Saturday, August 21, 2010

Lady Gaga

Love or hate her, one can't deny the Gaga.

Wild, outlandish, and over the top help define Lady Gaga, pop music performer and current Twitter queen (more followers than anyone else). Her sunglasses and pyrotechnic bra turns her into Gaga and hides Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta. I wanted to challenge myself and take a more intimate look at the the human being rather than the public persona.

When looking for reference, one problem I encountered was, she looks an awful lot like Madonna in many of them. At her essence, what makes Gaga, Gaga? For me, it's her facial features -- her nose and mouth, particularly. I needed to reveal her eyes, too. Her ever-present shades only serve to further hide, creating an unwanted obstruction between me and her.

The colors should be mostly muted and kind of un-pretty, speaking to the sometimes un-pretty vulnerable side of everyone. The artistic challenge came in creating something subtle and mostly devoid of color, but still giving the viewer a retinal stimulation and a reason to want to explore the image.

It's a relatively simple composition, so there needed to be complexity, somewhere, as a balance. The brush strokes are kind of interesting to look at, but color needs to play an important role. I decided to use the rouge in her cheek as a focal point and communication tool. Coupled with her subtle, but unusual head wear, the shock of red hints at the vibrant performer side of Gaga.

The cool balances the warmth and adds just enough depth, while keeping the composition almost abstract. A shift in the color palette to a yellow/green slant removes a level of predictability and adds a bit of complexity to not only the color itself, but also to its functionality as a communication tool and how it defines form.

This was also done as a demo with my 2010 intern, Andrew Towler. For the past 2-1/2 months, he's helped run my business and learn about both the art and profession of illustration. I sincerely thank him for his assistance and for being an important part of Allan Burch Illustration.

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