Who would have thought that my first cut paper artwork for the New York Times Magazine was a Cannabis Sativa? Since the Magazine is published weekly, there was very little time to work on the piece. Time is always a challenging issue, for my creative process is naturally slow. In addition, I already lined up my calendar for the rest of the year but pretty much had to push everything back in order to fit it into the schedule.
Despite its simplicity, a lot of preparation and work went into the cut paper leaf. As I said in the last post, what seems easy is not. Firstly, I read Bruce Barcott’s fascinating article and learned about the angle of the story. And then, the Art Director and I discussed how to represent the angle of the story all in a single cutout leaf. The color scheme and composition were then decided. After a dozen back and forth with the AD, I went about to research hundreds of images of the Cannabis leaves. Realizing there were three different types, I had to make a quick choice on which one to depict and settled on the Sativa because of its graceful shape. I also researched images of vintage botanical and scientific illustrations.
The article centered around the investment and marketing of marijuana for pharmaceutical use. On the computer, I rearranged, reshaped, and adjusted the spacing and symmetry of the leaf. The idea was to give the leaf a clinical look, almost like a specimen drawing. Before cutting it out, I did a pencil drawing based on the computer image to show the AD. After approval, I then began the hand cutting process until it was completed. The finished artwork was shipped to a photographer in New York for the post production work.
Given the photographer who has never taken pictures of my work before, he did a good job for white-on-white is very difficult to do well, especially because the leaf has very delicate, thin lines.
I want to thank The New York Times for inviting me to collaborate on this interesting project.