My Work

Sometimes a good sketch is your kiss of death

posted: September 18, 2009

Sometimes you can't beat your sketch

A couple of weeks ago I got a call from Hansen Smith to do a portrait of Tim Gunn for LA Times Magazine.
The truth is I even did not know who the guy is...sorry America.
Anyway, as a consumate pro, I did my research and faked being (and eventually became) very familiar with the subject matter.
A couple of days later I sent a sketch.Sketching in my way of working has always been a problem.
In the old days I used to send a little doodle, which mainly suggested the objects I was going to use, thus it was more of a conceptual sketch to stress the general direction of the piece.
As the years went by I started using a digital camera to shoot the sketch as it is on the work table, meaning the sketch already includes the real objects, sometimes combined with crude pencil or marker lines. I always retouch and clean it up a bit on photoshop. Sometimes at sketch time I won't still have the real objects so I'd use a quick image from the web just to show the direction.
While it makes it clearer for me (to see if it will really work or not) it has become dangerous because:

A: editors tend to treat my sketches as finished pieces, and therefore are bothered by things that shouldn't bother them at sketch stage...
B" because the sketch might look to the untrained eye as a finished piece, editors might fall in love with it and prefer it to the finished piece.

'B" is what happened with LA Times. They loved the sketch and my whole project was then to try to duplicate the sketch.
I tried and I tried but there was really something in that sketch which captured Tim Gunn in a way that I admit, the finished piece didn't.

The original sketch

The final they liked less.


Eventually they asked just to print the sketch. It seemed at first like a disaster to me (not enough pixels, crude lines, digitally duplicated objects, bad photoshop work, all the NO NOs.!) but then I relaxed about it...and that is thanks to Janet my wife who said: "so what? why can't an unfinished sketch become a final. you did that sketch after all?". and the truth is that it works with the subject matter of 'the process of creativity' or something like that...
I managed to somehow improved some minor details but what printed was pretty much what they saw as a sketch.

oh well. I'm fine with it...(as long as it is clear THAT was a sketch...)

The piece as it printed

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