Monday, October 3, 2011

Calm Her

Every once in a while a strangely wonderful opportunity finds you; something you really want just sort of, falls into your hands. Earlier this spring, my friend Sonia Rao asked me if I would make an illustration for the cover of her upcoming album: Calm Her. In the beginning she sent me the demos of all of her songs and I sketched out my thoughts and ideas, my feelings about the music. And also what I thought would just make a visually assertive composition.
Thumbnails searching for visually striking compositions

More, broader-themed sketches
Sketches from 'Summer & Wine'

Sketches with varied themes
Sketches from 'Calm Her'

Sketches mostly inspired by 'She' but also the album itself as a whole
In the end this last concept was Both Sonia's and my favorite. I feel it succinctly illustrates the narrative of the album, and simultaneously my own views on creativity, talent, and success.
Finished photoshop sketch & value study
Creativity is a strange creature. It is fueled, to me at least, by profound experience. It is always some concoction of both exhilarating and tragic experience that motivates us to create. And this same energy that can lift us up and express our inner thoughts and dreams to the world can coil tightly around us and drag us down into dark silence. In the case of this piece I envisioned the female figure, be it represtentative of Sonia, the Artistic Spirit, or perhaps the Female Spirit, firing out from this darkness of obscurity, wreathed in the billowing coils of her own talents and creative energy, soaring high towards light, gasping a cathartic breath. The unfurling trail of motely-colored fabric is the fabric her dreams, hopes, and ideas heaving her up high into the air. I felt that it was a powerful idea, and it made for a visually striking composition. one that would also be easily interesting from far away or in small formats.
An earlier color scheme, eventually dropped in favor of more earth-tone scheme
    So, after refining the lines, and planning the actual layout of each sheet of fabric, I began to work in Illustrator.
Here is an mid-stage rendering, all of the basic shapes and tonality is there, but there are no fine-details. Also, the color is radically different. While ultimately we didn't stay with this direction, I still really like this one, the colors are weirder, more eccentric but they work.