I recently got a hold of the page layouts of some of my illustrations for The Boston Globe. They inspired me to go back and look at my most recent job for them, which at the time I hadn't thought was very successful, but seeing the pagespread, I've changed my mind. Sometimes it's helpful to see your work where it ends up, in print. A successful illustration is one in which an exciting layout is created, and sometimes it's hard to develop that quality when you're creating a composition on a blank white page in the studio, with no text in sight.
The article in question was about retirement, and the author used a number of interesting metaphors to describe her life after retirement. The general image that she developed is one in which the retired person feels unsettled and is facing the unknown. She also compared retirement to jumping out of an airplane, so, I decided that a parachuter could communicate this while also providing an uplifting image.
Heather at the Globe thought my first sketch looked too military: like paratroopers descending from war planes. This was perceptive as I had recently looked at some interesting photos of paratroopers from the second world war and probably had this on my mind when I made sketch #1.
I revised the parachuting sketch (top) making sure the planes looked like jet planes or commercial airliners. Also in keeping with the airplane metaphor, I imagined a departures lounge in which retirees are zipping off to various destinations, or vocations, in retirement. The ability to reinvent oneself and the freedom to pursue just about any activity was another aspect of retirement the author described.
I really liked the internal symetery and composition of the departures lounge sketch, but Heather chose the first one. In the end I can see she was absolutely correct, as the parachuter created a balanced page layout, in which the text and the illustration can literally, as well as metaphysically, interact.
Thanks to Heather Hopp-Bruce for sending me the page layouts and letting me learn again how I need to keep that layout in mind when I'm at my drawing table.