Sunday, April 1, 2018

Stranger Things (Season 1)

As an artist, I find it cliqued when 'we' (not in the royal sense of the word either), make work based on current popular cultures media consuming habits.  That and tribute pieces to dead celebrities often irk me.  I mean I get you're a 'fan', but doesn't it seem ghoulish to make an image and then sell it for's like the old 'ambulance chaser' saying...anyways, I'm getting away from the point here.  Tangents, amiright?  So I fell into this particular category myself here when I decided I wanted to create something as my 'love letter' to The Duffer Brothers, and Netflix's 'Stranger Things' series.  It took me longer than most of the people in my circle both personally and professionally, to finish the first season (I'm not a binger). It had everything I love in a show, mystery, science fiction, fantasy, Dungeons & Dragons, did I mention it takes place in the 80's AND it stars Winona Ryder (swoon)?!!!  Soon enough though I was drinking the kool-aid, and I knew that I HAD to do something dedicated to the show. 

I began the work, by first completing a graphic-y omage to the series, containing as many references to the show as possible. I had a specific color palette I was working with (self selected), that to me, fit for the show's ambiance. Specifically in strong hues of turquoise, and crimson, which while not 'true' complementary colors, manage to compete with each other because of the tint of greens in the blue of the turquoise.  The main points I wanted to address from the show in this incarnation was making references to each of the impressionable characters in this first season.  I started with the Eggo waffle to represent 'Eleven', and her fondness of the breakfast confection, but also wanted to push the connection a bit further and turn the syrup into an actual numeral 11 (no subtle hints here folks).  Next I added a coffee cup to represent 'Police Chief Jim Hopper', who's character, much like myself, is a complete monster without his first cup of coffee.  In effort to cram as many images as possible into one illustration without cluttering it, I decided to add the some of the setting into the mix, along with more characters on the mug itself.  Here I depicted the surrounding environment the boys are often seen in during the show (a forest), and the silhouettes of the characters 'Lucas Sinclair', 'Mike Wheeler', and 'Dustin Henderson', on their respective vehicles of choice. My next task was how to incorporate the 'Demogorgon', and both 'Will', and 'Joyce Byers'.  I decided that I could add a flower to the plate as a garnish that could represent the 'Demogorgon' from the show.  It was a little tricky at first, because I didn't want the garnish to look too frightening.  Once I completed that I moved on to the napkin, and chose to use a string of Christmas lights (all same tone so as not to detract too much from the main image), to depict the iconic plot elements for the 'Byers' household.  The title of the piece came easily enough, as 'Hopper' says it pretty early on in the series that..."mornings are for coffee and contemplation."

The image is entirely digital, and was made primarily in Illustrator, Photoshop, and Painter.
It is also available on my Esty store as a print.

Upon completing the previous illustration, I became inspired to take it in a different direction, but since I was almost done, I decided I'd take some design elements from the first I really liked, and explore it a bit more.  The image of the boys on their bikes, for me, really captured the spirit of the show, and so I decided to see how I could design an image more in tune with it.  I took the silhouettes, and began to set them in a more dramatic landscape, that told the story of the entire first season.  I wanted to include all the elements from the show in some way, shape or form.  I started with the boys, and added 'Eleven' to back of 'Mike's' bike, and expanded the forest background while still maintaining the original color scheme from the previous illustration.  With more space in linear design, I was able to include 'Jim Hopper' by depicting his trademark vehicle (a 1980 Chevrolet Blazer), the 'Byers' House' their shed, and 'Castle Byers' all to the right of the illustration.  Here I was able to depict the search for 'Will Byers', and include some of the settings for those scenes.  To the left of the boys in the woods, I subtly included the 'Hawkins National Laboratory'. Naturally, I had to include the 'Upside Down', and 'Demogorgon' respectively, not to mention the fate of young master Byers. To balance the image, I simply reflected the entire top layer and dropped the opacity, but also included some of the 'snow flakes' that permeate the 'Upside Down'.  Lastly, I felt it would unite the entire layout if I added a retro-styled city insignia to the image.  I did some research for fonts, and decided to use a font similar to the title theme of the show for INDIANA , and then found a more suitable font to use for the fictional city of Hawkins.  Having done some experimenting for different conventions I had a suitable candidate with this design to try out a mug wrapped design, and also I didn't want to miss out on the perfection change to once again capitalize on making functional art, and celebrate my love of coffee!!

The illustration is entirely digital, laboriously made in Illustrator, with some manipulation in Photoshop, and details done in Painter.

It is also available in my Etsy store as a mug.

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