Friday, July 15, 2011

All the News That's Fit to Draw

Have you seen the new documentary about The New York Times, Page One? I'm looking forward to getting a peek inside the newsroom of a truly iconic newspaper.  This inspired me to share some drawings from a branding campaign that's all about what this publication stands for. It ran form 1999 through 2003.

Art director Sharon Driscoll asked me to illustrate ads which would promote various features of the paper, as well as home delivery.  She'd seen samples of my work which combined line drawings with collaged text.  She asked me to incorporate New York Times text into each illustration. I loved the idea of using their famously recognizable copy as an element in my drawings.

I worked with a copywriter who was adept at simple yet clever word-play. The text elements I added to each drawing always matched the theme of the ad. For example, if the business section was being promoted, I would integrate copy from the business section directly into the image. I liked how the intellectual content of the paper became part of each drawing.  Words and phrases from stories would come into focus, adding an extra dimension to each image. Sharon's clean and simple design helped each drawing stand out.

Originally, this campaign was to feature six to ten images, and run for six months. But it quickly took on a life of it's own. Over the course of three years, I collaborated on over 100 promotional ads. Drawings were also used on t-shirts, direct mail cards, new year's cards,  joint promotions with Starbucks, and even on a cow (see below)!

Given the many aspects of this project, I found it challenging to curate this post. Hopefully you'll get a sense of the fun I had creating these images.

Thanks to Sharon, Jasmine Shumanov, and the promotions department for allowing me such a gratifying experience. I couldn't have asked for a more unique palette to work with.

The concept process began as stream of consciousness doodles in a sketchbook. The page on the left contains ideas for the headline "Perfect Pitch". Many baseball and musical metaphors came to mind.

This "Perfect Pitch" ad ran square or horizontal, depending on how far the newsworthy music ran across the page.

Photoshop offers amazing tools, but for this project I enjoyed copying, cutting, and pasting the old fashioned way!

Here's an example where I simply enlarged a sketchbook doodle to use as the final art.

I've often used pages from The New York Times to wrap gifts. It might make a nice wallpaper as well?

For most drawings, I made a xerox transparency of the line art, and would use it as an overlay of the text. This made it easy for me to change the weight and size of the typographic elements.

Some ads had unique space requirements. Just as a story unfolds, this illustration unfolds.

Five drawings were used in direct mail promotions as well. I can relate to this "Personal Trainer" metaphor. My brain gets an excellent workout with this paper's help.

I love the simplicity and directness of this ad.

In 2000, New York hosted the Cow Parade. Artists decorated thousands of life-size cement cows which were displayed on city sidewalks. Along with the talented artist, Bruce Henke, I was asked to design The New York Time's entry, which was titled "All the Moos That's Fit to Print". This colorful cow stood, where else, but Times Square! Thanks to Bruce and Finn Winterson for making this bovine beauty look so vibrant.

I contributed drawings to 'new years greetings' pages in 2000 and 2001. This image was also used on a holiday card sent to subscribers.

I really enjoyed creating these drawings in black and white. In the case of this project, I think the content of The New York Times added all the necessary color.


  1. Hey Dan,

    This is a groovy post! It's fascinating to see how elements of this campaign evolved from your doodles, and to understand your collaboration with the designer. What a great assignment for an illustrator -- your illustrations completely lived up to it.

  2. Alison, thanks so much for your thoughtful commentary and Kind words. They put a smile on my face.

  3. Hi Dan,

    I fondly remember our pilgrimage to your cow. What lovely work!

  4. Thank you Wig! I cherish my pics of you & Ad with my cow. I hope to see you in SF one of these days soon!