Friday, October 26, 2012

Financial Puns are a bankrupt kind of humor.


This week, the comic for ForexPros again stars head of the Fed, Ben Bernanke.  This time it focuses on the toll being taken on him as Chairman of the Federal Reserve.  I imagine it's taxing (heh heh...taxing) mentally, emotionally and, subsequently, physically.  Bernanke has seen some intense difficulties during his tenure and the stress involved must be awful.  Aside from President of the United States (or Secretary General of the UN), I can't really imagine a job I'd like less.

I was asked to depict Bernanke's transformation before, during and after holding the office in a timeline format (I was given the dates as well as the general layout/aesthetic of the comic).  Along with changing his hair, facial expression, and posture, I also used less and less saturated colors in his face, hair and clothing to give the sense of premature aging and fatigue.

This illustration went much more smoothly than the previous Forexpros comic.  That could have something to do with the fact that I've drawn Bernanke's face nine times to date.  It's pretty familiar territory at this point, though the illustration still took the better part of 12 hours.  But I like the result.


Friday, October 19, 2012

Candid-ating and Best Policies

In the spirit of October, I'm going to possibly create a monster here.  Like all good monsters, this one may well come back and destroy me.  If that happens, my only request is that you and the rest of the villagers form an angry yet organized mob replete with torches and pitchforks and hunt down the monster.  Possibly with a pipe organ playing in the background.

People sometimes ask me what I like to be called in terms of my job.  I always say "illustrator" as opposed to "artist".  I draw for a living, but unlike an artist, I draw what other people hire me to draw.  There's some creative freedom, but ultimately I am beholden to the goals and visions of the organizations and individuals who are nice enough to hire me.  Also unlike art, illustration is created to serve a particular end (rather than being created for its own sake).  In that respect, there are similarities between illustration and advertising.

I've often wondered whether or not I would eventually be approached by a client with whom I disagreed either politically or socially.  I've worked with a wide variety of clients over the years and I have disagreed with many of them on any number of subjects.  But the illustration never pertained to those disagreements and so the question remained academic, hypothetical.  The illustrations I've done have never (to my knowledge) been implemented to accomplish something I found politically or morally objectionable.

But what if the opportunity came up?  Would I, for instance, create illustrations for a cigarette company?  I'd like to think the answer is no.  But I've never been asked.  What if I was broke?  I'd like to think the answer would still be no, but I also know firsthand how stressful and upsetting money can be (in the interest of full disclosure, I've only ever experienced the stress that comes from too little money, though I'm perfectly willing to entertain the stress that comes from having too much if anyone wants to make a sizable donation to the Noah Kroese Live Like a Plutocrat Foundation).  With all due respect to Biggie Smalls, I think he should have said "Mo' money, DIFFERENT problems".

Here's the bottom line: If I disagree with the statement or aim of an illustration and I do it anyway, does that damage my integrity?  How do I think about myself as a person at that point?  Do I divorce myself from the message, telling myself that I'm really just an illustrator, a hired hand doing a job?  Or is that just a rationalization?  Does that make me Practical Pete or Pontius Pilate?  Both?  Is it too idealistic to even bring this up?  I don't have answers to any of these questions, by the  way.

This all seems pretty melodramatic and, admittedly, it is.  But it's a question I've thought about off and on for years and this was a good opportunity to bring it up.

Here's the illustration that fostered all this pontificating: The latest for ForexPros.  The comic (subject written by ForexPros) intimates that, with the November election looming, the government is faking the unemployment numbers to get Barack Obama re-elected.  Maybe this is super naive, but faking the unemployment numbers seems far-fetched to me.  Seems like most if not all the data used to compile the unemployment figures are available to everyone, which would make corroborating those numbers a relatively straightforward process.

"Wait," I can hear you say in my head, "You made it sound like you'd just finished a series of promotional illustrations for the Westboro Baptist Church and it ended up just being about unemployment numbers?"

Well, critic in my head, I know it's not exactly the moral quandary of the decade.  If anything, it's more of a gray area.  But, like I said, I thought this was a good vehicle for discussion.

All that said, Barack Obama's face looks pretty good, right?


Rock On!

As promised, here is a slight departure from the comic illustrations that have served as the main fare on the blog for the last several weeks.  I realize it's only one illustration, but there will be more soon enough.  I'm working on several projects at the moment and some of them will eventually see the light of day.

As for this one: Decagon asked me to create an illustration for their RK-1 rock sensor.  The RK-1 is in the same family as the KD-2, which you may remember from an earlier post.  I don't have too much to say about this illustration, other than the fact that it reminds me of minimalist art.  I kind of like it.  Also, I'm pleased with the surface of the rock.  It seems tactile.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Hangover

Can the title of a post about financial illustration be both germane to the subject matter and a blatant attempt at parasitic SEO by referencing a popular movie that has nothing whatever to do with said illustration?  We here at Noah Kroese Illustration say boldly: "Yes."

This week's comic for ForexPros deals with the waning optimism felt by foreign exchange traders with regards to the third round of quantitative easing.  The idea (once again authored by the good people at ForexPros) uses the metaphor of a hangover to describe the general feeling of pessimism and sober thinking after the financial panacea of the QE3 turns to placebo in people's minds.

In terms of the illustration: It went more smoothly than last week.  I felt more confident.  The drawing overall was less of a struggle.  And, in looking at the comic now (several days later), I don't hate it.  I think the drawing itself is sound.  I have a bit of a problem with the color.  There's more of it in greater saturation than usual.  Also, it seems to lack cohesion.  But that could just be me.  Sometimes, because I work on each element of an illustration separately, it's difficult for me to see the illustration as a single piece.  Instead, I end up seeing just a collection of subjects kind of glued together.

I'm also conflicted about the very comic-like proportioning of the people.  The big heads instantly signal comic status and humor.  But I always have trouble drawing people with such grotesque proportions.  When combined with my obsessive detail, I'm not sure if the result is something unique and interesting or just disturbing.

Ok.  I realize I haven't posted anything other than ForexPros comics in several weeks, but there's lots of stuff coming.  I promise.  I'm limited by when I can share certain projects, but I'll add more variety soon.


Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Rajoy of Painting

Here's the ForexPros illustration/comic from October 3rd.  It deals with the possibility of another bailout for Spain's ailing economy.  The comic features Spain's Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, as Hamlet (credit for the idea belongs to the good people at ForexPros.  I was only the illustrator this time).

There are some days/weeks where drawing pictures comes as naturally to me as drawing breath.  The image composes itself in my head and it's as if I've simply photocopied the image from my head onto the page.  It's easy and fun and reinforces every choice I made to become an illustrator in the first place.

Last week was NOT one of those weeks.  Last week was the kind of week where every single line seems wrong, every choice is debated and every drawing is an exercise in anger management.  It's like forgetting how to walk and then overthinking it in an attempt to fix it.  I don't know why there are "on" and "off" days and weeks.  I suppose it's the nature of the beast.  The best I can do is to fight my way through these times and hope the lack of acuity doesn't show as much as I think it does.