Monday, May 31, 2010

Peer Gynt Poster

One of my favorite projects of the year is to work on a poster design for the Kansas City Repertory Theatre. This year I am illustrating and designing a poster for Peer Gynt. Peer Gynt is the self-centered protagonist and this is a story about his adventures. It is a play about self discovery and redemption based on a Norwegian folk tale. Below is the description from The KC Rep's site:
 "Get ready for a wild, hilarious, and surreal adventure in this brilliant adaptation of Ibsen’s famous play. Based on a Norwegian folk tale with forty characters and five acts, one of Ibsen’s most influential and famous plays is almost never staged. But now, world renowned director David Schweizer takes this “impossible to produce” play and turns it into a hilarious comic adventure that will delight audiences of all ages."
My first sketches (see figure 3) were a bit too dark and menacing. I was focusing too much on the imagery of an onion from the story. In the story, Peer is peeling away the layers of an onion, only to reveal nothing inside, and after doing so, finds similarities to himself and his life. After speaking with the Artistic Director of the KC Rep, it was decided the piece needed a friendlier face. We still wanted to suggest the theme of layers, but in a different manner. The solution was to create a "portrait of Peer" made up of his adventures (see figure 2). I have created a few other posters in the past in this manner. See the Rhythm and Ribs Commemorative Poster from 2006 and the KC Rep poster for Around the World in 80 Days from last year.

The styling of the illustration has a more sketch like quality– direct and not too thought out. I think it gives it a feeling of whimsy and makes it more approachable to the viewer. It is fun to look at the face, look a little closer and discover the individual drawings contained within, conveying the layers theme. The limited color palette and distressed elements, along with the line work, is meant to remind the viewer of an old fairy tale engraving.

If you would like to know more about the story of Peer Gynt, see the plot summery from

1. Peer Gynt Poster for KC Rep
(click to view larger)

2. Detail of the poster revealing elements making up the face

3. First round concepts

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Working in New Media: Drawing with Black Sugar, Painting with Cream Cheese

My son and I like to bake together. He loves to "mix" the ingredients (which sometimes end up everywhere but the mixing bow). Last year my wife submitted a letter to Country Living Magazine chronicling our attempt to make a version of the magazine's Halloween spider cover cake. While we have a new appreciation for the artistry of pastry chefs, we did enjoy the process, and it tasted pretty good too. It is nice to put yourself out of you comfort zone and try different media.