It's been raining all week here so here's a gray and drizzly process post. As seen in a A Walk in 1875 St. Louis, this is the panel showing how water moved from thundercloud to cloudy drinking glass (and bathtub). It prominently features the Grand Avenue Water Tower, aka the Old White Tower, as seen here on plate 77 of Compton & Dry's Pictorial St. Louis.
Along with my buddy Leon Beyond I had investigated the lubricated inner-workings of St. Louis' old standpipe towers before:
But for this project I kept things a little bit more "by-the-book":
Final "thumbnail sketch":
Even at 13 feet tall, my illustrations of the Water Tower as it appears on the wall of the exhibit represents only 1:12 scale of the real water tower. Digital Layout:
Blue pencil drawing:
Finished ink + graphite drawing:
Final Vector Art:
The full 13'7" image:
We've also made a smaller version (along with all my other graphics showing The Inside Life of a Great City) to fit into a book we're calling the 1875 Illustrated Almanac:
Along with the Missouri History Museum's public historian Andrew Wanko, I'm gonna be doing a slideshow & signing for the Almanac this Saturday November 21st. It's at my favorite tavern in St. Louis, The Royale, from 4 to 6 pm. I can guarantee the drinks will taste better than the drinking water of 1875.
Here's some more behind-the-scenes process stuff from my work on A Walk in 1875 St. Louis, still showing at the Missouri History Museum. Compton and Dry's incredible 1875 map, Pictorial St. Louis, wasn't printed in color (although Cameron over at Distilled History is apparently working on that), so I wanted to slather color all over my complementary drawings. I needed to add additional layers of sensory information, especially SMELL. 1875 St. Louis really stunk.
Schaeffer’s Soap and Candle Works, near Lucas Place at Washington and 20th streets, one of the smelliest places in town. Inspiration for my color palette was this 1875 lithograph advertising a short-lived Boston area brewery. I liked how the bright red brick and sudsy gold typography (beer and brick sure to important motifs in my drawings also) sat atop dusty brown streets and miasmatic skies. I eyedropper-ed accordingly: I also tested how the colors would work with the variety of textured paper backgrounds I wanted to use: Roughed them into my thumbnail sketches for each image: And started to apply them to my black 'n white ink drawings. Note that there was no green (or purple) in my palette, which would've normally been the go-to stink color. I was forced to push yellow and gray to their aromatic extremes. Big shout-outs to Novachrome, the printer we used for printing the large-format illustrations. Here were some of the swatches we looked at for matching colors: Here's how they looked on strips of the final wallcoverings during installation, which turned out beautiful. And here's the full-sized 15' foot wall. Stay tuned for more walks through A Walk in 1875 St. Louis!
I'm excited to be a part of the big exhibit now showing at the Missouri Historical Museum, A Walk in 1875 St. Louis, and am gonna start posting sketches, visual research and behind-the-scenes in-progress images from some of the stuff I worked on. First: the logo.
Here's a small sampling of early doodlings done while developing '1875' logo/mark, inspired by the typography of the title page from Compton & Dry's "Pictorial St. Louis", the amazing (book of) maps that inspired the exhibit:
Some more developed thumbnails:
Some tighter sketches and alternate ideas:
In-progress vector refinement:
Final black + white logo:
An application in the field (mug available in the gift shop):