When in charge of all world news at a daily newspaper, it occurred to me (eventually…and not all at once either) that the existing coverage relied on a preponderance of syndicated photos (to which our competitors also have access) and too little on creativity. The end result was that I took on the task of creating special news graphics whenever time permits – hardly a part of my job description. How they are received by the paper’s subscribers…I haven’t the foggiest, but the art has been satisfying. Below follow select efforts.
This post includes some earlier art, for the magazine format, including one about UN peacekeeping operations in Africa in 2010. So scroll through and take a look.
Avro Lancaster NE114, 166 Squadron | Published in April 2016
A distasteful image this, I thought, having completed it after 25 hours of work. No, not art itself, but of what it represents – an Avro Lancaster of RAF Bomber Command in trademark livery. Although I had created dozens of similarly colored Lancasters over a decade ago – and proudly of having done so at the time – my perception towards that type of aircraft known as the bomber has changed. When I was a boy, my grandfather held a shotgun up and said, “this is an instrument for the taking of life.” It was a statement that failed to resonate against the smug exterior of youth. But the message eventually sunk in, years later. And so, if the gun is the instrument of a living being’s death, the bomber is an instrument of wholesale destruction.
The German historian I created this piece for expressed the hope that I had fun while working on it. No, I can’t especially claim that. It kept me indoors for too long when I could have been enjoying the spring weather outside, but his undertaking was noble – he wanted to cobble together the story of the men who flew NE114 – exploring their lives until they hurtled to their deaths in a blaze of fire and cordite in the skies over his hometown. I seized upon this aspect to bring NE114 to life, as if it were no longer a weapon of war, but an entity responsible for the human beings in its charge, a creature which ultimately succumbed to its own fragile mortality.
Latest developments, Paris Attacks | November 19, 2015
The Paris attacks | Published November 14, 2015
Hollywood on rails — The Arras train incident | Published August 23, 2015
MH370 resurfaces – A flaperon found | Published July 31, 2015
A nuclear world | Published July 14, 2015
A nation emptying – Syrian refugees | Published July 9, 2015
Islamic State vs The World | Published June 19, 2015
“Bloody Friday” | Published June 28, 2015
Abandonment of Iraqi military equipment to Islamic State | Published June 9, 2015
Palmyra | Published May 22, 2015
All photos © Joseph Eid, Agence France-Presse
Published July 5, 2015
Nepal quakes | Published May 15, 2015
Foreign Military aircraft in Nepal | Published May 12, 2015
Cyclone Pam | Published March 16, 2015
Flight 8501 | Published January 13, 2015
Paris Unity Rally | Published January 12, 2015
The most remarkable thing about the unity march held primarily in Paris on Sunday (January 11, 2015), was not that it presented a united platform for people to condemn terrorism following 17 deaths in three days of deadly attacks at the French capital, but that it brought upon a near unprecedented outpouring of global grief and solidarity.
Yes, the destruction of the twin towers on September 11, the 7/7 bombing of the London Underground, the Boston marathon attack, and hundreds of other terrorist attacks around the world, prompted international reconciliations of sorts, but never on the scale of what took place over the weekend. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stood by his arch-nemesis Mahmud Abbas, leader of the Palestinian Authority. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov walked with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, even though their countries are locked in a defacto state of war. On the streets of Paris, Jews and Muslims rallied against religious extremism, jointly condemning the attacks on Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket in the Vincennes district of Paris.
It seems unlikely that even the Allied ousting of the Nazis from Paris in August 1944 and the great mass of jubilant Parisians who took to the streets to celebrate, could have matched the sheer numbers of Sunday. In many ways, the rally was the envy of the world. In Nigeria (a nation also reeling from terrorism) the Archbishop of Jos lamented that the spirit of international support against terrorism needs to “spread around, not just when it happens in Europe, (but) when it happens in many poor countries.”
Note – In retrospect, I should have opted to have been a bit more sophisticated in how the information was presented. The graphic would have been a little better and more in-depth if I had chosen to replace the photos of the world leaders with information on other solidarity marches held across the world.
