This is a Portrait of human rights activist Nnimmo Bassey for Time magazine's ‘Heroes of The Environment 2009’. Bassey is head of Environmental Rights Action in his home country of Nigeria and has been recognised for his continuing fight for a safe environment for the people of the oil producing Niger Delta. Namely a fight against the oil companies, namely Shell.
Oil flares are dotted around the delta area, used to burn off the oils’ natural flammable gasses and along
with the oil come the added bonusses of explosions, leaks, and general environmental devastation.
I mixed up a few techniques for the piece, hand painting and airbrushing most of the background for a
dirtier, scummy graffiti feel and rendered Nnimmo in a more rounded, cleaner digital finish. I also wanted to show Nnimmo’s
pride in his culture through his delicately embroidered and printed traditional shirt.
Back in spring I was commissioned by Calico to work on a card game - Notable Novelists: A Card Game For Book Lovers. The seeds were sown way back then and this morning harvest came courtesy of the UPS man and a weighty package of Notable Novelist samples.
I jumped at the opportunity of working on this project as the idea of a flip top boxed card game for kids aimed at introducing them to the work of James Baldwin, Kurt Vonnegut, Hemingway, Woolf, and more was just irresistable. Projects such as these have become priority for me as they have a longevity far beyond that of the editorial work i mostly do and to see my artwork used primarily for play/learning adds a completely new value to it. Flipping open the little palm sized box, sliding out the thick, shiney round cornered playing cards and shuffling through the portraits was one of those moments i silently declare my undying love for this business, this beautiful business.
Long live those little left of field jobs that fall down upon us from heaven.
pick a card, any card...
from top left - William Faulkner, Zora Neale Hurston, D.H. Lawrence, Saul Bellow, Virginia Woolf, James Baldwin, Kurt Vonnegut, E.M Forster, Flannery O'Connor, Roberto Bolaño, John Cheever, Richard Wright, James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, Edith Wharton
Original Kurt Vonnegut sketch and a working up stage screen grab. Below them is the final printed card.
Full bleed cover artwork showing Baldwin, Joyce, and O'Connor