Here’s the video of a TED talk by Bruce McCall, an illustrator from (notably) The New Yorker and The National Lampoon, in which he talks about his retro-futuristic work and humor. Near the beginning he describes how he arrived at his gouache style in terms that make that style sound like a limitation – while he also makes it pretty clear that the style is a kind of visual grammar that he uses, as you’ll see, to great effect. That stands out for me because the signature style is a double-edged sword that I know pretty well.
Throughout the talk we see examples of McCall’s work from his "Serious Nonsense" retrospective. He’s arrived at or invented a number of labels and phrases for his work that are sometimes pointed, and usually amusing, from the familiar retrofuturism to the unfamiliar and altogether charming faux nostalgia.
These illustrations are grounded in the real imagination of the 1930’s through the 1950’s (autogyros jousting over Malibu, or the auditions for King Kong); many of them get their bite from McCall’s experience as an illustrator and copywriter for the automobile industry. As he mentions in the talk a lot of this work has been folded into his children’s book, Marveltown.
And near the end, there’s another treat – an animated version of his three-page New Yorker cover based on The Ascent of Man – seen as an escalator.
Via Synergy Creative.