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Hands Up
posted: September 15, 2010
for The Wall Street Journal...
Over the last few years the symbolism of a hand has stood in for that of a figure in my work. In quite a few of my recent assignments the need to indicate an individual can be fraught with questions of nationality, race, and others. For many years I developed a figure with a generic structure purposefully. There was, and have been questions when I worked of making sure that the figure was not too "scary". Use of shadows, and usually requested powerful figures made some clients uncomfortable even though it was that very quality that had them calling on me. After working through many sketches, the simplicity of the hand as a representation of a group with the fingers, or just a lone individual, and many of the nagging questions went away. I do enjoy working with the figure still, but … well in many cases it's ended up being a hand. This last week it was a hand for the Wall Street Journal. An article on investing in power & utilities, and the editors wanted POWER. It was the art director, Orlie Kraus who called. Hell we even talked on the phone! Not just email, and text. Well Orlie & I worked hard to offer the editors(word people) solid choices. The first round of my sketches were sent, and well so it went. The Hand was the editor's pick. Next was the request for "Show Me The Money", dollar sign, and dollars added. With the second round, Orlie tried to offer our favourite of the utility towers for reconsideration. Nope, it was POWER that was wanted, and the hand was waved through. I went at the hand to make it as powerful as requested!
First round sketches.
Second round sketches.
Another recently published hand based illustration done for the National Federation of Labor. Subject; Organize The Unorganized!
11 comments
Robert Hunt September 15, 2010
Nice work Doug - I especially like those sketches... It's a comment on the state of communication these days that even a generic figure can raise too many "red flags" but its interesting that you overcome this by using the hands- and using them so well- as the actors on your stage.
Harry September 15, 2010
Doug, I connect with everything you say about using hands. These are great but I would love to see that power lines image finished-without dollars. Maybe one of your paintings? I think you and I must be much alike, I love all that infrastructure chaos, beauty in there. Orlie is one of the pros.
Zina Saunders September 15, 2010
Really nice post, Doug; I love all the sketches and final. I also really love the Labor hand: the color, the motion, the ... well ... power of it.
Carl Wiens September 15, 2010
Powerful work, Doug. Nice movement in that Labor piece. Those power line sketches really do look like they deserve more development.
Paul Rogers September 15, 2010
So, why does it have to be a white guy's hand? and what's with that shirt? I think blue shirts are kind of scary.
Douglas Fraser September 15, 2010
touché
GregM September 15, 2010
Great stuff. The sketches too!
Mark Mcbride September 15, 2010
These are both well done Doug. I especially like the colors you used in Organized. I have been studying your how you blend your colors and applying it to the type of media I use.
Drew Friedman September 16, 2010
I agree, love the sketches and the finishes.
Victor Juhasz September 17, 2010
Both images pack a punch. Love the sketches as well.
Dana Mac September 24, 2010
What's amazing about all of this is to really think about the concept of a single appendage being able to represent an entire person -- and it's incredibly cool that hands can be so expressive that they can evoke emotion and tell a story much as a full body would ... and in this case, the hand is so specific that it transcends race, perceived style *aggression*, and let's Doug create an image that is just as powerful, if not MORE powerful than a full character. Impressive stuff, as usual.
All images copyright Douglas Fraser