Saturday, November 25, 2006

In a Curry

Walking through Columbus Circle I’m hitting anyone within a four foot circumference with either a Keihl’s bag or Restoration Hardware, starboard. I have done all my Christmas shopping in one of these two stores. I hope everyone likes moisturizers and hand-cranked flashlights.

I have been thinking about eating at the Whole Foods café all day and I reach under the sneeze guard and scoop up Indian rice and curried chicken when I hear bird calls. It’s my cell. The Times has a job but they need me to drop everything and send them sketches about the NY Giants falling apart by 9 pm. It’s already 6 pm. Only doctors and other freelancers at the Whole Foods café could possibly understand my predictament. But I have no choice–the Times are my highest paying client and I get a job from them, if I’m lucky, only once every two months. The holidays are the busiest time for illustrators because editors and art directors are scrambling to fill space in these usually half-baked issues. The publications expect the freelancers to work over the holidays and have a finish waiting the morning their return from their extended weekend.

In this case there's only one day before deadline. The job is a half page color illustration for a story not written yet. All they can tell me is that it’s about quarterback Eli Manning having problems. They have one suggestion for me; Humpty Dumpty except make the egg a Giant helmet. I tell them I’d happily do the job (and that I’m a big Giant, which is true) but not crazy about their Humpty Dumpty idea and promise to come up with something Op-Eddy. While straddling the bags on the A-train, I bounce ideas in my head starting with the football helmet as a prop. A trick to use when nothing great pops ups is to take two elements needed in the piece and distort the relationship between them. From this I have, considering the time crunch, an acceptable idea.

Once in my apartment I sketch two variations of this idea using a Wacom pad on my iMac. I have two monitors hooked up so that the palettes of Painter take up only one screen leaving me a clean slate in front of me. I e-mail the sketch by 8 pm with a note that I’ll pursue other ideas but first let me hear if this would work. Within an hour the art director e-mails back he’s happy and instructs me to proceed. By 10 pm I send a final. It’s only 240 dpi because it’s for a newspaper. I suck out all the Cyan, Magenta and Yellow from the black lines so it reproduces crisp (I wish someone would have shared this secret with me years ago). The next morning he replies he's good and we’re done. Only then does he mention money. I accept his offer and thank him for the job. The contract is e-mailed and I e-mail the invoice. From start to finish the whole process has been paperless.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How did it turn out?