Saturday, April 5, 2014

Hugging Vectors

There was a time when the prospect of working on a project using Illustrator would leave me feeling anxious. In fact, even after two semesters of Illustrator at City College of San Francisco with John Seckman, it was my "last resort" tool for illustration.

I have taught Illustrator at the California College of the Arts, City College of San Francisco, and Dominican University. Last year, I was asked to craft a series of Illustrator workshops for a group of MFA students from the Academy of Art University. And yet, I still feel a tiny bit of anxiety when sit down to begin work with this wonderfully awkward tool.

Last weekend, I sketched a young barista at the Starbuck's on Solano and Colusa in Albany, California. She was tall and slender and had features that reminded me of several of my favorite femme fatales from science fiction, including Aeon Flux, Ellen Ripley, and the android from Blade Runner. Her heavy black eyeliner accentuated a pair of bold, expressive eyes that shifted repeatedly from stoic calm to bright and caffeinated. I thought it would be fun to imagine her on a poster for a science fiction thriller.

Because we are getting closer to our final handheld tool illustration project at CCSF, I felt compelled to improve on last semester's handout and create a more detailed example of one of the image deconstruction methods I teach. But this little sketch kept nagging me, so I decided to take it a bit closer to something finished. I enjoyed the subtle irony of rendering a Starbuck's barista in a style similar to local designer Michael Schwab who designed posters for Peet's Coffee. But I am also a student of design history and a child of the 80s, so my stack of influences and motivations include boredom, Nagel, experimentation and the need to practice and improve.

I think another round of tweaks and critiques will take this image to that elusive "print me" level.

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