all images, c. Kevin Sprouls
This week, I’m offering an altertative to the WSJ hedcut style. The Wall Street Journal hedcuts are often referred to as ‘dot drawings’. I heartily detest this simple label, but it seems people like to label things and I’m not one to criticize. Although pointillism is part of the technique, a lot more is going on in these drawings than applying dots of ink to paper! I’m talking detailed line-work and penmanship, a pretty good part of the hedcut style.
BUT… I have another technique, which I’ll share with you today.
I just received a commission from an American working in Saudi Arabia. He saw this alternative style, which I call a linear, woodcut, or engraving style, on my website, www.sprouls.com. In this post, I will chart the genesis and show examples of my alternate style of portraiture.
When I was a young graphic design freelancer at Dow Jones & Co., I would look for any opportunity to illustrate. The day-to-day office tasks were menial and boring, so, a chance to create art was very welcome, indeed! Dow Jones had a business publication called Barron’s, and they were looking for an image of the founder, Clarence W. Barron. I raised my hand and got the job.
The image above was probably my first professional attempt at drawing in the woodcut, or linear fashion. I enjoyed drawing the signature, too. My illustration was used in marketing the weekly paper to prospective subscribers. Like The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s was a black-and-white only publication.
With this experience under my belt, I was ready when Putnam Investments came to me looking for several engraving style portraits. www.putnam.com/?mkey=1003201186&msrc=335261441752&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIkoTNt4-u4wIVFv_jBx1jxwxzEAAYASAAEgJE-fD_BwE
I created a series of intricate drawings for Putnam using the linear style. Creating a background for these drawings added depth and drama.
The Design magazine, @issue: atissuejournal.com picked up on the illustration work I did, and published an article including a portrait of Putnam’s Lawrence Lasser…
Next, the illustration my client cited when he commissioned his portrait:
I’m looking forward to getting into the project. This type of drawing takes about three times the work of the standard, WSJ hedcut portrait, and I have to adjust my fee accordingly. But I enjoy the freedom of exercising a different approach, and look forward to delivering the goods to my client.