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Alchemy Magazine

MARCH 24, 2011
The first cover of the new magazine, ALCHEMY

Recently I had a wonderful time doing some illustrations for a new Magazine called Alchemy, published by SecondMarket Ecosystem, LLC ( The magazine is for hedge fund managers, private equity investors, high net worth individuals, bankers, asset management firms, treasury/finance groups of Fortune 1000 companies.  Not for any of my fellow illustrators.

I was asked to illustrate an article for a cover story about investing in new areas not often thought of.  The pitch of the concept could have cause a cold sweat as a list of potential places to invest were read off to me.  I'm not really a 'kitchen sink' type of illustrator and said as much in that first phone call.  Honesty in these first calls sometimes makes all the difference.  I laid out what I thought worked best for dry information like this.  I even discussed SooJin Buzelli's amazing impact on PlanSponsor.  The conversation was great to have and it set up a sketch process that was extremely well received.
This is the image I thought of while on the phone.
The first idea I had was one that occurred to me when I was on our first phone call.  Investing in areas not seen, off the charts. 
I saw a piano player off the keyes.  Ideas are like corks for me.  You have to get them down to discover if they work or not.  This one I could not get to work right and in the end was a bit to obscure.
The first idea was based on a Mark Tansey painting I love of Jackson Pollock walking on water, painting. The other contemporaries of him are in a small boat watching him break an unspoken barrier and drizzle paint on the canvas.
I thought a boat over the edge or a waterfall might work.  Once sketched though, it veered into Wiley Coyote territory.  A more gentle trip over the falls in a sail boat would work better.
The water dripping off of the bottom of the boat indicates that this is not an accident but a gentle moment of magic. At least that's what I hoped.

Mark Tansey's "Myth of the Depth"

Fishing in Red Hook

Another idea was fishing.  I run in Red Hook once a week and run down some of the fishing peers.  Some warm days you can see dozens of poles in the water at the same time.  They all fish in the same place.  I thought of this and the idea that one fellow might find the right spot far away from that tangle of lines.
This is how I came up with the fish.
I'm sure it's been done before but thankfully I never saw it and had nothing to expunge from my brain.
This was the quick thumbnail that occurred to me that I think nailed the idea of the article.

Once on paper, I could see I had 2 options to work with at the top of the illustration.  One was just a spray of light from above working it's way down to the fish.  Another was to show the waterline.  
Having gone with that one, I suddenly thought of using that and treating the cover as an old FORTUNE cover.  Activate the title and type into the artwork.
This is how the fractured title came about and I'm so happy they let me do that in the final.

I sent this sketch, still unsure of the actual logo in hopes that they could see how cool it looked. They went for it! (with the right logo of course.)

The second piece in the package was a portrait or Nouriel Roubini, the financial mastermind who predicted the housing crisis and financial meltdown of a few years ago.  It was to be a straight portrait but I made it a bit more moody.
I also taped myself painting some of it but I'm no Frank Capra and my hand covered the artwork for most of it.  Not only do you not see the brush on the board but the camera would focus on the back of my hand all the time making the art look too blurry.  I'll get that right one of these days.

All in all, a great gig that was sort of unexpected.  A nice and supportive art director in Ashley Cromwell and I also reconnected with an AD that I knew many years ago through Scholastic, Paul Colin, who is the production manager there.  It's always great to meet people again and that makes the industry seem like a circle.
Nouriel Roubini