Gold Medal winner from the Society of Illustrators
The evening began with a phone call “are you available?” and ended before midnight with 21 knives strewn all over the place.
Ok , the less dramatic version: I didn’t even cut myself while I perched the blades for reference on my desk, which is at a 45 degree angle, all the while I thought this is probably a stupid idea that will end badly but I’m in a rush.
This illustration is for Entertainment Weekly's Top Ten 2013 issue, which is on the newsstands now. For the number one movie chosen by film critic Chris Nashwaty; this is the third film from Richard Linklater’s trilogy about a romance and relationship that spans over 18 years (in real time).
The fight scene in this third film is a doozy, and I felt it is the pivotal point of the film. I wanted to use this conventional romantic scene of the couple sitting at a table by the Greek seaside but subverted it by including some knives protruding from Jesse's back and Céline's chest.
Kory and I discussed if the multiple knives from Jesse’s ( Ethan Hawke's) back were necessary, and I thought it would be fitting given how much Céline ( Julie Delpy) really tears into him, demeaning Jesse’s manhood, intelligence, his sexual and literary prowess, stating he is no Hemingway.
While I was working on the piece I suddenly remembered a bit of foreshadowing to the battle scene, with a kitchen knife stabbing remark made by another couple in an early scene in the film.
A bit of serendipity in creating this composition; the placement of Céline and Jesse's figures make a heart shape. Balvis pointed this out to me after I had completed the sketch, so I purposely kept the figures all in a red palette to emphasize their union.
A big thanks to Kory Kennedy for thinking of me for this super fun assignment. I loved painting Céline's deadpan expression with a knife protruding from her chest.
A few people have asked about the speech I gave at the medal presentation at the Society Of Illustrators on February 6.
The #soi57 award presentation was getting long, and I knew many ( myself included) were chomping to go upstairs for a drink, but I still had something important that I wanted to say when accepting the award, so I started it off with fist in the air and saying that I was going to be like Grampa on the Simpsons "I have something to say!"
To begin with I’d like to say thank you to the Society of Illustrators: to Executive Director Anelle Miller and Exhibition Director Kate Feirtag, to president Tim O'Brien, chair Chris Buzelli, and co-chair Alessandro Gottardo, and mostly the editorial category judges. I am truly honored and humbled that you are bestowing me with this medal.
As artists we are lone creatures, but as illustrators, when we work on an assignment, it is not a solo endeavor. There are a multitude of factors that help set the stage for creating a successful piece:
1) The subject matter, the content. Great material inspires. I especially love working on material that examines the human condition, epitomized in this film “Before Midnight”.
2) The art director. It’s always exciting working with Kory Kennedy. He’s a great collaborator because he’s interested in having a dialogue; discussing the creative options as opposed to just giving me a directive. Most importantly, he will defend a strong concept when presenting to the editorial team. I can’t recall a single dull project assigned by Kory.
3) Support: My husband Balvis Rubess is my rock and my creative partner. Balvis is also an illustrator and recently has moved into the realm of motion graphics. He is my sounding board and critical eye. When I show him a completed piece he does not shower me with false platitudes but will tell me honestly when something needs to be refined or adjusted. Despite not wanting to hear these comments late at night when I think I’m done, he is always right, and I’m grateful for the feedback to push that piece the extra distance. We worked together on the Rolling Stone Playlist special ( 3 of the pieces are hanging in the 57th exhibition). I could not have completed the 8 conceptual portraits in such a short period of time without his help.
4) The environment: This is my sixth medal from The Society of Illustrators, my 1st Gold Medal for the editorial category. As illustrators our biggest nemesis is self doubt. Receiving my first medal earlier in my career put some air under my wings: it gave me validation. Just having one’s artwork in this show is an amazing feat because it has become so competitive; there are so, so many great pieces entered and limited wall space to exhibit them. Receiving this gold medal now, after 25 years of illustrating is profoundly meaningful to me. It’s not easy sustaining such a long career, but I’m more energized and passionate about illustration now than ever before. I think THIS is the golden age of Illustration. Each and every one of YOU inspire me. The bar of excellence keeps being raised and all of YOU inspire me to reach further. So thank YOU!
- Jan 5, 2017 Hyakki Yagyo: Night Parade of 100 Demons