Thursday, June 20, 2013

Most gross, man!

OK, just gonna post this, warts and all — one of my favorite attempts at digital art, but also one of my biggest disappointments.

Like the baseball book cover art, it's an homage to the art of Robert Grossman, whose work I gorged on in childhood. This was for a book of golf quotes and quips.

It features, left to right:
  • Ben Hogan, winner of nine major tournaments and one of only five to have won the four premier tournaments open to pros (I'm regurgitating Wikipedia here, having golfed exactly once — badly — in my life): the Masters, the British Open, the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship
  • Rodney Squirrel, with no golf experience that I could find
  • Lee Trevino, who won six major tournaments and twice won the British Open, U.S. Open and PGA Championship
  • Arnold Palmer, peddler of motor oil and creator of a delicious non-alcoholic drink
  • Bobby Jones, considered the greatest amateur golfer … he co-founded the Masters Tournament … he triumphed before color photography, get it?
  • Jack Nicklaus, maybe the best ever golfer, with 18 championships
  • Chi Chi Rodriguez, winner of eight tournaments, best known for his colorful quips and a toreador dance to celebrate his shots
What Grossman achieved with airbrush — the smooth sheens and blended darks and folds of fabric — I did with something called a gradient mesh tool in Adobe®© Illustrator™©.

The mesh tool is a drug, man. Addiction is certain, and I overdosed on this work. Eighty-five percent of this illustration uses the gradient mesh tool, which turns out to be a memory-hungry feature of the Illustrator program.

Therefore, it is a gremlin, creating problems that appear at the least opportune moment.

This art, for example, looked perfectly fine to me when I sent it to the art director, all the way to New York City. All the hundreds of shapes were in their place, just so.

Then the shipment of book jackets with the art arrived at my office, and I saw the gremlin's work: Notice Arnold Palmer's left shoulder, and how his lovely yellow sweater becomes transparent, showing the crest of the hill behind. Notice how his loud orange pants all but disappear above the knees, revealing the dark green knolls of the golf course and Bobby Jones' backside. Palmer's pant cuff similarly disappears.

Cover art that would appear on bookshelves everywhere.

My screams could be heard for city blocks.

I have tried over time to exorcise the gremlin from this drawing. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Of course, when I prepped it for this blog post, the gremlin arose with new vigor.

I remain humbled.

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