The Toll of War in Gaza, July to August 2014 | Published August 16 The Siege of Mount Sinjar, August 2014 | Published August 11
(Left) Mosul Dam, August 2014 | Published August 19,
(Right) Coalition Airstrikes on Syria, 25 September 2014 | Published September 26
The Ebola Crisis, West Africa, September 2014 | Published September 3
Pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, October 2014 | Published October 4 The interesting thing about the “Umbrella Revolution” in Hong Kong, so called, because the student protesters use umbrellas to shield themselves from tear gas, is that most of the students are too young to remember China’s brutal crackdown of that other great Chinese student revolution, at Tiananmen Square, in June 1989.
Already an iconic image has emerged from Hong Kong — of a lone student engulfed by tear gas, his umbrella held up high. Whether this figure will be as every bit as iconic as Tiananmen’s “Tank man” — that anonymous everyman who temporarily stopped a column of tanks by standing in front of them, remains to be seen, and whether China’s response to the crisis will be as unforgiving.
Situation at Kobane, Syria | Published October 10 It seems as though much of the art that I end up doing for the paper involves the Middle East, considering the current fiasco in Syria and Iraq and because the landscape of that part of the world is generally unfamiliar.
Although on the border with Turkey, Kobane’s destruction by Islamic State forces has not triggered a Turkish military intervention as expected — causing rioting across Turkey and consternation in Washington. But to criticize such a prickly a NATO ally as Turkey brings swift demands for apology from Ankara, as Joe Biden discovered last week. But speaking “anonymously” on Thursday, a US administration official offered unscathing — and rather erudite — criticism: “There is growing angst about Turkey dragging its feet to prevent a massacre less than half-a-mile from its border. After all the fulminating about Syria’s humanitarian catastrophe, they’re inventing reasons not to act to avoid another catastrophe. This isn’t how a NATO ally acts while hell is unfolding a stone’s throw from their border.”
Note: This image is not a copy from the page PDF, but the original map, without the relevant “event” notes and the smaller Syria inset map. I was displeased with the published version because our color correction department lightened the tones.
Royal Fleet Auxiliary Argus, British Ebola Task Force, Sierra Leone, November 2014 | Unpublished as of yet
When it was disclosed in late October that the RFA Argus would be dispatched to Sierra Leone to assist in combating the Ebola outbreak there, I was intrigued and thought that I should perhaps I should have some “art” ready for a future story involving the ship.
The name Argus is not exactly esoteric. In Homer’s Odyssey, Argus is Odysseus’ faithful dog who recognizes his master after twenty years and immediately dies of happiness.Then there is the World War II-era HMS Argus (the world’s first aircraft carrier), which is familiar to me through its service in the Mediterranean during the siege of Malta.
Of this new Argus, I have little clue. I do know, however, that it is regarded as the “strangest ship” in the Royal Navy, that it carries three Merlin helicopters, that it took on 32 Toyota Hilux pickup trucks for use in Sierra Leone, and that it has a 100-bed hospital with 200 doctors, nurses and medical staff.
Note: This is the first time that I’ve used Adobe Illustrator to create art of this kind (including the ship badge). The problem with vector art is that it has a tendency to look cartoon-like. I was impressed that the software can be used to produce more “realistic” content given a little patience. The art took about 12-14 hours in total.
Noway, July 22 – The Anatomy of an Attack | 2011
Jan Baalsrud- The Strength of Human Will | 2011
A note on the process: The base 3D map was created in E-on Vue 9 CGI software with data from Google Maps. The rest of the image was completed in Adobe Photoshop. The dimensions of the ship on the upper left corner are obviously exaggerated for effect.
Baalsrud in the late-1950s, while serving as a consultant for the film about his life, “Ni Livs” (Nine Lives), which was in effect Norway’s first notable motion film. (Young, Vernon, A Condemned Man Escapes: Five Films on the Subject, The Hudson Review, Vol 12, No 4, Winter 1959-1960). Both Photos: Scanpix.
The Conquest of Mount Everest | 2011
Some choice quotes from the summiters:
“ Well, George, we knocked the bastard off. ” – Edmund Hillary to friend, George Lowe, after coming down from the mountain.
“ It has been a long road … From a mountain coolie, a bearer of loads, to a wearer of a coat with rows of medals who is carried about in planes and worries about income tax.” – Tenzing Norgay in Man of Everest, 1955.
The United Nations in Africa | 2011