I’m a member of the American Society of Architectural Illustrators. Every year, the organization sponsors a competition, in their words, “a juried international architectural delineation competition that has included work by the most accomplished contemporary architectural illustrators from around the world.”
I have been lucky enough to get in a number of times, and was pleased to find out that this year was another one. The image which was selected by the jury was a digital piece, one I discussed here on this blog a while back. It’s an exterior night view of Boston’s renovated, rejuvenated, and expanded ‘Modern Theater’.
I enter three or four pieces every year. Although self-commissioned work is accepted, I have made the decision to submit only those works which were commissioned by clients.
One reason is that the demands of an image produced as a commission can be quite different than the work done for one’s self. Schedule, design documents, critique by numerous parties… all of these are layers of complication that an illustrator must deal with. Those complications though are the very reason that I enjoy this piece. For me, and my client, it was fairly experimental.
Another reason is simply that the ASAI is a professional organization. I’m not entering these pieces in an ‘art’ contest, but rather putting my professional work up against that of others. It’s an illustration competition, and as an illustrator (not an artist), my work is commission driven. I’d simply like to see if I can get in with a commissioned work, against those others whose work has always inspired me (whether commissioned or not).
The subject matter of a theater gave us a little license, and so my client, CBT / Childs Bertman Tseckares Inc. of Boston, was willing to create an image with a little more edge to it than we might otherwise have. The fact that it is fairly experimental as compared to most of my work is something that makes its selection all the more satisfying.
To be truthful, I generally throw in a pencil sketch or two, knowing that the jury is interested in producing a “round” show, encompassing many types of illustrations and media. There isn’t a lot of pencil work being done these days (in architectural illustration, anyway), and having a pencil illustration in the mix is a bit of a safety or fallback. Gotta do whatcha gotta do…
This year, both this image and a pencil image of mine made it to the final round. Unfortunately, the client who had previously approved the pencil image for public display decided to rescind the authorization. Since this image was on par with it, and being considered for the final round of voting, it went ahead. I’m frankly glad. I liked the pencil piece, but I take particular enjoyment in this image because it isn’t as conventional as most illustration work tends to (or needs to) be.
The strokes of the background are a reference to the gesso ground often put down on a canvas before painting, in order to create some random textures and visual interest before the actual paintwork is begun. I’m not trying to pretend the image is built of brushstrokes. The strokes don’t follow edges or anything… It’s more about introducing texture enough to break things down and maybe unify the overall surface. Nothing more.
The image was painted in photoshop, with both a hard round and soft round brush.
The original image is about 8×12, at 300dpi, which kept things sketchy and loose. It was done in 2007.