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Tim OBrien
Playboy Magazine's 60th Anniversary Issue
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In 2014 Playboy Magazine celebrates its 60th Anniversary.   I was asked to contribute an illustration among a stellar group of artists also in the issue.  That scenario always send shivers up my spine, so when I was matched with a challenging article by titled, “WHAT’S IN A BRAND NAME? by Slavoj Zizek”
I knew I was going to have to find a way to shine.
The article is an almost stream-of-consciousness musing on the idea of 'brand names', their power to influence society and people, and the meaning behind those names and labels.  Many actual brands were mentioned and I had to sift through all of the terrible illustrations that came to mind.
At the time I was actively trying to get my many students to understand the way to approach assignments.  An artist must understand their aesthetic and abilities and find ways to show off both while still addressing the concept.  With this assignment I found a way.
I was driving a lot that month, and on a highway in Connecticut there was a rest stop that was closed for renovations.  A huge McDonalds sign was standing at the side of the highway with all of the outside skin gone; the white plastic.  Left behind was a metal skeleton of the sign, but it was recognizable enough to be a McDonalds sign.  I loved the image and thought of it for this assignment.  With a slight tweak I offered it  with a few other ideas that stemmed from that, and my idea was accepted.

When the final was completed, it was suggested that I go back and revise the final.  While I would have rather had it loved immensely, the challenge was to drive the point home further.  The solution was more signs and in the end it is an effective image for an article that was not the easiest to create an image for.
Thanks to Justin Page for the assignment and for holding out for more.  
The Playboy 60th Anniversary issue is on the stands now.
In the upper left corner of my thumbnail page, I was trying out the steel skeleton idea. I feared there wasn't enough to look at and that generic was not being addressed. Kill your darlings. The thumbnail next to it was the keeper. The one I didn't show was at the bottom right, the sign lost in a overgrown jungle. I liked the look of it but decided to not show it. Maybe I should have?

The basic 'build' of my sign was what was accepted in the end, these were the sketched I showed. Do you think I wanted to paint some sky? I recall the final comment being that a warmer sky would be a nice touch. Of this group I preferred the darker sign.

This was my first final. Justin felt and I now agree, that my painting of the sky looked too photographic. I spent too much time trying to replicate a great sunset I had for reference. It's not easy to hand in a final and listen to criticism, but these assignments are collaborations.

My revision was to add MORE signs, to punch home the idea that this was not just about McDonalds and to make a more stylized sky. After a final tweak on the right, I went to the final.




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