If given the time, I’ll put in the work
The beginning of the year is usually pretty slow for a newspaper, many people are on vacation, many of the stories are already in and not much breaking news is happening. This, I have come to realize, is an illustrator’s blessing.
Since starting to work at a newspaper, I have come to realize that time flies. Usually I am given a maximum of a day to come up with a concept and execute an illustration, all while doing whatever other design work I need to complete before the end of the day. Because of this, I will admit that I have come to rely on stock illustration and photography to create my illustrations. Sometimes, if I have even less time, I’ll plop a photo on the cover and call it a day. I’m not proud of it, but with tight deadlines, its what needs to be done.
On a rare occasion, the newsroom is slow and I am given more than 8 hours notice to research, conceptualize and complete an illustration and there will be nothing to distract me. This is one of those times. For the “New Year, New Brews” illustration, I was given a full 3 days to complete it, with no other projects on my to-do list. That’s 9 times the normal amount of time I am given with no distractions. Woah.
Realizing this, I decided now was the time to do an illustration from scratch. No stock art. No stock illustration. It was all me. I was excited.
The story I needed to illustrate was about new breweries opening in South Florida in 2017. So beer. After reading the story, I new that I needed to represent all the breweries in some way. I realized that some of these breweries are very, very small and don’t even distribute their beer (it’s only on tap at their brewery). This story would be their only form of “advertising” to the general public. I needed the illustration to be simple and straight-forward. What sets beer apart from its competitors? Well, I’m a visual person and I can’t really illustrate the individual flavors each brewery’s beer, so how about beer bottles and logos?
Then, I started to research each brewery, trying to get a sense of each of their own visual and personal identities. I looked at logos, beer labels, beer bottles (yes, the design of the glass bottle matters), case design and social media.
So now, it’s all me. I’m doing the illustration. No help. Just like the old days.
Because I had the time, I decided to do a “flat” illustration. It’s a style I’ve done in the past and loved, but, in my opinion, because the flat style is very simple, it demands perfection. If you want something to be symmetrical, it has to be symmetrical, there is nothing to hide imperfections and mistakes.
In the concept phase, I decided that I want to represent each brewery by illustrating a bottle or glass from each brewery. But, since I decided that I was going to do a flat illustration style, I knew that I needed to simplify the branding. Here’s a side by side of what I came up with: