I’m currently doing two episodes on Mad Men, and the prospect terrified me. It’s a show rich in incredibly memorable and distinctive visuals – and how do you distil hundreds of hours of show into a single image?
I came up with a solution – paying homage to the world of commercial art at the time, and depicting myself as an illustrator at a creative agency. This particular episode focusses on Mad Men’s female characters, who are shown here as illustrations-within-the-illustration (I could have gone recursive with this! But that would have been far too much of a headache.) So here’s my attempt at mimicking the commercial styles at the time!
I hate gouache, but if you want something to look like a pre-digital commercial illustration, you pretty much have to use it. However, during the course of making this, I began to really appreciate gouache’s effects, once I adjusted to the fact that it dries darker, the reverse of watercolour, which dries lighter. You can get great uniform flat colours. It’s easy to lay down a swathe of colour very quickly. It dries quickly. It’s pretty consistent. I can see why it would have been used so frequently in commercial art.
All in all, doing this illustration was an absolutely delightful experience. It came together relatively quickly, and I was pretty happy with the effects I got and the general of-the-time mood that I was able to convey. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to effectively mimic some of the distinctive commercial art of the time, but using the right medium definitely helped.