Saturday, July 28, 2012

July: Bastille 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."™


July's featured holiday is Bastille Day. Bastille Day is celebrated on July 14, and commemorates the storming of the Bastille in 1789 -- the start of the French Revolution and a symbol of liberty and the fight against oppression. When told the French people were starving while the royalty were languishing in comfort, Marie Antoinette allegedly said, "Let them eat cake!" These words figure prominently in July's art, as the guys play the parts of French royalty, gluttonously indulging on a gold-studded Chippendale table, while the peasants rise in rage, from behind, deciding they've had enough.


The Capts took part in a photo shoot. They cover the bases from regal and proper to gluttonous and over-the-top.

With these images and direction from my art director, it is time to marry concept and vision.


- Tell a horizontal story in a square format (a long table needs to have its longness aptly shown)
- How to bring a French landscape into the picture that screams "French!"
- How to bring integrity to French Revolution period clothing.
- How to depict desserts that are unmistakably decadent and truly fit for a king (or kings).

For my initial sketches, I started with the first visual problem -- portraying the scene in a square format. I started by showing an angle shot, attempting to use perspective to relay the longness of the table, while filling the frame with the guys, and telling the remainder of the story happening in the distance.

The sketches worked okay, but didn't fulfill the objective of showing the table as the guys envisioned. So, I turned the "camera" to show the table and desserts in all their glory, bringing more prominence to the uprising happening across the landscape in the distance.

In order to keep some diagonals in the scene (remember, diagonals are generally more interesting that static vertical and horizontal lines), I played up the flow of the landscape and its hills, leading their lines down to The Capts.

Approved! This solves the challenge of telling a horizontal story in a square format.


Now to solve the rest of those visual challenges.

Remember, reference is key. Don't skimp or make up stuff. There is a plethora of information to aid us illustrators on the web. And, for those specific needs, set up your own photo shoot. That's exactly what I did, recruiting Melodie and Ricky to don my rented French period attire. Costume shops and theater companies are filled with knowledgeable folks who love to help on the subject of period clothing.

I also enlisted myself. Notice my yellow notepad with scene notes and my early sketches for inspiration, as I get into character.

How about those other challenges...

The French scene that screams, "French!" Through diligent research, I found rolling hills and pastoral colors from French countryside that screamed, if not hollered, "French!" to me. Problem solved.

How to depict desserts that are unmistakably decadent and truly fit for a king (or kings). The basic cupcake just won't do. We need concoctions that are as much an architectural feat as they are an indulgent feast. To the web I go to scour for ideas. Like any composition, this table of food is its own diorama. It needs a pleasing flow with large focal point "stars" and smaller supporting characters. It's a character of its own.


Each month of this calendar features Graham rocking a different mustache, integral to each story. This month, he is sporting "the French curl" (third image, below).

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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