Patti Smith is a highly influential singer-songwriter, poet, and visual artist whose earliest works laid the foundation for punk rock in 1970's New York, leading her to be called the "Godmother of Punk." So naturally, I was beyond excited when rad fellow visual artist and concert photographer Todd Owyoung recommended me to the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis as they were thinking about getting some limited edition posters made for their intimate Patti Smith showcase.
Rough Drawing / Sketch
The construction of this image was a smooth and pleasant experience since the client had a very clear idea of what they were after in terms of style (Fillmore and/or psychedelic poster influence) and they clearly communicated how they wanted me to fulfill their needs ("We particularly like your Santigold poster."). After some discussion, we settled on this synopsis: A figurative depiction of Patti Smith whose [stylistic] treatment is matched by classic Fillmore and psychedelia-inspired fonts. Rhythmic curves and arabesques connect these two elements and add ornature, flow, and energy to the final composition.
Refined Drawing / Semi-Composite
Shown here is the semi-composite drawing, which was drawn over the course of several days. Since I had a tight rough drawing, I was able to focus on each element and how things curves and connected, which was important since the treatment had to be consistent and feel fitting. I tried to pay as much attention to the typography as the figure, working simultaneously on both so aspects of one would merge with the other. I challenged myself to make soft, undulating, pleasant-feeling shapes almost like inkblots unfurling in water, as opposed to my usual "sharp turns".
As time went on, Patti's hair got a little Gorgon-ish so I dialed it back and tweaked her face a little more, using some of the hair to cover up the various lines which I started to feel were crowding her features. A little idealization never hurts, especially when rendering feminine forms.
The fully-rendered semi-composite took a few days to finish. It was drawn on 14" x 17" bristol, framed in the proportion of the finished poster.
Digital Processing / Finalization
The drawing was then scanned and placed into Illustrator, where it was redrawn as a key and a shade layer.
Once the key and fills were rendered, colours and textures were applied. Todd originally had the idea to use metallic ink for Patti's hair, and it ended up looking pretty slick. Very glad that was pushed for.
The silver was laid down first. A little hard to register off of since it was applied to white paper but it ended up out.
Greater care was taken to mix colours more accurately, meaning dabs of lots of little colours you'd never guess were actually in there. The aim for this layer was a translucent light red.
The print in-progress. Registration on this edition was exceptionally tight. Glad all my practice seems to be paying off.
It was tricky mixing the proper opacity for the blue while maintaining the proper amount of saturation. I ended up making a few test prints out of failed efforts.
The print has a great deal of warmth and subtlety to match the psychedelic maternal vibe of the illustration.
Align posters, brace bottom, push two buttons and pull both levers. Beauty.
Incredibly clean cut, with zero wasted prints. Love it.
Cleaning and packing the posters up for safe transport home.