In the last week, I’ve gotten two one-day illustration assignments. Other than when you’re working for a daily paper, this is extraordinarily rare. Like, usually when an art director gives me a “quick turnaround” project, they may have “only” two weeks before the deadline. Not usually a problem.
Well, last Thursday night, at 8pm, I got my first-ever assignment from Time magazine (!), for a piece due 11pm Friday! Barely 24 hours. Plus, it was for a very dry topic (527 committees and the Federal Election Commission) and they had no ideas for the illustration. AND I was leaving for SPX the next morning. Oy!
Well, I got the job done, brainstorming and coming up with seven sketches at 1am Thursday, and doing the complete, full-color illo after I got to Bethesda on Friday afternoon. It meant I lost a full day at the con with Pekar, but, oh well, the pay was great, and it was for fricken Time. (The irony is that tho’ the illo was supposed to run this week, the story ended up getting bumped. So look for it next week…)
I thought that was a one-time thing until I got a call yesterday from a regular client, The Washington City Paper.
The story had just come in and they needed something by today (Wed.) at noon. Aghh!! But I like the AD a lot and I wanted to help him out. The story is for their sports section. It has to do with how the Washington Redskins football radio broadcasts are inundated with advertising. Everything from the “Mercedes-Benz 50-Yard Line Report” to the “GMRI Scoreboard brought you by McDonald’s.” Ridiculous! As the writer put it, “Redskins radio has become the broadcast equivalent of a NASCAR fender.” Being a sports fan myself (who listens to a lot of baseball and basketball games on the radio), incessant advertising and “sponsorship” is one of the things about modern sports broadcasting that bugs the hell out of me.
So I was extra motivated. And I even had a good idea: a radio plastered with decals from all the sponsors — just like a NASCAR car! And I suggested the radio could even have a line, something like “And Brunell [Redskins QB] throws for a Duane Reade touchdown!” The AD loved the idea and I was ready to go. But then, just as I was setting up at the drawing table, the AD called back. The job had been pushed back a week. Whew! I was off the hook for the super turnaround, and I could get back to finishing another illo from the previous week.
Fast-forward to 9pm. The AD calls me again. Now the story is back in and they need the illo for today after all. Just barely 12 hours. Double Aghhh!!! There goes my evening. So last night I came up with this:
And then this morning I finished it up, like this, even getting it in 15 minutes before the noon deadline:
All things considered, it didn’t come out too badly. The AD loved it, and it’ll be in the paper tomorrow.
I don’t love doing jobs under these circumstances, but there is something stimulating about the adrenaline rush. Actually makes my job (sitting at home all day, by myself) seem “exciting.” And I always love the back-and-forth with the art director, and then seeing the piece in print when it’s published.