Thursday, August 7, 2008


I was just taking a quick break from my current illustration and scanning the Relevant news slices when I saw this story about a stamp depicting the American flag with one white stripe too many. I'm not sure how the artist managed to paint her flag this way. As a kid growing up in America I remember painstakingly counting stars and stripes in a futile attempt to depict our nation's flag accurately. How is it possible that Laura Stutzman, a professional artist, didn't take the time?

Since I'm in the middle of illustrating a book full of short stories that are largely from another time and culture than I live in I've been spending a lot of time in online research. My current project (the one I'm taking a break from) is a picture of a tramp eating dinner with a family in the 1930s.

I had no idea what tramps or farming families were wearing at the time, so I googled tramps, 1930, the Great Depression, and To Kill a Mockingbird. Films are great for getting details about another era if there aren't many pictures of the actual period. I like to assume that the costume department at Universal did its homework.

Before that I was working on a story with three women careening down the road in a car in the 1950s, but most of the stories involve Amish, which are easier and harder to depict. Easier, because they haven't changed much in the last 50-70 years, so a photo from last week is often just as good as one from the actual year the story took place. Harder, because I've only been around Amish people for a couple of years and I don't really know the culture.

For example, Amish have different wedding traditions that we do, so if I drew an Amish wedding I'd have some issues (we've already had this problem in advertising).

Half the time I can't figure out if the story is about an Amish family or not so I end up quizzing my boss on Amish customs, traditions, and names to figure out what I should be drawing.

Some of the stories I simply can't draw. Most of them take place on farms, which I have less experience with than I do with either the Amish or the 1930s!


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