I was asked by Kory Kennedy of Runner's World to create an opening illustration for a suite of articles about "extreme running." The subjects ranged from extremes in weather, cheapness, and even social instability (one article was about running in Baghdad). Each specific situation would be illustrated by different artists, and I was given the daunting task of creating an opener image to introduce the feature. In usual form, I submitted the one sketch I felt strongly about, but it was rejected due to it's evocation of contact sports. So Kory and I embarked on a long journey towards creating an exciting image that somehow represented the concept of 'extreme running' in the abstract.
Most of these thumbs are throwaways, but we almost went with no. 3. At this point, I wished I could switch brains with Christoph Niemann.
Then Kory mentioned that he liked a Green Arrow cover I had done, and suggested that I separate the image into different scenarios. But rather than depict specific situations, I decided to evoke 4 extremes: dark, light, fire and ice. Yes, the "X" was still there . . . somehow I couldn't get away from it. Also, a photo of someone tying their shoelaces was going to be opening another article, so we went with a tighter shot, which made it more intimate and also heightened the psychological aspect of "extreme running," that is, to use the cliche, "mind over matter."
> graphite on bristol, 9 x 12", SOLD.
> Photoshop CS, 8.25 x 11", 500 dpi.
This assignment was extreme in the amount of sketches I had done. The process reminded me of how illustration is an interesting mix of problem-solving and gut instinct/inspiration. I had struggled with the thumbnails once my first sketch, the 'gut' sketch, was rejected, and went towards the more analytical end of problem-solving, which yielded some weak thumbnails. There's a delicate balance of both hemisphere's of the mind, which can be deflated by rejection and lit up by that elusive thing called inspiration. The illustration will be printed in the next issue of Runner's World -- I'm looking forward to seeing the other pieces in the feature!