be best achieved when the face fills 1/2 to 1/3 of the frame.
I like to solve most of my visual problems at the sketch stage, so I took the opportunity to use myself as a model for the body, taking photographic reference to help figure out my compositions.
I used a tip from portrait photography by using strong, masculine poses to tell the story of his strength and stature in his industry. The solid, balanced angles of his body and firm, thoughtful placement of his hands gives the viewer a visual cue to think strength over weakness.
I chose an array of subtle stories for his line of work, mainly utilizing the background, and providing just enough flavor to let the viewer know he is a financial person.
The last sketch was approved with the caveat to make his head a bit smaller in relation to his body. The blurred out stock ticker in the background provides some nice dynamic angles and a splash of color. My research showed he is very often seen with a blue shirt and red tie, which happened to work nicely with my color palette.
Thanks to the great folks at Research Magazine.
Allan Burch is an award-winning illustrator and portrait artist, providing solutions for editorial, book, advertising, and institutional projects.
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