The Grammys illustrations that I did recently has been one of the most rewarding client based work I’ve ever done. Not only did the actual illustrations come out great, but it was literally plastered all over NYC and LA. I’ve never seen so many of my illustrations in 1 place before – and there was even a few that I saw in Chinatown, my old stomping grounds. Having my work displayed there gave me a feeling of satisfaction like no other…it felt like I was bringing a trophy home.
Of course, this wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for my good friend and Depthcore’s creative director – Justin Maller. Justin has been a great help in my career and he hooked me up with this opportunity this time as well, so I can’t thank him enough. Please take a second to show him some love – he does great work and did the Adele and Bon Iver posters for the Grammys this year.
Anyway, I had the pleasure of working with international ad agency – TBWA/Chiat/Day on the Grammys project and they were great. When I was initially approached, artists like Kanye West, Lady Gaga and Adele were still up in the air, so I was super excited to be illustrating them. I was especially stoked with Kanye because I’m a fan myself, and have listened to his music since “The College Dropout” in 2004. Unfortunately it turns out that he would no longer be an artist involved in the Grammys print campaign. I did however, score something even bigger – I was going to be working on the legendary Sir Paul McCartney and The Foo Fighters!
Paul McCartney - The Grammys 2012
The concept of the Paul McCartney illustration was that many people around the world consider him to be the father of rock/pop. Paul in this case is like the elder tree, where the vines and growth emitted from him symbolize the diversity of artists today, which all seem to lead back to the source – the father of rock/pop.
I was initially approached with a mood board for this Grammys illustration, which gave me inspiration to set the mood for the piece. Included in the board, was my piece for Desktopography, “Adaptation” which has the similar growth/vines treatment and depth.
I knew right away what I needed to do for this piece – and it was going to be created with a blend of 3D, photos and digital painting. I started touching up the Paul McCartney photo in Photoshop and setting up the canvas, then once that was done, I switched over to Maya to work my 3D magic. I had to setup a scene to match Paul’s photo and created vines and other elements to match his body. It was definitely not an easy process as I don’t have access to an exact replica of Paul McCartney as a 3D model, but I did what I could and made up for any flaws in Photoshop!
I wrapped up round 1 of the Grammys illustration and delivered it to the client. With no surprise, there was changes needed to be made which I agreed with. Over the course of the next 3 revisions, the image got better and better and my overall vision for the illustration was coming together very nicely. I developed a better atmosphere and lighting, background, details like back-lighting on Paul’s hair, and overall flow of the vines and growth. As the final version approached, I went in at 100% to make sure all the details were spot on, and that there were no silly mistakes.
Use the slider buttons to view all 4 versions of the illustration.
This illustration took me a roughly a week of working day and night to complete. It was definitely ambitious of me, but in the end it was well paid off! One of the highlights of the project was that these Grammys illustrations had to be approved by the actual artists themselves, so my image was actually seen by Sir Paul McCartney himself! And the agency told me that he loved it! That is flattery on a whole new level for me – the fact that Paul McCartney has seen my work and loves it, means so much to me! You can be sure I was smiling from ear to ear!
The Foo Fighters – The Grammys 2012
So after the Paul McCartney illustration, I went on to tackle The Foo Fighters piece. Them being a rock band, it was only right that we went with a “chaos” theme. The mood board can be seen below:
As you can see, the mood board is definitely very appropriate for a rock band. I really wanted to ride on the idea of them being integrated with glass shards and debris on a dark background, so that is what I went with. The creative process started with me cutting out individual images of each member of The Foo Fighters, as all the images were from different sources. After that, I arranged them into a nice composition, then set off to match the scene up in 3D as I did with Paul’s illustration. It was through Maya, that I created a scene with glass shards and debri and matched it up with the lighting and atmosphere of the photos.
After the glass shards and debris were rendered, I started to implement them and compose the illustration. From there it was just freestyling through until I was satisfied with the results. There were definitely times in this illustration where I felt like it was too messy for my liking, but towards the end, I did break through and found a way to create this “controlled chaos” look. Like the Paul McCartney illustration, The Foo Fighters illustration too a few revisions to mature into completion, but the end result came out great! I definitely enjoy the result and think that it is very suitable as the Grammys illustration for a band like The Foo Fighters.
Use the slider buttons to view all 4 versions of the illustration.
So that about sums up the creative process of the Grammys illustrations. This project is one of the most important projects I’ve ever tackled, and definitely one of the most rewarding. To clear the air – I want you all to know that this project had a very small budget because the Grammys is non-profit. So, no, I did not make a ton of money out of this, so that is not the reason why I’m saying that this project has been amazing. It is one of the most rewarding because of several reasons, and one of it being that I got a chance to create illustrations for such legendary artists, who actually got to see my work and enjoyed it. It was also rewarding because of the sheer number of posters that were plastered all over NYC and LA. I believe there were at least 1 or 2 in every few blocks – that is amazing! And finally, it was rewarding because all of the artists involved in this project are senior members from Depthcore. I am so proud of my Depthcore brothers and to be able to share this opportunity with them, means a lot to me. Depthcore taking over the Grammys, hell yes!
I hope this entry gave you some insight on the creative process of the Grammys illustrations, and feel free to leave your thoughts here and share this with your friends! I leave you with the final billboard and poster photos of this project.