Say hello to my record breaking, 3 hour illustration. I've had 'same day deadlines' before where I have been pushed to come up with an idea, make a rough and then complete the illustration, but then I was given around 6 hours. So to half that time was a bit of a test to say the least.... "No time for panic, just read the article and get thinking!"
As you can tell the illustration was on the topic of the floods that have been afflicting much of southern England, including the famous school of Eton in Berkshire. Helpfully the art directors had picked this out as a key area in Gideon's article, which did save me a bit of time on the whole. So the next task was to come up with a few strong ideas on how I could show this historic school surrounded by water. Rather than just a straight shot of the playing fields under several inches of the murky blue stuff, I thought I would go for something a little less literal, which at the end of the day is what the FT pay me for. So I decided I would forget about the time constraint and go for a slightly more adventurous idea, with my fingers crossed I hurried onto the next task of idea formulation. Thankfully Eton is not short on traditional, prestigious events that set it apart from other schools, this lead me to the idea of displaying one of these occasions in a slightly-wetter-than-usual english surrounding. One of it's biggest and most well known affairs is the 'Fourth of June', a celebration of King George III birthday. The main event includes the best rowers from the school partaking in a procession down the river, in vintage wooden rowing boats with flowers in their hats, I think you will all agree a very suitable event indeed given the wet situation.
With 2 hours left I knew I had to keep the composition simple and bold. No time for new colour mixes and no time for close ups of the figures. I did however push the boat out (sorry for the pun) on a bit of perspective, this is ultimately what I think makes this image work and not look rushed. The simple use of colour worked very well also, as previously mentioned I didn't bother to try and find a new colour combination like I normally do, instead just went for a previous successful mix which fitted the image well saving a whole heap of time.
Once completed and handed in I felt pretty happy with the outcome, there is no doubt I would have done a couple of things differently given the time, like working on the main figures a bit more, but on the whole I think I've justified the FT's use of me (rather than sticking for a photo of the floods). One thing I can definitely say is that I don't think I could do this every week, maybe I could get used to it, but compressing 2 days work into 3 hours is tough.
See the full online version of the article HERE