January 19, 2009
I recently contributed six illustrations for the inauguration issue of the Times’ Book Review. The articles that the illustrations were required for span books that concern the historical significance of Barack Obama’s victory, how his victory is informed by the work of Martin Luther King Jr., how race factored into his campaign (and eventual triumph), his timely connection to FDR in the wake of the current economic collapse, what specific threats his presidency will be forced to counter from Al Qaeda in Pakistan and how presidential power is in no way as organized, controlled or as smoothly managed as public perception perceives it to be. It was quite a bit to cover in pictures.
Nicholas Blechman at the Book Review contacted me about this assignment the day before New Year’s Eve (a Tuesday) and required finished art with him on or around the following Monday. With that pesky celebration known as New Year’s Eve occurring amidst all of this, the provided time that I had to complete these illustrations did not allot too much time for dilly-dally. Anticipating heavy revisions on at least half of them, the majority of the heavy lifting was conducted in the early daytime hours of New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day and the hangover day that followed. To my extreme relief, only little nips and tucks were required over the weekend leading up to the deadline, so depending on how you look at it, I either burned the wick for no reason at all, or to earn a sublime peace of mind at the start of the new year.
It should go without saying that being asked to contribute work that corresponds to an event as politically, socially and culturally brain-busting as Obama’s historic presidency is a real treat. That said, the other thing that I took away from this assignment is that when Nicholas Blechman announces to you in a sober and metered tone that he is “sending you an avalanche of work”, he is not screwing around.