“Do something tasteful” was the only direction when I got this project. I was working for a regional newspaper, and in vitro fertilization was a new thing in the 80’s. Illustration Friday’s topic of “propagation” seemed like a great reason to dig through my old files and look at this again. Technically, this shouldn’t have been my project, but it was assumed the guy who should’ve gotten it would’ve done something off-color.
The newspaper was a great job for me. I got to do full-color work on a regular basis, had a great boss, and lots of artistic freedom. I didn’t know how lucky I was until I left and took a job at an advertising agency, where I did cheap fast food ads and other soul-crushing, mindless work.
If you do color work for newspapers, remember a piece of advice I got from that boss I liked – overdo the color. In his words, “Printing on newspaper is like fingerpainting on toilet paper.” The ink absorbs and spreads, and the difference between the original (see detail) and the printed piece can be night and day.
We can’t keep everything we do, but this is a great example of keeping a lot. Keeping old art in a way that we can put our fingers on it again easily is also a good idea. If you can keep your originals, keep them. If you can’t, then keep a good quality scan of them.
I never thought I would have a practical reason for this piece, but it was from my first real job in art, and the fun and laughter I got while doing it is a great memory for me. I keep my art in boxes in a closet that I can wander through when I’m down, or need inspiration, or need a special piece to show a new client. I never know what will come in handy.
The newspaper also provided me with a memory I wouldn’t trade for the world. I was taking a walk in my childhood neighborhood when a neighbor called me over. This was a man whom I had always admired because he was a working artist when everyone in my life told me that I wouldn’t be able to make a living in art. The day he called me over, he brought me in his house and showed me a portfolio – of my work. He had kept everything I had published in the newspaper. I was touched to the depths of my soul.
Which reminds me of another practical point – sign your work. Even if your employer doesn’t want you to sign it, hide your signature in the art. You never know who might be paying attention.