The truly talented writer, Kimba Henderson asked me to design the Key Art for this years Kaleidoscope play/musical ( presented by L.A.I.C.C) and I was thrilled for the opportunity. I love collaborating with passionate artists who strive to communicate poignant messages in our time. There can be so much junk in the entertainment world so it's refreshing to see stories unfold that make me reflect on my own humanity and call me higher spiritually. Truthfully, I don't even like plays, they can tend to bore me - especially when they break out into song. However, timing is key and Kimba's storytelling does this extremely well. As in last years play, "The Prayer for the Infidel" I was hit with an explosion of heavy drama, deep emotion and witty one liners. The dancers glide in at just the right time to melancholy songs that help me take in what I just saw. The last play touched on deep emotional topics involving the revolutionary times of the 1960's in San Francisco at the height of political and social change. The wild youth was captured beautifully by characters fighting for causes larger than themselves, all while confronting the reality of loosing themselves amidst a changing world.
I have no doubt that this years story will cut directly to the heart. I thought it would be fun to let you in on my design process and how the art came to be. In the past I've tended to rush into "create" mode and then find myself going backwards doing clean-up work, because my initial concept was not strong. Thanks to my awesomely talented hubby, Jonathan Tucci and his art direction was I able to pull this off.
Step 1: Research
Kimba sent me the synopsis and soon after the script so I could delve deep into the story. I try to read it all in one sitting so I can experience the effect as much as possible. I pay attention to the themes of the story, overall message and any unique details. Before I start any project I interview the client a set of custom questions. I ask general things pertaining to content and more thought provoking questions regarding the target demographic. I touch on all the senses, for example... what do you want the viewer to think, feel and walk away with? Kimba is deep, so I know it's important to communicate a feeling and a message - a call to action of sorts to get the viewer to attend the play.
Step 2: Ideation
After collecting all the data I then got to the drawing board. As tempting as it was to go to the computer ( the need for speed ) I went to my sketchbook instead. My hubby's direction was to sketch small compositions, small enough to get the idea on paper without obsessing over details, much like sifting flour to get all the clumps out. This part was fun! This is the time to make mistakes and not worry. Kimba also wanted me to use a "Day of the Dead" theme and since it took place in a "Hollywood" type setting, the concept was pretty straight forward. Once I was done with the sketches, I chose my top 2 choices and selected photo references to communicate the look and feel of the art. Sketches are great, but you need examples in order for them to be understood by the client. I presented them to Kimba and we ended up going with a blend of both directions. The first idea was a reaching hand made of dissipating skulls and the second, a "Peek-a-Boo" skull in front of spotlights with a hollywood vibe. I like involving my client through the decision making process as much as possible, but like to make sure I give them great options. Three is a good number of ideas to show, not to much and not too little.
Step 3: Design
Party time! After the final idea was chosen I felt confident to start fleshing out the details. I had gathered online photos to get me started as reference, however they did not work out as planned. The imagery of the hands I found were not 100% in the angle I needed. The drawing ended up looking abstract and not a defined shape, but it was my hubby who pointed it out. As soon as I showed him he quickly replied..."you have to start over." He was right! I realized I couldn't cut corners on this ( lesson learned again ) and decided to take my own photos. So now I found myself taking selfies of my hand and even pulled Jon in to be my hand model. These were it! The photos were much better than what I found online. Having good reference from the beginning makes all the difference. After I solidified the right shape of the hand I then started adding in the skulls. To draw my own skulls would have taken longer and I'd rather spend my time designing the whole art vs. drawing skulls, so I invested a couple bucks and purchased stock art. I used Dreamstime as my source for all the images. Staying on budget is simply good design sense. I reinterpreted the skulls to make them fit the rest of the art and played with several background options. In the end, I showed my close circle of trusted designers and friends for feedback. Asking for critique is so crucial, no matter how hard it can be to hear it will make you a better designer. I have to remember to put my "hard hat" on when asking for critique, but so glad I did as that's how the final piece came to be. Hope you enjoyed reading my process ;) feel free to leave any comments below.