If you wander around Central Pennsylvania this month you’re likely to find a copy of The Burg at a newsstand with my work on the cover. I have been illustrating for this monthly magazine for the past few months now, and despite the inevitable time constraints of print, I’m pretty proud of my work on the June 2015 cover.
The concept started as a map that would feature local venues representing the Central Pennsylvania region. The initial list handed to me clocked in at 27 venues, including Red Rabbit, Mt. Gretna, and the Perry County Fair. I countered to refine the list, as I was concerned that too many destinations would clutter the piece (not to mention take a long time to draw!). Ultimately, I narrowed the list down and included the state capitol to help define the region.
I wasn’t provided any direction for color, so I started using colors from Google Maps. I quickly ruled this out as I became concerned that the beige backdrop would pale on newsprint. I was also concerned that the negative space would be a little boring, so I began experimenting with handwriting locations. You could say I was drawing from Paula Scher’s Maps for inspiration, though this approach ironically looks similar to what Stephen Michael Haas did for The Burg in January.
The entire illustration was completed over a weekend in Photoshop CC 2014 on a Cintiq 22HD Touch (no paper was harmed in the making of this illustration!). I’d recently watched the documentary “Stripped” where one of the illustrators drew in blue on their second pass. I decided to try the same approach. It’s probably not too noticeable, but I sadly ran out of time and didn’t get to redraw the capitol building or Hollywood Casino as I’d sought out to do.
I shared early drafts with some friends for feedback and one friend mentioned that it looked similar to the labels I’d done for TorchBearer Sauces. While there’s not much I can do about that (it’s my work and carries my handwriting, too), though it somehow got me thinking about Richard Diebenkorn’s Ocean Park series. As a result, I tried underpainting instead of the solid bold colors of the sauce labels.
The finished product did have me a little nervous about which landmarks I chose to include. I anticipated people complaining on why I chose to include this coffee shop’s name over another, or why I excluded smaller attractions for larger ones. Fortunately, feedback has been good (though no one seems to recognize the barn at Fort Hunter).
I really appreciate how “The Burg” editor-in-chief Larry Binda and the lovely Megan Davis have included me in their fantastic little publication, and I’m already working on an illustration for next month’s issue.