Sunday, April 3, 2016

Frederick T. Gates For the University of Chicago


The University of Chicago


A black and white illustration of Frederick T. Gates for an annual academic service award. Mr. Gates (1853–1929) served on the school’s board, for many years. He was also a close advisor to John D. Rockefeller, Sr., who founded the school.


Create a portrait of Mr. Gates, while also telling the story of his academic roots with the school, for this, aforementioned, academic award.


After a discussion, with my art director, about the direction the portrait should take, we decided on Mr. Gates against the backdrop of the University. They wanted to include a background of some sort, instead of, simply, a silhouetted portrait.

Along with images of Mr. Gates, I rounded up reference of the school, thinking about iconic buildings, interior vs exterior, as well as angular vs squared views. I wanted to try a variety of options to achieve the best composition.


I provided 5 options, including a basic, nondescript background, in order to cover all bases.


My client chose sketch #4.

The hard work and major decision-making is done, in the sketch phase. All that’s left is execution.

Charcoal on paper, with a hint of Photoshop, is the recipe, here.

Once and a while, I like to re-visit illustrations, after they’ve been published. This was one such case. Because of its historical nature, I decided to try a monotone color treatment, for an extra visual punch and an added layer of historical feel. I think the color fits, nicely.

Many thanks to the University of Chicago, for the opportunity to work with you on this fantastic project.

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