Thursday, November 15, 2012

Fidel Castro and the Generals of Cuba

Fidel Castro - Maximum Leader of Cuba
Pacific Standard developed a big story about Fidel Castro's potential successors with writer, Ann Louise Bardach, (the preeminent US expert on the subject). Fidel Castro and Cuba's ruling elite are all 80 years, or older, the Cuban Missile just had it's 50th anniversary, and the world is wondering, who will rule Cuba next?

Art Director, Craig Edwards visioned a full page illustration of Fidel, plus 2 spreads - detailed infographics with portraits of all Fidel's family, military leaders, and politicos next to rule Cuba, organized by family allegiance, to accompany the article.

My assignment was to find reference photos, illustrate them, then infographic-ize all the portraits into charts that helped visualize the many players and their relationships.

It was a dream to illustrate Fidel Castro - the United States Caribbean nemesis, his brother Raul, all the Generals and political figures currently in power, plus many members of his family, including children from his "liaisons", hiding in exile.

This was a research heavy job, I learned a lot about Spanish family naming conventions, but mostly, I had to draw really fast!

Raul Castro - Fidel's brother, currently ruling Cuba

Fidel Castro - detail - Graham Smith

Waiting in the Wings

I read each draft of the article many times, trying to discern which politico was loyal to which family branch, and which military leaders were loyal to Fidel or his brother, so I could draw the correct person and organize the information into the charts below. 

Clicking on the charts below opens an interactive feature, explaining who each of the Generals, politicos, and family members are, and who may be the next to rule Cuba. 

For instance, Raul's Castro's grandson is also his bodyguard. And Fidel's daughter is an outspoken advocate for human rights, who has no interest in ruling Cuba. 

Joel Smith (no relation) developed the illustrations into this cool interactive feature! Check it out.
The Generals of Cuba

La Familia

While doing the research I came across the coolest old time photos of Fidel Castro chilling with Che Guevara, back when they were young rebels, overthrowing governments, starting revolutions, and all that fun stuff kids do. Plus, this guy above, General Valdes, he's like the most interesting man in the worlds badass brother, and very likely to be Cuba's next leader.

I love learning about history, and all the great and notorious things people do as I draw their portraits. It is one of the best parts of being an illustrator!

For the drawing nerds: Lamy Safari fountain pen, on Strathmore drawing paper, with Platinum Carbon Ink. Brush pen.

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