Archive for the 'Nicholas Blechman' Category

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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Book Review: The Executive Unbound

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“The Constitution…no longer corresponds to “reality.” Congress has assumed a secondary role to the executive, and the Supreme Court is “a marginal player.” In all “constitutional showdowns,”…the powers that make and judge law have to defer to the power that administers the law.”

Going by the review, the book’s principal conceit is that all three branches of government are equal—it’s just that the executive branch is more equal than the other two, and that may be OK. Harvey Mansfield, the reviewer, doesn’t argue the point, but he does argue the foundation of the thesis. The illustration was done post haste for the Book Review (which also boasted a gorgeous cover by Monika Aichele). Art direction by Nicholas Blechman.

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Essay: Blowing Their Own Cover

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The above piece ran in the Book Review with Alex Berenson’s essay on the CIA over Thanksgiving while I was in absentia in Southeast Asia. The essay discusses several memoirs written by past CIA agents which dish with uniformly unflattering remarks about the agency’s bureaucratic policies and resource-squandering. The principal complaint points to a colossal waste of money as well as ‘fetishizing the rituals of tradecraft’ instead of taking actual risk in the interest of gathering useful, productive intelligence. After reading over the essay twice, visualizing this became a matter of red tape or bust. Mercifully, the Times agreed with the approach.

As an aside, it was no small satisfaction to find a copy of the paper close to a full week after its publication while staggering jetlagged beyond reproach through the Hong Kong airport while waiting for our connecting flight back to New York. As signals of homecoming go, in lieu of a working teleportation device, I was very happy to settle for the newspaper instead.

Art direction: Nicholas Blechman.

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Book Review – No War Left Behind

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What began decades ago as a cadre of liberals who questioned the economic policies entwined with LBJ’s Great Society are today not much more than Republicans who constantly auger for expanded arms programs and military intervention, whatever the circumstance. At least that’s how a Neoconservative is presently defined in the review for the appropriately titled Neoconservatism: The Biography of a Movement by Justin Vaïsse in the NYT Book Review this week.

The original pitch for this illustration was to experiment with portraits, (not unlike what was arrived at for this piece), but when photos didn’t materialize in as timely a manner as we’d hoped, we sought out a more typographic approach and landed on the above image.

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The other directions that I was playing with in the early stages leaned way too much on the author and reviewer’s present, hawkish impression of neoconservatives and didn’t make any suggestion of the movement’s origin which, all things being equal, wouldn’t have been as complete a representation of the piece as the image that was chosen. In retrospect, I’m relieved that these other ones were not considered:

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Fair and balanced art direction by Nicholas Blechman.

Book Review Essay – The Raging Center

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I swear up and down that I have other clients besides the Times—they only require that I work faster, is all.

This one above was done for this week’s essay in the Book Review, written by the BR’s very own editor, Sam Tanenhaus. In his essay, Sam revisits The Radical Center, a book published in 2001. The book is one part policy proposals for the ten-fresh decade, while the other half explores a growing batch of mainstream voters who are strongly disenfranchised with both Republicans and Democrats. The book had the comparatively small misfortune to be published right after 9/11, when many of the book’s ideas were rendered either inaccurate or just flat-out insignificant in the wake of bigger concerns. Nearly a full decade later, Tanenhaus suggests that while the policy section of the book may still be a wash, that the authors’ vision of voter discontent was right on the money:

“The Radical Center raises the possibility that a book can be at once behind and ahead of its time, mistaken in some of its prescriptions…but true in its assessment of the costs of a dysfunctional civil society.”

Read onward!

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Art direction by the fair & balanced Nicholas Blechman. I’d post the additional sketches we were considering for the final, but some of those guys are going to get used for something down the line. This I vow.

Story of His Life

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T H E    M A N

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J O H N    E D W A R D S

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T H E    L E G E N D

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T H E    S P U R N E D    F O R M E R    A I D E

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T H E    L U C R A T I V E    A D V A N C E

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T H E    S O R D I D    T E L L – A L L    D E T A I L S

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T H E    N E W    Y O R K    T I M E S’    B O O K    R E V I E W

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When I was handed this assignment, Nicholas Blechman’s brief was explicit in handling this as a portrait illustration which showcased the (justifiably) outrageous tabloid heights that John Edwards’ Olympic-level career suicide had reached in full public view in connection with Andrew Young’s newly published book. In this task, I failed entirely in the first round of sketches, so it’s to Mr. Blechman’s credit that he gave me a second chance and a little extra time to take a second crack at it and give me a moment to arrive at the above piece which ended up running.

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The extremely loose, unfinished, axed comps which didn’t make the cut are below. They all touch upon the mechanics of the scandal, but they don’t possess the tabloidesque exclamation that was needed to help contextualize the article. I will absolutely use one or some of these ideas for something else down the line if a subject more fitting for their tones ever come my way.

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ROUND #2 – REJECTS:

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