A.Richard Allen
May 2007
An eventful week
Well, more like a week of blissful inactivity with a violent coda.

The week relaxing was spent in darkest Somerset with my wife and kids, my sister's bunch and my parents. A swish old farmhouse with its own pool. The familial tensions that I'd been dreading by and large didn't materialize (we're more the family from Jonathan Frantzen's The Corrections than The Waltons) so it was grand. Funny to think that a few years back I was living in London and would have laughed at the idea of leaving The Smoke. I guess once you make the initial flight from the city, it's only a matter of time before you hanker after being Grizzly Adams. A few jobs came in while I was away but despite having all my kit with me (easel, smock, beret, maul stick, etc) I didn't so much as pick up a pencil in anger (long deadlines, not me turning anything down).

Since getting back? I did the attached piece on new Eastern European immigrants living below the poverty line in the UK. Quite pleased with the results- I thought that echoes of Shahn would be more appropriate to the subject than my usual echoes of Herge.
And the violent ending? Living room door was hanging off its hinges so I decided to move it out of harm's way. Ended up dropping the thing from about a foot in the air onto my foot. I was wearing socks and the floor was terracotta tiles so I'd like to say that I was stoic but I squealed like a pig as a puddle of blood welled up round my foot. Hopefully, witnessing it all will have turned my daughter against her planned career in medicine (though she was pretty calm so maybe not): the whole exercise might've been worth it if it spares me 7 years of med school fees.

Four tedious hours later I was home from the hospital- fractured big toe bound, tetanus shots up to date. Naturally, I'll post holiday snaps plus a picture of the foot at a later date.
Line not dead
As a counterpoint to the last post, here's one where the AD was having none of my textured, artsy, graphic shenanigans and wanted things in a busy, line-heavy style. And who am I to argue? The article for a newspaper supplement cover was on the rise of private detectives in the UK. I have to admit to taking a iddle, biddy shortcut on this one by warming over an old, rejected composition. I was commissioned through my reps to do a series of kids' books covers. Having waded through five of these (rather wearing) modern noir books for teenagers and worked up two covers the author took against my style and the whole thing was canned.

So here I managed to wring some use out of the killed cover.
The roughs
As it appeared- window bricked in to accommodate type
As a bonus, I got on the main masthead
The book cover roughs. I can't find the finshed version otherwise I'd post that too
Two, Three, Four-
It's difficult trying to foist a new way of working on clients who already associate you with working in a particular way. So when the AD on this one sent through two of my 'line free' images as guides to how the finished thing should look I could scarcely contain my delight ('I'll do it for free!' I almost shrieked. Almost). The copy was dry (though not impenetrable) and related to global corporations needing to standardise employee benefit packages across their global offices. The idea proposed by the AD was of subtly different houses being built in the background working to one blueprint. I duly did the roughs but also sent one idea of a shepherd herding his flock (hmmm) and of a conductor with his orchestra. And, thankfully it was that one that they went for. I politely ignored the client's suggestion of the musicians wearing the flags/ national costumes of different countries and went for a varied colour palette instead. The musicians poses aren't quite as angular and dynamic as I'd envisaged but I do like the overall composition alot
A very satisfying job...

The AD- SooJin Buzelli- gave me the instruction, 'think of it as being a portfolio piece and not being for a financial magazine' (ironic as, not having seen Plansponsor, I wasn't entirely sure exactly what sort of magazine it was).

Banishing all pat solutions and stock props from my mind, I took in a big lung full of fresh air and set about the task. The subject was paperless offices so I came up with a few solutions, some more conceptual (an origami dodo) some more narrative (a sheet of paper exhibited in a future museum, an old guy in the future wowing his grandkids by showing them an actual piece of paper), and something that fell somewhere between the two approaches (paper in a showcase amongst a selection of extinct artefacts). SooJin went for the latter- my preferred option.

The finished version did go through a few last minute revisions- which makes me rate SooJin all the more (hope this isn't sounding like a frothing fan letter)- she didn't interfere in the process but showed that she actually cared about details within the final piece.
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