Thursday, March 24, 2011

Dive Bar rejects

When the assignment to draw a dive bar for Philadelphia Magazine's April issue came in, I was stoked.  Art Director Jesse Southerland and I both thought the edgy subject matter of the "Survive the Dive" article by Victor Fiorillo would fit well with my noir like pen and ink style.

I drove down to the Ruby Room, the same local bar we used for the Tori Roze photo shoot. It has a nice big booth across from the bar. I set myself up there with a few friends, my sketchbook and a fountain pen. Cocktails were ordered and "the work" began.

I drew the bar with a Lamy Safari fountain pen, in my 11 x 14 inch Aquabee Super Deluxe Sketchbook. No pencil sketch, strictly a la prima. That's the pen, on the corner of the sketchbook. I used a japanese brush pen to fill in the black areas.

The article describes a "kind of scary" place with a "rude" bartender. I left space in my dive bar drawing to place the bartender in later, via Photoshop. If you look closely, you can see my reflection in the mirror behind the bar.

Ruby Room, ink drawing in sketchbook 11 x 14
Dive bar reject illustration 1 - Graham Smith
I like to use real people and place hidden inside references in my illustrations whenever I can. The glum fellow above is my friend Andrei, (film maker and art director at Sony Computer Entertainment America). He just got his wisdom teeth out and was in the perfect mood to portray a rude bartender. Did you notice my portrait of Tori Roze in the upper right corner? Her album "From the Hip" debuted in this bar.

I colored the drawing up and submitted it to Philadelphia MagazineThe illustration was rejected. "Too depressing!" said the editors.

Drawing on my vast dive bar experience, I decided to illustrate a female character instead, "an overdressed woman shaking the new guy down for a drink" would be perfect for a "scary" dive bar. I sketched up the idea and send it in.

This idea was rejected too. Philadelphia Magazine does not condone drunken binges, but they did like the idea of this article being illustrated from a female point of view.

Dive bar reject illustration 2 - Graham Smith
With the second idea rejected and the deadline looming. I went out to for Himalayan food with Dawn Vitale (Director of Marketing at Eventful) to recharge my battery and to decide what to do next.

Luckily, Dawn "volunteered" to step in, save the day, and pose as the dive bar patron, in an eleventh hour illustration edit. I drew her holding up a well deserved cocktail that night, and Photoshopped her into the illustration.

Here she is, hot off the press in the April issue of Philadelphia Magazine.

Philadelphia Magazine on my desk
"Survive the Dive" for Philadelphia Magazine by Graham Smith
Ruby Room - sketchbook detail, Graham Smith


Nancy Lee Vadnais said...

Awesome. Riveting. Intense. All good!

Graham Smith said...

Thanks Nancy! This was a fun drawing to do. :)

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