Monday, July 20, 2009

The American Conversation

The topic was The American Conversation, a cross-disciplinary course about American thought and American thinkers and innovators. A fun project all around and a chance to do likenesses, not one of my usual categories. It was my idea to write the famous quotes on voice balloons cut from yellow legal paper––which I used then and still use when I write.

When it appeared in the magazine my art was superimposed on some stock imagery of stars and stripes, which took me by surprise. Illustrators and designers work best within an approval process, but stuff does happen. Did an editor or an editorial committee think the art was too drab as it was? Did someone think it required flags, and were they hesitant to ask me to paint an extra element? (I would have.) I recall giving the designer the license to move the elements around as needed; was this interpreted as license to collage my collage with someone else's stock art? I expect a deadline led to improvisation. I got several emails from people who loved what they saw in the magazine, but I was a bit embarrassed by it. I'll be happy to work with them again. The tricky part will be how I diplomatically suggest we not repeat what happened the last time. Next time the same designer will probably make my art look better than I expected. That's what usually happens.

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