Illustration by Brian Stauffer
Art Direction by Tom Carlson
Design by Andrew J. Nilsen
Cover Process / Behind the Scenes: The Dispossessed
[click on images for hi-res]
The problem: visualize a story about foreclosure - a topic that has been beaten to death in the past few years.
My first thoughts were around trying to use a doorway as a metaphor for both a new beginning and a trap. The door itself was too simple so I thought maybe the house shape could do what I was thinking. The three thumbnails in the second image were my jumping off point.
From here I knew I wanted to try some sort of isometric illusion to play with the duality of the story. I jumped into Illustrator and started hacking together some shapes.
I wasn’t sure if it should be a pit, underwater, or a house being dumped out until I did that last vector sketch. I was feeling pretty solid about the concept at this point.
From here I had to decide whether or not to finish this sucker myself. I was debating it back in forth in my head but decided I needed to free up my brain to focus on the impending “Best of SF” issue deadlines rapidly approaching. I got Brian Stauffer on the hook to take it to the finish line and let my brain move on to other things … until I showed the sketches to my wife that night (Thursday).
She was more excited about the concept than I was and thought I should finish it myself. We had a fun little debate over the pros and cons of both options and I decided that sleep was more important to me this week and stuck with my original decision to have Brian humanize this one.
Brian shot over his thoughts Friday afternoon - a few variations on some of the sketches I had done and we decided to stick with the upright house vs. house being dumped out.
We struggled over how to solved the mixed perspective and Brian pointed out that the single shared door to both houses was making it difficult to read the other house properly. He was right I as I had been staring at it WAY too long and slapped those shapes together so fast that I stopped trying to makes sense of the details.
He changed the idea to have two doors which allowed us eliminate the challenge of where the people should be. It was now clear that one should be hanging from the doorknob and one moving into the other home. This also freed up the side of the house for typography.
It was also clear from his sketches that both homes being white made everything easier and that the background should be a solid color to eliminate any confusion in trying to reinforce the perspective.
We nailed down the last few details just before I cut out of the office for the weekend and I left it to Brian to do his thing over the weekend.
In the end, my “the simpler, the better” mantra proved itself once again and I was glad to have Brian there to help refocus the approach … and really take this piece to the next level. Thanks Brian!
Well, kind of old news. The SPD annual arrived last week and it looks amazing thanks to Oakland-based designer Carl De Torres. And what I didn’t realize is that this cover was also given and honorable mention in the cover design category. Thanks again to illustrators Brian Stauffer for nailing this one!
Last Friday, I found out that I won a string of 3 awards at the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies Nation Conference held in New Orleans. Woop woop!
1st place - Illustration (top) - Wounded Pride by Scott Bakal
2nd place - Cover Design (middle row) - World’s Apart Illustration by Brian Stauffer
A big thanks to all the illustrators involved - they really took my vision to the next level and made these pieces better than I could have imagined. Here’s to hoping for a first place finish in cover design next year!
And while I’m on it, I’ll take a second to officially say that on Friday night of last week, this cover was awarded the GOLD medal by SPD for best cover in the illustration category!
Big thanks to illustrator Brian Stauffer for playing a major part in this piece coming together. A real big win here since we were up against heavy weights Bloomberg Businessweek and Billboard Magazine.