A confession: I am quite embarrassed about my obsessive streak, and the fact that I will sometimes continue to work on images after the illustration I was hired to do has already been published. In this case, a portrait of Jane Austen became an object lesson in the dangers of Photoshop.
Sometime last year, David Killen, of The Prospect, emailed me to see if I'd be interested in doing a portrait of Jane Austen to accompany an article about her enduring cult appeal. Would I ever!! I love Jane Austen! The resulting image, of the author leaping out of one of her books, symbolically traversing the gap from past to present day (the message I hoped to get across, anyway) is a perfect illustration of the pathology I have developed --going beyond any kind of rational time limit for fine-tuning. Above is the initial sketch.
A subsequent sketch, which includeed something my art director had asked for, a rose, which he felt would symbolize marriage.
And while I was at it, I could do something about the too-rough Photoshop patch-work I'd done on the book's pages. I wanted this piece to be good --partly because it concerned an author I really love, and party because I'd invested so much time already.
A couple of months went by. I decided it was time to send out some promotional postcards and. submitted a bunch of candidates from recent projects to Fritz (an inspiring designer and dear friend, who helps me by designing my promos and advising me) so he can edit them. Jane Austen makes the cut. But there are a couple of little things, now that I am looking again at the file, that still bother me. What was up with that leg? And look at the sloppy Photo-shopping around the edge of the iphone, not okay. Might as well sub in the nice white, more modern-looking iphone I'd upgraded to a few months ago, while I was at it.
At this point, with the file open again in front of me, I begin to have a somewhat panicky, trapped feeling that I might actually never finish this project.
It almost seems symbolic of my struggle to create a convincing illusion that the Austen book I'd chosen to represent happened to have been Persuasion. And Jane's references, on page after page, to the virtues of simplicity and truthfulness, have begun to feel a bit like a rebuke.