Keeping Busy- Part 4

AUGUST 16, 2013
In the 12th hour, a day before leaving on a trip with Foundation Rwanda to do some visual journalism of their mission there, I received a call from Mark Maltais at ROLLING STONE if I could squeeze in an illustration for a Matt Taibbi National Affairs feature on the college loan racket.  I love illustrating Matt's journalism and was pretty close to finishing my packing for the trip, so I fugured what's the big deal about missing a night's sleep. 
We had no real copy, just a brief outline of what the piece was going to focus on.  Which was essentially a detailed explanantion of the scam that extends far beyond college loans. 
"No doubt, seeing rates double permanently would genuinely have sucked for many students, so it was nice to avoid that. And yes, it was theoretically beneficial when Obama took banks and middlemen out of the federal student-loan game. But the dirty secret of American higher education is that student-loan interest rates are almost irrelevant. It's not the cost of the loan that's the problem, it's the principal – the appallingly high tuition costs that have been soaring at two to three times the rate of inflation, an irrational upward trajectory eerily reminiscent of skyrocketing housing prices in the years before 2008.
In a 24 burst of creativity and focus I popped off some ideas which were welcomed by the gang at RS, one getting the go ahead with some compositional adjustment for page size and I was off.  Thank you, Mark, Joe Hutchinson  and Will Dana.  Always great to work with RS. 
Step right this way. Get you diploma and your financial ball and chain.

Sometimes you just have to throw as many metaphors as possible into an idea with the hopes that all you may need to do is scale back and focus on one.

I actually liked this idea but it is based on an historical photo from US slavery days. My concerns were that the concept would get misinterpreted and considered disrespectful. RS was still working off the fury over their Boston bomber cover. I threw it out there anyway.

This decision was to go with this concept but change the size from horizontal to vertical. A little fiddling with the characters and it was on to finish.

The return trip from Rwanda was a tragi-comedy of errors that took about 30 hours in total. My jet lagged brain and body were still in decompression mode when I received a call from Ed Johnson at the NEW YORK OBSERVER wondering if I could manage a quick turnaround- overnight- for a front page piece. The story and illustration already done had been shelved and was being replaced with a feature on Percocet and how the rich, trendy and shallow are having a difficult time scoring some for their entertainment. Percocet as recreational drug? Jeeez. After a near nauseating tour through Google of drug addict imagery it seemed like I could approach it by comparing different classes looking to score from different types of dealers or we'd go with a club setting and the waiting in line BS that happens at clubs. The decision was to go with the waiting in line focus even though it might be a bit too subtle for a front pager.

Club Percocet.