I have a few portraits that are done and were assigned when it was believed that the subject might soon pass. This year two of those portraits were finally used, Bin Laden for Time and Steve Jobs for the Wall Street Journal. The portrait of Steve Jobs was not a pleasant one to do, though each brush stroke really was a soft touch of appreciation. Jobs was handsome but without flash, much like his aesthetic, he was minimalist but cool, close cropped short hair, simple black turtleneck and his emotions held in check but with an ease of purpose.
In the days that have followed Steve Jobs inevitable passing, I have really been moved by my fellow artists' proclamations about his importance in their lives. Everyone spoke of the way his technology is woven into his or her lives, but it's the way certain illustrators in particular spoke of his presence in their worlds, perhaps none more precise than my friend James Yang
, who wrote, “In the early 90's Apple saved my career. You could say I'm grateful." I think many of us are.
It was coming, the personal computer. My particular age is mid to now later 40's and I went through ALL of my schooling without touching a computer. They were not really part of any program I had in art school or even part of the creative process yet. The highest tech device that started while I was in college was a fax machine. It was not until a few years AFTER that I heard the beginnings of these incredible devices, a Mac. My wife started to come home from work at Scholastic saying that they were going to start to 'switch over' to computers. It all happened so quickly. Soon she and I purchased an expensive Mac and started to discover what it could do.
My art is still analog for the most part, but the power of the computer is a major part of my creative process and I for one am a better illustrator because of it.
The thing about the devices Jobs wanted us to use was how instinctive and simple they are to
use. My generation would have to learn everything about the computer on their own. This unforeseen hurdle could have been the end of many careers but instead the Mac's ease of use actually helped revive them.
I became more social through online public forums in the 1990's, finding my voice and learning to write effectively in the hours of debate I found myself locked in.
My brother in law gave me the gift of an iPod when they first came out which was such a revolutionary device that I started running just to listen to it. Now I am healthier, a marathoner, and still using an iPod.
Like some legends, Jobs left us very young. Decades left to invent and craft our world, we will always wonder what would be. I have immense faith in the creativity out there that new inventors will still inspire and change the way we interact with our art, our world and each other.
Still, Steve Jobs was our Einstein, our Edison and we had the pleasure of being around as each invention was unveiled and got to see them embraced by the world.
I sometimes paint people in mock glory and sometime paint them in a reverence that is justified. Clearly in this instance it is justified.
*note: this portrait was assigned by a different publication and that publication and art director let me offer it to other publications and for that I am truly grateful.