Thursday, September 27, 2012

Kurt Cobain - cover illustration

Kurt Cobain: Graham Smith
Even though I was overbooked with assignments, when the call to illustrate Nirvana's Kurt Cobain for a 90's revival issue of the Phoenix New Times came in, I said yes, and worried about where to find the time, later! Read the article, by Chris Parker.

Art Director Peter Storch was full of great ideas that got me all pumped up to draw the portrait. But, as we developed the sketches, it seemed that some of the concepts were not really true to the ideals Kurt Cobain stood for as an artist. He died at 27 years old, feeling very misunderstood, and we wanted to be sensitive to that.

Detail - Kurt Cobain - Graham Smith
One of the ideas that didn't make it out of the rough stage, was an image of Kurt wearing buttons of popular bands from the 90's. Kurt would have hated to be a billboard, so we chucked the idea.

All my 90's era plaid shirts have all been recycled by craft projects or given away; but the Art Director kept one of his favorites, and sent me a scan.

I repainted his favorite old plaid shirt by hand, because the photo looked funny with the drawing. (I was a textile designer back in the day, so I knew just what to do.)

Once the portrait was finished, I crumpled, folded, and distressed a piece of paper to use as the masthead. Peter fine tuned it, and another collaboration was complete.

Young Kurt Cobain and his Fender - sketch: Graham Smith

Kurt Cobain, ink in process: Graham Smith
A big drop of ink fell right on his nose when I was darkening his eye sockets. The drop followed the ink lines conturing his face, and ended up looking like a black tear. I left the ink tear alone, instead of editing it out with Photoshop. Sometimes, mistakes are the best part.

- G

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