New commission 'Keep calm and think of new recipes'

On january 10th I congratulated Peter with his birthday by sending him a quick message with my phone and thanking him for the art projects he commissioned in 2015 en 2016. He replied by requesting 'something nice' as a farewell gift for manager Rogier who just had left Dutch communications provider KPN.

It was never my intention to get a new commission but I was honored and excited to make a new artwork for KPN. Especially because Rogier was someone I knew, liked and had been pleasantly working for, for quite some time, as a freelance UX Designer.

Tight deadline

The project had one major challenge. Time. The farewell party was in about two weeks. It meant I had to sacrifice my newly fitness routine and probably a substantial amount of sleep to win some precious time. I really didn't mind. Making art is more important than a lean and mean body, :)

Keep calm and...

Directly after getting the assignment, I sent an e-mail to a few former co-workers of Rogier asking for a character description that could complement my own experiences with Rogier. One of them, Sanne, soon replied with some very usefull tips and that inspired me to the title and text in the illustration 'Keep calm and think of new recipes'. Rogier stays calm and seemingly relaxed and focused in stressfull situations, hence the part 'Keep calm and...'. One thing I didn't know was the passion for cooking Rogier apparently has. But cooking and a kitchen are always very useful metaphores in an image, so I used that part to come up with the second part of the double portrait of Rogier.

 Left view of a commissioned artwork / illustration by Dutch artist Michiel Nagtegaal (Mr. Upside) for Dutch telecommunications provider KPN as a farewell gift for a manager.

Figurative style

Recently I made some illustrations on paper in a different style compared to the Bold Lines style I have been using the last few years. I decided to use that particular, more figurative style as a starting point for my sketches.

 Pencil sketches for commissioned artwork 'Keep calm and think of new recipes', by Dutch artist Michiel Nagtegaal (Mr. Upside). The illustration on linnen was a farewell gift for a manager of Dutch telecommunications provider KPN

Pencil sketches on canvas

One problem I didn't foresee was the transfer of my sketches on paper to the canvas. My sketches where on a 1:1 scale. I used a grid with guidelines to help me with the positioning. But by wanting to do things too quickly, I forgot that pencil strokes on a canvas can't be easily erased. Using an eraser on a canvas, smears the pencil strokes instead of erasing them. Leaving an ugly grey stain on the canvas that needs several layers of white acrylic paint to be covered up. So my pencil sketches on canvas had to be right the first time. Luckily I knew the drawing very well as I had practiced it many times in the past days.

 Work-in-progress photo of an illustration / artwork for Dutch telecommunications provider KPN, as a farewell gift to a leaving manager. The illustration is made with Posca paint markers on a linnen canvas of 50 x100 cm.

Posca paint markers

Due to the short and tight deadline, I decided to use Posca paint markers. They make it possible to speed up the paint process and have a consistent color scheme. And I needed that consistency to save more time by using a limited color scheme of four colors.

Working at night

Because of other responsiblities and my current projects as a freelance UX Designer, I had to do a large part of the work starting after 21.00h. But I like the atmosphere of the night. It's quiet outside. There are no distractions in the form of phone calls or e-mails and with some energizing music in the background, I managed to stay awake and not making any major errors untill approximately 02.30h. This proved a great way to finish a project with such a tight deadline.

Finished artwork

Like to see the final result? Check out the 'Keep calm and think of new recipes'-artwork in the section with commissioned artworks.

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More blogposts by Dutch artist Mr. Upside