The Dangers of Amatuer Art Direction

In the final weeks of the concept art stage for the first volume of 13 Legends, when pieces were still being commissioned to help get a handle on the look and feel of the story-world, I turned my attention to a cool new design — an airship. What story is complete without an airship? Thus, I contacted an illustrator who I’d worked with on some of the other technological concepts, Alfredo, from Argentina, and we got to work. From my written descriptions for the function of the ship, Alfredo came up with a trio of options:

airship concept

I ruled out #3 immediately, thinking it was too futuristic. #2 was cool, but I felt it didn’t push the boundaries enough. I really liked #1, but to me, the balloon parts still seemed too modern. So, it was time to put on the “art director hat”. (yes, I know a collective shutter just ran through all freelance artists in the world like a planetary-sized disturbance in The Force) So there I am with this hat — speaking metaphorically, of course, for I don’t really have such a hat, nor do I believe one exists, but if it did… never mind. I came up with the obvious, yet brilliant, answer to the problem:

Combine specific aspects of both #1 and #2 into a new, even better design!

I promptly e-mailed Alfredo my pearls of wisdom, and, as I was the client, he followed my instructions carefully.

The art came back, and I thought, “awesome! Really great! Perfect, in fact!”, followed by, “damn, I’m good!!” (okay, so Alfredo drew it, but I… I told him to draw it! Which makes it at least a 50% victory for me, right?) I proudly showed my better-half the latest design, and awaited the obvious praise that was bound to be bestowed upon me… and she said, “don’t you think it looks like boobs?” My smile faded as I turned back to the screen. My god, she was right! It was boobs! Giant, flying boobs.. but boobs nonetheless.

I suppose the moral of this story is that, until you’ve subconsciously steered a design toward resembling gender-specific anatomy, you haven’t really earned your “art director hat”… even a metaphorical one.




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