Tuesday, June 07, 2011


It's been a while since I posted anything and I'm sorry about that. I'm in the midst of a move and a house sale. Some people can do this stuff as easily as walking a dog, but for me it's a nightmare. However, Art must go on!  Here's a cover for a book called Incognito, by Gregory Murphy, published by Berkley Books.  I don't know whether this cover is being used for the book or not. It is the second complete piece of art I did for this title, the first one was more of a romantic look, then the concept changed on me. This happens sometimes when a publisher is trying to place the book in the prefect niche and isn't sure how to appeal to that group of readers. I know very little about the story, except that it is a mystery that takes place in 1912 in New York City. I did tons of research for this image and learned, among other things, that the famous NY Public Library Lions were put there in 1912, the building was finished a year earlier. I love this era, and enjoyed looking at the familiar 5th Avenue in early photographs. It was just as busy as now, but with a different mix of traffic; carriages, double-decker open buses and all kinds of fancy motorcars. And the costumes! Men dressed in suits, whether they were laborers or bankers, but you can easily see in the photographs which is which, particularly from the hats. The rich had shiny beaver top hats or bowlers and the rest of the men showed their social status by how beat up their hats were, as well as the baggy knees of their pants. The women favored long, tight skirts that must have been very hard to walk in, jackets with fur, if they could afford it and then the hats. This was the era of some of the most outrageous hats ever created. Some were like good sized lampshades, with chiffon and flowers piled on top. That was the shillouette, Skinny body all the way up with a gigantic headpiece.
My wonderful costume person, Sharon Spiak came to the shoot with a genuine period skirt and jacket. The hat was her own creation, but fits the style perfectly. This was my first time working with Linda Holm a beautiful actress from Denmark. She very quickly caught the feeling I was after, in the body language and facial expression. I wanted her to look like she was up to something, sneaking somewhere, but also nervous and excited. The most difficult part of this image was getting the right look and feeling for the Library. I wanted to show more of period NYC, but it was impossible to get that across, without distracting from her. I worked from pictures I took in November last year. The pictures were daylight and it wasn't raining, but that's what artists are for. One little bit of trivia: The trees in front of the library were planted around the same time the lions were placed there and the were pretty small trees. But I needed the atmosphere that the bare branches would give to the scene, so I cheated and used large trees. All my efforts may be in vain, however, if the cover isn't used!
Please leave your comments!


Eleni Konstantine said...

Again, a lovely piece of art, James. Love the colors and the atmosphere.

James Griffin said...

Thank you for the lovely comment, Eleni!