Nowhere To Hide

This illustration was for an excellent Mercury News Sunday Tech section story by Marisa Kendall. There have been a lot of tech-related privacy/security stories in recent years but – although the details and particulars of the stories change – as an illustrator charged with coming up with yet another image that addresses the core concept, it can flummox creative inspiration. In short: I was stumped.

Drawn with Clip Studio Paint and Photoshop.
Open in a new window for a larger image.

I envisioned a person, spied on by the various technologies suggested by the story's budget line; nothing interesting occurred to me. I suppose an image similar to the final is what crossed my mind, but with more conventional representations of the person and items. It was going to look boring. 

Determined to do this differently, I thought about John Lennon's drawings and drew the figure in a way that reminded me of his work, but when I finished my initial scribbles and then went to look at Lennon's images, I realized I was really thinking about late-stage Picasso drawings; the 50s and 60s era. (Love that stuff and have done work inspired by him before.)

The problem that comes with drawing in an unconventional style – unconventional for me – is I can't tell if it looks right until I'm almost done with it. The design of the person came most easily, but I spent a lot of time fussing with the hand and face relationships. I almost gave up on the idea, but I started coloring him and then it seemed to transform into a design that didn't put me off.

The difficulty I found trying to interpret the iPhone, the satellite and traffic light was in trying to make them recognizable. I abandoned more exaggerated drawings, retreating to simpler representations because even I couldn't tell that my haphazard arrangement of circles and rectangles was supposed to be a traffic light. The objects are therefore simpler, less daring caricatures for the sake of clarity and the usual time constraints.

I'm pretty happy with it, although I felt more like a member of the audience than the performing artist as it all came strangely together. 

As another exercise, I created an animated version. I dabble inconsistently with animation, and so I have to relearn lost knowledge each time I wade back in. At work, I'm going to try to translate some of my drawings to animated gifs for the website. This is my first whack at it, but I didn't get through it until several days after the story posted. It was a too complex and improvisational process this time, but I learned how important a clear and simple plan is, even for a fairly short presentation.

The End!

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