Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Who Is The Beast?

While in college, I was given one of the coolest assignments I'd probably ever get to work on in my collegiate career. It was Graphic Design II and our professor read us a poem titled "Who Is The Beast". She didn't tell us what the poem was about, and instead told us to illustrate a kid's book using a couple lines from the poem.

I'm pretty sure most people in the class moaned at the assignment, but I personally couldn't wait to get started... which says quite a bit, because this is the ONLY time in my educational history which I have actually been enthused to do homework... let alone willing to do it at all.

The lines of the poem I was given were as follows:

The Beast, The Beast! We must fly by!
We see his tail swing low and high.

The Beast, The Beast! I must turn back!
I see his stripes, Yellow and Black.

The Beast, The Beast! I hurry on.
I see his legs, sure and strong.

The Beast, The Beast! Don't make a sound.
I see his eyes, Green and Round.

My interpretation of this poem was that there was a cat riding on the back of a giant grasshopper over the ocean who caught a glimpse of their distorted reflections as they passed and thought there was a terrible beast in the water. You can imagine how much fun I had illustrating this book.

If you notice, the coloring style is different from most of my work, being a little softer and incredibly Photoshop-heavy. Prior to my work with Body & Brain Magazine, this was how I generally colored most of my pictures... which is one of the main reasons I don't show my older work in my portfolio. This was one of the few pieces I'm still very happy with.

The main reason I was happy with this work was the typography. I had never considered type as a design element prior to my work on this project... which is pretty sad for someone who was going to school for Graphic Design. My professor had encouraged me to focus more on the type this time around, rather than the illustrations. Most of my assignments which I passed in were so focused on the drawings that all other design elements were just going out the window. It's one of the few times in college where I actually learned something relevant in terms of design. It sounds conceited, but it was mostly because I was unwilling to learn, feeling that design was nothing more than a means to a degree in making pretty pictures... ah, the sad, sad mind of a cartoonist...

Another reason I consider this an important piece of work in my portfolio is because it was the first time I dabbled in a more simplistic art style. As a result of being told to focus on type, I had to allow the cartoons to take a backseat while I explored typography. Before this, my drawings were too detailed for their own good... i.e. the details weren't any good.

So, in a sense, the drawings were a little last minute, and somehow were far better than anything I had ever drawn prior to this book. It was like the equivalent to speed typing, there's bound to be a few errors, but it's still more efficient... I don't know if that actually makes any sense... it does to me. This blog is about me.

An interesting story... earlier I mentioned this being the first homework assignment that I actually cared to work on, halfway through finishing the project, my computer got a nasty virus from a pirated copy of Quark Express (which I never owned, FBI) and I lost all the work I had done on this. Just another reason Quark sucks. All Hail Adobe InDesign! ... Which I would gladly pay for. Fortunately, I loved the project so much that I had no problem redoing it... I'd do it again... but I've lost the will now that I'm not obligated to do so. I'm conflicted. Due to time restraints (caused by the infamous Quark Virus of 04') the back cover I designed wasn't shaded... but ironically looked better than the rest of the book... another occurence which encouraged me to go simpler with illustrations...

Who is the Beast? The Beast is me!
~ Mark

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