"The article is a bit of a bio about Val, a Canada-based Bulgarian black bear hunting guide. It explores his "tough-as nails" demeanor and the trials and tribulations of escaping Eastern Europe to establish his own business on this side of the pond. Jim, the AD, thought a propaganda poster approach would be suitable imagery to reflect Val's triumphs, and I was happy to collaborate on such an image (and I got to draw bears!).
Here are the opening full-page sketches; Jim the AD wanted to definitely work "large bear with figure in front/bottom" so that is the way I developed two of the sketches. In the third, I tried to push the figure more and the bear a bit less. The reference of Val consisted of two small photos so we decided to work shadow and glasses to obscure the face. It also made sense since no one would recognize someone they had never seen/met, anyway. So I guess these "portraits" are more Val's essence instead of his literal self? If so, I suppose I should move them from my Portrait portfolio into Editorial
And here are sketches for an accompanying spot/quarter-page image. I really liked the idea of the bear being Val's origin i.e. his job being his personality/livelihood so I focused on having him "come from" inside the bear or vice versa:
Jim selected suitable sketches, and the final art was pretty straightforward. I worked in a bit of textures to roughen up the art and hopefully reflect Val's toughness. Sadly, it doesn't really show online (especially the textures in the dark values), but I think it works well in print." - Chris Whetzel