13 September 2010

Octobucks, or: Krakens will be Krakens

Here's an illustration I recently completed for the September/October issue of Boston Review:

This issue is the first to be housed in a brilliant new redesign by my friends George Restrepo and Lisa Diercks. For a few years now (since 2006), George and I have been collaborating on covers for the Review's books. That gig grew out of his long-standing role as the designer of their magazine covers, which have won their share of design awards.

I had heard that a major overhaul of the Review was in the works, and when I found out George and Lisa were taking it on AND wanted me to do an illustration for the issue's Forum article, I said hell, yeah! Illustrations are not my usual thing, of course, but it's good to spread your wings (or tentacles?) now and then, right?

The first link in this post goes directly to the article—an interesting take on "institutional corruption" in U.S. government. That's corruption of the government as a system, mind you, not corruption of individuals within that system. A difficult concept to interpret visually, but it was the author's somewhat eloquent version of the tip-of-the-iceberg metaphor that helped me conjure the above image.

We experimented with more than a few heads for the many-armed beast. All were misleading, in the way that they seemed to assign the corruption to one group or influence over another. In the end, we decided to just let a Kraken be a Kraken. George sort of informally christened the concept "Octobucks", and that was that.

Here's how the piece looks in situ, as the opening spread for the Forum piece. I'm also showing George and Lisa's layout for the Editor's Note, which includes a companion spot illo: