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April Montgomery invited me to illustrate the March cover for Computerworld. The feature story is about how somebody coming into a new company might not understand the company's personality, and how that causes conflict because people are used to doing things in a certain way. I started thinking about symbols I might use to illustrate conformity, and decided that the tie would be a good one. My idea was to show a group of businessmen standing in a row, all wearing matching ties, except for one who is wearing the wrong tie because he doesn't get the company's "way". I thought it might be interesting if they were wearing fish ties. This might help to show that the company has it's own unique personality. I gave all but one of the men fish ties, and made the ties cartoonish to counter the serious expressions on the mens' faces. These guys are serious about their attire. Then I asked myself what if the odd man, the guy wearing the "other" tie was actually a fish? That would really help him to stand out from the others (and it would bring in a nice ironic touch to have him being unappreciated by his colleagues when if fact he is a living embodiment of their iconic tie symbol). But what sort of tie might he be wearing, in bad taste? The antithesis of a fish tie would be a people tie. For the final touch I brought in his hand fidgeting with the tie to highlight his feeling of being out of place.
This is the "Snapchat Ghost taking a Selfie" concept for Adweek’s annual Mobile issue, which is currently in print. A particularly fun one, it was conceived, shot, and delivered in the space of about 60 hours.
For the cover, they were looking for something that featured a smartphone but blended communication with mobile with social with apps really well.
Instagram, Whisper, and Snapchat were among the apps featured in the story, but I locked in on the Snapchat Ghost character as a good everyman figure. Tuesday night doodling and Wednesday afternoon approvals yielded late night studio sessions that me shooting until about 1:00 a.m. Thursday.
Adweek’s Creative Director, Nick Mrozowski, had recommended shooting a photo-illustration for the app Whisper, so I made him this quick comp.
Thought the portraits were nice.
Thanks to my Seattle crew, the folks at Adweek, and one of several right arms, Gretchen Hilmers, who helps me get these concepts and visions out the door.
We know where Ralph got his talent. It’s in his genes. With artistic parents and grandparents his future in the arts was a lock. To prove that point, Ralph was named Outstanding Student in Illustration in his college class while earning a BFA and MFA from the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia. Busy painting, drawing, and digitizing ever since, he has created a volume of work that has appeared on more than 350 novels and book covers, working with a variety of agencies, companies and publishers including Duke Energy, UCLA, Borders Books, National Geographic Publishing, McGraw-Hill, Oxford University Press, Saatchi & Saatchi, Campbell’s Soup, Jim Beam Global, Department of Defense, BIC, Novant Health, and Levelor. His specialties include realism, children’s, maps, people, fantasy, science fiction, book covers, infographics, landscapes, and conceptual.
I've been creating illustrations on a freelance basis for the New York Times since 1980. Wow, time flies! I'm in my fourth decade of providing illustrations for this publication...amazing! Over the years, my illustrations have appeared in the paper's various sections: Op/Ed Page, Letters To The Editor Page, Travel, Business, Real Estate, Living, The Arts, The Book Review, The Sunday Magazine, etc….
This is the initial pencil scribble/doodle I made while reading the manuscript from the writer...just a crude vision of the concept of a person sleeping between two enormous dinosaur skeletons.
This is the final rough sketch. I created it with black crayon and pencil. Here I have worked out the composition within the exact space given to me by the art director to fit within their layout design. Essentially the visual point was to depict a man in his pajamas calmly reading a book before retiring, dwarfed by the enormous and scary looking dinosaur skeletons...a study in odd juxtaposition. It is as if the man is oblivious to the oddity of the clash in scale and time.
This is the final rough sketch (with added color), which I then showed to the art director. I scanned my sketch into Photoshop and then quickly added in a textured color blue background and erased out the area of the skeleton bones to reveal white, plus added in a bit of color for the pajamas, lamp light, etc…. This is so the art director can see my general intended color scheme for the illustration. In this particular case I showed the color version of the sketch to the art director because it was so simple, but in many other instances I only show a B&W sketch to the art director because normally I resolve the final color choices as I work on the final art and not before.
This is the final crayon and ink drawing of the elements within the illustration: the human character, the skeletons, Big Ben in the background, the bed, lamp, etc.... I then scan it into Photoshop to create the added color and texture layers.
Here I have added in a textured blue background layer (that I painted with gouache), but I then cut out skylight shapes at the top and lightened this area to make the sky appear lighter than the inside of the dark museum. I also added in the yellow stars, moon and lamp light.
Here I have added in white color and light blue shading for the skeleton bones, the color for Big Ben, the man's pajamas, and added in some even darker blue shadowing on the back wall.
In this detail of the man, you can see his meek character, and the subtle texture of the background. After completing the illustration and sending it to the art director, my only change I would have made if I had thought of it, would have been to add in a little sign next to the man with his name on it, maybe "Mr. Wallington" (because the two dinosaurs each have their names on a sign near them). Visit stevensalerno.com to view my illustration portfolio and to view my many picture books for children. Be sure to see the NEW STUFF portfolio section.