Friday, April 16, 2010

From The Vault - Macmillan Education 2004

Back in 2004 I was contacted by Macmillan Education, a company based in England, about the possibility of doing some illustrations for a few educational lesson books they had planned.

I'm not sure if they requested it or if I offered it up, but I did an initial piece of art for them to show them how my style would work along with their concept. I don't even know if I was paid for this piece. I hope I was.

Anyway, I got the job and started designing the characters. The story was about a boy from England, Alex, who was visiting his cousins and aunt in America. Once he gets there all sorts of wackiness ensues.

My initial designs can be seen here at the top and the changes can be seen below. I kind of miss the big smiley face Alex had on his shirt and I question who's idea it was to put him in red pants. But, ah well, I did what I was told and made the changes.

I ended up doing about forty or so illustrations for two lesson books. But, the two pieces I remember the most aren't because I enjoyed doing them or liked the way they came out but because of the comments I got as I was working on them.

One piece had the kids at a diner looking out the window as some celebrity movie star walked by. I drew the kids through the window looking out, amazed at seeing this star. The star, larger in the foreground, was supposed to have his head obscured so we couldn't really see him. I did the piece, drew it in perspective, and sent it out. The comment? "The star looks like a GIANT next to these kids! Why is he so much bigger than them???"

I guess the client had never played the "I crush your head game." If so they might have wondered why, when looking at their fingers next to a tiny head, their hand had grown so HUGE! ha ha

The next one had another size related issue. The kids went to an aquarium and watched a humpback whale breach the water, splashing and drenching poor Alex. So, I drew the huge humpback doing his thing and I drew a little tiny full figure of Alex next to the whale getting soaked.

Well, the client didn't like the fact that Alex was so small and wondered if I could draw him bigger, maybe bringing him closer so we could see him from the waist up. I argued that Alex is next to a humpback whale and he should be small next to a creature so large. They didn't buy that. They wanted their larger Alex. The way they explained it away to me was, "well, maybe the humpback is a baby and not as big."

I couldn't argue with that logic and threw up my hands and did as asked.

With changes like that you can see why I beat my head against the wall from time to time. As much as I love being an artist and doing this job for a living sometimes having conversations like that make my head spin.

But, in the end it all worked out and I kept everyone happy.

And sometimes that's an even more important trait in doing this job than how well I draw.


Manu Mane said...

Oh my ! You can't imagine how much this article is talking to me !!!!

The funniest thing I've heard from a client is from a member of my current client team :

"-Well, Emmanuel, I like it, but could you draw the little girls with gowns instead of trousers ?

-Sure, I replied, if you want.... but... why ? (In FRance, all the little girls wear trousers now).

-Well, for they can't be counfounded with boys !"

And she told it seriously !!!!! :) ) ) )

I'm still wondering if it was a psychic joke, or if she had smoken something forbiden before the brieffing lol..... :) ) ) ) ) ) )

Ha ha ha ha ha ! Whatever, this work you did for Macmillan Education is pretty nice, I like it a lot :)

And I saw the OilCanDrive poster you put in the kitchen ;)

Jeff Lafferty said...

Ha,ha ... how do they even get their art director jobs in the first place if there too stupid to actually grasp perspective?