Sunday, April 5, 2015

Brian Grazer for Hemispheres Magazine


Hemispheres Magazine/Ink Global


A full-page illustration of Hollywood super producer, Brian Grazer, for a Q & A feature about his new book, A Curious Mind. It is a book chronicling the conversations Mr. Grazer has had with some of the best and brightest minds on the planet, and what he has learned about the power of curiosity.


Reflect Brian Grazer’s distinctive style and personality, while communicating the theme of the article, which is his conversations with amazing people.


I was very excited to receive this assignment, having admired Hemisphere Magazine’s stellar use of illustration, over the years. I was extra-excited after learning more about the nature of the article.

Brian Grazer is a partner, and co-founder, with Ron Howard, at Imagine Entertainment. Doing a Google search on Mr. Grazer will turn up the biggest names in show business. One day, he decided to seek periodic discussions with extraordinary people, all for the purpose of learning about them and their world. Over the years, these people have included, Steve Jobs, Andy Warhol, Carl Sagan, and Barack Obama, among many others. These conversations have fueled many of his creative projects, and, in the process, taught him about the hidden power of curiosity. In his new book, A Curious Mind, he shares insight to these conversations and what we can all gain by living a curious life.

Tracy Toscano, Art Director with Hemispheres Magazine, sent me a draft of the article, to help me get a feel for the tone and content. When doing a portrait, I like to get a clear grasp on my subject, in order to best portray him or her with authenticity.

My first step was gathering photos and searching YouTube for interviews, to hear him speak and observe his mannerisms. I learned that Mr. Grazer is not often shown, wearing a tie. He is also a creative, free spirit, with a great sense of humor. His trademark spiky hair is not only part of his memorable style, it helps to filter out people who can’t see beyond it. It’s a big part of his persona, and should be a significant part of the illustration.

One of the many projects with Brian Grazer’s name attached, is, A Beautiful Mind, for which he won the 2002 Academy Award for Best Picture. Because his book's title is influenced by this movie's moniker, I took an evening to see what else I could learn about him, from this film, as part of my research.

I took away some visual cues that I utilized in my sketches...


My client wanted something, generally, head and shoulders. They also wanted to enhance the spiky hair aspect. In addition, they wanted to explore the possible superhero vantage point, to reflect his stature in his industry and the wisdom he has gained in his discussions.

I always like to cover the gamut and provide several options for my client. These were the preliminary sketches...

Light is magic. In this instance, I like how it draws attention to his hair and adds a graphic element. It’s a device I use for several of our sketch options. In case you are wondering, sketch #5 includes photos and writing superimposed in the sky, reflecting the many stories he gathered in his conversations. This visual device also loosely mirrors one used in A Beautiful Mind.

To help attain the right pose and light, I used myself as a model, as I often tend to do.


My client chose sketch #3 — the smiling, conversational pose. They also wanted to be sure there was plenty of warmth, in the scene. I proceeded, making sure the lighting would provide ample opportunity to inject warm tones into the illustration.

I utilize a mixed-media approach, combining acrylic painting and Photoshop. It’s a technique that allows me to maintain a traditional, painterly look, while giving me unlimited control over every part of an illustration — color, tone, texture, and content — in a way that traditional painting cannot. Each aspect is manipulated, independently, and allows me incredible versatility, should a change be required, in either a client request or in my artistic vision. Several years, ago, a change would necessitate laborious re-painting. Today, it is a much more streamlined, exact approach.

Here is the Hemispheres article about Brian Grazer and his new book. It is well worth a read.

Many thanks to my representative, Paulette Rhyne, and to Hemispheres Magazine and Ink Global, for the opportunity to work with you on this wonderful assignment.

Allan Burch is an award-winning illustrator and portrait artist, providing solutions for editorial, book, advertising, and institutional projects.
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