Oct 23, 2009

Seattle Weekly Cover

Sometime last week I got a phone call from Darrick Rainey from Seattle Weekly with an interesting assignment for me. The project was the cover for their upcoming issue whose main headline was about a girl who had been denied food and water from her parents as some sort of bizarre punishment. The article goes on to talk about how this is not all that uncommon a practice and details several situations where a child has died because of this sort of active negligence. In this case, the girl survived, but was only 48 pounds when her parents were arrested.

This was a relatively short turnaround --especially in the sketch phase. Call on Monday night, sketches by Tuesday, final by Friday.

The first round of sketches I sent in didn't hit right where the AD wanted them to, so I went at it again with a few notes in hand.

The AD wanted some sort of tension between the girl and her mother (or both parents). He wanted the piece to be more about that relationship than about the effects on the girl (which was where I was leaning earlier). With a difficult story like this one, it was great to have the AD actively know in what direction to push the final. We ended up going with number 1, but I was asked to put the parents in the background in some way. Another round of sketches later...

...and it still wasn't quite right. We went with a mix of 4 and 5, but with the parents facing away from the girl and the cup tilted upside down.

All in all this was a really challenging assignment that I'm pretty pleased with in the end. Every once in awhile it's good to really hammer away at an idea with as many sketches as possible until you chisel it down to exactly what's needed. I should have taken a photo of the drawing table with all of my paper laid out on it while I worked -- I redrew the piece (to a finished level) three or four times and sketched it out a whole lot more than that.

Also, it's always strange to do a portrait-style piece of an existing person when you don't know what that person looks like.

Final in ink, graphite, and Photoshop. AD Darrick Rainey.

Story and layout can be seen here: http://www.seattleweekly.com


  1. Sam this looks really good. I really like 5 and 6 on your thumbnails too. number 5 is an interesting concept.

  2. Really great parent faces. the child is the desert.

  3. Great stuff as usual, seems like a real good expierence :)

  4. MAN! I JUST saw this tonight when I was walking around and I said "Damn someone ripped off Sam's awesome style!" but no it was you the WHOLE TIME!

    Had to post and let you know how much I love what you do - check this blog every day. Do you live here in Seattle?

  5. Well done! Your perseverance really paid off in this one. It reads immediately!