As an Art Director, guiding an illustrator through to the final image is a part of the job. It’s an extremely rewarding aspect of my role, especially when you realize that the final art becomes a portfolio piece that the artist is proud of. Even more so, when you see that artist getting other jobs because of it.
My involvement with programs like SmArt School and the Illustration Masterclass now provide me this opportunity with illustrators who are eager to improve their work as well as those just starting out. There is a special thing that happens when you witness the development of an artist as each piece of the puzzle falls into place.
Most recently, I was a guest Art Director for Todd Lockwood‘s SmArt School class. Through Todd, I assigned a project for his students to tackle and get a feel for researching a project, working with deadlines and an art director. I asked them to illustrate a book cover for Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. It was a real assignment that I had back in the fall of 2008.
Although, I had initially presented various concepts for my version of Fahrenheit 451, the deal became contingent on utilizing the original burning man cover art by Joe Mugnaini. It was a request which came directly from Ray Bradbury and meant getting in touch with the Mugnaini estate, finding the right drawing (he had 5 versions), coloring it, and finally getting Ray Bradbury’s approval.
Since I never had the opportunity to explore commissioned illustration, I thought this would be the perfect assignment for Todd’s class. The student’s work I reviewed was really inspiring and a great start. Along with the class, Todd and I discussed ways to strengthen each piece and at the end of the class, I tossed out an extra challenge: Finish your pieces and send them to me and I will complete the jacket design and you can include that design in your portfolio.
I received four. Here, are the results: