Me and time got a tough-love relationship. When I was younger, I had all the time in the world. My biggest obstacle was having an idea to follow from conception to fruition. Now, time just disappears. I’ve learned to maximize the time I got.
For starters, I work concepts out in my head until I’ve exhausted all angles, options and ideas. My process is a kind of an 80/20 thing; 80% in my head and 20% with my hands. You know the saying, measure twice and cut once.
Like with this project, I was talking with a group of folks in the music industry. I wrote down notes and quotes. I let my mind wrap itself inside of the music they were talking about. The beat and harmony was coming to me the way I’d hear it on a cassette tape. I thought, “straight out of the cassette, yeah.”
I envisioned tape spilling out everywhere. In my head I grabbed a piece of it, pulled at it and watched it stream out, flutter in the air, and drop into large clumps on the ground. I imagined the tape creating the artists’ profiles and how the reflected light picked up details and dimensions.
And then it was time to get it out of my head and onto my canvas.
Step 1: Blue line.
Old-school artists used a non-photo blue pencil to sketch because the marks didn’t get picked up in a photo when it was shot for reproduction. Some artists use red or another color. I like blue.
Step 3: Character.
This is where pieces of the cassette tape would come in. I would use a black marker and change the angle and pressure to control the strokes. The goal is to imitate the curves and bends tape has when it falls and has fallen.
This analog approach typically takes me about an hour and a half when I use pencils and markers on paper. What was that I said about time?
Stay with me and to see how I accelerate this process you can recreate too.
Robert Generette III is an illustrator, teacher, and vector art monster based in Maryland. He is sharing his workflow to create and build a Blurb book, Eject.