An illustration and hand drawn map for a graphic the Contra Costa Times and Oakland Tribune newspapers that ran in Tuesday (Dec. 20, 2011) editions. The best projects always seem to land in your lap when you have the least time. This tight deadline project that came up just before I left on vacation. The subject matter was too rich to pass up going the extra mile on. I learned a lot about the Blues history on Oakland’s Seventh Street. And I was able to illustrate quick portraits of Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin and Lowell Fulson who were some of the legends that performed on Seventh Street during its heyday. Also a key figure in the blues scene in Oakland was Bob Geddins who after being inspired by west coast blues great Fulson switched his BIG TOWN record label from gospel to blues.
Thanks to Bay Area News Group writer Jim Harrington for the story and helping me dig up reference materials and to Pai and Dave Johnson at Bay Area News Group for getting the project finished up, adding color and more info in the maps for publication in my absence.
For this one I did separate quick sketches based on historic photos and scanned in the line art. I played with the composition and did the painting in photoshop. Very pleased with the results even for a quick turnaround. Now, I’m hungry to tackle more music and history subjects.
EAST BAY PRESS CLUB AWARDS: The Contra Costa Times News Art and Design teams win 8 out of 9 possible awards; sweep illustration and infographics categories
At the East Bay Press Club 2010 awards banquet on June 10 in Oakland my graphics and design teams at the Contra Costa Times swept 2 out of 3 categories and grabbed 8 out of a possible 9 awards. Outstanding recognition for a hard working and talented group of artists and designers.
In Infographics: Dave Johnson grabbed First Place with his graphic “Oakland Museum of California 2.0.” I won Second Place and James Gayles took Third Place honors.
In Illustration: James Gayles took home First Place, I scored a Second Place award with an illustration for the series finales of Lost and 24 and Jeff Durham took the Third Place prize.
THE TWO OUT OF THREE:
We just missed the sweep in Page Design…I’ll take two out of three. News Design Chief Chris Gotsill got Second Place on a front page design with the headline “Eating away at education” and I took home a Third Place on a front page on the proposed Point Molate casino project.
I’m very proud to work with and art direct such talented visual journalists. I’m honored that I received three individual
awards. But, I’m extremely proud of my folks. Great job Chris, Dave, Jeff and James.
Here is the A&E illustration for Lost and 24 that was honored with a second place in illustration by the East Bay Press Club. To see the other winning Contra Costa Times pages go to: http://tinyurl.com/EB-Awards
My illustration for a story on the “Mack God” for the Oakland Tribune
The Mack God refers to a street code of retribution and can be found in song lyrics. It is a kind of “Karmic Vengeance” that some kids on the streets in Oakland have adopted as their distorted view of reality outside of the rules of society. In the Oakland Tribune story a teenager (who was kicked out of his house onto the streets by his mother at age 13) describes the quasi religious code in these terms: “The Mack God is in the streets, and the people doing bad things that live this life go by the Mack God”
Chilling and sad for young kids to have such a violent and distorted view that becomes their reality.
For the illustration I wanted to focus on the psychological state of a kid in this environment.
From my early thumbnails and rough sketches I hit on the idea of using religious iconography of a halo. As I worked out my ideas I started playing around with the tools of this “Mack God” religion – the tools of violence – hand guns, rifles, knives etc. As I explored patterns I realized that placing two gun barrels parallel to each other with the handles opposite form a cross shape. It clicked when I placed the guns around the outside frame of the halo. It became an abstraction, like a decoration from an illuminated manuscript or altar painting. I think in the final result many of the colleagues I have shown the image to didn’t see the pattern as guns at first. I love work that has layers of reading…when the guns reveal to the viewer it has a strong impact.
I kept the figure in shadows and used blood red through the painting to give a visceral and violent edge. Some indications of a city background and a shadow of a figure on the sidewalk finished out the image.
I believe this is one of the strongest, most provocative images I have done in a while. I think the contrast of the sort of transcendent teenage figure with the gun halo and the deep, violent reds create a dramatic contrast making this a very disturbing image. A very distorted religious painting.
Here I am posting some of the rough sketches and the thumbnails along with the finished piece so you get a window into my process. The main image is predominately an acrylic painting on bristol board with nupastel and graphite. I did some additional work in photoshop for the end result.
On a personal note: I will be going to WonderCon in San Francisco this Saturday, April 2. Hope to meet up with other illustrators and soak in a lot of ideas, get recharged and inspired.