One of the jobs I’ve been working on is a poster for the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst, MA. The museum approached me and said that this was to be the first new Emily Dickinson image released since they celebrated the 100th anniversary of her death in 1986. (Um, no pressure!) It was to raise awareness for the museum itself as well as promote tourism/travel in locations across New England. So I gulped, felt very honored that they asked me, and started to work.
Sitting down to sketch, I tried to get a sense of who Emily Dicksinson was and what her poetry said to me… I just kept coming back to that well-known photo of her and seeing her mona-lisa-esque expression and those haunting dark eyes. So I wanted to keep that present in the illustration. She was also known as kind of recluse, so I reflected that in her posture… drawing her sitting in a balled up pose with her arms wrapped around her knees. But I also wanted to keep it open enough so as not to make her feel TOO reclusive (she did have friends she was close to)… so it’s kind of a relaxed pose, and I think her looking out at the reader gives kind of an openness to it as well. Like she’s fine by herself, but inviting you in for a short while.
In the sketch, I made her bigger than the nature was around her… I thought this went along with her being the center of the world of words and poetry that she created for herself. It also sets the tone of her as an outside observer of the world and not quite a part of it…
I found that her poetry was kind of elliptical and solemn (even though she used exclamation marks). So I tried to capture that by showing the winter season… the trees are barren and snow is falling, giving it a lonely, peaceful feeling almost.
Working on the final, the colors were meant to also play into the cool, lonely feeling, with pops of red to make it more alive. (And did you know that she was actually a red head?)
The posters were produced last week and the museum is really happy with them. (whew!) I got a few in the mail on Monday and they look great (and huge! The image without the type is 18×24.)
If you’d like to purchase one for yourself and support the museum, they are only $15 including shipping. So cheap! Click here to purchase.
Thank you, Rachel, for working with me and giving me this awesome opportunity!