Archive for the 'Kelly Doe' Category

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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Spidey’s Second Act

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Art direction by Kelly Doe

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At this point, it’s difficult to feel anything but pity for the creative forces behind the Spider-Man musical. My relative ambivalence towards Bono, U2 and musicals aside, wrangling a struggling creative endeavor with so many working parts, with so much money already spent, while under near constant public scrutiny looks like a  perfectly awful experience. Solving problems of any kind is an often ugly-looking, graceless process by virtue of the fact that failure is an essential component needed to help discover the thing that does actually, truly work. Having the privacy to indulge in those failures is just as essential if, unlike Bono, you’re an ordinary human being for whom concentration requires effort.

The Spider-Man musical has had no such luxury as of late. Since the poorly reviewed previews have begun, they’ve had the added task of doing public damage control to combat the already negative perceptions of their show which hasn’t yet properly opened. The latest maneuver of which was dismissing Julie Taymor, their original, hand-picked director, in order to publicly demonstrate that steps are being taken to refine and improve the show.

Writing for the NYT Week In Review this weekend, Patrick Healy links Taymor’s firing with other openly political gestures such as the firing of a campaign manager in mid-presidential campaign as both John Kerry and Hillary Clinton did during their failed presidential bids in 2004 and 2008. I worked with Kelly Doe on the illustration accompanying the article.

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Unlike the beleaguered musical, I had the luxuries of working on this image in relative peace, in my home, in the dead of night without interruption or anyone tapping me on the shoulder to tell me what they thought of my preliminary sketches. This was key as the final image was arrived at after all kinds of failure photographing buttons at night without decent light and grasping blindly for visual cues for an article which, at that point, had not yet been fully written. Not only that, but it had to happen quickly, so I only had to live with the hovering specter of failure for about 24 hours. All of the other trials (and errors) are below.

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Should You Watch?

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For the second time this year, Kelly Doe has called upon me to dismember an athlete on the cover of the Week In Review. Back in August it was this classic Olympian and now, behold, an American footballer. The corresponding piece for this new one is, in some ways, an inverse to the previous article which I illustrated for back in August—especially considering that both pieces were written by Michael Sokolove. His earlier piece from August explored the public’s shifting perception of what makes a modern heroic sports star. This current one (which can be read here), inquires what it says about the viewers who so eagerly demand and relish in such a purposely violent game. As is often the case with most arguments in which Joyce Carol Oates gets pulled into, her opinion within the piece is difficult (though not impossible) to contest. Even though her commentary is placed in the middle, it reads like a closer.

Art direction: Kelly Doe.

September Roundup / Yesterday’s News

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September’s been a bit of a blur. Amidst the hopscotch of the day job, the night job, Amtrak and the Bolt Bus, I was able to knock out three pieces for three different sections for the Times. Above are two illustrations which accompanied Matt Bai’s piece in the Week In Review a few weeks back which examines the efficacy of Obama’s presidency in a more integrated, global society in which he’s increasingly tethered to the policies of other countries.

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Kelly Doe art directed these two with me—and quite gracefully too when considering that these pictures began as a single spot, before it was briefly considered for the cover, before ultimately being relegated to one spot on the front page and the second piece on the interior. Amidst all of the juggling, she’s calm, that one.

If you treat your news in the same way I treat my New Yorker subscription, you can read the article three weeks too late right here.

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Next up was a quick Letters spot which collected responses to Paul Krugman’s column about the anger coming from the wealthy upper class directed at Obama on account of his raising taxes. Many of the voices who chimed in on the Letters page felt differently.

This was art directed by the Op/Ed page’s brand new assistant art director Alexandra Zsigmond. Alexandra’s good.
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Lastly, this decidedly freakier one above was done for Nicholas Blechman at the Book Review for Laura Kipnis’ book How to Become a Scandal. The book examines the psychological links between the voyeur and the public train wreck and the motives, raging ids and spectacular self deception required to initiate a public scandal. She breaks it down on a case-by-case basis, examining the particulars of Eliot Spitzer, Linda Tripp, James Frey and Lisa Nowack, the diaper-wearing, wig-donning astronaut from a few months back from which the final illustration drew its inspiration.

New projects which were begotten in places besides 620 Eighth Avenue are on the way…

Epic Confusion

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The second rush gig which capped off an epic week of little sleep was the cover for this past week’s Week In Review. Working with Kelly Doe for a fast few hours before jumping on a plane, the article describes the new modern arc of the superathlete a la Lance Armstrong, A-Rod, Lebron James, etc., and how the public’s perception of heroic athletic feats has changed from a sense of awe and aspiration to one of justifiable skepticism. Michael Sokolove kinda, sorta nails it in his opening:

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The notion of looking up to the sports hero was always dubious. Now? Forget it. The new definition of a sports hero is someone whom we don’t yet have enough information on. 

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This one happened so quickly that, in a rare, borderline miraculous feat, we were able to get a concept approved over the phone without preliminary sketches. I’ve heard tell of this feat done with other, far more seasoned designers who contribute to the Times, but being the searching, second-guessing soul that I am, it’s rare that I’m ever so comfortable committing to an idea first before trying to work it out on paper first, so this was a new one on me. Once the idea was approved, I had a few hours to obsess over how best to render it. The other version that we tried out which didn’t make the cut uses a torn paper conceit which I will absolutely hold onto for when the right assignment comes around. The sculpture won’t carry over but I’ll be sitting on those shreds of discarded paper like a mother hen.

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Week In Review: Lighting Up vs. Chowing Down

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A quick one for the Week In Review above. Nutritionists are presently taking on a lesser-of-two-evils argument, discussing whether a child is worse off if they begin life as obese in their youth, or alternately decide to take up smoking in their teens. Nice options!

Kelly Doe and I have been working on upwards of 25+ images for a presentation that she’ll be giving at the upcoming ICON conference this week, with conveniently dovetailing deadlines of now and immediately. In the midst of that craziness, we figured what was one more?

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