The cool folks at KERRANG hit me up to do their cover and interior artwork to celebrate Gerard Way (of My Chemical Romance) and his new series on Netflix "THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY". I was stoked and couldn't say no to such a cool opportunity. By chance this is the 4th project I've done associated with Gerard Way. Totally weird to type that last sentence. I'm stoked that I've been an artist this long. Why haven't any pianos fallen on me yet (...knock on wood)?
I ended up doing 3 illustrations for the project. They requested that I draw Gerard from the "Revenge…" album era of his life. Since it's a weekly magazine the deadline was INSANE! I had a little over a week to turn in sketches, get approval and then turn in finished pieces. Normally it takes me a week to design and illustrate a poster. 1 poster! One!! That's how my brain and hands work. Somehow I was able to cram 3 illustrations into 1 week. My brain STILL hurts but I'm very proud of completing the project and the final results.
Trying to get the vibe of the cover and be on the same page as my art director and editor took me a few tries. They were really patient with me and let me find my groove. Sometimes it takes more than 1 try. Sometimes it takes 13 tries.
I started out by fitting the subject in the Umbrella Academy outfit from the show. The magazine wasn’t feeling it and that was fine. Drawing people in suits is much easier. For some reason I just wanted to give him red eyes whenever I could. I guess it kind of made him look too evil. One day I’ll get to draw a portrait and make them look like a vampire. One day…
After the last try the art director and editor were happy and I got to finish the piece. Normally I would’ve turned in sketches for all of the illustrations at the same time but there wasn’t much time and I really wanted to get as close to a likeness of Gerard as time would allow me. Again I only had a few days. So I turned in sketches for the other 2 illos once the cover was finished. I’m sure now I could draw him in my sleep.
I inked these as I normally do but then finished everything in Photoshop! In the 17 (or is it 16 or is it 13) years I've been a full time freelance artist I've done all my color and design work in Illustrator. I wanted to try something new for this. My brain is still angry with me but… as I said I'm REALLY HAPPY with the final pieces.
For the “Umbrella” piece the art director had sent over an idea of Gerard holding an umbrella. I liked the idea and just put my own spin on it. I always wanted to draw someone holding an umbrella as skulls rained down on them. I was really enjoying Photoshop with this piece. Again, I normally used the program to make jpgs. It took some courage (aka stupidity) to try it on a freelance project instead of waiting to do a personal piece. Which I never have time for.
The “Typewriter” piece was also fun to do but I was freaking out at this point. The art director referenced the Nick Cave poster I had designed and wanted basically that. Easy. But I didn’t make it easy. ( I never do…) I knew that he didn’t want me to replace Nick’s head with Gerard’s and call it day. So I had to come up with another way of drawing something I had already done without copying myself. So I threw everything in there. Hence the Easter Eggs. The only similarity is that I wanted to draw Gerard typing as if he were playing the piano. Same as what I did for the Nick Cave poster. Plus they’re both wearing suits.
So here are the Easter Eggs:
1. I hid the Umbrella Academy logo on the cover.
2. The typewriter is an Adler Universal 39. Same machine that Jack Torrance uses in the movie “The Shining”.
3. The Umbrella Academy logo takes place of the Adler logo for the typewriter. Plus I “hid” my “signature” signature on the other side. I think it’s egg-worthy.
4. Number 6 is the dead brother from the show. He’s dead the whole time so I didn’t spoil anything. I told the art director it was Vanya’s number because I only had a Netflix ad to go off and I was trying to do 3 weeks of work in 1 week! One week!!! I read the graphic novel years ago and just went with it cuz I knew how it ended. I hadn’t seen the show while I was working on these. After turning in the job a few days later the show premiered. 5 minutes in and I thought “I totally messed up!” But then #6 ends up being dead the whole time. So that totally works. Take that dementia!
I didn’t hafta fire myself. Lucky me…
5. That’s Vanya’s violin on the wall.
6. I “hid” 3 books on Gerard’s desk. ALL published by Dark Horse! Pretty sneaky I know.
• “The Umbrella Academy” (obviously).
• “The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys” (sorta obvious). I did one of the covers for that mini series and also an art print that you should pick up nudgenudgewinkwink! Gerard Way wrote the book and Becky Cloonan (the coolest person alive) drew it.
• ”Don’t Hold Your Breath” (not obvious). In 2010 Dark Horse published a book on me and my artwork. I recently heard it was soon to be on permanent display in the Smithsonian. It’s true! And dogs can’t look up!
I’m sure it’s in the bargain bin.
7. Alexisonfire has a new album coming out. They should hire me!
8. Kerrang also made the COVER and UMBRELLA illos into posters that come with the magazine. Pretty stoked! Can’t wait to see them sell for millions on ebay…
9. To date this is the fourth project I’ve done involving this dude aka Gerard Way. If anyone can name all 4… I will hook you up with a bunch of cool crap. Email me. If you physically own all 4 I will give you a free drawing! Luckily I don’t hafta disqualify my family. They have no idea what I do for a living.
You can pick up the magazine at your local newsstand or get it online here. If they send me any copies I'll post them to my shop.