Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Homestyle Fried Green Posters.

     October, in my opinion, is a VERY fun month.  Not only does it mark the beginning of Autumn, my favorite Season of the year, but it also hosts the Halloween Holiday.  The North Western Hemisphere seems to change during this month. Weather turns cooler, the leaves begin to change to beautiful warm shades of gold, red and amber browns and you begin to change out the wardrobe in your closet, or at least I always do. I start breaking out the flannel shirts, light jackets, warm hats, thin scarves and mittens.  So, change in the air always kind of puts some pep in my step.
     This brings me to one of the most fun things I like about the Holiday: Costumes! :0)  This is the one time out of the year when you can be as crazy, fun, wild, outlandish, colorful (or likewise as un-colorful), contrary, radical, controversial, wise, foolish, old or as young as you would like. Not only is it completely permissible and acceptable to be any or all of the above, it's encouraged.  I can't deny that I get so excited about seeing the costume advertisements in the local papers for this years trends and of course, the great classic costumes we see every year.  SO whether you are dressing up in an old sheet with some holes cut out of it or you are purchasing an elaborate ensemble, you better believe that Halloween is the most visually and colorfully eclectic holiday in America.
     A few years ago, I had a gig for the town of Juliette, GA, illustrating their Green Tomato Festival Posters.  This was always a fun job, and one I looked forward to every year, as the festival is annually held around Halloween and is a children's Halloween carnival celebrating the town's  famous local dish.  For those of you who do not know, Juliette, GA is where the film Fired Green Tomatoes was filmed and it's namesake is what many people travel from across the U.S. to taste.  The downtown area is where all the historic period segments of the film were shot and the town has kept the area dressed exactly the same way as you see it in the film. This is where they host the festival. 

     I guess one of the reasons, I loved that gig so much was because it was really a very fun venture into character design.  I got to draw children in outlandish and crazy Halloween costumes and got paid to do it. Again being an Illustrator can be a really fun job sometimes.  All year I would be thinking a little bit here, a little there of what the next years poster would be.  Of course you always start with thumbnail ideas and go from there, and I always had several for this project.  Ideas could seem almost endless when you are playing with a Children's Festival, a Halloween theme. You add Carnival and Green Tomatoes thrown in there somewhere and again you find yourself traveling from your drafting table.  These being my elements I would always come up with a plan.

{GTF Poster 1}

   The first year I did the event poster, I played on the idea of turning the tomatoes into characters themselves, in a way.  Whether you are a wolfman, a patchwork monster or a mummy, your tomato could look very different.  I also played with spiders and webs that first year.  Sometimes you hold back a little bit on the first job, reserve your wackiness, at least until they get used to it.  Over all it turned out fine and the client was very happy, which in the Illustration business, all that matters.

       The second year, I decided to try and play with the idea of a Halloween themed Pied Piper.  The piper came first and was originally supposed to be part of another project, but for one reason or another, he got cut from the final composition. So I decided to create him his own.   I thought it would be fun to play with that story and create a parade of Trick-or-Treating Children marching along to the festival in this caravan of green tomato carriages, obviously adopted from Cinderella.  This poster in particular was quite fun as I basically took the local paper advert for the local Halloween shop and went to town sketching various kinds of children into various costumes. You'll see by some of the sketches I did, I was having fun with it.
 (By the way, those local adverts in the paper provide page after page of so many  Halloween costumes. It's a great reference for any Halloween themed illustration.)  I look back on this particular poster and see where I was still in the process of developing the illustration style I promote today.  I was still really experimenting with mixing traditional and digital media back then.  I use this poster in particular when I talk about the creative process and the importance of conceptual thinking on my website.

     The following year I developed a sketch from my sketch book into that years poster.  I had sketched this little girl dressed up as a funky and fun witch costume and didn't really know what to do with her.
She didn't fit any of the current projects at the time she was sketched, but when time rolled around to start pitching ideas for the new festival poster, I pitched her and everyone kind of fell in love with her.  The medium is watercolor and colored pencil, all traditional, but that just seemed to fit her.  I don't know how to explain it, but sometimes the art you create seems to have created itself and goes and lives life on it's own.  This little one is definitely the kind of girl that goes out trick-r-treating on her own.  She doesn't need to hang out with the other kids and frankly doesn't really want to fit in.  I'm still kind of fond of the illustration and made it available to visitors on my website as Desktop Wall paper for your computer. I'll provide a link to it if any of you are interested in it.

     The final year I was involved with the event, there was  a new feature added to the festivities. Instead of hay rides, there would be Train rides on the old antique train.  They called it the Juliette Express.  I thought It would be great to feature the train as the main character in the Poster. 
I created a harlequin-like Green Tomato character as the conductor that takes all the Halloween Children on an adventure through their imaginations.  Again, I had a great deal of fun developing the Tomato Conductor as well as the kids.  I ended up deciding to have them all surrounding the poster in a quilt like border as a drawing solution.  Since the train and conductor were featured largely, I still needed to include the children.  Sometimes you really come to love details in a piece you worked on years ago that you were not too happy with at the time, because it wasn't your original vision.  I can think back on a time or two where client/artist compromises have actually saved a composition.  

The collaborative process between you and the client can be quite rewarding, and I don't necessarily mean just monetarily.  I always try to include the client in on the creative process.  One because this is where really good ideas can be conjured and it engages the client to where they feel like they are part of the final creation, not just the purchaser.  This is a practice I always try to employ with my work.  It kept me on my Toma"toes," so to speak. :0)  Unfortunately, this particular business relationship ended after that year.   My client was leaving the city board and moving to a different town and the board decided to use an alternative for festival publicity.  Even good client business relationships, one day, must come to an end.

     Every Halloween, I think back on those illustrations and remember how much fun it was creating all the kids for the posters.  It inspires me to still to this day come up with new ideas for that event.  I write them down in my idea Journal for future Illustrative Projects.

     I wanted to share that art with you all because Halloween is around the corner, and these fun images don't get taken out of the closet and shared too often. 

Keep sketching, keep thinking, keep laughing and most important of all, keep making art. 

P.S.  Check back next week for a very special Halloween post on the SketchBlog. I have been cooking on a new Creative Project and have been just DYING to share it with you all.... Waaahahhhhahahahahaha.

P.S.S.  Here is the link to my desktop wallpaper:

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