New Work: Texas Highways Cover

In February I was asked to illustrate and hand letter the cover of Texas Highways, the official travel magazine of Texas that encourages readers to explore the state. The theme was springtime and wildflowers and the project was a perfect fit, having just finished up Birds & Botanicals which is full of flowers and bees. Here are some images and thoughts about the process of making the cover.

To help me visualize the project, Mark, the fabulous art director sent me a rough mockup of the cover so I would have a clear sense of what he was looking for. Still, I went a little overboard in the first two sketches, adding too many bugs in the first and too many flowers in the second.

After a quick phone call (Mark was infinitely kind and helpful), I went back to the drawing board but still ended up burying everything in flowers. In the above sketch you can see that I nearly suffocated the magazine's main form of advertisement, it's name, in vines. I knew something didn't feel quite right so I showed the sketches to Christian (who is uniformly spot on in critiquing my work) and he said, "Just do vines. Vine-y things." 

Finally, the fourth or fifth sketch hit the mark. This is probably more than is typical for most illustrators, but my feeling about sketches is: do whatever works, whatever it takes. Also, while I made thumbnails for the cover, I couldn't quite visualize the final image, so the sketches were critical to the thinking process for me in that they helped me understand how to balance the illustration and lettering with the photography and masthead. Along with the final illustration, I sent Mark a mockup with potential colors. He decided on a purple metallic ink so the illustrations would have a glittery feel over the glossy photograph of the bluebell. I was thrilled.

Above is the final image file, so you can see all the details. In the future, I think I might print out five or ten copies of an initial mockup and draw right on top of it, rather than sketching anew every time. The turnaround for this project was just over two weeks and the piece was in print three weeks later. I had a total blast working on this. Texas Highways was a dream client and the project was a perfect fit.