Monday, May 30, 2016

Dean Martin Katz for Denver Law Magazine


University of Denver Sturm College of Law


A cover illustration to honor Martin Katz, the beloved dean of the University of Denver’s law school, who is stepping down from his position.


Tell the story of Martin Katz – his deanship at the University of Denver, his interest in aviation, and his status as a highly-regarded figure, at the school and among the nation-wide law school community.


I participated in a conference call, with my art director as well as the assistant dean of Sturm College of Law, to discuss what they wished to portray for this cover illustration, honoring Dean Martin Katz, and thanking him for his time of positive service, to the school and its students.

Among his achievements, Dean Katz instituted a strategic plan, focusing on experiential learning, which helped bridge the community, academia, and the law profession. The success of his vision helped rocket the school up 22 places in the US News and World Report rankings of best law schools. At his peak, Dean Katz was listed as the 4th most influential person in legal education, according to The National Jurist, a premier publication devoted to law school news, trends, and rankings.

Symbolism would be an important instrument in the story of this illustration.

Among his avocations, Dean Katz performs search and rescue missions for the Civil Air Patrol. His interest in aviation will serve as a tool to bridge the personal story of Martin Katz with that of Dean Katz, the educator. His eye is always on the horizon, whether in flight or in educational vision. Aviation should, naturally, play a role in the illustration.

In addition to aviation, the natural surrounds, of Denver – namely, the Rocky Mountains – would seem to be beautiful visual tools, to consider, as I set forth with preliminary sketches.


I started with Mr. Katz in a stately pose, with the viewer looking up, giving him a larger-than-life, heroic presence. A natural starting point was to depict him with rolled-up sleeves, looking like he is ready to get to work. After some experimentation, and photo shoots, of myself, in various poses, I felt this pose would communicate the story and fill the space, best.

A colorful sunset sky seemed like, not only a beautiful addition, to the scene, but, also, a symbol of the sun setting on his time, as dean.

The other devices I chose were the school, itself (interior and exterior), the Rocky Mountains, and the campus bridge, as a symbol of his bridge-building reputation.

A Cessna airplane, toward the horizon, is also prevalent.

I provided 5 options.


After review, my client liked number 2 and 4, but with some requests.

1. A less-menacing sky, on both.
2. Lighten the landscape on #4.

I re-submitted the following:


My client chose sketch #2, with the sky revision.

The magazine cover was a success and very well-received, by Mr. Katz, which is the icing on the cake.

My thanks to the folks at Denver Law Magazine for the opportunity to honor Dean Martin Katz.

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