Monday, November 29, 2010

Summer School

When you're working as an illustrator sometimes you are asked to create work pretty quickly. It's not unheard of to be get a call at noon and have to turn in work by 4 p.m. so it can be printed that evening morning.

Other times, the process moves along much slower.

Way back in the summer of ’09, I was contacted by Nicole Weinbrom from Fordham University. She was interested in seeing some additional samples of my work. I gathered some work together and fired it off. I didn't here from her and quickly forgot about our brief interaction. It was a strange summer. One in which I received many inquiries about my work, but only a fraction turned into actual commissions. The bottoming out economy might have had something to do with that.

Earlier this summer, while in Barcelona on my honeymoon, I was contacted by Nicole's boss Maggie Coyne. They were interested in having me create artwork to be used on the university's 2011 Summer Session course guide as well as some other promotional material. They gave me a great deal of freedom on this project. All they needed was something that said Summer, New York City and Education.

So after spending two weeks with my wife in Spain it was time to get reacquainted with my old friend, the drafting table. Here's what I came up with:

My first idea was to have a street scene with the NYC skyline in the background. The chracters in the background all would have been representative of various career paths related to the summer session's programs. This one had a little too much going on and lacked focus.

Next, I came up with this girl reading stretched out on the Brooklyn Bridge. This said summer and New York, but didn't really hint at any of Fordham's summer programs. There was something about the scale of the girl to the city though that I kind of liked.

This was a simpler idea that, unbeknownst to me, was too similar too art that had been used a few years earlier.
Who doesn't love a lazy river? This was an idea turning the East River into a lazy river. And really, who wouldn't want to float around reading in the East River or Hudson River on a 100ยบ day? This idea was rejected, but the merging of the cityscape and objects from the classroom was well received.

Finally, I married up the two ideas that were working, the oversized figure and classroom objects mixed into the cityscape to create this sketch. This required some minor adjustments, like giving the girl a ponytail to make her look younger and making her sit Indian style, but as you can see became the final art.

And with that a job that started to take shape in June of 2009 was published in November 2010.


  1. Nice, John! I like how there is no horizon and the buildings feel like they extend forever. That is definitely how I feel when I visit the city!