Working for The New Yorker

I was extremely lucky to be offered an opportunity to help with a video that will be appearing on The New Yorker website. My portfolio was passed onto Paul Trillo who is a director from the United States and he got in contact with me asking if it was something I’d be interested in. v

I was asked to create a paper cut totem pole made using common villainess targets and it would have the grim reaper on the top. I started by drawing down different styles of how the characters could look as I was asked to do them in a stylized fashion. Once a style was agreed I went on to use the same techniques on the other characters that I was asked to create. In total Paul wanted 10 characters as well as the grim reaper and I was given 6 with the remaining 4 to be decided by me as long as they were cleared with Paul.

There were a lot of revisions throughout the week and because Paul was 5 hours behind emailing could sometimes be very spaced apart. It was definitely a lot to take on but it was an opportunity I couldn’t let slip and I learnt a lot. Firstly I had never created faces before with paper especially ones that needed to look like people such as Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin so this was a new challenge but I welcomed it with open arms. Paul seemed really impressed with the faces that I came up with and only a few edits had to be made such as lowering of the eyes.


To put all of the totem pole together I decided to take a photo of each face individually because the totem pole was so large and it would be much easier to rearrange the faces and edit them if necessary. It was a good job I decided to this because Paul wanted a different style of grim reaper so luckily it was as easy as removing the grim reaper layer and adding the new grim reaper in. I had an idea for the grim reader to have his arms arm and scythe in hand like the wings spread on traditional totem poles, Paul seemed to really like this idea and let me add it into the final piece.

Once put together I was asked to create a simple paper style background and add a few clouds in too to show the height of the totem pole. The idea was to start the clouds off light and gradually make them darker as they rise up the totem pole and finally end in stars.

Once complete the final thing that I needed to add was a blinking layer to each of the faces so Paul could make the faces blink when he brought it into after effects. This is where folders in Photoshop became really important. I had never used folders before in Photoshop because none of my work usually has that many layers so I just give them a title instead but with so many layers it was really important for me to group different elements in folders. This not only was usual for me but would also help Paul out a lot when the file was passed over to him. Adding the blinking layer was quite easy I just duplicated each face, removed the eyes and added a small curve where the eyes would be so show a closed eye.

The file was passed onto Paul who added some details himself and brought the piece into after effects to give it some movement. The video should be up on The New Yorker’s website by the end of the month and I can’t wait to see it! The opportunity has taught me a lot about creating artwork, editing artwork and making my artwork accessible to others and I’ve taken a lot away from the experience that I will definitely be implementing with future work.

Below is the totem that was created for Paul, a few small edits were made to the background before it was took it into After Effects but as the video is still being created I can’t show the final thing at the moment.

Totem pole 23.png

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