I had just settled in to work on some projects Sunday night when I heard the news that the president was going to make a major national security announcement. My first thought was that there was a major threat of some kind. I started scanning a lot of online and cable sources and slowly the news that Bin Laden had been killed came into focus. Having worked at a news magazine for so many years, I had become a bit of a news junkie, so I stayed up until 3 or 4 am reading all the reports.
The next morning, Monday, I woke up a little groggy to a message in my inbox titled "Newsweek / Urgent / portrait commission", and wish I hadn't stayed up so late the night before. The magazine was going to publish a Special Issue on the historic event and they needed the portrait the next day.
I immediately started sketching Bin Laden, trying to come up with an idea that would capture the moment. While drawing his face from the reference photos, I instinctively painted over his eyes, and this ended up being the sketch that made it to the cover. Some of the sketches and details of the process are below.
I worked in Manhattan the days after 9/11. I still remember the smell of smoke that lasted for days, maybe weeks, and the strange feeling that something worse could come down upon the city at any time. I was working on this cover nonstop for the last couple of days, so the sense of history hasn't hit me. Maybe I'll look back on it someday and the moment will make more sense. The one thing I am proud of is that I'll be sharing the newsstand with my good friend Tim O'Brien's TIME cover. That, for me, is a nice personal moment, great that both newsweeklies will have art on the cover by artists who have known each other for so long.
Thanks to Newsweek editor Tina Brown for her support of my work over the years, Design Director Dirk Barnett for the assignment and sharp cover design, and art director Lindsay Ballant for all the help along the way.
Last week I was asked to create a series of 4 short animations for the Winter Arts Guide of the Boston Globe. The four images above would appear in print in the paper. Using a smart phone app, the reader can place their phone over the printed illustration and the image would 'come alive' on their phone. The animations are also used on their website. I created all the storyboards for the movement and made the final illustrations, along with a couple of in betweens when necessary. All of the animation was done by Chuck Gammage Animation. Below is some of the process of how it all came together, along with the final video from the website. Thanks to Dan Zedek for the assignment and to Chuck Gammage and Tanya Beach for working on the animation.
storyboard for 'Mary Poppins'
'Mary Poppins' night scene
storyboard for 'Cardillac', an opera
'Cardillac' is an opera, the story is about a goldsmith that murders people to retrieve his creations. The final image above is printed in the newspaper, I thought of it as a kind of poster for the opera.
Lucinda Williams sequence
Storyboard for 'Doug Varone Dancers', modern ballet
a link of the final animations above, from the Globe website
This is a series of illustrations in this week's Newsweek magazine. I got the call last Wednesday from art director Leah Purcell to do five illustrations for an article about China's new world dominance. All the art was due on Friday. Once I figured out the opener image above, I decided to mirror the round shape of the globe on all the following images. Each subsequent image was supposed to illustrate China's rewriting of the rules in four separate areas—trade, technology, currency and world climate. I had fun figuring it out and like how the circular shape makes for a cohesive series. The article is titled "It's China's World We're Just Living in It" and is online here.
"Earlier this month China confirmed plans for its second unmanned lunar probe in October and the 2011 launch of a space module for the country's first docking exercise, all leading up to a 2013 moon landing. With NASA's budgetary rollback, China is now the only country making major investments in space exploration."
China rewriting the rules of the web and technology by censoring websites and being involved in cyber spying.
China has a horrible record on the environment but is actively involved in setting new international environmental standards.
"Beijing's efforts to push the yuan as a rival to the dollar are now making tentative progress. In the last few months, China has inked $100 billion in currency-swap agreements with six countries, including Argentina, Indonesia, and South Korea"
This is for an article titled "The Twilight of the Elites" by Christopher Hayes in this week's TIME magazine, full article here. "In the past decade, nearly every pillar institution in American society — whether it's General Motors, Congress, Wall Street, Major League Baseball, the Catholic Church or the mainstream media — has revealed itself to be corrupt, incompetent or both. And at the root of these failures are the people who run these institutions, the bright and industrious minds who occupy the commanding heights of our meritocratic order. In exchange for their power, status and remuneration, they are supposed to make sure everything operates smoothly. But after a cascade of scandals and catastrophes, that implicit social contract lies in ruins, replaced by mass skepticism, contempt and disillusionment."
This is the cover for today's New York Times Week in Review, full article here. The story is linked to the President's State of the Union speech this week. The main thrust of the story is whether Obama's complex political narrative will work in a media environment that demands simple themes and slogans. Here's an excerpt:
"On this much, President Obama’s friends and foes could agree: He eludes simple labels. Yes, he’s a liberal, except when he’s not. He’s antiwar, except for the one he’s escalating. He’s for bailouts, but wants to rein in the banks. He’s concentrating ever-more power in the West Wing, except when he’s being overly deferential to Congress. He’s cool, except when he’s fighting-hot. In a world that presents so many fast-moving and intractable problems, nuance, flexibility, pragmatism — even a full range of human emotions — are no doubt good things. But as Mr. Obama wrapped up his State of the Union address on Wednesday night with an appeal to transcend partisan gamesmanship, he was plaintively testing a broader proposition: Is it possible to embrace complexity in a political and media culture that demands simple themes and promotes conflict?
The president, whose hallmark has been ideological eclecticism, would clearly like to think the answer is yes. But a year into his presidency, Mr. Obama has lost control of his political narrative, his ability to define the story of his presidency on his own terms. And the main reason is that his story is no longer so simple or easy to tell."
This is a full page image for an article in the Harvard Law Bulletin, which is art directed by the great Ronn Campisi. The story proposes a new model for intelligence gathering in the fight against terrorism: That the government should establish "the world's best noncoercive interrogation body by bringing together top interrogators from the FBI, CIA and the military and follow the standards set forth in Obama's executive order and the Army Field Manual.
I did this a few weeks ago for Businessweek. The story is about Best Buy's business practices, how they loom large over their suppliers and stifle competition. I got the call at the end of the day and it was due the next morning. I had fun drawing it. Worked with Patty Alvarez on this one.
This was a cover that came out last week, about Wall Street telling politicians how to legislate financial reform. Andrew Horton, art director.
This is an illustration for Liberty Magazine about how the Christian Right has overstepped Constitutional boundaries in its opposition to gay rights in the past. The article discusses the right and wrong ways to display one's personal beliefs, and gets into the details of a number of legal cases. Bryan Gray is the magazine's art director.
Full page opener on the general theme of pain taking the runner by surprise
This is a series of images I worked on for Kory Kennedy over at Runner's World. The story is about the pain that the writer experiences when running, and the various things he does to cope with that pain. The writer is kind of addicted to the thrill of running but the occasional mysterious pain always seems to get in the way of his love for the sport.
He trains on the machines to sooth the pain.
He tries special shoes with large soles designed to alleviate the feet of pregnant women. But he feels like a clown.
Illustrating the theory that pain is caused when the brain cuts off oxygen to certain parts of the body.