Conrad Black is a former wall street CEO, who is imprisoned for corporate fraud. Recently, Corporate Knights Magazine asked Conrad to write an essay on how the Occupy Wall Street protesters could make a better, more legitimate stance to get what they are demanding. Co-Art Directors Jack and Pete contacted me to check on my availability to do a conceptual likeness portrait of Conrad Black.
I am rarely hired, if ever, to do likeness portraits. I think I avoid doing them because they are so hard to do on a technical level, but I have great respect for artists and illustrators who do them all of the time (Tim O'brien, Kelsey Dake, Alex Fine…). First thing I did was submit concepts that reflect a bit of hope Conrad could give to the protesters. I really liked the idea of a “jail bird” with a note of advice attached to it’s leg.
In the end we went with Conrad writing on a type writer in a prison room facing forward. In the sketches above I make Conrad look pretty friendly and open up his face a bit but the direction for this changed when they received the first draft of the writing. Conrad wrote a piece that is helpful to the protesters but goes on and on about others things. So they told me to go forth and make a piece that is more reflective of his mood.
For the past couple assignments I have been asked to do a tight full on sketch of how I am going to approach the final “painted” image. I am happy to do so because it’s quicker to go to final and pick out colors anyway. This was one of those moments where this was pretty crucial step in the process that I would had to go backwards a bit. Jack suggested that I move forward with the piece but to make Conrad look less like he is posing for a portrait and close in tighter in the frame of him writing.
He really does look like a mean dude. Big thanks to Jack and Pete for hiring me not only to do an awesome portrait job, but for hiring me to do my first Canadian publication. It was a lot of fun and hope to work with you again!