When you take a look at the cover of our August/September issue of St. Augustine Social Magazine, you are sure to notice the enormous level of detail poured into this original piece of artwork. The commemorative map cover was designed by Andrew Scott Wilson, a Flagler alumnus, and local artist. Andrew typically paints large scale portraits (you might have caught glimpses of his work in Nettles Fine Jewelry or Hyppo Cafe). In addition to his painting skills, Andrew is a middle school art teacher in St. Johns County, and, he is super skilled when it comes to doodling fine lines, and being extremely detailed while doing so (hence the cover art).
What you might not realize when you look at the cover, is that this illustration was crafted 100 percent by hand. What exactly do I mean by “by hand?” I mean absolutely no digital manipulation. No touching up. No Adobe editing. The only technology used was scanning in the artwork to get it onto the pages of our magazine. And, to blow your mind even more… it’s not all a single image, but instead, individual pieces and parts drawn, cut out, then affixed to a backdrop and painted. Say what?
So you can fully appreciate the intricacy of the artwork as much as we do, we present to you a behind the scenes look at the making of the cover, designed exclusively for St. Augustine Social. Here’s a play-by-play of the process, delivered to you straight from the artist’s mouth…
THE MAKING OF THE COMMEMORATIVE COVER — Written by Andrew Scott Wilson
It’s always wonderful when a small idea turns into a labor-intensive, detail-oriented work of art. I was approached recently by St. Augustine Social, to create map imagery for the city’s upcoming 450th Birthday Celebration. And I jumped on the opportunity…
For inspiration, Google happened. I was greatly inspired by the cartoony, flat, Adobe Illustrator-created map style that’s popular (which to me is very reminiscent of Grandma Moses). I borrowed this light-hearted approach, but searched for a way to make my own. In addition to not having a skill set with most things Adobe, I foresaw something with layers and hints of depth and shadows. And well, something a little more me. Tangible. Thus, began my Sharpie, scissor, cut-out, taping, painting extravaganza of the tiny city I live in.
SHARPIE & SHAPES
After a quick building prototype, I dove in. I made a rule for how to use the thin and ultra-thin Sharpie, and told myself to stick to it. The line variety gave it a fun iconic look, but helped to reduce perimeter details on my shapes, so that I could easily cut them out without too much carpal tunnel-inducing scissoring. I knew layering was in my future, so I trimmed the pieces with a thin white border to differentiate buildings, but also reveal the process at the same time.
A PAINTED BACKDROP
Getting a lay of the land, I decided to make Up the obvious North. Not only did this orientate our image appropriately for a magazine, but it differed from every local map I’ve seen. We are a city always seen from the West on hand-drawn maps, and to me, that’s just confusing.
PLUGGIN’ & CHUGGIN’
Just as soon as I got the process down, I employed the method learned from some forgotten Math class…. “pluggin’ and chuggin.” I’m sure it had something to do with Algebraic formulas in high school, but in this case, it helped populate a city, one building at a time. I started with the landmarks (tallest buildings in the city) and then doodled my way down one street at a time, just as if I were walking it.
A MAP OF MEMORIES
I developed the illustration this far until I realized that I was creating it solely by memory. And at that moment, this project became even more special to me. I’ve been in this city for a total of 9 years, and to be able to recreate this city from memory is a sign of being home. Whether it be the school I attended (Flagler College), the pavilion where I set up my drums once on Good Friday, the hotel with the nicest lobby bathrooms that I still use on occasion, the cross I once lived near, the strip of shops along San Marco that some friends (and friends of friends) own and operate, the Aussie coffee shop where I get a buzz, the fort that I always sit next to, but almost always get a wet butt by doing so, or the bridge that, for me, defines a “Love//Hate Relationship.” So, in drawing these places, I realized I could say something for each. Each place the setting for a memory. And essentially, this illustrated map, for fun, for a magazine, became my own little memory bank.
As I said before, to get involved in a project so demanding, yet addicting, is a joy. “There’s always something more that can be added,” I would say. And then again. And again. When it came time to add color, I was careful. I knew I could so quickly undo two days of work with five minutes of careless mixing. And through much deliberating over color, the tiny city of St. Augustine came alive. With not one person drawn, the buildings and their terracotta rooftops and their stylized shapes were enough to give this illustration the undeniable identity of St. Augustine, FL.
This piece in my eyes, after four days of repetitive process, is a huge success. In addition to the cover image, I created more functional maps of street closures and events to aid with the organization of people’s plans during the celebration (on pages 32-39 in the magazine).
Can you find your own memory within this map?
LOVE IT, BUY IT, HANG IT
If you want your own commemorative cover art, you’re in luck! 18×24 prints are available for purchase for $25. To purchase the print, click here, or click on the image below.
To see more of Andrew’s work, visit www.andrewscottwilson.com.