Saturday, March 12, 2011

Smaller is Better!

front page illustration of the Sunday, March 13th NYTimes Real Estate section

Steven Salerno's illustration/NYTimes March 13th, Real Estate section

(detail view) b&w line drawing with crayon, of the little train engine 

(detail view) of final illustration/little train engine

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I recently was contacted by the NYTimes real estate section art director Carol Dietz, to illustrate an upcoming article about how over the past handful of years smaller boutique real estate firms in NYC have been rivaling the larger, more established firms, giving clients a choice. She (and the editors) were open to whatever approach I might take, however did not want the illustration concept to be a comparison of the little firm vs the large firm... but rather focus on how the little firms can offer more attention to clients, etc... and also wanted the illustration to somehow show three categories of building types: the townhouse, the prewar apartment building, and the modern high-rise. I came up with a couple different idea approaches, but Carol liked best the one of a little train engine (suggestive of the children's book,"The Little Train That Could") pulling a load consisting of the three type apartment buildings. I came up with this idea based on a couple lines in the article text which commented on how smaller firms are nimbler and have more energy to focus personal attention on their client. It seemed like such a nice fit to depict a little engine, determined as it chugs up the steep tracks, successfully delivering its products to the clients. 

I created the illustration by separately drawing the train engine, the flatbed cars, and the three buildings with black crayon and black gouache, scanning them all into Photoshop as one layer on top of the background image layer that I had created digitally in Photoshop of the NYC skyline. The color of the train engine and the apartment buildings was also done digitally. You can see this illustration in the March 13th Sunday NY Times Real Estate section. (click here to see a previous post on another assignment I did for the NY Times Sunday real estate section with art director Carol Dietz.)

Friday, March 11, 2011

WORKBOOK illustration directory #33 for 2011 (new smaller size format)

Steven Salerno's latest ad page in the WORKBOOK illustration director
I have been advertising my illustration work in the WORKBOOK illustration directory every year since about 1992 (I missed just one year in 2010). WB had always been a full sized directory book... I think in earlier years it was a 9"x12" format... then eventually went down to 8.5"x11", then more recently down in size again to 8"x10". For 2011 the new page size is a compact 7"x9"! 

Posted here is a view of my ad page in the new directory. Originally this image was created for an ad agency in Dallas, and the image contained just the fountains. I modified the image for use as my promo in WB#33 by adding the characters walking about. You can see an earlier post on that ad agency assignment by clicking here. 

I was skeptical at first when I first heard from long time sales rep Robert Pastore of this proposed new compact size slated for 2011. Despite my concerns, I committed to advertise with WB again in 2011 because I liked their other new change too -that this smaller directory book will come out 2 times: a spring release book and then another book again in the fall. In the past I would pay about $2,600 and have one ad page in their one large format book which came out every February distributed to about 18,000 art directors, art buyers, etc.. across the country.  With this 2011 book, for the same cost of $2,600, I will have an ad image in their spring book, then another different ad image in their fall book. A double punch for the same price. Plus this smaller size book is so much easier to handle... their previous books weighed about 5 pounds! Maybe WB found that two smaller books were more profitable for them due to less paper costs, or maybe because of rising paper costs they needed to reduce the books format size just to stay in the black. And possibly shipping two smaller, lighter books is less costly compared to shipping one very heavy book.  

I just received my copy in the mail of the 2011 WORKBOOK #33 directory, and feel it does indeed work well at this new "7x9" size. It is still large enough to present an image with a big graphic impact and now an art director does not need to be a body builder to carry it with them across the room, or take it home one weekend! Sure, it would be great to still have a large size ad page... but if compromises needed to be made from a business standpoint by WB, this new format works well and the added second book bonus is terrific. So now it is up to the art directors to respond well to the book, too! 

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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Illustration Safety Lesson

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Don't worry, the baby depicted in this illustration was a paid actor, and the "poisons" in the bottles under the sink were all fake props. In other words, no one was harmed during the making of this illustration. It was created for a magazine article which emphasized the very important point of child-proofing the home. 

Each month I create a spot illustration, or two, for Metro Creative Graphics (in NYC)... a supplier to newspaper clients of editorial images of all sorts. Metro's service is to have commissioned artists create relevant topic images which their subscriber clients can then obtain in a monthly package for reproduction use in their newspaper publications. This particular illustration posted here was indeed to illuminate the issue of dangers in the home for a small child. It was created simply... a gouache brush drawing with added color wash effects in Photoshop.

Visit to view all my various illustration samples.