Cutting to the Chase

I’ve taken on a rather large project lately. Down the road from where I live, sits the little hamlet of Seagrove. A spread-out little town populated by a unique group of artisans: Potters! Seagrove is THE place to go if you want some  of the best pottery in the world. They’ve been making jugs, plates, figures..etc..etc for generations. Many folks head out that way and spend the day cruising around and visiting potteries and the potters within. It’s a charming place and a cool way to spend the day. You could spend anything from 25 bucks to 10,000 bucks on a platter there. Yeah.

A group there has hired a marketing firm to help “rebrand” the area and build a website to get across to folks what the place is all about. They hired ME to do some portraits of the potters and potteries.

Here’s the deal: They want the illustrations to look something like rough engravings or woodcuts. Handmade. Now, I’d love to do a scratchbord portrait of each individual but there are a load of them and I don’t think these guys have that type of budget. So, I have to figure out a way to get the look we want in a hurry. My prototype was of Mike Mahan from “The Ground Up” pottery. His wife, Mary Holmes is heading up the operation. She’s a fun person to work with, Irish and sporting a great accent. Here’s the photo I was given of Mike:

Mike-1.and here’s what I came up with:Mike_Mahan
It’s got the gritty look they were after and I was able to accomplish it in about an hour. This went up to the marketing place and it was a “Go”. Then… a month or two went by. Next, to gather photos of everybody. This was tough. Folks sent in all manner of photos, out of focus, small, facing away… you name it. So I took one that I thought I could work with and got started. Except for one thing…I forgot how I’d achieved this look! I knew it was a mix of Photoshop, filters and drawing but I couldn’t remember the entire process.  Uh Oh.

Well, I went to work, writing every step down. …and eventually..Voila! It’s been hard to get the right amount of grittiness. as I go. I tend to stay cleaner with the women-folk. I don’t want anybody gunning for me.

Here’s an example of the process:

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It’s not a masterpiece but I think it works for the purpose. You get a better feel when you see come of them together:


Back to work!



Rich Powell

I'm an artist/illustrator residing in a small, North Carolina town. I worked for a few years as a conceptual artist and art director in the computer game industry but set off on my own to freelance. I currently do humorous illustration and cartoons for publications such as MAD Magazine and Highlights for Children.

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2 Responses

  1. forsooth says:

    I have a great accent too but I’m not a Potter…..I’m a Scotsman! I like your technique Rich…………. you’re much smarter than you look! : )

  2. Jack Hattaway says:

    Very good work, Rich! Proud to be a fan of yours.

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