Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Hustle & Woe for Seattle Weekly

Hustle & Woe: Graham Smith
The Seattle Weekly, was looking for someone to illustrate the Shyan Selah: Hustle & Woe cover story, by Keegan Hamilton, when Art Director Boo Davis, saw the gangster rat video, and thought my rough and gritty style might be a good fit.

The Seattle Weekly wanted an energetic, moody illustration of hip-hop artist Shyan Selah, with the headline drawn as a tattoo on the his arms. Boo explained the whole project while dragging a suitcase down the San Francisco streets, on the way to see Shyan Selah in concert.

Boo was going there to see for herself what he is: a hip-hop artist, or a con artist.

Here's how I illustrated the cover:
Hustle & Woe pencil sketch: Graham Smith
After a round of thumbnails, I sketched up the idea of the rap star tangled in his own mic cord. To figure out how to draw the hands and arms, I put my baseball hat on, blasted the stereo and channeled my inner rap star into the studio mirror for a while. Yeah! That counts as work. I love this job.

Illustrating hand drawn type is really fun too, in a putting-a-puzzle-together kind of way. It took a long time to figure out how to wrap ye Olde English type around a forearm contour, in perspective. I comped up the pencil drawing with the Seattle Weekly masthead and sent it to Boo.

"Can the figure be flipped... quicker read on the headline?" She asked.

Now, it was me that had to hustle. I quickly re-drew the headline. To save some time, I inked the whole thing with the type reading backwards. I planned to flip the whole thing one more time, using Photoshop, making the type read forwards in the final illustration. 

Original inking: Graham Smith
To make room for all the typography, I inked the Shyan Selah illustration pretty big, about 18 inches tall. I used a big, round # 8 sized brush to make sure the brush strokes were big and bold. India ink, on 100 lb Strathmore Recycled Drawing paper.

Original inking next to printed paper, before it was flipped and colored. Illustration: Graham Smith

The original ink drawing is about 150% bigger than the printed magazine. Notice the backwards headline on his arms? To begin the digital work, I scanned the inking in several pieces and auto-stitched them together in Photoshop.

Hustle & Woe for Seattle Weekly. Illustration: Graham Smith
Above is the finshed illustration next to the edited, printed magazine. Below is a detail. It wasn't until the illustration printed that I noticed his Rolex was on the wrong hand!

Hustle & Woe. Illustration: Graham Smith
Hustle & Woe detail: Graham Smith

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