Apr 9, 2008

Animal Metaphors & Rabbit Trails

Multi-Tasking Octopus. Click to view larger image.

Even though I don't do a lot of editorial illustration I do enjoy the challenge when it presents itself. These illustrations were for Fortune Small Business magazine. The challenge with editorial is gleaning a creative and clever idea to illustrate after reading the article which sometimes can be very dry and boring. Thankfully in this case it was actually a very interesting topic.

My original pencil sketches included the pig concept below and because they liked that one so much they then asked me to create two other animal based metaphors so that each of the three illustrations would work more as a set. The octopus shown above was chosen to represent a company that did everything themselves rather then outsourcing and because of that their quality control was better and their production was far more efficient.

Rabbit Trail 1: When I was coloring this art I originally had green instead of purple. My oldest daughter came into my studio while I was working on it and said "Dad the octopus should be purple." I kind of shrugged her off and then looked up some information on octopuses and discovered they change color so I decided to just keep it green.

The next day after sending off the comp the art director asks "Can you change the octopus to purple?" DOH! Suffice it to say my daughter enjoyed hearing that bit of news. I reminded her she has my genes so that obviously was responsible for her opinion. LOL

Croc Loving Pig. Click to view larger image.

The next part of the article was about companies finding a unique niche for business by piggybacking on trends. The specific trend discussed was Crocs. Obviously the terminology in the article pinpointed the direction I should take.

Rabbit Trail 2: The art director asked me to add some type into two of the spots so the art above shows that as well. The type is part of an on going hand lettering project I've been working on for three years now. Eventually I'll produce a font called "Nincompoop" based on these letter forms.

Flying in Formation. Click to view larger image.

The gist of the last article needing an illustration was about a company who brought order out of chaos in the high tech parts market and profited greatly from their business solution. Prior to the animal metaphors I had a guy putting a puzzle together and on that puzzle was a dollar sign. But since they wanted animal metaphors that wouldn't work now. Some of the new concepts I proposed were "Getting your ducks in a row, with each duck carrying a part" and "A bird who takes random parts and builds an ordered nest from them." Neither of these ideas floated the art directors boat.

Instead the art director requested butterflies that form a dollar sign.

((( insert cricket sound )))

Yeah, I am scratching my head still on that one myself. Don't get me wrong I like the way it came out and think it looks cool, I am just not in sync with the underline concept. It's a bit detached where as the other two make sense right away. Hey 2 for 3 is great in baseball, so I can live with that creative batting average.

Rabbit Trail 3: BTW, these illustrations show how you can use the textures found in my texture book.

If any of you do figure out the butterfly idea could you please email me? ;-)


Benjamin said...

The last one is a bit of a head scratcher. Despite that though it's intellectually appealing in that it's way different then all the standard and mostly overused metaphors. It's a productive head-scratcher and once you get your mind around it, it does stick out (in a good way) as being different. And purple for the octopus proves your daughter has an eye for color!

Danielle said...

maybe because butterflies "emerge" out of something that looks like a mess? i don't know. that was my only thought. weird.

Raúl said...

About the butterflies: In chaos theory there is a metaphor of butterflies creating it... the phrase goes: a flapping butterfly in china create thunderstorms in america... or something like that.
Even Pratchet created in the Discworld books the "Papilio Tempestae", a butterfly with fractal wings that create chaos...

So maybe the basic concept comes from there?

Vonster said...

Thanks for sharing the whole Butterfly and chaos thing, now that you mention that it does ring familiar.

Jeff said...

Regarding the Butterfly metaphor, it doesn't work if the concept isn't instantly recognizable by the majority of the readers. You shouldn't have to explain it, LOL! Gotta know your audience!

Personally, I kinda liked that "ducks in a row" idea.


Shawn Escott said...

Wonderful work lately Von!! It sounds like your daughter is quite talented and has a good eye for design! :) My girls are still small but I'm waiting for the day they start critiquing my work. HeHe!! For now we do watercolors and acrylic paintings together and they love it!

Joseph said...

Like RauI pointed out... I think they were going for the theory called the "Butterfly Effect" with the whole chaos thing. It definitely doesn't stand out but the artwork is still stunning. Great job!