Archive for the 'Aviva Michaelov' Category

Big, Fat, Juicy, (Incomplete) Update

Long time, no post. The past few months have had me mired (albeit willingly) in an ark sized boatload of new projects—the deadlines of which have conveniently stacked up upon one another in a seemingly unending row. I’ve been a longtime adherent to the belief that opportunity never presents itself at a moment of convenience and the past few months proved themselves hell-bent on reinforcing that. So, in order to avoid running the risk of this blog being mistaken for a recently abandoned tenement, here’s a spattering of what’s been happening:

1. NEW SITE (!)
First things first. It only took three years of procrastination followed by a two month crash course in Indexhibit, but I finally have a new site. The URL is the same, but the work contained therein is actually, truly, (well, mostly) current. This task had been on my design bucket list for way too long, so the fact that the majority of the heavy lifting is done is a huge personal coup. As a self proclaimed style sheet/CSS Luddite, Indexhibit is not the simplest program to wrangle my head around, however its genius lies in its protean flexibility which practically forces you to learn some basic web building principles, so (hopefully), fine tuning it going forward won’t be quite as laborious as it was for my previous one. Check it.


2. Joe Klein & TIME

Earlier this year I was fortunate to begin working with art director Andreé Kahlmorgan at TIME Magazine illustrating bi-monthly columns for Joe Klein, a journalist who’s tenacity and quality of output has proven multiple times over that he’s not so much of a slouch. Mr. Klein’s political column for TIME, more often than not, examines current events from the perspective of a single active participant or group in the event he’s covering. To illustrate that effectively (as well as with a modicum of consistency), the illustration is approached as a conceptual portrait each week, pulling current head shots with Andreé of the players in question and providing narrative context. The turnaround time is roughly equivalent to that of an op/ed. The Obama image above was done for a springtime Klein piece about the increasingly negative and hostile portrayals of Obama that his growing detractors are using in media campaigns. More Klein pieces follow below:

Klein writing as Benjamin Netanyahu and his fly-on-the-wall perspective of the Arab Spring.

Klein on Obama’s and Paul Ryan’s fractured healthcare negotiations.

On the government’s financial mismanagement of great-in-theory programs like Head Start.

On government’s current capability for compromise in the wake of the debt ceiling debacle.

On Mitt Romney’s current second place position in GOP presidential race behind Rick Perry.


3. Frank Bruni for the NYT Sunday Review

Upon the simultaneous retiring of the NY Times’ Week In Review and the birth of their Sunday Review, I’ve also begun trading off with Chris Brand illustrating Frank Bruni’s regular Sunday column since the section got up and running in July. Bruni, like Joe Klein, tackles current politics as well, but he applies a measured, rational wit to his outrage which allows him to deconstruct his themes in a humorous way which, in turn, gives Aviva and I some room to aim for some humor in the illustrations. The piece above accompanied one of his earliest pieces for the Sunday Review in which he opined to have children and spouses of candidates removed from the campaign platform and candidates’ list of talking points. Other recent illos for Bruni’s column follow below and Aviva Michaelov art directed all of them:

This portrait of Casey Anthony, aided with the significant help of a xerox machine, was paired with his post mortem analysis of her trial.

This one went along with an article which used the instance of an Arizona state senator sneaking a small gun into a courthouse as a springboard to address the curious state of current U.S. gun legislation.

This one explored all the ways in which Michele Bachmann is virtual catnip for media pundits. Also, her migraines. Before sending this one in, I showed it around to a handful of designers and three recoiled from it, complaining that the illustration was giving them a headache. Mission accomplished.

This was a tough one. This piece went along with Bruni’s exploration of a political candidate’s false humility—often echoing a declaration of “answering a call” to public service as opposed to simply coming clean and candidly owning their interest in money and power and control. Aviva and Joon Mo Kang helped this one along.

For an article about how ‘smart’ a politician is counts for only so much for his/her effectiveness as a politician.


4. Overshadowed for the Washington Post

Again, for the national press. This one was an illustration for the Washington Post’s Outlook section for their cover piece concerning how the 9/11 attacks on New York perpetually overshadow the 9/11 attacks of Washington. Prior to running this, there was much discussion at the paper as to whether the ‘a-ha’ moment that the viewer gets when looking at the image arrives too late, however Kristin Lenz was an outrageously supportive advocate for this treatment and it made it through the editorial review roundly unscathed. Looking at a mini on-screen version doesn’t help to sell the point too much, so here’s a close up to bludgeon the point home:



If I’m being truthful (and I am), these two covers above and below were completed well before this summer, but since all the titles I’ve worked on since April aren’t camera ready just yet, here are the two that just recently came out.

