The chance arose to design the T-shirt/swim gear for the Wisconsin Masters team competing next month at the Masters Nationals championships* in Santa Clara.
Swimmer Trina, whom I met in this wonderful virtual global community of swimmers, wanted a swimmer doing the butterfly at the Golden Gate Bridge.
Early sketches did not impress:
But that's what early sketches are for — focusing the conversation, screwing up royally with the minimum investment of time and graphite.
One early idea remained intact, at least: Part of my research included touring Wisconsin (from the convenience of my computer) and noting how well Wisconsin's silhouette could find a humorous home in the shape of the bridge towers.
But I misinterpreted Trina's description of the "swimming" on the road's surface. I saw the massive cables of the bridge and recognized them immediately as lane lines.
The tower would be submerged or reflected on the water's surface. Somehow. Hadn't figured that out yet.
No go, Trina said, very kindly.
Another sketch got closer:
"2014" I thought, should read like a pool deck clock at a swim race. It seemed like a good idea at the sketch phase, but it also seemed forced.
When I started work on the approved sketch, something else was just not working right:
I was stuck in the literal — which is funny, considering — that the bridge deck should have multiple lanes.
But that made the swimmer very small, and this is all about the swimmer.
The swimmer should swallow the bridge, as imposing and grand though it may be.
So I whittled the image to one giant lane, made the bridge railings into lane markers. The towers still tower.
Fun fact: Irving Morrow, Art Deco architect of the Golden Gate Bridge, actually incorporated the shape of Wisconsin in his original design of the towers' lateral supports, an homage to his love for Wisconsin cheddar doodles. Though tried, the design was soon abandoned in a bitter dispute with ironworkers over the structural integrity and potential safety hazard of Green Bay.Go Wisconsin!
Fun corollary: I just made that up.
* Official name (deep breath): 2014 Nationwide U.S. Masters Swimming Spring National Championship
[editor's note: I'd really like to know what is going on with blogger©™ and posting illustrations; my main illustration looks fuzzy, and in every iteration save for this is clean-edged; all my illustrations have also carried a slightly gray cast, as if to muddy them up. if this is a blogger™® feature, i don't like it. if i can return my art to the sharp and clear jpegs of the past, and you know how, i'd love to hear it. this is getting old.]