Monday, February 25, 2008

Art By Committee

I've painted a lot of paperback covers. For each job I get a big thick manuscript. I use the old manuscripts for scratch paper. Once it a while I’ll turn a sheet of paper over to see what’s written on it. Sentences like this jump out at me:

“…Flames from the creature licked at his back. Something crackled around his head, and he realized his hair was on fire…”

For an illustrator like me, a line like that is hard to pass up. So I’ve snipped out a few of the best excerpts and stuck them out of context into the pages of a big blank sketchbook.

I call the book ART BY COMMITTEE. I bring it to coffee shops when I’m hanging out with other artists. The other artist might be my wife or it might be a couple of notable comic artists, painters, or animators. I can’t reveal their identities—in fact I can’t remember exactly who drew what. And don’t ask me what novel the excerpt came from. I have no clue.

While waiting for the scrambled eggs, we take turns illustrating the scraps of stories. Here’s a sample page. Click to enlarge. If you like this sort of thing, there’s more where it came from.

Tomorrow: Plein Air Ancestors


Mary Ann Archibald said...

These are great! Yes, please post more. I love your blog.

Erik Bongers said...

OMG ! Put that book online !!!
Or better, create a whole new blog : "Where Great Literature and Art meet..."
I'm currently into bookcovers myself. You've given me a great idea !
(but I don't know what a 'manuscript' is...
is that like a PDF...but like a century ago ?)

Unknown said...

Ha! That's really funny/bizarre, I love it. I've done one bvook cover so far and it's been my biggest disaster too. I'm still running from it.So much pressure wrapped up in one picture.

Anonymous said...

haha, hilarious,

and man am i jealous about the other artists you get to hang out, do they all were tron goggles too while you talk about the magic of there art, haah!

i would love to see more from this book too, your illistration looks like somthing from mad magaizine, awsome!

Unknown said...

Haahaha...oh man that's so great.
I love the title, the hand-lettering gives it such gravitas that you'd think it was a primer on art for the uninitiated.

Out here in Seattle there's a sign that changes quotes and this weeks states: "There are no parks with statues dedicated to committees."

I miss hanging out sketching with my pals...thanks for reminding me to get out of the studio. We lead such insular lives!


Anonymous said...

I love illustrating excerpts! I wish I had friends who were artists that I could hang out with. That would be a great way to avoid doing homework. However, there are no illustrators nearby because I'm in a very evil institution that does not like illustration. Alas...

Anonymous said...

More! More!

(why be elaborate when succint and to-the-point works just as well)

Anonymous said...

It would be quite awesome if you could offer one of these as a weekly inspiration to us sketch-happy blog followers. I get the feeling many of us would love to give back a bit in this job, but on the other hand, you do spend a lot of valuable time with this blog already, and we don't want to go getting greedy. It's a great idea, makes me remember my school days in biology, where I was constantly poking fun with sketches at something the teacher or our text books said.

James Gurney said...

OK, Jen. Let's try it. Check out today's post.

Anonymous said...

Oh that looks fun! I like what they did -- oh now I don't feel bad at all for what I sent in for the Sketchblog Challenge! How neat!

So this is what started it. I love the gold lettering you did on that sketchbook too, it's gorgeous. Wish I lived near enough to you to contribute a page, but maybe you can print out what I send when you do these challenges.