Archive for May, 2011

Comparisons-in-Chief

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Art direction by Kelly Doe

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A new cover piece for the Week In Review is above, questioning the utility of comparing Barack Obama to any number of previous presidents. Going clockwise from the top left we have:

1. JFK

2. George H.W. Bush

3. Jimmy Carter in his library

4. LBJ

5. Some guy named Abe

6. Barry himself.

When I began, this looked like variations on a freakish, chimera-like monster—which is not to say that the final version didn’t turn out that way either—however Kelly served as an invaluable coach encouraging me to scale back and minimize the ancillary details in order to preserve the image’s natural chaos without obscuring its primary intent.

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(Early rough drafts)

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The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson – Riverhead

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Art direction by Helen Yentus

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1. This book is equal parts hilarious and alarming. It should be read. I’m a slow reader and I polished this one off in two days between juggling work at Motown as well as other freelance assignments.

2. Jon Ronson wrote the book. He also wrote The Men Who Stare at Goats and is a guest commentator on This American Life on NPR. Although this is far from a thorough encapsulation, Ronson, in essence, profiles an imprisoned leader of a former foreign death squad, a patient in an asylum for the criminally insane and a wealthy power lusting CEO and arrives at some uncomfortable parallels with regards to how a psychopath (and psychopathy) is defined and applied in modern society. I am not a power lusting CEO, (nor am I leading a death squad, nor do I live in an asylum), but if I was hired to design this jacket based upon personal behaviors which matched the types of psychosis explored in the book, then things do not bode well for my domestic situation.

3. Riverhead did not skimp on the production touches for this one. They sprung for a combination gritty matte finish (which covers the white paper portions of the jacket) and a shiny gloss for the yellow/magenta “crazy” half, thereby giving your sense of touch a noticeable edge if you find yourself blindly scanning your shelf for this book in a dark room (which I have done). This treatment was handled beautifully. Thank you, Alex Merto.

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4. As is the case with most other incredibly rewarding projects, this one did not come together quickly. Helen and I explored enough directions that by the time we arrived at the final, predatory treatment which became the approved cover, we were both sufficiently confident that no stone had been left unturned. Helen’s guidance was key. Disregarding the wholly separate directions which we tried on, a sampling of different versions of the final direction are below.
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Various alternate comps

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After much as-yet-documented exploration, arriving at the bunny vs. jungle cat combination bore one of those rare moments of consensus in which designer, art director, publisher and author all shared equal enthusiasm for the final direction. Once all was approved, proofed, printed and bound, this unsolicited note from Jon definitely didn’t hurt:

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…and exhale.

…and another one.

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Art direction by Josh Cochran

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Another Op/Ed for this week—this one on the balancing act between raising taxes and generating government revenue.

For a person who spends an (un)healthy amount of time behind a desk, it feels as though I’ve spent the past few weeks running very, very fast.
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Times Roundup

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Art direction by Nicholas Blechman
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Two for the Times were done this past week. The first (above) for the Book Review is an illustration paired with a critical account of the new tome about the history of Goldman Sachs and how they have miraculously, (or more accurately), suspiciously survived and emerged still resilient through the current economic crisis.

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Art direction by Aviva Michaelov

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This second one was done for an op/ed calling upon Obama to honor members of the military and government who have stood up to policies permitting torture. The authors posit that since Donald Rumsfeld and George Tenet, having both tacitly approved of enhanced interrogation techniques, have both been awarded honors by the previous president and that Obama should stand to honor the opposing voices. Aviva provided me the rare luxury of sending me the article a short while before midnight the evening before the illustration was due, so I had all night to pull my hair out trying to figure out how to solve the problem. The extra time, in this case, truly was a gift.

Also, for those who are deathly curious: ‘Lux Veritatis’ = ‘Light of Truth.’
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