Illustrating Shakespeare | A Portrait of the Bard

Illustrating Shakespeare is something no serious artist would take lightly. Such a man demands that you employ all of your skill to capture him properly.

Illustrating Shakespeare | An Early Hedcut Portrait of the Bard

Way back, when I was developing the iconic Wall Street Journal portrait style, also known as the hedcut, I was tasked with creating an image of William Shakespeare. I do not recall the gist of the story, but I held on to the illustration. Here it is:

Illustrating Shakespeare | Hedcut Portrait of the Bard

Illustrating Shakespeare | Hedcut Portrait of the Bard

I would guess this was done in the first year of my employment as Head Illustrator at the WSJ. The style is a bit undeveloped at this stage. Still, the image holds up well.

I’ve illustrated Shakespeare in numerous poses, numerous times.

For a book project, in recent years, I did two sketches of a rather petulant Bard. After doing a lot of work for this project, I confess that I bailed. The work was pure fluff and the budget menial. However, these are somewhat amusing…

A Hedcut portrait illustration of Shakespeare crying

A Hedcut portrait illustration of Shakespeare crying

A Hedcut portrait illustration of Shakespeare in a cap.

A Hedcut portrait illustration of Shakespeare in a cap.

The book was to be a parody of chefs and cooking. Here, the art directors wanted to show Shakespeare as a chef, having a kitchen melt-down.

Illustrating Shakespeare for a magazine

Small Shakespeare spot illustration.

Small Shakespeare spot illustration.

This is a very small Shakespeare spot illustration. It was done, I believe, for an article on London, in Conde Nast Traveller magazine.

Now, I did my own Shakespeare illustration project, also.

I was looking for an interesting piece for a directory ad in my favorite place to advertise, The Workbook.  I took an old painting of the younger man, and created a pen-and-ink drawing to begin. Here it is:

Black & White portrait of a younger Bard

Black & White portrait of a younger Bard

Next, I created a color backdrop with watercolors and colored pencils. When these two layers were assembled, the finished illustration came out like this:

Color portrait of a younger Bard

Color portrait of a younger Bard

I hope you’ve enjoyed my flings with this illustrious man of letters. MacBeth, anyone?

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