In the meantime, it’s always good to hear from an old client and do a fun job. I’ve occasionally done work for SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL and when Mark Tuchman, the art director, called me with a project back in January about navigating the tough job market for librarians it seemed like a nice way to start off the new year.
Navigating was the original notion and we kicked back and forth sketches relating to rafts on rapids heading towards waterfalls, or just staying afloat in dangerous waters. They consistently managed to become complicated images trying to satisfy the many themes covered in the article- that doesn’t make for a clean magazine cover image- or, when visually simplified, less clear about the direct link to librarians or what point was being made. Interestingly, as was explained, modern libraries are a good distance from the old fashioned images we have in our heads about them. Rows of shelves with books or the traditional wooden counters with the iconic bookish librarian standing behind it were discouraged as go to visuals. As Mark also left it open to me to come up with ideas of my own I eventually steered away from the rapids theme and found myself trying to scale nearly impossible cliffs- visually. I’ve always wanted to do a take-off of the iconic painting by Friedrich “The Wanderer” and threw that into the mix as well. What eventually worked for the editors and Mark was the old hanging by your fingertips theme. While the topic is a serious one, my intention was not to echo it with a totally serious image. Some fun needed to be added to the body language and the drawing. The person is struggling for sure but also going to clamber over the top eventually. Looney Tunes without the bottomless drop off a cliff. We changed the climber for the cover from a man to a woman, kept the inside illustration busier with figures and went to the finish. I don’t usually do images involving cliffs and this afforded an opportunity to play with shadings and tones in the rocks looking to find that balance between serious rendering and a lighter look.
Thanks Mark. It was fun.