|Illustration by Mark Montgomery for the Modern Money Network|
They found me through my Hire an Illustrator portfolio when I was a featured member about a month ago. Their thought was to have an illustration style that "blends the seriousness of Constructivism (think Soviet '20s and abstract New Deal art) and the hyperbolic playfulness of present superhero aesthetics like X-Men. The idea is to conjure a sense of great meaning and purpose w/o lapsing into plain nostalgia or socialistic earnestness."
Oddly those art movements have inspired my artistic development ever since growing up studying Thomas Hart Benton (of Missouri) and falling in love with the angles of Russian Constructivism propaganda posters in design school from the likes of professors from Poland, Russia and Sarajevo.
The Modern Money Network (MMN) wanted the banner to show "diverse persons (race, class, gender, ability) and diverse professions (infrastructure workers, care takers, artists, etc.)" in a horizontal format.
I had this in mind when visiting the Minneapolis Institute of Art on my birthday this summer. Looking for inspiration, I found a Nordic bowl that had scenes of life and work cast into wide, narrow strips wrapping around the bowl:
|Nordic Bowl, Minneapolis Institute of Art|
To get started sketching I also researched the murals of Diego Rivera and Thomas Hart Benton. I also pulled from some retro super hero aesthetics from X-Men to The Incredibles. Originally my contact person with the MMN wanted the banner in shades of green to match the MMN logo, so I mocked up three pencil sketches in that color:
|Montgomery MMN final sketch|
I decided to hire a few models for some reference in pose and lighting. I didn't need them to be the exact race I was depicting, but I wanted to have some specific info so I could choose to squish or exaggerate shapes in a way that made sense. Here's an example of the scientist model, Wesley in my dining room.
|Model and final rendering -Montgomery|
The response from the committee has been very positive. From the client: "The contemporary visual culture surrounding full employment politics is narrow and impoverished. Case in point: even pro-Job Guarantee articles tend to only feature pictures of white men in hard hats or nostalgic images from the WPA. Montgomery's banner, by contrast, conjures myriad types of persons and professions, while pointing to multiple forms of socially useful work."
I don't get into politics, but I love people enough to hate the effects of poverty. I enjoyed the work on this project, as it was right up my alley of aesthetics. I love Americana and history so any time I get to research and combine WPA and retro comics in the same project, I'm in heaven. The final image is fresh, energetic and heroic which I feel make it inspiring. The symmetrical composition keeps it balanced, while the color and variety keep the eye moving. I think it would make a cool mural after all. What do you think?