Instant Replay, above was done for Mr. John Gall under the Anchor Sports imprint. Being personally indifferent about football as I am, this project began with a lot of inwardly directed chortling and later gave way to a personal revelation (albeit a minor one). That revelation being that while I find watching football to be something of a chore, reading about it is awesome. Or alternately, this book is just incredibly honest, thoughtful and good. For the fellow uninitiated, right guard Jerry Kramer essentially accounts in his diary what turns out to be the Green Bay Packers’ historic 1967 season culminating with the legendary “Ice Bowl”. The book is blissfully out of touch with the modern NFL insomuch as the events portrayed are relatively scandal free and that discussion of paychecks, (small ones, incidentally) are secondary to the collective desire to perform well and win. In football circles (read: everyone except me and 27 other U.S. born citizens), the book is regarded as a bit of a playbook classic. Reading it, it’s easy to understand why that is.

Lastly, this one by Douglas Rushkoff concerns the positive and negative ways in which the internet affects both human behavior and human happiness. If one were planning to double-fist books like this, this one would make for an excellent dance partner. Done for the fine people at Soft Skull Press.

And that’s it for now. Much more on the way. Everything above represents a sliver of my summer, so I need to get outside for a minute before the weather turns cold.

Times Roundup


Art direction by Nicholas Blechman

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.





Art direction by Aviva Michaelov


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.’


Letters – Solving the States’ Deficit Problems


Art direction: Aviva Michaelov


Unless the advent of time travel reveals itself to us in our present time in the next few hours, the final New York Times’ Letters illustration for 2010 is above—and it concerns an issue that’s been brewing enough for the past few years to safely count on it percolating in 2011. On the state level, many of them (Illinois especially) are running on deficits between overdue payments while sponsoring tax cuts. The letters written in response to the Christmas Day editorial are all roundly angry and understandably so.

As our manic, stymieing, never-once-boring-not-even-for-a-second year of 2010 collapses in on itself like a dying star, a crazy thought: maybe 2011 is a good time to resume paying actual taxes?

Provided that those who have them now remain fortunate enough to continue having jobs?

Happy 2011! (I hope)!

Op/Ed – Home Economics


This past Sunday’s Op/Ed in the Times took the form of four different ‘economic postcards’— four writers chronicling four separate slices of life in various parts of the country which share how people have been managing in the wake of the ongoing economic slump. The piece above is perhaps the most optimistic of the four, describing a couple in Boise, Idaho who when faced with a serious gopher problem in their garden, meet a wildlife coordinator who’s exceedingly efficient at solving problems of that kind. This guy is far more capable than, say, Carl Spackler.

This one accompanied a piece about a young woman in Portland, OR who’s found a way to purchase organic produce using food stamps. However resourceful, such shopping is kept in check contextually with a brief detour through comparable markets in Las Cruces, NM.


This one went along with a discourse on the paradoxes of the Dallas real estate market.


Lastly, this one went along with the page’s final piece about a Providence, RI theater owner who’s switched his bills up to all comedies all the time in order to drum up business which has fallen off sharply.

The four of these images went through multiple incarnations and at least one fast last minute change within a very short window of time before locking in to the common pictorial cohesion that we arrived at for the finals. Also worth noting, this was wrapping up at the end of a particularly lengthy week and I was tired. I would credit Aviva ‘Nothing-Is-Over-Until-We-Decide-It-Is’ Michaelov for goading me into digging deep and pulling out a batch of images which ended up in a far better place than they were in when we began.


Op/Ed – The Triumphant Decline of the WASP


Last month, it was hornets. This month, it’s the WASPs (mercifully in phonetics only).

The op/ed above explores how Protestants’ latter practice of inclusion and equal opportunity in both academics as well as their broad perception of worldwide religious practices has succeeded so thoroughly that with the presumed confirmation of Elena Kagan, the Supreme Court will contain zero protestants, where it had once held a definitive majority. Professor Noah Feldman, who wrote the article, takes care to stress that it’s a rare bit of good news that religious practices aren’t such a crucial, modern  distinction when determining who would be a good fit for the court of courts.

The illustration above was arrived at after my first five attempts took goose eggs at the editorial desk. A handful of the coulda-shoulda-wouldas are below.





(I was the teeniest bit sorry that this one was relegated to the gallows).




The art direction and negative space virtuosity comes courtesy of Aviva Michaelov.